Maglev. Struggle.

-Pattie A.

Hello! Happy March! As the semester progresses, our project, mind, frustration, questioning and confusion progresses with it too. I finally narrowed down on what I wanted to do for my maker project and I paired up with two other girls and decided on a mini maglev train.

A maglev train is a train that doesn’t exactly require wheels. The train moves because of the magnetic force around it. Because of its circumstances, the train moves as the magnets pass energy from one atmosphere to the next. The faster the energy is moving from one magnetic force to the next, the faster the train moves.

Since we aren’t capable of building a life size train, we decided on doing a mini model. Creating a mini maglev train was not the first idea we had quite in mind. We all agreed on creating a train. The original idea was that it would have a motor and a control. Then, one of my partners thought that would be too hard, so she thought of making it move with magnets (not maglev). As the north rejects the south pole, it would cause a push, and the more force, the stronger the push. We agreed on that idea, then we saw that it wasn’t quite easy. We would need strong magnets and more time to make that possible.

We talked to the makers space Manager and he gave us the idea of a maglev train. One of my partners completely flipped and fell in love. On the other hand, I was quite confused. I had multiple trains in mind and I wasn’t sure how a maglev train functioned. As we YouTubed the train, I saw how interesting it was. I still doubted that it was possible, but as we continued to discuss the situation, we eventually narrowed it down.

hell work

As we brainstormed exactly how it would work, we realized that there were multiple ways to create the train. The first possibility was making a magnetic track and using nitrogen to help the train levitate. I loved the idea. First off, it would be quicker and a lot easier. We wouldn’t have to worry about gluing magnets to the bottom of the train or worry about the weight of the train. To be exact, we wouldn’t have to worry about the train being too heavy for the magnets to levitate. Bingo right? No. One of my partners thought it was too easy, of course. She wanted to start from plain scratch.

The second way to make the train (the way we chose to do it) was by designing a box, laser cutting it, gluing together, creating a train track, gluing the magnets to the track, placing the magnets underneath the box aka train and making it levitate. I totally disagreed. I thought it was too hard, too much time and if we did end up failing, it would be a complete shame. I was picturing us trying 20 different things and still failing. My partner didn’t let me finish explaining why we shouldn’t do it. “No! We need to get the full experience.” She was right. Even though it was a lot of work to do, it would be fun to see us brainstorming from scratch to creating an entire maglev train.

Everything we do is a risk. There isn’t a thing that is easy. There are shortcuts, but it would be like cheating.

We continued to YouTube mini maglev trains and I started to see how it wasn’t as complicated as I pictured. As we started designing the box and laser cutting it, I realized how everything that seems complex really isn’t. All you have to do is break it down into multiple steps. The more thought out the steps are, the simpler and easier the overall thing/idea is.

I’m slowly starting to get more and more comfortable with the idea and now I am actually really excited to see the train come to life! We don’t have our track built yet, but as soon as we do, we will for sure get started on making out train levitate AND if we do have extra time, we will create a small town for the train to go around with!

Throughout the process of this, I have learned two major things. First, you can never stick with one idea. We originally originally had a globe in mind, then a train and we ended up working with a maglev train. As you think of your idea you come up with many others and you just can’t park with one. Second, don’t be scared of complexity. Everything is complex, we just tend to overlook the simple stuff in which we identify as simple. I learned to stop being scared of challenges and go with it!
I am so excited to see where we end up!

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