Let's Make Robots!

Steampunk Ferrofluid stand

Moves around ferrofluid

When I first came across some videos on YouTube for Ferrofluid I was amazed of its properties and wanted to build something micro controlled with electro magnets. For those of you that (like me) are unfamiliar with ferrofluid you can read more about this amazing liquid here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferrofluid

So I bought a small bottle of eBay and the plan was to just have it in some water and have some electromagnets coming in from the side. So I got this chamber made from vinyl and cut out some Plexiglas front and back pieces. There is a groove in the vinyl to hold an o-ring to seal the water inside.

The first time I filled the chamber up with water and added the Ferrofluid. Total disaster. The ferrofluid stained the Plexiglas so it was just a mess. The ferrofluid stains about anything it touches so I had a hard time cleaning the chamber afterwards.
Now what?
I have seen it done on YouTube so there must be some sort of secret mixture in the solution they are using. So I humbly asked Nicky Nada over at Concept Zero
http://shop.czferro.com/ for help, and amazingly he took the time to help me and reveled some of the secrets in the world of ferrofluid. But a lass, my magnets where not strong enough to pull the ferrofluid in my first chamber so I had to rethink this.

Then it struck me that I could just order a perfect bottle from Nicky and build my stand around it. And armed with my 3D printer I could build everything I needed. As you can see did I go for a Steampunk them and I think it came out rater good.

Usually I start out testing parts of my project and breadboard everything before I start building. On this project I started in the other end and built the box and all the Steampunk fixtures first, then got down to the electronics and wiring. On this project that turned out pretty well, as there is a small issue of the strength of my home made magnets and if this had been apparent to me earlier on, I might not have finished this project.

 Again, a special thanks to Nicky Nada for all his help and encouragement on this project. Without his help this project would have been ditched a long time ago. So please have a look around at his site http://shop.czferro.com/

 Some more images of the stand

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This may be the coolest thing I have ever seen.

Well thank you ignoblegnome. I thougt this might be to your liking :-D

So often the steam punk stuff just looks too contrived....just a modern day device with some bells and whistles. But this....this.......this is something I've never conceived of before. There really are new things in this world....and this is one of them. Plus best of all, IT WORKS!!!!!! Not just a model, but an actual functioning device from an alternate reality. Cool just does not do it justice. Thanks for showing it....I especially love the ammeter. Awesome stream punk. Thank you Shane

Few words describe the level of magnetic liquidy awsomeness this project reaches. Great job ! I plan to build a ferrofluid project myself but I need a lot of copper wiring.....and it's expensive :(

With your usual thoughtfulness and craftsmanship.

Excellent choice of steampunk worthy subject too.  FerroFluid - melding art and science into something truly fascinating.  

I have not read much of FerroFluids but it seems to make sense.. when you look at a magnet and iron filing you can see the lines of magnet force (especially if you put the magnet on end - you can see the spikes).  Are the cones/spikes are caused by more force closer to the electro-magnet?  How do you grow the spikes?  Can you control a magnetic field in such way that an arbitrary 3D object could be rendered?  Such as a statue's bust?  2 magnetic yokes are put on a cathode ray tube in order to control the electron beam in a very precise manner.  Could the same technique be employed to manipulate the ferrosfluid?   Hmmm... what if you had an old CRT with clear sides.. filled the bottom with ferrofluid, re-evacuated the air - then ran a video signal through it?  Would you get a pool of liquid etched with the video feed?

Great Stuff Geir !

I'm loving this.

I especially like the way you describe how you deviated from your usual working order. No prototyping, just doing it. Let the pieces fall where they may.

Sounds like you've found your artistic freedom and it seems you're loving it. I'm conviced that contributed to the final result.

Back to nerdism: what do the knobs do?

Hi Rik
The 6 buttons triggers the individual magnets in manual mode (I forgot to show that in the video). The main selector switch is for different patterns. I still have some more programming to do there.

Something else that doesn’t show up very good in the video is the BlinkM RGB LED that illuminate the bottle form below. It looks great in a dark room.

I think the music in your video is just an overdub, but wow it would be cool if you included a beatbot mode and let the ferrofluid flow to the groove of whatever tunes you were playing.

The music is playing from my PC in the back but I have actually thought about adding sound as the FEZ Panda II microcontroller I’m using has an micro SD card and the capability to play low quality audio, and I have plenty of space inside the box.
But back to the music. It’s from one of my favorite artist Ane Brun and you should check her latest video out. It has a certain Steampunk feel to it.
(Play loud and at full screen HD !!)

I just realized what this object is.........this is how people in the steam punk universe would display data from analogue computers. Just think about it..... No need for digital or even advanced electronics. Display waveforms with with magnets and fero fluid, using a cunning arrangement of resistors magnets and inductors. Or.....did you really make this, maybe it fell through a transdimensional rift. Either way..cool.