How do you mix DC Motors with Art?

Today is Christmas Eve 2014. What a wonderful time of the year when family and friends have the opportunity to visit, renew friendships, and find out just what happened over the past year. It is also a time of remembering and celebrating when Jesus was born. For those that have put their faith in Him, He has become their Savior. Many biblical historians believe He was born earlier in the year, around the April time frame rather than December. I’m not really hung up on the specific date, but am glad we take the time to understand what He has done for us, especially in the area of giving.

I’m always on the lookout for various DC motors and motor kits. Well, today I had the opportunity to build a brushed DC motor designed and sold by Darcy Whyte from He is an amazing person who loves mixing technology with art. Once you hit his site you will see what I mean.

If you are looking for a site that has interesting inventions such as a clock made of a record, a line follower robot, learning about Arduinos, and many more cool projects, this is the site for you.

He calls this kit a Dinky Motor kit that he sells through his store. Here is a link to his instructional video. I followed the video and had my Dinky Motor running in one hour. The great thing about Darcy’s kit is that he has laser cut all the parts and each part fits perfectly. You can use a touch of glue if you want to, but in reality the parts press together so well it is not necessary to glue any of them.

Below are a few pictures and description of the build:

1 dinky motor parts

Basic parts of the Dinky Motor kit (notice the rare earth magnets)


2 dinky motor frame and armature frame

(L to R) Frame of the motor, armature parts pressed together


3 dinky motor frame & brushes

Frame disassembled so the brushes could be added


4 dinky motor 2 assemblies

Frame of the motor with the brushes installed and the completed armature (with commutator)

5 dinky motor complete

Added a power supply and a door bell to complete the circuit which made it easier to start and stop the motor.

Once all of the parts were assembled, the rare earth magnets were installed (this can be a little tricky), and batteries were wired up, it was time to press the door bell switch to see the armature start move. I did all of the above and pressed the button, but nothing moved – it just sat there!

I knew it wasn’t the batteries or the door bell button since I just took them off another DC motor I took to my son’s wedding a week ago to show some homeschoolers about DC motors.

So, I checked the orientation of the rare earth magnets. They were installed correctly. Next I looked at the rotor and commutator assembly. All of the varnish had been removed from the commutator. That left the brushes. If you remember from other motors I have written about, the brushes are the most difficult to build for brushed motors (that is why I like to make brushless DC motors, or BLDC for short). Sure enough, I had not removed enough of the varnish off the copper wire on one of the brushes. Once I used the sandpaper on one of the brushes and then carefully pressed the armature assembly in place, the Dinky Motor spun up and ran like a top. You can see the motor running in the 20 second video below.


All in all, a great DC motor kit. You can tell that Darcy has had several versions developed and kept improving it each time. I love the simplicity, the attention to detail, the video instructions, and the homemade appearance of the motor. Once you get your kit, you can plan on about an hour to assemble and troubleshoot the motor. One thing you must keep in mind is that you should plan on about (3) AA batteries to power the motor – just so happened I had an extra battery enclosure that I used. Suggestion: you might want to get one of the battery holders from Radio Shack ($2.99 USD) or make a trip to a local electronics shop. This was an enjoyable build and I trust that you will enjoy it as much as I did. Merry Christmas to all.

Quote for the Day: “I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” — Albert Einstein



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