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The Mendocino motor is a solar-powered magnetically-levitated electric motor.

Schematic construction - Mendocino Motor

Schematic construction of the Mondocino - Motor: The both colors red and green are symbolize for the poles of the magnets. Red for the North Pole and green is the South Pole. The round magnets are for the levitating and the square magnet for the rotation. The rear brace is holding the rotor. For a very low friction is the shaft end taper to a point (HSS-drill) and goes on a mirror.
The schematics of the Mendocino - Motors: Altogether we have four solar cells arranged in a square. The upper cell shows to the light and the opposite (downsite) shows in the shadow. We have two cells connected in series. It looks like mysterious because there will be have a short circuit. Practice has shown that is functional. It´s always one of the both cells go into action and it build up a voltage. The cell in shadow site is closed and a current will flow over the rotor winding. We turn the rotor to the opposite (180°) and this coil have a reversed polarity. This produced magnetic field which interacts with the field of the magnet under the rotor. This interaction causes the rotor to turn. As the rotor rotates, the next solar cell moves into the light and energizes the second winding. This process repeats as the motor spins.

In my example I have used solar cells (65x20mm) with a half volt output and a current of 250mA. The strength of magnetic field (Durchflutung / magnetomotive force) is the product from the number of turns in the winding and the current in the wire. For a "high" electricity flows we need a "thicker" copper wire.

I used a coil with 100 windings and a thick from 0,22mm (lacquer-coated wire). The resistor is 9 Ohm. The current, a product of, voltage (V) and resistor (R): I=V/R = 0,5/9 = 55mA and that is enough. That ist what we need as a minimum for your solar cells. My cells have 250mA at sunlight. Unfortunately, the power goes down with decreasing sunlight. For that reason we need any reserves for it.
Here my first try to levitate. All magnets are neodymium-magnets.
Now the motor armature on the shaft: The silver wire go through the shaft to connect the solar cells. For balancing it i made three tapped holes for grub screws. So it´s possible a fine adjustment.
So let's go and check out if their all be ok? On the top you can see a very thick copper wire it´s also to balancing the rotor. I never believed that the weight of the cells are so different.

And finaly the Mendocino - Motor on my windowsill.
Now running.
The frame is milled from aluminium and screw connected.
Here you can see how the wire goes to the mount inside.
On the opposite the mirror for a low friction. The mirror is glued to the brace.
Top view.
With flowerpot.
And now with two flowerpots :-)

Version 2

I am sorry to say that, so far, the tip of the shaft has bored into the mirror. These lead to a deterioration of the running properties. In the weak light the mondocino motor can´t start to run and in addition it started to reel.

Conclusion: First my mirror had to be removed and must be replaced by a very hard material. I found a ceramic indexable inserts (Polycrystalline Boron Nitride Indexable Inserts - PCBN).

The most mendocino motors has a mirror to hold the rotor but there use ballpoint refills. This is much softer than my 3mm HSS-drill. It remains to be seen how it work.

Supplement : Half a year after, the motor is always running. It´s nothing to see on the PCBN ;-)

Video      My channel on YouTube


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Comments and questions (60)

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  • Comment by Neville Geneff 19.12.2019, 13.38

    This paper proposes a solar cooking system.

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  • Comment by Kindra Crume 06.06.2019, 13.54

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  • Comment by TONY 22.05.2016, 03.50

    hi how are you .i am intersted to know about if you are haveing a open source mean if you can help peoples are intersted to like to get more info or if i like to make project like you did could you send me info step by step please kindly let me know thanks

    TONY my email is

  • Comment by Irwin Ford 23.03.2016, 06.51

    Their adorable comfy bird faces are somewhat some sort of trademark
    that can conquer all of the hungry green pigs. s important to listen to
    your teen through out the conversation. Lots of land bound birds
    produce extremely one of a kind arrangements of shapes and color patterns in dimensions that are unrivaled.

  • Comment by Jack 21.08.2015, 08.03

    Who do I contact to purchase two for my nephews and nieces to be in awe and enjoy ?

  • Comment by 11.02.2015, 13.29

    Very Very good.

  • Comment by Tony 31.01.2015, 20.09

    Thanks for posting the instructions.
    I have just completed the build and it now works perfectly.
    I had a bit of trouble to start with as it wouldn't spin.
    The problem was that I had the wrong cells.
    I had 0.3 volt cells instead of 0.5 volts, they looked identical.
    I replaced the cells and it worked first time.

