Is there a particular name for these types of machines?

The YouTube video is titled “Awesome Yet Useless Machines”. They’re at least fun if not actually awesome, and I really like that you can swap out components. But I could swear there is some more specific term, lurking near the tip of my tongue.

Yay. I get to be first. They are Rube Goldberg Machines.

Rube Goldberg machine might be what you’re after.

RGMs are unnecessarily elaborate ways to accomplish simple tasks . . . IMHO.

CMC fnord!

That’s a term I know, and not what I was thinking of. It fits – a ridiculously complex machine to accomplish a trivial task, but I thought there was something more specific for this type of Rube Goldberg machine.

Thanks, your link gave me the term I was trying to think of. Now I have to try remembering where the hell I heard it --kugelbahn.

Yay. You get to be right.

Am I the only one who wants to see one lifter component that’s just a direct elevator to the top, and one faller component that’s just a straight ramp to the bottom? It feels like they ought to exist, even if they’re almost never used.

Other terms include rolling ball sculpture, marble run or ball run. I’ve seen a few really complex examples, and this sort of thing always fascinated me.

A kluge?

Kinetic Kascade Kontraption!


If they don’t have a name already, I’d suggest Sisyphus machines.

Depending on where you come from, you might alternatively call them Heath Robinson machines. Two quite similar-minded artists, apparently. I don’t know if they ever met.

They did at least meet right here! ?

I don’t know. The first rolling ball ramp collections looked like various children’s toys I remember. But once you get to to the ball dropping onto a catapult launching a new ball into a bin that sets a a new sequence of balls doing different things… Yeah, you got a Rube Goldberg Machine. You just do.

I think “kluge” means a machine or device that is useful and works, at least more or less, but is awkwardly conceived and constructed. Often, a kluge is created by badly fitting together two different things that aren’t meant to work well together. For example, hanging a hedge trimmer below a shopping cart to create a lawnmower might be considered an especially obvious kluge. Extra points for duct tape.

There’s a cool one in the movie Fracture, which stars Anthony Hopkins.

I used to know one of the guys who built for George Rhoads. They just called them “ball machines” in the shop.