Acrylic Solenoid Engine

An easy to build solenoid engine for use as a desk toy or as a peripheral to common SBC's as a learning toy.

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I've always loved solenoid engines. The first one I built was many,many years ago out of Mechano. Many others have followed since, But they always ran badly and only for a short while as the accuracy of the construction medium was poor. I am not a metal worker, making a "proper" engine out of cast pieces is out of my (and many other peoples) capabilities.

With modern laser cutting it is easy to make accurate components, it is relatively cheap and fairly quick.

So the Acrylic Solenoid Engine came into being.

The initial driver is using a small PIC 12F675 and and an IR detector to give me pulse timing information from the solenoid. I went the IR sensor route rather than a mechanical switch so there was no rubbing parts that could wear as acrylic is rather soft. To get a good timing signal aluminum foil is placed on one side of the flywheel to give a good reflection back to the IR emitter receiver pair on the PCB.

The flywheel has an acrylic boss which hold in a 9mm ball race, this is secured with 5 M2 screws which keep it centered and true. One of the M2 screws is longer than the others to allow for a connection to the con-rod with attaches to the solenoid.

First fire up video

After the success of these tests I redesigned the acrylic, PCB and solenoid mounts into a much more stable model. There are now two pieces of acrylic with feet for stability and I moved the fast/slow buttons to the rear of the PCB so they are easily accessible from the back of the motor. A PP9 battery also fits between the two motor sides and powers the motor for a couple of hours at low speeds.

The finished kit, mounted on a wooden plinth (just for looks)

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