Lambda Two Piece (Aluminum & Brass)
$110.00
Launched on Kickstarter: This is the design from my Kickstarter project. The Lambda is the "original" ruby-tipped spin top. I still think it's the best. For me good design is all about balance and simplicity. The two-piece brass and aluminum is an exercise in both. Two-Piece tops have more potential for longer spins.
Contact Point

    Lambda Two Piece (Aluminum & Brass)
    Lambda Two Piece (Aluminum & Brass) Lambda Two Piece (Aluminum & Brass) Lambda Two Piece (Aluminum & Brass) Lambda Two Piece (Aluminum & Brass) Lambda Two Piece (Aluminum & Brass)
    Product Overview

    The Lambda is designed and crafted to be the world's highest precision spin top. When we launched back in 2014, it was also the ONLY precision top in production and spawned an industry. Our design hasn't changed, because it was perfect out of the gate, but we've spent years refining our manufacuring to deliver maximum performance.

    Making a good two-piece top is exceedingly difficult. I retired the design for over a year and spent hundreds of hours prototyping to maximize consistency and performance. The tolerance level on both the spindle diameter and bore of the ring are necessarily held to +/- 0.0002 inches...basically the minimum tolerance the lathe is capable of.

    Holding this tolerance requires inspecting every 5 parts to make sure the machine is on size. Over the course of the day, the machine will drift up to .002 inches as air, machine, and coolant temperature changes. You'll note this is 10x the allowable deviation. Making parts this precise comes at a cost. If you'd like to geek out you can refer to this article on "The High Cost of Tight Tolerances" on the CNC Cookbook blog.

    Product Details

    My friend Joe, from Scout Leather Co., had been telling me for months that I should make a top. My response was always, "I make tools, not toys." But I was intrigued. Who doesn't like tops?

    One afternoon I had a few hours to play around on the lathe. I had no plan, I was just cutting a top free-hand on the manual lathe. No measurements, no design drawings. Instead of cutting a cone for the tip, I dug around in an old project box and came up with a ruby sphere I bought for another job. The first time I spun the top it was obvious that I created something totally different in performance and physics from anything I had seen before. I showed the prototype to a few people and the most common response was, "Wait, it's still spinning? Are you sure? It doesn't look like it's moving.There is no way it's still spinning." No one else had seen anything like it either. I thought that was pretty awesome, and I believe awesome is worth sharing.

    The secret ingredient (beyond a solid design based on Newton and "the physics") is the instrument-grade ruby sphere. You heard me right, I said ruby. This type of manufactured ruby is used in things like Rolex watches, super-precision measuring instruments, fiber optic transmission lines, and other really expensive and/or sciency stuff. The hardness is 9 on the Mohs scale. Diamond is one of the few harder materials and scores a perfect 10. That alone is awesome! This material has five times more abrasion resistance than carbide, zero porosity, high temperature tolerance, extreme chemical resistance, and extreme hardness.

    Broken contact balls are not covered under warranty. NEVER drop the Lambda top onto a tile or granite surface or the ball may shatter. Contact points can be replaced in tops that have hollow spindles (all current models)...assuming there isn't other significant damage to the top.

    Hazardous Spin Surfaces: A granite (or tile) counter top is MUCH harder than steel. That means if you drop it on a granite or tile counter top there is a significant chance of damaging the instrument ruby. Please remember, this is not a toy, it is a precision instrument and must be treated as such.

    Spin Surface Hazards: Glass is fairly soft, and the ruby will probably shatter glass before the ruby breaks. So if you drop your top onto a mirror or a glass table top it will impact with a TINY amount of surface area and magnify the force. I have not personally experienced this, nor have I heard of it happening, but it's still something to keep in mind.

