This large spinning top contains a hidden mechanism which, when activated while the top is spinning, causes its six petals to open up releasing the mini-top hiding inside. With practice and patience it is possible to carefully activate the release mechanism while Topsy Turvy is spinning fast and flipped upside down in such a manner that the mini-top keeps on spinning even after the main body has come to a stop, as seen in the following video.
- needle-nose pliers
- pointy tweezers
- razor blade
- needle file (or sandpaper)
- 5/64" hex wrench (must have ball-end)
- 3/32" drill
- flat-head screwdriver with small / narrow blade
Each Topsy Turvy needs the follwing:
- (1) R1212 bearing (1/2" x 3/4" x 5/32")
- (1) 1/16" diameter x 1/2" long
- (3) 1/16" diameter x 1/4" long
- (6) 3/32" diameter x 5/16" long
- (6) 3/32" diameter x 3/4" long
SOCKET HEAD CAP SCREWS:
- (12) 2-56 x 3/8"
- (6) 2-56 x 7/16" (3/8" works here too...)
- (12) 2-56 x 3/4"
- (1) 2-56 x 1" (recommended, but not required)
Ed (the owner) from fasteddybearings.com sells the kind of bearings needed at a very reasonable price, and he recommends removing the seals and washing out any grease / oil from the bearings by soaking them in the strongest degreaser possible such as carburetor cleaner and then either "running them dry" or using a very small drop of the lightest possible machine oil.
I recommend NOT installing the optional torsion springs because they are expensive, they do not make it any easier to "do the trick", and in fact maybe make it less fun to play with! Perhaps the only reason I can think of to install the springs is if you want to create a different "trick" which is simply that the petals can spring open without needing to have the top spinning.
I know that many people would prefer that I used metric screws such as M2 however this would cause lots of problems because the head diameter on metric SHCS is bigger than the imperial equivalent, This means making bigger diameter counterbores in the printed parts, which might then become too weak. Sorry.
I'm selling hardware kits on my ETSY store which come with all of these parts (except for the torsion springs) for a pretty reasonable price. Please help support my design efforts by purchasing your hardware from me if possible! The hardware kits that I sell already have the bearings cleaned and oiled, and the bearing pin has already been filed down to fit inside the bearing I.D.
- The dowel pins do not need to be precision ground with 0.0002" diameter tolerance like what I've been using (and what I put in the hardware kits that I sell) so if you want to make these yourself by cutting sections from 1/32" and 1/16" diameter round stock, that will probably work just fine too.
List of Printed Parts
To make Topsy Turvy like shown in these pictures, make the following printed parts:
- (1) handle
- (6) flipper arms
- (1) top base
- (2) edge rings
- (6) wedges
- (6) left wings
- (6) right wings
- (1) top handle
- (1) spinner body
- (1) spinner cover
- (1) mid ring
- (1) plunger
- (1) bushing
- (1) pin pressing plate
GENERAL PRINT SETTINGS
I designed this model to print well on Prusa i3 MK3 machines with 0.4mm nozzles, and using Hatchbox brand PLA filament, but I'm sure other kinds of machines and filaments will work too. Because angular momentum of a spinning object (which is the underlying physics principle that makes this trick work) is directly proportional to the mass of the object itself, it is beneficial to adjust your print setting in order to lay down a lot of plastic so that the parts are as heavy as possible. I used Cura 3.6.0 to slice these models for printing.
For example: unless specified otherwise on a part-by-part basis, I recommend having 0.15mm layer thickness, 1.6mm wall thickness (that's 4 walls) and 1mm thick top/bottom layers (that's 7 layers @ .15mm thickness) and 50% infill density. I recommend using the Tri-Hexagon infill pattern because it lines up well with the hexagonal symmetry of most of the printed parts for this model. If a part doesn't have any specific print settings mentioned (wings, rings, bushing) then just use these general settings.
Some of these parts need support and/or brims; look for specific instructions on a part-by-part basis in the following sections for recommended settings. Whenever support is needed, configure your slicer to have it only where touching the buildplate, and with support X/Y distance = 0.5mm, support Z distance = 0.15mm.
