In the brainstorming phase of designing our product, we ran into a multitude of issues that would be prohibitive to it working the way we intended. Before we moved to the prototyping stage, we made a list of these obstacles to ensure that the device would work properly. We spent an ample amount of time to determine all of these issues and develop solutions that would help MARC work the way we intended. One major difficulty we encountered was making sure each of the links in our chain stayed together and was able to contract and expand without falling apart. There was no system for this in our model made from legos. In our initial idea, we were going to encase the chain into a rectangular-prism-shaped tunnel that would keep all of the pieces together. This quickly became a problem when we understood that the tunnel would not contract whilst the rest of the product did, making it much larger and inconvenient for any potential user.
We solved this problem by adding what we call “connectors” to the bottom of each stem to connect each rail to the opposing link. This way each link can move together and apart seamlessly without an external system containing it. Due to the rail connectors being our method of keeping our system contained and together, we cannot have any type of electricity connection between the wire and the back (or top) of the rail, as they would be in each other’s way. For this reason we changed the system to have two electric connections per link, one for each magnet rather than one for each link. They come from the back of each stem, rather than the back of each rail. This way they do not interfere with the rest of the design.
A second hurdle was how we would deliver electricity to each of the magnets, as no wire can change length. Also, there would be no way for the wire to transfer between each of the links, as each of them would be moving while the wire had to be stationary. We solved this problem by moving the wires to outside of each link, with an electric connection stemming out from the backside of each rail, which will be able to move along the wire as the chain contracts and expands. We took inspiration from city trams that move along a cable for electricity. We also considered a second approach of designing a tunnel through the rail and stems of each link that the wire would go through, but decided it was not the most efficient design and would limit the versatility of the MARC.