    Replacement Balls: You can replace the contact point of any Lambda Top that has a hollow spindle. Balls cannot be replaced on original tops with solid spindles.

    understanding contact point options
    You will not notice a significant difference in performance between the contact points, but some people enjoy the difference in appearance, and science behind the materials. Instrument Ruby is a crystalline form of Aluminum Oxide and called Corundum. Corundum is a naturally occurring mineral, but instrument rubies are synthetic. This material has the distinction of being the very first gem mineral artificially created in a laboratory. A small amount of impurity (Chromium) gives ruby the distinct red color. Stainless Steel Bearings a good choice if you never want to worry about breaking the contact point. The steel balls used in the Lambda tops are 440C Passivated Stainless Steel. This material is hardened and highly corrosion resistant. 440C is the most common material used in high-quality bearings. It's superior to chrome steel, but not the most exotic steel bearing material. Aluminum Oxide (Al2O3) balls are classified as a "ceramic" because they are sintered from a powder base. Chemically, this is the exact same material as ruby or sapphire, but it is not a crystalline structure. Al2O3 is most commonly used as an abrasive in the manufacture of sand paper. It is also the coating that grows on aluminum when it is anodized. These ceramic balls are typically used in bearings that see extreme temperatures. Silicon Carbide (SiC) balls are also "ceramic" and used in even more extreme bearing applications. SiC is heat tolerant up to a staggering 1800*C. It's commonly used in the manufacture of ceramic brake discs, ballistic plates in bullet proof vests, and LEDs. I recommend SiC for the extremely heavy tungsten top because it is the most durable of the three exotic contact point materials. Durability: Contact points cannot be repaired or replaced on solid spindle tops. They are permanently press-fit into the spindle to achieve the desired degree of balance and accuracy. Newer tops with hollow spindles enable the replacement of the contact point. The stainless bearing is the most durable option across the board. Clumsy? Steel. Got kids? Steel. Will you cry if the contact point breaks? Steel. So why all the fuss about exotic contact points? The difference is the ruby and ceramics are MUCH harder than steel, and will spin more efficiently. It's like the difference between ice skating and snow skiing...both water...both fairly "solid" but which one is more efficient for sliding on? A ruby is a ruby, and if you abuse it...it can chip. It's like a wine glass; works fine until you drop it. The ceramics can also shatter if subjected to enough force, but are generally tougher than the ruby. Silicon Carbide is the most durable exotic material.
    how long will the lambda spin?
    It depends...on a lot of different factors. How long "will" it spin is entirely up to you. How long "can" it spin is entirely unknown. My personal record (unofficial) is over 12 minutes. Check out the video below for a "bar-setting" unedited 10 minute spin. Your spin-time can (and will) vary. However, I'll leave you with the guesstimates below. These are based on my personal experience, and observation of other people testing the Lambda. If you can't seem to hit the numbers below, give it a little more "wax on, wax off!" That means "practice" in case The Karate Kid was after your time. Not the new one, the old one :) 6 Minutes: Most people should be able to hit this without trying too hard. You have to have a good surface where the top can actually stay on it for that long. Try a plate or bowl to keep your top from falling off the table.
    8 Minutes: Put in a little practice and 8 minutes can be reached...some of the time. This was the first big milestone. To go past 8 minutes you have to have a good surface...and good technique. At this point I can break 8 minutes almost every time. 10+ Minutes: If you practice a lot, you'll start seeing spins over 10 minutes...but that isvery hard to do. Even now, I might get 1 out of 5 spins that are over 10 minutes. Just keep in mind that trying for a long spin is one way to enjoy your Lambda, but it's not the only way!
    which material spins the longest?
    Spin time is up to the spinner more than the material. However, the heavier the top the more momentum it can conserve, and a heavier top will theoretically spin for longer. Of course a heavier top is harder to spin in the first place, because it has more inertia (resistance to motion), so we are back to the person spinning the top as the primary factor in determining spin time.
    which contact point spins the longest?
    In my experience it doesn't really make a difference. But if you are looking for the most potential spin time then ruby is the only material to choose.
    what's the best spin surface?
