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A Simple Direct Current Electric Motor

by retrofluffyboy, published

A Simple Direct Current Electric Motor by retrofluffyboy Jun 7, 2016
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Summary

I recently designed this project specifically for the MakerEd Challenge 2.0.

This project explores how a basic electric motor converts electricity into movement through electromagnetic interactions. It’s a fun and safe way to demonstrate the principals of electromagnetism.

This basic direct current electric motor has been designed with simplicity and ease of construct in mind, as such there are a minimum of parts and requires no soldering. This makes it an ideal classroom or children’s project.

The project consists of only 3 printed parts (Armature, Base and Switch Lever), four 2x10mm neodymium magnets, 2 C cell batteries a spool of 0.5mm enamelled copper wire, a sewing pin, a thumbtack and 9 contacts made from 0.002 and 0.005 brass shimming.

For simplicity the armature frame of the motor is combined with the bearing shafts and commutator as a single piece. While the base of the motor combines the battery holder, switch, bearing surfaces and magnet holders into a single piece. The switch is consists of a handle and a tapered disc that pushes on a brass contact. The armature spins on two tapered bearing surfaces on the motor base, and is held in position with a slight interference fit.

The project should make an excellent teaching aid for the science of physics classroom.

https://youtu.be/l4N95VHW8mI

Print Settings

Printer:

Wanhao i3

Resolution:

0.1mm


Notes:

Refer to the Lesson/Activity section for the specific print settings for each part.

How I Designed This

This started with the Idea of making a more durable classroom demonstration model for a direct current electric motor. The project was designed in 123D design and took about 8 hours to complete.

Project

A Simple Direct Current Electric Motor

Overview & Background:

This project explores how a basic electric motor converts electricity into movement through electromagnetic interactions. It’s a fun and safe way to demonstrate the principals of electromagnetism.

Objectives:

Students get hands on experience in the construction of a simple electric motor. Students will learn about magnetic repulsion and attraction, electromagnetism, and direct current circuits.

Audiences:

Year 7 to 9 science and physics students in secondary schools. No special skills or tools are required to build this project.

Subjects:

This project would be applicable to physics as well as general science classes in secondary schools.

Skills Learned:

  • The ability to follow instructions.
  • Fine motor skills.
  • Problem solving.
  • 3D printing and slicing.
  • Group work.

Lesson/Activity:

This basic direct current electric motor has been designed with simplicity and ease of construct in mind, as such there are a minimum of parts and requires no soldering. This makes it an ideal classroom or children’s project.

The project consists of only 3 printed parts, four 2x10mm neodymium magnets, 2 C cell batteries a spool of 0.5mm enamelled copper wire, a sewing pin, a thumbtack and 9 contacts made from 0.002 and 0.005 brass shimming.

For simplicity the armature frame is combined with the bearing shafts and commutator as a single piece. The armature should be printed vertically with 100% infill, supports turned on everywhere and set to a high print quality. The switch can also be printed at the same time.

The base of the motor combines the battery holder, switch, bearing surfaces and magnet holders into a single piece. When printing, good results can be achieved with no supports, 25% infill and a 0.8mm top layer thickness.

Once the base has finished printing the grooves will require cleaning out with a fine blade, the horizontal brush holder grooves will need the most attention. The armature will need the supports trimmed off with a sharp hobby knife and the bearing surfaces smoothed out with a file or fine sandpaper.

To keep things simple all the contacts in this project are made from brass shimming, it can usually be bought from arts and hobby stores quite cheaply in small assortment packs. For this project all the contacts with the exception of the brushes are made from 0.005 shimming, while the brushes are made from the thinner 0.002 shimming. If brass is difficult to come by, the fine tin from the base of a Milo can should do the trick.

Using the templates provided cut and bend the brass shimming into the required shapes. When bending the shims use a ruler or straight edge along the dotted line and bend up.

To construct the armature remove the build supports and clean out the grooves in the commutator with a thin blade. Then slide the brass commutator shims into the grooves. If the brass contacts are loose on the commutator use a dab of epoxy or super glue under the shim to hold them in place.

To wind the coil, feed the end the wire from your spool through the hollow shaft from the inside of the coil to the outside until it protrudes about 5cm from the end. Then start winding the wire around the armature frame, this is made easy by the sides of the frame being open at each end. Once the wire windings are flush to the edge of the plastic frame cut the wire generously and feed back though the hollow shaft alongside the first wire.

