Best way to simulate "Bead Maze Toy" - moving stacked objects along a path

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I'm new to Houdini and do not know the best way to model/simulate this…

I have 5 cubes stacked on top of each other. I want to move them along a curve, one at a time, so they stack up again at the opposite end of the curve (sort of like the photo attached).

So far I have only one cube moving along the curve, and I do not know how to create a neat stack of cubes that individually set off along the path at a specified point in the timeline.

Another problem I have is that I'm drawing the curve to points on a grid (using the grid as a guide), however when I change the grid size after drawing the curve, the curve does not move with the grid. Is there are a way to ‘mate’ the curve to points on the grid, so it always follows the geometry of the grid?

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Screen Shot 2018-02-06 at 16.23.50.png (1.4 MB)

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I should add that I'm trying to achieve the effect of a simplified construction crane (positioned at the origin) rotating around and picking each of the cubes off of their stack, and manoeuvring them along their path, into their new positions at the other end of the path.

The path is therefore will not be made visible, unlike the photo. And to keep this simple there will only be one path and one stack of cubes, unlike the photo.

So to make things more difficult, I need to simulate a (very low-detail) hanging-chain on this crane going through the following steps:

- positioning itself above the stack of cubes
- picking up cube at the top of the stack
- changing the hanging-chain length as the cube moves higher/lower in the path
- changing the hanging-chain x & z positions so it's always centred above the relevant cube
- dropping the cube at the end of the path
- returning to the rest of the cubes in their starting positions
- repeating the process
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try this…just goofing around

Attachments:
crane.0.hip (322.9 KB)

Michael Goldfarb | www.odforce.net
Senior Technical Director
SideFX
www.sidefx.com
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@arctor that's awesome, thanks a lot!
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