Children

Takara Tomy's maglev Linear Liner – the fastest toy train in the East (and West)

he Linear Liner was designed to replicate the abilities of the real SC Maglev
he Linear Liner was designed to replicate the abilities of the real SC Maglev
View 23 Images
he Linear Liner was designed to replicate the abilities of the real SC Maglev
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he Linear Liner was designed to replicate the abilities of the real SC Maglev
With a scale speed of over 500 km/h, the Linear Liner is quite difficult to photograph
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With a scale speed of over 500 km/h, the Linear Liner is quite difficult to photograph
Here is the complete set you will get for your ¥​38.000 – it includes six straight rails, eight curved rails, two half rails, one station and AC adapter, one bridge and one straight tunnel and one curved tunnel
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Here is the complete set you will get for your ¥​38.000 – it includes six straight rails, eight curved rails, two half rails, one station and AC adapter, one bridge and one straight tunnel and one curved tunnel
Here is the full display at the 2015 Tokyo Toy Show, with all the box and it`s contents
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Here is the full display at the 2015 Tokyo Toy Show, with all the box and it`s contents
This is another failed attempt to take a picture of the Linear Liner. My camera was on it`s highest speed setting
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This is another failed attempt to take a picture of the Linear Liner. My camera was on it`s highest speed setting
The arrangement of the Electromagnets on the Cars and the normal passive magnets on the track. Note the spacing, as this is a critical part of the motive system of the Linear Liner
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The arrangement of the Electromagnets on the Cars and the normal passive magnets on the track. Note the spacing, as this is a critical part of the motive system of the Linear Liner
This is the prototype Linear Liner at full 600 km/h scale speed seen at the Tokyo Toy show in June 2014
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This is the prototype Linear Liner at full 600 km/h scale speed seen at the Tokyo Toy show in June 2014
The styling of the dual car prototype was at this time not representive of the SC Maglev LO series and more like the 1979 ML500 original Maglev
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The styling of the dual car prototype was at this time not representive of the SC Maglev LO series and more like the 1979 ML500 original Maglev
The full display of the Linear Liner at the 2014 Tokyo Toy Show
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The full display of the Linear Liner at the 2014 Tokyo Toy Show
Here is the current publicity material for the Linear Liner in Japan
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Here is the current publicity material for the Linear Liner in Japan
Inspiration for the magnetic levitation system came from the magnetic whiteboard the engineers were using to work on the design
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Inspiration for the magnetic levitation system came from the magnetic whiteboard the engineers were using to work on the design
This is the very first working prototype in the spring of 2014
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This is the very first working prototype in the spring of 2014
Shown at the 2014 Tokyo Toy Show, alongside the prototype Linear Liner, were these other concepts for Maglev vehicles
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Shown at the 2014 Tokyo Toy Show, alongside the prototype Linear Liner, were these other concepts for Maglev vehicles
Here is a working prototype of another type of Maglev vehicle Takara Tomy was working on in 2014
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Here is a working prototype of another type of Maglev vehicle Takara Tomy was working on in 2014
Again, another Maglev concept from Takarea Tomy – the idea is that it can be both a normal car and a Maglev
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Again, another Maglev concept from Takarea Tomy – the idea is that it can be both a normal car and a Maglev
A working prototype of another type of Maglev vehicle Takara Tomy was working on
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A working prototype of another type of Maglev vehicle Takara Tomy was working on
An interesting display of all the concept models Takara Tomy has done in the research of Maglev vehicles
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An interesting display of all the concept models Takara Tomy has done in the research of Maglev vehicles
1) At the front of the train the on-board magnet sensor, senses an incoming rail magnet (B) and tells the on-board electromagnet to switch itself on
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1) At the front of the train the on-board magnet sensor, senses an incoming rail magnet (B) and tells the on-board electromagnet to switch itself on
2) This timing correctly matches the extract position for the on-board electromagnet to exert a (North)repulsion force from the rear on the previous out going track magnet (C) and so pushing the train forward.
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2) This timing correctly matches the extract position for the on-board electromagnet to exert a (North)repulsion force from the rear on the previous out going track magnet (C) and so pushing the train forward.
3) The on-board sensor then sensors it has reached the incoming track magnet (B) and so switches the on-board electromagnet, off
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3) The on-board sensor then sensors it has reached the incoming track magnet (B) and so switches the on-board electromagnet, off
4) This allows the train to glide over this incoming track magnet (B) so not getting a repulsion force (stopping force) from it
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4) This allows the train to glide over this incoming track magnet (B) so not getting a repulsion force (stopping force) from it
5) The sensor then picks up another incoming track magnet (A) and so switches the on-board electromagnet on, so getting a repulsion force from the recent (glided over) track magnet (B)
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5) The sensor then picks up another incoming track magnet (A) and so switches the on-board electromagnet on, so getting a repulsion force from the recent (glided over) track magnet (B)
6) So the on-board sensor now tells the on-board magnet to switch itself off, before it gets a repulsion force from this incoming magnet (A)
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6) So the on-board sensor now tells the on-board magnet to switch itself off, before it gets a repulsion force from this incoming magnet (A)

