I have always been fascinated by how simple homopolar motors are. Kids are blown away by the immediate fun. But not just kids, everyone wants to check it out. Made only of a battery, a magnet, and copper wire, this simple motor can get really hot. It’s hard to play with them without forgetting and grabbing the hot wire or battery by mistake. I wondered if I could build little light weight wood structures to make them more finger safe. Getting the perfect wire shape can also be tricky, so I have to consider balance and stability, and of course see how fast I could get it to spin.
I’m really psyched about what I have cooked up in the JEMTOY studio, because these things can really spin. The design is laser cut from 1/4″ maple plywood, and is easy enough for anyone to put together. Here is a video of me assembling the JEMTOY Homopolar Motor Kit so you can see how crazy cool it is. I mean, for science, that is.
The homopolar motor kit contains everything you need except some glue and the AA batteries, which this toy will eat up in a one-hour sitting. You sorta just play with it until your battery gets hot and dies. It’s fun. To build the kit you will need some super glue or white glue to connect the wood pieces together, and a wire stripper/snipper or hobby knife to strip 1/2″ of plastic insulation off the ends of the two little wires. Be careful if you use a hobby knife, okay? Those things can be unpredictable. You might need a little screwdriver to tighten the bolt, but finger tight should work if you don’t have one. Really, this is a very easy kit to build. Check out the video, and get ’em while they’re hot at: https://www.etsy.com/shop/JEMTOY
EACH JEMTOY HOMOPOLAR MOTOR KIT CONTAINS:
7 Laser Cut Wood Pieces
1 Brass Nut and Bolt
1 Neodymium Rare Earth Magnet
2 Five Inch Insulated Wires
YOU SUPPLY GLUE AND AA BATTERIES!!!
OH NO! MORE SCIENCE! The nut and bolt in this kit are made of brass, not steel like most nuts and bolts. Steel is ferrous, which means it contains iron. Iron is magnetic, and a steel bolt would snap tight to the magnet, and then, the homopolar motor would not spin. The brass bolt is nonferrous, so it does not stick in place to the magnetized battery top. So much to think about for such a simple device, right?
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR FASTEST SPINNING KUNG-FU ACTION
- Let battery and magnet cool before touching it.
- Flip the magnet – sometimes it spins faster the other way!
- Use a fresh AA battery – remember it gets HOTTER the longer it spins!!!
- Glue the wood pieces together – white glue or super glue will work.
- Adjust wires on bottom to touch magnet loosely – not too tight.
- Don’t forget it spinning too long – battery gets hot!
- Parental guidance suggested for the wee ones – battery gets HOT I tell you.
Kids like that it’s slightly dangerous because kids like to be challenged. Every second you play with this homopolar motor kit, you will be learning, thinking, wondering, and expanding your understanding of the universe. For reals. It’s that cool. Great rainy day project to keep them busy for hours, or an amazing way to share the wonders of magnets and electricity with your students. Just keep them informed about how hot the battery gets, and let them have at it. Perfect project for science fairs, S.T.E.A.M. projects, maker faire booth. Kids have fun learning engineering, design, and the basics of how an electric motor works.
Google and Wikipedia have all the scientific explanations if you want to search the term homopolar motor. No matter how many times I read that stuff, I have to admit, it just looks like magic to me, so that’s another thing I love about it. I think the darn thing is magic!
Dangerous Toys For Kids
CAUTION: Battery Gets HOT! Parental Supervision suggested for the wee ones!
I love it when science seems like magic. The homopolar motor kit will blow your mind as you try to figure out what kind of physics is taking place. You could even learn stuff, like science or something. You might even go as far as Googling “homopolar motor” and reading up, but it won’t help. No matter how much those smart folk try to explain the phenomenon, it will always seem like magic to me.
To make the curiosity even more fun, it’s slightly dangerous, because the battery will get hotter the longer you let the homopolar motor spin. You tend to get distracted by the amazing spinning action and forget the battery gets hot, and the next thing you know you’re adjusting it, or taking it apart with your fingers and BAM! – Well now, you think to yourself… that battery is hot.
So there you go, it’s fun, magical, educational, and slightly dangerous. Everything any kid would want in a toy.
Here are step by step photo instructions on how to build the Tiny Doll House available in the JEMTOY etsy shop.
I’ve been making magic wands and laser engraving fun magical quotes on them. “You had the power all along, my dear.” Glenda the Good Witch, or “I put a spell on you, because you’re mine.” Screaming Jay Hawkins, or my favorite,“I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.” The Lorax.
JEMTOY magic wands are on display all summer 2018 at my favorite curio shop, Alder & Vine in Belfast, Maine. I have been making wands since the early 80’s, so it’s nice to be at it again. I dropped off a ton of magical pendants, pentacles, sigils, and seals. If you’re up this way and want to add a little magic to your day, be sure and check ’em out. Alder & Vine have a ton of fun stuff to see, a lot of it hand made and exclusive by me! Poke around and find something unexpected.
AJ Lafave sent me a resin sculpture and print. Thank you! I’m glad the How To Make Resin Toys book could help inspire such awesomeness. This guy would be fun to mod. I have the urge to give him hair and googly eyes. I’d like to see a show where you post a bunch out to artists, then they return them modded out, and then put together into a show where they could all be seen as a whole. Thanks again AJ, and stay in touch! Jay ~
The first wave of mini UFOs invaded our earth unmanned, controlled remotely by an invisible force from outer space. Who could it be? Men from Mars? Women from Venus? The Tralfamadorians? It soon became clear with the arrival of the second wave, little starships piloted by aliens. See their clear cut faces ominously catch the changing color light glowing inside the pod. Let’s just hope these little guys come in peace.
Choose from several versions of UFO Flying Saucers up in my etsy shop.
I have been having a blast designing these little UFO flying saucer lamps. When I was a kid, back in the early 70’s, I was out with my mom shopping, and I saw a display of UFO toys I was curious about. They looked as if they were made for girls. Cute little girly aliens inside classic flying saucers. Made from turquoise, pink, and purple candy clear plastics with glitter embedded. The little Alien gals inside the UFOs were really cute. I didn’t care if they were girl toys or not, I wanted them. Mom was way too busy that day, and we had to go. Sad thing is, I have never seen those toys ever again. I still wonder what they were called.
Instead, I thought I’d make my own batch of tiny UFO flying saucers using the little pod capsule from gumball machines. I showed my first UFO to my wife, and she looked for a way to turn on the light, but I had not included one. I took that as a challenge to be sure the next one did light up. Now, I’m making several UFO variations. The Starship has little star cutaways in the maple ply and acrylic ring. The cut out stars create visible lines of light along the wall, as the LED sends a nebula light show to the ceiling. Check out the video above to see it in action.
JEMTOY UFOs ship USPS Priority Mail, with a 2032 coin cell battery so it’s ready right from the box. Several UFO styles to choose from. Check ’em out before they all blast away!