  • Comment by John Parkinson 19.10.2014, 02.30

    I'm interested in building one.

  • Comment by Daniel 15.06.2014, 03.03

    Where did you get the HSS point you use for the thrust bearing? Did you grind the point yourself from a blank or drill bit, or were you able to find the point pre-made?

  • Comment by arne 01.05.2014, 20.01

    I have 8 0.5V 0.850A solar cells and 0.25mm copper wire,i want to use 2 solar cells on each side, but I can't decide if I should connect them is series or parallel. And how long should one spool be? I tried to calculate this but I think my result (0.855m in parallel and 3.4m in series, for one spool)is wrong.
    This would give me only 2 or 8 windings on each spool. Is this enough?

  • Comment by dragoola69x 28.01.2014, 02.28

    hay i have seen you vid on youtube and i would like to use your motor in a project i'm working on to power my laptop.
    1. can i
    2. could you sent your cad file and or your blueprints of how to do it to my email (

  • Comment by steli 02.12.2013, 21.17


    The engine is great and you show very well how to built.
    I also want to build one I have solar cells 4v and 65 ma (10 cm* 3 cm )I also have copper wire 0.10mm (if need i will search for 0.22 but hope the coils will not be to big)
    Please if you can help me
    can I use this solar cells ??? and how to calculate the coils Don t know exactly how to calculate

    Thank you

  • Comment by Daniele 24.08.2013, 13.28

    Dear Anderen,
    I'm trying to build an economic "mendocino motor" with n4 solar cell 2,5V peak with 80mA max current. The size of the cells is 40 x 40 mm.
    Could u tell me how many turns of copper wire have to be made? I have a copper wire 0,2 mm thick.
    Thanks in advance

  • Comment by Juan 07.06.2013, 05.30


    Thanks for all the great instructions. I was hoping you could send me the CAD files on the base and sides to my email at

  • Comment by Samuele 04.05.2013, 23.37

    Really good work. I decided to realize this kind of motor for the exam. Can you tell me de sizes of te block that fix the 2 circular magnet, the force of the magnet and the distance of the suspended magnet? Thanks for your help.

    If you can give me a model with the distances i release my e-mail. sorry for my English. thanks a lot.

  • Comment by Koz 24.04.2013, 00.40

    I was wondering if I could get your cad file drawing for the armature. Please send to Thank you in advance. Very good instructions.

  • Comment by Chris 22.03.2013, 00.51

    I have 6.7 v 40 mA solar cells. I don't believe that these are powerful enough to make the motor. I am looking for new cells.
    The magnets I have are 3/4 inch x 1/4 inch ID x 1/4 inch thick grade 48. Approx 6pounds of pull force.
    I have 32 wag wire.
    I am trying to figure out what resistor I need... How do I calculate so I can purchase the right cells? I was looking at 3.7 v 200 mA. And . 5 v 200 ma. Which would be better?? How do I determine the resistor? Any help would appreciated.

  • Comment by Rick 27.02.2013, 12.45

    I want tot make A mendocino motor for my school science project but i am having A hard time doing it could you please send me A CAD of your rotor with the windings? And other dimensions or measurments. I woud be very thankfull
    Greats rick.

  • Comment by Jan Willem 14.01.2013, 21.16


    Your projects are very impressive and nicely documented, thanks! (You inpired me to make my own Mendocinomotor)
    I was wondering how you mount the magnets on the shaft of the Mendocinomotor, you use black rings
    but what who is the manufacturer? Or did you use a custom made ring with glue?
    Hope to hear from you!
    Jan Willem

    Answer: The black rings are rubber o-rings to hold the magnets but over time the magnets loosen on the shaft. So I needed o-rings and shaft stick together.
    The o-rings can you buy everywhere - hardwareshop or ebay.

  • Comment by Frank 28.12.2012, 03.17

    Hi My name is Frank. I did purchase the magnets. But I need to know where to get the solar panels and the block that mounts them.
    Thank you in advance

    Answer: Search for "0.5V250MAH MONOCRYSTALLINE SOLAR PANELS"
    size: 65x20mm and the "block" are selfmade.

  • Comment by Chris 16.12.2012, 02.14

    Thanks for posting these great instructions, really nice work. I am still at a loss, though. When I connect even just one or both solar cells (0.5V/250mA) to the coil (26 gauge/10m/50 turns), nothing happens, no magnetic field, nothing. If I hook up a battery AAA1.5V, the electromagnet works just fine. The cells also work. Where should I look for the cause ?

