It’s time for everyone’s favorite game: speculative engineering! An anonymous reader wrote to our tips line asking how the levitation system of the STORY clock is accomplished. We took a look and can tell you right now… that’s a really good question!
STORY: The Levitating Timepiece has more than a month left on its crowdfunding campaign but it’s reached more than 6x its $80k goal. The wooden disk has a digital time display in the center which is simply an LED matrix just below the wood’s surface. We know how that’s done: wooden veneer with a grid of holes behind to contain the LED light in a perfect circle.
The part that has everyone so excited is a levitating orb that makes a circuit around the face of the clock. It would be easy to guess how it works if this was simply sitting flat on a table (which it can do). But it’s further complicated because it still works when hung on a wall. Most of the DIY levitation rigs we’ve looked at use gravity as an integral aspect of their functionality. A coil is suspended above the object being levitated while a hall-effect sensor tunes the magnetic field to hold the object in place (neither touching the coil, nor falling away from it).
So how is this one doing it? Perhaps there are multiple coils responsible for the levitation, each with their own hall effect sensor. In this scenario, tilting the base to hang on a wall would put different requirements on the coils above and below the magnetic orb. That’s our speculation, what is yours? Does this reasoning hold
water magnet? Is there a motorized mechanism inside or does a grid of coils address the movement of the magnetic orb? Let us know in the comments below.
If you’re looking to play with this phenomenon in your own projects, it seems you can buy a magnetic levitation device which exhibits similar properties. The video of this, found in the comments of the STORY Kickstarter page, is embedded below. If you do order one of these, we want to see a teardown!