STEP 1: Prepare Handle
HANDLE PRINT SETTINGS
- support overhang angle = 80-deg
- support pattern = triangles
- support density = 40%
- support horizontal expansion = 1.5mm
Support is only needed in six places, and it's easy to remove by setting "Support Horizontal Expansion" to something big like 1.5mm so that an extra rim sticks out which is easy to grab onto and snap off with pliers, as seen in this picture.
Using a file (or sandpaper) carefully break the edge in 12 places on the handle. This pictures shows the proper angle of the file in order to hit 2 edges at once. The reason why it's important to pay attention to this detail is because there is close clearance with the rotation of the flipper arms at these spots.
WEDGE PRINT SETTINGS
- support overhang angle = 85-deg
- support pattern = zig-zag
- support density = 40%
- support horizontal expansion = 0.5mm
This support is easy to remove by simply squeezing with pliers in the location shown; you shouldn't even have to pull it off because by squeezing, it should just pop off all in one piece.
Using a file (or sandpaper) smooth down any high spots on the face shown here (and it's mirror image) in order to provide a smooth surface for the flipper arms to rotate against.
Install 2-56 x 7/16" SHCS in each part; it can be easier to clear out lumpy obstacles in the screw hole by inserting the screw from the opposite direction as you can see I'm doing here in this picture. When all obstacles are cleared out, the screws should simply drop through the holes without resistance or needing to use a tool to rotate them. Be careful to not confuse these six screws with the 12 slightly shorter 3/8" long ones!
FLIPPER ARM PRINT SETTINGS
- support overhang angle = 60-deg
- support pattern = zig-zag
- support density = 40%
Build Plate Adhesion:
NOTE: adding this brim is recommended to help the locking tab stick to the build plate, but creates extra work cleaning up the printed parts. There is an alternate version of the flipper arm STL file called "flipper arm brim" which has a small amount of brim already included in the model, and which is much easier to clean up than the "full brim" example shown in these pictures.
This support is easy to remove by simply squeezing with pliers in the location shown; it should pop off all in one piece.
If you added a brim to your parts (recommended) then use a razor blade to remove the majority of it. Regardless of whether or not you added a brim, use a file to bevel all eight edges of the part adjacent to the surface which touched the build plate, paying special attention to the one shown here (because of how it can interfere with the corresponding edges on the handle piece)
Using a file (or sandpaper) smooth down any high spots on the face shown here (and it's mirror image) in order to provide a smooth surface to rotate against the wedges.
Using a 3/32" drill, clean off any high spots inside both the blind and through holes in each of the six flipper arm parts. Install short 3/32" pins in the blind holes, and long 3/32" pins in the through holes. Use the center of the "pin pressing plate" to help hold the 3/32" pins aligned vertically when pressing the printed parts down onto the pins.
It's easy to accidentally dent your worktable surface (dining room table???) when pressing in the pins, so try using a flat spot on your pliers (or some other hard metal surface) to press against. The short pins need to go all of the way down to the bottom of the blind holes, which means that after it bottoms out on the gray pin pressing plate, you will need to press them in deeper without the gray pin pressing plate being in the way. The thickness of the gray plate is designed so that when the pin bottoms out on the plate (as shown in this picture) the long pins will be perfectly centered in the flipper arm parts. The only way that this calibrated thickness alignment tool can do its job properly is if you're pressing against a hard surface that does not deform like wood will.
print out six (6) each of the "left wing" and "right wing" components. Each of these parts comes with nine different surface offset options (from minus-0 to minus-200, measured in microns) so that you can dial in the perfect fit. Also notice from this computer model rendering that the surfaces are convex in order to compensate for thermal deformation as the printed part cools down on the build plate. As a starting point, try the minus-100 versions of the wing files.
Using two 2-56 x 3/4" SHCS attach a pair of right & left wings to each flipper arm as seen here. Be careful to not overtighten these screws! Go back and forth between each one several times and jiggle the wings around in their tapered recesses in order to achieve optimal alignment.
