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How to Make a Motor
Constructing a simple motor is a classic elementary science experiment. It lends itself well to students venturing into science fair competitions for the first time. Making a motor doesn’t have to be complicated as long as you’re prepared to create.
Gathering Your Materials
Understand the homopolar motor.The homopolar motor is one of the simplest techniques for creating an operational motor. This is a good motor to introduce the functionality of a motor to young engineers. Homopolar motors were initially conducted as experiments to further the development of electromagnetic technology.
Understand the electric motor.The electric motor is a device that runs on electricity to make something move. The object that rotates is called the electromagnet; this is where the electric current runs through.
- The electric motor is more flashy than the homopolar motor. It requires more effort but offers more of a spectacle.
Gather supplies for a homopolar motor.For this type of motor, you’ll only need four supplies: a few inches of copper wire, ferromagnetic screw, D battery, and a neodymium magnetic,
- You could also use a drywall screw. The important thing is that you’ll be able to detect when it is turning.
- These supplies can be found at a hardware or hobbyist store.
Assemble supplies for the electric motor.This type of motor requires more parts and labor. The supplies for an electric motor can be found at a hardware shop, hobbyist shop, or online. You’ll need the following supplies:
- Three circular magnets
- Insulated wire (four feet)
- D battery
- Two large paper clips
Constructing a Homopolar Motor
Position the screw.Set the head of a drywall screw on a disk magnet. The head is the flat part of the screw where the screwdriver attaches. This will give the screw magnetic properties and keep the screw in place.
Prepare the wire.Strip 1/4 inch (6.35 mm) of the insulation from the wire and tape it to the flat, negative end of the battery. Use wire strippers for an efficient strip, but you can also use scissors.
- Add pressure to the wire cutters like you would with scissors. Press down and move the wire so that the wire stripper takes off the tip part of the wire's casing.
- If you're using scissors, cut down just enough to penetrate the wire's casing. Then move the wire while holding pressure on the scissors. It might take you a few times until you create a clean strip.
Attach the screw and battery.Touch the tip (the point) of the screw to the top of the positive side of the battery. The magnet will hold it in place.
Attach the wires.Finish constructing the motor by touching the side of the magnet with the other end of the wire to start the motor. The screw should start to rotate.
Creating an Electric Motor
Prepare and cut the wire.You’ll need to first cut out three strands of wire. One needs to be long, about 18 inches while the other two should be 12 inches. Using your wire cutters, strip about an inch of insulation from each end of the strips of wire.
- Clamp the wire cutters like you would use scissors. Press down and move the wire so that the wire stripper takes off the tip part of the wire's casing.
- If you're using scissors, cut down just enough to penetrate the wire's casing. Then move the wire while keeping pressure on the scissors. It might take you a few times until you create a clean strip.
Wrap the large wire.Take the large wire (18 inches) and begin wrapping it around the battery. Begin wrapping two inches from the end of the battery. Be careful with each wrap keep the strands close to each other. When most of the wire is wrapped around the battery, carefully slide it from the battery.
- Wrap the longer strand across the coil and secure it around wrapped wire. Wrap the remaining wire around the opposite side’s wire. The result should be two “arms” of stripped wire protruding from opposite sides.
- The coil should be about the size of a quarter.
Prepare the paper clips.Unfold the paper clip so that the smaller bend acts as the base. Create a loop out of the larger bend. This will act as a holder for the coils created earlier. Do this for both of the paper clips.
Attach the short wire.Once the paper clips are prepared, attach the smaller wire around the base of the paper clip. Do this by wrapping the exposed wire around the paper clip. Do this for both paper clips and be sure to use the different wires for each.
- Use a piece of tape to secure both the wire and the paper clip bases to a surface.
Stack the magnets.Position the two paper clip bases so that they are close to each other with about three inches in between them. Stack the magnets in between the two paper clip bases. Make sure the loops made from the paper clips are facing each other.
Attach the coil.Place the exposed “arms” of the coil created earlier through the loops of the paper clips. Having the bases taped to a surface will help secure the coil. The coil should now be directly above the magnets.
Attach the battery.Finish up your motor by attaching the exposed wires of the paper clip base to the battery. Position one end of the wire to the positive side of the battery and tape it. Then attach the other wire to the negative side of the battery and tape it.
- Batteries can get hot when wires are attached to them.
- Give the coil a gentle spin and observe the motor you constructed.
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