Electromagnetic Boots and Gloves




About: I just like to make stuff

First of all thank you for checking my instructables, you're awesome.

In this instructable i'l show you how u can build electromagnetic boots and gloves that can be used to climb metal surfaces. At first it was a project for school and it turned out great so I decided to share my build process with u guys and enter it in the Stick It! Contest.

The downside of this project is that u can only climb thick metal surfaces (thin metal doors and gates wont work) and that it's quite hard to use because its really heavy.

I forgot to take some pictures along the build so I will just show you a 3D model of the pieces.

I will also be sharing with you all the mistakes I've done and how to avoid them.

!!DISCLAIMER!! This is a dangerous projects that requires dangerous tools, please be cautious while doing this project. I am not responsible for any injuries that may occur, proceed at your own risk.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

For the materials you're going to need:

  • 4 old microwaves
  • Metal square tubing
  • Metal round tubing
  • Flat bar (thickness ~3mm)
  • 3mm electrical wire (around 15 m)
  • Nylon straps or small belts
  • 2 round switch
  • 1 normal switch (safety switch)
  • 2 12V 19A
  • Backpack
  • Zip ties

For the tools you're going to need:

  • An angle grinder
  • A welder (I used a MIG welder but TIG works best)
  • A bandsaw or chopsaw
  • A soldering iron
  • A hammer and a chisel

If you do not have access to all these tools you can always ask in any workshop for the parts to be welded or cut. But in the case that you have absolute no access to a welder just see the bottom of step

Step 2: Making the Electromagnet

In order to make the electromagnet you must first take out the transformer out of the old microwave to modify it and turn it into an electromagnet.

You're going to find some screws in the corners that hold the cover for the microwave (depends on the model), once u take the cover off you'l find the "guts" of the microwave. You're after the transformer that is usually located on the bottom (see pic #1) and attached with four screws located on the outside of the microwave (also depends on the model), carefully detach the wires connected or cut them (but don't cut the terminals of the transformers) and take it out.

Once you have your transformer, you want to cut it with the angle grinder along the weld lines at the bottom (see pic #2), you don't need to cut too deep, u can do a little groove and hit it with the chisel and hammer and it will pry open quite easily.

Now take the two coils out of the metal core, be careful not to damage the coil or else it will get ruined. Depending on the condition of the microwave, you will either take out the coils by hand or you will have to keep hitting it lightly with a rubber mallet making sure you don't damage it, we're only after the secondary coil so don't worry about the primary one (see pic #2). Throw out the primary coil or use it for another project, and put back the secondary coil in the iron core. Be extra careful when taking the coils out because if you damage it you'l have to get another one, I personally damaged 9 different coils but because I'm an idiot.

Now cut the iron core with a band saw or chop saw to the height of the coil in it (leave a few centimeters just in case), it's crucial that the surfaces on the top stays super flat and smooth or else the electromagnet wont have enough surface to stick. This step is optional but I think it really helps because the sticking force is higher and you also take off a few kilograms since it gets really heavy. When cutting make sure u have the piece clamped really well or else it will just break into a million of pieces.

Test each magnet once you're done to check if it works or not. If it doesn't, you probably damaged the coil or the terminals aren't well connected to the coil. This is how your magnet should look like (see pic #3).

Step 3: Making the Glove and Boots

Now that we have the electromagnet, we need to make some things to put the magnet in and be able to hold it while climbing. You will need to make a pair for the hand piece and a pair for the leg piece.

  • The hand piece

For the hand piece you have two options : Either making a piece that fits your hand well but only works on walls, or making a not so comfortable piece that works on both walls and ceilings (see pic #1 and #2). I personally prefer to use the piece that works both for vertical and horizontal surfaces.

Cut two pieces of the angle iron at the same length of the transformer and then weld them together making sure there is enough space to snugly fit the transformer. Now take the flat bar and cut two pieces (the length doesn't matter as long as its comfortable) and weld them to the sides of the angle iron. The process is the same for both types of pieces, just the angle of the flat bar that differs. Now cut a piece of the round tubing in order for it to fit on the two pieces of flat bar (do not fit it between the two pieces or else you won't have space to put the switch, see pic #1).

  • The leg piece

The leg piece is very easy. You just have to weld the two pieces of angle iron like for the hand piece and weld the square tubing to the angle iron, (see pic #3). for the length of square tubing, do not making to long or else the weight won't be concentrated on the front and will decrease the force of the magnet. A tip: cut the end of the tubing at 45 degree angle to easily weld them them. Now cut two strips of flat bar and bend them to make the piece where the straps will go, and weld them to the side of the leg piece (not to far back, see pic #3).

To finish the pieces just weld the transformer core to the pieces. Don't do the same mistake I did and check when you're welding the core the coils will be out on the sides not the top and bottom, if they're not out from the sides you won't be able to walk around with the pieces attached to your feet, for the hand pieces it doesn't matter.

Step 4: Wiring Everything Together

This step is pretty self explanatory, you just solder the wires and switches together and that's it. Pic #1 is the circuit diagram. I paired up one hand piece with one leg piece with a single switch, so that when i turn it one the hand and leg piece will turn on.

