The machine is like a cage that encases all of David Tylinski ’12’s room. Apart from a small little entrance way, his construction covers everything.
It juts out of the walls, sweeps over and under his bed and desk and makes his room generally uninhabitable.
Tylinski is not oblivious to the machine’s sizable presence. “It feels weird to be living in my own creation…I didn’t really think the logistics through,” said Tylinski.
Over the course of seven months, Tylinski built an enormous roller coaster, designed as a course for little plastic balls, in his dorm room.
As unpredictable and hyperactive as Tylinski himself, the machine rapidly sends the balls down ten different paths where they are subject to terrifying rotating platforms, gut-wrenching drops and death-defying jumps, before finally taking calm, relaxed Ferris Wheel and elevator rides back up.
Tylinski claims the contraptions are just “a plastic toy,” but its complexity and magnitude make it seem more like a super-computer.
What makes the creation even more remarkable is that Tylinski did not have any plan in mind as he built it. Instead, he improvised every time he added a new component to the structure. His free-flowing inventiveness resulted in some startling original components of the device.
For example, Tylinski incorporated the number “42” into his machine simply because “42” is his favorite number.
As the ball falls onto either the “4” or the “2,” it causes the digit to turn as a result of its own weight.
The lower the ball gets, the more and more the digits rotate with it, until finally the ball slides off and the digits snap back into place.
Another standout is the trolley car mounted on one wall. Balls that fall onto the levers in the car cause it to roll left or right, giving the impression they are driving the car.
There are so many more components, 60 by Tylinski’s count, all of which are equally striking, ingenious and designed entirely by himself.
Those who have seen the machine respond with universal awe.
When people walk in to Tylinski’s room, “The first reaction is usually ‘Wow’,” said Tylinski.
Despite all the praise and press he has received, Tylinski downplays the significance of his effort and his achievement.
He credits luck and incredible patience for the success of the machine and said, “A large part of this comes down to luck. A lot of times that’s really what the universe is, luck.”
Jokingly, he derides his accomplishment. He said, “It’s Upper year and here I am playing with plastic toys!”
This is not to say he does not care for the machine, however. When Tylinski gives a tour of his machine, his passion often comes through with phrases like “I love this part, it’s so elegant!” or “This piece took god-forever to make it work. It made me so happy and proud to get it together.”
His excitement and the speed at which he talks are testaments to how much the machine means to him.
Even after the completion of his “magnus opus,” as Tylinski calls it, he is still looking forward.
Since the age of 10 Tylinski has always strived to build ever more complex machines.
While he has won awards, accumulated YouTube notoriety and earned a free T-shirt, Tylinski does not seem to care much for the recognition.
It seems that the thrill of months of hard work paying off and the pride of everything coming together is what matters the most to him.
Perhaps this is best demonstrated by Tylinski’s tendency to identify flaws in his machine, pointing out that the entire machine has yet to work perfectly once. He said, “I should have gone for accuracy over size. That’s what really matters, the engineering side.”
To this end, Tylinski already has a plan for the future. “Next time I want to build smaller but more accurate machines,” said Tylinski.
He has pictures of prototypes, which look like very intricate boxes the size of a desk stool.
For the time being, however, what Tylinski wants more than anything is to take a break from building.
After months of living with plastic parts all over the place, he said, “I can’t wait to tear it down. To finally be free…”
“This will probably be my last machine for some time… Maybe when I’m older and decrepit and have time to play with little plastic toys.”