Articles, Blog

Testing the Music Timing Clutch – Marble Machine X #77

October 17, 2019

The time it takes for one marble to drop from here to here is constant. It doesn’t matter how fast I turn the crank, this time will always be exactly the same But if I turn the crank slowly. The crank handle doesn’t travel so far during the time it takes for the marble to reach the kick-drum. So that’s the 90 bpm. But if we then increased to 140 bpm the crank handle travels much longer during one marble fall. So the kick drum will be late. I have one contact microphone in the kick drum and have another contact microphone down here. And the one down here will react exactly to my crank because this note of the rhythm machine has the same rhythm as the crank. On the bottom here is the kick drum let’s listen to it. So you hear that the kick drum and the rhythm machine is not playing together. We need to fix this and depending on the tempo of the song the kick drum and the rhythm machine will be in different distances from each other timewise. We need something indexable to offset this latency for every specific song for every specific tempo We need the musical timing clutch. So this music timing clutch is designed by Will from Machine Thinking in collaboration with me but Will came up with most of this cleverness with this function and here’s also machined the pieces. And he has made an amazing video about how he made this masterpiece. Machine thinking is a wonderful youtube channel I can easily recommend you to go over there and hit subscribe because, he does fantastic stuff. I have set up a test on the Marble Machine X to show you exactly what this musical indexable clutch do and how it works, but first I want to show you how it felt to unpack this masterpiece and I also needed to cut some key ways to mount it properly to the crankshaft. I have set up a test to show you exactly how this thing is working. So the music timing clutch is here. I made a program with a note for every fourth bar. One two, three, four, one. And I can see with my color-coded registrators, I know that this is the first channel of the kick drum. You see they keep from moving there. The black and white registrators are cnc’d from black and white POM (Polyoxymethylene), also known as delrin, which is a great bushing material. And I’m now going to perform a timing test to see if we can get the kick drum, to play tight with the rhythm machine. So returning the machine in 90 bpm. And now I’m gonna activate the kick drum. On the top here, is the temporary rhythm machine sound from the whole note and on the bottom here, is the kick drum. Let’s listen to it. We can immediately notice, that the kick drum is not playing at the same time as every fourth stroke. We can although notice, how consistently it is off. Let’s now check how much it is off. 210. So it’s 210 milliseconds off and the kick drum is late. So now we’re gonna try to take this kick drum stroke and move it to hit that rhythm machine stroke. Which means, that we want the kick drum to play earlier. Which means, that we will offset the programming wheel earlier towards the crank with the indexable clutch. On the Marble Machine X the relationship between the crank and the programming wheel is sacred. It’s 1 to 65 gear ratio, and they are really, really connected exactly to make all this line up, musically. But with this timing clutch, we are able to break this gear train. And adjust the relationship between the crankshaft and the programming wheel, we wanted the programming wheel earlier. I’m gonna move ten steps. Like that. It’s much closer. Listen to the previous example. And the new one. Tackle! The previous value was 200 milliseconds off and now we’re 100 milliseconds off. So let’s go to the indexable clutch and put ten more steps. Two, three, four. Haha! This is working really awesome. Oh, no, there’s some issues with this cable. I have to redo this test. That’s a shame because it’s actually just nailed. This street here… marks the smallest possible adjustment and now I wanna go the opposite direction. I wanna go one line like that. Test four I’m going to give you a close-up of the marble gate. This pulls this back, which closes the path for the marble and not until the fork has returned, the marble will be let back. Okay, that was a marble gate action. Flywheel is still going over there. Stop. Okay. We have good signal for this recording. Haha, look at these transients, it’s absolutely unbelievable. Finally I build something that works. Now I’m gonna head over to the machine and perform the exact same test, but this time, in 140 bpm. And you can play a game and guess: What’s going to happen with the kick drum? Will it be tight with the rhythm machine? Will it be earlier than the rhythm machine, or will it be later than the rhythm machine? So, have you placed your bids yet? My guess is that it’s going to be late. Yes. And how late? 970 to 041. So. 70 milliseconds late. In 140 bpm. And that is why we need: This beauty. Now we were 70 milliseconds late in 140 bpm. Which means: We have to, again, make the programming drum go before the crank. We have to advance it this direction and we know that ten lines is about hundred milliseconds. So. Let’s do seven lines. One, two, three, four, five, six. For reference, let’s listen to the first test in 140 bpm. You can clearly hear the kick being late and here is the new test with the first adjustment of the timing clutch. So the kick is late, which means that we have to forward the programming wheel that’s this direction one, two. For this test, I want you to notice how the Fish Stair and the conveyor belt moves in rhythm with the music. Thanks to these Pistons, that are connected to the crankshaft in one to two gear reduction, they move halftime compared to the crank. So this actually moves on the offbeat. Sound test. Listen to the conveyor belt. Let’s check the results. Pretty awesome. Yeah, 10 milliseconds behind again. One more click on the indexable clutch. Look at that. Do you see that transient? I, can’t tell you how happy I am when I see those kinds of results. This is what I’ve been fighting for. If you’re a musician. You might have thought about already that if I play the Machine without a computer click in my ears the rhythm machine will tell me exactly what bpm I should play in, so I will play and play and play and when I start to get a little bit slow, the marbles and the rhythm machine are slowly gonna go out of sync. So it will tell me that I need to hurry up a little bit. The latency of the marble drop will actually give me a help, to keep a certain bpm. So I will feel the sweet spot and I will then maintain a bpm throughout the whole song. That’s the indexable clutch, everyone. By the way, you’re watching Wintergatan Wednesdays. I want to say a personal thank you to everyone who are following along in this long serious, this long journey I see more and more people getting invested in the destiny of the marble machine X. So, thank you so much for watching. And I want to say a special thanks to everyone who are supporting this project through patreon or through YouTube channel memberships. Thanks to your continuing support, I’m able to get more help from people around me and I can focus on finishing the Marble Machine X and I’m also able to say no to sponsorships money. And I can’t tell you how proud I am, that we can keep the integrity of this little corner of the internet that we have together. I am so thankful for that. And lastly Will from machine thinking thank you for your magical contribution to the Marble Machine X. I met will in Alabama and on the trip over I have made these sketches of the timing clutch. I showed them to Will and we hit it off immediately solving the problem together there and then in like two minutes and that was the start of the collab. Head over to machine thinking to check out his video on how he built the first brass piece ever mounted on the Marble Machine X. For being an afterthought, it looks like the machine was designed to have this part from the beginning, which is a sign of great engineering. So, thank you Will and thank you for watching.