    You are going to be tempted to overthink this one, but don't bother. Just buy a shaving mirror. I tested a lot of different surfaces in search of the best one. I tried marble slabs, granite surface plates, glass dinner plates, ceramic bowls, various mirrors, optical lenses, and chemistry lab glass. The Lambda may spin for so long that you won't have a flat enough surface unless you work in a laboratory or machine shop. After a couple minutes it will "drift" and eventually fall off the edge. The best thing to use is any kind of concave dish. However, I had a hard time finding anything in my kitchen where the center of the plate/bowl was actually the lowest part. Most had a raised or uneven area in the middle and this throws off the top. Right now my favorite surface is a little 5" shaving mirror (12x magnification) that you can buy from Amazon. It's a reasonable size, is fairly durable (for a mirror) and has a flat back so you can set it on a table. The smooth curve of the mirror means you don't need a perfectly flat surface, the top will naturally find the lowest point. NEVER use a Foreverspin base. These are coated in DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) and will ruin your contact point. They chose this material for it's extreme hardness...but DLC is harder than ruby. Remember, the only thing harder than ruby? It's diamond. You literally could not pick a worse coating. Don't use them.
    why is my top making noise when I spin it?
    This results from a less than ideal spin. This skidding is noise generated by friction. This occurs when the top has a large orbit because the ball is skidding slightly on the side, and not spinning directly on the tip. Typically the top will circle towards the center and stabilize, but this also means you've lost some total spin time because energy has been converted to noise and friction, instead of being conserved.
    epic stability
    Yes this is a video...it's not a still image! If you stared at it for a few seconds and then said "woaaah," we are on the same page. Welcome to my project :)
    spherical contact point
    Traditional tops use a "pointy" contact point. Let's agree to call it a cone. A cone isn't a very good shape for the contact point because you are always on one side of the point...or the other. This means the top will have a hard time balancing upright, wasting energy during the early spin, and then falling over early during the late spin when the top is losing RPM. It's inherently imprecise. The perfect sphere means there is a perfect point of contact with the surface, wasting less energy and spinning longer. It also means the Lambda is better able to spin along its axis; therefore, it does not exhibit the large amount of precession (angular wobble) that you see in a traditional top (above).
    Ball Sphericity
    The "sphericity" of the Lambda's Grade 25 ruby is 25 millionths of an inch. Take an inch. Divide it into one million (1,000,000) slices. The amount of error is less than 25 slices...out of a million. The majority of machined parts are manufactured to within about 0.001 inches. I created the chart below to make blowing your mind easier on your brain.
    Ball Surface Smoothness
    Below is an electron micro-graph that will give you a reasonable comparison between a metal "machined" surface and the surface of an instrument ruby. The image on the left is the ground edge of a razor blade. This is a much smoother finish that you will see with machining. However, compared to the surface of a ruby sphere at the same scale, it looks like the Grand Canyon.
    included with your purchase
    * Lambda Top
    * Presentation Box
    • Material
      6061 Aluminum & C360 Brass
    • Weight
      24.3g
    • Diameter
      1"
    • Where it's Made
    Instrument Ruby Contact Point
    The secret ingredient (beyond a solid design based on Newton and "the physics") is the instrument-grade ruby sphere. You heard me right, I said ruby. This type of manufactured ruby is used in things like Rolex watches, super-precision measuring instruments, fiber optic transmission lines, and other really expensive and/or sciency stuff.
    Hollow Spindle
    I'm a scientist at heart, and that is one perfect, beautiful 0.160 x 1.25" hole because it's EXACTLY what was needed to drop the CG right into the sweet spot for a perfect spinner. It didn't take long before other tops out there in top land started using hollow spindles. Another added benefit of the hollow spindle is that any contact point can be replaced...assuming there isn't other significant damage to the top.
    precision that's not hype
    I run a machine shop, not a hype factory. The Lambda is likely the highest precision object you'll ever hold in your hands. We control critical dimensions to (+/-) 0.0002" . A typical sheet of paper is 0.003" thick, so our tolerances are 7.5x thinner than a sheet of paper.
    presentation box
    Every Lambda comes in a snap-top box that serves double duty as a storage container and a display stand. Please be careful when you "present" this top to someone. You might preface the gesture with, "So I'm NOT asking you to marry me right now. I just want to show you this top." Or if you are actually going to use the Lambda as a token of your everlasting commitment...then you are the most awesome person ever. Send me photos.
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