Solenoid Engine with Woodworking Chops

Simple, elegant, and well executed. This solenoid engine build is everything we’ve come to love about [Matthias Wandel]’s work. If you don’t recognize his name you probably remember the name of his site: Wood Gears.

In what feels like an afternoon project he put together a solenoid engine. It translates the linear motion of a small solenoid into the circular motion of a flywheel. The only specialized part in this hack is the solenoid. It has a pretty long throw and includes a hinge pin at the end.

The rest is crafted mostly of wood — it is admirable how he uses that table saw like a surgeon uses a scalpel. The wooden components include a base, flywheel, very interesting bearing blocks, and a few mounting brackets to hold everything in just the right place. Add to this a coat hanger for the cam shaft, the internals of a terminal strip for the cam, some heavy gauge wire, and you’re in business. The latter two make up a clever electrical switch that synchronizes the drive of the solenoid with the flywheel.

It’s amusing to hear [Matthias] mention that this engine isn’t very practical. We still think the project has merit — it’s great for learning about how simple an engine can be, and for developing an intuitive appreciation for how great commercially available motors and engines actually are. Plus, if you can mimic these fabrication techniques you can build anything. Great work on this one [Matthias], another thing of beauty!

Check out his video below, then go back and check out his air-powered engine and of course, a hack that actually uses wood gears.

[via /r/electronics]

28 thoughts on “Solenoid Engine with Woodworking Chops

      1. Don’t see anything there that you can’t do with hand tools and a vice, a bit more slowly, but sometimes what you lose in time to cut or drill, you make up for in not setting machines up for small jobs.

  1. Alright, I’ll be “the guy.”
    Isn’t this a motor and not an engine? I know the terms are commonly used interchangeably but since this is a site more technical than most shouldn’t we call this by its true name here, a “motor?”

        1. But a computer is someONE who is adept at performing mathematical calculations rapidly, why would they need a shield to keep getting from splattered by horses hooves while they are at their desk?

    1. Oh, the motor/engine argument. I haven’t seen this one in a while.

      Hackaday community, you always surprise me. Just when I think something is settled, someone drags it back up from the depths. It’s comforting, really, like an old sweater made entirely out of pedantry.

        1. OK, I’ll reluctantly give some fuel for the fire.

          Engine vs. motor: The answer I’ve settled on is that usage is by convention. As far as I have been able to determine, there is no universal definition or way to classify a device as one or the either. Traditionally, engine is a “clever mechanism” (hence “siege engine”) while is a motor “that what gives motion”. These definitions are vague and overlap and have so far resisted our technical and engineering urge to have a clear and concise procedure to classify mechanisms as one or the other despite ongoing attempts.

          A classic example is “rocket motor” vs. “rocket engine”. Rocket scientists themselves disagree on which term is “correct” and so both are used and are valid.

          So is this project an engine or motor? Devices that convert electricity to rotary motion have traditionally been called “motors”. However the reciprocal action in this project is highly reminiscent of piston-based combustion engines and arguably a “clever mechanism” so “solenoid engine” seems fitting as well.

          Bottom line for me? Both terms “solenoid motor” and “solenoid engine” are correct. I *slightly* prefer “solenoid motor” because of tradition *but* it really doesn’t matter because I understand what kind of device being referenced with either term.

          1. IMO you can have solid fuel rocket motors and liquid fuel rocket engines, because latter likely to have moving parts like pumps and valves. This doesn’t of course explain civil engineering where everything is supposed to remain where you built it.

    2. i don’t know, but maybe you should post this question on some linguistic forum ?
      or to put it in other words: who cares ?
      when you understand what someone want to say -> mission accomplished. Every further discussion about linguistic details is just an “intellectual” way for trolling.

  2. Both terms “engine” and “motor” were used in the great video which is the reason I brought it up. Engine was used when describing the clever mechanism and motor to refer to the end result. I wondered if it was on purpose.
    I appreciate the sharing of the thought process of the build and the nod to the classic marine use of Lignum Vitae for the bearings. The brushes were simple and effective. Adding the curves was interesting.

    1. Lignum Vitae is a heck of a wood. I made a couple pens out of it, no matter how sharp my tools were, i was just barely grinding out a chip from it. Been looking for it in larger pieces for bearing use- I think it would be a lot of fun. Also, it smells terrific.

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