building simple marble rollers in the early 1980s. I love
machines. My father, Jim McDonough, built our
family a marble roller when I was too young to remember seeing him do
it. The marbles spent much of their time out of sight, but
operated flip-flops* and behaved to my young
My Grandmother, Ruth (Farm) Poole, also had a marble roller of antique
heritage and traditional design.
return to art.
This is a
gravity powered catapult called a trebuchet. It stands about 30
inches tall and
throws a golf ball about 100 feet. 2002
Lead weights, a gimbal, and a tripod head make for a nifty little
camera mount for shooting while walking with my video camera. 2003
The Lorenz Water Wheel is a fun contraption that spins randomly in both
directions and is a big hit with everyone who watches it. Alfred
Hubler pointed out to me that it is a mechanical computer that is
constantly searching for its own stable states. The motion is
chaotic, but it does find parking places, sometimes after a long
I also have written a StarLogo program that simulates the behavior of
this device. 2004
One bowling ball, a
billard ball (track ball), ten feet of electrical conduit, and some
oak. I can lie on the chaise and watch stars for hours through a
pair of heavy high power binoculars. 2003
It would be in much better condition if I hadn't bonked into it with
my head. This egg shell wind chime made the most delightful
"pock, pock, pock" music for many months and through many winds before
I accidentally smashed it.
An anemometer raised to the nth power. Plastic
Easter eggs, wire, and fishing swivels, it moves in a light
zephyr, and dances wildly in a wind. 2001
See also my water rocket pages.
This is the rolling ball adding machine, in progress since May, 2005
Also under construction in the spring of 2005 is an
automata stage, shown here in an early stage of construction. I
hope to finish this when school lets go of me, and at that time I will
try to post a movie of it in action. At the time of this writing,
12/06, this device barely resembles the early stage pictured here. The
stuff below the stage is the real show and I have trouble finishing the
Then, in 2007, I built a rolling ball sculpture in wire that got me
going on all sorts of crazy ideas.
In 2008 I built a large clockworks and it spent six months in TechLab
at the Bradbury Science Museum. it is a work in progress. . .
*Basic marble flip-flop:
The black line represents the
first position. The marble drops and hits the divider, which
sends it to the right. This tips the lever, which remains in the
new position (purple dots) until the next marble, bouncing to the left,
resets it in the first position.
When I was making Super-8 film in Boston, I built a number of devices
to assist me. In fact, there were those of us who felt I may be
more interested in the equipment than in the cinema it was
producing. My creations incuded several optical printers (slide
to S-8, S-8 to S-8) phenakistoscopes (disk animations), power supplies,
animation stands, a light table, mini sets, etc.
I will illustrate this page as I make photos of
mousetrap chain reaction
Two cat antigravity device