Jacob’s Ladder

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It is entirely possible (and likely) you are as surprised as I am that it’s week 2 and I haven’t yet abandoned this endeavour.  But here I am:  another week, another toy.

I do like the folk toys, so I took a step back from the cute factor of apes and did some experimenting with one of my favourite mechanisms:  the Jacob’s Ladder.

It’s a fairly simple mechanism of blocks and ribbons, but with the wickedly mesmerizing visual of cascading blocks.  And, yes Jav, I agree that Portal and Portal 2 are also both very visually mesmerizing and game changing…just in a different way.  :)
I ended up with 4 ladder versions, primarily variations in the staining patterns and wood orientation, just to see how they differed visually.
Ok.  It’s possible I just needed wood scraps to test my new walnut and cherry stains.  :)

And, of course, a nod to the industry…

Unfortunately, I had much grander plans for this week.  I was really keen to make a geared mechanism that would use a crank and crankshaft to drive a rack and pinion.  This would translate the hand-cranked rotation into a reciprocating rack, which would then translate to alternating 180-degree rotations that would alternate the Jacob’s Ladder to flip back and forth.
GAH!  So engineeringly cool!  But alas, too much staining and ribbon tension testing, and not enough gearing!  :)
Obviously, still photos can’t really describe how the Jacob’s Ladder work, nor does it visually describe the cascading illusion.  It’s also possible that my fascination with this traditional folk toy mine and mine alone.  In which case, I would argue that even a low-res video wouldn’t do it justice.
At the risk of carbon-dating myself, the popular Rubik’s Magic of the early 80′s was based on this toy.  It’s easy to see the similarities in this video.
Song:  Maple Leaf Rag
Artist:  Scott Joplin, 1899
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