New Battery

I have my new lantern battery and it seems like it is the right strength. It can attract the ball from about a half inch away, which is just about the limit needed to make this machine work. It also has the ability to hold the ball upside-down which is something I never accomplished with the C or D batteries. Another thing that is nice about this particular battery is that it does everything it needs to do even with very little wire coiled around the screw. I will still probably make the electromagnet-making-machine, but it will only end up saving me about two days of work rather than a whole week.

Note: I am using the same on/off pattern of relays from my previous video so it takes a little while to actually see the ball touch the electromagnet.

Building a Electromagnet-Making-Machine

ImageImageEarlier I had posted my concerns about making 640 electromagnets at a rate of 15 minutes a piece. I have realized that the time would be better spent making a machine to make electromagnets for me rather than spend 160 hours wrapping the coil myself.

The blue blocks in the images represent the two stepper motors I will need while the red spool and line is the magnet wire that will be wrapped around the screw. I will need to secure the magnet wire to the screws initially by wrapping the wire around one end a few times before putting it into the machine. I will then have one stepper motor spin the screw while the other motor turns a gear (not shown) which moves a belt with a piece attached to guide the wire. As one motor spins the screw, the other stepper motor will move the wire down along the length of the screw until it reaches the end, at which point both motors will stop. I will then cut the wire, and the process can start again.

5 Electromagnets

I now have five electromagnets hooked up to the relay, however they only seem to work for a very short amount of time. I am not sure what could be causing the problems, but every time I run through the ball looping back and forth across the magnets a different one starts acting up. Even more strange is that ones that were having issues earlier work just fine the next ‘loop’ so it is not as if there is a bad connection on any one of the electromagnets.

I am currently using 4 C cell batteries in series to get up to 6v power. I have only used them four or five times so far, and never for more than about 30 seconds at a time, but I have yet to see any smoke or sparks which is promising. I am looking into purchasing a 6v lantern battery that will keep me from needing to stack C cells, and hopefully I will have similar if not better results with that one. The problem with using the 6v battery/batteries is that it doesn’t seem quite strong enough to power the whole wheel housing, but I will find the right battery pack for that eventually.

The Battery Problems Continue

ImageThe new setup was working great and I walked away for a few seconds to grab my camera and the terminals started smoking. I don’t exactly know what happened this time as everything was working fine for a while, but I think that if I add more coils around the bolts the problem will go away. The only other explanation I can think of is that this may be working the battery pack too hard, though that hopefully isn’t the case because that is a much more difficult problem to solve.

Better Battery, Better Electromagnet

ImageI have run into quite a few problems with this project mostly caused by my inexperience with batteries. I have dealt with smoke, sparks, and fumes, but finally I think the problems are gone. I have a been trying to use my 9v 2000mAh battery to power this project and up until now it has always ended badly. For the first time this project I am able to use it as the source of powering the electromagnets, and it works great. It starts to attract the ball bearing from about an inch away which doesn’t sound like much but seeing as I will have each bolt less than a quarter of an inch away from each other, this will ensure the ball will be able to move easily from one to the next. Also it is now able to hold the ball bearing upside-down, something that the two C batteries were unable to do. The only problem is that the electromagnet gets quite hot, so much so that it could actually start to melt the plastic used in the 3d printed housing. I haven’t tested this theory yet, but it could become a serious problem later in the project.

At the top of the picture there are three electromagnets that were used in the video I just posted, and they are quite a bit thinner than the one plugged into the battery on the breadboard. The battery I am using now needs more wire to keep it from shorting, and unfortunately it takes a long time to wind all of that wire around the bolt. The electromagnet on the breadboard took about fifteen minutes to wind, and at that speed it would take a 160 hours (approx. one week) to finish making all 640 electromagnets.

Magnetically Moving Ball

I finally got the ball to move from one electromagnet to the next, so my next step is to build a simple rig to test it further. At this point I am using two C batteries which are just strong enough to move the ball bearing side to side, however I don’t see them being strong enough to move the balls up the side wall of the wheel housing. The problem with using stronger batteries is that I will need to coil more wire around each bolt to keep the batteries from shorting out.

New Breadboard

ImageI have taken a break from this project for a few days because the batteries kept shorting out due to problems with using such a small breadboard. I now have a new one with much more reliable battery connections so hopefully this problem will stop. Also the new breadboard makes it much easier to plug in multiple electromagnets and shift registers. 

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