My Motor

Right before the winter break, I was tasked with building an electromagnetic motor from scratch. I was given set instructions about the motor along with seeing one and all its components from years past. These sadly did not run, but I was able to get a good understanding of what I was heading into.


  • Piece of wood for the base
  • Strips of metal for the brackets
  • 100ft of magnet wire
  • 6 inches of copper lamp wire
  • 1ft of hookup wire
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Cork
  • Various screws
  • 2 16-penny nails
  • 6-volt battery
  • Eletrical tape
  • Thin, metal rod
  • Spool

The first thing I had to do was read through the instructions. I soon found that they not only were complicated but explained what to do and how to do it in a very weird way. Although they were slightly complex, I decided to follow them, along with what I learned in class. All of my measurements and overall layout of my motor are based on what I saw in class and the handout.

One of the most important parts of this project was the materials, especially the different types of wire. I used magnetic wire, lamp wire, and primary/hookup wire. Each one played a different part in the motor. One mistake I made with the wire was trying to use primary/hookup wire instead of lamp wire. Even though they were similar, they did not work in the same way. The lamp wire has a lot of loose internal strands, where the primary is stiff. This created a lot of problems when I set the primary wire as my brushes. This was an easy fix though because all I had to do was change out the wires. 

With the magnetic wire, I built the armature and base. To build the armature taped together two 16 penny nails around a long, thin rod. Next, starting at the base of the nails, I slowly winded the wire up and then back down. I mirrored this on the other side. During this process, I was careful so none of the wires crossed over each other because that would counteract what the wire was doing.


Next, I built the base which would create the field magnet. To do this, I bent a six-inch piece of metal so two sides were up. I wrapped the magnetic wire around the base four hundred turns. While wrapping I also had to be careful about the wire just as I was with the armature.


There was a lot of metal involved in this project to create braces and stands so the motor would hold together. Instead of going out and buying new metal, I just used whatever my father had leftover. All he had was long strips that were bent at a ninety-degree angle. First, I cut the long strip into smaller pieces that were usable.


Then, I began beating each side until they were pressed against each other. This gave me flat pieces of metal that I later put in the vise and began to bend to how I needed them.



After I had all of my parts made, I slowly began to put everything together. This is when some of the problems began to arose. At first, it was little things like not using the right screws or having to bend something a little bit so it would fit. But, as time went on and I had it put together, the larger things arose.

When I first hit the switch I expected it to come on straight away, but it didn’t. There wasn’t even sparks or any sign that it was trying to start. This caused me to redo some of the wiring based on the instructions until I was sure that wasn’t the problem.

I moved onto the commutator and the brushes. I was originally using wound up tape as my commutator, but it wasn’t even. After realizing my mistake, I changed out the tape for a piece of cork. This was much harder and more symmetrical. But even with this change, it didn’t start.


The only thing I could think of that was wrong was the wires. I searched through my fathers left over scraps until I found an old lamp repair kit. With his permission, I took it and began cutting it to the desired length. Once they were placed correctly, I once again flipped the switch.


It finally worked. There were sparks at first but with a slight push, it began to spin. At first, it was pretty slow, but it worked.

I then moved on to tweaking it so it would go faster. To do this, I secured the rod down so it wouldn’t move back and forth, moved the brushes closer, and made sure the armature was in the correct place. I also added the wooden spool so I would be able to pull the car.

Video Coming Soon!

Problem-solving is one of the first things I think of when I look back at this project. It wasn’t as easy since there are many aspects of the motor that could go wrong. If one thing was off then, the whole thing would work. I ended up redoing almost all of the motor, including redoing the bracing, wiring, and things like that.

In the end, I am overjoyed that I was able to complete this project with a working motor. I learn a lot of different skills, including problem-solving and working on my own. These skills will give me an edge later on in life when I am striving for the same admission spot or job opportunity in the future


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