Japanese toy company Takara Tomy is offering a working scale replica of the record-breaking 603 km/h (375 mph) SC Maglev (Superconducting Magnetic levitation) Train. However, all is not what it seems, as it is more than just a 1/90th scale facsimile of the real thing. The Linear Liner uses an original magnetic propulsion system, and has an intriguing creation story behind it.

The initial driving force behind the Linear Liner, and any magnetic levitation type of transportation, is the dream of eliminating most or all of the drive friction required for moving. This is achieved by floating, through the repulsion forces between two polar identical magnets. Takara Tomy's initial research in the spring of 2013 showed that replicating an electrified track (known as a smart track) for a miniature SC Maglev would result in a toy well beyond the price range of most customers. So the company opted for a cheaper and simpler non-electrified track (a dumb track), which meant the train became the complex unit.

Floating solution

Inspiration for the magnetic levitation system came from the magnetic whiteboard the engineers were using to work on the design
Inspiration for the magnetic levitation system came from the magnetic whiteboard the engineers were using to work on the design

The solution to making a simpler non-electrified track literally came from the magnetic whiteboard the engineers were using to explain their ideas. They realized and physically proved that a long magnetic strip still retains its north/south polarity on opposite sides along its entire length, even at a thickness of around a millimeter. And at these thicknesses, it was possible to bend the magnet into a curve, if clad in rubber.

To levitate the train, a duplicate of the same arrangement of magnets was made along the length of the underside of each of the cars to achieve the required repulsion force. It was decided to make one concession to wheels for increased lateral stability, by adding small guide rollers mounted horizontally on each side of each car. These guide rollers center the Linear Liner and maintain the magnetic levitation height of 2 mm. To keep the illusion and dream of pure magnetic transportation, these rollers run along a transparent sidewall that literally keeps the train on track.

Punting along

The arrangement of the Electromagnets on the Cars and the normal passive magnets on the track. Note the spacing, as this is a critical part of the motive system of the Linear Liner
The arrangement of the Electromagnets on the Cars and the normal passive magnets on the track. Note the spacing, as this is a critical part of the motive system of the Linear Liner

By the end of 2013, almost a year into the project, the toy designers at Takara Tomy had something that levitated but did not move, unless it was pushed. But they were determined that this pushing force would not come from air and especially not from powered wheels.

Enlightenment arrived in the bath, when one of the engineers realized that by pushing occasionally with his hands on the bottom of the bathtub, he moved backwards and forwards in the bath when floating. As momentum was kept, due to the low friction of floating, he only needed to apply a force occasionally to move – a technique similar to the river art of punting. What was needed was a switchable high-speed electromagnet that occasionally applied repulsion (pushing force) to the train, but only from the rear backwards. To time this on/off repulsion force correctly to the regular embedded magnets in the middle of the train tracks, they needed a sensor.

