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.

Thanks to [J. Peterson] for the tip!

90 thoughts on “EZ-Spin Motor Spins “Forever”

    1. I don’t know about the specifics of the build, but depending on the design the loss of energy through air drag at higher speeds might outweigh the losses of charging the capacitor.

    2. Well yeah, but the capacitor example is just showing how low-power and well-balanced it is. It’s also an electric motor, which has practical uses beyond being a glorified flywheel. Shows the guy’s skill with building motors.

  1. His commutation looks really odd to me. The reed switch is pretty far away from the rotor magnets, and although they are quite sensitive, they are also within the field produced by the two nearest stator windings. But, the two stator windings would have opposite field polarity, so (ideally) their fields would cancel each other out.

    1. I think he’s got the reed switch placed a distance from the rotor in order to reduce the duty cycle, i.e., the swich only closes for a small fraction of the cycle.

      There is also a load associated with a reed switch, so putting it further away, where the switch barely closes, reduces the drag induced by the reed switch. It may also be that placing the reed switch between the coils causes the duty cycle to be even shorter. If the reed switch is closer to the magnet whose polarity bucks the field of the rotor magnets, then as soon as the field in that coil reaches a certain point it will turn off the current. This also helps to ensure that the stator never saturates, which again leads to higher efficiency.

      I was thinking that a tickler coil and a power MOSFET would make a better commutator, but the problem there is that a MOSFET goes through a resistive regime between its “off” and “on” states, and this would dissipate energy during the transitions. So maybe [lasersaber] is doing it right.

      To all the commenters saying that a simple flywheel would be better, try the trick he does in the video, where he stops the motor with his fingers, lets go, and it starts spinning again. I don’t think that will work with a flywheel. The point of this project seems to be to have a motor that can sit on the shelf and run for years on a small battery.

      1. The motor as is does not have any mechanical outputs, so stalling it is silly. If you short out your storage cap, you won’t be able to recover either.

        You can make a flywheel version that can recover from a stall too by decoupling the energy storage from the rotational part. You can use an aluminum rotator plate over a magnetic flywheel with a separate bearing. The rotating magnetic field turns it into an induction motor.

        1. Yes it would of course, but it would be less drag than air though.
          But I’m not sure a vacuum or low drag atmosphere is so relevant here, since the thing is round and can be made to be smooth how much air resistance can there be really? I guess someone would have to do some experiments to tell us.

      1. You can get globes that are suspended in the air and rotate, from electromagnets in the housing. Google “levitating rotating globe”. I think it’s just a matter of magnet arrangement in the globe, and extra coils in the base.

  2. Glad to see he isn’t claiming overunity, There is a massive amount of people on youtube who believe that crap even their commenter’s fight it out, Claiming big (oil/energy/gov) is keeping it from the population.

    1. That’s because they know almost nothing about basic physics. I’ve seen plenty magic motors, that run on magnets, and read even more about them and about other “free energy” crap. For every person that knows something about physics there are ten-twenty people who are duped into believing in those magic motors, and another 10 trolls that will repeat those claims of overunity because they made their own motors, that didn’t work and now won’t admit being idiots. Oh well, time to make my own design and sell it to stupid mases…

      1. The people I have known who use phrases such as “Over Unity” not only do not know the physics behind their machines, they actively do not want to know. Try explaining to them some time, show them the maths, demonstrate it even. Usually, It does not go down well and the real world is simply ignored.

        Though to be fair I may be that my experience with that crowd has coloured my perception of the larger group.

        1. Well what do you expect? If they let basic facts stop them, they wouldn’t be bothering with that nonsense in the first place.

          I suppose their refusal to learn is a mixture of cognitive dissonance, denial, and sunk-cost fallacy.

          1. You know, I disagree. Modern science reporting floods people with insane magical ideas like quantum tunneling, zero-point energy, dark energy, wormholes, cold fusion, and other nonsense. And it’s written to *sound* amazing, because otherwise it’s boring.

            The problem is that all of that is just silly theory: real physics is pretty boring at a macroscopic level. But people see it, and think “we’ll I’ve heard of that, so maybe it’s not garbage.”

          2. Yeah, but fuckin’ magnets! The perpetual motion machines just use simple, ordinary properties of magnets that’ve been known about forever. There’s just always some “sticking point”, ie equilibrium, that if only they could somehow remove… maybe if I add more NIB magnets…

        2. I try to explain to them the basic physics of such devices. In case of one believer in Kapanadze magnetic motor I even made some simulations in Femm to show them, how magnetic fields won’t cooperate with that ludicrous theory. That didn’t work. So nowadays I just mock them with clever use of sarcasm…

          1. I think the billions of people following various religions, full of internal contradictions and bizarre theories from thousands of years ago, proves that you can’t logic someone out of something that they want to believe in.

            I’m very unimpressed with humans in general. If there were any gods I’d be wanting a refund from them. Life should not be so annoying for such stupid reasons.