Misaligned or oversized wings are the #1 reason why an otherwise well-made Topsy Turvy might not work properly. If you're having trouble getting all six petals to close evenly then try removing the wings from the flipper arms (which you can do after Topsy Turvy is fully assembled) and debug the mechanism without the wings getting in the way.
If you can get Topsy Turvy to work without the wings attached to the flipper arms, then through a process of trial and error you can sand down surfaces on the wings until they no longer cause interference with each other when attached back onto the flipper arms.
STEP 4: Assemble Body
Using a 5/64" ball-end hex wrench (it must be ball-end or this won't work) attach a wedge to the handle with a 2-56 x 7/16" SHCS. Don't tighten it all of the way yet; leave 1-2 turns loose. If you bought my hardware kit then double check that the 12 remaining short screws are all the same length as each other (3/8") because these 7/16" screws will be too long to go in their place in the subsequent steps when those ones are needed. If you're using your own hardware then it's OK to save money by using 3/8" long screws here; the only downside is that you'll have less than optimal thread engagement.
Add another wedge and a flipper arm assembly sort of simultaneously, and then once both of these parts are fully seated into position (and you've verified that the flipper rotates properly) then attach the wedge with a 2-56 x 7/16" SHCS, again leaving 1-2 turns loose for now. It's a little bit tricky to align these parts correctly in order to get them seated in position properly; temporarily removing (or backing off) the SHCS can help make this alignment process easier.
Repeat the previous step two more times, still leaving 1-2 turns loose on each screw. This pictures shows as far as you can get adding one piece at a time; from here forward all five of the remaining pieces must be put on simultaneously.
This picture shows the somewhat awkward alignment of the 5 remaining loose pieces such that it's possible to maneuver the pivot pin of the final flipper arm (top right petal) into position. Notice how both wedges on the right side are pulled slightly away from the handle.
Once you've maneuvered all of the pieces into position and tightened the last two SHCS down to the point where there's 1-2 turns remaining on each, carefully snug up each of the six SHCS in small increments so that the wedges all have equal amounts of inward pressure. Once the body is fully assembled (as seen in this picture) test the rotation of each flipper arm and if necessary touch up problematic edges with a file.
Each of the six flipper arm petals needs to be able to pivot freely throughout the entire range of its motion. If you're getting sticky motion then try loosening up the SHCS a little bit and possibly flexing the wedges in-and-out of their sockets in the handle a few time prior to re-tightening the screws again. If this still doesn't fix your problem then you may need to disassemble the body back to basic components and file down surfaces a little bit more to get rid of high spots. When it's working properly, you should be able to close up all six petals (with the top oriented "upside down" like it's a flower on a stem) and then they should all fling open easily and evenly with even a slight twist of the handle. If any of the petals hangs up or otherwise behaves differently from the rest then you need to figure out why and fix the problem or else you will likely struggle to achieve a satisfying end result.
PLUNGER PRINT SETTINGS
- support overhang angle = 80-deg
- support pattern = zig-zag
- support density = 40%
NOTE: This model comes with several surface offset variations which help fine tune the fit of the flipper arm locking mechanism. As a starting point, try printing out the minus-50 version of this STL file.
With a little bit of luck, you can pull out this support in one piece by stabbing the tips of your pliers into the support at the location shown, and pulling the whole thing out at once.
Using a file (or sandpaper) remove any high spots on the shaft of the plunger. Rolling the shaft between your finger and thumb (as seen here) while leaving the file stationary is the ideal way to do this.
Install a 2-56 x 1" SHCS in the center of the plunger shaft and drive it all of the way down until it bottoms out in its counterbore. This screw serves no functional purpose beyond strengthening an otherwise very weak spot in the design of Topsy Turvy. If you happen to drop it or knock it off the table then chances are high that both the handle and plunger will break. Having this screw in position stacks the odds slightly more in favor of Topsy Turvy surviving such an accident.
