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Picture of Pair of Hearts Homopolar Motor
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Make a pair of rotating copper heart motors...that unite to become one!

In this Instructable, I show how to make a special 2-piece homopolar motor with a bass speaker, some coins, a battery and two pieces of copper wire.
A neodymium magnet can be used instead of the bass speaker and coins.

This is a great display for Valentines Day...or any day of the year!

The homopolar motor is the simplest form of electric motor. It consists of a battery, a conductor, and a magnetic field.

Unlike other electric motors, the homopolar design doesn't require changing magnetic fields to work. It is a demonstration of the Lorentz Force.
For detailed info, see Wikipedia under "Homopolar Motor" and "Homopolar Generator".

The flat Heart shape is the most basic of homopolar motors. The Heart with legs is the next most simple shape. With a little ingenuity, the two shapes can be combined into one spinning body!




The above movie shows a bass speaker as the source of the magnetic field for the Heart homopolar motor. Pennies are used as a commutator.
Note: No neodymium magnet is needed in this case!   

Song is "Be Excellent To Each Other", courtesy EJ Gold, from the album "California Dreams" .





 The above movie shows a traditional neodymium magnet used as the magnetic field for the Heart motors. 

  Background music is a non-traditional band called Wolf Parade from Montreal, with "This Heart's On Fire".  (Used with band permission)
Note: Unfortunately, mere permission from the band was adequate for Warner Music, and the music of this video has been stripped from it by them.

Here is a YouTube video with the "This Heart's On Fire" song, so that you can try playing it at the same time as the above movie...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Xq4o-kE-j8

 
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Step 1: Materials and Tools

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Materials:

-  3 foot (1 metre) of AWG 10 gage (preferred), or up to 18 gage, solid copper wire.  
-  Solder
-  AA battery (I recommend the Duracell AA NiMHrechargeable battery with 2650 MAh rating)
-  10 inch or better bass speaker (or use a good sized neodymium magnet)
-  7 Canadian magnetic pennies, or other coins as a commutator

- (optional) Neodymium magnet 1/2 inch x 1 inch minimum (such as # DX08 from K&J Magnetics )


Tools:

-  Pliers
-  Soldering iron
-  Vice
-  Wire stripper
-  D cell size battery or tube of same size (for forming wire)
-  nail or centre-punch

Step 2: Strip, Cut, and Straighten The Wire

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Strip the wire with an appropriate wire stripper such that the bare copper wire is exposed.

Cut off 12 inches of wire for the flat Heart. Cut off 18 inches for the other bent-legged Heart.

Take out the bumps in the wire as much as possible before continuing. Use your fingers and thumbs if you have strong hands. Or try using a pliers or vice, with plastic tape wrapped around the jaws to prevent scoring of the wire.

Step 3: First Wire Bends

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Find the midpoint of each of the wires by balance or measure.

Bend the wires at that point back onto themselves flat.

A vice is handy to make the final crimping as shown. Or use pliers.

Carefully straighten and flatten the wire again when done.

It's also a good time to grind, file and polish the crimped end contact point, so it will rotate well on the battery + terminal.

Step 4: Make The Flat Heart Shape

Make the Heart shape either by using a D-Cell battery, or a piece of pipe, as a form. Put it in the vice and wrap the wire over it. The idea is to wrap the wire most of the way around the form to give a rounded look.

For the flat heart, the two straight ends become joined by soldering, so they must meet together.  Also, the total height of the heart must be correct (about 8.5 cm works well) for it to sit on the battery, touch the coins or magnet commutator, and not touch the speaker or table. The distance from battery + terminal to the magnet contact point should be about 6.0 cm.

The second Heart shape requires a complex bend into two flat-bottomed legs that encircle, but don't touch, the magnet. Have a close look at the pictures and use fingers (and a pliers if necessary) to make the bends.
It is tough work requiring strong fingers if 10 gage wire is used!

