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free plans: how to make a|
||Here is a thoroughly enjoyable project that you can mount on any wall. It's a plinko display in which you place a thin puck at the top and let go. The puck randomly bounces its way amongst a series of pins to the bottom where it is held in place by some hidden magnets. While it may look simple, it takes patience and requires some precise work. We made ours to be 5' (1.5m) tall. We think that you will love making and playing with this project!|
The basic use of the plinko is to grace a wall with something intriguing. Guests and particularly children are often drawn to it. If you make it look appealing, its a pleasure to look at and think about even when a puck is not bouncing around. You can use it as a set of dice since the pegs deliver a randomness - note that the randomness won't be perfect, and we don't recommend using it for a game that requires a lot of dice throwing unless you have plenty of time. Kids like to guess in advance where it will go, or to send down a series of pucks and have them fill each of the available spots - we call that a royal flush. They can also have races by releasing two pucks on each side at the same time - the crashes in the middle that occasionally occur are exciting. You may also want to try a statistical test by determining how random your plinko really is. Start the same puck in the same location each time for a hundred or thousand or million tries and make a note of which exit it ended up in.
You can try a different overall shape, such as equilateral triangle or trapezoid. You can use alternative pin layouts, for example an area free from pegs so the puck cascades down, or a cradle to catch the puck in a particular location. You can also embed the display into something else, perhaps a door. How about automatic reloading so the puck runs continuously - we are considering to create a plan for a plinko in a door with automatic reloading for continuous operation (please let us know if you would be interested to pay a small fee for such a project).
You can vary the size without significant complications. Theoretically, it could be made very large but you would have to rework the door; the self-closing hinges would not provide enough force to keep a heavy door closed -- you would need to add a catch. In the other extreme, you could make a smaller version, but keep in mind the smaller you go, the less room you have for inaccuracies. Being off by 1/16" (1.5mm) on the version we made would have insignificant consequences; but this level of inaccuracy a smaller version could drastically affect the randomness.
alternative puck catcher
You can use a physical slot instead of magnetic catch and this can be made to hold more than one puck, in fact it can be made very long so that it can hold many pucks. You could also add more magnets to be able to hold more pucks - the pucks from above would just push the previous pucks down a little. You could probably get this to work, but it seems a little marginal. The pucks can also fall out of the peg area completely, for example through a slot in the frame: they could drop into a net.
The door is included for many reasons. It serves as a panel to hold the puck in place so that you can orient the display in a perfectly vertical fashion. Without a front panel of any sort, you would need to tip the display back to prevent the puck from falling out; this tipping requires more space and would also require that you use low friction materials. The door also allows you to access the pucks in case they get stuck. If you ensured that the puck is smaller than the smallest distance between two pegs, your only problem will be when the puck balances on top of a peg. It is a rare occurrence but it does happen. The door allows you to access these situations. Also, if you send a few pucks down simultaneously, they can get caught on eachother.
If you are bothered by the clicking noise made as the puck winds its way amongst the pegs you can dampen the impacts with a o-ring. You could put o-rings around each peg or you could put it around the puck itself. O-ring material is sold by the yard (meter) and adheres well to super glue. You could simply trim the necessary amount and glue it to the perimeter of the pucks. Don't forget that doing so increases the diameter of your puck and therefore you will need to size it to ensure that it fits between the pegs.
You can use a wide variety of materials, but plywood, plastic or metal is a requirement for the back panel. Using hardwood would be risky because of the chance for expansion and contraction. If you are going to use the magnetic puck catcher as we did, you should avoid using a ferrous material as the back panel. The pucks can be made out of anything flat. You could try rubber, plastic, laminates, fiberglass etc.
We decided to make the plinko a wall mounted display because as such it takes up much less room. You can, however, make a more portable version that you can store in a closet when not in use. It could be rested up against a wall or have its own support leg in the back to hold it at a slight angle off vertical. Be very careful, though, if you are going to make a slanted version - you will have to ensure that there is very little friction between the puck and the back surface. A wood-wood contact will probably not suffice because it will slow down the puck's movement and increase the chances for it to stop on top of the pegs. You should probably use a smooth and low-friction plastic for both the back surface and puck. The steeper the angle the better, but make sure that it isn't so steep that the whole display will be unstable and likely to fall. If you do have an angle, however, you may be able to omit the front door.
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