Former English footballer Stanley Matthews was known as “The Magician”, but he never made a soccer ball levitate after scoring a goal. That honor belongs to Cesar Martinez, who together with his Zamora FC teammates, pulled off the trick following a goal against Estudiantes Caracas in Venezuelan Primera Division play this week.
What is this sorcery?! Cesar Martinez celebrates his goal by making the ball levitate… pic.twitter.com/XvmP2j7I2G
— BreatheSport (@BreatheSport) October 27, 2015
As for how Martinez was able to make the ball appear to float in mid air, he’s not sharing. He has promised, however, to unveil yet another trick after he scores his next goal, so stay tuned.
This isn’t the first time a soccer ball has been made to levitate on video. Unfortunately, none of the previous iterations provide any insight on how Martinez pulled off his illusion.
LEVITATING SOCCER BALL: VERSION 1.0
Unless the Venezuelan Primera Division uses metal balls (they don’t), the levitating method used above can be ruled out. The explanation for electronics geeks follows:
At college, in an electronics class’ lab, we built a circuit to levitate a small metal soccer ball. It uses an electromagnet to attract the ball. An IR LED shines to a phototransistor and when the ball is pulled upward, the beam of light is blocked. Light shining on the phototransistor will send a signal into a LM741, which amplifies the signal. The amplified signal goes through a resistor in parallel with a capacitor to speed up the reaction time. Since the voltage after the resistor is small, it feeds another op amp when then drives a TIP41C power transistor. The power transistor then supplies enough current to the electromagnet to pull the ball upward. As it is pulled upward, the light is blocked some and less current flows into the first op-amp. Therefore the current in the electromagnet is less and the ball lowers. The cycle repeats itself so fast that the ball is kept in a levitating position. Of course the trim pot has to be adjusted very precisely to get it set just right.
LEVITATING SOCCER BALL: VERSION 2.0
It’s even more unlikely that Martinez was using a concealed power blower to get his soccer ball floating, but it still looks cool. In the above video, a Turfco race track blower is used to keep a ball undulating in mid-air.