The Vortex Lamp
December 21, 2011 by Chein ·
Yet another electro-mechanical lamp/light project. A vortex lamp for your desktop, living room or as a night light.
The lamp produces a spinning water vortex inside a glass, that is then illuminated with LEDs.
Another look (sorry for the poor photo quality)
Similar to how a magnetic stirrer works, a motor will spin a permanent magnet creating a spinning magnetic field. Placing a ferromagnetic metal within that field will cause it to spin as well. The metal spins without making any physical contact with the magnet or motor. The spinning motion of the metal stirs the water in the glass, creating a twister/vortex effect.
The stirrer used is a paperclip, coated with epoxy (to prevent rusting)
Parts are pretty basic. The (somewhat) difficult thing is sourcing for the Neodymium magnet . Any kind of magnet won’t do, especially those ferrite fridge magnets. It has be a neodymium magnet for it to work. Or at least the old school samarium cobalt
magnet (if you can find one). I got mine from a dead hard drive. Other source of these magnets would be those magnet therapy bracelets (though the price is an utter rip-off). If not, you’re going to have to shop online as neodymium can’t really be purchased off the shelf (at least in this part of the world).
Magnet stuck to the middle of a standard PC cooling fan. The blades were cut off.
A tall drinking glass as the vortex cylinder.
The thickness of the bottom of the glass is very important. If it’s too thick, then the magnetic field that reaches the stirrer will be too weak. If you’re stuck with a thick bottomed glass, put a lid on it and use it upside down like I did.
The shape and depth or the vortex is more dependant on the shape and size of the stirrer (paperclip) used. Fiddle around with different sizes to get your preferred vortex.
The fins house the LEDs, while limiting the light into a narrow vertical beam. I found that the beam, being perpendicular to the vortex, produces the best illumination effect compared to other placements. The fins were cut from old DVD case.
Final touch, light diffuser added on the fin’s opening. It is made of clear transparency plastics layered with double sided tape. These tapes make quite good light diffuser.
So that’s it, happy hacking/ making.
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