January 30, 2023

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Dropping Marbles With Millisecond Accuracy

2 min read
The highway to the right marble dropper

[Martin] of the band [Wintergatan] is on his third quest to construct the last word musical marble machine, and which means dropping marbles with most reliability and precision timing. Working by a number of iterations, and returning to first ideas, he engineered a marble gate that may drop marbles with a timing commonplace deviation of 0 ms.

[Wintergatan]’s first two machines, Marble Machine and Marble Machine X gained important consideration, however their complexity was their undoing. Because it seems, a Rube Goldberg machine that makes music has a number of potential failure factors, and each machines proved too temperamental for the stay stage. The third model, Marble Machine XT (T for “touring”) wanted to be re-engineered for simplicity and reliability to be sensible on the highway.

[Martin] broke the marble machine idea right down to its key parts, of which the marble drop gate is the obvious. Utilizing a pair of contact microphones to report the second of launch and affect, he can measure the timing with precision. The primary design had a regular deviation of three.91 ms, which isn’t almost sufficient for us to detect by ear, however is less than [Martin]’s commonplace for “tight music”. It used a clock-type escapement mechanism, the place the wheel is the discharge gate. After reviewing his measurement software program and compensating for drift between the software program parts of his setup, the measured commonplace deviation was decreased by 1 ms. One other breakthrough was to take away any guiding surfaces beneath the gate and let gravity do all of the work. The eighth iteration proved to be the winner and used the escapement arm because the drop gate and wheel to carry again the queue of marbles.

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Coming from an arts background, [Martin] needed to study a number of engineering classes the exhausting means. Trying on the movies on his YouTube channel, it looks like he takes the teachings to coronary heart, and we look ahead to seeing the Marble Machine XT come to life.

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