Machine Task: Blow Up a Balloon, Then Pop It
Step Count: 300, breaking our own Guinness world record for "Largest Rube Goldberg Machine." Our previous record was a machine with 244 steps (seen here)
Machine Build Type: One-Take Style - filmed from start to finish in only one unedited clip, which we achieved after 9 months and 5,000+ hours designing and building this record-breaking contraption.
Year Built: 2011 - 2012
Additional Info: One of the biggest challenges was that we were all college students. I was trying to motivate 12 total people to give up their free weekends and evenings, all for a machine that runs three times at a competition.
In a nod to our Purdue Boilermaker mascot, the team powered portions of the machine with a homemade boiler system with an elaborate locomotive-like drive system that inflated the balloon, which ended up being our biggest challenge – it took us 600 hours alone! That locomotive engine was used to drive a radial pump wheel, performing half of the required task of blowing up a balloon. A Rube Goldberg cartoon-style accordion arm then shot out to pop the balloon, completing the other half n task. But the machine accomplished much more than the required task – it also incorporated all 24 assigned tasks from previous years of the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest.
Since the competition rules state that an entry machine must fit within a maximum space of 6ft x 6ft x 6ft, our team made all of this possible with two rotating fins that featured parts for the various tasks. As you can see in the video, pieces are attached to all sides of the fins so they aren't vulnerable to gravity and take up less space.
My rule is to tell an intricate story and make people laugh, with the end result being a resounding "WOW!" The result was a machine that made a piece of toast, juiced oranges, assembled a hamburger, inserted a CD into a CD player, shut off an alarm clock, put a stamp on an envelope, sharpened a pencil, watered a plant and more.