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During childhood, did you ever construct an electromagnet?

  1. Yes.

    27 vote(s)
  2. No.

    5 vote(s)
  3. I read about it/knew how to make one, but I didn't bother or didn't have all the materials handy.

    2 vote(s)
  4. I wanted to but my parent/guardian would not allow it.

    1 vote(s)
  5. I made one, but I couldn't figure out how to attach the wires to the battery.

    0 vote(s)
  6. What's an electromagnet?

    0 vote(s)
  1. Jul 23, 2014 #1


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    In my childhood, I played with various electrical and mechanical things -- sometimes taking them apart and putting them back together. Sometimes building them from scratch.

    Have you ever made a simple circuit such as an electromagnet as a child? It could be as simple as wrapping some insulated wire around a screw, nail or bolt [containing iron/steel, not 100% aluminum] and then pressing the separate ends of the wire (insulation removed at the "leads") to the terminals of a battery.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2014
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  3. Jul 23, 2014 #2

    George Jones

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  4. Jul 23, 2014 #3


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    I wanted to but my parent/guardian would not allow it.
    If I wanted to build something when I was a child, I built it. No questions asked. :biggrin:
  5. Jul 23, 2014 #4


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    Yes. I can even picture the parts now: a nail about 10cm long and 0.5cm in diameter, from my father's workbench; stiff solid copper wire about 1mm diameter with red plastic insulation; a 6V lantern battery, and either a knife switch or a pushbutton (doorbell) switch.
  6. Jul 23, 2014 #5
    I made my first one when I was in my thirties, and I was extremely immature for my age, so, yes.
  7. Jul 23, 2014 #6


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    Yes -- and it was most "instructive" in teaching me that powering the electromagnet by sticking wire ends into a mains power socket is a very very bad idea... :eek:
  8. Jul 24, 2014 #7


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    I definitely did. Along with other electronics.

    I wanted to but my parent/guardian would not allow it.
    I made the electromagnet aided and abbeted by my Dad.
  9. Jul 24, 2014 #8


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    nope...feels lonely in this group of 2...where's the other non electro magnet builder?
  10. Jul 24, 2014 #9


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    Me same here. I did that when I was 9 years old I remember.
  11. Jul 24, 2014 #10
    I have a vivid memory of the shed, the nail and the wire. I don't recall how well it worked though... I have a better memory of putting a nail on a permanent magnet for a few days and then testing whether the nail became magnetic. It did, only very slightly. I also recall my parents being slightly disturbed to see me cutting a battery in half with a hacksaw one day. They were only slightly disturbed because I had on plastic disposable gloves covered by our dish washing gloves.
  12. Jul 24, 2014 #11


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    I made one as I was trying to construct a mechanical flipflop on the cheap for a digital computer. I fixed a nail on a board and wrapped it with some wire about ten windings or so (trying to save wire for additional components) and to test it plugged it directly into the wall outlet (no parents home at the time) and promptly blew out a couple of fuses and singed the wall outlet plate.

    I managed to reset every clock in the house but missed one in my parents bedroom which prompted y mother to ask if something happened while they were away. Busted.

    I knew about attaching them to batteries but didn't understand the difference with AC at the time. It was a very electrifying experience.
  13. Jul 24, 2014 #12


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    As a matter of fact, no I did not. In fact, as a child I really didn't play with electrical or mechanical things at all (apart from playing with Legos) -- I did learn to program a computer at age 12, but that's about it. I didn't find out how to make an electromagnet until watching a demonstration in class in Grade 6.
  14. Jul 24, 2014 #13


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    I probably did, but I don't remember. I certainly did complicated circuits, e.g., building a SW radio from an electronics kit.

    I built stuff from Mecchano and Erector sets, mechanized things like cars, trucks, cranes, or robots and static stuff like bridges and structures.

    I think I had some Lego pieces, but there was an alternative in the US, which I think was 'Montini'.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2014
  15. Jul 25, 2014 #14
    I learned that one should not plug a big capacitor in the power socket long before I knew what a capacitor was.
  16. Jul 25, 2014 #15

    Jonathan Scott

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    Yes, and I made a DC electric motor by winding insulated wire round a cork with a needle through it, on a wooden board with dressmaking pins stuck into the cork to form the commutator, and with a horseshoe magnet standing over it, and brushes simply made of copper wire. I did that for a school "show and tell" session when I was 11. I got the basic design from a "Ladybird" junior science book called "Magnets, Bulbs and Batteries", and I've just found a PDF of it on the web; it contained such delightful suggestions as pulling a battery (zinc-carbon) apart with pliers!

    Last edited: Jul 25, 2014
  17. Jul 25, 2014 #16

    and yup I did. Grabbed the stuff from my father's toolbox and made one.
  18. Jul 26, 2014 #17


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    No, I haven't.

    But I am thinking of purchasing some electronics kits (with transistors such as BJT and FETs) and play around with them alongside reading the appropriate literature. (I took two courses in Microelectronics, but failed them, the main reason that I didn't have enough time to assimilate this topic; but it's awsome nontheless).

    The really interesting thing is to actually build something new from our current knowledge, I mean building up electromagnets with instructions is good to comprehend what has been done and worked; but to invent something new you need to tinker with stuff and even to be willing to break it.
  19. Jul 26, 2014 #18
    My first mechanical adventure was when I was about five, I remember that I hadn't started school yet. I took apart an old alarm clock and pulled out the little spring and lever that made it go tick-tock.

    After that when I wound it up it would just get really loud and the gears and hands would spin around and around until the spring ran down. Other than annoying my mother by continuously winding it up and watching things spin I never found any useful purpose for it.

    At some point after that my older brother gave me a couple of lantern batteries and a lot of wire that he had unwound from an old electric motor. I made a lot of magnets before I ever made a small motor. I also found out that if there are too many wraps of wire around an old bolt things get really hot.

    If it hadn't been for that nasty heat build up I am sure that I would have built a super magnet.:devil:
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