Magnet Train Science Project

This is a project I helped (instructed) my son make for his science class. It consists of two neodymium magnets, a AA battery and 14 gauge solid copper wire. I couldnt find bare wire at Home Depot so I had to shave the casing off the wire with a blade. Find bare wire if possible to save time.

The magnets create a current when they touch the copper wire resulting in one magnet providing forward pull while the other provides rear thrust which allows the mock train to travel through the copper wire coil.

I used a swifter handle to wind mine because it provided the 5/8 diameter needed for the coil to allow the battery and magnets to fit.

You can make a longer coil and even form it in a circle. the mock train will travel round and round until the battery essentially dies.

This project can also be made with AA battery or even smaller, provided you create the coil proportionate to the battery and magnets that make up the mock train. Its a fun experiment.

Christmas Train Whistle

I always wanted to make a train whistle so somewhere around the tail end of September last year I had bought some wood to created some planter pot stands.

With left over wood from the project I decided to make a train whistle since the size of the wood was just right and square.  Around October I started to make the whistle but it was an in between project since I had other duties to tend to.

Once it was finished I decided to add a twist to the whistle and create a train out of it. The idea was not just to create a train whistle but to also make this as something that could be brought out every year at Christmas time as well as something to leave behind for my kids years from now that they could enjoy and share with their kids or grand-kids. Anyone can buy holiday stuff but not everyone can make something at heart.

PVC Mechanical Hand

A week ago one of my boys went on a field trip to CalTech to see some robots and was a bit intrigued so this past weekend I took some 1 inch PVC piping, wood and some other items and showed him how to make a mechanical hand prototype. Its butt-ugly but was a fun project to make. If you dont have PVC or wood laying around, boboa straws and cardboard can be used.

Whats needed:

  • Small block of wood
  • 3 feet of 1 x 1 wood (for handle)
  • 3 feet of 1 inch PVC piping
  • Duct tape or painters tape
  • A window blind or flexible plastic
  • Small hand saw
  • Drill
  • Spade bit (flat drill-bit)
  • 3/8 drill-bit
  • All purpose glue

Taking a block of wood I drilled four holes where I will glue and seat the PVC piping, two horizontal and to at an angle but not all the way through. When finished I took a small drill bit and drilled a hole through the center of each one to accommodate pieces of string.

In cutting the PVC for the fingers, I cut eight pieces at 2 1/2 inches and four at about 1 1/4 inches, although for one finger I only used two pieces. I cut the window blind width-wise for 7 pieces. Roughly they are 4 inches by 3/4 of an inch.

The fingers were assembled prior to gluing in place. I placed one of the tabs cut from the window blind on one of the 2/12 inch pieces of PVC and taped it in place and repeated for the other digits, leaving about 1 inch to a little more than that between pipe pieces. This gives the fingers room to bend.

Once the fingers were assembled I glued them in place, making sure they were pointed the right way for when they bend. What would be the pinkie digit and thumb digit of the four I glued at a bit of an angle for a bit better gripping movement.

Once the glue had dried I measured out the handle part, cut it and mounted it to the hand. Using a larger piece of PVC I cut four rings which will be tied to strings for each finger. Once finished I taped string to the top digits of each finger and fed them through the holes where I then attached the rings, adjusting for fit before deciding on tying the knots.

This was just a prototype of a mechanical hand to demonstrate a bit of the mechanics that goes into building a robot. Its not a glorious project but I think it served it learning purpose.

Earthquake School Project

One of my boys had a science project this past year on Earthquakes where he had to create a building and show why his building design would be better than any others. I suggested he create two buildings on a shake table to show one building that wobbles and one that stands firm.

Living next to a crafts store supplied the bits of hobby wood and foam necessary for the project. I supplied the project technical support for him, a couple of hand tools and some glue. He got an A+ on it.

Little Christmas Project

Found a sand card that one of my boys did back in 2008 in their class and decided to mount it and make a little stand. Its a bit Christmas-y so it can now be a seasonal item we put out with everything else each year.

The Napkin Rings


My wife forgot to buy napkin rings for the dinner table so while she was at work this morning I made a couple out of some bamboo I had that I normally make flutes with to surprise her. It’s not really a matter of telling a tale of making these but just pointing out that it’s the little things like this that mean a lot when it comes to family. Plus I have table time bragging rights. Holidays are especially for family whether here with us or not, so remember them all, even for those little things. HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE!!!

Popsicle Farm

Sometimes its not what the project looks like its just about doing something and working the imagination. My kids have great imagination and that’s what started the Popsicle farm. Early stages of course…

Homemade Ice Cream Yuuuuuuup!!

Saw that Ice Cream Magic thing on TV so applied the principal to do it in a baggie. Worked out quite well actually and took about 10 to 15 minutes of shaking. I missed a few pics but essentially the measurements are:

In small ziplock bag:
1 cup milk or whipping cream
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tsp sugar

In large ziplock bag:
Put in small baggie with ingredients above
Put in ice, enough to be able to comfortably shake
1/4 to 1/2 cup of table or rock salt
4 tblsp water
Remove the small bag and wipe off the salty water


Nexus 7 Cover Project

I never got around to posting this project before but I see all those cases online that cost a lot so I decided to try and make one myself. Not too bad really for a first try. If I make a second one I will certainly use this one for the template. The materials I used were a small writing notebook I had got from a bookstore a long while back, some hobby wood from a crafts store and a map of the titanic from a National Geographic for the backing.

I do’t have a lot of power tools but a jigsaw would have been great for this. Instead I used my cordless drill to drill around the frame and a hand saw to cut out the holes. The jigsaw would have saved me, oh I dunno, an hour or more. So once the frame was cut out I used a wood rasp to knock out the rough parts and then course to fine sandpaper to smooth the frame out and then when I was satisfied with it I stained the frame with a mahogany stain and a coat of varnish.

For the backing of the cover I used a map of the Titanic from a National Geographic and glued that in place which looked good. Last I added an elastic band around the book to help keep it closed. I have some magnets but this looked a bit classier. Not bad for one afternoon and a little imagination. All-in-all this project cost me less than $5, just for the wood really.

DIY tablet holder

What you can make with a little cardboard and packing tape. Works just as well, I save some cash and Im recycling.