Magnetic Toys

Vintage Telephone Magneto

Working vintage magnetos can be found on eBay for reasonable prices: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Vintage Bar Magneto Generators

Lots of digital oscilloscopes on eBay as well: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Tektronix digital oscilloscope

Vintage Telephone Magneto: a functioning antique 5 bar telephone magneto generator- made in 1910! As indicated by the neon bulb voltage divider- with sufficient cranking speed this generator can create a significant AC voltage using the characteristic horseshoe shaped magnets (bars) to provide the induction field. The AC current is of a low frequency as indicated by the flickering bulbs. A digital storage oscilloscope allows us to view the AC waveform output of this vintage magneto generator (swipe for demo). Note that although the output voltage is periodic, it is far from the ideal AC sine wave that we learn about (like those off the mains into our homes). Faraday’s Law describes the produced current in a moving coil of copper near a magnetic field, but it takes careful engineering of the coil and field to produce a sinusoidal AC output. The scope shows an impressive peak voltage of more than 350V- note that in 1910 only 40% of US homes had electricity so these generators were used to ring telephone bells up to 20 miles away! 

Lenz's Law

Get a similar kit here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Eddy Current tubes

Get some magnetic viewing film here: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Magnetic Viewing Film 

Lenz's Law: a strong neodymium magnet falls slowly down a copper bus bar as though passing through a viscous liquid. Since magnetic fields pass through copper, magneview film reveals the location of the falling dipole magnet. Moving magnetic fields from the falling magnet produce electric currents in the copper. These currents then produce magnetic fields that have the opposite polarity to the initial field. So a falling magnet makes the copper pipe briefly into an electromagnet that repels the magnet. The rectangular copper “pipe” is from a water-cooled electromagnet power supply line, 1.5 x 2 in (4 x 5 cm) in cross-section, designed to supply a steady DC current of 5000 amps. This 40cm long piece weighs in at 6kg and has a 1.5cm diameter hole for cooling water to flow down its center. From a decommissioned particle accelerator magnet. 

Magnetic Newtons Cradle

This magnetic version fo Newton's cradle is no longer in production, but somtimes found on ebay:
From eBay: Search NOW: Magnetic Newon's Cradle

Here are some nice versions of the classic Newton's Cradle 
and here is a nice Magnetic Replusion Demonstration

Magnetic Newton's Cradle: the famous collision demonstration reimagined with opposing magnets as the pendulum weights- shown here in two modes of operation. Initially the collision pattern looks similar to the traditional colliding spheres version but quickly goes chaotic- the magnetic field of each weight interacts with all the other magnets simultaneously making the system nonlinear. A 1990s desk toy by Fascinations- sadly no longer in production. 

Horseshoe Magnet with Keeper

Similar and affordable magnets available here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Horseshoe Magnet with Keeper

Get some viewing film here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Color Magnetic Viewing Film

Horseshoe Magnet with Keeper: magnetic field lines connect North to South poles from one side of the U shaped magnet, through the air, to the other- and magnetic viewing film reveals the strong fields of this vintage magnet. However, when a bar of soft iron is attached, the magnetic field lines prefer to pass through the bar, and the field is then concentrated in the bar and significantly reduced in the surrounding air- basically shutting off the field around the magnet as seen by the viewing film. Such a bar is called a “keeper” which serves to contain the field and also persevere the strength of the magnet when not in use.

Electromagnetic Levitation Module 

Get a similar inexpensive simple module here:

From EngineDIY: BUY NOW: Mag Lev Kit

Electromagnetic Levitation Module: this bare bones engineered control system uses an adjustable electromagnet (the copper coil) and a Hall effect magnetic field sensor (embedded in the center of the the coil) to levitate a neodymium magnet and keep it from falling. A feedback loop informed by the Hall effect sensors allows fine tuning of the magnetic field to exactly balance the pull of gravity, all powered by a 12 power supply. Once trapped the magnet can also rotate, creating a nice way to display a small piece of kinetic illusion art hanging from a chain. A no frills design that shows the fairly simple circuit and components of such a levitation feedback system. 