The total height of the second Heart should be about the same as the first Heart ( 8.5 cm). It uses the same 6 cm distance from + terminal of the battery to the magnet contact point.









Step 5: Make The Legged Heart Shape

 This procedure is similar to the Flat heart shape, but the legs require special twists and curves to work and be balanced.

The idea is to end up with bottom legs that encircle the commutator coins or magnet, without causing any drag. There should be a gap of up to 1/8 inch where the copper wire of the leg meets the commutator.

Step 6: Dimple The Battery

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Make a small dimple on the battery + terminal to help in centering the Hearts as they rotate.

Use a light tap with a blunt nail or centre-punch to gently dimple the + terminal of the battery while holding it carefully in a vice.

Step 7: Final Tweaking And Trouble-Shooting

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1.) Using The Homopolar Motor With A Bass Speaker:

I used a 10 inch speaker. I used 7 magnetic Canadian pennies as a commutator for best magnetic effect. Other conductive coins may work too.

Place the stack of coins in the very centre of the back of the speaker, with the speaker face-down on a table or floor. Place the fully-charged AA battery on top of the coin stack.

Put the single flat heart onto the + terminal of the battery. It should go around.

Then try the two-legged Heart.
Adjust the legs so that there is a loose gap between the legs and the coins.



2). Using The Homopolar Motor With A Neodymium Magnet:

Place the fully-charged AA battery on top of the neo magnet. Then put the first flat Heart shape on to the battery + terminal. The Heart should start spinning as soon as it makes contact with the magnet.

If it doesn't spin, then it is not making contact, or the battery is too weak, or the magnet is not big enough.

Try the second Heart (with legs). It should spin right away, but sometimes may need a push to get it started. Adjust the legs so they nearly touch the sides of the magnet or pennies.

If both the legs touch the commutator at once then they are too tight, and the Heart will not rotate. If the legs are too loose around the magnet or coins, the Heart will tend to fly off.

Finally, place the flat Heart, inverted, on top of the second legged Heart. The shapes may have to be altered slightly to mate with each other. Give that combo a spin!

Balance is critical for successfully making the combined shapes spin at speed!

Step 8: Final Polishing...and Make a Movie!

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For best looks, sanding and polishing can be done with various grades of sandpaper from 150 to 600 if the scratches are deep, or use a ScotchGard-type pad if there are no deep scratches. Metal polish can be used for a shiny look. A Dremel tool is nice for buffing.

Make sure that the copper wire contact surfaces, at the battery and commutator, are as smooth as possible.

A cool final touch is to find a nice box to fit the parts of the Homopolar Hearts, so they won't get out of adjustment or lost...and to present to your loved one as a gift!

Finally, make a movie for the rest of the world to see...then have me post it here!




Step 9: Addendum: Some Safety Precautions

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Homopolar motors are generally safe. However, there are a couple of things to remember.

1.) Neodymium is poisonous. Magnets are covered by a nickel plating that keeps the neodymium inside. Try to avoid handling chipped or worn-out plated magnets.

2.) Don't eat magnets, and keep them away from young children who might do so. It can be fatal for children to ingest 2 or more magnets because of possible pinching of the intestine.

3.) When playing with multiple neodymium magnets, always use eye protection. Two or more neos on a table will inevitably collide, and often they chip when that happens. 

4.) A point to consider is that the wire, battery and magnet can get very hot. Especially so when the Heart is not turning efficiently, or is stalled out. Be careful with your fingers until you understand about this.

5.) Don't allow the Hearts to rotate very long, as the battery will get over-heated and have a short life. If the battery feels too hot to touch, it has gone too far.

Have fun and play safe out there!

