Frustrating Fun With Magnetic Levitation

[Andrey Mikhalchuk] built his own magnetic levitation device and you can too… if you have the patience. He’s not using electromagnets, like the Arduino levitator or the floating globe. Instead, a pair of ceramic ring magnets and a few hours are all it takes.

The base of his device is a couple of very large ring magnets that would most often be used in speakers. It’s hard to see them in the image above because there’s an inverted plastic container obscuring them. A second (or third depending on how you’re counting) ring magnet is selected because it is smaller than the circular void in the magnetic base. It’s impossible to simply balance the magnet in the air, but spinning it is a different story. By creating a perfectly balance magnetic top, then spinning it inside the magnetic field of the base, you can leave it floating in mid-air.

Check out the video after the break. It’s a neat effect, but you really do have to have a perfect setup for it to work. [Andrey] mentions that it takes a couple of hours to fine-tune. And if the ambient conditions change slightly, it throws the whole thing off.


18 thoughts on “Frustrating Fun With Magnetic Levitation

  1. Wow Ive never seen anything like it!
    no wait I have…

    but seriously….this is pretty cool….hopefully I get my post up before the “photoshoppped” troll comment comes up…

    oh…dont let me forget….

    This is not a hack….
    Wheres the Arduino?

    Ha now what will anyone else have left to say

  2. Techartisan, yeap, I initially wanted to make video “How to buy magnetic spinning top”, but then decided “How to build one” would be a bit cooler. Especially assuming there is no good video about how to tune it, this would be the first attempt.

    Arduino is still there, I put it under the large magnet to level it :)

    Thanks for good comment!

  3. i dont think that he used Photoshop, more likely windows movie maker. ;)

    looks like a fun project, but think i would be vary impatient to do so if it takes a couple of hours.

  4. Well, “a few hours” is a bit inaccurate. I’d say you can assemble everything in 15 minutes if you have all the parts. Also I hope the approach described in the video and in the blog will reduce the tuning time to an hour or so.

    I spend many hours tuning the top primarily because I had no instructions at all.

    Also after some practice readjustments do not take long, especially with the electric tape.

    Looking at the faces of those who didn’t see this effect before definitely worth all this effort :)

  5. I would be rather curious to see how stable the “positional lock” of the top would be if the base magnet was moved…..

    if it is possible to move the base while holding the top in the “sweet spot”..then hirudinea’s Ouija board might be a two axis control away from possible….

    but that might require powering up your “shim”duino :)

  6. This was a FANTASTIC “writeup” — and a PERFECT use for a video. I usually hate videos because they are pointless and text is much better to describe how to do something and is much faster to read, but Andrey’s video is a perfect example of when you should use video instead of text. He goes through each step clearly, and the tuning process is especially good to watch rather than read. My hat’s off to you, Andrey!

  7. @Hax0rflak3s – I have a Levitron, so obviously that’s the first thing I thought of when I saw this hack. Now, however, I’m trying to figure out how the Perpetuator and Revolution work. Either of those would be an awesome project to try and duplicate…

  8. Tane, Hax0rflak3s, I think I have an idea about how the perpetuator could work. I don’t have neither levitron nor perpetuator. I’ll try it for one of the future episodes. Thanks for interesting suggestion!

    Or maybe someone can just reverse engineer it? I just don’t have neither levitron nor perpetuator.

    My guess would be that it uses 3+ electromagnets and either a microcontroller+hall sensor or just a 555, depending on judgement of cost vs reliability the company made.

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