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Rube-Goldberg Device Close-Up

The device is shown in its launch orientation. This Rube-Goldberg piece was created to solve several problems, which were to: 1) trigger a manual shutter button on a cheap auto-film-advance camera; 2) use cheap on-hand components for manufacture; 3) initiate the action ONLY at the point of launch to save on film expense; 4) disengage at the point of recovery deployment to save on film expense (who needs ten shots of a parachute?); 5) handle the stress of instant 20+G's without a malfunction. The device performed on ALL functions except for #4 - John had theorized that the Lego magnet would "disengage" at the shock-point of recovery deployment (it did not).

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Genius Can Be Cheap!

The device is highly durable. It sat in a water saturated corn field for six weeks before recovery - the device, camera and film shots all survived!


The red knob on the camera is the manual shutter button. It was depressed by the black knob of the device which was on a rocker arm that was raised by a cam that rotated once every second (to accommodate the auto-film-advance sequence of the cheap camera). The motor-mechanism was a cheap electrical motor from Radio Shack that ran on a single AA battery. The contact was initiated ONLY by movement of the rocket (no wasted shots) by a Lego magnet (the lower red piece) that was fastened onto a spring tension "swing arm" that was attached to contact a motion-switch in the down position. The Lego magnet held the motion-switch contacts in place via a metal strip mounted at the critical position.

Ideally, it was hoped that the magnet would release during the violent shock of the recovery deployment (but not during 1st stage deceleration from stage separation) did not.


The housing structure strength is apparent in the photo - the camera housing had to be strong with accomodating payload bulkheads to: a) protect it from the violent forces of launch nearing 25G's; b) the shock of recovery deployment; and c) keeping the camera shutter in alignment with the airframe prism for the duration of the event.

Judge for yourself via the photos!


All comments Welcome


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