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Tag Archives: electricity

Tiny Tesla Coil Can Play Music With Electric Sparks


Tesla coils are pretty awesome, but they tend to be big, unwieldy, and kind of difficult to seriously consider as a purchase. The Tiny Musical Tesla Coil however is only 6 inches tall when assembled, and can easily do its magic on a countertop. The best feature of this particular kit however is its ability to play music. With a USB cable and your laptop, you’ll be able to play MIDI tunes by controlling the pressure waves generated by the 4 inch sparks. Some assembly is necessary, so you’ll need at least some basic soldering knowledge, as well as access to a soldering iron, paint-on or spray-on varnish, and hand tools. It’s a single-resonant solid-state coil (SSTC Tesla Coil), which is great because it’s reliable and safe. You’ll be learning about alternating-current electricity in a very hands-on, and let’s face it, pretty cool manner. And you’ll only have to pay $229 for the privilege.


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Cellphone Skin Could Capture Its Own Radio Signals, Harvest Some Energy


It’s claimed that up to 97% of a cellphone’s radio signals are simply lost, most of the time simply trying to find nearby towers, or just staying connected to your router. Researchers at The Ohio State University are developing a product that could extend current battery life by up to 30% by harvesting a portion of these wasted signals.

There are some products newly on the market that harvest stray radio signals to charge tiny wireless devices such as temperature sensors. But the Ohio State invention is many times more powerful and efficient, said Robert Lee, professor of electrical and computer engineering.

To communicate, today’s portable devices broadcast radio signals—that is, high-frequency AC—a portion of which the Ohio State rectifier system captures and converts back to DC. Its trick is to siphon off just enough of the radio signal to noticeably slow battery drain, but not enough to degrade voice quality or data transmission.

The researchers are currently working on a skin that could be applied to your phone and would do the job of harvesting this lost energy. But the aim is to eventually work at the OEM level, directly with phone manufacturers, to help them extend devices’ battery lives. When and if it ever does make it to market, the engineers expect it to cost around $100.

[ PhysOrg ] VIA [ DamnGeeky ]

Thermo-Electric Element Will Harness Your Body Heat To Power Your Gadgets


Your body is using up energy every second you’re awake. Some of that energy is translated into your muscles moving, and some of it is lost as heat. Researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have developed a wearable strip of material that can easily be woven into clothing and can convert your body heat into usable electric power. A thin strip about 4 inches in length can produce 40mW of power, which isn’t much, but is enough to power a semiconductor chip. Increase the strip to 20in.-40in. and suddenly you’re looking at 2W, which is enough to charge your phones or other electronics. The material is made from fibreglass, which makes it flexible, unlike current ceramic-based thermo-electric solutions. It’s also claimed it has a 14-fold efficiency improvement over other methods. According to Professor Jo Byeong-jin, the lead researcher, this technology could be commercialized within the next 2 to 3 years, pending “issues concerning element integration process optimization and mass-production.”

Gadget-charging jackets with thermo-electric strips woven into the sleeves? Yes, please!

[ Press Release ] VIA [ DamnGeeky ]

ThingCHARGER Is A Smart Charger


This charger is smart, but not smart in the way the word is normally used in tech circles. It’s a smartly designed wall outlet that plugs right into your existing one, but features an interchangeable tip on its top surface that lets you to charge any mobile device you want, while still keeping both plugs free for other things. It stores up to three different tips in recessed areas at the back. Better yet, you can daisy-chain a few ThingCHARGERs and juice up several gadgets at once. There are no wires to mess around with, and there are two regular USB outlets at the bottom, just in case the tip isn’t enough.

They’ve blown through their crowdfunding goals already, with $29 pledges pouring in by the thousands. A Lightning connector tip is an extra $9.


[ Project Page ] VIA [ Werd ]

Electric Paint Pen With Conductive Ink Could Teach You Basics About Circuits


This is a pen with a special ink that when dry, will conduct electricity. Meaning you can literally draw some basic circuits on a piece of cardboard and they’ll work. Connect them to some resistors, or LEDs or whatever else elements go into a circuit and teach yourself or a young one the fundamentals. The surface resistivity is 55 ?/Sq @ 50 microns, if that has any meaning to you, and you should probably not use it with voltages above 12V. It’ll work on just about any surface except skin, and maybe metal and will set you back all of $12 or $19 for two.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ Technabob ]

Siva Cycle’s Atom Generator Lets Bikers Generate Power for Their Devices By Cycling

Sweat to Electricity

Gadgets or contraptions that charge up while you use them are fairly uncommon. For example, some treadmills have been hooked up so that they power a small television or radio while a person’s running on it. Another example is Siva Cycle’s Atom generator, which can charge your connected device while you’re pedaling around town.

What sets it apart, though, is that it also charges up an on-board battery which you can detach and then use to charge compatible devices while you’re on the go.

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Harvesting Power From Liquid Metal Shoes

By David Ponce

As we’re sure you know, there are tons of different ways to generate electricity, be it chemical, solar, piezoelectric, etc. That last one refers to a current that’s generated through a compressive force on a particular type of material: compress the material and electricity is generated, though usually these currents are very small, in the order of miliwatts. In other words, it’s not a very effective method of harvesting electricity. But now researchers at the University of Wisconsin Madison seem to have developed a method which could generate a lot more current: about 20 watts! They are doing this by using a liquid metal (Galinstan in a process they called “reverse electrowetting.” They place some of this metal at the heel and sole of the shoe and as you walk, the liquid is pumped back and forth, generating a strong current. This is then stored in a battery in the sole of the show.

How you later access this energy is still being determined. You could of course plug a USB directly into the shoe, but that’s not very elegant. That decision will come in the future as they are planning on having a prototype ready in two years and commercialization perhaps sometime after that.

[ InStep NanoPower ] VIA [ Dvice ]