Odds are, you've played with magnets. Maybe you have a few on your fridge door, or you have one of those nice new computers with magnetic power-cable plugs. Perhaps you might remember them from an Intro Physics course. Well, I got a link to this really cool video from a friend just the other day and immediately decided it just had to be my Seek 'n Geek for this week.
A pair of magnets that attract - only up to a point? Sure, the idea of holding magnets such that they will work as springs is something you probably discovered while playing with the sets on your fridge back when you were a kid. But you had to hold them there! Yup, there's MagLev too, but that requires feedback systems and complex controls.
How about getting a couple of magnets that do this in a stable configuration, on their own? Sure, you might need to put them on a shaft to keep them aligned. But that's it! No need to give any more support than that! The parts will pull towards a fixed spacing and behave as a spring from there. Give them a slight twist as you would a door knob, and bam! They finally come into contact and lock the way you expect!
Build custom patterns and designs, make a track for a follower - anything from a regular steel ball to a properly equipped robot... How about a magnetic coupling that requires just the one plate instead of numerous embedded magnets?
Here, just take a look at these links:
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