Exercise 07 > Analog Machine

1ST ATTEMPT – Iron Fillings

For our Analog Machine we decided to explore the pendulum, more precisely within a magnetic field. In order for the pendulum movement to leave its marks we used magnetic powder (CMS Magnetics® 12 oz Industrial Grade Iron Powder) and round magnets.



We started by setting up our experiment. This step consisted in creating a base-like structure for all the test we wanted to carry out. It was made out of Masonite and consisted of a frame that would carry the pendulum at the top and hold up the tray of iron powder. By having such a structure, we believed it would be easier to carry out the different tests since all we would need to do would be replace the tray or the pendulum. We exercise more control over the whole experiment as we were able to command the different variables. Depending on the results we were able to point out the change in the set up, therefore helping us achieve better results and understanding of the final goal.

We assembled the different pieces by using #6 machine screws in order to be able to take things apart and potentially alternate the initial design to achieve different results.



We were sick of building a new framework for every test and trial. We wanted to catalog lots of different ideas in a very controlled manner, so we decided to build a frame that could be constantly altered and added on to. We wanted to be able to just make small new parts when we had new ideas instead of building a new “machine” each time. It was really important to us that we created a coherent and flexible system.




We’ve then set up the powder on the tray and attached the pendulum to the center of the box.

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In order to maintain the round magnet in place, we wrapped it in a very fine net and added a hook to secure it to the thread as seen below.



We first tried the machine by having Iron Powder on the masonite tray without any protection so that the magnet would be able to pick up material as it circled around.Our first attempt was a failure because the thread that was holding the magnetic pendulum was too long.





We shortened the string, left the iron powder unprotected and let the pendulum run. This was successful because we were able to obtain variations within the powder. As the magnet would go over a certain area, the magnetic powder would react and move in the direction in which the magnet is heading.







For our 3rd attempt, we maintained the previous settings but protected the iron powder with an acrylic sheet in order for the magnet not to pick up any material but rather drag it. This attempt was pretty successful because of the clarity of the pendulum movement.


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For our 4th attempt we were able to place two magnets the thread. We wanted to explore the results of having two magnets disturb the iron powder. We did not find the results to be appealing as the results were very basic and comparable to the single magnet tests.






Finally, we were curious to try to attach a pen to the magnet contraption and see the drawing we would achieve. In order for the pendulum to be affected by a magnetic force we added a metal grid under the paper and let the pendulum run. This was a failure because the friction from the pen was slowing down the swing of pendulum that was affected by the grid below. Instead of having the magnetic ball guide the pen, the pen stopped the drawing.