Our son is a huge fan of marbles, so over time we collected tons of cardboard tubes and I started to built him his own colorful marble run as a birthay present that he can rearrange as he likes. To get that rearrangement done, I came up with the idea of using sheet metal as the canvas and equipping all the tubes with little magnets so they stick to the metal. I tried different magnetic material, but in the end only neodymium magnets had enough power to withstand the force of the marbles, running through the tubes. I punched holes into the cardboard, a lot of holes, and attached the magnets with tape, both on the inside and the outside of the tubes. After that I spraypainted their them with various colors.
For the sheet metal canvas, I needed a foundation to stand on, that could serve as a collecting tray for the marbles as well. I built two, one for every sheet of metal, out of scrap plywood I had laying around and bolstered them with foam. In the back, they have a small groove to hold the metal sheet. Additionally, I wanted to bolden the sharp edges of the sheets, to prevent injuries on those edges. For this I bought some preformed cleats, cut them to length and simply glued them to the front of the metal sheet.
While assembling it for the first time, I realized that the metal sheets needed some kind of connector at the top to prevent them from bending in different directions.
In the end, it all turned out pretty neat. The kiddo, his friends and even all the adults at the birthday party were hooked by this thing and everybody wanted to play with it. After months of usage I can say that the tape that holds the magnets is slowly loosing its grip. But it’s still fun to leth those marbles run down the wall. 🙂
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I made a short video about the building of the marble run. If you like it, please leave a comment or like my YouTube channel. Thanks!
Parts of this video was filmed with my Sony HDR-AS200V, other parts were filmed with a Canon EOS 750D. The music is from Scott Holmes who published it on the Free Music Archive. Special thanks to the Makerspace Leipzig where this was built and filmed.