Magnetic Toys

3-Shuttle Trammel of Archimedes

This device came in my Curiosity Box subscrition. A great way to start collecting your own physics toys (and other brain food):

From the Vsauce team: BUY NOW: The Curiosity Box (New box will ship soon- get a great deal now)

Get similar (two shuttle) devices here: 

From Etsy: BUY NOW 
Trammel of Archimedes

3-Shuttle Trammel of Archimedes: as the shuttles take turns completing their straight line journeys, the end of the crank arm traces an ellipse. This precision 3-shuttle version by the VSauce team came in my @thecuriositybox - made with high quality molded plastic parts that produce very smooth movement- a wonderful addition to my collection! Sometimes sold as a “do nothing machine” or “nothing grinder”, far from doing nothing this simple and crucially important mechanism demonstrates how rotational motion can be converted into translational oscillatory motion- such as how a piston can drive an engine’s crankshaft.


Dancing Ferrofluid Device

Available here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Venom Sound Dancing Ferrofluid Display

Similar devices here:
From eBay: BUY NOW: Dancing Ferrofluid Display

Dancing Ferrofluid: a black 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. Featuring “12 String Thing”, composed and performed by my good friend T.D.Clark @tdclark67 

Electric Motor/Generator

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

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

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
From eBay: BUY NOW: Tiny Neodymium Cube Magnets

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

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.

Kinetic Magnetic Wave Wires

Get this affordable kit here: 

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Kinetic Magnet Wires Kit

Kinetic Magnetic Wave Wires Kit: explore the surprising ways oscillating kinetic energy is exchanged when repulsive magnetic fields allow masses on springs to interact with each other. Here three weighted springs dance in chaotic motion as they trade kinetic energy. This educational coupled oscillator kit comes with wire springs of equal length capped at both ends with magnets of equal mass and equal field strength which can be configured in myriad way by the experimenter on the included metal base.

Faraday Train Kit

Get this inexpensive kit here:

From eBay: BUY NOW: Faraday Train Kit

Here is a nice description of the Faraday Train and the physics of its propulsion

Faraday Train Kit: a battery with magnets on both ends and a coil of bare copper are the simple essence of this self propelled craft. This kit comes with this springy copper plated coil which is ideal for this demonstration. The magnets conduct electricity, thus when put in contact with the coil current will flow creating a solenoidal magnetic field in the vicinity of the battery, which in turn pushes on the magnets at each end of the battery moving the craft along. Using spherical neodymium magnet on the front allows the craft to slide along the coil with minimal friction.

Lenz's Law with Feel Flux

Feel Flux-- available as a set, or individually (all come with the super powerful sphere magnet) here:

From BUY NOWCopper Feel Flux

Get some magnetic viewing film here: 

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Color Magnetic Viewing Film
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Regular Magnetic Viewing Film 

Lenz's Law: a strong Feel Flux neodymium magnet falls slowly down a thick walled copper tube as though passing through a viscous liquid. Since magnetic fields pass through copper, magneview film reveals the location of the falling dipole magnet. The moving magnetic field from the falling magnet produces 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 then repels the falling magnet. Special thanks to the guys from Feel Flux who kindly sent me this awesome longer piece of the copper tube from which their amazing toy is produced. 

Solenoid Magnetic Accelerator

Get this and similar devices here:

From EngineDIY: BUY NOW: Steel Ball Cyclotron Accelerator

Solenoid Magnetic Accelerator: six electromagnet coils push a steel ball to terminal velocity. Each coil is triggered to briefly energized only when an infrared led and sensor circuit detects the presence of the ball. The steel ball’s speed seems limited by the strength of the temporary magnetic field and the friction it encounters from the track. This ring configuration demonstrates proof of concept for a means of accelerating steel marbles and I hope to incorporate these coils in other marble run designs I will share in the future. Uses a 12V power supply. 

Feel Flux Loop

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

From BUY NOW: Copper + Aluminum Feel Flux

See my other posts on the Feel Flux devices

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.

Rattlesnake Eggs

Get a set here! 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Buzzing Magnet Set 

Rattlesnake Eggs: polished barium-strontium ferrite ceramic magnets influence each other when many centimeters apart, demonstrating the well known but mysterious action at distance via magnetic fields. Sometimes sold as “buzzers” these magnets come together with multiple bounces creating a characteristic zipper sound. Many shops and online vendors incorrectly label these as hematite- a completely different substance that does not magnetize well.

Cubendi Dissected Cube Puzzle

Thie new dissection puzzle is available here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Cubendi Cube

Get the sister cube puzzle here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Shashibo Cube
From Art of Play: BUY NOW : Shashibo Geometric Art

Cubendi Puzzle: Dissect a cube into 4 equal irregular tetrahedra + 8 equal irregular triangular pyramids, connect these 12 pieces symmetrically with hinges and add 48 magnets to create the Cubendi cube. This assembly can make a number of surprising symmetrical forms including this rectangular prism with a square hole. More math fun with this second hinged dissection cube puzzle from the makers of the Shashibo Cube. 


Buda Ball

Only made by the Flyte team:

From Amazon: Buda Ball 

Buda Ball: my favorite powered levitation device- and the only system I know of that will suspend in a horizontal direction as seen in this video. A spherical magnet is pinned 1.5 centimeters from the surface of its hardwood base. Within the base is an innovative control system with adjustable electromagnet coils in a feedback loop with Hall effect sensors (I assume) which allow for fine tuning of a magnetic field to precisely balance the pull of gravity- even when the base is in a vertical orientation! 

Magnetic Suspension Lamp

Available here: 

From Amazon: BUY NOW 
Magnetic Suspension Lamp 

Magnetic Suspension Lamp: not only does this lamp defy gravity, the LEDs in the bulb are powered through wireless induction (no batteries needed). 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. If this lamp design is unplugged (or the power goes off) the bulb assembly does not fall, but instead snaps onto the upper armature via strong permanent magnets embedded within. Amazing physics demonstrated by clever engineering!