The key elements you need to master in order to successfully levitate the Levitron floating top are detailed in the following sections:
I. THE SPIN
"First let's learn to spin the Levitron magnetic top over the center of the very strong base magnet."
Before trying to spin the Levitron top, take off all of the weight (washers) except for the large brass washer. Secure the washer to the spindle with one of the rubber grommets provided (black 'O-Ring').
Next try to spin the Levitron top using a slight downward pressure on the lifter plate, keeping in mind that the Levitron top wants to flip over until it's spinning at least 18 RPS (Revolutions Per Second). For this reason it is important that during the "spin-up" the spindle be grasped between the thumb & forefinger tightly (pinched) and as low as possible on the spindle. The tip of your fingers should actually be touching the brass washer and parallel to the shaft of the spindle. NOTE! Keep your elbow raised! By keeping your elbow raised, you will also find it much easier to keep the shaft of the spindle straight up and down during the spin.
Ideally you would like to have the Levitron top spin smoothly with the spindle perfectly upright but a spin in which the spindle wobbles can also be a successful spin! By raising the lifter plate about 1/4" immediately after the "spin-up" even a wobbly spin may straighten out and become a successful spin.
If, after reading these instructions you are still not able to master the spin, you can purchase a Levitron Self Starter Here. This is a low cost battery operated device which when placed over the tip of the spindle can be used to "spin-up" the Levitron top.
II. THE WEIGHT
"Now let's learn how to determine how much weight the Levitron top will require to levitate."
The Levitron top comes with the following assortment of weight adjustment washers which are used to balance the downward gravitational force against the upward magnetic force.
|| Large Brass
Black Rubber Grommets ("O-Rings")
|| 3 grams each
1 grams each
0.4 grams each
0.2 grams each
0.1 grams each
Used to secure the weights to the spindle
The Levitron top gains stability by adding weight. The goal is to make the Levitron top float as stable as possible. This is accomplished by adding as much weight as possible to the Levitron top and still have it levitate. Of course if too much weight is added, the top will not float.
Now, let's try to float the Levitron top. Start with one large brass washer (3 grams) secured on the spindle:
Step 1. Spin the Levitron top on the lifter plate over the center of the base magnet. (Practiced in Section 1)
Step 2. Raise the lifter plate approximately 1" above the surface of the base magnet. At this point continue lifting but very slowly (approximately 1/4" per 5 second interval). One customer commented that this lifting process is similar to carefully letting a car's clutch out! If the Levitron top is correctly weighted and the base magnet is properly oriented (Section III), the Levitron top will gently lift itself off the lifter plate and float in space when the top is raised to approximately 2.5 inches above the surface of the base magnet. However, chances of getting the weight and orientation correct on the first try is rare.
Step 3. Learn how to interpret the results of your levitation attempt. First ask yourself, "was the Levitron top light enough to lift off the plate as the critical height was approached or did the top just slide off the side of the plate as I continued lifting?" If the Levitron top slid off the side of the plate, then remove some of the weight from the Levitron top (for example you might remove the 3 gram weight & replace it with two 1 gram weights) and go back to step one. If the Levitron top "jumped upward" off the plate it is too light; add more weight & try again.
By using this trial & error method, eventually you will determine the correct weight within 0.1 gram. i.e. 1 small yellow washer. The Levitron top will float only if its weight lies within a very narrow (+/- 0.1 gram) range of a "correct weight". You will find this correct weight by successive trials as described above.
III. THE ORIENTATION OF THE BASE
"Finally! Let's orient the Levitron's magnetic field lines of the base magnet!"
The final step in successful levitation requires that the Levitron's magnetic field produced by the base magnet be precisely vertical. To achieve this it is sometimes necessary to insert the shims provided under one or even two edges of the base. Because we cannot see these magnetic field lines we must determine any adjustments by observing how the to reacts to the base.
As you experiment trying to find the correct weight for the Levitron top, notice whether the top tends to fall repeatedly to the same side. For example, if each time the Levitron top jumps off the lifter plate, it falls toward you and to your right, then the front right sides of the base need to be slightly raised. Two wedges (shims) are provided for this purpose. Slide the wedge slightly under the base at the midway point of the side or sides being raised. Then spin the Levitron top and lift again. Each time the procedure is repeated you must watch the Levitron top closely as it leaves the lifter plate to help determine what further adjustments of the wedges are needed.
REMEMBER! No matter how well you orient the base magnet, the Levitron top will not float stable unless it is carrying the correct amount of weight. (Refer to step II) It is important to have the Levitron top at or near the correct floating weight FIRST before attempting final adjustment of the base magnet using the wedges.
FINAL NOTE... Once the correct weight for stable levitation has been found, only minor adjustments to that weight will be required for levitation in the future. Most of the weight variations are the result of minor changes in the strength of the magnetic material due to temperature changes. (Magnets tend to lose strength as they heat up.)