A Stirring Hack

Stirring Flask

[Oleg] of Circuits@Home and maker of the USB Isolation Board and the USB Host Shield has a new, two-part hack for his chemistry set. In Part 1 of  this hack, [Oleg] discusses the method he uses to make a stir bar spin and what types of stir bars work the best. Part 2 discusses the motor control code and circuit. Given the ample amount of capability leftover in the Arduino he used, we would like to see this stirrer paired with a heating element to have a complete hotplate/stirrer. What do you think you could do with or to improve this device?


  1. Those of you who are sarcastically going to mention arduino to be funny, just STFU now and not bother posting.

  2. Munden says:

    I’m going to use an Arduino with my flask stirrer and twitter to me the magnet bar RPM.

  3. thecityspiders says:

    I guess you could add measured amounts of fluid or solids through a hopper,pneumatic,or hydraulic means ;controlled by the remaining functions and programming space left on the Arduino.There are many things at your disposal for that particular application.

  4. Munden says:

    Oh, and I’m going to use an Arduino to measure the temperature – also twittered to me.

  5. Carlos says:

    It is a very useful project to use together with the pHduino.


    It is getting easy to mount a Chemistry Lab at home.


  6. Oleg Mazurov says:

    Adding a tachometer is a next step in this project, mainly to be able to maintain low speed if necessary.

  7. cooblades says:

    OLeg have you tried using a stronger bar magnet?

    Mine has almost no control and it still couples pretty well.

    I realize you are doing it for the fun of exploring motor control and thats cool by me.

  8. Matt says:

    Why not use a rheostat instead of the Arduino? No programming necessary.

  9. Oleg Mazurov says:

    Coolblades – you are using stack of neodymium magnets in your stirrer, correct? They don’t last very long being placed into corrosive liquids:-).

  10. Jay says:

    How about adding some leds (IR or RGB maybe) to trigger some photo sensible liquids,temp and density sensor. Also,a tiny piece of VB linked with ur arduino could make you a perfect coffee machine for example (time control of start-end,duration and data could be logged to the pc using a write cmd on a simple txt file.

  11. Rachel says:

    Yet another motor driven magnetic stirrer. I’d like to see someone build a vastly more efficient solid state version. Use a simple rotating magnetic field: no moving parts in the base at all. I’d do it myself if all my previous projects involving electromagnets didn’t fail miserably.

  12. ls7corvete says:

    This would go well with the homebrew beer articles you have been posting lately. These are often used to culture yeast.

  13. DownIsTheNewUp says:

    I made a stirring plate a few years ago out of an old computer fan with the fins cut off and the magnet from a hard drive spliced with the line of a charge adapter for something that broke. I tried a few materials for the top surface, but only glass worked properly. Once the balance was set the thing ran beautifully. I purchased a stir bar, and “borrowed” a few from school. This is still the only stir plate I own, and I use it very often. This was one of my first real hacks, and I was proud of my ingenuity.

  14. cyanide says:

    couple this with an induction heater to heat up the stirring rod

  15. vic says:

    @Rachel : how would a static version be more efficient ? Generating a magnetic field needs lots of current, here you benefit from the magnet’s field, you just need to rotate a small motor.

    The idea to use the µC to detect when the bar stalls is pretty good. Apparently Oleg hasn’t gotten to it yet, I wonder how it will go.

    Here’s how I make my stirring bars : a small cylindrical magnet (2cm*3mm) in a piece of heat shrink, with a 1mm wide rim made of scotch tape in the center to lower friction. Works pretty well.

    A nice addition would be to use a Peltier element to add heating/cooling capability. The fan would then double as heat extraction device.

  16. wdfowty says:

    Munden beat me to it. Lol just about the only thing twitter is good for.

  17. Rachel says:

    It’s more efficient because it doesn’t need to turn the relatively massive motor spindle, and lose energy from its bearings. And with no moving parts, it’s much more durable and longer lasting. It can be made very thin too.

    Aside from the electromagnet design, it should be fairly easy to male. Simply rectify the AC line current, and pulse it through the coils with some big MOSFETs.

    As for making stirring bars, few materials other than glass or teflon will stand up to harsh chemicals. I once tried sealing a neodymium bar magnet in glass tubing, but I foolishly neglected the Curie point of the magnet and ended up with a useless glass lump.

  18. BuudhaFW says:

    Wow never really thought of bringing arduino into the lab. The above mentioned functions would be great if one could simply enter parameters, and have the device shut off if it drifts out… perhaps I could monitor multiple experiments from the office (better air, less ether and I could drink coffee). Hmmmm I like this.

  19. BuudhaFW says:

    And you should use teflon to coat your stir bars, easier to clean, longer lasting and stable in almost anything.

  20. jproach says:

    Teflon (PTFE) stir bars are cheap enough on ebay that I wouldn’t bother trying to hack something as a replacement IMO.

    Great otherwise though.

  21. Eutactic says:

    I hope that fan (and to an extent the whole project) is non-sparking if this stirrer is going to be used with flammable solvents.

  22. ClutchDude says:

    While a simply LM317 could adjust the speed, I too think it’d be neat to rig all sorts of sensors into the Arudino, possibly an array of stirplates for automated…um…mixing and heating?

    THEN use it to give out status updates so you could be comfortably sitting in your office, monitoring it rather than the lab, as BuudhaFW stated.

    It’d be real neat to measure turbidity(?) and temperature and adjusts based on a profile. (I can think of yeast starters benefiting from this a lot!)


    The stirplate can be sealed to keep any vapors from entering. After all, it’s only be used to spin a magnetic field.

  23. Vaevictus says:

    Easy. Best use for a stirrer: for a yeast starter for brewing beer.

  24. liam says:

    I’d write a simple PID controller to run a power resistor/thermocouple and get sophisticated temperature control. Throw a peltier in there too and get very flexible control.

  25. Carlos says:

    Make a search at the Google Patents about stirring plate or Stir Plate to avoid problems.


  26. coo no L blades says:

    Hehe, nope mine isn’t used in corrosive liquids. But I’m sure you’ll figure out a way to beat that.

    It still seems like the main issue is the magnet decoupling with the motor. If that’s the main issue making your motor slow down won’t make it stir any harder.

    I think your application would be cool for a magnetically coupled rotor in an underwater vehicle. In fact hurry and wrap this up so I can “borrow” your design. j/k

  27. normaldotcom says:

    I made one of these a few months back, with a PWM’ed high-speed muffin fan, some hard drive magnets, a H-bridge, and an avr… it actually worked quite well.

  28. XBox Hacker says:

    I agree with teflon coating.

  29. Fine article. Theres a lot of good info here, though I did want to let you know something – I am running Mac OS X with the latest beta of Firefox, and the layout of your blog is kind of flaky for me. I can read the articles, but the navigation doesnt function so good.

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