Step 10: Addendum 2: The Sound Of A Spinning Heart

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The following movie features the sound of a homopolar heart motor as heard through a crystal radio "spirit radio" circuit, hooked up to an iMac running Audio Hijack sound software... 


johnmarkcarter made it!6 months ago

I ordered a neodymium magnet online - a 1 x 1 inch rod. Bought 10 gauge bare copper wire at the hardware store. Bent with a vice. Soldered with a small propane torch, as my low-watt soldering iron for electronics wasn't hot enough. I fiddled with the 2-legged heart for a while, getting it balanced and tweaked so that it runs faster. New store brand AA alkaline batteries last long enough to be impressive.

At first I tried using rare earth magnets that I repurposed from disposable electric toothbrush heads (Philips Sonicare). Not strong enough. The neo magnet that I bought immediately pinched me and chipped, as warned. Ridiculously strong. Kinda scary.

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mrfixitrick (author)  johnmarkcarter6 months ago
Welcome to the wonderful world of magnets! Glad to see you had great success. Getting pinched was your initiation I guess! :)
I put on glasses now when playing with magnets, because I know I will make a small error... I keep all of my magnets on the ceiling, at 16 inch intervals, attached to the 100 or so screws there. :)
ismails37 months ago

hi mrfixitrick.. can i use any type of magnet? actually i don't know what type the magnet a try to use..i got it from speaker..pls help me, i have presentation about it, and still it does not work.:(

mrfixitrick (author)  ismails37 months ago
No, you can't use any type of magnet. It must be either a powerful magnet from a bass speaker (such as 10 or 12 inch woofer), or a neodymium magnet at least 1/2 x 1/2 inch.(13x13 mm)

If you have the above, then follow the instructions carefully. If you don't have a magnet, try a craft store or hardware store for neodymium supermagnets. You can stack up several disc magnets to make it work.
Will this kind of gage wire work?:

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It says AWG 10 but I realized that it's different when I got home already.
Kiteman5 years ago
Am I right in thinking that the "proper" heart's speed is self-limiting?

As soon as it reaches a certain speed, the bottom of the heart will lift away from the magnet, disconnecting the circuit, yes?
mrfixitrick (author)  Kiteman5 years ago
Exactly correct! The flat heart motor is self-governing, uses minimal power, and it can run for up to an hour that way.

The other two-legged heart shape will only go for a few minutes...and can overheat the battery because of high current draw.

Sorry for not picking up but just to clarify, this means the cooler 'two-legged heart shape' wouldn't work too well with the second motor consisting of the neodymium magnet? Very good, simple explanation of the subject, btw.

vijaynaru1 year ago

Hi,

I tried it at home but its not working, can you guide me some easy ways. Very Urgent, I wanna Gift it to someone :-)

mrfixitrick (author)  vijaynaru1 year ago
Main reasons for not working:

!.) Needs a fully charged powerful battery. I use NiMH and the best I can find. A good AA alkaline is "ok" but will deplete fast.

2.) The magnet must be a neodymium super magnet, or use a very powerful speaker magnet. (Preferably both.)

3.) The heart copper wire contact points, and the penny contact point must be electrically clean and polished.

Hope this helps! :)

4.
slano2 years ago
Great instructable! I want to make a few of these that can last for a while. How can I assemble it to run for the longest possible time?
mrfixitrick (author)  slano2 years ago
For longest run times use the best AA battery you can buy. I found the 2650 Mah NiMH rechargeables were best. Dimple the battery + post a little, and polish the hearts bearing points. Balance them perfectly. Use a powerful neodymium magnet.
Bill WW2 years ago
Greetings from a neighbor just south of you.

Very nicely done Instructable. I have made homopolar motors using rare earth magnets, never thought about using the strong magnetic field of a speaker.

