I am currently considering turning my fascination with magnets into a diy activity.

How feasible is it for a hobbyist to construct a working model of a maglev device? I'm looking to build something really small for now,just a demonstrative prototype that can hover over a surface.

I'm looking for a rough idea of cost, time and materials. Is it something that can be attempted while working a full time job?

Does anyone know of any good starting points in terms of literature?

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    $\begingroup$ Cost depends on scale. Is your model an 8'x4' oval, or a rideable backyard installation? $\endgroup$ Jan 20, 2015 at 21:23
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    $\begingroup$ I'd also ask what you want the model to do. Are you looking for a model of a train that moves along a track? Or do you just want something that demonstrates magnetic levitation? $\endgroup$ Jan 20, 2015 at 21:26
  • $\begingroup$ @RickTeachey in really simple terms i just want something that can hover above a surface. $\endgroup$
    – Ibrahim
    Jan 23, 2015 at 12:42
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for all your comments and feedback.@DaveCoffman i'm not looking to build anything rideable, just a small demonstration prototype first and depending on how successful i am, i might build something larger. $\endgroup$
    – Ibrahim
    Jan 23, 2015 at 12:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Ibrahim, I believe you have request to open the question. I suggest that you post a parts list, and scale of your project. This will help community help you. $\endgroup$ Sep 20, 2015 at 16:55

1 Answer 1


Paradoxically, maybe the home-sized magnetic levitation could be a narrow area, where superconducting solutions could be cheap. I explain, why.

Although room-temperature superconductivity is a dream, room superconductivity is not. :-)

There are soon superconducting materials which can be cooled by liquid air, and they aren't even costly.

Liquid air is also relatively cheap. Maybe a liquid air processing machine were costly, but you don't need to buy that. Only to buy the superconducting alloy, and the liquid air (nitrogen). For the first, I tried ebay.

But, it depends what you want to reach. I once played chess with figures levitated by Meissner-effect.

The result could be:

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ See also diamagnetic materials such as a type of graphite that is. This is not superconductive and is not as impressive, but can be done at room temperature. $\endgroup$
    – alan2here
    Dec 2, 2017 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ @alan2here Yes, but in a superconducting system there is an additional effect to stabilize the magnet. In a non-superconducting system you need some dynamical stabilization or a very tricky constructed potential well. $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Dec 2, 2017 at 16:56
  • $\begingroup$ The simplest setup floats a thin sheet of diamagnetic material on top of a N/S & S/N checkerboard of cube or similar shaped NIB magnets. The tricky part is not hurting yourself or breaking the magnets getting them into and out of this configuration, once in position they'll hold themselves firmly together. The diamagnetic graphite is structured as to make cutting into a thin sheet startlingly straightforward. A single row of the magnet grid on its own fails in a spectacular way when disrupted enough at one end. The levitation produced is very week, nothing like as good as with superconductors. $\endgroup$
    – alan2here
    Dec 2, 2017 at 17:17

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