There are several tools available for monitoring electrical metrics (voltage, current, resistance, frequency). I have recently acquired all that I need for these studies.

What tools are available for monitoring magnetic metrics (force, flux, reluctance, intensity, density)?

What I am really looking for is a tool that can give me a 3 dimensional representation of field lines. I am looking for a tool that (perhaps) uses the Hall effect to generate a 3D digital plot of potentially complex field interactions involving multiple magnets (possibly in motion). Are there off-the-shelf tools available within the budget of an average hobbyist? If not, could I build a 3-dimensional array of Hall effect sensors that could be arranged around my experiment to capture fields and field changes over time? I am good with writing software but new to circuit creation.

Add-on question: Are there other tools you would recommend for magnetic studies by a hobbyist?

  • $\begingroup$ It might not be exactly what you're looking for, but ferrofluid is pretty cool and demonstrates magnetics in a pretty tangible #D manner. $\endgroup$
    – grfrazee
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 19:05
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you guys for the ferrofluid suggestion however I am looking for an electronic solution to this problem. I am modifying my question a bit for clarity. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 16:16

1 Answer 1


There is indeed a 3 dimensional analogue of the iron filings experiment and it is often referred to as 'ferrofluid', a google search for the term will yield lots of interesting videos.

In essence it is small ferromagnetic particles suspended in some fluid with the right viscosity, again a search should yield plenty of homebrew recipes and it is certainly well within the scope of hobbyist research and even basic experiments should yield some visually interesting results, in fact ferrofluids are something of a nice medium for kinetic sculpture.

The limitation is that they are still subject to gravity and viscous forces so you won't necessarily be able to visualize complete loops of magnetic field patterns.

Another possible approach might be to use a suspension of very fine aluminium particles in air (in an enclosed space) to use induction to visualise field patterns via magnetic levitation

  • $\begingroup$ Answer stealer! :-) $\endgroup$
    – grfrazee
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 20:22
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think we posted at the same time :) $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 20:29

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