DISH PRINT SETTINGS
NOTE: Because this dish is the surface which the mini-top will spin upon, it is good to have the most minimal visible layering possible so that the surface is smooth.
Using a file (or sandpaper) remove any "first layer squish" and otherwise blend the lower beveled surface into the six retaining wedges as seen in this picture.
Insert the dish into the plunger (concave surface facing outward) and rotate it 30 degrees in either direction to lock it into position by using pressure with your fingers to create friction on the concave surface. If the dish spins too loosely in the plunger (which is not a good thing) then add a few shims of paper underneath it in order to add thickness and create an appropriate amount of resistance.
When the dish is properly installed into the plunger (as seen here) none of the dish's retaining wedges are visible because the dish has been twisted the proper amount.
Make sure to install the spring into the bore of the handle prior to plunger itself, and also make sure to clock the plunger such that the pin hole at the base of its shaft aligns with the cutout in the handle which allows the 1/16" diameter dowel pin to pass through.
This 1/16" pin plays a crucial role in activating the release mechanism; not only does it need to be able to pass through the slot in the handle and the hole in the shaft of the plunger, but also the dowel pin must be able to fit loosely inside the I.D. of the bearing, as seen in this picture.
Before installing this pin into position in Topsy Turvy, make sure it fits inside by bearing by using a file to remove material from the ends of the pin until adequate clearance is achieved.
Once the pin is properly in position (as seen here) test the movement of the plunger mechanism, and also the functionality of each petal opening and closing.
Ideally, all six petals should be able to close together and lock into position automatically because of the spring which keep pressure on the plunger.
If the six petals don't all close together evenly, or if there are excessive gaps between the petals because of interference between the parts, it is possible that you will need to disassemble the flipper arms from the wedges in order to fix this. Because you cannot access those screws without removing the plunger, and because you cannot remove the plunger without having access to the 1/16" diameter pin, it's advisable to debug any mechanism fit / interference problems prior to installing the spinner because getting the spinner off again is somewhat difficult.
SPINNER PRINT SETTINGS
- support overhang angle = 80-deg
- support pattern = triangles
- support density = 60%
- support horizontal expansion = 1.5mm
Each half of the spinner (body and cover) need support material which is easy to remove by setting "Support Horizontal Expansion" to 1.5mm so that an extra rim sticks inward which is easy to grab onto and snap off with pliers, as seen in this picture.
Unfortunately, setting a big Support Horizontal Expansion value also pushes the support into the three 1/16" diameter dowel pin holes, so use tweezers to pluck these little caps out of the pin holes.
The spinner body (taller half) gets the bearing pressed into it; the spinner cover (shorter half) gets three 1/16" diameter x 1/4" long dowel pins pressed into it. Using the same pin pressing plate as before, put the three dowel pins into position as seen in this picture.
Once again being careful to not dent your table top with the pins (which will easy burst through the back side of the pin pressing plate if you don't use it on a hard surface) use your palm (and body mass) to press each part of the spinner down onto its hardware. You will need to press very hard in order to get the parts to seat as deeply as seen in this picture.
Remove the spinner cover from the pin pressing plate (the three pins should be stuck in the spinner cover now) and then press the two halves of the spinner together. The spinner is designed to hold together by means of the friction from those three pins (not the friction from pressing in the bearing) so the purpose of pressing the spinner halves together right now is to stretch out the pin holes while it's still easy to do so by pressing the parts together against the table with your body weight.
The depth of the holes in the spinner are designed so that there will always be a slight gap between them no matter how hard you press them together; this gap is helpful in order to get the spinner apart again! Use a small screwdriver (or some similar thin & flat tool) to pry the spinner apart, as seen here.
The colored edge rings are triangular in cross section (meaning that one side is flat and the other side is conical) whereas the white mid ring is flat on both sides; when putting the rings onto the spinner be sure that the conical surfaces of the edge rings touch the spinner halves, and that the flat surfaces of the edge rings touch the mid ring.