  • Reply Dan Johnson May 2, 2019 at 12:40 am

    Class act you are sir.

  • Reply Puzlr May 2, 2019 at 1:38 am

    I lost it each time with that finger-laser-gun! Lmao pew pew

  • Reply Jasonp1000 May 3, 2019 at 1:37 am

    Can anyone explain how to flywheel disconnect system works? i'm interested in how it works but I don't think the design was specifically talked about in a MMX video. If it was, can you please refer me to the video?

    edit: i found that it is mentioned shortly in the complex cnc video but the design isn't specifically mentioned.

    aaaaaa help

  • Reply AnteConfig May 3, 2019 at 1:50 am

    I just got here so, idk but this looks like a programmable music box. If it is, then I can't wait to hear some music.

  • Reply thanvg May 3, 2019 at 11:06 am

    Hey there, doesn't it limit you to have the clutch adjustment quantized? Wouldn't a stepless adjustment be better? (amazing work again…)

  • Reply Michael Bradley May 3, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    First let me say I think this is awesome, both the indexer and all your work. But I really wanted to see a clutch, the whole time I was trying to figure out the engagement and disengagement, but alas, this is not a clutch, its an indexer

  • Reply Elcomix97 May 3, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    Please, put a download link for "Ode to Machine Thinking" it's so good song 👌🏻👌🏻

  • Reply husi x May 4, 2019 at 9:13 am

    MLG clutch

  • Reply ThePereubu1710 May 4, 2019 at 10:11 am

    The internet is a funny place. What, in this video, is there for 250 people to dislike?

  • Reply シェンケネス May 4, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    I can't even create a bird house, I'm starting to think, what am I doing in my life , this is really amazing how he created all

  • Reply NoesisAndNoema May 5, 2019 at 6:22 pm

    It may be too late, but, why not use an automatic advance/retard gear setup? You use centrifugal force, against a tension-spring. As you spin it faster, it would retard the timing of the "direct-drive sounds", while the "gravity-timed delays", remain the same. As it spins slower, the tension on the weighted-arm will retract it, returning it to the advanced timing.

    A weighted arm with a pull-back tension spring. The movement of the weighted arm advances or retards the position of the gear on the axle. Moving it side to side on a spiral-thread, or with a planetary-gear advancement/retarding setup. Once you set the minimum RPM tension and starting-point, all you need to do is play with the fastest RPM adjustment. (Shifting the weight or by adjusting the spring tension. Once it is set, the timing will remain perfect from slow to fast RPMs.)

