Following my posting of the video about the Egely Wheel, a chap from Oregon contacted me to tell me of his own experiments with home-made Egely wheels!
Thank you for posting the Egley Wheel video. I made several out of simple parts in my garage. I used heavy duty Al. foil and two bits of white Styrofoam and a piece of piano wire sharpened to a point on a grinder. I tried many shapes and sizes, many more than shown here in the photos. The best one is shown by itself. I used a lower reflector plate which seemed to help also. The best disk had 4 spoke holes which I stamped out using an automotive gasket cutter tool. I took scissor to the outer edge and cut 5 mm deep fringe cuts spaced at 3mm (approximate measurements). I marked the outer edge with a black line and used my watch to calculate the rotational speed. I could get very consistent rational speeds of 16 rpm using either hand, but I had to position my body different for each hand to get these result. I was amazed that this thing worked. It worked every day I tried it, but at times the speed was lower. I tried cups of hot water next to the wheel, but this had very little affect. The wheel with the fringe was noticeably affected by my hand. As the disk rotated very close to my margins of palm, I could feel electrical discharges coming from the wheel. It was a tingling sensation, none of the other disks showed this affect. I made a disk that had the outer margin cut with pinking shears to make a consecutive "V" shapes but this was not of any great help. I have no explanation for what makes these disks turn. The PSI wheel shape did not work well.
Not knowing what force makes these wheels spin led me to consider making a wheel in the form of a capacitor plate. I gave it a try. I sandwiched a piece of common wax paper from the kitchen between two sheets of thin Al. foil. The result was not remarkable, actual it was rather poor, I could only get 1/2 or 1/4 the RPM compared to the other types I made. I think it has to do with the mass of the completed wheel. The mass increased by 3 orders of magnitude, yet the bearing surface remained the same. I think the starting torque required to overcome the pivot friction was just to high. My wheels are extremely crude so it was not surprising, but I think that the idea has merit and should be tried out again. The idea of stacking two wheels in tandem may also work well to magnify the force.