The K'NEX Gallery

The following designs were created from 2005-2007 while I was teaching at Anything Grows School in Bellingham, Wa.

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Scroll down to see them all in detail!

Automotive Driveline:
K'NEX Engine, K'NEX Transmission

24 Valve, Double Overhead Cam, V6 Engine, 3-speed + Reverse Transmission, Clutch, and Planetary Gear Rear Differential.

And yes, it all works. By spinning the crank on the front of the engine, all six pistons move through their 4-stroke cycle. The intake and exhaust valves even open and close in time with their respective pistons.

The clutch is pedal activiated and engages/disengages the engine from the transmission, just like in a real car.

The Transmission works just like a real one. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Reverse.

At the rear lies a planetary gear differential, just like those found in real cars, allowing the engine's torque to be transferred to the wheels as needed through corners.


Watch it Run! (15MB Download)

K'NEX V-6 Engine (Version 1):

The first attempt at creating a working model internal combustion engine. It's a fairly low-tech design, featuring six cylinders with 12 pushrod actuated valves. This relatively simple design served as the impetus for the complete driveline shown above...

Watch it Run!


K'NEX Walking Machines:

I was challenged by the students I work with to create a 4 legged walking machine. Years ago I had created a similar machine out of Legos for a high-school physics class project. This guy is quite unrefined, but effective nontheless.

4-Legged Walker (Video: Side View / Front View)

Accomplishing this of course led to the evolution of bipedalism:

2-Legged Walker (Video)

And soon this clunky, slow, lifeless brute was replaced by this little guy:

2-Legged, Weight Shifting Walker (Video)

...And this guy soon had a younger but taller brother!

Another, refined-design, 2-Legged, Weight Shifting Walker (Video)



Strange Locomotion:

It has 4 Square Wheels with nothing driving them. All the motor does is spin itself around, yet it rolls slowly and steadily along! This concept is not my own, though its K'nex incarnation is my own design.


The K'NEX Tank:

Remote Controlled. Capable of moving any direction, including turning 360 degrees without moving forwards or backwards! Also features a rotating turret!

(Watch the Video!)

More to come...

The four-wheel independent suspension, two or four-wheel steering Rally Car
More walking machines

Group Projects!

The following projects were created with the collaboration of Abby, Aldin, Kevin and Spenser.

The Tower: Featuring 5 working elevators and a height of over 10 feet!

(Watch the video!)

The K'NEX Suspension Bridge.

The K'NEX Ferris Wheel

(Watch the video!)


The Background Story

Part 1:

I've long been fascinated by machines and the way they work, the way they are put together, the way they accomplish goals that are abstracted from the mechanisms going on inside of them.

A car is a great example of this. As a driver, you manipulate controls to accomplish a task. You push your right toe downward onto the gas pedal to get somewhere quicker. Simple cause and effect, right?

Wrong. You push your right toe downward and it uses a lever to pull on a cable which eventually pulls on another lever which rotates a shaft, opening a butterfly valve which allows more air and fuel to be drawn in through the engine's intake valves and into the combustion chamber which creates a larger explosion there that accelerates the pistons, in turn accelerating the crankshaft, which through a series of shafts and gears in the transmission and differential eventually make the car's wheels rotate more rapidly which allows you, as the driver, to cover more ground in less time.

Thanks to the finely tuned machine that the car is, we are aware of just about none of this. Pedal down, speed up.

This is what I like about machines.

Part 2:

One of the perks of working as a teacher is that you are often granted access to things you might not otherwise be. Research materials, office supplies, special viewings of museums and art shows, a huge supply of K'nex...


Combine a fascination with machines and a large supply of "toys" for making machines and things are bound to happen.

(A huge thanks goes to the Turner family for their generous donation of K'Nex to Anything Grows Community School!)