This post provides some design ideas for making your own marble run structures.

This photo above shows a blue "straight-away" component cantilevering to the left, while a green "straight-away" component counter-balances the structure by cantilevering back to the right.

In this post, I illustrate a number of different "components" that can be built into a complete construction. I use the base configuration from Q20/plan03 (cubes 1-6) and then 4 blue single-exit cubes and 4 green single-exit cubes to create the various components.

This is a six-cube "zig-zag" component. Each green cube makes a right-turn and each blue cube makes a left-turn. The left-right-left pattern makes the zig-zag. An eight-cube "zig-zag" would have required further cubes on the opposite side as a counter-balance.

This is an eight-cube "switch-back" component. Each single exit-cube aims the pathway back under the previous single-exit cube. The result is very stable tower form that is just one cube wide and two-cubes deep.

This is an eight-cube "switch-back helix" component. The blue single-exit cubes each rotate 90 degrees with respect to the blue cube above. The green single-exit cubes aim the pathway back under the previous blue single-exit cube. The result is what appears to be a central blue column wrapped with a sporadic green helix.

This is an eight-cube "1x3 switch-back" component. The component is one cube wide and three cubes deep. The pathway goes straight through two cubes and then the third cube bends the path back under the previous two cubes. The set of four green cubes could be rotated 90 degrees with respect to the blue cubes and then you'd have a "rotating 1x3 switch-back".

This is a six-cube "straight-away" component. The two cubes on the left are necessary to counter-balance the weight of the "straight-away" as it leans far out to the right. It is not necessary for a structure to be symmetrical to have balance. There just needs to be enough weight to keep things from tipping. As you get more daring with your own designs, you'll have to experiment with trial and error. If your structure falls down, you probably went beyond some physical limit. Pushing these limits is part of the fun!

This is an eight-cube "helix" component. More specifically, this is a "2x2 counter-clockwise single-helix." Each cube turns the pathway to the left as it goes down, so the pathway spins counter-clockwise. If each cube turned the path to the right, it would be a clockwise helix. Looking at this helix from above, it fits on a 2x2 cube grid.

This is an eight-cube "2x2 counter-clockwise double-helix" component. It is much like the single-helix, but a second helix fills in the empty cantilevered spaces of the first helix. Here, one helix is green and the other is blue. DNA is a double-helix. Question: Is the DNA double-helix clockwise or counter-clockwise? and why?

This is an eight-cube "3x3 counter-clockwise double-helix." The two helixes will never touch. Double-exit cubes can be used occasionally as a "3x3 double-helix" is built as a means of connecting and stabilizing the two pathways. Cube #34 in Q50/plan01 is a double-exit cube used in this way.

This is an eight-cube "3x3 counter-clockwise single-helix."

The list of components goes on and on. Take a look at the post on 10 Billion Trillion Combinations and you will get an idea of just how many configurations are possible.

Have fun experimenting and exploring and finding the coolest components for your crazy constructions!