Gadget Freak Case 107: Magnetic Levitation Mystery

September 03, 2007

Nathan Loden's Magnetic Levitation experiment started with the basic problem of stabilizing a frictionless position control loop with inherent metastability. A fast controller with phase-lead compensation took care of that. Then he discovered a strange phenomenon: The levitated object begins and continues oscillating in rotation about a vertical axis. Explanations have been proposed and discussed , but they remain theories. Can you reproduce his result and discover the cause? The apparatus consists of a wooden frame, a bolt with a coil, a power transistor, an infrared emitter and detector, a few op amps and passive components.

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Amt Part Description

Allied Part #
1 1k ohm potentiometer 754-2371
1 10k ohm potentiometer 754-1146
2 1k ohm resistor 832-0537
1 1.2k ohm resistor 832-0697
1 11k ohm resistor 832-0708
2 100k ohm resistor 832-0706
1 22k ohm resistor 296-4755
1 56k ohm resistor 832-0859
1 360k ohm resistor 895-0861
1 0.1 uF capacitor 881-0453
1 IR LED (SE3470-003) 276-0018
1 Phototransistor (VTT9103H) 980-0108
3 LM358N op amp 288-0544
1 2N3055 power transistor 248-2042
1 1N4001 Diode 266-0001
1 Large bolt and coil (see text)
5V and 12V dc power supplies (see text)

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