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Magnetic Animal Repellent Final Paper

Sidney Boakye, Michelle Miller, and Joaquin Valda

GS@IP Mentorship



We would like to thank George Mason University for hosting the Governor’s School at

Innovation Park and for helping fund our various projects throughout our Governor School

careers. We would also like to thank Prince William County for working with GMU to make this

program possible. We would like to thank our mentor, Dr. Psaker, for helping our team

throughout this process and for giving us the right tools in order to conduct this project. Lastly,

we would like to extend our gratitude to our classmates and peers for their encouragement.


Humans and animals have crossed paths for millions of year but in modern times it has

become increasingly problematic for animals to venture into human territory. Doing this can

place both parties in danger, and the chief risks lie with the animal and how it acts in an

unfamiliar environment. For example; Birds can be a problem in public areas where there are a

lot of power lines as they are known to damage those lines overtime. One way to avoid this issue

to is switching to underground power lines but that is time consuming and expensive. Our more

efficient solution is our device called the Magnetic Animal Repellent. This device consists of an

electromagnet powered by four D batteries, and a switch to control its when it is active. They are

contained in a 3D printed box that can be hung from a tree branch or pole. With this setup we

can produce a magnetic field of about 6 milli Tesla, that are stronger than Earth’s natural

magnetic field which is 64 micro Tesla. Since birds use Earth’s magnetic field to migrate

introducing a different magnitude of magnetic field will deter birds away from the area covered

by the magnetic field. To test our device we used a bird feeder that hung from a tree branch and

measured the time it took for birds to finish it. Then we hung the device about one and a half

inches away and observed if the time to finish the food changed. After a view days passed we

determined that a constant magnetic field does not affect the birds, but an alternating field would

be disorienting and cause them to moves away. We then researched and created an alternating

circuit so that the electromagnetic field alternated within our device.


Background Research

The unsightly image of dead animals on the roadside, or near industrial electric sites is

something everyone has seen. What is especially saddening is that these deaths are due to man-

made technology, meaning that with research and adaptation they can be prevented. So, our

mentorship idea is to create a device which will prevent animals from coming near dangerous

man-made structures using magnetic fields.

Birds are the animals which most commonly utilize Earth’s terrestrial magnetic fields.

The most vigorous use by the birds is during migration, but they also use it for dat to day

transportation. These magnetic fields are very weak and range from 30 to 60 millionths of one

tesla (Staff, L. S.). Birds have photochemical molecules consisting of carotenoid, porphyrin, and

fullerene units that act as the birds’ compass. These molecules are light sensitive and create a

short lived negative and positive charge that align with the magnetic field. The charge remains as

long as they preside within that field. These charges can sense the weak terrestrial magnetic

fields of Earth and allow the bird to know where north or south is. Scientists know that if a bird

senses an unknown magnetic field it will try to move away from it. While less is know about

mammals sensing magnetic fields, studies from National Geography have shown that cattle and

deer graze along Earth’s magnetic field. It has also been observed that when resting they face

either north or south. It is still unclear how this adaptation benefits mammalia in their daily lives.

Knowing how magnetic fields affect an animal’s behavior in nature is important so that

scientists can further understand animal’s navigation systems. Up to 11.6 million birds are killed

by power lines each year and about one million vertebrate animals are killed by cars each day. In

our experiment we intend to utilize this evolutionary trait in order to steer animals away from

area which pose a threat to their safety. We will be creating a device which produces a magnetic

field. Then we will strategically place our device in locations where we would like to reduce

animal activity.


We will be investigating how magnetic fields affect an animal’s navigation system. We

will research the best method to use magnetic fields to repel animals from a specific location.

Our questions for this project are:

How strong of a magnetic field can we hope to produce? It would be logical to assume

that a stronger magnetic field would perform better when asked to deter animals. The best way to

find this out would be first researching using the resources available to us, then testing in the

field. Another question would be “How do magnetic fields affect the behavior of animals?”. It is

crucial to understand this as it will help us better serve our purpose of protecting animals. If we

generate our magnetic fields incorrectly they may further endanger the animal or be total



By developing and constructing a device that generates a magnetic field we will be able

to manipulate the behavior of animals and steer then away from a location which will bring them

into harm.

Materials and Methods

We started designing the device on the white boards provided to us by the Governor’s

School at Innovation Park. Our first design, device Alpha, consisted of a thin rod of soft iron

wrapped with 24 AWG standard rubber insulated wire powered by two AA batteries. We used

soft iron because it is commonly used in electromagnets. Soft Iron has a low carbon content

which allows it to be easily magnetized. However, we switched to steel for our next iterations of

the device because it was significantly cheaper. For device Alpha, the wire was wrapped around

one of the iron rods two times so it has 230 turns in total. The rod is 20 centimeters long and has

a diameter of 0.5 centimeters. We attached the batteries together and taped the wire on the

positive side of the first battery and on the negative side of the second battery and the tried

different battery sources.

Figure 1. This is or first electomagnet


Figure 2. This is our device Alpha

We used the magnetic field detector with the labquest to measure the magnetic field of our

electromagnets. But we did not get the desired input from our first device. Therefore we tried

using magnet wire instead of the standard 24 AWG wire. This magnet wire was thinner, and

therefore allowed us to get up to 230 turns around the iron rod and allowed us to up the current

through the solenoid. This did, in fact, increase our output significantly, however we wanted


Our past prototypes were not strong enough so in order to increase the strength of the

magnetic field we decided we needed thicker wire and a thicker core. So we got 14 AWG wire,

a steel spike, and used a six volt Duracell lantern battery so that the wire nor the battery heat up

to a dangerous level. The steel spike is 13.5 centimeters in length and has a diameter of 0.9

centimeters. We did not have enough wire so it was wrapped about three fourths around the

spike two times so that it has 140 turns. This improved our magnetic field output more than the

iteration with magnet wire did. Yet, we were posed with the question, “why do we not use

natural magnets?” We ended up finding strong neodymium magnets which we promptly tested,

however the range on the natural magnet was smaller than the one produced by the our devices.

