User:Brian P. Josey/Notebook/2010/12/28

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Building the Helmholtz Coil

I was originally going to build my electromagnet out of two lens holders from the optics lab that were about the dimensions that I wanted. However, the lens holders are much more useful fufilling their original purpose, and there was a slight safety concern with the construction. The holders are made out of aluminum, and if there was a short they could become energized. In place of this potentially dangerous build, I decided to just build it out of Legos as per Andy's suggestion. Now, I picked Lego as a building material not just because they are amazing, but because they are made out of plastic, relatively cheap, easily replaceable and close to the the sizes that I want.

To build up my Helmholtz coil, I used eight pieces:

  • 2 5-long pieces for inserting connectors in
  • 4 cross beam connectors
  • 2 short cross beams

The first step was to create an opening in the piece for inserting the connectors into. I did this by using a saw with a thin wire blade to cut out the ruff chunks, and a needle file to smooth it out a little so the slides can go in and out easily. This is what the final product looked like:

Helmholtz Lego Cut.jpg

After assembling the base for the Helmholtz coil, I found that the slides were not going all the way through the way I wanted. Because they were slightly thicker than the space the Legos would allow for, I had to file down the connecting pieces just a little. With this final correction, the pieces looked like this:

Helmholtz Lego Closeup.jpg

This allows the slide to move about easily, making the base easy to use. All together, the base looks like this:

Helmholtz Lego Base.jpg