Install one of the edge rings onto the spinner body and then hold it into position with the mid ring, which should stay in position by friction alone. Unlike pressing in the pins and bearing, you don't need to use much force to install the mid ring so just your fingertips should be enough pressure to snap it into position. The surface of the mid ring should be flush with the surface of the spinner body if everything is aligned and seated correctly, as seen in this picture. Once you've verified this detail then go ahead and install the second edge ring (with flat surface touching the mid ring!) and lock in into position with the spinner cover. Press all of these parts together with your body weight by using your palm against the table again, just to make sure that everything fits correctly before installing the spinner onto the handle.
The spinner parts are design so that the second edge ring will always be loose enough that it's possible to spread apart a gap between it and the mid ring big enough to insert a prying tool in order to get the spinner apart again, as seen here. Remove the spinner cover (and second edge ring) in preparation for final assembly onto the handle.
Remove the 1/16" pin from the plunger shaft with a pair of pliers; if you do this when the petals of Topsy Turvy are closed (as seen here) then the plunger (and spring) will remain in position even after the pin is removed.
Slide the spinner body assembly (spinner body, bearing, edge ring, mid ring) onto the handle before installing the bushing. Make sure that the rim of the bushing is oriented away from the spinner body, and that the bushing is able to slide freely up and down the handle. Having a close fit between these two components (bushing and handle) is a good thing so rather than using a file or sandpaper to help these parts slide across each other easily, simply use your hands to move the bushing up and down the handle shaft a few times in order to mush down any high spots. Ideally the fit should be tight enough that the bushing moves easily with a little bit of force, but not so loose that it can move by gravity alone. Lightly remove material with a file or sandpaper if absolutely necessary in order to achieve the proper fit between these components, and then line up the bushing side hole with the 1/16" hole in the plunger shaft, as seen here.
Install the 1/16" pin back into position, but this time going through the bushing too; the ends of the pin should sit flush with the 1/2" surface of the bushing. Remember it is very important to make sure that this pin is able to fit inside the I.D. bore of the bearing prior to the next step!
Using a motion like giving someone a shot with a syringe of medicine, press the spinner body down onto the bushing, taking extra care that the 1/16" pin is centered in the bushing so that the bearing does not get hung up on it. Keep a good grip on the body of Topsy Turvy when doing this because this pressing motion will activate the release mechanism which opens up the petals.
Press the spinner until the bearing seats all of the way down on to the rim of the bushing, completely hiding the 1/16" pin which attaches the busing to the plunger. Ideally this should require a lot of force to accomplish because you don't want the bearing to lift up off the rim of the bushing during use. Once you have the spinner body fully seated onto the bushing (as seen in this picture) go ahead and install the remaining edge ring and spinner cover.
CONGRATULATIONS!! You've finished building the main body of Topsy Turvy, and are almost done with the whole project! Hang on to the spinner with one hand and give Topsy Turvy a nice spin with the other hand in order to test out the bearing, but remember that there is no contact point at the tip yet (where the six petals meet) so don't try spinning it on the table until you've assembled and installed the mini-top too.
Test out the release mechanism one petal at a time, and then in groups of 2 or 3 petals at once. Pay attention to how the spring loaded plunger engages with the locking tabs on the flipper arms, and notice how the more petals you're closing up, the more care is required to ensure that the plunger is fully and evenly seated onto the locking tabs of the flipper arms.
TOP HANDLE / BASE PRINT SETTINGS
Build Plate Adhesion:
NOTE: adding this brim is highly recommended, but perhaps not absolutely necessary.
Using a razor blade, remove the brim and (and any stringy bits) from the top handle.
Likewise, use a razor blade to remove the brim from the top base.
It's good to do a very careful job cleaning up these two printed parts prior to assembly because they're so small (so you will notice any imperfections more easily) and also it's important to make sure that the mini-top is balanced evenly. Make sure that all 12 screws are the same length as each other; it's easy to confuse these screws (which are 3/8" long) from the six slightly longer 7/16" ones used to hold the wedges onto the handle; these 3/8" screws will work OK on the wedges, but those 7/16" screws are too long for the mini-top
Each of the 12 remaining SHCS should press into position as far as seen in this picture before needing to use the hex wrench to spin them the rest of the way down. Insert all of the screws by hand like this before tightening any of them down. When tightening the screws, use an alternating pattern (like changing a tire on a car) and only give each screw about one turn at a time before moving on to the next one. Work your way around the mini-top in this manner until all 12 screws are snug.