Copper is so nice to work with. I keep copper sheets and wire in my shop.
mrfixitrick (author)  Bill WW2 years ago
Hi Bill, and thanks for the comments!
I see that you list engineer on your profile...was the copper part of that work? How do you work with copper sheets?
Yes, engineer retired from work, but not play. I designed and built paper mills, some in BC and SK. The copper was given to me by a sheet metal worker friend, and I like to work with it, and brass, mainly because it is so much easier to work with than steel. Copper has excellent heat conductivity, and I have made a solar powered Stirling cycle engine using that property. See it here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsKVp6RvV34
The top plate is copper painted black to absorb heat; copper cooling fins underneath do the cooling.
mrfixitrick (author)  Bill WW2 years ago
Really "cool" Stirling Engine you made. I didn't think they could run on straight sunlight without a lens!

Here is a concept...I was just listening to one of my favourite alternative inventors, MT Keshe, and he was describing his new nano-material solar panel that works on Earth radiation, and provides more power at night than regular panels do during the day!

So, it seems like tif you had the right nano-material, it would "catch" the radiations from the earth...and would allow your Stirling to run at night!
What can be used in place of the Canadian coins?
mrfixitrick (author)  Javier.Maria4 years ago
You can use steel washers, or flat neodymium magnets to replace the Canadian coins.

It's best to be both conducting and magnetic, however regular US coins can be used. Since they are not magnetic, they may have to be glued to each other to stay in place.
sconcepcion4 years ago
can i use a wire from an extension cord?
mrfixitrick (author)  sconcepcion4 years ago
An extension cord wire won't retain the heart form too well because it has multiple strands and is made to flex. If you twist the strands together tightly it will work better, but it may be frustrating.

A single strand (solid) copper wire is best, anywhere from 8 gage to 18 gage size. It's used in house wiring, and is available at a hardware store. Or find someone at a construction site, or an electrician, who will give you a cut-off waste end of a piece of solid core wire.
Please be careful about dimpling the batteries. I was sprayed in the eye when I broke the surface of the metal of a Duracell AA while dimpling it for a homopolar motor. Luckily, I blinked in time (or whatever sprayed me wasn't caustic).
mrfixitrick (author)  duckythescientist4 years ago
Thanks for the warning!

"Gently" dimple the battery positive terminal is definitely the key word.
jcomtois4 years ago
Nice combination of arts&crafts and physics. One good way to straighten wire is to clamp one end in a vise, grab the other end with pliers and twist several full turns into it. For long pieces a drill works well instead of pliers. Twisting also hardens the wire.
mrfixitrick (author)  jcomtois4 years ago
Thanks for the helpful hints on wire bending!
Please let me know what is the battery life?
mrfixitrick (author)  ahmedfarazch4 years ago
The battery will last for up to an hour with the "flat heart", and as little as a couple of minutes with the double heart shape.

A fully charged battery must be used. I use a Duracell 2650 MaH Ni MH-type rechargeable battery. Sometimes it gets warm from the heavy amp draw.
Neat instructable, and great warnings for kids eating magnets. One thing though, AFAIK, the neodymium nickel oxide coating not because neodymium is poisonous, but is to resist corrosion, as the neodymium is very corrosive and will "rust" away quickly.

Question - does soldering the tip of the heart together provide electrical/magnetic benefits or is it more to keep the bare wires from catching on something?
mrfixitrick (author)  m.hutchinson4 years ago
Thanks for the comment on neodymium. It's interesting to note that the nickel plating is poisonous also, and many people including myself are allergic to it. (It's a common allergy for mechanics).

The tip of the heart is soldered to provide a good electrical connection to the commutator/magnet, and for better looks. It doesn't seem to affect the running to have "loose legs" on the heart.
mrfixitrick (author) 5 years ago
 There is only 6 hours left to vote in the annual Instructables Valentine's Contest!

Please consider voting for this Instructable, and give it a good rating as well!

The "Vote Now" button is near the top of the instructable, and it can be rated in the middle of the right column.
rimar20005 years ago
Excellent Instructable, and very good idea!
Way cool!  10/10  You've got my vote.
 Like the song and the instructable!
womyntracy5 years ago
The shape that is created by the two hearts entwining is incredible!!