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Donkey Kong Towers

For ME 101: Visual Thinking, we were tasked with building two themed towers out of prototyping materials. The towers needed to be constructed of three components each, and needed to be assembled at a distance on demo day, without touching their components with our hands. Additionally, a ping pong ball which began in the taller tower had to end in the other tower. We could not touch the ball to transfer it, and the transfer had to occur in a surprising, delightful way.


We decided to theme our towers after the old arcade game Donkey Kong. We devised a mechanism that turned a "joystick" made out of a wooden dowel and a ping pong ball into a crank. Turning this crank with the tools we made, we were able to run a pulley system that carried the ping pong ball from one tower to the other in a tiny cart. Additionally, since we were allowed to use a very limited number of materials, mostly foam core, paint, paper, and adhesives, we had to get creative in making our towers aesthetically pleasing. For instance, for the game's "buttons" we used small painted disks of hot glue. 

Ultimately, we were evaluated on adherence to our theme, quality of construction, and "delightfulness." Our project earned an A+ and our instructors gave us positive feedback, including comments like, "Well done integrating and pulling off a very complex mechanism design," and, "Awesome true to life scale – great decision. Brings the concept to life."


  • Rapid Prototyping

  • Mechanical Design

  • Aesthetics

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