chain reaction machine

This chain reaction machine is made up of everyday objects and is designed to accomplish a simple task in a silly and complicated way. The motion of this machine is created by a sequence of events, using gravity and simple mechanisms like levers and pulleys to help it along.

It will be on display at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco from March 15th to July 8th, 2018 as a welcome to the Art of Rube Goldberg exhibition!


1. The String is pulled, which pulls the spoon handle down...

2. The spoon pulls alphabet blocks up to spell “this”, lifts up the ruler see-saw

3. The ruler tilts, letting the marble roll down, and hitting the handle of the mallet

4. The mallet hits a momentary switch, which makes the record’s motor spin a tiny bit

5. That tiny bit of spin causes a second switch to pop out of a little divot on the record, and triggers the motor to spin for a full rotation, at which point the switch pops back into the divot on the record and turns the motor off.

6. A spool on the record pulls a string as the record spins, which causes the word “TO” to slide back and forth as the angle of the string changes

7. As the record pulls the string, it also activates a linkage that raises and lowers the word “THE” with the help of a little skillet

8. When the ruler see-saw tilts, it also releases the tension on a string that is connected to the mouse wheel. The wheel has a heavy nut weighing it down, which causes it to rotate to the left

9. As the mouse wheel rotates to the left, it pulls a string that is connected to the pointing hand, and the hand rotates to point the way to the exhibition!

now watch the whole chain reaction in action!

Ryan Jenkins