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Pancake Vibration Motor Teardown

For a while I’ve wondered how these pancake type (AKA “Shaftless”) vibration motors operate, so I figured I’d mutilate one to find out.

Pancake Vibration Motor
Pancake Vibration Motor

These vibrators are found in all kinds of mobile devices as a haptic feedback device, unlike older versions, which were just micro-sized DC motors with an offset weight attached to the shaft, these don’t have any visible moving parts.

Cover Removed
Cover Removed

These devices are crimped together, so some gentle attack with a pair of snips was required to get the top cover off.
It turns out these are still a standard rotary DC motor, in this case specifically designed for the purpose. The rotor itself is the offset weight, just visible under the steel half-moon shaped section are the armature coils.

Weighted Rotor
Weighted Rotor

The armature lifts off the centre shaft, the coils can clearly be seen peeking out from under the counterweight.

Commutator
Commutator

The underside of the armature reveals the commutator, which in this device is just etched onto the PCB substrate, the connections to the pair of coils can be seen either side of the commutator segments.

Brushes
Brushes

The base of the motor holds the brushes in the centre, the outer ring is the stationary permanent magnet. These brushes are absolutely tiny, the whole motor is no more than 6mm in diameter.

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IDE Zip Drive

Top
Top

An old IDE interface Zip drive. This fits in a standard 3.5″ bay.

Cover Removed
Cover Removed

Top cover removed from the drive, IDE & power interfaces at the top, in centre is the eject solenoid assembly & the head assembly. Bottom is the spindle drive motor.

Head Assembly
Head Assembly

Head assembly with the top magnet removed. Voice coil is on the left, with the head preamp IC next to it. Head chips are on the end of the arm inside the parking sleeve on the right. Blue lever is the head lock.

Controller
Controller

Controller PCB removed from the casing.

Spindle Motor
Spindle Motor

Spindle motor. This is a 3-phase DC brushless type motor. Magnetic ring on the top engages with the hub of the Zip disk when insterted into the drive.

Magnets
Magnets

Magnets that interact with the voice coil on the head assembly.

Head Armature
Head Armature

Head armature assembly removed from the drive. The arm is supported by a pair of linear bearings & a stainless steel rod.

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Dremel MultiPro

Front
Front

Here we have a Dremel MultiPro rotary tool, a main powered 125W 33,000RPM bit of kit.

Motor Assembly
Motor Assembly

Here the field & controller assembly is removed from the casing.

Armature
Armature

Here is the armature, which rotates at up to 33,000RPM. The brushes rise against the commutator on the left, next to the bearing, the cooling fan is on the right hand side on the power output shaft, the chuck attaches at the far right end of the shaft.

Speed Controller & Brush Box
Speed Controller & Brush Box

Here is the speed controller unit, inside is an SCR phase angle speed controller, to vary the speed of the motor from 10,000RPM to the full rated speed of 33,000RPM.

Mains Filter
Mains Filter

This is the mains filter on the input to the unit, stops stray RF from the motor being radiated down the mains cable.