Initially, at the beginning of 2014, the timing was not correctly matched, and the Linear Liner was painfully slow. Trial and error gradually improved the performance, and it was found the angle of the magnetic sensor, the length of the wire and the spacing of the magnets at 4 cm (1.6 in) apart, were critical factors.

The prototype debuts

The styling of the dual car prototype was at this time not representive of the SC Maglev LO series and more like the 1979 ML500 original Maglev
The styling of the dual car prototype was at this time not representive of the SC Maglev LO series and more like the 1979 ML500 original Maglev

The improved prototype made its debut at the Tokyo Toy Show in June 2014, and Gizmag was granted permission to photograph it. We were even lucky enough to do a short interview with the chief designer, where we got a brief insight of the Linear Liner's history and production plans.

One interesting point was that the Takara Tomy Linear Liner reached a scale speed of 600 km/h (373 mph) in June 2014, a good six months before the real SC Maglev achieved the feat in February 2015.

Final working form

This is another failed attempt to take a picture of the Linear Liner. My camera was on it`s highest speed setting
This is another failed attempt to take a picture of the Linear Liner. My camera was on it`s highest speed setting

One year later, in June of this year at the 2015 Tokyo Toy Show, the pre-production model was launched to the press and public alike. Such was its speed that it proved quite difficult to photograph, and many a photographer had to resort to the old art of panning to get a shot.

So how does it work?

1) At the front of the train the on-board magnet sensor, senses an incoming rail magnet (B) and tells the on-board electromagnet to switch itself on
1) At the front of the train the on-board magnet sensor, senses an incoming rail magnet (B) and tells the on-board electromagnet to switch itself on

1) At the front of the train the on-board magnet sensor senses an incoming rail magnet (B) and tells the on-board electromagnet to switch itself on.

2) This timing correctly matches the extract position for the on-board electromagnet to exert a (North)repulsion force from the rear on the previous out going track magnet (C) and so pushing the train forward.
2) This timing correctly matches the extract position for the on-board electromagnet to exert a (North)repulsion force from the rear on the previous out going track magnet (C) and so pushing the train forward.

2) This timing correctly matches the extact position for the on-board electromagnet to exert a (north) repulsion force from the rear on the previous outgoing track magnet (C), pushing the train forward.

3) The on-board sensor then sensors it has reached the incoming track magnet (B) and so switches the on-board electromagnet, off
3) The on-board sensor then sensors it has reached the incoming track magnet (B) and so switches the on-board electromagnet, off

3) The on-board sensor then detects that it has reached the incoming track magnet (B) and so switches off the on-board electromagnet.

4) This allows the train to glide over this incoming track magnet (B) so not getting a repulsion force (stopping force) from it
4) This allows the train to glide over this incoming track magnet (B) so not getting a repulsion force (stopping force) from it

4) This allows the train to glide over this incoming track magnet (B), thus not getting a repulsion force (stopping force) from it.

5) The sensor then picks up another incoming track magnet (A) and so switches the on-board electromagnet on, so getting a repulsion force from the recent (glided over) track magnet (B)
5) The sensor then picks up another incoming track magnet (A) and so switches the on-board electromagnet on, so getting a repulsion force from the recent (glided over) track magnet (B)

5) The sensor then picks up another incoming track magnet (A) and so switches the on-board electromagnet on, getting a repulsion force from the recent (glided over) track magnet (B).

6) So the on-board sensor now tells the on-board magnet to switch itself off, before it gets a repulsion force from this incoming magnet (A)
6) So the on-board sensor now tells the on-board magnet to switch itself off, before it gets a repulsion force from this incoming magnet (A)

6) The on-board sensor now tells the on-board magnet to switch itself off, before it gets a repulsion force from this incoming magnet (A).

To move faster, a signal is sent to the train to increase the power of the "push" and speed up the process of switching on and pushing, and switching off and then gliding.

