Magnetic Toys

Newton's Spindle

This unique toy only available here:

From safetynailer.com: BUY NOW: Newton's Spindle

Follow this link for a regular Newton's Yo-Yo

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Newton’s Spindle: an interesting innovation- a quiet clacker (lol!) which uses neodymium magnets as the swinging weights. The weights still collide but without making physical contact via magnetic repulsion, yet the exchange of momentum is just like that of a regular Newton’s yo-yo, one weight comes to rest while the other obtains all the momentum. Newton’s 3rd Law states that action force equals opposite reaction force- here the red and blue weights (embedded magnets) are equal in mass, so the forces of each collision provide accelerations that are equal and opposite such that the deceleration of the incoming mass is equal to the acceleration of the outgoing mass and the masses trade places leaving one always at rest. 

Magnetic Suspsension Sculpture

This DIY magneits sculpture can be assemebled with these parts.  Bring a magnet into a craft shop to find some necklace chain that is non-magnetic. 
From Amazon/eBay: BUY NOW: Quilting HoopNeodyumium Sphere Magnets

Magnetic Flux Gyroscope art and other amazing science inspired jewelry available here:
From Foxtail Jewelry: BUY NOW: Kinetic Magnetic Pendants
From Foxtail Jewelry: BUY NOW: Tabletop Magnetic Kinetic Art

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Magnetic Suspension Sculpture: two neodymium magnets on chains suspended by their mutual magnetic attraction in this prototype kinetic sculpture (swipe to see scaled fine jewelry version by foxtailjewelry). These powerful magnets hold the chains taut with about a 2cm gap. Made from a quilting hoop where the magnets connect under their own force to steel nails soldered on to non-magnetic chain.


Magnetic Poles & Fields

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

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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. 

Electric Motor/Generator

Amazingly this motor is available for less than $10 US. 

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Brushless Motor/Generator with LED

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Electric Motor/Generator: this inexpensive and common motor can also serve as a generator of AC electricity- here lightning an LED when the shaft of the rotor is spun by hand. Most electrical energy we use today is produced by moving a magnet near a coil of wire (known as Faraday’s law of induction) to produce an electric current. Removing the permanent magnet casing reveals this design to use 9 separate copper windings. I made a transparent second rotor with six neodymium magnets- and when these magnets are made to move near the windings the LED again lights with the flow of current. 

Bismuth Diamagnetic Levitation

Get these 99.9% pure element Bi 83 cubes here:
From Luciteria: BUY NOW: Bismuth Element Cube

Many combinations of strong neodymium magnets will work, here are the versions I used:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Cylindrical Neodymium Magnet

Bismuth levitation artwork and demonstrations available here: 
From Etsy- Element 83: BUY NOW Magnetic Levitation Sculptures 

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Bismuth Diamagnetic Levitation: Element 83 (bismuth) is the most diamagnetic of the elements*. Here a small neodymium magnet is made to float between two 99% pure bismuth 10mm cubes which are held in precise configuration by friction with the parallel walls of the acrylic assembly I made. Diamagnetic substances only have magnetic fields of their own when placed in an external magnetic field from another source- here the tiny cube magnet supplies the field. Diamagnetic fields are pretty weak though so a powerful cylindrical neodymium magnet sits above the cubes and is adjusted to help lift the tiny cube magnet against gravity. *except for a special form of carbon known as pyrolytic graphite.


Ferromagnetic Elements

Starter set of 10mm cubes of 99.9% pure elemets available here: 

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Pure Element Cube Samples

The main 4 ferromagnetic elements are: Fe, Co, Ni, and Gd

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Ferromagnetic Elements: which metals from the periodic table experience strong attraction towards a magnet? Here are seven samples- 1 cm cubes of 99% pure elements: Ti (titanium), Fe (iron), Co (cobalt), Ni (nickel), Cu (copper), Gd (gadolinium), and W (tungsten)- which of these metals are ferromagnetic? Swipe once to check your answer, swipe twice to see how some are more strongly ferromagnetic than others. Although magnets are familiar objects, the physics of ferromagnetism is very complex and is described by the quantum mechanics of intrinsic particle spin and the specific electron configurations of solids and molecules.

Magnetic Newtons Cradle

This magnetic version fo Newton's cradle is no longer in production, but somtimes found on ebay.

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

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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. 


Chaotic magnetic Pendulum

These chaotic pendula are still available on eBay. 

Chick here for similar chaotic systems

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Chaotic Magnet Pendulum: adding magnetic forces to gravity gives this pendulum chaotic motion- not random, but very sensitive to slight differences in initial launch conditions. The second half of this video features a particular launch path that begins with a semi-stable orbit but then goes chaotic, captured with an attached LED and recorded with a slow shutter app. Arranging the dipoles magnets on the base leads to different patterns of motion- here white attracts and black repels. This vintage device is from the 1970s and was sold by the name “Krazy Leg” by Rathcon Inc. 

