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Small electromagnet

  1. Jan 24, 2012 #1
    I am new to this forum and not a physicist by any means. I am a high school music teacher working on a special effect for our upcoming show. Long story short, I need the bird to fall off of its perch on a cuckoo clock, and it needs to happen on cue (one of the characters shoots the bird when it "cuckoo's".

    My thought is to put a very small (it only needs to hold the bird) electromagnet on the perch behind the bird (with the bird detached from the rest of the clock and a piece of metal attached) and when the bird comes out and makes noise to cut the power on the cue of the gun shot and as a result have the bird fall off.

    I am looking to purchase a small electromagnet, and by small i mean 1/4" diameter and no more than an inch long. I don't mind making one (although I am limited to doing it with a nail and a battery. My concern with the battery is leaving it on for an extended period of time (almost 2 hours with the clock on stage) before the bird needs to drop. Will the battery overheat and explode on me?

    If anyone needs more info, please ask. Not being a physics person, I don't know how much info you need to be able to answer this.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 24, 2012 #2
    I think having the magnet on permanently might cause you problems and will certainly waste your batteries. Do it the other way round. Put a small permanent magnet on the bird and then use an electromagnet to "push" that when pulsed.
    Alternatively you could try and find a solenoid (as used on pinball machines). Look for one that has a rod that comes out of the "back end" when the coil pulls in and use that to push the bird off.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2012
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