Will This Real-Life Thor’s Hammer Let You Pick it Up?

Arduino Costumes, Cosplay, and Props Craft & Design Technology
Will This Real-Life Thor’s Hammer Let You Pick it Up?


Legend says “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.” This seems like a pretty great payout for a trivial task, but these Makers prove that looks can be deceiving and Mjölnir does not bestow its power to just anyone.

Thor, the god of thunder, and his hammer Mjölnir are part of ancient Norse mythology popularized in modern times by Marvel Comics.

In the Marvel universe, Thor and the rest of the Norse gods are heroes (and villains) from another dimension known as Asgard. Thor helps to protect mankind from danger as part of the Avengers team, alongside other popular heroes such as Iron Man, Captain America, and Black Widow.

This video shows some Makers having some fun with passers by — challenging them to lift the hammer from the ground. After the challenger fails, one of the pranksters walks over to the hammer and easily lifts it, proclaiming his worthiness. The secret to this parlor trick is hidden inside the hammer. The team used a collection of batteries, an Arduino, and the always useful microwave oven transformer (MOT) to create an electromagnet capable of keeping the hammer from being budged by even the mightiest of challengers.

Of course, they don’t want to drain the batteries by having the magnet on all the time, so an induction sensor is hidden inside the handle. This triggers the magnet when the handle is grasped, locking the hammer to the manhole covers or steel plates they have placed the hammer over. The handle hides one more secret: a fingerprint scanner that is keyed to one of the accomplices in this plot so the hammer can be released from its magnetic bonds by only him.

Almost every Maker who comes across this video laughs and chimes out “Man, I wanted to do that, they beat me to it!” These guys did it, and they did it right!

7 thoughts on “Will This Real-Life Thor’s Hammer Let You Pick it Up?

  1. EdW says:

    Cool, but the thumbprint scanner is a little slow. Some sort of proximity sensor might be faster and look more natural.

  2. Sascha says:

    Feels disheartening at times that recent issues of Make seem to pander to the movie industry. It seems to take away from the sincere zeal for curiosity and innovation. Makes it feel like Popular Science magazine.

    1. Laird says:

      Oh come on. Don’t be so glum. Ever think that popular tech items from the movie industry might be appealing to Makers? Trying to duplicate movie special effects is cool.

  3. Facebook User says:

    Anyone have a ballpark cost to make this? Thinking of using it as a high school technology club fundraiser ($1 per try).

  4. narg says:

    Once the magnet is energized, it shouldn’t pull that much power. So I’d leave it on all the time.

  5. Matthew Barnard says:

    HA cool party trick. Now if they didn’t lift it straight off it could be removed by using the handle as a lever.

  6. Nick Moline says:

    Disneyland did something like this for their Thor meet-and-greet, except in their case I think the magnet is in the place where Thor sets the hammer down, rather than in the hammer itself, and I further believe they have someone else controlling the magnet via remote, rather than the Thor character himself. Still it was a fun effect reminiscent of their old sword-in-the-stone trick.

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Matt is a community organizer and founder of 3DPPVD, Ocean State Maker Mill, and HackPittsburgh. He is Make's digital fabrication and reviews editor.

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