Here is the full display at the 2015 Tokyo Toy Show, with all the box and it`s contents
Here is the full display at the 2015 Tokyo Toy Show, with all the box and it`s contents

What price for all this technology? The answer is around ¥38,000 (US$316). This may seem a little expensive for just one train measuring 251 mm (9.9 in) in length and a small oval track. However, what you are getting is not only a novel kind of magnetic propulsion system, but also the fastest toy train in the East and perhaps the West as well.

Take a look at the video below, to see just how fast the Linear Liner moves at full speed.

Source: Takara Tomy

世界初!<リニアライナー>走行シーン集

7 comments
MD
So they made a linear BrushLess DC (BLDC) motor. Hopefully this heralds a new era of low cost direct linear actuators, for the toy and hobby markets. NB. High cost linear actuators like this have existed for quite a while. It is only the application to a toy train which is at all novel. (maybe)
saveenergy
"By the end of 2013,"......"What was needed was a switchable high-speed electromagnet that occasionally applied repulsion" "Enlightenment arrived in the bath," !!! Instead of wasting time in the bath the 'engineer' should do research, he's 108 years to late. A feasible linear induction motor is described in the U.S. Patent 782,312 (1905 - inventor Alfred Zehden of Frankfurt-am-Main), for driving trains or lifts. The German engineer Hermann Kemper built a working model in 1935. In the late 1940s, Dr. Eric Laithwaite of Manchester University, later Professor of Heavy Electrical Engineering at Imperial College in London developed the first full-size working model. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Laithwaite
Stephen N Russell
Use model to educate about HSRR alone, super for Education & Marketing for HSRR plans & fund for kids as a new model toy train for Today & Beyond.
Caferacer
I don't know whether to be flattered or annoyed, or maybe it's just an engineering coincidence. I built almost this exact thing more than 10 years ago for The Franklin Institute in the Train Factory exhibit. Same tracks, plexi too, and same propulsion. Only difference was I let visitors push buttons to fire the propulsion coils at the right time. We even talked about selling it as a toy, but as a 501c3 weren't setup for it...
steveraxx
Always entertaining the posts from the guy who invented it first, with the claim, usually, that his design is better by a ton! The guys who call the idea stupid. And the guys who list all the ways it could be made even better, if only. . . Ahhhh, laughter. Thanks for always extending my life guys.
Galane
There have been many things made successful not by the first to invent, but by the first to make it practical, or popular - which makes it profitable. Apple didn't invent smartphones or PDAs or portable music players. Apple just made them lighter and smaller and more powerful. If Palm and RIO hadn't done theirs, Apple likely never would have. This design for a toy maglev train by Takara Tomy could finally lead to much lower cost real trains. There's another design invented for toys that made its way on a large scale into full size transportation. That would be the long blade style sailboat keel. Sporty sailboats traditionally had long, curved keels running nearly the full length of the hull, and not too deep, often with a bunch of heavy ballast in the bottom to help resist heeling over. The long keels didn't make for quick turning but they did resist being blown sideways by wind. Builders of model boats developed the long blade keels as an answer to the difficult to construct accurate scale keels of real sailboats. They found that that style of keel made the model boats more stable and easier to turn. Some builders of real boats tried scaling the concept up and now... who builds a full size high performance sailboat with a traditional keel? The only disadvantage is the extra water depth required. If people building real maglev trains would copy this toy concept, the tracks would be much less expensive and easier to build. No long, high power conductors needed. No large scale installations of high speed electrical switching and control systems. Just pave the track with permanent magnetic material. The trains could be powered by onboard diesel or LPG fueled generators - or if it ever comes to pass, small fusion plants that produce "heavy electrons" that can be captured for tapping electricity directly instead of using waste heat to boil water. Track repairs, alterations and upgrades wouldn't be any more complicated than steel tracks. Someone invents a better magnet material? Replace the magnets on the track. Performance improvements could be made to the trains alone, just like wheeled trains.
Nik
I wish I was 8 to 10 years old again.........
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