This is a spinning airplane mobile using 5 volt transformer with pot (originally solar cell power) and a simple rotating power connector (also known as a slip ring) to get the power from the solar cell to the airplane motor. It is a good project to use a simple 1 volt motor and solar cell which you can get from a solar cell hat cooler. This is also a good project to use the tail motor and propeller of those broken helicopters you have laying around.

The following photos will give an idea how to build a comparable mobile but you will have to use your own scrounged gear so I won't go into real specifics. 

Updated Aug 2013: Motor was drawing too many amps and not running very well so switched out with toy motor from a bicycle toy. Also, using a new walwart that puts out 3.4 volts at 850mah through my adjustable power conditioner and voila! this thing works great. Running all the time now and very fast if I want it to be.
Now need some kind of easy switch to turn the walwart power on and off as right now it runs whenever the overhead light is switched on. Maybe a clap-on-off switch or an infared controller. That would be cool.

Step 1: Make an Airplane, Attach Motor and Boom

You can use anything for an airplane as it's function is just to hold the motor and look cool.
The following website provides some really neat planes that can be made from cardboard in black and white and color. I chose the Spitfire.

Attach the motor to the plane. I used a cable tie to do that.
Find a toy propeller from one of those broken airplanes we all seem to have and attach to motor shaft. I drilled a shaft size hole in my propeller and attached with super glue.

Then you must attach the plane to a boom approximately 4 feel long and of any kind of material.
I used a piece of hollow fishing pole. Again I used zip cables to attach the plane to the boom.

Run the two wires from the motor inside the boom (or outside if you wish).

I played around with something similar but mounted the solar cell on the counterweight and just ran the wires along the connecting arm. I used a fishing swivel like you did.
That is a much cleaner solution. My problem is that my lighting is florescent which will not power my solar cell sufficiently. It barely gives me enough power mounted next to the bulb. I really wanted to get a way to get external power to a rotating motor because I have other projects in mind which will not be solar or battery powered. I know you can buy commercial rotating power connectors but they are hard to get where I am located and expensive.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am an American teaching English at Shangluo University, Shaanxi. I like making machines that do interesting but fairly useless things - I call them Quixotic ... More »
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