If you were too late in getting in on the kickstarter project, you can buy the sculptures at promotex’s web site.

If you’ve lost or are missing your assembly instructions, you can download the Regular Sculpture Instructions or the Mini Sculpture Instructions.

Helpful tips for assembling your Magnetic Levitation Sculpture:

  • Sometimes (especially with acrylic) small cutouts don’t fall out.  What I think happens is that so much heat is concentrated it melts the edges a bit too much, causing the acrylic to run a bit and bond with the rest of the piece.  I’ve found that a gentle push from the cutting side (the side that you can see is completely cut) will dislodge it.  If it still won’t (seems to happen with the hex spacer most) you may have to put it on something like a carpet, and tap the center with something a bit harder.  One enterprising Backer used a dremel tool, but I’ve put together about 20, and I’ve never had to go that far.  I had the benefit of being able to make another one if I broke it, but tapping it (not with a hammer!) didn’t ever break it for me. You’re more likely to chip the acrylic if you push from the back than from the front, though, according to another backer.
  • The instructions say ‘Bottom nut should be tight against end of bolt’.  That’s not a suggestion: If its not very tight, the bottom cone won’t raise/lower when you turn the dial.  Ditto for the part where it says ‘Make sure locking nut is tight on elevator bolt.’  Its best to use pliers and/or a screwdriver to get it nice and tight.
  • The bottom cone bold should be assembled so that the nut that fits into the star is about halfway up the bolt.  Otherwise, the cone may be out too far, and you won’t be able to assemble the sculpture!
  • When putting together an acrylic sculpture, its best to use rubber gloves, because acrylic, like glass, seems to attract smudges left by fingers. I usually wore one glove to hold it, and used the un-gloved hand to peel the protective backing off. Its probably easier to remove all the backing before starting to assemble.
  • If you’re putting together one of the mirrored versions, be very careful when assembling to get the mirrored surface on the correct side.  Especially take note that the upper assembly is put together upside down, so adjust accordingly!  It may also make a difference how you’re going to display it. If its at eye level, you’ll want the surfaces above and below the cones to be mirrored, but if you’re looking down at it, you’ll want the tops to be mirrored.
  • If you’re putting together an MDF, Baltic Birch, or mirrored version, remember that two of the legs will be oppositely cut. They should be put on either side of the ‘Strong Magnet!’ text for maximum effect.

Any other tips? Feel free to comment!

13 Responses to Levitator

  1. scott kreger says:

    Thanks for all the help. Got it assembled, but can’t get the levitation effect. The object jumps to the top cone even when I lower very slowly. Any suggestions? Also not sure what you mean on your last tip. All three legs look identical.
    Thanks again.

    • John says:

      Hi Scott,

      How much space is there between the cube magnet and either of the cones? You should start with a mm or so gap, and once that’s levitating, slowly expand that with the bottom adjuster until you have the maximum gap where levitation will be stable. Once the gap gets too big, the bismuth is too far from the cube magnet and so doesn’t push off enough to balance the effect on the opposite bismuth cone.


  2. Richard says:

    Finally assembled by Levitator!

    Just a few general observations before hitting the gallery..

    1. The tips about the nuts are definitely essential.
    Pliers recommended! In fact, you might as well drop a bit of threadlocker in there once you’ve got it fastened ‘securely’.
    In my particular Levitator the tightening was extra-crucial as the thread of the magnet assembly bolt unfortunately has a ding/dent (factory? shipping? who knows) – although the nut could clear it after some forcing, on first assembly I had not tightened the lock nut securely enough for it to overcome the stress in turning the top adjustment wheel past the ding/dent (unfortunately it’s right in the sweet spot for levitation, too.. grrr) and the magnet would no longer raise/lower properly.

    2. Download the PDF, even if you did get your instructions.
    The reason for this is simple, the instructions booklet is pretty small and it’s difficult to see if you got things quite right – much easier to see things in the PDF (or assembly video!)
    One thing that stood out for me was that the PDF made it clear that the bottom bolt is depicted as having a round head, while mine was conical.

    3. Contrary to one of the tips above, I left the adhesive protections on as long as possible.
    The reason for this is that if you remove all the adhesive prior to assembly, all the parts will be collecting dust that simply settles down. By only removing it at the last moment (make sure you can still access it!) you can keep dust between layers (such as around the wheels) to a minimum.

    4. Fit parts before removing the adhesive protections.
    While I’m at it… I’m not sure if this applies to all the sculptures, but in my case one of the nut-plates for the magnet assembly – specifically the special KickStarter backer limited edition plate – was a little too tight for the other plates. Nothing a sharp utility knife can’t fix (sanding would make the sides quite opaque unless you’d plan on heating it afterward!), but the scrapings would have collected on it.

    5. Re-use the adhesive protection.
    Another tip for those working with the clear or other acrylic versions: dust, lint, etc. is fairly easily removed by dabbing the adhesive you peeled off earlier over the surface – this even works, to an extent, for fingerprints should have inadvertently left them.