      1. Oh, I love that “if we could just eliminate the friction” I constantly see on people who’ve made the Newman motor or the like. I’m always like, “umm, if it really were over unity, you wouldn’t need to worry about new bearings or the like”

  3. Seeing this and the talk about the DIY Cubesat, a motor like this would make a nice reaction wheel that draws very little power…now the question is, if the bearings can operate in hard vacuum :D

        1. Flight certified tantalum capacitors are available. The reed switch will fail eventually due to contact wear, but there are really no other good alternative switching devices that have such a low “on” state voltage drop and require no direct electrical input to operate.

          1. You could try four or more 2SK170 JFET’s in parallel. That gets your on state drop down to around 0.025V. The current drawn by this little motor is well within the current rating of four of these in parallel. Then you need to sense the magnetic field somehow. A hall effect sensor may be the way to go.

          2. JFET’s require so little gate current to switch on, you could probably just make a smaller coil to add to the stator field coils. The rotor magnets passing by will induce enough current in it to switch on the JFET’s if the coil is wound properly.

    1. My colleagues have actually worked on a miniature reaction wheel for cubesats (its flying on the Delfi-n3Xt for those interested). During the vibration test (to simulate the launch vibrations) the ceramic ball bearings disintegrated into a 1000 tiny pieces. There is no way this type of design can survive the launch loads. Unless you add some kind of locking/unlocking mechanism to it.

      P.S. I accidentally reported your comment. Admins please ignore.

      1. I have a very hard time believing that, alumina is very shock and compression resistant, they use the ball bearings in freaking military jets, they come out all egg shaped and cracked or whatever but most are round and almost 0 are disintegrated.

        Not to mention you have boron nitride, or zinc carbide, silicon carbide… There is no way with these materials you cant make a bearing that can survive launch vibrations.

        Unless you somehow magically hit the resonant frequency of the size of bearing you were using and it disintegrated, I am calling BS

    1. pretty difficult to see all the connection clearly in that portion of the video i went to look and paused it at that point. In the event the meter used required to be used with a shunt it would be wired in parallel with the shunt

  4. I think this motor runs so well for three reasons-
    1) Very low friction due to single point sapphire bearings.
    2) No ferrous materials in the stator to introduce hysteresis losses into the system.
    3) Completely non-electrically conductive stator design (except for field coils) to eliminate losses due to induced eddy currents and counter-fields.

  5. Its a nice flywheel.
    But it kind of seems to me that [lasersaber] has gone a bit too much into the “zomg energy” hype with this invention and his later dabblings into supercapacitors and such. Don’t get me wrong, low consumption systems or energy conservation ones are interesting , but does it need all those “EZ” and ZOMG ITS TECHNOLOGY MAGIC mood?

    Of course it may sound boring to the mainstream or initiate electronic engineers, but i feel that a “cool” and probably misinformative nomenclature and focus … is ill-needed,

    For example sake: NASA has done this. There are “pro” versions of these on nowadays Formula Ones .

    Sorry about the ranting. I like the guy and his videos, but no mysticism needed or cool initials :/

  6. I think it’s a hoot that even though [lasersaber] makes no claim about it running forever, and CLEARLY POINTS OUT the capacitors and explains their function in the video, people will still say there must be a hidden battery. If you check out his other YouTube videos, he also shows how to build a “crystal cell”, which is a magnesium-copper dry cell battery. HE doesn’t say that it’s anything more than a chemical battery, but many of his commenters would endow it with magical powers.

  7. Knowing that some oilfield have kept running when the grid feeding them is down, I don’t suspect tricky here other than a lot of fine tuning. By accident , not by design those oil fields kept running. disconnect one well from the secondary, the entire field would stop. One commentator at his blog understanding a dynamo can’t produce more power that what is put into it was expect more power than blowing through s straw can provide. Not they should be faulted for asking the question, because no one knows everything there is to know, about everything.

  8. My physics is pretty rudimentary but isn’t this better than a flywheel in terms of weight? Might a potential commercial application be a series of decorative ornaments for example that slowly rotate for the entire season?

      1. It is from the 80’s of last century. IIRC there is the big wheel with the magnets, a rubber band belt to one of the small wheels, a coil (at the very right behind the exclamation mark of “Rückseite!”) and a moveable reed switch in the white bracket to the top left,- and yes: a battery. By adjusting the angle of the reed switch to the coil you could tune the motor.

        “Ein Hit für Elektro-Tüftler und alle, die es werden wollen!” – The bee’s knees for Electro-tinkerer and everyone who want to become one

    1. Modify a crystal radio to use full wave rectification and you’d have even more energy to play with. The trick would be to tune to a local, strong broadcast. I’d estimate that this is totally feasible as long as you have a switch to take the piezo speaker out of the circuit and dump the current into the tantalums instead.

      Also, why not put some mirrors on the top of the rotating disk, have some “jewel thieves” running into some high brightness LEDs pointing at the mirrors. Then you get a super efficient disco ball!

          1. No. Neither can a joule thief. The current is far too low.
            But, it may be possible to store the energy for later use with an appropriate boost converter in capacitors or a battery. The Linear Technology LTC3108 is one example. If sufficient voltage can be obtained, then something like the LTC3588 could be used.

  9. Why doesn’t the mechanical force generated be further used to create an additional magnetic force in a series of coils wound above and below the disc, if made to a larger scale? WOuldn’t that give the ability to further store the energy generated and use it to recharge a supercap/batt to make it run longer?

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