    Answer: Sorry, but I have no idea.

  • Comment by 17.11.2012, 16.20

    I have a questoins about the wireing between the solar cells and the coil.!!!

    Answer: And I have the answer!

  • Comment by nader eid 16.11.2012, 20.08

    I like to do this for my science fair project. But I do not understand how to do the wiring between the solar cells and the coil.

    Answer: Look the schematic there you will found all about the connection.

  • Comment by Alan 01.11.2012, 15.23

    My lack of the German language (vielen Dank) in red above after comment is added

  • Comment by Alan 01.11.2012, 15.18

    I have never seen such quality instructions on all of your projects and your openness to share. This is a fascinating web site and I will be passing it on, thats provided I dont start building all of your designs. 100 out of 100. Keep the good work up

  • Comment by David 19.10.2012, 17.10

    Thank you sir, for your willingness to share your knowledge with others! Thanks to you, my son and I are well on our way to making a very large solar motor, with a rotor size of about a 12". We are taking steps to reduce the overall weight, and at some point we plan to share our findings with you! Thanks, and God bless, David and Carson

  • Comment by David 17.10.2012, 19.05

    Hello Sir,
    Could you please let me know how wide, and deep of a coil groove you think I will need to support a coil with 216 passes of 30 gauge coated wire? Do you think a 3/16 X 3/16 groove will do? Thanks, David

    Answer: OK, I try it. First 30 gauge are approx. 0,25mm and 3/16" are approx. 4,76mm. I use 100 passes of 0,22mm coated wire. My groove is 3,5x2mm. 3,5x2=7mm and you will 4,76x4,76=22,68mm and now 22,68mm / 7mm = 3,2 perfekt. Yes the groove is big enough!

  • Comment by paul 11.10.2012, 21.51

    Hi, that would be a great help as i am hoping to machine the aemature this weekend... my email address is once again thanks

    p.s i will be using HDPE for the armature.

  • Comment by Paul 11.10.2012, 04.50

    Hi, AWESOME..!!I am going to make one of these and i already have bought the correct (0.5v 280mA) solar cells from futurlec arrived yesterday but i am having trouble sourcing the magnets from they are yet to reply to several emails...i may have to try source something locally. my question is about the motor armature, i am currently trying to CAD it up but i am unsure of the depth of the recess for the windings..? is it possible to get a sketch/CAD of the armature with associated dimensions...??
    At the moment mine is 60mm long X 35 wide with a 1.5mm pocket for the solar cell and below that a 4mm pocket with holes for (balancing)grub screws/resistors/wires.


    Answer: Hi Paul, yes it's possible. Give me your mail-adress and I will send you the CAD from the armature.
    The depth of the recess for the windings is 3,5mm and the width is 2mm.

  • Comment by David 04.10.2012, 23.09

    Hello, I\'m trying to help my son build a Mendocino motor for his science fair project this coming year, (2013). We wanted to make a larger one, so it\'s easer to see. It needs fill his booth a little more than a small one. We bought four light weight \"Power-film\" panels that are 6V, 100mA, and are 114 x 150mm x 8 mil thick. So as you can see they should make a pretty large rotor. My question to you sir is: Is it possible to make a solar motor that big that works? What size wire should we use for the field windings, and how do we figure what size magnets are needed to support the rotor? will we need to build it first in order to know its weight? Thanks for any advice you might have for us! God bless, David & Carson.

    Answer: First, I think it is possible. The problems are: the weight and the distance from the center to the outside of the rotor. If the weight too high you need a bigger magnet for a good result. If the rotor to big is the coil also large and the center of this coil is so far away to your bottom magnet. I think it's possible but no efficient.
    You have panels 6V and 100mA. The maximum resistor of your coil is: resistor = 6V/0,1A that is a maximum of 60Ohm for your coil. I used a Cu-Wire of diameter 0,22mm and I recommend it to you. The specific impedance of copper is 0,01687Ohm*mm/m. We looking for meter. Meter=60Ohm * (wire cross section/specific impedance)... wow = 60*0,03801/0,01687 is round 135m. OK you need for two coils max. 270m.
    Now, your panal has a size of 114x150 that means the coil have a size 114*SQRT(2)x150mm and we have 622mm for one winding. That's look good, 135m / 0,622 = 216 windings for one coil. It's so easy ;-)
    If the weight to high you can try a "STANDING MENDOCINO MOTOR" that is a vertical design of the mendocino motor.
    Good luck for you and your son.

