DIY

Popsicle Stick Bomb

Craft sticke work great:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Stick Bomb Supplies

Amazingly: There is a Wikipedia entry on Stick Bombs and their physics

Popsicle Stick Bomb: a form of simple tensegrity, the elastic potential energy of the bent sticks is dramatically released under application of a slight concussive force such as an impact with a table top- shown here in forward and backward slow motion (swipe to see three more explosions). Shown here is one of the simplest constructions with 5 flat sticks woven into a spring-loaded configuration held in place by friction and tension induced by the bending of the wood. A nice demonstration of energy conversion- potential to kinetic.

Wringing Guage Blocks

Guage block sets can be a bit pricy, but some fairly inexpensive pieces and small sets can be found for demonstrations and such:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Gauge Blocks

Wikipedia has a nice description of Gauge Blocks and the Phenomenon of Wringing

Wringing Gauge Blocks: two blocks of metal (not magnets!) will stick together by a process called wringing if their surfaces are flat to high precision- such as these gauge blocks found in most machine shops. Here two blocks are forced apart with a snap, and then wrung back together with the characteristic sliding motion technique. Gauge blocks are flat to less that one millionth of a meter and are used by machinists for precision length measurements and calibration. The science of the wring force remains somewhat a mystery and no one has yet found a fully excepted physics description- but we do know that blocks will wring in a vacuum and that the force can be up to 30 times that of weight of the blocks. Fun physics from the shop!

Volta’s Hailstorm and Electrophorus

This inexpensive electrophorus set works great! 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Electrophorus Demonstration Set 

The container is just the middle part cut from a plastic water bottle, and the "hail" stones are Styrofoam craft beads: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Styrofoam Craft Beads 

For Volta's Hailstorm to work, the beads must be coated with a conducting spray (here is what I used): 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Staticide Spray 

Wikipedia has a very nice description of the physics of the Electrophorus and how it is used to transfer electric charge. 

Volta’s Hailstorm and Electrophorus: electrical forces due to electrostatic charge send foam beads flying in this version of the historic demonstration by physicist Alessandro Volta. The beads are covered with an electrically conductive coating allowing them to transfer charge from the environment to the plate of the electrophorus. The acrylic platform becomes negatively charged when rubbed with a paper napkin, but it is also an insulator so the charge on it can not flow on to the aluminum plate of the electrophorus. Instead the charge on the platform pushes electrons to the top of the plate (like signs repel) and touching the plate results in a spark that removes the electrons giving the plate a significant positive charge that will then attract the beads. 


Unmixing Density Column

The bottle used here is from Voss Water: a nice cylinder and the labels come off easily. Amazon has the ingedients:

From Amazon: BUY NOW 
acetoneblue glitterfood coloring, Voss Water

The density column I made for this video is based on blend of two ideas: this "science snack" from the exploratorium: Klutz-Proof Density Column and this ChemED X post: Blog of Prof. Tom Kuntzleman  

See my Salt Fractionation post for details. 

Unmixing Density Column: three liquids that won’t stay mixed! Acetone (dyed blue) floats on top of the higher density vegetable oil, which in turn floats atop salt water (dyed orange) which is more dense than oil. Acetone usually dissolves in water through hydrogen bonding interactions, but solubility can be altered. In a process called “salting out” a sufficient amount of salt is dissolved such that the water molecules, which are much more attracted to the resulting Na+ and Cl- ions (through ion-dipole bonds), will then ignore the weaker acetone hydrogen bonds. This results in the spontaneous separation of these three liquids no matter how well shaken up. 

Ring Catch Chain Trick

Get a set here: 
From eBay:(best selecton) BUY NOW Ring Chain Catch 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Ring and Chain Set 

The physics of this trick in great detail with more slow motion: Ring Falling into a Chain: No Magic — Just Physics 

Ring Catch Chain Trick: a solid ring will be caught by a loop of chain if it tumbles during its fall. By Newton's Third law, when the ring twists into and hits the chain, the impact transfers momentum to the end of the chain, which rises up and over the ring- seen here in 480 fps slow motion. 

Faraday Train

Here's the parts to make your own: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Neodymium Spheres 15mm 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Bare Copper Wire 10 gauge 

The wire used for the Faraday Train has to be bare- so make sure it does not have any kind of clear coating on it. The solid grounding wire sold at hardware stores works great. 

Here is a nice description of the Faraday Train and the physics of its propulsion

Faraday Train: two magnets, one battery, and a coil of bare copper wire are the simple essence of this self propelled craft. The magnets conduct electricity, thus when put in contact with the coil current will flow creating a solenoidal magnetic field in the vicinity of the battery, which in turn pushes on the magnets at each end of the battery moving the craft along. The spherical neodymium magnets used allows the craft to slide along the coil with minimal friction. 


Electric Motor/Generator

Amazingly this motor is available for less than $10 US. 

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Brushless Motor/Generator with LED

Electric Motor/Generator: this inexpensive and common motor can also serve as a generator of AC electricity- here lightning an LED when the shaft of the rotor is spun by hand. Most electrical energy we use today is produced by moving a magnet near a coil of wire (known as Faraday’s law of induction) to produce an electric current. Removing the permanent magnet casing reveals this design to use 9 separate copper windings. I made a transparent second rotor with six neodymium magnets- and when these magnets are made to move near the windings the LED again lights with the flow of current. Swipe to see the beautiful magnetic field pattern of the rotor design using magneview film.

