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18 year-old electrical engineering student wows with levitating light


July 7, 2012

18 year-old engineering student Chris Rieger has spent the last 6 months building his LevL...

18 year-old engineering student Chris Rieger has spent the last 6 months building his LevLight system, where an LED light module floats in mid-air while wirelessly receiving its power from a coil hidden inside a wooden box

Image Gallery (8 images)

The inclusion of a floating lamp, bed or just about any appropriately-sized household object in a room is almost certain to be received with open-mouthed wonder and demand closer inspection from the curious minds of young and old alike. Add the wireless transfer of power into the mix and you're guaranteed to have a winner. Such is the case with 18 year-old Chris Rieger's LevLight. It's not exactly huge, doesn't break any new ground in a technical sense and is more functional than flashy. Nevertheless, the floating LED is quite the visual feast.

The Electrical Engineering student from the University of Queensland Australia embarked on the six month build project after being inspired by a Jeff Lieberman sculpture called light bulb from 2007. This work not only magically suspends an incandescent light bulb in the space between solid upper and lower blocks, but also provides it with wire-free power.

Using electromagnets to float objects in mid-air is almost certain to be received with ope...

Rieger describes the creation of the levitation mechanism for LevLight as the simple part of the project. He modified a Hall Effect Levitator circuit designed by Eirik Taylor to include 300 meters (984 feet) of 20awg wire for the electromagnetic drive coil and a 3-pin, 1.325mV/g linear hall effect sensor from RS components to provide feedback on the position of the wirelessly suspended light. LevLight uses a low power LED positioned on the bottom of a permanent magnet surrounded by a wireless power transfer circuit (a simple LC circuit).

Not so easy for our intrepid circuit magician was the wireless power transfer mechanism. Of course, we've covered many examples of this kind of technology here at Gizmag over the years and were I asked to choose one, it wouldn't be one of the many mobile device or electric vehicle charging developments but rather the potentially life-enhancing FREE-D system developed by researchers from the University of Washington and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Hidden inside the box: a single wire ring connected to a power supply for the wireless tra...

Rieger's version takes the shape of another circuit modification (this time from the 4HV electronics and science enthusiast site). The setup consists of a single wire ring connected to the power source (a hacked benchtop unit made from an old 350W power supply unit and banana plug ports) and pulling 0.5A at 12V. Send and receive coils were then tuned to matched frequencies.

The drive coil and wireless mechanism are hidden from view inside a wooden enclosure raised on two cardboard box columns and, with the power switched on, the LED light floats in the space underneath. Rieger says that when the power to the levitating system is turned off (or in the event of a power failure) the LED light unit jumps up to attach itself to the base of the wooden box rather than falling to the ground.

Describing LevLight in words is all well and good, but it really needs to be seen to be fully appreciated. To that end, have a look at the demo video below.

Source: Chris Rieger via Hack a Day

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag.   All articles by Paul Ridden

I can see this being used in decorative wall sconces. And the fact that it basically 'Docks' itself during an outage, is a definite plus.

Mark Gilbreath
7th July, 2012 @ 02:01 pm PDT

Bitchin' I want one

Bill Bennett
7th July, 2012 @ 07:22 pm PDT

A great application of existing technologies!

Full compliments to the author for declaring that there is no new science here, just new ideas in applying same. The popular media has a way of running away with headlines (god particle anyone?) - so my hat is off to Paul for telling it like it is.

Accurate science reporting matters.

8th July, 2012 @ 06:23 pm PDT

Kudos to the kid. Cool effect, nice application of existing tech. I like it.

8th July, 2012 @ 08:15 pm PDT

it's cool but I don't think I could convince the apartment upstairs to install a huge electromagnet in their lounge

9th July, 2012 @ 03:18 am PDT

this would look good in our eco trailer

Buzz Knapp-Fisher
9th July, 2012 @ 03:46 am PDT

and people don;t want to live within a mile of power lines

what would the electric field be in here, about 1,000,000 times as much?

9th July, 2012 @ 10:02 am PDT

Frank Herbert's globe light - nice job!

Jansen Estrup
9th July, 2012 @ 10:19 am PDT

Mark, by "docks itself" do you mean that it drops to the floor? Am I missing something there?

9th July, 2012 @ 10:23 am PDT

Nice, My first thought was what happens when powered down? But the self docking feature is way cool..

Facebook User
9th July, 2012 @ 01:21 pm PDT

Looks like powering the levitation would be a waste of energy. Perhaps there's a way to do it with permanent magnets?

Phillip Noe
9th July, 2012 @ 05:19 pm PDT

I agree with samD. A great application of existing technologies!

Accurate science reporting matters.

Deepen Dhulla
10th July, 2012 @ 12:03 am PDT

...Or you could do like "Glo-Globe" does; a lightweight balloon-sized ball, filled w. Helium and a remote controlled turbine in the bottom, lights in different moods including spot ad light-show-mode. Can follow you everywhere and be stationed everywhere. W, batteries or wireless electricity.

Johnny Vulcan
11th July, 2012 @ 04:36 pm PDT

dsiple, yes, you are missing something. Per the last paragraph of the text "Rieger says that when the power to the levitating system is turned off (or in the event of a power failure) the LED light unit jumps up to attach itself to the base of the wooden box rather than falling to the ground."


12th July, 2012 @ 07:09 pm PDT

Interesting to note that the author has not picked up on tesla and Frank Herbert' Dune series.

Tesla for his portable lamp.

Frank Herbert's science fiction series which features a floating lamp called a glow globe.

Great stuff Hector.

Amazing to note how science fiction has come true over the decades.

jules Verne with 20,000 leagues under the sea. (submarines)

Star Trek with hand held scanners and communication devices. (Cell phone's)

Buck Rodger's and others with re usable space craft.

6th August, 2012 @ 03:42 am PDT
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