For my final project, I made a levitation stand using magnets. The idea came from a bar in a small town in Idaho that a passed through on the way back from a camping and fishing trip at Hell’s Canyon last summer. I saw a beer bottle floating in space and spinning slowly similar to the one shown below.

This really drew me in to what was going on, probably at least somewhat due to being a few drinks in. This is actually one of the things that has stuck with me the most from that trip.

The first step for me in this project was to research how these things work, to see if it was even a feasible undertaking. I got the idea of spinning a disk magnet really fast in order to generate a stable magnetic field that another magnet could be placed onto without falling over. This proved to be difficult, as arduino motors were not suitable for the task during initial prototyping. Once it became clear that I was not going to be able to spin a magnet fast enough to achieve the goal, I researched other methods. After about 8 hours of researching everything from DIY kits to experimental physics forums, I thought I had a means to build the project. What I came up with was a series of electromagnets nested inside a ring magnet. A simplified diagram of how this works is shown below.

This sketch shows the basic idea of how this thing actually works. The ring magnet supplies the stability for the magnet that is suspended as it is unable to climb the magnetic field from the ring magnet. The electromagnets provide the “lift”. This is something that was hard to actually incorporate as the electromagnets need to be perfectly balanced with each other as well as strong enough support the weight of the floating magnet, but no so strong as to push the floating magnet over the magnetic field of the ring magnet. This challenge was overcome by using  potentiometers and trial and error to see how much power to give the electromagnets. A picture of the bare bones prototype is shown below.

This picture shows the magnet being suspended with no visual supports. I’ve gotten the stand the support up to 3 pounds, which may sound small, but it was pretty incredible to see it float.

As far as design aesthetics go, I initially wanted to design something with Art Deco in mind. This proved to be difficult when designing the enclosure. The distance between the bottom of the floating magnet and the top of the ring magnet is less than an inch, so the top of this stand needs to be flat. For this reason, I scrapped the idea of Art Deco and decided to go for a futuristic aesthetic based on the comments from my presentation. The physical stand is actually printing right now, but the CAD for this stand is shown below.

The circuit board will sit on top of the platform in the middle of the ellipse and a small cover will be placed over top of it to hid it and protect the magnets from damage.

 

 

References:

[1] https://sc01.alicdn.com/kf/HTB11_ufJXXXXXakXpXXq6xXFXXXg/202202866/

[2] http://science.howstuffworks.com/electromagnet5.htm

[3] http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Super-Electromagnet/

[4] http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-a-basic-electromagnet./

[5] http://news.softpedia.com/news/How-Electromagnets-Work-86413.shtml

[6] https://www.dkfindout.com/us/science/magnets/electromagnets/#!

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9 Comments. Leave new

  • Jimmy Speedy
    Jimmy Speedy
    April 24, 2017 3:41 pm

    Awesome idea! I love how creative the idea is, if I were to see a beer just floating around I too would have been amazed. Much like Jason’s project, I really like how you have used some sort of engineering to really produce a “WOW” factor to your project. I think when people see something they don’t hardly ever see, (like a levitating beer) they will be truly amazed. I am curious if you stayed in budget, just because I feel as though the equipment to get something to levitate would be quite expensive.

    Reply
  • Scott Lowenstein
    Scott Lowenstein
    March 15, 2017 12:38 pm

    What a cool idea! I enjoyed hearing about your discussion of where you derived your inspiration, and some of the challenges you expect to face in creating the final version. I am interested to hear more about how you plan to incorporate your chosen art deco theme into the design as well. Great job all around!

    Reply
  • Jeremy Parsons
    Jeremy Parsons
    March 13, 2017 12:36 pm

    From the “po-dunk” bar in Idaho to the main stage! This is a very interesting project that you clearly did some digging into to understand. It seems like you wanted to ensure that the functional elements would work before enveloping the skeleton in your aesthetic. The ability to keep your eyes peeled for design inspiration is a skills that takes a long time to develop and has a lot of value.

    Reply
  • Great idea!! Levitating objects are an aesthetic in itself. I can’t wait to see what you decide to do with the project. Maybe a bigger circle magnet could be used now that you know how it works.

    Reply
  • Sam Van Dreser
    Sam Van Dreser
    March 13, 2017 12:34 pm

    It was great to see your prototype already up and running with movement. It nice that you are already at the stage of where you are just designing the aesthetic around the prototype. I see a type of futuristic look around your idea, but if you already have an idea that even better. Maybe you can 3D print a stand and then build off of that…

    Reply
  • This is a really great idea for a project and a creative way to make it something dynamic. It seems like something that would be very cool to have around the house. Are there any modifications you plan on making to the base? I think that part of the design allows for a lot of creativity as long as the magnets can still be integrated. Good luck with the final version!

    Reply
  • Emily Pearson
    Emily Pearson
    March 13, 2017 12:33 pm

    It was interesting hearing about your design iterations and problems that arose with your magnets! REALLY great idea. I think your idea to have a table where you could put a beer on it would be really neat to see. Can’t wait to see how your project turns out!

    Reply
  • Cool idea, I like that your dynamic aspect will be something related to science rather than just having something move back in forth on rails. I think the hardest part will be to get your interface to look really nice and different than what you started with.

    Reply
  • This is a very cool idea. I like how your inspiration is from a bar in Idaho. This is very creative, and I would have never thought of it! I also like that you are able to add a beer bottle to the top of it eventually to create a look that the beer bottle is just floating. How strong a magnet will you need on the bottle to get it to float? You also mentioned that you are trying to make it art deco… How are you going to incorporate this?? Great job!

    Reply

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