Make a BB Board

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A BB board is a device that is useful for visualizing the movement of small particles and for demonstrating slip planes, dislocations, defect holes, and the three states of matter.

If you would rather not create your own, you can buy one ready made here for $50.

Since I couldn't find any rigid plastic, I had originally suggested using glass for this project, but thanks to one of the visitors for suggesting plexiglass, which I now recommend. Glass is a little heavier and could possibly break if dropped but otherwise works well.

Items needed:

-Two pieces of 8" x 10" plexiglass from the hardware store, there were two different kinds:
1) Lexan - rigid and quite strong, $3.79 each
2) A similar but more flexible type, $2.11 each
Even less expensive plastic of the same size can be found at the craft store at $1 per piece.

-One 3/16" x 3/16" x 36" piece of spruce wood from the craft store: $1.04

-Jar of 1500 B.B.'s: $2.74

The wood is cut to fit and then glued along the edges of the plastic, separating the two panes.

Fill it a little more than half full of B.B.'s; by rotating the board you will be able to see slip planes similar to those that can cause an avalanche.

Miscellaneous notes:

Clean the inside faces of the plastic before gluing, and dry fit all of the pieces to make sure the B.B.'s can move freely.

The patterns created by the spheres are easier to see against a dark background.

I'm still experimenting with this device and will update this page in the near future with any new observations.

Back to What is it? - unusual objects


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