Introduction: Hurricane Balls, 3000 Rpm+ Spinning Toy.

Picture of Hurricane Balls, 3000 Rpm+ Spinning Toy.

UPDATE: Read step 7, It shows a better build method and has a link to an Ible that shows how to make the jig.

I also posted and Ible on how to join ball bearings with soft solder here.

I discovered this fun little toy while surfing around the net in the wee small hours last night on a site called

Hurricane balls are just 2 ball bearings joined together, when spun on a flat surface and then accelerated by blowing a jet of air at them will spin up easily to around 3500 rpm.  over 12,000 rpm have been recorded in lab conditions

I was so amazed by this fun little toy that I decided that once I had managed to get some sleep that I would try and build a set of these.

Its a fun little project that is so much fun to play with.  Sadly my camera is not high enough spec to really show this thing of, I will try and get a high def video posted asap.

This is quite a simple build but need to be built well as they can reach over 3000rpm if you really blow hard and this provides the potential for mayhem if the balls decide to separate at this speed.

Parts list:

2 matching ball bearings about 12 - 15mm diameter.
1 3mm machine screw.
1 Biro pen, makes a great blow pipe.
A concave mirror to run it on, a flat surface will do but it will work better on a concave surface.
Superglue, this is optional but is a good idea to help lock the threads in place.

Tools used.

Drill press.
2.5mm drill bit.
3mm tap and tap wrench.
2 pair of pliers
Junior hack saw.
Small flat needle file.

The retail version of these are welded together with about 8000amps of current, I did not 8000 amps available and it sounded a bit dangerous to boot so I decided to go with with what I had at hand and went down the bolt it together road.

I have since noticed that there is another Ible for hurricane balls using epoxy to glue the balls together.  I just dont have faith in epoxy on metal to metal (or any non-porous surface) when high rpm and centrifugal forces are at play, there is the possibility of a high speed detachment. while your face is a few inches from the source of mayhem.  The contact area between the 2 balls is just to small to trust the bond the epoxy would have.

Have fun, play safe and I hope you liked this Instructable.

Step 1: Disclaimer.

Picture of Disclaimer.

If you try to recreate this instructable, you do so at your own risk. 

Because this Instructable involves high speed centrifugal forces there is a risk the balls may separate and fly off at high speed.

We have already had our first high speed separation of homemade Hurricane balls when spun to very high speed with an air compressor.

Step 2: Finding the Right Type of Ball Bearing.

Picture of Finding the Right Type of Ball Bearing.

Ball bearing is a generic term for any perfectly spherical metal ball.

There are several types of ball bearing available. but most balls that have been taken out of automotive or industrial bearings are most likely to have been hardened.

There are 2 types of hardened ball bearings, case hardened where the outer shell of the ball has been hardened and the center core is still soft and fully hardened which does exactly what it says on the tin.

I was lucky to have some soft steel ball bearings that where part of a Magnetics set that i have long since pilfered all the small neo magnets out of.

You can remove the temper from hardened ball bearings by heating them up until they are almost white hot and then allowing them to cool as slowly as possible.  Its not the easiest thing to do but if you cant get soft steel balls it may be the only option.

Bikerbob2005 says :

to remove the hardening :
a bucket of sand a charcoal grill get the grill hot with the bucket of sand sitting on the coals drop the bearings into the red coals when a magnet will not pick them up use tongs to grab them and stuff them deep into the hot sand.put the lid on the grill let the fire go out on its own and sand cool for a day .the bearings will then be "dead soft" and drill will work fine
after drilling/tapping bearings go back into charcoal till magnet does not stick ,toss them into a bucket of motor oil.
if charcoal not getting hot enough then use a shop vac to blow on them.

I have forgotten the methode we where taught at the Tech I but Bob's comment sounds right.

Step 3: Drill.

Picture of Drill.

First you will need to drill a 2.5mm hole is each ball bearing.

This is not the easiest of tasks to do.

I used a large nut to rest the ball bearing on and then just eyeballed it as best as I could.

It may be a good idea to have some spare ball bearings just in case you mess things up.

Try and drill the holes exactly the same depth in each ball as you want them to be as balanced as possible.

I drilled the ball about 8mm deep so I could get about 4-5mm of thread in the hole.

Step 4: Tap.

Picture of Tap.

You now need to tap the holes in each ball to accept a 3mm machine screw.

Because this is a blind hole you will not be able to thread it all the way to the bottom so the hole must be a few mm deeper than you want the threads to be.

