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As some of you may know, I love magnets, especially levitating things with them, and I also love puzzles. After a lot of experimentation, I came up with an invention that combines both: A maze made of thousands of carefully arranged magnets through which you guide a levitating disc! A Maze In Magnets! (tm)
Each maze is completely self contained. No batteries are required, and no buttons need to be pushed. The NIB magnets will lose about 5% of their power in 100 years, and the movement is completely frictionless (other then air resistance) so with proper care it should last a lifetime!
There are three different sizes of mazes:
The smallest, a 7 x 7 maze, is solvable in under a minute with some practice. With the frame, its 2 3/4" x 3 1/4" in size, and a bit over 3/4" tall.
The middle, a 9 x 9 maze, should be solvable in under two minutes. With its frame, its just over 3 1/4" x 3 3/4" in size with the same height as the smaller maze.
All of the mazes have a clear acrylic cover to keep you from losing the disc, and are designed so that you can reset the maze (bring the disc back to the start) in a fraction of the time it takes to solve. If you didn't watch the main video, here's the smallest maze in action:
For the largest maze, I wanted to do something different, and being a big hockey fan, I decided to make a two-player hockey rink maze. Yes, a maze that's two player! To play, you reset the maze so the 'puck' is at the start (center line), and get a one minute timer ready. When the timer starts, the first player attempts to score by moving the puck through the maze to the opposite players goal. Once time runs out, the timer is reset and the second player does the same thing. Once again, the maze is designed so that its much easier to get the puck back to the start then it is to get it to the end. You can either go back and forth until one of you scores, or you can keep track of scores and play for all three periods. (I would recommend an intermission.)
For those of you that like hockey, but not mazes, the Hockey Rink reward is available at a lower cost. It features the same size rink, two hockey nets, a center line, and no maze! Still pretty awesome!
DIY or preassembled?
Each maze is available in either a DIY kit, or preassembled. If you're feeling brave and patient, and have a lot of time on your hands, you may be up for the DIY kit. Here's a little video of how much fun it is making a 2x2 maze:
Keep in mind, this was about my 9th take, and contained the least amount of swearing and throwing of magnets. This tiny maze contained 121 magnets. The 7x7 is over ten times that many. If you value your sanity, I definitely recommend the preassembled versions. I was pessimistic about the shipping dates for these, and if they fill up, I'll add more preassembled rewards for further out.
OBLIGATORY WARNING! Each maze is composed of thousands of tiny magnets. Under no circumstances are these to be given to young children, or to anyone who enjoys breaking nice things and swallowing the pieces!
Try before you buy
If you want to try out one of the mazes, feel free to download the Android or iOS app that simulates these mazes from the 'A Maze In Magnets' web site. Its not exactly the same, but it'll give you a pretty good idea. (The biggest difference is that on the real magnetic maze, the disc tends to glide along the center of the path, whereas in the app, it doesn't have this tendency.)
Think you can do better?
I can't say I'm a maze designing expert. Once the project has successfully been funded, every backer can submit their own maze design for the maze they backed. (If you backed at the 'supporter' level, you can design a 7x7 maze.) I will add each one to the app, and it will compete head to head with mine and everyone else's mazes. If yours is the most difficult to solve (while still taking under 10 seconds to reset) it will be chosen for the final design, and you'll get a free one! Maze design rules will be sent out when funding is successful.
Feel free to solve any mazes you come across in the app as many times as you like! The more times you solve and reset each maze, the easier we can tell which maze is the most difficult one!
How does it work?
The disc is made of pyrolytic graphite, a diamagnetic material which weakly repels magnetic fields. Since its also made of carbon, its repulsion to weight ratio is quite high, so given a strong enough magnetic field, it will push away.
When you place one of these discs above a strong magnets pole, it simply gets pushed off. If you combine two magnets with their opposite poles touching (North to South and South to North), and place one of these discs above the center, it will get pushed off one side along the join. If you similarly combine four magnets in a square shape, and place one of these discs where the four magnets meet, the disc will levitate and stay in the center! In fact, it wants to stay there and you have to tilt the magnets at a pretty sharp angle (depending on the size of the magnets) to make it fall off! We call this magnetic flux pinning. Very cool, but not a good thing if you want the magnet to be able to move while floating.
With trial and error, I determined that the magnets have to be 1/3 the diameter of the disc in order for the disc to more or less freely float around without noticeable flux pinning. The smallest pyrolytic disc I was able to find was 3/16" of an inch, so I went to one of my favourite web sites, K & J Magnetics, to see if I could find any really small magnets.
The 1/16" magnets worked perfectly, but I found that trying to arrange the 1/16" cube magnets with alternating poles pushed me too close to the edge of my sanity, so I opted for 1/16" x 1/16" x 1/8" for the floor, and 1/16" x 1/16" x 3/16" for the walls.
Thanks for your support!
Risks and challenges
The factory I've ordered samples from have consistently delivered in less than a month, so I don't expect that to be a concern. Ditto for the Pyrolytic graphite discs.
The metal plates are cut locally, and I see no issue with laser cutting those within the time frame.
The MDF and plastic cover I will be cutting with my own laser cutter. It has been very reliable and I don't anticipate any problems.
I've stretched out the tough deliverables (assembling the mazes) with a very pessimistic schedule, so I don't anticipate any problems with assembly.
I can't control the mail. However, I live close enough to the US/Canada border that I can ship directly from both countries, so for these countries no duties/taxes will be due on receipt. I have no control over other countries, nor do I have control over how long it takes for the package to arrive at your location.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)