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This project is based off a popular carnival ride. Minifigures ride in planes, which move up and down as the ride runs. My original, fully functional concept model can be seen in the main picture above. After completing this working prototype, I have experimented with various improvements to the design. My updated model can be seen in picture 2. I have broken the model down to show how each section was changed individually:
The first change I made was to get six planes on the ride. Getting six way symmetry is not trivial, especially when trying to keep the model compact, and able to stand up to play. The prototype core with three spokes can be seen in picture 3. My first six-spoke core (picture 4) made use of the six-way symmetry of the Technic pulley. This worked very well, but at 6 bumps tall, is rather bulky. My next version (picture 5) reduced the core to 4.5 bumps tall, but unfortunately was not sturdy enough to be a practical solution. The final version I came up with (picture 6) reduced the core to only 3.5 bumps tall, and while it is not as sturdy as the first version, was strong enough for this model. Additionally, it can easily be separated into two 3-spoke cores.
Next up is the plane design. My original model (picture 7) was rather "blocky" since it had mount points for both arms built in. My new design (picture 8) is much more streamlined, and of course has a safety harness to prevent minifigure injury. Note the change to the ends of the spokes (picture 5), which allows the planes to be supported by a single Technic axle.
The final major change was in the base of the model. The change in height along the edge of the base is what causes the planes to move up and down. My original prototype (picture 9) provided only a small amount of up-and-down movement of the planes. After experimenting with many combinations of parts, I arrived at the current version (picture 10), which provides a great range of up-and-down movement, while still being relatively smooth.