First start measuring the length needed for the wires and start cutting them, remember to measure the length of your arm fully extended all the way to your leg, and the wires coming from the batteries will be at the height of your lower back, this part might be a bit tricky. Do one pair and then repeat it again.

Put the switches inside the round tubing and secure it with hot glue. Be careful not to put to much hot glue because you can clog the switch and it won't work. The safety switch is optional but it's better to have it for extra safety. Finaly put the batteries in the backpack for easy transport.

Don't leave any exposed parts of the wires always cover it with a heat shrink or some electrical tape. Double check your solders. after you solder everything together arrange your wires, use zip ties to tie the wires going in the same directions and as an additional step make some straps to keep the wires on your body so that they don't bother you when you're climbing.

Step 5: Climb Away!!!

As you can see from the video the pieces are quite heavy and I had a hard time climbing at first, but then I got the hang of it and it worked great. I wanted to go higher but there was no space in mys school.

Hope you enjoyed my instructable as much as I enjoyed writing it, be sure to like and vote and if you have any questions write it down in the comments bellow.

Be safe and take care, bye.

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    18 Discussions


    Question 10 months ago on Step 5

    Will u please add the Block Diagram for this Project.... Which battery you used......

    1 answer

    Answer 10 months ago

    I used 2 12V 18A car batteries hooked up in series


    10 months ago on Step 5

    For those who are mechanically inclined and can obtain the tools and materials, this is so awesome!

    However, I am wondering if you saw the video on NY Times about 3 years ago showing a 250+ pound soldier climbing a glass wall with "Gecko Paddles" on his hands. It took significant body strength, but he used the temporary(peel and stick ---van der Waals principle of gecko climbing. The soldier used GeckSkin(tm) or its facsimile on the paddles ---developed initially by Dr. Crosby and Dr. Isrchick at U Mass Amherst. My students witnessed in their laboratory the early stages of development when just a 5 by 7 patch of "GeckSkin" could hold between 200 and 700 pounds. Mike Bartlett, a postdoc. had fun demonstrating it on a You Tube video --- showing how this material works to hold up an HD Screen and peel it off ---- inspired by the Madagascar Day Gecko's nano toe hairs and ligaments. DARPA may have used Stanford University's version of gecko adhesive for their soldier's climb. Oh, my the numerous innovations inspired by the Tokay and Madagascar geckos! Take a look at my entry tonight about LIZARD SKINS for baseball bats, lacrosse sticks, and bike handlebars.

    --- by Mrs. Nic and her students in STEAM Camp, Cambridge and Newton.

    3 replies

    Reply 10 months ago

    This project was for school and it was answering the question can humans climb like geckos, and I talked about geckskin and what DARPA and the military could use it for but this project was the closest I can get with my resources.


    Reply 10 months ago

    Dear mousse47,

    Thanks a bunch for your open response. I have been called "The Lizard Lady" since teaching in the first Montessori Charter School in Massachusetts, when my 4th -6th graders asked about what was so bio-inspiring about geckos. Since 2001, we have had the good fortune to visit the labs of Sangbae Kim, designer of the first GeckoBot, Karplab.net of the co-inventor of the "biodegradable, biocompatible, gecko-inspired adhesive," and the U Mass Amherst labs of GeckSkin fame, Professor Crosby and Professor Urschick. We even gave a turatara a bath. If you have a VR Headset, look at Beastcam in 3D to see a gecko climbing a ladder. I have to say that the commercial pieces of GeckSkin by Felsma company are a bit underwhelming...still scaling up, pardon the pun.

    I understand from Sangbae Kim that the soldier who climbed for Stanford via DARPA had great upper body strength.

    BTW: I would be glad to send you some photos and a piece of RipWrap. If you have an interest in coming to Karp Lab at BWH, our 10th Annual Karplab Tour will be in early spring. Let me know if curious.


    Mrs. Nic



    Tip 11 months ago

    this is the coolest. as for the contest, i read the rules and it says that any pictures that aren't your own will disqualify you. Just letting you know. (:

    4 replies

    Reply 11 months ago

    what do you mean about the pictures?


    Reply 11 months ago

    yesterday the main picture was spider man, did you change it?


    Reply 11 months ago

    Yes i did, i didn't know about the whole pictures thing thanks for the heads up man

    Ashraf Minhaj

    Question 11 months ago

    Can one Electromagnet lift your weight? As you climbed using one at a time, I think it can,right?

    1 answer
    mousse47Ashraf Minhaj

    Answer 11 months ago

    One can hold your weight if you are on a horizontal surface, but if you're on a vertical surface you'll need two. And you're going to need to distribute your weight on both magnets.

    Ashraf Minhaj

    11 months ago

    MANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is just COOOOOL!


    Tip 11 months ago

    It looked like you were struggling for grip. Maybe you could add some rubber next to the magnet like a rock climbing shoe.

    1 reply

    Reply 11 months ago

    Yeah that's a great idea but I don't think it will work to well for dusty surfaces (like at my school). But i'l surely add it.

    mousse47DIY Hacks and How Tos

    Reply 11 months ago

    Thanks a lot, in the last step you will find a video I posted on YouTube of it in action