Should I use a remote-controlled solenoid to tip something over?

Hi all,

I want to be able to remotely tip a model face over when my friend walks in the room (see attached photo). The face is made of cardboard and spray foam and is mounted on a piece of plywood that is hinged to the table.

Should i try to use a remote controlled solenoid to pull this gag off? Any better recommendations? It should be remote but I could probably hide a wire if there is a different and more reliable system.

All advice welcome!!!!



Picture of Should I use a remote-controlled solenoid to tip something over?
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damianzuch (author) 6 years ago
Hi Lemonie,

I have it offset weighted, right where your blue rectangle is. It's just that initial push I need to get it started so that gravity will take over. How would you use an electromagnet to give it that push? Could I do this remotely?

(See the reply button?)

You could hide the electromagnet under the table, to pull a steel weight down, as long as the table isn't magnetic itself.
damianzuch (author)  Kiteman6 years ago
Ah yes, the reply button! Are you familiar with a way to connect the electromagnet with a remote control? I was thinking solenoid because of Stuffman's remote door lock. (

The table is wood; I built it and it can be drilled, cut or modified in any way.

Can you tell me about electromagnets, especially those that I might use for this gag?

Many thanks!

If, however, you happen to have a solenoid "handy", it would have to be "embedded" into the table to hide it. Several ways of RC come to mind:
#1:  magnet wire run along the table edge, and down the leg and off under a rug or can use a simple push button then,
#2:  use an actual RC unit from a toy to "activate" the circuit much the same way it controls whatever it was originally made for,
#3: a thin steel wire in a routed out "trench" for manual moving of the object (pulleys if you need to be in the "opposite" direction from the object).
A solenoid *is* an electromagnet.

Depending on how finely you balance the head, it shouldn't take much of a magnet to do the job.
lemonie6 years ago

You might  do this with a catch, or possibly an electromagnet.
If you weight it, it can "fall" upright.