With the holes drilled to about 8mm deep I was able to thread the holes to about 4-5mm.

Step 5: Join.

Picture of Join.

Now screw the 3mm machine screw into one of the balls until it is tight. 

Now mark the screw where it protrudes from the ball and remove the screw to see ho deep it was screwed into the ball. You now now how much thread on the screw to attach the second ball.

I had about 3-4mm of screw threaded into the ball so I screwed the machine screw into the ball and tightened it up (you can add a drop of superglue into the hole at this point if you want it to be extra tight.)

I then cut the screw down to size leaving about 4mm protruding out of the ball.

Once the screw has been trimmed down file the end of the thread to remove any burrs.

Now screw the second ball onto the protruding thread.

use 2 pairs of pliers to tighten the balls together until they are flush with each other.

Caution do not use to much force or you will wring the machine screw off like I did on my second attempt.

Step 6: Play.

Picture of Play.

Now you have a set o Hurricane balls that you didn't have to pay for.  Hurrah! I hear you say.

To use the Hurricane balls you spin then on a flat surface and then use the a blow pie to blow a jet of air at them from a few cm away.

You should easily get the balls to spin up to a few thousand rpm.

They will spin for about a minute and then stop abruptly.

Have fun, and enjoy.

Try them out using an upside down sweetie / cookie tin as the flat surface, it sounds amazing.

I used a Roses tin left over from Christmas it sounds like a big v12 engine at full throttle

Step 7: Better Build Method Using a Drill Jig.

Picture of Better Build Method Using a Drill Jig.

As this Ible has become popular and there has already been one case of high speed separation I decided to see if I could build a better quality set using  a drill jig to allow me to drill the balls much deeper and uniformly so to allow for a better amount of thread in each ball.

Making this simple yet very effective jig is covered here.

The drill jig allowed me to drill perfectly centered holes to a depth of 10mm.

This in turn allowed me to have good quality thread in the holes to a depth of 6mm before the threads start to taper, this taper also helps give a very strong grip on the ends of the screw.

The jig allowed the balls to fit together in perfect alignment. which also aided how well the 2 balls could be screwed together.

Once the balls where screwed together to a hand tight fit i used pliers to give them 1/4 turn more to lock them in position.

This better built set of Hurricane balls are much easier to get up to speed with less amount of lung power.


Electroinnovation (author)2011-02-23

Well, i just tested these out with the air compressor. Umm they kind of seperated when they reached a very high rpm....scary :P lol

Dr Qui (author)Electroinnovation2011-02-23

Crikey!  Methinks one may need to add a disclaimer now

Any damage done? 

What do you think the problem was, not enough thread or just to much rpm?

How much PSI did you use?

What size of ball did you use?

I called with friends today (typical men in sheds) and after we had got all the double entendres out of the way it soon came round to lets go get Cliffs compressor and see what speed we can get them up too, I'm glad the conversation moved on to something else. 

I will try my little airbrush compressor in my shed first before I try the big one or demonstrate it to visitors.

nerys (author)Dr Qui2011-02-24

I am thinking drill STRAIGHT THROUGH the entire ball. Loctite cut of the ends and grind smooth again.

that should be pretty stinking strong and will assure balance as well.

I REALLY need to make a set of these. not to stalk a drill press on Craigslist :-)

Dr Qui (author)nerys2011-02-24

Thanks for the comment.  Its fun to do, but does need to be done very well as they have potential for mayhem.

This took 15 mins to do and about 20 mins to post and has got over 29k view so far.

It kinda pisses all over the 3 weeks of work that went into the solenoid engine and the full day it took to do the post.  :-)

Dr Qui (author)Electroinnovation2011-02-23

Have been thinking about this,  It may need to be drilled out to take a larger size thread, maybe 4 or even 5mm.

The balls should be drilled deeper to allow more thread.

I have an idea based around adamjoe86's idea of how to make drilling the balls easier, will post the results if it works out.

I will make a new set of balls with a thicker machine screw before I try a high speed run.

badjer1 (author)2012-09-15

Ok Physics Doctorates out there, please explain this phenomenon. As an engineer myself, and understanding that the steel is a very inelastic material where the shiock of force easily transmits through to the next ball, I would still expect the balls to dampen the energy much more rapidly than they do. Off axis centerlines, discontinuityies in the material core (tap to thread gaps) etc. i would think would dampened this much more quickly. Any thing I am missing here?

