Tips
May 23, 2017

Jiwi's Top Machine Building Tips

Jiwi's Top Machine Building Tips

Famous Jewish Kiwi Jiwi knows a thing or two about Rube Goldberg machines! During the YiA Can Do Challenge Workshop in early May, we were lucky enough to get the chance to video chat with him all the way from his studio in Los Angeles. He gave us some awesome tips on how to building a winning machine. Here's the recap:

1) Start with the end

You don’t need to plan all the steps in advance. Sometimes (most of the time!) things won’t work the way you want them to, it is okay to be flexible and plan as you go. Jiwi suggests starting with the ending first and building from there.

2) Test 10x

Jiwi tests each step of his machines 10 times and if 9 times are successful, he will move on to the next step. He spends about half his time building the machine, and the other half planning and testing. Leave a good amount of time towards the end of the build for testing.

3) Patience is a virtue

Be patient and persistent. Building Rube Goldberg machines can be a long process with a lot of trial and error.

4) Expect the unexpected during filming

When you are filming, it will most likely take you at least 20 tries to get the one continuous video of your machine. Jiwi usually films his machine 30 times and most of the attempts won’t work. Remember you just need one take! He suggests leaving a day at the end for filming.

5) Timing your steps

Jiwi’s most important tip for building a Rube Goldberg machine is to think about the timing of the steps. If a step is too fast, it can be stressful or difficult to watch, however, if a step is too slow it could be boring. Think of ways you can use speed to build excitement and make the most of your board!

Bonus tip: Practice filming your endings!

You will probably only manage to film your machine going the whole way through once, so make sure you are ready to celebrate when that glorious moment happens! And it will come!

When Problems Arise: Jiwi's 3 Biggest Problems

Jiwi may be a great machine builder, but he’s still human! Here are the 3 biggest problems he’s encountered, and ways around them.

1) Things never work as well as you think they do

If you try something once and it works, that is not enough as chances are it won’t work when you go to film it – keep testing.

2) Steps on the machine can be set off by bumps in earlier steps

Jiwi does a ‘thump test’ where he knocks the board and if the steps stay put, it is a success.

3) It’s easy to get too attached to a step

If you are spending too much time on one particular step that isn’t working, it may be better to move on to the next thing. As Jiwi says:

The laws of physics aren’t always going to have the same goal as you.

Keep Jiwi’s expert tips in mind when building a marvellous machine of your own! Good luck.

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