Prototyping a Maglev train using LEGO

lego-maglev

Serious research using not-so-serious equipment? We don’t know about that. What’s wrong with using LEGO as a research platform for a Maglev? This team has been doing so for quite some time and with great results.

A Maglev is a vehicle based on the principles of magnetic levitation. Similar poles of magnets repel each other and this concept can be used to create a friction-less track system. But this raises the problems of braking and locomotion. The build log linked above covers the conception in what is the eighth iteration of the research project. But the video below offers the most concise explanation of their approach to these issues.

The researchers are using magnets positioned in trench of the track as a kind of magnetic gear to push against. A series of electromagnets on the Lego vehicle ride in that track. The can be energized, working as a linear motor to push against those permanent magnets. But how do you know which direction of travel this will cause? That problem was solved by adding a hall effect sensor between each electromagnet. Before switching on the coil the hall effect sensors are polled and a timing scheme is selected based on their value. This is used to push the train up to speed, as well as slow it down for braking.

[via Reddit]

19 thoughts on “Prototyping a Maglev train using LEGO

    1. I think Legos are ok. NXT is used at universities, and it’s good for protos. Maybe a 3D printed train would look more professional, but a Lego model is easier to modify.

      (off)
      For the acetone thing: http://fllblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/smart-moves-at-maker-faire/ shows Violet with similar fingernails (but in red, those photos were taken on a different event), so I guess it’s intentional. Her hair, clotes, etc. shows she takes care how she looks like.

      1. (off)
        Well then, it must be the shengineer-look!

        (she-engineer-look) = “I take my time to put makeup and stuff, but I am an engineer and I pretty much don’t care what I look like in public.”

        1. oh god i am really not in the mod for a another discussion of gender politics intersecting technology in a blog comments section right now. I haven’t had my coffee yet, and I pulled my outrage muscles recently.

    2. Acetone is not used to clean painted fingernails, ethyl acetate is used instead because it is much less toxic.
      Very cool project !

  1. Nice work. Looks like a fun Sr project. Would like to see a full track and know what the top speed can be.

    1. Indeed they can! Real world trains do this. If I recall correctly, some high speed non-maglev trains do as well.

  2. The basics of accelerating and braking a maglev train are the same as for a rotary polyphase induction motor. Braking occurs by driving the linear induction motor with a negative slip value.

    1. It uses permanent magnets so it isn’t so much similar to induction motor, it is more like a brushless DC motor unrolled

  3. Does this model levitate passively if the power is turned off? If so how is this achieved. Looks some of this is closed source looking at the website.

    1. The same way the guy who did the mag-lev bed on HaD did, a while ago. Magnets repel each other, and the weight of the train keeps the whole thing from being flipped off into the sky.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s