Here is what the assembled mini-top looks like! Try giving it a spin on the table to see how well balanced it is; if necessary adjust the extension of a few screws to act as counterbalance.
Pay attention to the order that you close up the petals, and how it affects the way that the plunger engages with the locking tabs on the flipper arms. When first breaking in a newly constructed Topsy Turvy, my recommended order of operations is to start by first closing just one flipper and then the one on the opposite side (180 degrees away). Once a pair of opposite flippers are locked down, flex the body of Topsy Turvy in your hands a little bit in order to encourage the plunger to establish a position of equilibrium between the forces acting on it from each of the two petals. Once you've done this, close up the remaining two petals on one side (so that 4 in a row are closed now) and then install the mini-top into position as seen in this photograph, making sure that the flats at the end of the mini-top handle are engaged with the flat ends of the flipper arms. Once the mini-top is installed in position, close the remaining two petals and then give all of the petals several extra squeezes (preferably changing your grip each time) in order to help equalize internal pressure on the plunger mechanism and engagement with the flipper arm locking tabs.
Congratulations, you're all done building the Topsy Turvy and are ready to test it out!! As mentioned in the into paragraph of this writeup, much practice and patience is required to get Topsy Turvy to do the trick that it's supposed to do properly, and now that you've read though these build instructions you know that it also takes a lot of careful craftsmanship in order to construct one that's even capable of doing the trick at all. Watch the video carefully in order to learn subtle handling techniques which make a successful run more likely, and also remember that even if you get totally frustrated trying to get it to work like I'm doing in the video, this toy still works like a normal spinning top too (which is also fun to play with!) and you can even pick it up by the spinner once it's going fast and balance it upside down on its handle while it's spinning, which is a pretty cool trick too, and much easier to accomplish! GOOD LUCK with it, and don't forget to HAVE FUN!!!
Not Having Fun?
The most likely reason why Topsy Turvy isn't acting the way that you want it to is because the flipper arms might not be able to fully close into their proper locked position because of potential interference of the wings with each other. You will know this is the case if your mini-top jiggles around loosely as it's being held in position by the closed flipper arm petals; when these petals are fully closed in their proper locked positions, the tips of the flipper arms should all be close enough together that the mini-top is held firmly in position. An easy way to debug this problem is to remove the screws holding the wings onto the flipper arms and test the mechanism without any wings involved; if the removal of the wings helps solve your problems then you will likely need to print wings that have larger surface offset. A quick way to test this is to sand or file away material from the edges of the wings in order to eliminate unwanted interference from one petal to the next.
Further Fine Tuning...
Another likely problem is that the plunger might not be properly (or fully) engaging with the locking tabs on the flipper arms. Take a look at how much (and how easily) the plunger is able to move up/down with different combos of wings locked in position; for example try with a pair of wings directly opposite each other, or just the odd/even wings. There are variations of the plunger STL file which have different amounts of surface offset for the flipper arm locking system, so try fine tuning the fit by printing a tighter or looser fitting version of the plunger.
If the bearing is not spinning as well as you want, make sure that it's seated fully into the spinner body, and that the body/bearing assembly is seated fully onto the rim of the bushing; misalignment or improper position can cause the bushing (which spins with the rest of the top) to rub against the spinner (which doesn't). Also look at the hardware comments section which mentions a technique for cleaning and oiling the bearings.
- Updated instructions for bearing treatment.
- New STL files and updated instructions for plunger (plus troubleshooting info for adjusting plunger fit).
- New STL files and updated instructions for wings (plus troubleshooting info for adjusting wing fit).
- Alternate STL file for flipper arm added which has built-in brim for the locking tab.