Adjustable Fidget Spinners

by falconphysics, published

Adjustable Fidget Spinners by falconphysics Apr 25, 2017
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1048Views 255Downloads Found in Physics & Astronomy


I saw this article, Those Darn Spinners are Going to be the End of Me, the other day. This got me to thinking and wanting to play.

Here are a couple of fidget spinners that I designed to make experimentation easy. I'm using fender washers for weights. Each spinner can accommodate a variable number of washers. The one that looks like a Tie Fighter also allows you to position the washers varying distances from the center (you'd need an extra set of nuts though).

I used standard skateboard bearings. The grease causes these to slow down too quickly so I dropped them in some Acetone first (a quick google search will show you many ways to degrease bearings). I also found they spin longer of I popped the metal covers off. All the YouTube videos I saw for this showed using a knife to do this. Beware you may cut yourself... I'm not saying I did, but...

There are a number of bearing caps you can use. I used ones from this spinner. The nuts and bolts came from Nut Job by Mike Mattala.

I've broken several of these after they've been dropped. I thought the arm would be the weakest part, but it turns out to be weakest where the arms meet the ring. I just uploaded designs with thicker rings. I can now also confirm that they don't break at this point any more.

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Ha. Nice article.

Besides making other students jealous ('I absolutely NEED a fidget spinner' - umm.. why?) I haven't had much of an issue with them. I still am baffled as to how this is supposed to 'help' with fidgeting as it seems to just make you fidget more.

I would love to have the students design and investigate these next school year but I imagine the fad will be long gone by then. They are quite a small/simple/cheap engineering project. Friction, aerodynamics, angular momentum, rotational intertia - all great topics - not to mention actually designing one.

I had one great question (and some other potentials) arise out of this though. Someone asked 'why does it feel different when I try to twist it while it's moving.' Despite the fact it had little todo with that days lesson it was a great chance to break out the bicycle wheel and demonstrate angular momentum. No teacher can resist a truly spontaneous and teachable question.

I agree with the author - make the most out of these short lived fads. I guess that's pretty easy coming from a science perspective in this case - but still.

All that being said - then there is this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yO7MWuJ7zLA - WTH! Thank you youtube and google for being the abyss of wasted time. How many times has the google 'game' of the day invaded your class time. Oi! Teach on!