Elements

A rolling ball sculpture can have a large variety of elements to achieve different ball performances. Some elements are simple and some are more complex but as long as people have imagination more and more elements will be invented. Here i´ll describe the most common elements to be seen in a rolling ball sculpture.

 

SPIRAL

For me nothing looks better than a ball rolling gracefully down a spiral. It´s my favorite element and in my opinion should be included in every rolling ball sculpture. Spiral is an element that has the most natural aspect. Many things in the nature have a spiral form. Tornado, vortex and a snail house are just some of them. 

Spirals can be defined as left or right depending on rotation of balls. Observing from top clockwise rotation is right and counter clocwise is left spiral. They come in many forms but in general they can be classified in four groups: large spirals, flat spirals, tall spirals and double spirals.

Large spirals are wide on top and at least 2 ball diameter high. Balls gain speed as they go trough the spiral. Taller the spiral, greater the speed on the exit.

Flat spirals are also wide but about a ball diameter or less high. As ball enters the spiral its speed drops or remains the same. If the tracks on the spiral are narrow the ball can even skip track and lose some speed this way. There is no significant speed on the exit of the flat spiral.

Tall spirals are 2 ball diameter or less wide and can be very tall. Balls spin very fast and gain speed with the hight so they shoot out of the spiral with great speed. Balls can also spin at the bottom until they lose the speed and drop down.

Double spirals have two entrances, two exits and two tracks. Because everything is double in this spiral it has also double width for the same number of turns comparing to ordinary large spiral.

 

TIPPING ARM

It transfers the ball from one track to another. If more than one ball are moved than the element is already a ball collector.

 

BALL COLLECTOR

This element collects the balls until desired number is reached. When desired number of balls is reached it releases the balls all at once so they roll like a train. There are two types of releasing system.

First system releases the balls based on their overall weight. This system has a low tolerance for ball weight.

In second system the last ball triggers the release of balls. This system has higher tolerance for ball weight.

Balls can be collected also for more than one track. These multi track ball collectors are mostly weight released.

 

PENDULUM and SPINNER

This element is placed on the track to be hit by the ball. Depending on the design they can swing back and forth or even spin. It slows down the ball speed and looks and sounds good.

 

BALL JUMP

Attractive element where ball jumps from the track (jump ramp) and lands on the ball catcher, spiral or on the track. The ball can have a very narrow parabolic flight and land almost vertically or can have a flat parabolic flight and land with significant horizontal speed. Design of a ball catcher depends on a landing path of the ball.

This element can be noisy.

 

TRACK SKIP

Very cool element where a ball skips to a parallel track. After the skip the ball can go in the opposite direction or continue in the same direction.

 

S TRACK

In this element the ball goes trough sequential curves of the track Depending on the size of the curves there can be big S track, small S track and zig zag track. Zig zag track is made of semicircles welded together to form a track.

 

BALLS ON TRACK

In this element the famous Newton´s cradle or conservation of momentum and energy is being demonstrated.

A string of balls is placed on the track. The rolling ball collides with the first ball and the last ball in the string continues to roll. 1 to 5 balls in the string look great.