EZ-Spin Motor Spins “Forever”

Now this isn’t a perpetual motion machine, but it’s darn close. What [lasersaber] has done instead is to make the EZ Spin, an incredibly efficient motor that does nothing. Well, nothing except look cool, and influence tons of people to re-build their own versions of it and post them on YouTube.

The motor itself is ridiculously simple: it’s essentially a brushless DC motor with a unique winding pattern. A number of coils — anywhere from six to twenty-four — are wired together with alternating polarity. If one coil is a magnetized north, its two neighbors are magnetized south, and vice-versa. The rotor is a ring with permanent magnets, all arranged so that they have the same polarity. A capacitor is used for the power source, and a reed switch serves as a simplistic commutator, if that’s even the right term.

As the motor turns, a permanent magnet passes by the reed switch and it makes the circuit. All of the electromagnets, which are wound in series, fire and kick the rotor forwards. Then the reed switch opens and the rotor coasts on to the next position. When it gets there the reed switch closes and it gets a magnetic kick again.

The catch? Building the device so that it’s carefully balanced and running on really good (sapphire) bearings, entirely unloaded, and powered with high impedance coils, leads to a current consumption in the microamps. As with most motors, when you spin it by hand, it acts as a generator, giving you a simple way to charge up the capacitor that drives it. In his video [lasersaber] blows on the rotor through a straw to charge up the capacitor, and then lets it run back down. It should run for quite a while on just one spin-up.

The EZ Spin motor is absolutely, positively not perpetual motion or “over-unity” or any of that mumbo-jumbo. It is a cool, simple-to-build generator/motor project that’ll definitely impress your friends and challenge you to see how long you can get it running. Check out [lasersaber]’s website, this forum post, and a 3D model on Thingiverse if you want to make your own.

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Garbage can RC car Engine Powers Ridiculous Pencil Sharpener

Christmas has come and gone, and no doubt garbage cans are filling with toys that got but a single use before giving up the ghost. If you scrounge around, you might get lucky and score a busted RC car so you can be like [Mike] and build a completely unnecessary nitro-powered pencil sharpener.

This is one from the [Tim The Tool Man Taylor] “more power” files. To be fair, [Mike] acknowledges as much right up front, and as a learning tool for these super-powerful internal combustion engines, we think it’s a pretty cool project. After dealing with a seized cylinder on what looks to be a VX .18 engine rated at about 1.1 horsepower, [Mike] learns the basics of starting and controlling the engine. Once coupled to a pencil sharpener that clearly isn’t engineered to work at a bazillion RPM and jury-rigging a damper for the clutch, [Mike] fires up the engine and races through a pack of 10 pencils in record time.

As silly as this hack seems, it could come in handy if you decide to go into the colored pencil jewelry market at production levels.

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Homemade Internal Combustion Engine – Sans Machine Shop

We’ve got a question for you:  If you were stuck in a basement, with nothing too much more than some copper pipe, solder, JB-Weld, and a few hand tools, do you think you could make a working 2-stroke motor? Well, [Makerj101] did just that, and the results are fan-freaking-tastic.

[Makerj101] began his journey like most of us do – with a full face-plant type failure. His first attempted at building an internal combustion engine wouldn’t run, due to a low compression ratio, and too small port sizes. So he did what most of us would do, and tore apart a small gas-power weed-whacker motor to see what he was doing wrong.

The type of engine he’s making is a 2-stroke. That makes the design much simpler as there are no mechanically controlled valves a like 4-stroke motor. The piston (along with the cylinder wall) does double duty by also directing the intake and exhaust gasses – along with a simple flap-type check valve.

For now, the ignition system is run off of mains power, but he has plans to change that – creating a self contained engine. We’re amazed that the entire build is made with such simple tools. Even the the piston is cast out of “JB Weld” epoxy putty. After seeing this, we think that the kid who took apart a clock is going to have to up his game a bit.

We’ve included all 6 parts after the break.