    The other, more complex, version of this uses belts and compression pulleys. Often used in "constant velocity transmissions", and is subject to "slipping". (Not something you want in a time-critical device.) However, it is a similar concept.

  • Reply IdealSound & Performance May 5, 2019 at 9:44 pm

    damn I want a set of those monitors! the yams!

  • Reply Paulo Mota May 6, 2019 at 3:55 pm

    Idk why but ty!

  • Reply David McLean May 8, 2019 at 4:35 pm


  • Reply vcokltfre May 8, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    1:42 *sees llangollen canal* *rewinds* *wales?*

  • Reply BERBEC 5a5gf May 8, 2019 at 8:55 pm

    an automatic adjustment of the face shift could be achieved whit an swinging ball speed controller which pushes on an fase shift device like one of those in the camshaft of cars.
    would be pretty need i think.
    not to complicated to machine i think, sure lots more than the beautiful gear mash fase shifter you have now, but would be extrem cool looking.
    also you can use it as an indicator of the rpm on a dial…

  • Reply Sonny Moon May 9, 2019 at 4:53 am

    hehehe First time hearing that fade out ! A good one !

  • Reply Anon Amous May 9, 2019 at 5:21 am

    Flippin' Genius! Great Video!

  • Reply John Manoochehri May 9, 2019 at 10:59 pm

    You give credit and thanks in a great way.

  • Reply Jasoman May 10, 2019 at 3:06 am

    How much time does the Clutch save you?

  • Reply Man of Culture May 11, 2019 at 3:06 am

    That clutch is just sexy ❤️❤️❤️

  • Reply The TOTCM Band May 12, 2019 at 7:26 pm

    Audacity has auto sync setting….just saying

  • Reply Nagisa WatanabeX2 May 14, 2019 at 3:40 pm

    I love the Marble Machine 😍

  • Reply Lets get to 1mill without vids J May 14, 2019 at 10:16 pm

    What keyboard / synthesiser is that at around 3:00

  • Reply john kindon May 15, 2019 at 4:21 pm

    have been here since you did the first machine video and i have loved every one of them hope there is many more to come all the best Martin from john from Rugby UK.

  • Reply Flaming sword_xxx May 15, 2019 at 8:15 pm

    Really nice I love it

  • Reply Earl Harewood May 18, 2019 at 10:46 pm

    lets do 7 lines, 1 2 3 4 5 6… snap ahahahah

  • Reply Swag Lord314 May 20, 2019 at 5:49 am

    my mind is blown.

  • Reply Kade Hugh May 20, 2019 at 6:27 am

    This channel is too good for YouTube

  • Reply Bryson Schmidt May 22, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    Please put "Ode to Machine Thinking" on the next album! So dang catchy.

  • Reply hans hannes May 23, 2019 at 10:04 pm

    2:44 – 8bit shit

  • Reply Arni Roglic May 26, 2019 at 4:59 pm

    machine is ok, but music is fake

  • Reply 802 Garage May 27, 2019 at 5:22 am

    Actually here from Machine Thinking. This is so cool.

  • Reply I'm Your Huckleberry May 27, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    awesome stuff

  • Reply SwissChicken May 29, 2019 at 12:27 am

    I love how you incorporate your music into these

  • Reply gustav pennatova May 30, 2019 at 7:14 am

    Always sooo amazing to see your level of Genius + Balls deep kind of attitude about life. and I just noticed your Tshirts… totally getting one now, not only to help you but because they are gorgeous, Thank you for this gift !.

  • Reply Derek McGowan June 4, 2019 at 3:37 am

    I'm so disappointed in myself. I have no idea how or why any of this works. I dont even get the point of the machine. The timing clutch looks great (I watched the making of video) but I have no real understanding of its purpose

  • Reply TheMusicGeek June 5, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    You can calculate the latency instead of trial and error. You know the distance the marbles will fall before hitting the drums. You know the gravity acceleration at 9.4 m/s. You also have the beats per minute. Given all three inputs you can calculate how much offset you need in the indexable clutch.

  • Reply Allen A June 6, 2019 at 10:36 am

    wtf is this? another useless machine

  • Reply WESTOFEDEN71 June 6, 2019 at 8:51 pm

    I was floored by the first video.I don't know how you do this.I am a cnc operator with some idea of m code. but you sir have conquered genius. I been playing bass and acoustic since 1988. your creations are astounding. kirk Hammet would just throw a 4k$ guitar on the ground and drag it by its strap and call that art.can you make it float around the room?*

  • Reply Mark James June 9, 2019 at 12:07 am

    Woooooahhhhhh!!! Wait a second! 42seconds in, and I just realised…Does EVERY one of marbles bounce into that little Grey pipe??? I'm amazed by that alone LOL

  • Reply Giggitee O'Yeah June 10, 2019 at 8:03 pm

    Oh you Germans, always being crazy with the maschinen.

