How to Build a Simple Motor Using Household Materials

Building a simple motor using common household materials can be a fun science project. With just a few basic supplies, you can explore the magic of electromagnetism and motion.

What You'll Need

How a Simple Motor Works

A motor uses magnetism and electricity to create motion. There are two key components:

In our simple homemade motor, the magnets serve as the fixed magnetic field and the paper clip axle with wire loops acts as the armature.

Building the Motor

Follow these steps to build a simple one-battery motor:

Step 1: Make the Armature

Take a paper clip and bend it straight, leaving a small hook on one end. Wrap thestraight part with 8-10 loops of magnet wire, leaving about 8 inches of wire loose on each end. Spread the loops apart evenly. Secure with tape.

Step 2: Make the Base

Take a second paper clip and bend it into a long "U" shape to make the axle. Tape the hooked end of the armature wire to the center of the axle clip, so it can spin freely.

Step 3: Create a Stand

Use a cup, bowl, or anything non-metallic to hold up the motor. Tape the open ends of the axle clip to opposite sides across the top of the container to make a stand.

Step 4: Add Magnets

Place one magnet on the bottom of the container under the armature. Place the second magnet on top, with opposite polarity facing the armature. The magnet up top can just loosely rest there.

Step 5: Connect Battery

Using the loose magnet wire ends, connect one end to the positive battery terminal and the other end to negative.

If all goes well, your armature should begin spinning! If not, try adjusting the position of the top magnet until you get maximum spin.

How it Works

When current flows through the wire loops, it creates a magnetic field in the armature that reacts against the fixed magnetic fields of the two neodymium magnets, causing the armature to spin.

Changing the number of wire loops, battery voltage, magnet strength, and other factors will affect the speed and torque. Play around to see the results!

With some simple household parts, you can explore motor physics. Just be careful not to electrocute yourself and only play with batteries, not wall current! You can also add things like cardboard fan blades to the spinning armature and make a fun little gadget.