I started 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 eyes capriciously.  My Grandmother, Ruth (Farm) Poole, also had a marble roller of antique heritage and traditional design.               return to art.  return home.


    This is a gravity powered catapult called a trebuchet.  It stands about 30 inches tall and throws a golf ball about 100 feet. 2002

steadycam photo    Lead weights, a gimbal, and a tripod head make for a nifty little camera mount for shooting while walking with my video camera. 2003

Lorenz Water Wheel    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 time.   I also have written a StarLogo program that simulates the behavior of this device.  2004

Bowling Ball Binocular supportOne 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

Egg wind chime    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.

gold wind dancer       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.

Rolling Ball Adding Machine work in progress This is the rolling ball adding machine, in progress since May, 2005

Rock and roll stage under construction in March 2005Also 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 stuff above.

Rock Band a little further along

Then, in 2007, I built a rolling ball sculpture in wire that got me going on all sorts of crazy ideas.Roling ball sculpture

In 2008 I built a large clockworks and it spent six months in TechLab at the Bradbury Science Museum.Gordon at the Clockworks it is a work in progress. . .
return to art.

*Basic marble flip-flop:  Diagram of a marble flip-flop analagous to an electronic flip-flop or divide by two circuit.
    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