Project ID: AEE-2017-30
Students: Jaakko Narko, Sami Malaska, Juha Mäkelä, Usama Riaz, Shayan Daryabin, Sanchayan Rajeetharan
Project manager: Jaakko Narko
Instructor: Victor Mukherjee
Other advisors: Antti Lehikoinen
Starting date: 5.1.2017
The objectives of this project were to build electromagnetic hoverboard and to teach students practical skills in the fields of power electronics, electronics, power systems and electromagnetism as well as project skills by giving students practical experience in project management, planning, risk analysis, business aspects, budget management and material acquisition. Project also taught teamworking and problem solving skills.
Primary goal of the hoverboard was to be able to lift 8 kg of mass in addition of being able to lift itself. The levitation is to be achieved with copper coils, operating with alternating current (AC). Hoverboard was designed to be operated with battery and because of this requirement inverter was also needed to convert direct current (DC) from battery to AC. Because available cell voltage from affordable batteries is relatively low, and to reduce risk of electric shock and to conform to safety rules and regulations, operating voltage was limited to 50 V.
Summary of results
The project ended in partial success. The levitation was achieved and hoverboard was able to levitate 8 kg of mass using testing equipment in the laboratory. However, inverter experienced major difficulties towards the end of the project and several components were damaged during testing. One cause of inverter failure proved to be large voltage spike generated by the coil of the hoverboard. During inverter commutation, voltage spike exceeded breakdown voltage of freewheeling diodes and IGBTs and caused short-circuit and damage to components. Components were replaced and improved inverter H-bridge was constructed. The switching logic alteration and addition of resistors to slow down IGBT turn off eliminated the voltage spike completely. Testing was continued to the end of the project and levitation was nearly achieved by supplying the hoverboard by DC source through the constructed inverter. Before hoverboad was able to lift-off, the IGBTs experienced overheating and were rendered inoperable. Due to lack of active cooling and adequate heatsinks, the IGBTs had been damaged during long tests conducted on the components with large current. As a result the project group reached the limit of the budget as well as time.
Hoverboard would have required additional of one month and larger budget to be completed according to requirements stated in the plan. However, the project can still be regarded as successful as it can serve as good starting point for future projects and students who could improve and expand its features. Project reached the stage of proof-of-concept and proved that electromagnetic levitaion is possible. Project also served as an excellent learning environment due to its practical difficulties which were beneficial to learning by giving students difficult tasks and problems to solve using their own intuition, knowledge and expertise.
The hoverboard also attracted attention from researchers researching Electromagnetics in Health Technologies. Hoverboard could be used to study magnetophosphenes.