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Thomas Midgley, GM, and the Dark Side of Progress

Scientific improvements that create industries and save millions of lives often come at a price that isn’t revealed until much later. Leaded gasoline helped the automobile industry take off and synthesized Freon extended the lifespan of lifesaving vaccines, but they took an incredible toll on the environment.

Both were invented in the early 20th century by Thomas Midgley, Jr. After graduating from Cornell in 1911 with a degree in mechanical engineering, he worked briefly for National Cash Register where inventor Charles Kettering had just created the first electronic till. In 1916, Midgley started working for Kettering at Dayton Metal Products Company, which soon became the research division of General Motors.

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Radial Solenoid Engine is Undeniably Cool

Radial engines are just plain cool – it’s inarguable that any tech that originated with early aviation is inherently awesome. But, what do you do when you want to build a radial engine in your dorm where a combustion engine would be inadvisable? For University of Washington students [Jeffrey Weng] and [Connor Lee] the answer was to power it with solenoids in place of the pistons.

The easiest way to approach a project like this would have been to use a microcontroller. A simple program running on an Arduino could have easily provided the timing to switch power to each solenoid in succession. [Jeffrey Weng] and [Connor Lee], however, took a much more interesting approach by controlling timing via a simple distributor. This works in the same way a spark distributor on a combustion engine would have worked, except it’s actually providing the power to actuate the solenoids instead of providing just an ignition spark.

Also impressive is what they were able to accomplish with such basic tools. Those of us who are lazy and have access to more expensive tools would have just 3D printed or CNC cut most of the parts. Either [Jeffrey Weng] and [Connor Lee] didn’t have access to these, or they wanted to increase their machining street cred, because they created all of the parts with simple tools like a band saw and drill press. We’ve seen some beautiful engine projects before, but what this build lacks in objective beauty it makes up for in ingenuity.

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2-Stroke Engine too Beautiful to Behold

The sheer beauty of this build is blinding. We enjoy keeping a minimalistic household — not quite on the level of [Joe MacMillan] but getting there — yet this would be the thing we choose as decoration. It’s a hand-built 2-stroke Engine designed specifically to make the combustion process visible rather than locking it away inside of a block of metal.

If you have a nagging feeling you’ve seen this before it’s because the amazing craftsmanship is unforgettable. A couple years back we looked at the 4-stroke engine also built by [Huib Visser]. This new offering does away with the belt, leaving a build that is almost entirely glass and metal polished to a high sheen. The glass cylinder contains the combustion, pushing the graphite piston to drive the fly-wheel. A passing magnet triggers the spark plug to ignite the white-gas fuel, all of which is well-illustrated in the video after the break.

This is not for sale, which doesn’t surprise us. How hard would it be to part with something of such beauty especially knowing you created that beauty? But don’t worry, you can definitely build your own. Just make sure to set the bar lower for your first half dozen tries. We’ve even seen engine builds using hardware store parts.

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Bisected Engine Makes Cute Lamp – Still Cranks

As a beginner’s step towards the famous Top Gear V8 coffee table, [English Tea] converted a small single cylinder engine into a desk lamp that uses the mechanical actuation of the piston to turn on and off. No able-bodied engines were harmed in the making of this hack as this one was already a corpse — perfect for [Mr. Tea] to prop up and display in his home.

Regrettably lacking a lightsaber, he settled for 30 minutes on a hacksaw to split the cylinder followed by some sandblasting to clean all the rust, paint, and gunk off all the internals. Once it was clean he repainted it himself. Between paint and clearcoats, he figured he added 20 layers onto the metal.

Next he created some wood sections and wet-formed leather over them which he later dyed black. Caring less about a new Walmart lamp than the motor, he vivisected it for its electrical components and wired it up.

Without a crank on the shaft it looks a bit awkward to twist the lamp on or off, but, only enough pressure is needed to poke a latching momentary pushbutton and it seems to work just fine. For any readers looking to make their own, dead compressors and gas power tools are fairly common and nearly free at the junkyard. Engine-based projects can be intimidating to start if you need a working engine again at the end. Becoming familiar with them on a project like this where you are mostly only using the engine as a building material is an easy way to get your foot in the door.

See the video after the break of the piston bumping the light on and off.

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