DIY Model Maglev with 3-Phase Linear Motor

Channel: Ken Filar


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A Do It Yourself (DIY) model maglev with levitation and electromagnetic propulsion. The motor is built of 6 home-wound 400' x 30 ga, enamel coated, copper wire solenoids in 3 phases mounted on an aluminum undercarriage mounted under a LEGO body containing four 1" x 1" x 3/16" Grade N42 NdFeB magnets. The motor is powered by a LEGO power functions battery pack, and controlled by a LEGO power functions IR remote contoller and receiver. The PWM receiver output is input through a low-pass filter to a 3-phase motor controller made from an Arduino Duemilanove microcontroller and 2 Sparkfun Protoboard Shields. The shields are fitted with 3 Texas Instruments SN754410 Quadruple Half-H Drivers, protection diodes, and 6 bi-directional LEDs that indicate the polarity of each end of each solenoid. 3 Allegro Micro 1301UA Hall Effect Sensors (one for each phase) are mounted on the inside of the undercarriage between the center solenoids and provide drive magnet field measurements to the controller (location information). The pair of levitation tracks are made of 2" x 1" x 1/8" matching polarity magnets epoxy glued to a 1" wide x 1/8" deep groove in a wooden base assembled with solid brass (non-ferrous) screws. The track drive is made from 2 rows of alternatting polarity 1" x 1/4" x 3/16" thick magnets with 1/2" wide x 1/16" thick brass spacers and 3/16" diameter x 1/2" long magnets in a Hallbach-type arrangement (spanning alternating magnets behind the brass spacers). All magnets are Grade N42 NdFeB. The car has conventional lateral confinement (LEGO wheel in center groove) for simplicity and reduced cost without sacrificing nearly frictionless travel (our hybrid idea). The tracks are covered by an acrylic shield that provides a slick surface for the containment wheels and to further confine the track drive magnets for safety (important). Project designed and built by Antipodes, (FTC Robotics Team 4529). See for theory, details, build instructions and Arduino programming code.