The discovery and implementation of alternating current revolutionized the entire world little more than a century ago. Without it, we’d all have inefficient, small neighborhood power plants sending direct current in short, local circuits. Alternating current switches the direction of current many times a second, causing all kinds of magnetic field interactions that result in being able to send electricity extremely long distances without the resistive losses of a DC circuit. The major downside, though, is that AC circuits tend to have charging losses due to this back-and-forth motion, but this lost energy can actually be harvested with something like this custom-built transformer.
[Hyperspace Pilot] hand-wound this ferromagnetic-core transformer using almost two kilometers of 28-gauge magnet wire. The more loops of wire, the more the transformer will be able to couple with magnetic fields generated by the current flowing in other circuits. The other thing that it needs to do is resonate at a specific frequency, which is accomplished by using a small capacitor to tune the circuit to the mains frequency. With the tuning done, holding the circuit near his breaker panel with the dryer and air conditioning running generates around five volts. There’s not much that can be done with this other than hook up a small LED, since the current generated is also fairly low, but it’s an impressive proof of concept.
After some more testing, [Hyperspace Pilot] found that the total power draw of his transformer is only on the order of about 50 microwatts in an ideal setting where the neutral or ground wire wasn’t nearby, so it’s not the most economical way to steal electricity. On the other hand, it could still be useful for detecting current flow in a circuit without having to directly interact with it. And, it turns out that there are better ways of saving on your electricity bill provided you have a smart meter and the right kind of energy-saving appliances anyway.
Continue reading “Siphoning Energy From Power Lines”
The famous hoverboards of Back to the Future haven’t quite gotten here yet, but that hasn’t stopped anyone with a unique personal vehicle from using the name any time they need some quick marketing. The self-balancing scooter trend of the mid-2010s was the best example of this in recent memory, but there are also water-propelled platforms that use the popular name as well as a myriad of other more skateboard-like devices that never got off the ground at all. This project from [Damien Dolata], on the other hand, might be the most authentic prototype we’ve seen compared against the fictional version presented in the movie.
The hoverboard uses a set of rotating magnets, referred to in this build as magneto-rotational repulsors, which spin up to an extremely high rotational speed underneath the board. When above a metal surface, the spinning magnets generate eddy currents in the metal beneath them which create the strong magnetic field needed to levitate the board. Unlike the Lexus hoverboard system which used supercooling magnets, this is a much more affordable way of producing magnetic fields but is a little bit more complicated due to the extra moving parts.
As this is still in the prototyping stages, it has only been able to lift around 30 kg and hasn’t been tested in motion yet, but there are two small turbines built into the hoverboard to generate thrust whenever [Damien] gets to that point. It would require a larger metal surface to move across as well, which might be the main reason why it hasn’t been tested this way yet. For any native French speakers taking a look at this project, be sure to fill in any of our gaps in the comments below, and for other ways that eddy currents have been used in transportation take a look at this bicycle that uses them in its drivetrain.
Continue reading “Hoverboard Rides On Eddy Currents”
Carl Friedrich Gauss was, to put it mildly, a polymath responsible for a large percentage of the things we take for granted in the modern world. As a physicist and mathematician he pioneered several fields of study including within the field of magnetism. But since he died decades before the first car was built, it’s unlikely he could have imagined this creation, a magnetic slot-car race track called the Gauss Speedway by [Jeff McBride], which bears the name of the famous scientist.
The Gauss Speedway takes its inspiration from a recent development in robotics, where many small robots can travel around a large area with the help of circuit traces integrated into their operating area. With the right current applied to these traces, magnetic fields are generated which propel the robots. [Jeff] wanted to build something similar, integrated into a printed circuit board directly, and came up with the slot car idea. The small cars have tiny magnets in them which interact with the traces in the PCB, allowing the cars to move with high precision around the track. He did abandon the traditional slot car controller in favor of a push-button style one directly on the PCB too, which means everything is completely integrated.
While this was more of a demonstration or proof-of-concept, some of the features of this style of robot can be seen in this video, which shows them moving extremely rapidly with high precision, on uneven surfaces, or even up walls. Magnetic robots like these are seeing quite a renaissance, and we’ve even seen some that use magnetism to shape-shift.