    Thanks again for the great Levitator sculpture, John!

    If I had to give you any critique (can one critique the author of a sculpture?) it would be to use domed nuts for the ends (visually more pleasing, especially on top!), print larger assembly instructions (and perhaps expand the number of steps slightly), and if possibly increase the segmentation of the lines used for the cutter to make even smoother curves :)

    Proud owner of 01/26!

    • John says:

      Thanks Richard! Great advice!

      Re: Larger assembly instructions… I searched all over the place, and the next size up would have been a bit too big to fit in the box without crumpling, and I wanted the instruction booklet to be as nice as possible. The size I used was called the ‘mini pamphlet’. The next size down I believe was 5.5×8.5 (half of 8.5×11).

      Re: Segmentation of the lines. You’re absolutely right. The laser was sloooowing down around any curves, causing excess melting, so I tried to convert the curves into straight line segments, trying to keep to keep enough line segments so it still looked smooth. I only found out later that I could have turned off an ‘accuracy vs speed’ option so that it actually goes the same speed around curves as on straight lines. The accuracy it would be missing would be fractions of a mm, which wouldn’t have been noticable with these sculptures…

      Thanks for supporting the kickstarter project and uploading your photo! :)


      • Richard says:

        Good rationale on the curves; I noticed I had a few of those ‘stuck bits’ where even on the relatively straight cut some bits got re-melted together. They snapped off quite cleanly, though, but I can imagine that if the laser cutter was trying for high precision then the motors would have to go slowly so as not to overshoot indeed.

        You’re welcome! Back to levitating.. should be able to get 2mm clearance on either side with a lot of patience ( right now it’s at about 1.5mm for the 4th time, then I look at it funny and *clack* it’ll ‘stick’ to either side again :) )

  3. Richard says:


    Congrats! Figured it was them from the KickStarter hints :)

  4. Michael Lustig says:

    I purchased the Mini Levitator from Thinkgeek, but the little magnetic cube broke into three pieces upon impacting a magnet. Can I get a replacement cube?


    • John says:

      Hi Michael,

      Yes, the Neodymium magnets are quite brittle. They’ll last forever just floating there, but put the bigger magnet close to the little one, and you’ll soon see how powerful and brittle they are.

      Promotex (who also sells the mini levitator as well as the full sized versions) is selling spare magnets in packs of 4. I would recomend putting the spare ones aside somewhere, as even letting two of those smash together can result in one or both breaking.


  5. James Horner says:

    I have just finished building a ‘full sized’ acrylic levitator. I do have a question.
    Have you ever tried to use 1/2″ cubes, or 3/4″ cubes, or other sized shapes?
    I thought a larger magnet might be more in scale with the Levitator. It would also make it easier to see when it is slowly revolving or suspended between the 2 bismuth cones.
    What are your thoughts?

    Thanks so much,


    • John says:

      Hi James!

      Yes, larger cubes and other shapes do work. However, because the bismuth is such a weak diamagnetic (compared to the strength of the magnets, that is) it doesn’t have enough strength to push a magnet more than a few mm up or down, when its balanced between gravity and the lifter magnet. Therefore, it doesn’t look nearly as impressive when the gap is a small fraction of the overall size of the magnet. The 3/16″ size we’ve found gives the best tradeoff between size of magnet and gap obtainable.

      Much larger bottom magnets would also mean the distance between them and the lifter magnet would have to increase, and we might have to increase the size of the entire structure. We’ve found that 90% of consumers prefer a smaller version than a larger one. (In fact, we’ve had requests for a 3″ version, but at that size the magnet would only be able to be levitated one or two mm, and wouldn’t be nearly as impressive.) We experimented quite a bit with different sized and strengths of magnets before coming up with the perfect size for the ‘full sized’ levitator (so you could experiment with different shapes and sizes of magnets) and the ‘mini’ levitator (if you just wanted to show a small cube levitating as a showpiece).

      Thanks for your comment and questions!


      • James Horner says:

        Hi John,
        Thanks so much for your thoughts and advice.
        I might experiment a bit, but I’m very happy with what I’ve already got!
        I just was always thinking “What a large device for such a teenie magnet”, that’s all.
        The space tolerance for a larger magnet is MUCH harder to achieve. The magnet goes very quickly from adhering to the the top cone to dropping to the bottom cone. Very hard to to turn the wheels in 1/000ths of an inch to achieve a floating state.
        Oh well, just thought I would ask and try.

        Thank you again.


  6. Philipp Walliser says:

    Dear John Fehr

    I recently saw your Magnetic Levitation Sculpture on Kickstarter and I was very sad that I can not find a place to buy one (not even on ThinkGeek).
    However I would still love to get one of these. I am especially interested in the limited edition clear acrylic version. I would really appreciate if you could show me a place to buy one (international shipping would be needed).
    Thanks for you help and best greetings from switzerland

    Philippe Walliser

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