Hey! Something that’s not steampunk!
The majority of this project is an electromagnetic levitation desk-toy that used to suspend a globe. It was similar to these, but much less classy looking. It was obtained at Walgreen’s for $10US, so I didn’t expect much. Operationally, however, i was quite impressed! It sturdily held the globe (which weighed at least 20 grams without the magnet) in its invisible grasp, and required no adjustment or calibration. The only thing i wasn’t happy with was the color of the LEDs, which were red. I assume these were used for financial reasons, but they kind of made it look like Antartica was on fire or something. I had a ton of blue LEDs lying around, so i swapped them in. While inside the case, i found a small potentiometer that was not accessible from outside. Some highly scientific testing (turning it with my fingernail) showed that it served to adjust the height of levitation, so i relocated it to an accessible location.
After a while the Earth got boring, so I took the small neodymium magnet out of it and used it to levitate other things. Almost anything that weighs less than 30g can be suspended, though objects at the heavier end of the spectrum require more power than the device can supply without overheating.
I attached a LEGO 4x4x1 plate to the top and bottom of the magnet so that i could swap in any number objects to be levitated and displayed. My favorite object to float, however, is the crazy thing pictured above. For this one, I took the pod portion of a LEGO “X-Pods” set and put the magnet on the “ceiling” of it. The pod weighs less than the globe, so it can be suspended lower while still maintaining stability. The most interesting and unexpected quality of this piece is the way the pod glows. The plastic it’s made from is of a florescent green variety, which means that it glows eerily under a black light. Since the light cast by the “blue” LEDs is partially ultraviolet, the whole thing becomes a rather alien-looking bit of domestic lighting!
Tools: JB Weld, drill (hole for pot. adjustment), soldering iron, and a screwdriver
Time: 20 minutes