Buying the Levitator Parts
How much does it cost? Where do you buy the parts? Is there a printed circuit board?
First the disclaimer: Your mileage will vary! The individual parts aren't very expensive, but if you also have to buy tools (voltmeter, bench power supply, soldering iron, wire stripper, needle-nose pliers, etc) then it quickly adds up to a lot more than I show here. If you have a good parts bin, your price could be a lot less. Substitutions are common (e.g. a different potentiometer, or a fixed resistor instead of a pot), so I encourage you to make your own shopping list starting from this one.
The price is probably under $100, depending on what parts you've got in your scrap box. If you know exactly what you want then buying the few parts you need is as little as $20 total. There are many choices and tradeoffs; it is a little like sewing project where the quality of material and a good-looking visual presentation can run up the prices.
It's a good idea to buy spares. Especially the op-amps, because if they fail then they're certain to die late at night when the stores are closed. :-) It's real hard to get that blue smoke back into the chip; you'll have to buy new parts that contain fresh smoke.
I don't know if this is a good idea to list prices, but let's see how it works... Although I dislike the prices at Radio Shock, here is the closest part number and price for the parts in my levitator. (Note: This list is current as of December 1999, but will not be kept up to date!) This is merely intended to give you a feeling for the overall cost, and to clearly identify the parts.
The parts are non-critical and substitutions can save you money, especially for the power supplies.
Where Did I Buy My Parts?
The cheapest place to shop is a surplus electronics store. I used Radar Electric in Seattle, and Vetco Electronics in Bellevue. Of course, Radio Snack will be the quickest/easiest, but also costs the top $. If it doesn't matter to you if the whole project adds up to $50 vs $100, then you can save a huge amount of time at Radon Shack!
If you know how to build a printed circuit board then skip ahead to PCB plans by Amadeus!
On-line Part Suppliers
There are some large and established parts suppliers on-line:
All these sites are difficult to navigate and hard to find a particular part, but my personal favorite is Digi-Key. Their on-line catalog is in a very nice Acrobat format, and their printed catalog is especially useful with hints and usage notes.
If you have a little experience and know what you want, shopping on-line is excellent. The major drawback of on-line shopping is that the selection is so vast it's hard to decide among all the choices.
Buying a Levitation Kit
Oh yes, you can buy a very nice little kit for $49 US. The kit is from a great article in the February 1996 issue of "Electronics Now". I built their kit and you can read my review. Their contact information is:
LNS Technologies www.techkits.com
They updated the kit in May 2006 and lowered the price, so I know they are still in business and eager to sell you the LEV-KIT.
Last update 2008-06-08
©1998-2013 By Barry Hansen