Dr Qui (author)badjer12012-09-18

it s one of those things thats doing about 6 things at once and at a very fast speed. a very high sped camera would be required to fully understand how the balls are moving.

The balls are naturally of balance (i think) so it would take major differences in the balls to have any real adverse affect.

I found the solder method was easier, and if you have solder paste its even easier again. 

bowdenja (author)2011-02-22

instead of superglue....... may I suggest loctite.

Dr Qui (author)bowdenja2011-02-22

Loctite works well but I find that it is expensive and it don't keep all that well.

Superglue should do fine.

the first set I made have no glue at all and I cant unscrew them without using pliers.

badjer1 (author)Dr Qui2012-09-15

Actually Loctite brand thread lock comes in various strengths. The strength is determined by the color of the Loctite - blue and red is what I have used in the past. Red is for permanant assemblies... good luck pulling them back apart unless massive heat is used and then it sometimes still won't let go. I have seen millwrights use super glue as well and Loctite even sells that as a thread lock, so in effect, all are the same purpose. Lastly, for ANY locking compound to really work, you should first clean all threaded surfaces (tapped hole and the bolt threads with a good solvent (thread cleaner) to remove any cutting oils that may have been used. Loctite sells this as well.

Tkdwn (author)Dr Qui2012-05-20

I put my balls in a vice and then I just welded them together ,and now i have hurricane balls ( sounds painful )! :) I don't think they'll separate EVER!

Zombie_BBQ (author)Tkdwn2012-05-20

Ouch! put your balls in a vice? ...i Guess if your into that kinda thing...

bikerbob2005 (author)Dr Qui2011-04-08

guess what Loctite is? saccharin, get it in any coffee shop its in pink not ask how I know.nor should you use loctite in your coffee.
mix the saccharin with glucose till you have a paste.

chaosrob (author)Dr Qui2011-02-23

Try nail-polish from your mom / wife / gf (or, if you have it) you own ;-). I use it on screws all the time when replacing them into laptops. The color also let you know exactally how much you have applied. GREAT 'Ible.

hcarmona (author)2011-05-22

how does it work?

mrmerino (author)hcarmona2012-05-20

The air pretty much just blows on the balls and the spin around at ultra high speeds.

mikaleda (author)2012-05-20

red locktight is the best but be carefull once you put red locktight on threads it will only come of with a hot wrench

Dr Qui (author)mikaleda2012-05-20

you don't heat the wrench you heat the head of the bolt , if you heat the wrench you will remove the temper from it.

mikaleda (author)Dr Qui2012-05-20

i know thats just what i have always called it because the people that taught me that called that

TXTCLA55 (author)2012-05-20

First of all, great instructable. Second, I almost died laughing at the comments. For someone who just saw the comments, has no idea of the subject, and has a dirty mind...well you see where I am going.

R.A.T.M (author)2011-04-28

ther is such a easer way to do this at home iv made thes befoe and unless the person that making them my way is doing it the correct way it is so much safer and easer

budabob07 (author)R.A.T.M2011-05-15

What is your magical way of making them then?

R.A.T.M (author)budabob072011-05-16

a specal way 2 ways actily

ArtisanEclectic (author)R.A.T.M2012-05-20

That wasn't "actily" an answer.....

R.A.T.M (author)ArtisanEclectic2012-05-20

Using high voltage high current such as a bank of caps - on one ball + on the other and the push them together they weld them self's (safety is needed) the short cut easy way is a magnet one each ball and you sand paper were you want to join them and put epoxy on each ruffed up spot the stick together the magnets help it pull and hold it together

nadav (author)2012-05-20

A great place for the balls are inside of old ball mice, just take the ball and cut the rubber coating off with an exacto knife. Under it is a perfect metal ball.

Dr Qui (author)nadav2012-05-20

I tried the metal balls from computer mice, they are soft and drill well bu tthe diameter is quite big and you will pass out trying to get them up to speed. I experimented with different sized balls to see what the best size is, I found 10mm to be the best size for speed any smaller and they tend to blow away rather than spin, when they are bigger than 12mm they start to have to much mass and you will rupture yourself or pass out from all the blowing required to get them to top speed.

nadav (author)Dr Qui2012-05-20

Ahh okay, makes sense. I probably should have looked more closely at the diameter you put in the 'ible.

