Mendocino Motor Drives Cubicle Conversations

Mendocino motors are solar-powered electric motors that rely on pseudo-levitation.  The levitation comes from magnets mounted on either end of the shaft, which repel same-field magnets fixed below them into the base.  When light shines on the solar panels, current flows through connected magnet wire windings, creating an electromagnetic field that interacts with a large stationary magnet mounted underneath. These constantly repelling forces spin the shaft, and the gaps between the solar panels provide the on-off cycle needed to make it spin 360°.

As [Konstantin] discovered, building this simple motor and getting it to spin depends on a lot of factors. The number of windings, the weight of each solar panel, and the magnet sizes all figure in. [Konstantin]’s struggles are your gain, however. His Instructable takes the guesswork out of the tolerances and he designed a nice, open-source 3D-printed structure to boot.

You’re right, these motors can’t do much work. But it would definitely look cool on your desk and might even start a conversation or two. If not, whip up this little electromagnetic train.

15 thoughts on “Mendocino Motor Drives Cubicle Conversations

    1. My gut feeling is that you don’t get enough excess power to run LEDs bright enough for POV when you have to have it sitting in direct sunlight…. in other words, you’re trying to get enough energy from the sun to outshine the sun.

      1. LCD? you have to shine a bright light on it anyway. You can maybe power the AtTiny from a supercap which is charged up via the solar cells. When it holds enough charge to power a few seconds of display you start the AtTiny. Repeat.
        I think I have a small LCD-bargraph display laying around somewhere. That could totally work…

      2. Put them on the other side. This thing only works if light is shining much more on one side than the other.

        Still yeah I doubt it’d work… solar panels are really crap, if there were any friction at all in this motor it pretty much wouldn’t work. Hence why it’s floating.

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