  • Reply fermin salaberry June 13, 2019 at 11:21 pm

    can u shoot more lasers?

  • Reply SeanTheMan34 June 17, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    The song in the thumbnail is twinkle twinkle little star 🤙

  • Reply Paul Adriaanse June 18, 2019 at 12:34 pm

    "Ode to machine thinking", id like a full version of this 😀

  • Reply yellooh June 21, 2019 at 1:00 am

    Saw MT making the part & here I am.

  • Reply micheal65536 June 21, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    What happens if you change tempo during a song (either intentionally or naturally)? This probably wouldn't matter too much regarding the crank but the "rhythm machine" will go out of sync with the rest of the machine and sound off.

    Personally I think the rhythm machine is excessive anyway. You have other band members who can add extra rhythm parts (e.g. by typing on a typewriter or banging on the top of a slide projector). If it were me I would just scrap the rhythm machine entirely and just stick to the marble-operated instruments, then the timing isn't as important but you could still adjust the crank to match up for the majority of the song/tempo.

  • Reply Fern Moore June 23, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    I love it when youtube channels colab like this. It's so fun!

  • Reply Comrade Fernando Mandrake June 24, 2019 at 8:19 am

    How about just moving the drum up and down.

  • Reply dustin June 24, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    I seen the making of this peice in my recommend and had to see where it was goin to I loved it when u started jamming and in no time u had ur own montage music lmfao that was so sick

  • Reply Ely Powell June 25, 2019 at 1:04 am

    This is one reason we want to preserve the culture of White peoples all across the globe. They are masters of art and music!

  • Reply gatordontplay417 June 25, 2019 at 8:31 am

    Buddy not body bro

  • Reply dwi hakim June 27, 2019 at 2:39 am

    sumpah anda pintar sekali

  • Reply Maro Porto June 27, 2019 at 5:10 am


  • Reply Joachim Moczko June 27, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    Bravo!! An amazing machine (Like a CATARIAN)

  • Reply metalheartmachine June 28, 2019 at 3:13 pm

    Really, it is like the timing advance and retard on a motorcycle engine.

  • Reply Andrew Wilson June 28, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    What you need now is a variable indexable clutch that will automatically change how many clicks ahead or behind the bass is depending on the bpm. 🙂

  • Reply Fred Krop June 29, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    Impressive machine, but i do not understand the value related to music.

  • Reply weerobot June 29, 2019 at 1:58 pm


  • Reply SquillyMon June 29, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    Honestly I liked the "off tempo" version better. Maybe I'm nuts?

  • Reply SquillyMon June 29, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    Honestly I liked how the "off" tempo version sounded better. Maybe I'm nuts?

  • Reply G1K777 June 29, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    Let me say like this, I saw his video and it's pleasing xD

  • Reply DCMutE27 June 30, 2019 at 3:23 am

    How is what it is producing "music"? Does making a rhythmic noise qualify as music? (I am not a musician, so that is a question) Your engineering skills are on another level so kudos there. The ingenuity of the contraption is truly awesome but let's say, I wouldn't buy the album.

  • Reply Savage Commander June 30, 2019 at 3:25 am

    Sounds like meshuggah beats

  • Reply Prosanis June 30, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    And yet again Martin you did it! It’s an awesome piece of machinery you’ve made (with a little help of course from your friends) all though the first MM you’ve made never really worked such as good as MMX, I’ll think both machines are a feast for everybody’s eyes! A very big two thumbs up 👍 👍 thanks 🙏 for sharing this beautiful vid with me.

  • Reply B McFarland June 30, 2019 at 8:01 pm

    very cool indeed. Nice work will.
    I only found your channel by watching Wills video of make this indexing clutch, you did an excellent job of giving Will the proper credit he truly deserves making this little beauty. I may bit a bit odd, but i find things like this indexing clutch to be more a piece of art than a piece of machinery. It's something that I would personally display on my shelf as artwork rather than just see it in a machine. no offense intended.

  • Reply Sam Omiotek June 30, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    7 lines is a lot, you must be experienced

  • Reply Brandon Boatner July 1, 2019 at 6:48 am

    "Dah dah taco"! 🌮

  • Reply J MAC July 1, 2019 at 8:05 am

    Simply Amazing!

  • Reply Scott Wallace July 1, 2019 at 10:11 am

    A fascinating story, charmingly told. What a lovely quixotic project. Kudos to all.

