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Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, my marvellous “Solar BEAM Marble Machine”! A brass marble machine with a solar powered, solenoid actuated, lever lifting mechanism!

This machine uses capacitors to store energy from the sun and, once charged, dumps all that energy into a coil, pushing away a magnet, and lifting a small steel ball through the use of a lever.

In previous BEAM related Instructables there was some confusion surrounding my use of the term BEAM. I don’t think it is such a common concept anymore. How I understand it is that BEAM is a hobby electronics movement from the late 90s to early 00s that focused on turning found or common components into analogue circuits and robots.

The circuit used here is a type of very common BEAM circuit called a solar engine which stores charge from a solar cell (or other low current power source) in a capacitor until there is enough usable energy (i.e. the capacitor voltage is high enough) to do some meaningful work. This is normally used to run a small motor in short bursts even when the sun is not strong enough to power the motor directly. It is especially helpful in this particular machine as there is no way a solar panel of this size would be able to provide the current necessary to drive the coil while capacitors have no trouble. Furthermore, even if we had the necessary power, we would not want current running through the coil at all times.

For this project, the word BEAM works on two levels, one being for the electronics style, and the second being that the main lifting mechanism is a lever or… a beam =D

Note: In the past I have tried taking all photos on a white background but I found, with the work I do, it often gets dirty too quick. I have tried a black background here, let me know what you think.”

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