Hyperbolic Holes

This inexpensive kit available here: From eBay: BUY NOW
Hyperbolic Holes Kit

Hyperbolic Holes: a straight rod, in this case a pencil, glides through a symmetrical pair of curved holes. The design is based on the hyperboloid, the 3D ruled surface traced by an offset rotating diagonal line. This device is sold as an inexpensive kit to assemble yourself, and includes a motor with geared drive and pre-cut pieces. The pencil is my addition- just the right size to clear the curved openings.

Mobius Zipper

If you like this kind of math exploration I highly recommend this book by Matt Parker: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW 
Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension 


... and any of the books by Martin Gardner 
 
From Amazon: BUY NOW 
Recreational Math Books 

The parts to make this are inexpensive- a great craft for kids. Sew on the velcro dots for best results:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Nylon Zippers, Velcro Dots

Möbius Zipper: exploring topology with a bisecting strip (a zipper with velcro ends). 0 twists creates a cylinder which simply gives two cylinders when split, ½ twist creates a Möbius strip- splitting down the center produces one long loop with with two full twists, 1 twist in a loop-splitting in half produces two interlocked Möbius loops! Just some of the curious properties concerning the Möbius strip, an unorientable, one sided surface, with only one boundary. 


Vibration Unthreading

Get inexpensive small motors and accesories for DIY projects here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW DC Motors Kit

A DIY project to see if just shaking a bolt at the right frequency could make a standard nut rotate and fall off. Similar physics to the phase locking propeller toy featured in my last post. Motivated by videos seen on Instagram where a brass bolt is placed in magnetic putty and the nut mysteriously rotates up and off- now convinced that vibration is how that effect is produced. Here a small DC motor spins an offset mass to produce the vibrations.

Bismuth Diamagnetic Levitation

Get these 99.9% pure element Bi 83 cubes here:
From Luciteria: BUY NOW: Bismuth Element Cube

Many combinations of strong neodymium magnets will work, here are the versions I used:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Cylindrical Neodymium Magnet
From eBay: BUY NOW: Tiny Neodymium Cube Magnets

See my video of other pure element cubes by Luciteria Science

Bismuth Diamagnetic Levitation: Element 83 (bismuth) is the most diamagnetic of the elements*. Here a small neodymium magnet is made to float between two 99% pure bismuth 10mm cubes which are held in precise configuration by friction with the parallel walls of the acrylic assembly I made. Diamagnetic substances only have magnetic fields of their own when placed in an external magnetic field from another source- here the tiny cube magnet supplies the field. Diamagnetic fields are pretty weak though so a powerful cylindrical neodymium magnet sits above the cubes and is adjusted to help lift the tiny cube magnet against gravity. *except for a special form of carbon known as pyrolytic graphite.

Hoberman Actuator with Sphere

The Actuator mechanism is out of production but can still be found on eBay, comes with power supply, Expandagon kit, and connecotors that snap on to a Hoberman Spjere. 
From eBay: BUY NOW: Hoberman Actuator

The spheres are still in production and come in various sizes and colors: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Hoberman Spheres 

Hoberman Actuator with Sphere: This actuator mechanism creates kinetic art out of a Hoberman sphere, designed to smoothly expand and contract the isokinentic structure. The Hoberman sphere itself is a special assembly of foldable linkages consisting of rigid bars and simple hinges is kinematically over constrained- motion can only occur along the radial direction and the movement of any hinge creates motion in all the joints. The engineering and physics behind deployable space structures!


Cartesian Diver

Glass divers available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Glass Divers or this complete set Cartesian Diver Kit

Inexpensive and fun diver kits to make in a bottle available here: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Cartesian Diver Kits 

Wikipedia has the details on the Cartesian diver (and reverse diver)

Cartesian Divers: increasing pressure on the water compresses the air bubbles in the small glass vials filling them further with water making them sink. Pascal's principle states that any change in pressure on an enclosed fluid (such as pushing on the rubber cover) is transmitted evenly to every part of the fluid- the physics of hydraulic brakes! Named after the physicist and philosopher Rene Descartes.

3D Print Planetary Gearset

The .stl files are available here:

From Thingverse:

Origial desing by Emmett Lalish Download: Gear Bearing 

Refined version featured here by Don Stewart Download: Honeycomb Gear Bearing 

Similar prints available as fidget toys here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Gear Spinner Fidget Toy

3D Print Planetary Gearset: amazingly this gear set is printed assembled, with interlocking herringbone teeth. The gears will not come apart, in fact this design can only be accomplished by 3D printing the gears interlocked with each other. Designed and first printed by Emmett Lalish in 2013, and this version with refined precision and honeycomb by Don Stewart. 

Centripetal Spheres

Just thread a rubber band through two of these drilled steel balls and you are ready to go! 
From Amazon: BUY NOW 
Drilled Spheres 

Centripetal Spheres: two ball bearings connected by a rubber band orbit each other as energy oscillates between elastic potential energy and rotation kinetic energy. Just wind up the rubber band and let go. When the rubber band has unwound the rotational inertia of the bearings winds it back up until it changes direction. The process repeats until the initial energy is dissipated through friction.