  • Reply Rodney Frost July 2, 2019 at 2:10 am

    [Actual number of YouTube Channels required for this = 3] If you watch the design video by "Machine Thinking", you'll find that there was a cosmic connection provided by "SmarterEveryDay"
    Nice job Destin ! Nice collaboration everyone !

  • Reply Spartn4lif3 July 3, 2019 at 1:15 am

    What are you wearing that welding mask while playing the marble machine?

  • Reply sssbob July 4, 2019 at 6:39 am

    Rube Goldberg would be proud. WTF is this thing good for?

  • Reply groovie444 July 4, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    that machine of yours could use more brass! Well, maybe metal in general. Maybe not even like a part, you know 😀

  • Reply HoaX's Qlicks July 4, 2019 at 4:04 pm

    Did you get your name from the Swedish TV series "Tillbaka Till Vintergatan"

  • Reply Phil Rodgers July 4, 2019 at 5:15 pm

    I understand that there is a fixed delay between triggering the marble release and the drum hit, so the peg wheel needs to be advanced so it triggers early. Wouldn't that mean everything else triggered by the peg wheel will also be triggered early? It looks to me like by synchronising the kick drum with the rhythm, everything else will be out of sync. I hope I'm wrong and I hope someone explains it to me 🙂
    I'm off to watch Machine Thinking now 😀

  • Reply Celivalg July 4, 2019 at 10:50 pm

    that does mean however that you can change the tempo of the music in the middle of it….

  • Reply Daniel Powers July 5, 2019 at 3:59 pm


  • Reply CatheteriZedEYE July 5, 2019 at 6:45 pm

    2:18 OMG that made me sweat a little

  • Reply gavin peters July 9, 2019 at 1:07 pm

    What is that keyboard?

  • Reply Kamyshin July 12, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    Хера себе заморочка для с синхронизации

  • Reply nox fox July 21, 2019 at 8:00 am

    Can you put Ode to Machine Thinking on Bandcamp? Snälla <3

  • Reply lennart rolland July 22, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    LOL Cameo by The Stig at 12:15

  • Reply Isambardify July 22, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    I wonder if you could drive something with the hand crank that would measure a greater magnitude at higher speed and then allow for the user to alter the tempo midpiece.

  • Reply Stormlaughter July 26, 2019 at 8:12 pm

    MARTIN! YOU CAME TO ALABAMA?? We're great people here. Love the Marble Machine X! <3

  • Reply Winny Poopy July 27, 2019 at 9:48 am


  • Reply Paddy Bread July 29, 2019 at 10:49 pm

    I don't know how i got here, nor what you are talking about, but i can't stop watching

  • Reply Tanmay Vadhera August 1, 2019 at 10:44 am

    Martin : I finally built something that works
    Original Marble Machine : Am I a joke to you ?

  • Reply Steve Syncox August 2, 2019 at 1:02 am

    Very cool

  • Reply Jeff August 2, 2019 at 7:13 pm


  • Reply FlashMan16 August 4, 2019 at 12:06 am

    I first saw the Music Timing Clutch, and thought "wow, that looks amazing and perfect!". Then I watched Machine Thinking's video on it, and then I rewatched this, and I now notice the tiny little (mostly cosmetic) imperfections. And I think it's even better because of it, because the Marble Machine X is nothing BUT little imperfections coming together to make something beautiful. I really enjoy these videos.

  • Reply Johan Cahyadi August 7, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    You should clone yourself 😎👍 I can imagine a lot of extraordinary gorgeous projects (like this machine) will be born after

  • Reply Mike Hatzl August 9, 2019 at 1:45 am

    So awesome

  • Reply thomasfholland August 14, 2019 at 10:12 am

    Vintergatan?!? Själv bor jag på

  • Reply Aaron McCoy August 22, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    Absolutely love it

  • Reply Asko Kauppi August 26, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    I could like this just for the music!

  • Reply .D .B August 27, 2019 at 5:27 pm

    my first time watching your channel………love your work………..would not a Centrifugal Advance change the tempo as the crank is turned faster?…..just a thought

  • Reply David Piercey September 7, 2019 at 11:39 pm

    2:17 dude, cut away from yourself… that was a close call.

  • Reply bpru September 17, 2019 at 1:50 am

    I framed your Ball Machine today, I sure get a lot of questions. Thanks Martin – Columbus, OH

  • Reply Andrew Messer October 2, 2019 at 10:20 pm

    More importantly, the different instruments need to have a consistent drop so the activation time is consistent. I can't remember you saying that in earlier episodes, but I'm sure that's been thought of already!

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