Hello! This is my second Instructable and here I am playing with magnets and K'nex. I combined the two to make a K'nex levitating platform! Magnetic repulsion is a fun thing.
Disclaimer: the author of this Instructable is not responsible in any way for any damage or injury that might result from the creation of this Instructable. This Instructable, "Magnetic Levitation with K'nex!", has the potential to harm yourself or others, or damage property if used improperly. I am not responsible for anything that happens to you or your surroundings.
I am entering this Instructable into the Epilog VII contest. So please vote for me! If I win the Grand Prize I will use the the Zing laser to make many fun projects, including more Instructables! I will also use it to help create advertising for a business I work for.
Step 1: What You Need
This is the complete list of absolutely everything you need to build a magnetic levitation platform.
~ 16 1/2" square 1/8" thick neodynium magnets
~ 28 white K'nex connectors (the circle ones)
~ 16 blue rods
~ 16 short green rods
~ 24 white rods
~ Two thin long rods
~ Marker (optional)
~ Wire cutters (optional)
~ Music (absolutely essential to any project!)
Step 2: Building the Platform
There are two platforms to the levitator, and they are identical. Keep that in mind as you perform the rest of the Instructable. First off, you need to construct the platforms. A platform has 3 sections, the bottom section is 5 white circle connectors in the shape of a cross. Use 4 green rods to join the 4 outer circles to the inner circle, and four white rods to connect the outer circles to each other. Attach 4 blue rods vertically from the remaining center connections, and 1 additional vertical rod on each of the wings of the cross.
The middle layer is the same as the bottom layer, except that it doesn't have a center circle, blue rods, or green rods. It is a hollow square. Remember that you are going to need to build two of each of these.
The last layer is the exact same as the top layer, except that it doesn't have the blue rods. Another difference is that two opposite wings of the cross will be taken off, with the green and white rods still connected to the wings. Assemble the platforms by putting a middle layer on top of a bottom layer, and connecting the outer blue rods to the outside of the middle layer. Then connect the middle strip of the top layer across the top, and connect it, but don't push it down. You should have two partially completed platforms, each identical to each other. Now for the fun part (sarcasm intended).
Step 3: The Magnets
OK. This is probably the most important part of the Instructable, and easily the most frustrating. When I was first figuring out the levitator, I spent easily a hour on this part. Also expect many pinched fingers and flying magnets! These things are incredibly strong. First, you should have 16 magnets. Separate them all into piles of two magnets. That should be 8 piles. Hint, if you are having trouble pulling the magnets apart, here is a tip. First, don't try to pull them straight apart. It doesn't work. They are too strong. What you have to do is slide them against each other. Another tip, keep the piles of magnets far apart. These things will literally fly through the air toward each other and pinch you pretty hard
Once you have them separated into your 8 piles, you will need to determine their polarity. To determine polarity, simply put the face of a magnet near the compass. Its that simple! If the face is a "north" facing polarity, the south pole of the compass will point toward it, and the north pole away. That's because opposites attract, and like repel. If it is "south" polarity, the north point of the compass will point toward it, and the south away. Mark which polarity the face of the magnet is. This is important. Once you are done with this, move on. Watch those piles!
Step 4: Putting the Magnets Into the Platforms
If you thought the last step was aggravating, this step is going to drive you insane, because this is the trickiest part of the Instructable. You are going to work against the laws of repellance and attraction, and win!
First, retrieve your platforms from wherever you put them. Then grab one of your magnet pairs that you just finished marking. Next, choose a side of the magnet. North or South. The following step is very important. Now, decide whether the side you chose is going to be face up, or down. Remember which direction you chose. Lets say you chose to put South side down. Put a tip of the magnet into a notch of one of the white connectors (one of the ones with the white bridge overtop) and put the opposite tip in between the blue rods. Then "break" the bridge, and slide one of the white pieces with a green rod sticking out of it down all the way. The green rod should be covering the magnet. Now for the hard part. Take another magnet, and find the South side (still using my example), and orient it with South facing down. Next find the side opposite the magnet you just put in. Put the tip of the magnet into the blue rods, and push down so that the other corner is in the white connector slot. This should have been difficult to do, the magnets don't like this, the law of "like repels like" says so. It will probably take several tries. I found putting a rod down through the center hole will help keep the magnets from sticking to each other. When you have both sets down, push the other side of the white connector down, with green rod covering the magnet you just put in.
Now for the last two sets. First, rotate the platform so the side without a bridge is facing you. The center connector should still be higher than the other pieces. Next, slide the corner of a magnet underneath that white connector, and place the other corner onto the connector slot on the other white connector. It should be holding itself in place by the magnetic forces, if it isn't, make sure the south side is facing down. Do the same with the other side. Again, this should take several tries. Now shove down on the white disk, and it will force the two magnets under it into position. BOOM! The magnets are finally in!
Step 5: Wrapping It Up
You are almost done! Remember those wings of the cross we set aside earlier? We are going to add those onto the top so it makes a complete cross on the top. Once they are on, you are essentially done. Here are a few optional tips. First, I suggest you take a sharpie, and mark which side of the platform is North (I colored one white connector red to signify North, like a compass). This will help you easily see which way the platform is orientated without a compass.
Step 6: Let's Hover!
OK. You just finished spending an enormous amount of frustration and time on this, now it is time to make it work! You are going to need the two thin rods I mentioned earlier. The stiffer the better. Now take one platform, and choose a side. Lets go with North. Put the platform North side up on the table. Take the two stiff rods, and put them through two opposite holes on the platform. Once they are in place (and preferably not very wobbly) take your other platform and find North on it. Now put North facedown and slide it on to the stiff rods, in the same holes as the bottom platform. The two North sides should be facing each other. Now let it slide down, and it should, all of a sudden, stop sliding on its own, and hover! You've done it! You have a levitating platform made out of K'nex and magnets! Tip: If your magnets aren't very strong, the blue rods may touch. Feel free to destroy a few cents worth of plastic and use wire cutters to cut those tips off. Now, the space in between should look much clearer, and very clearly hovering!
I hope you enjoyed the Instrucable! Please feel free to comment about it. Questions, suggestions, and thoughts are all welcome! Please vote for me in the Epilog VII contest!