Magnetic Perpetual Motion

Here’s a perpetual motion machine. It has 16 rare earth magnets. The rotor has all the north sides of the magnets pointing out. The stator has all the north sides of the magnets pointing in. It has a precision ball bearing and is made from nylon bolts and hardboard.

I used Google Sketchup to design the parts. I then laser cut the parts during the talk I did for the Inventors Association the other day. The whole thing just bolts together and the bearing is held in place by friction.

The original plan was that the magnets would be in pairs and would hold each other in place by friction. That didn’t work well because the distance between the pairs was a little large and the 1/8th material doesn’t have enough surface area to get good stability. So I just used a glue gun to stick the magnets on. That worked pretty well.

It turns out to be pretty cool. There is some fairly strong cogging since the magnets come within about 3/32″ of each other.

Interestingly, there are two stable resting points. One is before the magnets pass each other and the other is right after. Intuitively I was betting on one stable resting point that is with the magnets all as far apart as possible. I suppose the attraction of the other poles gets in there and creates two local minimums in the potential energy curve.

LED generator

After finding out that a piezoelectric disk has enough juice to light an LED I made a generator.

I think this concept could very well work much better than those cheap flashlights that you crank. They have either batteries or magnets and are quite heavy. I think one of these could be made with lots of LEDs to make a useful flashlight that is very light.

Either way, it is a fun experiment. ๐Ÿ™‚

Piezo Generator

I’ve been thinking of ways of creating interactivity with LEDs.

One of the issues you run into is controlling them. You can control a few with an Arduino easily but when you have a lot of them it starts getting messy pretty fast.

Something ย just dawned on me. ย I happen to have a piezoelectric disk so I put an LED against it and I was totally amazed that there was enough current to light the LED! So I soldered it and tried a few simple experiments.

So an LED can be activated mechanically. Further, this could prove to be a great way of harvesting small amounts of electricity from mechanical systems.

Free Energy

This is an interesting phenomenon. I don’t mean free energy, I mean people that believe they can make or sell it.

I don’t mean people that thought of it, then tried it and figured out that it doesn’t work.

I mean feeble minded people that imagine it will work, get a thrill ride from telling people about it and stay on this train for the rest of their lives. They suffer from believing in this falsehood because of the inability to test the idea or to understand why their tests fail.

They fall into a verification bias in their thinking and become unable to learn why it wont work. What a rut! One common rant you’ll hear is that the oil industry keeps these machines under wrap.

I’ve met these types (even recently). If you up for some serious pub debate, I’ll even make the introductions. ๐Ÿ™‚

The internet is chalked full of them:

It’s obvious that people will think of this but it’s validation that’s lacking.

When I was about 10 years old (or so), I had a couple of ideas. I actually tried one of them.

The idea I tried was to make a spoked wheel with weights at the end of each spoke. Each spoke had an elbow so that when the weights were on one side they were closer to the wheel. My theory was that because they were closer on one side, they would exert less torque than the weights on the other side creating an imbalance.

I was a meccano enthusiast at the time so I made a model of this. Actually, I figured out that it would not work before I completed it. When I had all the spokes in place and I was holding it, I realized that the side with the ballasts closer in would have more blasts.

When it hit me that it wouldn’t work, it also hit me that nothing would work. It was quite a revelation for me. (Imagine the look on my mother’s face when I came out of my room with this wheel in my hand talking about a motor that doesn’t require electricity). ๐Ÿ™‚

My other idea (almost too embarrassed to say it) was to connect propellers together mechanically so that one was high volume and the other lower (like a gas turbine). The theory was the high volume one would pull lots of air through the lower volume one and the lower volume one would drive the high volume one. You get the idea. It’s like plugging a power strip into itself.

I never actually tried that one since it was complicated but it bounced around in my head for a while. I even kept my teacher at school (Mrs. Mechakeran) to share this with her (because it was such a revelation!). She was pretty bored with the idea of an engine with no fuel. Did her best to appear interested but I didn’t think she understood it. I drew it on the chalkboard and I needed to explain gear ratios to her because my suggested apparatus had sprockets of different sizes and chains in the drive system.

Thankfully a couple of weeks later I had the ballast wheel idea which was very easy to test. That put the whole perpetual motion to bed for me.

Since then I’ve studied physics and know a little more. It turns out that my ballast wheel idea has been tried before. Most notably by Da Vincci (who said he was out to prove it doesn’t work) and a few others (even earlier than that).

Here it is: