Hand-cranked magnet machine is endless fun

magnet_machine

We can’t think of a single person who doesn’t enjoy playing with a handful of rare earth magnets now and again. We know that [Dave Johnson] certainly does. As a gift to his father in law, he constructed a magnificent machine that does little more than manipulate spherical rare earth magnets with hypnotizing grace.

The machine is constructed almost entirely from wood, save for a few fasteners and rods. Even the gears have been carefully cut from wood, with special attention paid to ensure smooth operation. When cranked, the machine slices off a single magnet from one end of a long chain, passing it along to a lift arm. The lift arm deposits the magnet into a metal tube, and with the help of eddy currents, it drifts slowly down before being redeposited at the end of the magnet chain.

Be sure to check out a video demonstration of the machine after the break, it really is fun to watch.

[via LaughingSquid]

Comments

  1. TheCitySpiders says:

    Neato Frito !!:D

  2. kj says:

    i think it’s missing an arduino or two ;)

    and does magnets are fun with or without the machine

  3. Sobachatina says:

    That is mesmerizing. The smoothness of the motion is especially impressive. Well done.

  4. Paul says:

    Whoa, make sure you watch the video far enough to see the plastic worm gear pulling the “chain” of magnets…

  5. That aluminium tube should get warmer..

  6. Dave says:

    I love the demonstration of Lenz’s law through the tube. Nice build!

    http://regentsprep.org/Regents/physics/phys08/clenslaw/default.htm

  7. Mike says:

    That is a little hypnotic to watch.
    If I were to build version 2 of the machine, I would go with a small motor to keep it going, and acrylic at least for the front, so you can watch the worm gear and the snaking chain of balls running through the inside.

    Wonderful build.

  8. Alex Parting says:

    amazing

  9. Koray says:

    Lenz’s law! That’s exactly what I was thinking! Awesome.

    K.

  10. |)ave says:

    Amazing! Would love to build one. I agree with the version 2 idea. Wonder if you could paint every other magnet without messing it up, just for effect. :)

  11. M says:

    The way the hand crank cog can be put in or take out, you could make a modular motorized crank fit in the same place as long as it braced against some other part of the structure to keep from spinning in place.

  12. brad says:

    finally a use for all those wootoff buckyballs!!!!

  13. Colecago says:

    Greatest thing ever.

  14. BobDobbs says:

    Mormons wont believe in it

  15. HackerK says:

    Wow! just Wow!

  16. Chris says:

    I am curious to know what Dave does for a living. He’s obviously quite gifted in several respects.

  17. Robo says:

    Pretty cool, the giant ball chain is amusing, hopefully we will see this contraption integrated into a larger project in the future

  18. Jake says:

    Life will rue the day it thought it could give Dave Johnson magnets!!!

  19. mormon says:

    I believe it.

    It’s science/engineering not magic.

  20. Hirudinea says:

    That is useless, uselessly AWSOME!

  21. strider_mt2k says:

    Delightful!

  22. DanJ says:

    I concur with everyone else. Dave, what a clever, beautiful and fun project! Great job.

  23. Jay says:

    I’ve been waiting for someone to suggest that the current generated in the copper tube could run a motor to power the whole thing. Perpetual motion arguments are always fun on the internet, lol.
    Excellent build, and I absolutely loved the chain of magnets!

  24. Brennan says:

    This is fantastic, and I wish I had the patience to build one. But I don’t.

  25. FDP says:

    I was getting ready to be unimpressed based on the still, but this is f*ing fantastic. My only gripe in the noise (minus the clinking of the magnets). I wonder if it is mostly coming from the linkage & crank assembly…

  26. Matt says:

    The chain on the inside is the best part in my opinion. That is such a cool idea!

    In version 2 I’d like to see some “gravity defying” magnets.

  27. j s says:

    A microcontroller? The best thing to do is to keep it as simple as possible. Add too many complications and problems can arise.

  28. wardy says:

    How come the magnets don’t just clump together into a huge mess when they end up spiralling around that vertical wooden rod? And how do they unwrap neatly back into the “thread”?

    Magical.

  29. NeatBasis says:

    Wicked!! The spirals of magnets is a cool touch.

  30. Soul Eater says:

    Just the most amazing machine of wood i’ve ever seen Good Job

  31. Daley says:

    Anyone check out some of his other videos on youtube? The man is truly a thinker with an eye for art.

    Hat’s off to him.

  32. Aaron B says:

    Who doesn’t love playing with magnets. I keep a stack at my desk at work for those “thinking” times. That looks like an impressive creation.

  33. wilson skatalloosdt, the guy across the street says:

    awesome…totally awesome!

  34. Stevie says:

    That is insanely impressive. That’s a true accomplishment! This guys got some real skills

  35. Alan Lunan says:

    I’m Into Marble Runs, Windmills, Etc ! Question :

    Why Crank By Hand ? A Simple Set Of Blades Would Operate This Machine ! Ingenious Marble Runs Can Be Seen On Utube ! The Japanese Have One In A Forest ! It Plays Classical Music ! Gravity Powered !!

  36. Kitesonic74 says:

    The inner ball-rope is Awsome. Nice work!

  37. Lager Monster says:

    How about have balls fall through a coil to generate a charge to light a LED.
    Incororate a joule thief and super caps . . .

    Outstanding build BTW :-)

  38. Dave Johnson says:

    Thanks for all the great comments! It’s enormously satisfying to me that so many people like my little machine.

    I can’t say this strongly enough: if you have the slightest mechanics bent, or puzzle bent, or science bent (or all three), get some of these magnets.

    My hope is that people will get inspired to build more magnet machines. The possibilities are truly endless. Add some electronics and coils and I think you could “launch” the magnets (although, being spheres, they might just flip over…use disks!). How about a machine that reassembles the magnets into the canonical cube? C’mon everybody, get busy!

  39. Max says:

    Now, all we need to do is tap the falling magnet’s energy with a coil and use it to power a motor in the place of the handle. A proper perpetuum mobile at last…! World domination is finally at hand! Mwuhahahaha!!!

  40. Alex says:

    That rear view of the spiral of magnets is a total win and a new project idea on the stack…

  41. Doug says:

    Amazing.. Found this while searching for machine that will take in a random mass of magnet balls and form then into a string, coiling it into a tube.

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