You can make your own electromagnets by following these steps. Simple magnets consist of a coil of wire hooked up to a battery. While any coil of wire carrying a current will function as an electromagnet, with just a little work you can build a high powered electromagnet.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Iron or steel horseshoe
- Spool of magnet wire
- Electrical tape
- Emery board
- 2 alligator clips
- 6 volt battery
Wind the magnet wire around the horseshoe. Start winding several inches from the ends of the wire so that they trail off from the horseshoe. Wind the magnet wire all the way from one end of the horseshoe to the other. (See References 2 & 3) Attempt to get at least 600 loops of wire on the horseshoe, as this will produce a powerful magnetic field. (See References 4) The strength of the electromagnet will increase with the number of loops in its coil. (See References 1) The horseshoe shape makes the magnet more powerful, as it can use both its positive and negative poles at the same time. The iron or steel that it is made out of also increases the power of the electromagnet, as both metals will respond powerfully to the magnetic field of the coil. (See References 2 & 5)
Tape the wire in place with the electrical tape. This will prevent it from unravelling and coming off the horseshoe. Cut the wire away from the spool, leaving several inches trailing below the coil. (See References 2 & 3)
Sand the enamel coating off of both the ends of the coil, for about an inch. Use the emery board. Wind the ends of the wires around the ends of the alligator clips. Secure them in place with the electrical tape.
Clip the alligator clips to the terminals of the six volt battery. The strength of an electromagnet increases as the current in the coil increases. Six volts can supply a strong current while still being safe to use.
Tips and warnings
- Do not wind the coil in a back and forth manner. Always place the next loop at the same distance as the last.
- Don't touch bare wire when the battery is connected. This could give you a dangerous shock.
- Do not wind the coil around a stainless steel core. Stainless steel is magnetically inert.
- Electromagnets use up a lot of battery charge quickly.
- If your electromagnet starts getting hot, disconnect it from the battery immediately.
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