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Thread: Hot out of the garage Side Load Ball Lifter sure looks like it's working

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    Eye Shooter rockston's Avatar
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    Default Hot out of the garage Side Load Ball Lifter sure looks like it's working

    Watch it make quick work of a pile of balls: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjdhd9Qzqq0

    20210811_190859.jpg Ed Wood : "This is the one I'll be remembered for"

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    Stuey - The RADministrator MrGneiss's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hot out of the garage Side Load Ball Lifter sure looks like it's working

    Nice!!

    "Blowing smoke rings at the moon."

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    Blind Shooter Ringtail's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hot out of the garage Side Load Ball Lifter sure looks like it's working

    Pretty awesome bud, keep us updated of your progress

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    Master Inventor daverob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hot out of the garage Side Load Ball Lifter sure looks like it's working

    I like that design. It's difficult to see from the perspective of the photos, but is the motor and gear tilted backwards by a few degrees?

    I've been playing with a similar design loosely based on the old 'Balldozer', and it does seem that a slight tilt has advantages over a horizontal gear hopper design, or a plumb vertical gear. Still got to figure out a design for the feed hopper, but you've inspired me to fire up the CAD and sketch a few ideas.

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    Eye Shooter rockston's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hot out of the garage Side Load Ball Lifter sure looks like it's working

    Quote Originally Posted by daverob View Post
    I like that design. It's difficult to see from the perspective of the photos, but is the motor and gear tilted backwards by a few degrees?

    I've been playing with a similar design loosely based on the old 'Balldozer', and it does seem that a slight tilt has advantages over a horizontal gear hopper design, or a plumb vertical gear. Still got to figure out a design for the feed hopper, but you've inspired me to fire up the CAD and sketch a few ideas.

    Thanks, It has a 15 degree tilt, I originally thought I could get away with a vertical feeder by just tilting the hopper towards it but it wouldn't feed reliably. After propping up the end while it was running and seeing the remarkable difference, I revamped the angles. Here is a clean shot. 20210812_162751.jpg After loop testing it for an hour at various speeds with no jams, I got bored and started working on the cosmetics. I have to clean up a huge mess and then I'll install it in a lumina.

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    Eye Shooter rockston's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hot out of the garage Side Load Ball Lifter sure looks like it's working

    Side Loader Installed

    In this case, the weight of the pachinko holds the loader in place so one screw to hold the exit tube
    and I am good to go. I'm using vinyl 5/8" ID hose as a coupler for the 5/8" OD Pex and polyethylene and it
    works so well you would think it was designed for that. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJKsPhmmYYs

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    Eye Shooter rockston's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hot out of the garage Side Load Ball Lifter sure looks like it's working

    Testing is going quite well, no jam in either of these lifters yet.

    Here is the latest test setup https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kD90Qnas5Ic

    If this loader continues to test positively :

    I am kicking around the idea of offering a DIY kit of the Side Loader that would include the sprocket with
    hub and outer housing. Perhaps a catch tray bottom with slits cut for the
    aluminum rails and some fasteners. To complete it you would need to buy a motor and a power supply, a small
    amount of plywood or hardwood and cut and drill a few pieces and assemble. You would also need a few dollars
    worth of tubing to hook it up. Ideally I would like the kit to fit inside a small USPS box to keep shipping constant.
    Your thoughts?

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    Scowlin' Jean Hornigold hanabi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hot out of the garage Side Load Ball Lifter sure looks like it's working

    Late to the thread, but very cool indeed!

    Angie ...
    Pachinkos, Pachislos, Coffee, Papercraft Ninja, Pinball

    I ran away with the Steampunk Circus!
    I was hiding in a room in my mind...
    You crush the lily in my soul...



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    Blind Shooter Ringtail's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hot out of the garage Side Load Ball Lifter sure looks like it's working

    Quote Originally Posted by rockston View Post
    I am kicking around the idea of offering a DIY kit of the Side Loader that would include the sprocket with
    hub and outer housing. Perhaps a catch tray bottom with slits cut for the
    aluminum rails and some fasteners. To complete it you would need to buy a motor and a power supply, a small
    amount of plywood or hardwood and cut and drill a few pieces and assemble. You would also need a few dollars
    worth of tubing to hook it up. Ideally I would like the kit to fit inside a small USPS box to keep shipping constant.
    Your thoughts?
    In an ideal world I'd prefer to have a ready made unit or a complete kit available to buy but I can appreciate that then puts financial stress on you to source components and of course a higher shipping fee overall. As for the current suggestion as long as the woodworking skills required aren't too advanced and the all important price is right, I could see myself being interested.

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    Master Inventor daverob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hot out of the garage Side Load Ball Lifter sure looks like it's working

    Quote Originally Posted by Ringtail View Post
    In an ideal world I'd prefer to have a ready made unit or a complete kit available to buy ... as long as the woodworking skills required aren't too advanced and the all important price is right
    The good thing about the side loading designs, is that apart from the gear itself and a few pieces directly surrounding the gear, everything else doesn't have to be very precise. So I see rockston's kit offer as something that allows the rest of us to make their own ball lifter, even if they don't have the equipment or talent needed to make the parts that do require a higher level of precision.

    Once you get to offering a fully assembled unit, or even a complete kit of parts, then there's a lot of work required to put that together and the cost inevitably spirals upward.

    This is what happened with the Balldozer. The guy that originally designed it made a few batches of them, priced them competitively and they sold pretty well. He then discovered that it was taking up a significant amount of his spare time, and the money earned during that time was a lot less than his 'day job'. When the project was taken over by the current producer of them, and the cost of manufacture was recalculated, the selling price doubled.

    This is the reason that I've been concentrating my attempts at designing a ball lifter on using laser cut acrylic. It scales very well from a one-off prototype to production quantities, and making a flat-pack kit of parts requires very little manual work.

