Students can learn and understand the basics of elevator machinery by building a motorised elevator for a science fair project using some easy to find basic components. In comparison to a full-scale elevator, the science fair elevator would be small enough that the motor would function without counterweights to operate the elevator, however the student should explain that most real elevators use counterweights to function.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- 2 feet by 2 feet sheet of plywood
- Tape measure
- Thread reel spindles (7)
- Reversible, switch operated electric motor
- Small cardboard box
- Craft glue
Measure and mark 1 foot from the edges to find the centre of the plywood with the tape measure. Measure and mark 3 inches up from the bottom edge of the plywood and down from the top edge of the plywood.
Nail one thread spindle to the plywood using the nail and hammer at the centre mark that is 3 inches up from the bottom. Measure and mark 3 inches in from the left edge of the plywood. Nail a thread spindle in this location. Measure and mark 3 inches in and 3 inches down from the top left side of the plywood. Nail a thread spindle to the board at this location.
Measure and mark 9 inches from the left edge and 3 inches down from the top of the plywood. Nail a thread spindle to the board at this location. Measure and mark 3 inches in from the right and 3 inches down from the top of the board. Nail a thread spindle to the board at this location. Measure and mark 9 inches in from the right and 3 inches down from the top of the plywood. Nail a thread spindle to the board at this location. Measure 3 inches in from the right and 12 inches down from the top of the board. Mount the motor in this location with the axle pointing away from the board.
Mount the final spindle onto the axle of the motor. Set the box in the centre of the board so the open side is facing out. Mark on the top and bottom of the box two string mounting locations that are one inch to the left and right of the centre of the box. Tie a string in the top right hole of the box and run it up to the spindle above the box to the left, over to the spindle in the top left corner, down to the spindle in the bottom left corner, over to the spindle in the bottom centre and back up to the box.
Loop the string through the two holes in the bottom and tie it back on itself to centre the string coming out of the bottom of the box. Tie the string in the top left hole of the box and run it up to the spindle over the box to the right, to the spindle in the top right corner and down to the spindle attached to the motor. Leave some slack in the string before attaching it to the final spindle. Attach the end of the string to the spindle with craft glue and wind the excess string around the spindle once the glue is dry.
Plug in the motor to a power source or insert batteries, depending upon the type of motor you have. Flip the switch up that is attached to the motor to make the elevator go up and flip the switch down to make the elevator go down. Return the switch in the centre position to stop the elevator from moving.
Tips and warnings
- Depending upon how the motor is oriented when mounted to the plywood, the switch may function oppositely. Flipping the switch up may cause the elevator to go down, and flipping the switch down may cause the elevator to go up.
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