Rube Goldberg-esque room

Connected Home Home

Daniel Heggarty from St. Louis, MO, wrote in to share his gloriously convoluted machine.

This room was constructed with the humor of Rube Goldberg cartoons in mind at the St. Louis City Museum. Developed organically, the room started with one exercycle on the bench and the thought, “What can this become?” From there, visual and comedic mechanics were added day by day to create a space that with the push of a button, the room would erupt with motion and activity. A line shaft and belt system from the Industrial Revolution was used to transmit power and action over the viewers head, encompassing them with movement and the challenge of deciphering what powers what. An umbrella opens and closes with the aid of cables and manikin hands, a cup floats and falls with the power of pneumatic pistons, a 3ft. wheel of feet kicks up opposing balancing beams, a leg and foot continue to ‘kick the bucket’ and a fireplace bellows that spins the pinwheel. The line shaft continues on the opposing side to spin a turn of the century shoe polisher and a wall of interconnected bicycle wheels. Shovels hang from the ceiling while being punched by boxing gloves and old dry cleaner racks play the xylophones.

In an age of digital automation this purely mechanical machine was created by trial and error, with the driving thought “Maybe this will work.”

2 thoughts on “Rube Goldberg-esque room

  1. retrolab says:

    that is really, really cool. I think more museums (science, art, childrens etc) should feature more hand made, interactive stuff such as this. It’s just fun and original.

    I’ve quit going to science museums mainly because most of them are defaulting to using displays that use PCs and programs as edutainment games that don’t really engage or teach much.

Comments are closed.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal

View more articles by John Baichtal


Maker Faire Bay Area 2023 - Mare Island, CA

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Buy Tickets today! SAVE 15% and lock-in your preferred date(s).