Magnetic Clock Project

magnetic-clock-mockup.jpgI have a new project I’m working on, thanks to the speedy delivery of parts from K&J Magnetics who sent me some strong neodymium magnets, and Nick’s Equipment Sales who sent me some high-torque clock movements. The plan is to build a clock something like the mockup on the right, where the clock has no visible moving parts (no hands) and steel balls glide over the surface with nothing apparently holding them in place. The way it’ll work is that the hands will actually move behind the face of the clock (I haven’t decided on a surface yet), and those hands will have magnetic neodymium discs affixed to them which will bond without touching to matched neodymium spheres which will indicate the time…

Hopefully it’ll look neat. I have a much cooler clock that I’m building with Caitlin that’s a pair of crocheted robots that point out the time that maybe I can post next week…



  1. Wldfire_1 wrote:

    Thats pretty kewl!!!

    Friday, November 30, 2007 at 7:30 pm | Permalink
  2. iDEATH wrote:

    I may have to “borrow” (A.K.A; steal) this idea, that is if you don’t mind.

    Friday, November 30, 2007 at 8:20 pm | Permalink
  3. frzamonkey wrote:

    is the magnetic pull so strong that it will drag grooves into the wood eventually?

    Friday, November 30, 2007 at 9:10 pm | Permalink
  4. Zander Wolfgang wrote:

    Awesome, I’d definitely love to build one of these. How to do manage to come up with ideas like this all the time? I’m amazed I’ve never seen one of these before and I think it would look incredible.

    (If you indexed the number blueprints for original projects Shannon has proposed over the years it would be rediculous.

    Friday, November 30, 2007 at 9:21 pm | Permalink
  5. Lois wrote:

    Years ago I saw this idea on a wristwatch. It was pretty awesome, the (tiny) ball bearing jingled around in the case while walking, but when you stood still the magnet was strong enough to pull it into place to tell the time. I remember it being insanely expensive, although at 14 most things seemed that way.

    But- it will work, for sure.

    Sunday, December 2, 2007 at 12:10 am | Permalink
  6. Reedee wrote:

    Have you looked into the strength of those magnets?
    Aren’t neodymium magnets usually awfully strong?

    If they pull to hard the clock’s arm won’t be able to move, even slightly off and you risk that the clock will drag behind – needing constant time adjustment.

    Let us know how this goes, I have actually been thinking about this idea for quite a while. If it’s easy to get right, I’ll probably do one myself. It’s one hell of a cool clock!

    Sunday, December 2, 2007 at 8:58 am | Permalink
  7. Brendan wrote:

    Any updates on this? I’m interested in trying it also.

    Monday, January 28, 2008 at 1:45 pm | Permalink
  8. Daniel wrote:

    Well… I made one!

    I needed a unique gift for a friend so spent a couple of months designing and building one. Works like a dream. I’ll let you read this full post for more info +photos:

    But in short, you need a very high powered (for a clock) motor. The High Torque ones are no good. Been there done that, got the T-shirt. I opted for a AC Synchronous motor, so it’s accurate. The rotational speed is constant even with varying torque.

    If you want any more info or design details feel free to post on the LaserForum and I’ll get back to you asap.

    Dan :-)

    Thursday, August 7, 2008 at 11:40 am | Permalink
Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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