Gravity Defying Nail and Magnet

Neodymium magnets will produce the largest gap when suspending a nail.
Please use exterme caution when handling these magnets. 

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Neodymium Super Magnet

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Magnetic Defiance of Gravity: a nail suspended between a chain and a powerful neodymium magnet. Ferromagnetic attraction over a distance of many millimeters, and a reminder of the presence of the typically invisible electromagnetic forces all around us. Make your own with a paperclip, string, and a refrigerator magnet- or get a neodymium magnet and see how massive an object you can suspend in air. 

STORY Clock

This very high-tech clock is also high end (more expensive than most items I feature), with excellent craftmaship and technology that is clearly hard to replicate so that it is only made by, and available from, the FLYTE team:

From Art of Play: BUY NOW: Story Clock

From FLYTE: BUY NOW: US & Global Sales Story Clock or in EU Story Clock

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STORY Clock: a spherical magnet hovers one centimeter from the face of this amazing clock and orbits in a circle to indicate the time- for this video I selected an orbit period of 40 seconds to show off the motion. The orbit of the magnetic ball can be set to any period but also has default selectable presets to indicate the current hour, minute, or second. This kind of levitation uses a control system with adjustable electromagnet coils in a feedback loop with Hall effect sensors which allow for fine tuning of a magnetic field to precisely balance the pull of gravity. Amazing magnetic levitation physics demonstrated by clever engineering by the @flyte.se team, this clock will work lying flat or hung on a wall vertically!


Curie Point Heat Engine

This DIY project is pretty easy to build. One half of one of these inexpensive magnetic necklace clasps will work well for the heated magnet. 
From Amazon: BUY NOW: magnets for curie point engine

A full engine is available from my friends at Grand Illusions Ltd: 
From GI LTD: BUY NOW: Curie Engine 

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Curie Point Heat Engine: when the magnet on the end of the wire heats up to a particular temperature (the Curie point) its magnetic field is temporarily lost until it cools. This engine design uses a second magnet to pull the swinging magnet back into the heat source once the magnetic field is reestablished. Repetition of this process creates mechanical motion as long as the heat source is fueled.

Vertical Mendocino Motor

Get this device for a great price here:

From EngineDIY: BUY NOW: Vertical Mendocino Motor

From engineDIY: BUY NOW Horizontal Levitating Motor (on all models here-remove brown protective film to reveal clear acrylic on rotor)

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Mendocino Motor: vertical and horizontal versions- each face of a solar cell is connected to a coil of copper wire across from the opposing solar cell. When the rotor is lit from one side the lit solar cell provides electric current to the coil in the opposite position which becomes a temporary electromagnet that pushes against the permanent magnets in the base propelling the rotor to rotate. As the rotor turns, the coil that moves into the position near the magnet is likewise energized by the solar cell currently at the top- one can say the light commutates this motor. Magnetic bearings to reduce friction in both models. Invented in the 1960s by Daryl Chapin of Bell Labs and popularized by Larry Springs of Mendocino CA 

Feel Flux Loop

Available as a set, or individually (all come with the super powerful sphere magnet) here:

From feelflux.com: BUY NOW: Copper + Aluminum Feel Flux

See my other posts on the Feel Flux devices

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Feel Flux Loop: original (copper) and the "Skill Flux" version (aluminum)- toys that use Lenz's Law to manipulate a very strong neodymium magnet. A changing magnetic field (such as that from a falling magnet) induces an electric current in the copper, which in turn produce an electromagnetic field (but of lesser strength) with opposing polarity. Interestingly the magnet falls a bit faster through the aluminum even though the walls are thicker- Al is only about 60% as conductive as Cu- so it takes more material to induce the needed magnetic field using aluminum. Interestingly the Al tube is about half the mass of the Cu one, even though it is larger in volume.


Magnetic Chaotic Pendulum

Currently available here: From Amazon: BUY NOW Magnetic Chaotic Pendulum 

Chick here for similar chaotic systems

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

Magnetic Chaotic Pendulum: adding magnetic forces to gravity gives this pendulum chaotic motion- not random, but very sensitive to slight differences in initial launch conditions. Arranging the dipoles magnets on the base leads to different patterns of motion- here the center magnet attracts and the rest are set to repel. ROMP pendulum by Hog Wild toy company. 

Vintage Telephone Magneto

vintage magnetos are available here: 
From Etsy: BUY NOW Vintage Bar Magneto Generators

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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! 

The Levitron

Levitron Tops were produced in the 1990s and are out of production and getting harder to find. Similar models are still available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Levitation Top 

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The Levitron: spin stabilized magnetic levitation- will fly for about 3 minutes or more per launch. The spin rate of the magnetic top must be just right for flight, not too fast or too slow. Air resistance and dissipative interactions between the magnets gradually slow the spin rate and the top falls. Interestingly trapping the top requires precision - the weight of the top must be adjusted to within 1 gram to achieve equilibrium between the pull of gravity and the magnetic repulsion from the large donut shaped magnet in the wood base.