Locked in Space
A flying saucer that floats by passive or magnetic levitation with active magnetic induction LED lighting.Art
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I had a desire to create something with a kinetic artistic and futuristic theme using magnetic technology as a decorative display item that looked interesting whether viewed day or a night. With an external structure that complemented the active element being bright and shiny similar to that envisioned in a sci-fi film.
As a result this is a project that utilises active magnetic levitation and magnetic induction to float a model flying saucer complete with flashing lights. The saucer contains no batteries or physical external connections to perform these effects.
The name of the project is a play on words based on its function, although capable of spinning its position in space is effectively static.
Although, it can be viewed in isolation this is the culmination of a number of smaller projects utilising magnetic induction.
Additional details and information can be found here:
Materials and methods
This flying saucer is multi functional in operation using either passive or active levitation.
The saucer consists of 3 main parts (dome window, body and base), which are used for all the different levitation options.
Supplimentary parts of which there are 3 (support hanger, support hanger open and the coil former), are used for different levitation options.
Active levitation which is the main focus of this project is accomplished using both passive and active magnets together.
The passive magnet is mounted within the saucer and the active magnet made using an electro magnet is mounted externally to the saucer.
The electro magnet, a sensor and control electronics form a feedback loop with which the external magnet and the magnet in the top of the saucer interacts. The control mechanism tries to maintain the system in balance with the external magnet being neither too close or too far away from the electro magnet. If the saucer moves closer to the electro magnet the power to the electro magnet is reduced causing the saucer to move away under the influence of gravity as it moves away the power to the electro magnet is increased pulling it back. This process occurs very rapidly so as to be imperceptible, maintaining the saucer, locked in space.
`Passive leviation can be accomplished with magnets and tethers.
Where one end is fixed with a thread or wire and the other end with an internally mounted magnet is attracted to an external magnet putting the tether under tension.
A cylinder (10mm x 10mm), magnet is fitted inside the saucer and this can be mounted at the top or can be mounted at the bottom to enable attractive support. This is accomplished with two different internal supports for the magnet.
Although, I have used a cylinder magnet the design will also accomodate a ring magnet which can be glued in the dome window or the cavity in the base.
If using passive levitation in addition to the positioning of the magnet a tether is attached.
1: By drilling a small hole in the centre of the dome window. (magnet at the bottom)
2: By drilling a small hole in the centre of the base. (magnet at the top).
If a first coil of wire is energised with a changing voltage it produces a changing magnetic field which induces a changing voltage in a second coil which is placed in close proximity to the energised coil.
In this case the first coil generating the magnetic field is a wireless phone charger and the second coil is connected to an LED. The saucer contains 2 LED's driven by two separate coils wound on the same coil former in the base of the saucer. One LED is mounted under the dome window and the other is mounted in the centre of the base. When the base of the saucer is within range of the wireless changer the LED's will flash. The intensity of the LED's being proportional to the proximity of the saucer to the wireless charger plate.
Setting for the levitating station.
Filament: PLA Silk -Silver
Layer Height: 0.15 mm
Infill Density: 15% (although this can be increased for added strength and rigidity if required)
Build Adhesion: Skirt
Size: 105.5 mm (W) x 158.8 mm (L) x 117 mm (H)
Settings for the saucer.
Layer Height: 0.15 mm
Infill Density: 100%
Build Adhesion: Skirt
Size: 70 mm (dia) x 32mm (H)
Filament: PLA Green - Glow in the dark (Dome window and base)
Filament: PLA Silk -Silver (Saucer body)
Filamant: PLA - White (internal supports and coil former).
Some sanding may be required to remove surface aberrations and widening of openings for the screws and the magnet in the dome window.
6 x M3 x 10mm machine or Allen screws.
1 x M3 X 6mm machine or Allen screws.
1 x M3 X nut.
5 x M2.5 X 6mm machine or Allen screws.
1 x M4 X 10mm Allen screw.
1 x M4 nut
2 x M4 plain washers.
Wireless phone charger cylindrical plate 100mm (dia), smaller sizes would require a spacer.
Magnetic levitating module.
Neodymium cylinder magnet 10mm x 10mm, N42/3.9Kg pull.
3 x Stainless steel rods 6mm (dia) x 70mm (L)
6 x 10mm threaded Hex standoffs
Surface Mounted LED's Red
Enamelled copper wire (ECW) 35AWG/0.15mm
LED UVA 3mm
Push the cylinder magnet into the dome window. (Be aware that the polarity can affect the levitation therefore only stick in place with adhesive once the functionality is verified).
Take the three arm open support and into the small central opening insert the M4 bolt complete with two washers and secure in place with the nut. This adds ballast to increase weight.
Upturn the saucer body to reveal the underside and with the screw head of the open support facing you insert and rotate such that the arms are under the three tabs ensuring the screw holes are aligned and insert a M3 x 10mm screw.
If passive levitation is selected drill a small hole in the centre of the base to accept a tether.
Active levitation does not require a thether.
Inductive lighting (Only required if used in conjunction with a wireless charger.)
Take the 2 halves of the coil former and stick them together to create a reel.
Create a free end of ~60mm of wire and wrap 50 turns around the coil former once complete secure the wire with tape on the outer side of the reel and cut the wire leaving ~60mm.
Tin the free ends and solder each wire to a separate terminal of the LED.
Repeat the process for the second LED.
Take the base and place one LED into the small centre cavity and either glue or tape in place, wrap any excess into the cylindrical cavity and place the coil former into the cavity and either glue or tape in place.
Feed the second LED through to the small opening in the saucer body.
Secure the base to the body with a M3 x 10mm screw using one of the two free holes in the body.
Remove the screw previously inserted to hold the open support in place.
Rotate the base to align with the two free holes in the body and secure with M3 x 10mm screws.
Push the end of the magnet attached to the dome window into the open support.
Cut three 6mm x 70mm hollow tubes.
Fit a M3 x 10mm standoff into the end of each tube. This is accomplished by creating a taper on one end of the standoff with a file, grinder or sander and tapping a standoff, taper first into each end with a hammer.
Test fit the tubes into the holes of the upper and lower halves of the station to ensure full insertion for the two front tubes this is ~10mm.
The rear tube only has full insertion at the lower end of the tube.
Resolve any issue that may affect the fit and secure the tubes in place with 5 x M3 x 10mm (3 on the top and 2 on the bottom)
The bottom of the rear tube is secured with a side fitting M3 x 6mm screw while the bottom of the tube is fitted twith a M3 X 10mm screw and nut.
For inductive lighting if the LED's are fitted in the saucer body., Fit the wireless charger in the ring with the power lead exiting via the rear channel.
Fit the levitation module in the head with the PCB sitting at the bottom of the cavity and the power socket in the rear cutout.
Attach the lid with 5 x M2.5 x 8mm screws and plug in the power lead.
Whilst holding the saucer in your hand position it under the levitator head using your fingers to maintain separation between the two. Adjust the position carefully until you find the sweet spot and the saucer will float.
If the wireless charger is attached the LED's will flash.
Issues are used to track todos, bugs or requests. To get started, you could create an issue.