Chaotic Pendulum Kinetic Art

These vintage pieces are often available on eBay. 
From Ebay: Search NOW Vintage Otagiri Kinetic Art 

Chaotic Pendulum Kinetic Art: the motion of the skateboarder is that of a pendulum influenced by magnets in the skateboard and the mirrored base- chaotic motion (in the technical sense) is the result. When set into motion the resulting path taken by the figure will never be same as the last. Made in the 1970s by Otagiri. 

Diamagnetic Racetrack

Simiar diamagnetic levitation kits are available here: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Diamagnetic Levitation Kit

Diamagnetic Racetrack: thin pyrolytic graphite sheets levitate above powerful magnets. A set of five concentric neodymium magnets, alternating N-S-N-S-N comprise the racetrack and form the trapping field. Diamagnetic substances develop temporary repulsive magnetic fields only when they are in the presence of a magnetic field from some other source. Graphite of this sort is the most diamagnetic substance known.

Magnetic Top and Snake

Available in a variety of styles: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Magnetic Top and Snake 

Magnetic Top and Snake: the magnetic tipped top stays on the perimeter of the steel snake, but since the top has much more mass, the snake moves the most, slithering to and fro. This vintage top and snake came as a give away toy for kids flying on Western Airlines- a kinetic art toy that has been around for decades and takes advantage of Newton's 3rd law and rotational kinetic energy.

Magnetic Tip Spinning Top

Available from my friends at Grand Illusions Ltd.: 
From Grand Illusions: BUY NOW 
Magnetic Top with Spiral & Snake 

Also on Etsy: BUY NOW: Magnetic Top with Spiral

Magnetic Tip Spinning Top: the top stays on the perimeter of the steel plate spiral- but since the top is more massive, the spiral moves with curious motion. This kinetic art toy takes advantage of Newton's 3rd law and rotational kinetic energy.

Magnetic Top & Snake

Available from my friends at Grand Illusions Ltd.: 
From Grand Illusions: BUY NOW 
Magnetic Top with Spiral & Snake 

Also on Etsy: BUY NOW: Magnetic Top with Spiral

Magnetic Top & Snake: the magnetized tip connects to a metal cutout in the shape of a snake, but since the top is more massive, the metal snake is the object that moves creating this curious motion. This kinetic art toy takes advantage of Newton's 3rd law and rotational kinetic energy. Swipe to see the top interact with a spiral cutout.

Tesla's Egg of Columbus Replica

Get an amazing reproduction here:
From engineDIY: BUY NOW: Tesla's Egg of Columbus

Get an aluminum phiTOP "egg" here: BUY NOW phiTOP 

Tesla’s Egg of Columbus Replica: an egg of brass mysteriously spins and stands upright in this museum quality replica of Tesla’s famous demonstration from the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago that first showcased the principles behind wireless power transfer and his AC induction motor. The base has no moving parts- instead special copper windings (very similar to Tesla’s original design) form four electromagnet coils on a circular steel core, and a special circuit supplies each with AC currents in such a way that a rotating magnetic field is created. This rotating magnetic field from the coils under the concave glass induces electric eddy currents to flow in the metallic brass egg. These currents within the conducting metal of the egg then create their own magnetic field, which by Lenz’s law oppose the initial fields underneath and pushes the egg to spin. Finally, the oblong egg stands up vertically (when spun with sufficient rotational velocity) due to physics similar to that of the tippe-top. Flipping the switch reverses the rotation direction induced by the coils.

Spriranetics Magnetic Rotor Toy

This produce was sold in the 1990s. The famous Whee-Lo type toys are still available- some light up: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Magnetic Rotor Toys

Vintage Whee-Lo toys on eBay- play with a piece of history! 
From eBay: BUY NOW Vintage Whee-Lo 

Spiranetics Kinetic Toy: a rotor rolls while magnetically connected to a helical track in this toy sold by The Nature Company in the 1990s. The clever geometry allows two modes of operation- swipe to see mode 2. With the right timing, the rotor speed can be ramped up by just rotating the helix in place- or to get it to higher rotation speeds the helix can come out of the base as demonstrated. This device is a fancy version of the Whee-Lo type toys (swipe twice to see vintage 1970 version) with physics of angular momentum, magnets, and combinations of rotational and translational kinetic energy. 

The Levimoon

Get a levitating moon globe lamp here! 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Levitating Moon Globe Lamp

The Levimoon: this detailed moon globe is an adjustable lamp that levitates! Charged through wireless induction via the base, the moon floats above the Earth while illuminated from the inside to reveal the major features of the lunar surface, and will rotate when given a slight push. This kind of levitation uses a control system with an adjustable electromagnet in a feedback loop with Hall effect sensors which allows for fine tuning of the magnetic field to exactly balance the pull of gravity. 

The HoverPen Collection

The HoverPen Collection-- sleek writing pens trapped against gravity:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: The HoverPen 1.0 and 2.0

From Novium: Order NOW: The Hoverpen 3.0

The HoverPen: version 1.0 (vertical), version 2.0 (inclined 23.5°), and version 3.0 (inclined 60°!) sleek and elegant writing pens trapped against gravity by magnetic fields via precision engineered placement of neodymium magnets in their bases.

Electromagnetic Levitation Module

Get this kit here (comes complete as shown in my video):
From engineDIY: BUY NOW: Magnetic Levitation Module

The featured sculture is by Bathsheba Grossman, affordable and beautiful math art available here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Soliton Sculpture

Electromagnetic Levitation Module: this engineered control system uses adjustable electromagnets (four copper coils) and and two Hall effect magnetic field sensors (held firm embedded in white silicone) to levitate an 5cm diameter neodymium magnet platform about 3 cm in mid-air. A feedback loop informed by the Hall effect sensors allows fine tuning of the magnetic field to exactly balance the pull of gravity, and is powered by a standard USB connection. The platform also rotates, perfect for showcasing one of my metal 3D printed mathematical sculptures by Bathsheba Grossman.

Magentic Dandelion 

Here is a very powerful NdFeB neodymium magnet that will work withlarger nails: 

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Neodymium Disk Magnet

Please use extreme caution when handeling strong magnets like this one. Small nails, paperclips, staples and other houlshold object made with iron will interact interestingly with the magnetic field. 

Magnetic Dandelion: through ferromagnetic interaction these iron rich nails temporarily become dipole magnets in the presence of an intense magnetic field from a neodymium super magnet. Here the neodymium disk magnet is set with its north pole pointing up, so the point of each nail becomes a south pole (repelling each other) and the head of each becomes a north pole. Imbued with these temporary induced fields, the nails will try to align themselves with the neodymium dipole’s field like compass needles, and the nails will interact with each other in interesting ways. 

Magnetic Poles & Fields

Get a set here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Magnetic Field Viewer set 

Viewing Magnetic Poles: visualizing the invisible- tiny iron filings suspended in viscous oil gracefully chain up to reveal the presence of magnetic field lines. Can you determine how the magnetic polls are configured by the structure of the field lines? Here three configurations, initially hidden behind white foam board, create the beautiful mappings of the fields. 

Cosmic Eye Rheoscopic Display

A KickStarter campaign for resonably priced interactive art: 

From KS: Pledge NOW: Cosmic Eye

Cosmic Eye Rheoscopic Device: visualizing the invisible- where suspended microscopic flat crystals reflect light and allow visualization of the fluid's motion. This rheoscopic fluid is special in that the suspended microscopic particles are slightly ferromagnetic and will align with any external magnetic field that is brought near the device. A small magnet within allows interesting interactions as well. From creator and artist Robert Spillner.