Figure 3. This is the map of the magnet field of the natural magnet

Figure 4. This is the map of the magnet field of the device Gamma.

We decided to make a second device, device Gamma. This device consisted of a 3D

printed housing, a steel spike, 14 AWG copper wire, and four D batteries. We soldered the the

battery clip to the wire This steel spike electromagnet had 264 turns around the core and 12.2

amps of current.

Figure 5. This is the battery set up of our device Gamma.

Through our various designs, we ultimately decided to stick with our device Gamma. It

has the longest life span due to the balanced heating between the electromagnet and the batteries.

It has the widest range because it has the most turns and thickest wire. Having more range also

makes it have the strongest magnetic field out of all our devices.

Our future idea is to utilize a microwave transformer and use the internal coils from its

components to make an new electromagnet. We will possibly put it in an oscillation circuit so

that the magnetic field produced is alternating instead of being constant.


Results and Analysis

The goal of this project was to make a system that produces a substantial magnetic field.

We used the magnetic field detector to see how strong our electromagnets are and measured at

three distances from them. For the first electromagnet with the soft iron rod the detector read

1.04 mT right next to the rod, 0.244 mT at a distance of five centimeters, and 0.014 mT at a

distance of ten centimeters. These numbers are too small to affect a small paper clip so we

measured the electromagnet with the steel spike next. The detector read 0.487 mT right next to it,

0.176 mT at two centimetres, and 0.072 mT at five centimeters away. It was expected that this

electromagnet was going to be weaker because we were not able to wrap the spike all the way

with the wire. We decided to use the lantern battery on our first electromagnet and we were able

to get a magnetic field of 2.48 mT on the rod, 0.864 mT at two centimeters, and 0.161 mT at five

centimeters. This was the strongest we got and it was able to pick up the small paper clip, the

only problem is that the wire and the iron rod got really hot fast. We also tried using an natural

magnet, however the magnetic field strength of it decreased faster than our electromagnetic

devices, which left the natural magnet with a smaller range.

Trial Number Length of Diameter Current Magnetic Magnetic Magnetic

Number of Turns Rod (cm) of (A) Field (0 Field (5 Field (10
Rod(cm) cm) (mT) cm) (mT) cm) (mT)
1 110 20 0.5 0.114 0.975 0.220 0.099
2 110 20 0.5 I AA 0.123 0. 025 0.008
3 230 20 0.5 1AA 1.040 0.244 0.014
4 250 20 0.5 2 AA 1.420 0.376 0.156
5 250 20 0.5 1 AA 0.114 0.045 0.006

Table 1. This is the updated table outlining the data collected from our electromagnet

Trial Number Number Length Diamete Current Magnetic Magneti Magnetic

of of Rod r of (A) Field (0 c Field Field (5
Turns (cm) Rod(cm) cm) (mT) (2 cm) cm) (mT)
1 (Double-layer) 230 20 0.5 4.18 2.48 0.864 0.161
2 (Spike) 140 13.5 0.9 0.27 0.487 0.176 0. 072
3 (Re-done 264 13.5 0.9 3.1 0.603 0.285 0.084
4 264 13.5 0.9 12.2 1.203 0.433 0.146

Table 2. This is the table outlining the data collected from out old, double layer electromagnet

and our new iron spike electromagnet using a lantern battery.

Number of Magnets Magnetic Field (0 Magnetic Field (2 Magnetic Field (5

cm) (mT) cm) (mT) cm) (mT)

1 8.142 0.255 0.078

2 8.142 1.175 0.186

Table 3. This is the tale outlining our data for the natural magnet we used.

Week of Testing Starting amount of bird feed Amount decrease (inches)


First four days 12.00 0.5

Last three days 11.50 0.15

End of Week 11.35 End of testing period

Table 4. This is the table outlining the data collected from the bird feeder over one week.


Magnetic fields, even artificially created ones, will have an effect on magnetoreception

animals. These animals are used to Earth’s natural magnetic field of 64 micro Tesla and our

gamma device was able to produce a much stronger magnetic field. What we must always

remember to factor in is mother nature’s ability to adapt. We were able to repel bird in the first

few day of our final testing period. However, they familiarized themselves with the conditions

within the field and became resistant to our device. The key to repelling the birds is to keep them

on their toes and constantly present unfamiliar environments such as introducing an alternating

magnetic field.


Gabbatiss, Josh., 7 Apr. 2018, “Substance That Gives Birds Mysterious Power to See

Earth's Magnetic Field Discovered by Scientists.” The Independent, Independent Digital

News and Media, Retrieved April 12, 2018, from


Loss, S. R., Will, T., & Marra, P. P. (2014). Refining Estimates of Bird Collision and

Electrocution Mortality at Power Lines in the United States. Retrieved October 24, 2017,


Staff, L. S. (2012, November 15). How Do Birds Navigate? Retrieved October 12, 2017, from

A. M. (2008, August 25). Cattle, Deer Graze Along Earth's Magnetic Field. Retrieved October

16, 2017, from

Staff, L. S. (2012, November 15). How Do Birds Navigate? Retrieved October 12, 2017, from