  • Comment by Sugeng 17.09.2012, 05.06

    Answer :
    No, this is not a good idea. If you would like to have energy use the power of solar cells directly.

    if so, what for people make solar mendocino motor? I think there is a round there used to generator

  • Comment by Paul 16.09.2012, 05.27

    I was wondering if you could describe where you sourced the bearing point from? I have been able to locate / build everything else, but an at a loss to find an HSS point that isn't a drill bit.

    Absolutely beautiful.

    Answer: Well, you can buy it. Search for "INDEXABLE CERAMIC CUTTING TOOL INSERTS" on ebay. Or you goes to the next machining workshop in your neighborhood and ask for it. So you can save a lot of money.

  • Comment by sugeng 10.09.2012, 03.29

    how can you produce electricity after mendocino running

    Answer: No, this is not a good idea. If you would like to have energy use the power of solar cells directly.

  • Comment by Carlos 01.09.2012, 13.30

    Great project! I'm building one based in your specifications.
    I just want to know where I can find the motor armature material (the tecapeek) where did you got yours? I've made one in foam but I really don't like the final result.
    Thanks for all the detailed informations in your site, it's really a great help.

    Answer: Forget tecapeek, take what you have. The armature material does not matter, if the material is not magnetic. You can take another plastic, wood or acrylic. Not suitable is aluminium. I hope it helps.

  • Comment by Doug Johnson 21.08.2012, 03.10

    Addressing which solar sells to run in series in a 4 cell config. would it be the ones opposite or the ones adjacent?
    Please reply to thanks

    Answer: Take a pair of series opposed in erery config.

  • Comment by Erik 17.08.2012, 03.32

    Thank you very much for taking the time to share these plans.
    I hate to ask for more of your time, but I would appreciate your advice. Of all the cells listed on, which do you think would be ideal for the Mendocino Motor?
    Thank you,

    Answer: Take the 0.5V 280mA Solar Cell with dimensions 60mm x 30mm x 2.8mm (LxWxD).

  • Comment by Gabriele 06.07.2012, 17.42


  • Comment by Gilbert Bouquet 29.03.2012, 18.31

    Uoy have built a very nic motor! I also made one and it runs fine, but now and then there is an oscillation in the shaft. If I have bad look, the rotor falls. Do you have any idea how to prevent that? Thanls

    Answer: Try to change the magnets on the shaft. Not all magnets have a uniform magnetic field.

  • Comment by karthi 22.03.2012, 05.48

    how do you connect the windings with the solar cell

    Answer: All infos find you at the schematic.

  • Comment by Greg Garriss 05.03.2012, 20.31

    Truly a machine of sublime beauty. Thank you for posting your work. I can hardly wait to build one.

    Answer: Thank you very much.

  • Comment by George 14.02.2012, 10.32

    Thanks a lot man!

  • Comment by Ronald 12.02.2012, 16.44


    Your Mendocino Motor is just awesome. I was wondering if you have a shopping list for the parts that you used, so that i can just buy them from the internet. Or maybe I can buy them from you? I can't seem to find the magnets online.

    Answer: Thank you, no i don't have a shopping list and I sell nothing. All magnets can you find by (shaft RM-12x04x06-N and the bottom RM-15x08x06-N)

  • Comment by George 08.02.2012, 12.46

    I'v search on internet, but i can't find any cell match your description, can you help?
    all the solar cell that i find for 250mA is double side then yours. and the power in V is 7.5V, and 250mA.
    Can you give me some advices refer to the solar panel??

    Answer: Searching to "0.5V250MAH MONOCRYSTALLINE SOLAR PANELS" on ebay. I have it from Great Britain.

  • Comment by Hari 02.02.2012, 15.00

    what type of magnets have you used??

    Answer: Nd2Fe14B

  • Comment by Keith 29.01.2012, 06.16

    Guess I'm waste'n my time asking questions here.

    Answer: Don't panic. I don't understand your question. I have two coils and every coil has 100 windings. Every of this is set in the diagonal of the armature. I hope your question is answered.

  • Comment by Keith 22.01.2012, 04.23

    Does Wrapping the motor with the magnet wire involves carefully wrapping the wire in the grooves around the block 100 times in sets of ten alternating on each side of the dowel ?

  • Comment by Igor 08.12.2011, 21.49

    Thank you for this great site. It really helped me a lot.

    I just have one question. Is it possible to use 8 magnets in base and have it completely levitating?
    Instead of 2 have rotor magnet suspended between 4 magnets in the base on each side. And eliminate vertical stopper thingy.

    Sorry for bothering you with this. I would test it myself but I don't have magnets and they are very expensive in Serbia where I live. And I wouldn't want to buy more than I need.

    Thank you very much in advance.

    Answer: Unfortunately it is not possible.

  • Comment by John from Australia 02.12.2011, 02.39

    Great Job on the Video and the Project is brilliant,
    I was wondering if maybe you had a couple of Neo Magnets arranged so as to eliminate the "wear factor" on the shaft end?,perhaps by placing a small round magnet affixed to the upright and another fixed to the shaft end with both ends setup with reversed button magnets so as to suspend the shaft between them? maybe ?.
    Keep up the great work and thanks for all the effort you've put into tis presentation.

  • Comment by John Hubbard 12.10.2011, 21.09

    Also, the machine work is excellent as well.

  • Comment by John Hubbard 12.10.2011, 21.08

    Beautiful explanation and diagrams/pictures. Thank you for going to all this trouble.

  • Comment by deiv 01.10.2011, 14.57

    how many RPM it may do ?
    great project !

  • Comment by David W 20.08.2011, 12.06

    Should the square magnet in the middle be the other way up? As shown the magnetic field will repel the magnets on the shaft and make the balance unstable.

    Answer: Its true, the magnetic field will repel the magnets on the shaft but its not bad. The position between the magnets is not movable. For this reason is the balance stable.

  • Comment by Leo 28.07.2011, 06.10

    Hi,after seeing your mendocino motor in action, I am very motivated. I have try building it a couples of time but all of it did not work. I have double check the connections but the rotor just will not spin. Will it be possible to sent me the plans of your mendocino motor so that I can know what I have done wrong. Thanks in advance!!

    Answer: The schematic of the Mendocino-Motor is very simple.
    - Check your solarcells with a voltmeter, do you must have an half of a volt or more.
    - Check the connections: Two solarcells (1,2) connected in series (+-+-) and between the coil.
    - The same with solarcells (3,4) for the second coil.
    - It is important a strong magnet under your coils.

    Maybe, you can send to me a photo of your assembly?

  • Comment by lynton 28.06.2011, 08.36

    Could you tell me the specification and size of the solar cells and where one may obtain them

    Answer: The size is 65x20mm and you can buy it on Ebay.

  • Comment by Coen 13.06.2011, 21.43

    I have been studdying this motor, and I believe there is a possebillety for an inprovement.

    Wouldn't this motor develop two times as much power when one would use two magnets (one at the top, one at the bottom) in stead of one at the bottom? Now only the bottom part of the coils magnetic field is used, and with two magnets both the top and bottum side of the coils magnetic field is used.

    Have a nice day,


    Answer: I think so but the rotor must not be influenced by this magnetic field. The "new" magnet on the top must oppositely poled, the same pol how are the magnets on the rotor. You can try it and tell me if it work.

  • Comment by coen 11.06.2011, 10.46

    Thank you sir, for putting up this page. I am working on one myself, and your page is verry helpfull. If successfull, I will send you the end result.

    Have a nice day.

  • Comment by ron soyland 07.04.2011, 16.39

    In stead of a point on the end, drill a small hole in the end of the shaft the size of a small ball bearing. (break a small standard mechanical ball bearing apart and get the small balls out of it) Press the ball into the hole leaving the round end of the ball protruding. The bearing has as little friction as a point and will not bore into the end plate. Of course you can use the carbide plate with the ball as well to have a motor that would run for probably several thousand years!

    Answer: Thank you for your comment. Thousand years! Sounds like good :-)

  • Comment by Gunter 11.03.2011, 13.00

    Whow, pretty impressive... You've got me motivated. I'm going to try and build one myself. I have two question tough. Could you tell me what kind of material is the rotor made of. You wrote the stronger the magnet the better. Is this magnet overkill you think or shoul I go stronger? Q50-25-10 (12kg)

    Kindest regards and thanks for your answer.

    Answer: The material of this rotor is tecapeek (see description) but you can take any other light material (it should not be magnetic).
    On my first try I used a smaller magnet Q28x13x5 (see photos above) and in the final version a S30-10 (diameter 30mm, thick 10mm, holds approx. 20 Kg). This magnet naturally should not find its way into children's hands! You can see this magnet in my video.
    O.K. the last magnet is a little bit oversized but one must take what one has ;-) I think your magnet Q50-25-10 is absolutely appropriate.

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    Last update 05.02.2011