Hand-cranked Magnet Machine Is Endless Fun


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]


41 thoughts on “Hand-cranked Magnet Machine Is Endless Fun

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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…

  5. 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”?


  6. 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 !!

  7. 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!

  8. 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!!!

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.