Introduction: Levitating Top
With some everyday household items and some magnets, you can make this awesome Levitating Top! This mimics the popular Levitron toy from the 90's.
-Household items: Wood, pencil, tape, plastic or brass washers, Post-It notes or paper, plastic or cardboard
-Other: Qty 13 1/2" x 1/8", grade N52 disc neodymium magnets and Qty 1, 3/4" OD x 3/8" ID x 1/8" thick ring magnet, grade N42.
Step 1: Layout
As the intro stated, this is replicating the popular Levitron toy that was popular back in the 90's, but is not longer for sale. That toy used two special ceramic ring magnets, but we are going to replicate it using some standard sized neodymium magnets!
The first step is to print out the layout above. You'll use this to get your drill holes to place the magnets. Be sure to double check the scale with a ruler! Then, cut out the square layout.
Step 2: Cut Wood to Size
Next, cut a piece of wood to size, to match the layout drawing. You can use any type of wood, but it should be at least 1/4" thick.
Step 3: Transfer Layout to Wood
Next, tape the layout to the block of wood. Use your 1/2" forstner bit to create a center punch on the center of each circle. This is where your holes will go and will give your drill bit a starting point.
This step isn't needed, but we found it helpful.
Step 4: Drill Out the Holes!
Now it's time to drill out the holes! We use a 1/2" forstner bit, to give us a nice flat bottomed hole. We set the drill press depth so that the bottom of the hole is just beneath the top surface of the block. We want the magnets to be as close to the surface as possible.
We kept the layout taped onto the wood block while drilling to help accuracy. If the holes are off, it could throw off the whole project.
Step 5: Add the Magnets!
Once the holes are drilled, it's time to insert the magnets into the holes. We want all the magnets to be facing the same way. The NORTH pole of the magnet should be face down in the hole. Consider using a magnet like our D68PC-RB to help you figure out the poles. Or, check out Which Pole Is North?
Take your stack of disc magnets, we used our D82-N52 magnets. Slide one magnet in a hole at a time. Use something to push the magnets down flat into the hole. We used a wooden dowel rod.
Repeat this until all the magnets are in! We placed the block on a steel plate, to help keep the magnets in place while doing this. It's not needed, but it definitely helps.
Make sure the magnets are as far in the holes and even as possible!
Step 6: Make the Top!
Next, the top. We cut a pencil down to about 1 1/2" in length, keeping the sharpened end. Then we used electrical tape to make the diameter larger to accommodate the ring magnet.
We placed the ring magnet on, we used our magnet RC62, with the NORTH pole facing down (facing the sharpened point). We then used some plastic washers to add weight to the top.
This is where it gets tricky. Once your start trying the top, you'll have to mess with the weight of the top to get it in a "sweet" spot. WARNING: It might take a frustrating amount of time to get the weight right.
Step 7: Test It Out!
Cut a piece of plastic or cardboard to create a spinning surface. This will go on top of your base. You'll spin the top on this and lift it up to try to get the top in the "sweet spot".
If you can get this to work, it's a lot of fun. But it might takes a long time to get it to work, so keep on trying!
There are a few factors which can affect the performance. One, you'll need to balance the base. We used Post-It Notes to jack up the sides of the base to level it.
If you keep seeing the top falling to one side, you'll need to jack up that side. We used a three-sided leveling system.
The weight of the top also is a key factor. There is sweet spot in the repelling magnets, where the repelling force is just right and the top will levitate there. But to get it to stay in that height, you'll need to either add weight, or decrease the weight of the top.
If you find the top flies off right away, you probably need more weight. If the top doesn't lift off of the spinning plate, it's probably too heavy.
You'll also need to make sure you are starting at the right height above the base. If it's too hard to spin, try putting some paper or post-it notes under the spinning surface.
Be sure to check out our video to see the how this works!
Step 8: 3D Printer?
Have a 3D Printer? We successfully made a 3D printed version of this and have uploaded our files to ThingiVerse. Here is a link!
Interested in how/why this top works? Check out this blog article: Levitating Top.