How often, really, do you get to see something levitate? I did, at (where else?) Maker Faire New York last September. Chris Connors showed me this project. It consists of a base made out of pencils and 3D-printed connectors, with magnets placed to repel a rotating pencil equipped with its own magnets as well as a mess of magnet wire powered by small solar cells.
The Mendocino Motor floats in its own magnetic field and converts light into electricity and magnetism, which are then converted into the motion of the motor.
Building and studying this project provides the satisfaction of creating an amazing bit of technology, and the opportunity to explore magnetism, electromagnetism, electric motors, solar power generation, and personal manufacturing.
Build the base that holds the magnets and provides a bearing point for the motor. Then wind the motor coils, and solder them to the solar cells. When the motor is assembled, you’ll balance it so it spins freely, and perform any troubleshooting to make it work properly.
Want to learn more about Chris’s project? Check out the MAKE Projects writeup and the Thingiverse page where you can download the files to print your own connectors. Finally, watch a video of the motor in motion.