The super simple motor page
Really, really simple electric motor
This is the simplest electric motor in the world. That sounds like an improbable claim, but you will be hard pressed to find a simpler one. It is a project that has been around for a while (geek trivia - most recently it was on Beekman's World). It is explained more clearly at the Exploratorium page than I could ever hope to duplicate, so check there as well.
Form a 1 inch (25mm) coil with the wire. You should have 4 or 5 turns. Twist the free ends around at opposite sides a couple of times so that they keep the coil together. The ends should stick out at opposite sides about 2 inches (50mm) or so. Strip the insulation off the ends. Paint the tops of the stripped wire ends with the marker (the "top" refers to the uppermost part if the coil is oriented vertically).
I have always seen this done on a block of wood, but the Exploritorium article uses a plastic cup, which makes more sense for a lot of reasons. Invert the plastic cup. Place two of the magnets on top center. The other three get stuck underneath them, on the inside of the cup. Unfold half of both paper clips and tape them to the cup at opposite sides of the magnets. They are to be oriented so that their still unfolded sides will form cradles to hold the coil. Place the coil in the paperclip cradles. The coil should clear the magnets by 1/16" (1-2mm) or so. Make adjustments until the coil is balanced, centered, and able to spin freely, clearing the magnets the same distance top and bottom side. Attach the battery to the paperclips using regular hookup wire. Give the coil a push start. If it doesn't work as it should, make sure the coil is balanced and that the marker on the wires is applied well enough. It will work if you fiddle with it enough.
- 2 jumbo paper clips
- 5 small disc magnets (Radio Shack)
- paper or plastic cup
- 2 feet (60cm) of 20 gauge solid insulated or enameled wire
- a black Sharpie or laundry marker
- battery - a 1.5v works o.k., 6v is better
Even simpler electric motor
All right, so I said the last motor was the simplest one in the world. But that was before I found Chris Palmer's faithful reproduction of the motor from Beakman's World. He has done a great job writing it up. It is amazingly simple and will really impress your friends. He has even received accolades from the actor who plays Lester the Rat!
CUB SCOUT MOTOR
ALFRED MORGAN'S MOTOR