Magnetic Levitation

Using the Levitator - Electronics Now, Feb 1996


Place the anti-gravity levitator in a location that has normal room lighting. Try to keep it away from strong sources of infrared energy such as full sunlight or a bright desk lamp. Plug the adapter into a 12-volt AC outlet and turn R16 fully counter-clockwise before switching S1 on. Make sure nothing is under the coil that would block the infrared beam. The red LED should be off at first. Slowly turn R16 clockwise and observe the LED. As you turn the potentiometer the LED should come on and then turn back off as you continue to increase the Q6 threshold with R16. Stop turning R16 as soon as the LED turns off again. (The potentiometer should be between one-quarter to one-half of its range at this point.)

Now take a small hollow steel globe, place it on your outstretched hand and lift it slowly towards the coil until it starts to break the infrared beam. It is important NOT to hold the globe between your fingers because your fingers will accidentally break the beam and prevent levitation. When done properly, the coil's field will gently grab the globe from your hand and suspend it in mid-air! Do not lift the globe so high that it touches the coil. The proper point of levitation will be about 0.2 inches below the coil.

If the globe constantly jumps up and sticks to the coil, then R16 is set too high. Start R16 once more from the counter-clockwise position and stop as soon as the LED comes on and then goes back off again. Once you have the globe successfully levitating, try gently blowing on it. With a little practice you can make it spin just like the earth does.

Som non-metallic objects can also be levitated by attaching a small magnet to the object. This will take some experimentation. The magnet must be facing in the direction that will be attracted, not repelled, by the coil. Also the total weight of the object and magnet must not exceed the coil's ability to lift.

You may want to make a cardboard or plastic cover to hide the metal bracket and wires. This will make your levitator more attractive when you invite your friends to observe your power over gravity! Everyone is sure to be both amazed and impressed.

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