Cut both wires off to 3cm and bare the insulation from the first 7mm of each end with a sharp hobby knife. Then poke the wires into the small holes beside the commutator contacts, it might be necessary to clean the holes out with a hot pin before the wires will fit.

To complete the base, slide the brass shims into either end of the battery holder and switch housing. With the switch it is necessary to put a slight bend on the long brass contact so as to add a little preload onto its adjoining contact.

Cut two 12cm pieces of copper wire and a 9cm piece and scrape the insulation away from the first 7mm on all ends. Insert the bare ends of the long wires behind the battery tabs and feed through the channel as show in the picture. Poke the ends of the wires into the small provisions in the switch and brush connectors. Again it might be necessary to use a hot pin to clean out the holes beside the contacts. Use the shorter piece of wire to connect the second brush contact to the second switch contact. There should be enough tension to securely hold the wire against the brass terminals and switch contacts.

The motor uses two 2x10mm neodymium magnets stuck together on each side. They should fit snuggly into the cut-outs in the magnet holders, but a touch of glue is helpful in stopping them from vibrating during operation. The switch lever just slides down into the provision and a pin is used as the pivot. Cut the sharp end off the pin and bend using a pair of pointy nosed pliers to secure the lever.

Before installing the armature into the base it will be necessary to put a little bit of inward preload onto the brushes, this will keep them in good contact with the commutator contacts. Once that’s been done it’s a simple matter of popping the armature into the bearing blocks, this will require a little bit of force as there is a tiny but of interference to hold the armature in place.

Finally put the batteries in and flick the switch, the armature will require a gentle spin to get going. You should now have a working DC model motor. A drop of vegetable oil on each bearing will help the engine run smoother and quieter.

Once you’re happy with its operation you can use a small screw or thumbtack to attach the pinwheel to the end of the shaft.

Duration:

The project will take about 8 hours to print for all the parts. Once printed the assemble process should take no more than 2 hours as there are very few parts to assemble.

Preparation:

The parts should be

  • Printed motor base.
  • Printed switch lever.
  • Printed armature.
  • Four 2x10mm neodymium magnets.
  • 2 C cell batteries.
  • A spool of 0.5mm enamelled copper wire.
  • A sewing pin.
  • A thumbtack or screw.
  • 0.002 and 0.005 brass shimming.
  • The instruction sheet.

References:

Every good secondary school physics book will have a sufficient explanation of the forces and principals at work in the motor. However Wikipedia also has an in depth explanation at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DC_motor

Rubric & Assessment:

By the end of the project:

  • Did the student successfully print all three main components of the model?
  • Did the student assembled the project according to instructions resulting in a working DC motor?
  • Did the student experiment with changing polarities/direction of the engine?
  • Did the student Develop an understanding of the principals at work in an electric motor?

Handouts & Assets:

Included in the project is a two page handout that has instructions for completing the project and templates for the brass shims and pinwheel. The instructions should be printed double sided so that the pinwheel prints properly.

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Hi, I love the design but after printing last night I noticed the files for Armature and switch are incomplete. The armature is missing the shaft and switch is just a wedge without handle.
I double checked all the files assuming I stuffed up but Cant see where I could be going wrong.

If you are using Simplify3D you can fix the problem by going into the advanced tab in the Simplify settings, then into the "Slicing behavior" option. If you check the option "merge all outlines into a single solid model", the parts should slice correctly!

If it still gives you trouble let me know and I'll re-export them from a different program :-)

I am using Cura so not sure where to find those setting but I got it to work. Had to import into Sketch up then export and when I opened in Cura it worked. Thanks for your help.

I'd love to see how it turned out, be sure to take a picture of it all working :-)

Are your measurements re thickness of shimming in inches?

It was, the packet of shimming that I bought was American made, so imperial. But it's really not that crucial, you could probably get away with cutting up an aluminium can.

It needs the switch to be redone. it prints all crazy. like the file is incomplete, the straight bar part is hollow and missing the rest of whats in the pic.

What sorts of things would you like me to update or add?

Very nice! Good luck!

It does have the X-factor.
PDF included, so you care
I like it. Well done:)

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