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The Drop Turn & The Bump Stop

Ball Run (Spring 2015)Amanda SimonsComment

Tuesday's Ball Run Tinkerers have hit a critical mass with their ramp building. This week, we completed all of the ramps necessary to elevate our tracks all the way across the workshop from ground level all the way up to "taller than Amanda." (Amanda is five foot, four inches tall). 

Once we completed the long straight away, the next order of business was to incorporate our turn prototype, as well as add one additional turn (to make a full 180 degree shift over the course of the track). Because our first turn prototype didn't address a change in height, I proposed that we try something that we started calling a "drop turn" -- just to see if it was possible.

To complete a drop turn, the ball would need to change direction while dropping a distance. What if two of our ramps came together in an "L" shape, and the ball was able to drop from one ramp to the next? We tested this theory with two of our existing ramps, and it seemed to work just fine.

So, the team started taking measurements to make a ramp that was "taller than Amanda" on one end, and then "taller than Nathan" on the other end. This new ramp could drop the ball on to the next shorter ramp, and complete a 90 degree turn all at once. 

After some quick measurements, some team building, and a lot of racing against the clock, the Tinkerers built the Taller-than-Amanda-Taller-than-Nathan ramp, and we set it up for the final test run of the day.

We tested, and rather than a drop turn, we achieved what the group called a "bump, stop." Rather than continuing down the tracks, the ball just stopped. The end. No ball run.

What happened?!

There was a mis-measurement, and the shortest end of the tallest ramp ended up at exactly the same height as the taller end of the next ramp. The result: the ball rolled to the end of ramp #1, and had to bump over the rail of ramp #2. That bump was enough to slow the ball to a complete stop. 


During our quick closing circle, we determined that for next week, we definitely have to fix that tallest ramp. And, because next week is the last one of the session, we have a lot of work to do!

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