Cool projects from SciToys

While going through one of my favorite found-image blogs, Happy Palace, I came across these photos of projects from Simon Quellen Field's blog, SciToys. I was already somewhat familiar with SciToys, because I built the Gauss Rifle project (which uses a ruler and some magnets to accelerate a steel ball), but it looks like the site has been updated since I last dropped by.

Happy Palace didn't say which projects the pictures were from, so I went to SciToys and looked them up. In doing so, I saw a bunch of other projects, many of which had animations of the things in action. They are fantastic, because they are simple, yet novel contraptions that demonstrate rules of physics, optics, and electricity in fun and surprising ways. These projects are just the sort of thing you hope for when you get a book of "amazing science projects." In fact, Simon has a book out, called Gonzo Gizmos: Projects & Devices to Channel Your Inner Geek. It's the best science project book I've ever seen.

It's worthwhile going through the entire site to see what Simon has made, but here are the three projects that Happy Palace featured:

 Blogger 7539 586 1600 C.42 This is a "Three-Penny" radio, a very simple battery-powered transistor radio. The three pennies serve as junction points for the soldered components. Instructions here.

 Blogger 7539 586 1600 B.62This is a homopolar motor. The funky wire frame spins slowly around the battery. Here is an animated gif of the thing in action. I already have a few of these small but very strong magnets (if you play with two of them long enough you will eventually get painfully pinched, I promise you) from the gauss rifle project I made last year. I'm going to make one of these this weekend if I can find the time. Instructions here.

 Blogger 7539 586 1600 A.96This is a simple crystal radio made from a plastic bottle, a plastic ball point pen tube, a germanium diode, and some wire. Instructions here.