Dusk Shadows (author)2012-05-20

wow that's pretty cool

Go4th (author)2011-04-27

JB weld would work well. It may take a whole night to dry but that stuff never comes off.

bikerbob2005 (author)2011-02-24

to remove the hardening :
a bucket of sand a charcoal grill get the grill hot with the bucket of sand sitting on the coals drop the bearings into the red coals when a magnet will not pick them up use tongs to grab them and stuff them deep into the hot sand.put the lid on the grill let the fire go out on its own and sand cool for a day .the bearings will then be "dead soft" and drill will work fine
after drilling/tapping bearings go back into charcoal till magnet does not stick ,toss them into a bucket of motor oil.
if charcoal not getting hot enough then use a shop vac to blow on them.

Dr Qui (author)bikerbob20052011-02-24

Thanks bob, I sort of had that idea was what i was actually taught all those years ago.

I heated the balls with a mappgas torch until they where yellow hot and let them cool on a piece of scrap wood.  only one was drillable, the other 3 I did where still to hard.  I got 3 scraped auto bearings at my cousins garage one of which seemed to have lost its coating as it was starting to have a copperish look to it, I think that one may just have been case hardened which is easier to take the temper out of. 

I picked up a few matching Audi timing belt rollers from his scrap pile, He said they all still have years worth of low rpm life left in them, so I hope to put them to use in some kind of project.

bikerbob2005 (author)Dr Qui2011-04-08

the copper looking is a plating that is first applied before nickel plating goes on. It makes the nickel stick good.
Front wheel drive cadillacs have 7/8 inch balls in the CV joints. Its a magic trick to remove them.

ZIGGYDAN (author)2011-03-31

The likelyhood of separation is due to the inherantly low holding strength of an M3 bolt and the large amount of vibration sustained, depending on the grade of bolt the approximate maximum amount of torque you can tighten to effectively is 2N/m, the use of a drop of loctite would cure this or possibly a larger bolt size, even M4 would be able to sustain 5N/m

ZIGGYDAN (author)2011-03-31

you could tap about 7-7.5mm of that hole if you happen to have a plug tap/set of M3 taps if you wanted more threads for grip :) or even drill and tap all the way through and use a longer machine screw then grind back to be as smooth as the ball bearing.

Tall_Tinkerer (author)2011-02-22

Would this work equally well with non-metal balls...for example wood?

bmaney (author)Tall_Tinkerer2011-03-29

One of the video posts is of marbles, hot glued together.

Dr Qui (author)Tall_Tinkerer2011-02-22

Probably not enough weight in wooden balls to give the momentum needed to reach high speed.

try it and see what happens.

Ferguson199 (author)2011-03-28

Wow, that is awesome I want to make me one now lol.

420frosty (author)2011-03-15

has anybody like tried this with say bowling balls and a leaf blower or maybe rockets !!??

kcbford1 (author)2011-03-07

i made this! it was awsome! THANKS for the upload..... i used hardend ball bearings so i was unable to drill and tap so i just used epoxy.

Dr Qui (author)kcbford12011-03-07

Take a look at the other Ible I did on how to solder the balls together. Solder is easy enough to use and gives a good bond. I just don't trust epoxy.

Boppo3 (author)2011-03-05

Ok, away with the stupid sexual comments :D My take on this is that other than the threading u should add a little epoxy to strengthen the bond. This way the balls won't spin away from each other and hit someones ,well, balls.


Dr Qui (author)Boppo32011-03-05

We already had this discussion and epoxy lost the argument, epoxy is not necessary, epoxy is not as strong as a well made threaded joint, epoxy has no grip on something as smooth as a ball bearing.

The soft solder joint on my other hurricane balls Ible would be a stronger bond than epoxy for a stronger joint again silver solder should be used.

CA glue would be a better thing to use in the the threads and is not necessary if the threads are well made.  I have used no thread locking agent other than friction and the balls have not separated.

Dr Qui (author)2011-02-22


whoelsebutaelx (author)Dr Qui2011-02-28

but if you blow to hard they might come off

Why, you're balls may just explode and fly all over the place. Such Riff Raff.

Boppo3 (author)young skipper2011-03-05

The balls will return, won't they? :P Mine got lost when My pal blew too hard

baldwin (author)2011-03-04

You should see these spin in slow motion! go to
it is really amazing.

Dr Qui (author)baldwin2011-03-04

Thanks for posting the link, my camera sort of shows the same thing hapening but not a s clear as this.

About This Instructable



Bio: Learning to live with Fibromyalgia brought on be numerous injuries some old some quite recent. Currently under no fixed agenda, just going with the flow ... More »
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