DIY

Stop & Go Pendulums

This vintage device was produced in the 1980s but similar devices are not hard to build. Here are (somewhat hard to find) steel balls with holes that will work nicely to construct pendulums: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Drilled Spheres 

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

See my other physics toys featuring pendulums

Stop & Go Pendulums: a vintage desk toy from the 1980s that features a set of coupled pendulums for which kinetic energy transfers between the pendulums in a dramatic and cyclic way. The design is very simple- the pendulums are identical in size and mass and hang connected to the same strand of string. (Try making your own!) The pattern of stop and go repeats until the initial energy is dissipated by friction. This device was sold as the “Magic Motion” desk toy by Newton Products Corporation in New York.

Cartesian Jellyfish Divers

Get these charming jellyfish here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Jellyfish Divers

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Cartesian Jellyfish: increasing pressure in the water compresses air bubbles inside the plastic capsules, filling them further with water making them sink in this cute version of the famous Cartesian Diver toy. In this whimsical version the jellyfish also spin when the pressure is released as the water is channeled out of the capsule/head in a sideways jet. Pascal’s principle states that any change in pressure on an enclosed fluid (such as squeezing the plastic bottle) is transmitted evenly to every part of the fluid- the physics of hydraulic brakes! Named after the physicist and philosopher Rene Descartes.

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Magic Portal Illusion V4

Get this version, expertly printed and assembled, here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Magic Portal Illusion Desk Toy

Or print it yourself: 3D Print Files: Magic Portal Desk Toy

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Magic Portal Illusion Version 4: the latest update of this new astonishing illusion, now with three separately moving colorful strands that seem to pass in and out of a 4th dimension. The mechanical principle employed is similar to that of a lead screw and slider type actuator, except here translating the slider up and down rotates the helical strands at just the right rate to produce the illusion. Another in a series of amazing 3D print creations by Ada Cohen, expertly printed and assembled by Alex L. Kling. 


Vacuum Engine 

Get this amazing engine here:

From EngineDIY: BUY NOW: Vacuum Flame Licker Engine

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Flame Eater Engine: also called a vacuum engine- operates by opening a valve during the piston intake stroke to pull in a bit of burning gas from the flame- the valve closes and the trapped hot gas expands pushing the piston. The exhaust stroke then has the gas cool, contract, and get pushed out the same valve right before the process repeats. Slow motion captures the intake of the flame through the valve/mouth at the cylinder head which gives the appearance that flame is being chewed- hence the name. Note this engine design does not need to warm up and starts instantly, but is very inefficient as only a fraction of the burning fuel (alcohol) is used by the thermodynamic process each cycle. 

Rhythmic Ferrofluid

Get this affordable ferrofluid device here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Iridescent Ferrofluid

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Rhythmic Ferrofluid: an iridescent magnetic fluid interacts with a variable strength electromagnet (like those found in speakers). A circuit supplies power to the electromagnet in proportion to the sound waves picked up by a microphone, the changing magnetic field- combined with the liquid surface tension of the colloidal ferromagnetic liquid- produces the captivating motion that keeps time with any music played. 

Levitating Cube Tensegrity

Get the 3D print files here: Levitating Cubes

Similar fun tensegrity prints often available on Etsy

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Levitating Cube Tensegrity: connected only by four segments of fishing line! An amazing 3D print creation by @heliox_lab where the beautifully symmetric configuration is stable in all orientations. Another fun take on the tensegrity concept, invented by Kenneth Snelson and made famous by the architect Buckminster Fuller in 1949. 


Vintage Bulb Spectra

Get this diffraction grating here: explore light source spectra! 

From Amazon: BUY NOW: 500 line/mm diffraction grating

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Vintage Bulb Spectra: emission line spectra identify the gas within these two vintage discharge glow bulbs- revealed here by a 500 line/mm diffraction grating. The color of each gas is due to a mix of the colors emitted from electron energy transitions specific to each element, the basis of spectroscopy.

Magic Portal Illusion 

Get one, expertly printed and assembled, here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Magic Portal Illusion Desk Toy

Or print it yourself: 3D Print Files: Magic Portal Desk Toy

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Magic Portal Illusion: this astonishing design utilizes the famous barber pole illusion to make it appear as though these colorful strands are passing in and out of a 4th dimension. The mechanical principle employed is similar to that of a lead screw and slider type actuator, except here translating the slider up and down rotates the helical strands at just the right rate to produce the illusion. An amazing 3D print creation of Ada Cohen, printed and assembled by Alex L. Kling. 


Invisible Ink and UV LED Pen

This item came to me in my Winter 2022 Curiosity Box subsciption:
Get (or give!) a Curiosity Box subscription here: JOIN NOW: The Curiosity Box

Get this amazing and inexpensive version of the Spirograph here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Spirograph Animator

Get a similar pen and UV light here: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW UV Pen

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Invisible Ink and UV Pen: this pen utilizes a clear ink that when dry is barely noticeable, but contains fluorescent compounds that reveals its presence under long wave ultraviolet light. This cool pen with UV LED light came in my @thecuriositybox yesterday where I applied it to make some hypotrochoid roulette curves with this pocket Spirograph set. 

 

 

Simple Polarimeter and Polarization Art

This DIY device is part of the polarization kit that you will get from a MEL Physics subscription:

Subscribe to: MEL Physics (click to see the contents of this great kit). 

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Simple Polarimeter and Polarization Art: another amazing experiment from the MEL Physics polarization science kit. Geometric patterns of overlapping cellophane tape with color revealed when viewed with linear polarizing filters- create your own polarization art! This kit provides two linear polarizing sheets that when oriented at 90 degrees creates this device that reveals rainbows hidden within the patterns of polarization in the light transmitted by various objects. In the first video the layers of cellophane rotate the polarization of some light frequencies more than others. In the second video the polarimeter colorfully reveals the trapped internal stresses created in many plastics from their formation process (typically cooling of a liquid in a mold). All items shown included in this kit (plus much more). 

Camphor Propulsion Boat

These vintage toys often available here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Camphor Craft Boats

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Camphor Craft Miniature Self Propelling Toy Sailing Ship: this vintage toy boat is propelled by a difference in surface tension. Fluids will flow away from regions of lower surface tension (Marangoni Effect) and as the camphor mixes with the water at the stern of the boat a gradient of surface tension is created pushing the boat forward. Made in Cornwall England-swipe to see this 1960’s vintage toy in its original packaging. 


Spirograph Animator

Get this amazing and inexpensive toy here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Spirograph Animator

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Spirograph Animator: a turntable adds an ingenious embellishment to this classic math toy. When the centerpiece is put into rotation a strobe light turns on and the cyclic designs spring into a complex dance. Spirographs produce mathematical roulette curves called hypotrochoids, cyclical designs that repeat at varying integer multiples. When the strobe light frequency, and rotation frequency, match up with an integer multiple of one of the patterns, that roulette curve appears stationary while the other patterns stay in motion. Shown here is but one combination of many possible overlapping patterns that can be produced by the supplied set of gears and colored pens. 

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