Tuesday, December 21, 2004


A Fractal Pyramid (Supermag)

After numerous failed attempts at creating a bridge with an unsupported length of over 14 long pieces in length I decided to build something else instead.

It's a fractal pyramid. It's a basic 3-sided pyramid that repeats itself on the bottom corners over and over again. I ran out of long pieces and had to use some short pieces instead, but the result is still really neat looking.

Here's two different views of the result:

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This construction uses 623 long rods and 911 short rods. Hope you like it :).

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Big pile of magnets

After getting 3 more boxes of Supermag 219 I was ready to build a better bridge. Sadly enough it collapsed before it got done and left me with a big pile of magnets. I tried an alternative 'road' structure and it looked really neat. The unsupported road was 13 long pieces in length, and trying to make it into a suspension bridge caused the collapse.

In the meantime, last Friday I received a sample of the new length of Supermag rods from Plastwood. I've played with them a little in an attempt to figure out different uses for them and am having a hard time to see where two of the new lengths come into play. I guess they can be used for modeling, but I was hoping that every length would allow a new shape of solid to be built. But I'm far from done with them so you'll see more about these pieces in future updates.

Oddly enough, out of the manufacturers I contacted with a request for samples so I could do a comparison between the different brands ONLY Plastwood responded and actually got me some sample pieces. To me it shows that at least some of the other brands don't think their product stands up to the competition.

Once I manage to create something interesting that isn't a big collapsed pile of magnets, I'll post here about it.


Friday, December 03, 2004


More photos of my constructions

As promised, here are a few more constructions I've built with Supermag/Geomag.

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This long bridge uses 813 short rods and 298 long rods, with an unsupported span of over 48 cm (19 inches). While it's possible to build a longer bridge, I was using a slightly weakened structure since I didn't have enough pieces to fill out the full structure of the road.

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This is probably the most impressive structure I've built to date. It is a sphere made out of 810 bars (short Supermag bars) on top of a five-sided tower. Of course, as soon as I tried to add an additional layer of tower (30 bars) on top of the sphere, the sphere collapsed.

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This is a favorite of my coworkers, as it is a nice tower that reaches clear to the ceiling where a few magnets sticking to a metal support add a lot of stability to the tower. The hard desk with a metal plate inside it makes for an excellent base. I have tried a few times to build a tower like this from the floor to see how tall I can make it but carpet just doesn't offer the required stability. Next time I'll try it with a metal plate on the floor to see just how tall I can build.

That's all for now. The tower is still standing and once it is knocked down I'll be building something else. Until then, if you have any questions or suggestions let me know.


Thursday, December 02, 2004


Some Magnetic strength tests

A few weeks ago I did a little experiment that I thought was interesting.

As an experiment to figure out which brand of magnetic construction toy is the strongest, I performed some tests where I carefully held a magnetic rod in place while I tried to add steel spheres 10mm in diameter to the bottom of the rod. I tried this several times for each brand, and the best results are shown here:

Geomag (PlastWood) - 14 balls
Geomag (GeomagSA) - 14 balls
Supermag (long rod) - 14 balls
Magnetix - 8 balls (43% weaker than the top brands)
MagneStix - 7 balls (50% weaker than the top brands)
Cheap knockoffs - 5 balls (64% weaker than the top brands)

These results are remarkable in that Geomag claims it's 25% stronger magnetically than Supermag, and that the new bars made by GeomagSA are stronger than the ones made by PlastWood. In my tests, this was not the case and they are all the same strength.



My magnetic collection

Currently I own the following number of magnetic rods:

Geomag: 103 rods
Supermag: 456 long rods, 819 short rods
Magnetix: 42 rods
MagneStix: 120 rods
Misc. Knockoffs: 36 rods


A tall bridge

Here's a picture of my first attempt at a magnetic bridge. It was pretty sturdy and tall. Hope you like it.

Magnetic bridge

Since then I've made a bridge that was a lot longer, but since I didn't have that many more magnets than I had when I made this one it wasn't very tall. I'll post a picture of that one in the future.


The Eiffel Tower

Here's my attempt at building the Eiffel Tower using a combination of Supermag and Geomag

Magnetic Eiffel Tower

It's not perfect, and I have seen a better recreation online somewhere, but I still like it and it was generally recognized by everyone who walked by.


Magnetic Construction Toys

There are several magnetic construction toys on the market today. At Walmart you can buy Magnetix. Target has Magnetix and Geomag, while Toys 'R Us has Magnetix, Geomag and Supermag available. On the other hand, Sam's Club only has Supermag (and it's a good deal too).

The basic principle is the same between all brands: Magnetic bars and steel balls connect together to allow you to construct basic geometric shapes. But not every brand offers the same quality or magnetic strength. Each brand offers their own speciality pieces as well to allow for more flexibility in your designs and so on.

But which brand is the best?

There really are only two contenders to the claim and it is a matter of your own preference: Supermag and Geomag. The reason these two are the best is because instead of two magnets inside a plastic rod, they have a steel rod all the way through the bar. This way the magnetic field can be completed without having to leave one end open all the time, creating a superior magnetic strength. The Geomag website is quite informative and explains it better than I can.

Basically, Supermag and Geomag have the same magnetic strength and are both high quality toys. Both are expensive and you'll have to spend a lot of money before you can build anything big.

Why Geomag is better than Supermag:
Why Supermag is better than Geomag:
Personally, I prefer Supermag. The tapered ends really do make a difference and I prefer having two lengths of rods over the cheap looking panels. I'm more of a purist I suppose. Although I do think that the Geomag rods look better, I'm sticking with Supermag.

Once I find an image host, I'll post some photos of my constructions.


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