Physics Van 3-site Navigational Menu

Physics Van Navigational Menu

Q & A: Magnetic Levitation

Learn more physics!

Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
I have to make a toy car "float" with magnets. Can you give me any suggestions?
- Scott (age 11)
Marion, Ohio, U.S.A.
A:
You will need to use some sort of guide in addition to the magnets. Otherwise the car will find some way to flip or slide away and fall. You might put a pin in the car that can stick down into a slot in a track, described below.

Get a bunch of flat magnets, a board for the base and a small piece of wood for the car. I like the magnets that are about 1 inch long and have a hole in the middle, but there are a lot of shapes that work. The magnets can be attached with glue or screws. Play around with different patterns of magnets on the base and car. A row along each edge of the car may work best. The base can then have 3 rows of magnets, that way the 2 rows on the car will fit in between the 3 rows on the base. Of course, all the magnets need to be repelling each other.


For the car to move smoothly forward, the magnets on the car need to be spaced differently from the magnets on the base.

When you get that working, you can add little electromagnets to the base controlled by switches to push and pull the car forward.

EJ (modified by Mike W.)

(published on 10/22/2007)

Follow-up on this answer.