Continue reading “Racing Cars On A PCB”
Induction cook tops are among the most efficient ways of cooking in the home that are commercially available to the average person. Since the cook surface uses magnetic fields to generate heat in the cookware itself, there is essentially no heat wasted. There are some other perks too, such as faster cooking times and more fine control, not to mention that it’s possible to build your own induction stove. All you need is some iron, wire, and a power source, and you can have something like this homemade induction cooker.
This induction heater has a trick up its sleeve, too. Instead of using an air coil to generate heat in the cookware, this one uses an iron core instead. The project’s creator [mircemk] built an air core induction stove in the past, and this new one is nearly identical with the exception of the addition of the iron core. This allows for the use of less wire, and uses a driver circuit called a Mazzilli ZVS driver running through some power MOSFETs to power the device. A couple inductors limit the current to 20A, but it appears to work just as well as the previous stove.
This build puts a homemade induction stove well within reach of anyone with an appropriate power supply and enough wire and inductors to build the coils. [mircemk] has made somewhat of a name for himself involving project that use various coils of wire, too, like this project we featured recently which uses two overlapping air-core coils to build an effective metal detector.
Continue reading “Induction Heater Uses New Coil”
You normally associate a double helix with DNA, but an international team headquartered at Cambridge University used 3D printing to create magnetic double helixes that are about a 1,000 times smaller than a human hair. Why do such a thing? We aren’t sure why they started, but they were able to find nanoscale topological features in the magnetic field and they think it will change how magnetic devices work in the future — especially magnetic storage devices.
In particular, researchers feel this is a step towards practical “racetrack” memory that stores magnetic information in three dimensions instead of two and offer high density and RAM-like access times. You can read the full paper if you want the gory details.
Continue reading “Tiny 3D Printed Magnets Show Patterns”
You’ve probably heard the term magnetic gradient before, but have you ever seen one? Now you can in [supermagnetman’s] video, below. The key is to use very fine (2 micron) iron filings and special silicone oil. The video is a good mix of whiteboard lectures and practical hands-on experimenting. Just watching him spin the iron filings in the bottle was entertaining. There’s sources in the video description for the oil and the filings if you want to replicate the demonstrations for a classroom or just for your own enjoyment.
It’s one thing to know the math behind magnetic fields. It’s another to be able to use them in practical applications. But a good understanding of the physical manifestation of the magnetic field coupled can help clarify the math and vice versa. There’s a lot of common sense explanations too. For example, the way the filings accelerate as they get closer to the magnet explains why the patterns form the way they do. Iron filings are a traditional way to “see” magnetic fields. Ask anyone who ever had a Wooly Willy.
Iron filings can be fun to play with, although we don’t think we’ve ever had any this fine. If you prefer your magnetic field visualizations to be higher-tech, we have the answer.
Continue reading “Magnetic Experiments Shows Gradients”
The average Hackaday reader likely knows, at least in the academic sense, what a magnetic field looks like. But as the gelatinous orbs in our skull can perceive only a tiny fraction of the EM spectrum, we have to take those textbook diagrams at face value. That is, unless you’ve got one of these nifty magnetic field visualizers developed by [Dr.Stone].
Using an XMC1100 microcontroller development board and a TLV49 3D magnetic sensor, the device is able to track the poles of a magnet in real-time and produce an approximation of what the field lines would look like on its electronic paper display. Relative field strength is indicated by the size of the visualization, which allows the user to easily compare multiple magnets. Incidentally, [Dr.Stone] notes that the current version of the hardware and software can only handle one magnet at a time; visualizing complex magnetic fields and more than two poles would take an array of sensors and likely a more powerful processor.
Do you need to visualize the field lines around a magnet? Perhaps not. But being able to quickly get an idea of how strong a magnet is and identify where its poles are could certainly come in handy. We’d like to see [Dr.Stone] take the project to the next phase and turn this into a handheld device for convenient workbench use. It would be a lot less messy than some of the previous methods we’ve seen for visualizing magnetic fields, though if you’re only worried about field strength, there’s arguably more straightforward ways to display it.
Continue reading “See The Unseen With This Magnetic Field Visualizer”