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Rube Cube (Waitati Music Festival 2017)

Rube Cube

(Waitai Music Festival 2017)

I created an interactive installation called "Rube Cube" for Waitati Music Festival 2017 which was held on 18 Feb 2017 at Bland Park, Waitati.

The Concept - Rube Cube

Rube Cube invites participants to "Create your own Rube Goldberg machine."

“A Rube Goldberg machine is a contraption, invention, device, or apparatus that is deliberately over-engineered to perform a simple task in a complicated fashion, generally including a chain reaction. The expression is named after American cartoonist and inventor Rube Goldberg (1883–1970).”

The Rube Cube installation

I made a cube of plywood measuring 1.1m x1.1m x 1.1m and drilled holes in an isometric pattern all over the sides. These holes were used to add machine parts such as channelled wood, cut curves, pipes, hoses and other bits and pieces. Parts were be attached using wood dowel in most cases. Moving pieces include marbles, dominoes, and toy cars.


Each side of the cube (and a part of the top) was used by participants to make a separate Rube Goldberg Machine, so that 4 machines can be worked on simultaneously. The machines started at the top and worked their way down to the bottom of the cube to ding a bell.

I took video of the machines and offered prizes for the wackiest machine and the longest duration machine.

Rube Cube interaction in full swing

Rube Cube interaction in full swing

How it went on the day

Rube Cube was very well received on the day. It ran at capacity for 8 hours mostly entertaining children. Some children spent up to 2 hours on it. Which totalled an estimated 60 child-hours of building on the day. The competition for longest duration machine was hotly contested and won by team "Finally!" with a time of 35.91s! Some very wacky machines were made, the wackiest was judged to be "the Fyfe device". See some of the machines in action in the highlight video below:

The future of Rube Cube

Rube Cube has been acquired by Otago Museum and they plan to continue to run it at community events in Otago.


Rube Cube was partly funded by Waitati Music Festival. Thanks to everyone that helped to make it a reality!

Licence for reuse

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