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    Eye Shooter rockston's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hot out of the garage Side Load Ball Lifter sure looks like it's working

    Exactly my thinking Dave. Part of my plan includes building a router station based on a dividing engine to produce accurate sprockets easily and quickly from delrin hole saw blanks. I was thinking about buying an inexpensive cnc router for a while but the entry level ones appear to be too wimpy and slow for any production. What would also be cool is to see how members would add their own personal touches and ideas.

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    Master Inventor daverob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hot out of the garage Side Load Ball Lifter sure looks like it's working

    Quote Originally Posted by rockston View Post
    I was thinking about buying an inexpensive cnc router for a while but the entry level ones appear to be too wimpy and slow for any production.
    I was looking at cutting delrin gears for some of my initial designs where the laser cut acrylic was too fragile, and came to the same conclusions about cheap CNC routers. I bought a cheap 'rotary table' for my manual milling machine, and made a few nylon and acetal gears on it, but found it way too time consuming for production. I eventually redesigned the gear to take the forces away from the fragile 'teeth' of the laser cut acrylic and it seems to be a much more durable design (but still needs a lot more testing to prove it's durability!)

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    Eye Shooter rockston's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hot out of the garage Side Load Ball Lifter sure looks like it's working

    Built me a Sprocket Rocket . Ready to give it a go as soon as the bit I ordered gets here.


    20210824_144934.jpg

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    Eye Shooter rockston's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hot out of the garage Side Load Ball Lifter sure looks like it's working

    The bit was delivered during dinner. Sprocket Rocket Activated! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=La55Ljo5QvA

    Now I am waiting on some parts I want to use as hubs.

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    Kungishi Wayne-Ooo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hot out of the garage Side Load Ball Lifter sure looks like it's working

    Very impressive!!! Great job
    What if...​the ​HOKEY POKEY, is what it's all about?

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    Eye Shooter rockston's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hot out of the garage Side Load Ball Lifter sure looks like it's working

    I am making a lot of progress building fixtures and jigs to cut repeatable parts for the side loader kit project. Here I am testing an assembled unit in a fixture. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oC1YLYuIBTQ What I am testing is basically the kits parts but minus the motor. I also have one more assembly that will come with to tool up for which will be the bottom section of the catch basin with rails. The business end is more compact than the prototype. I am still on my goal of fitting it all into small flat rate box! I am also planning on making this kit irresistibly inexpensive !

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    Chicken Fried Steak takethecastle57's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hot out of the garage Side Load Ball Lifter sure looks like it's working

    But what about when you have a stack of balls in and the top tray on the machine is Full will it just Backfeed and make the motor go in reverse?
    When things don't go right the 1st time , Step back ,Take a break and come back renewed. RGS

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    Eye Shooter rockston's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hot out of the garage Side Load Ball Lifter sure looks like it's working

    "But what about when you have a stack of balls in and the top tray on the machine is Full will it just Backfeed and make the motor go in reverse?"


    Good question, no the loader will not operate in reverse when that happens. Yes, left to itself, the loader will quickly cause too many balls winding up on the top tray overflowing. Adding an overflow cutoff switch at the top tray will only transfer the problem to the loader causing it to overflow. One solution is to extend the top tray to hold 3000 or more balls and use a Daverob dongle or an analog "ball buyer" like the ones I have been working on in a large closed system. Now you can enjoy long periods of play without touching any balls whatsoever. Of course eventually you will might win and if you keep winning you will break the bank, which could be considered the object. If that happens you might decide to refill the back hopper by hand with your winnings and start over.

    One of my machines had the nails opened up a slight amount before the center feature when I bought it that greatly increased the chances of hitting it and that difference causes it to dispense balls at a rate that keeps up with the ball lifter. I haven't had to extend that top tray yet. The shooter trays level changes very slowly.

    Another solution or additional mod might be to create an overflow channel from the top prize tray to the bottom overflow tray of your machine. Of course in an ideal world you would use ball loaders to create a ball management network of collection and distribution troughs for your machines just like the real thing. There is definitely something satisfying about a ball lifter that constantly and diligently replenishes your prize tray!

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    Fever Hunter atlanticom's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hot out of the garage Side Load Ball Lifter sure looks like it's working

    @rockston,

    After watching some of your demo videos, I began thinking about the possible merits of an alternative activation strategy. What are your thoughts on using two 'contact plates': one half-moon shaped piece of aluminum behind the sprocket toward the bottom, and one rectangular piece of aluminum lining the bottom of the sprocket cutout area This configuration would put the two contact plates at a 90 degree angle from each other, essentially lining a portion of the space where the balls enter between the sprocket teeth for lifting. Balls that enter the lifting area would make positive contact between the two surfaces (bottom and back) to complete the circuit and energize the motor.

    My thought is this design may be easy to fabricate and apply with a little contact cement. Leads could be soldered to the metal in advance, or 'tabs' could be added to the metal contact plates to protrude through the back for connection. This strategy would also place the activation contacts closer to the 'business end' of the device for improved activation timing.

    Just sharing an idea that bubbled up

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    Master Inventor daverob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hot out of the garage Side Load Ball Lifter sure looks like it's working

    My own experiments have found that you want the ball detection switch/sensor a little way away from the gear, this ensures that there are sufficient balls around the gear to completely fill the gear with balls before the motor starts up.

    Each empty space in the gear will push the balls in the tube a little way before they drop back down into the empty space hitting the next gear tooth, acting like a hammer on the gear itself and providing a significant shock loading to the motor gearbox.

    When you consider that a stack of steel balls the height of a pachinko machine weighs around 1lb / 500g you really want to avoid this hammering action as much as possible, as it's a quick way to damage the lifting gear and strip the gearbox.

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