Intro to Fabrication: Motors

A very sinkable ship

I remember learning in physics in high school that blowing one’s own sail wouldn’t actually work in real life. That is, until I found this design where a teacher made the idea work. Apparently if the sail has some slack to it, then propulsion is possible.

Oh great! I have a design, now I can relax. I thought, and then didn’t work on this at all for the next few days while trying to handle the billion essays I still have to write for core classes.

Come Monday, and I realize I have no materials, and nothing ordered would come in before class.

So began the scavenger hunt:

First was the box. I found it sitting around my room and it contained a candle once. I opened the lid and then stuffed the edge in partially, which I realized made it look like the pointed bow of a ship.

The “mast” was then scavenged from the junk shelf. On my first pass by, it wasn’t there, but ten minutes later it showed up and just happened to be a perfect fit. The curved shell of the solder tool fit into the semicircle cutout on the box.

Getting the motor working took the longest. I had a 9V battery and motors that probably only accepted 6V or something. I wasn’t sure if I’d fry the gears inside, but went for it anyway. The first time I connected everything, nothing moved and I thought I’d overloaded the motor. Turns out the battery was just dead and afterwards it stuff started spinning with a replacement.

Also took me like 10 minutes of staring at the wire ends to realize DC adapters were a thing

Next were the scavenged L brackets from the bins. I didn’t have any zipties or the fancy motor brackets, so I thought I’d made my own. Luckily the brackets are slightly magnetic and stuck to the motor, which gave me the idea to lay them down like that, and then screw them in place.




A blog for documenting my thought processes over the course of a project and how I can improve upon them in the future. Writing challenges me to build a “tree trunk’s foundation” [Tim Urban] of knowledge as I tackle new challenges.

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Timmy Zhou

Timmy Zhou

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