THE BEST Machines

Jenga-playing Robot

Jenga-playing Robot

It may look a little bit like a sideways stargate, but this robot is designed to carefully position itself around a Jenga stack, methodically pluck out a wooden block, and move it to the top of the stack. We’d be curious to see if it could play an entire game, but we’re guessing not.

The Astro-Skeleton Clock

The Astro-Skeleton Clock

This could be the most complicated clock ever built. We cannot imagine the engineering involved in getting all of its gears, pulleys, and pendulums to work together to tell time. Mark Frank and Buchanan’s masterpiece has been under construction for over a decade.

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Tomato Sorting Machine

Tomato Sorting Machine

A brief and silent look at a high speed Tomra Sentinel II optical sorting machine, as it watches thousands of tomatoes whiz by, knocking the rejects off the line so they can be turned into ketchup and other products. The slow-mo bit at 1:14 shows the bad tomatoes getting kicked out.

Mini Golf Marble Machine

Mini Golf Marble Machine

After six months of work, builder Ben Tardif is close to putting the finishing touches on his latest marble machine – a miniature version of a miniature golf course. The video goes into quite some depth about the build, but if you just want to see it in action, you can skip to 15:20.

LEGO Spirograph

LEGO Spirograph

Similar, but larger than JK Brickworks’ drawing machine, VBs LEGO Technic Creations contraption draws by moving a pen in its arms, while rotating a turntable that holds the paper. It appears to be able to draw much more intricate patterns than the smaller machine.

Retro Tech: The Analog iPod

Retro Tech: The Analog iPod

Techmoan checks out an awesomely complex bit of 1970s tech. The Panasonic RS-296US used a mechanical carousel filled with 20 extra-long cassette tapes to allow for up to 2.5 days of continuous music. There was no way to select individual tracks, but you could choose tapes.

Crimping Some Balls

Crimping Some Balls

After discovering the hydraulic crimping machines at Lillbacka Powerco, the guys from Beyond the Press decided to subject a whole bunch of balls to the deadly force of one of these impressive machines. The rubber band ball was particularly satisfying.

Solarobotics Marble Machine Kit

Solarobotics Marble Machine Kit

A fun kit which lets you build your own motorized wooden marble machine. It sends a cascade of spheres spiraling to the bottom, then finding their way back to the top for an perpetual loop of marble madness. Available as a battery-powered or solar version.

Floppy Drives Killed the Video Star

Floppy Drives Killed the Video Star

Paweł Zadrożniak’s incredible orchestra of floppy drives, hard drives, and stepper motors is accompanied by a rare human appearance in this computer-controlled cover of The Buggles’ MTV-launcher, Video Killed the Radio Star.

LEGO Braiding Machine

LEGO Braiding Machine

Nico71’s motorized LEGO creation deftly maneuvers five spools of thread, carefully twisting, turning, and juggling each one to form a braided cord. Its hypnotic moves remind us of some kind of an amusement park ride. Full build instructions can be found here.

Analog 3D Printer

Analog 3D Printer

In a way, all 3D printers are partially analog, as motors move them along their X, Y and Z axes. But artist Daniel DeBruin’s unique creation works without motors or electricity to layer primitive pottery using weights and gravity to drive its mechanism.

Hydraulic Crimping Channel

Hydraulic Crimping Channel

The guys from the Hydraulic Press Channel took a momentary break from crushing stuff with their press, and dropped by Lillbacka Powerco to play with their Finn-Power crimping machine, which is capable of crushing small objects from all sides with 320 tons of force.

Foolproof Dartboard

Foolproof Dartboard

Rocket scientist Mark Rober and his pal spent about 3 years perfecting their invention. This motorized dartboard is designed to track a dart being thrown at it, and ensures a bulls-eye assuming you’re somewhere within its board. It also can make you miss every time.

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Exploding Rice Cracker Machine

Exploding Rice Cracker Machine

One of the stranger cooking machines we’ve seen – this thing takes in grain, salt, and water, then applies heat and pressure to make rice crackers. The resulting explosion causes them to fly out of its mouth like jet-powered frisbees. Here’s a similar machine.

Literal Rock Band

Literal Rock Band

Mechanical object designer and inventor Neil Mendoza created this machine, which uses a variety of mechanisms which make music using rocks. Some are fired at aluminum keys, others smack into marble, and yet others are slapped with leather to produce notes and rhythms.

Violin-Playing Machine

Violin-Playing Machine

Way more than an ordinary player piano, this incredible contraption is called the Hupfeld Phonoliszt-Violina. It can play a set of three violins using a special rotating circular bow, and dozens of mechanical “fingers” which press on the strings. More here and here.

LEGO Mechanical Bat

LEGO Mechanical Bat

LEGO builder Kristal – the “K” of JK Brickworks created this amazing kinetic sculpture, designed to mimic the wing movements of a fruit bat. Its wings flap up and down, sweep forward, and expand and contract. Jason Allemann walks us through how it works.

Sh*tty Claw Machine

Sh*tty Claw Machine

(PG-13 Language) Claw machines are the worst. They look like they’ll be so much fun until they eat all of your money as you try to win a stupid stuffed animal worth a dollar. Simone Giertz modded a machine to grab a prize every time.

This Tape Is on a Roll

This Tape Is on a Roll

What you’re looking at is an oddly satisfying contraption in which a roll of tape meanders its way through a maze with extraordinary skill. It’s from a Japanese kids show which featured one of these wonderful machines every week. Find more on KeN KeN’s channel.

LEGO Rainbow Machine

LEGO Rainbow Machine

LEGO builder Berthil van Beek created this wonderfully soothing contraption which sees an array of tiny sportsballs surfing across a wave made from 1,150 dancing LEGO bricks in 38 different colors. We want one for our office – in a soundproof chamber.

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The Concrete Zamboni

The Concrete Zamboni

It might be officially called a Wacker Neuson Hydrostatic Trowel, but these ride-on machines are like a zamboni for concrete, smoothing and finishing the building material, thanks to water jets and fan blades which spin just above the surface. (Thanks Kathy!)

Making Waves

Making Waves

A completely hypnotic video of a computer-controlled metal lathe as it gradually transforms an ordinary metal rod into a twisty, wavy thing. We’re not sure what the finished piece is intended for – all we know is we’ll do whatever it tells us to.

Extreme Sandbox

Extreme Sandbox

Forget simulators. Located in Pottsboro, TX and Hastings, MN, Extreme Sandbox will teach you how to operate heavy equipment – a bulldozer, a wheel loader, an excavator, or a fire truck – and have fun with them through various challenges.

The MultiCuber 999

The MultiCuber 999

We’ve seen machines that could solve simple Rubik’s Cubes very quickly, but this impressive build is not only made entirely from LEGO Mindstorms, but can solve an insanely complex 9x9x9 cube. It takes it about 35 minutes, but we’d like to see you do better.

LEGO Technic Kinetic Sculptures

LEGO Technic Kinetic Sculptures

Brick builder Alexander Holroyd shows off yet another unconventional use for LEGO – creating kinetic sculptures. Beyond the Brick caught up with Alexander and his hypnotic mechanical toys at BrickCon 2016. More here and here.

Building a Pedal-Powered Strandbeest

Building a Pedal-Powered Strandbeest

For his latest one-day build, Adam Savage and his Tested pals cheated a bit, spending a couple of days cutting, welding, and assembling a complicated walking machine inspired by the work of Theo Jansen. And you thought assembling IKEA furniture was tricky.

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