Better to light a single candle than shred in the dark.
February 25, 2016 3:10 PM   Subscribe

Behold the Candela Vibrophase, the world's first candle powered guitar effect. More details here. Brought to you by Metafilter's own (well, sort of) Zachary Vex.
posted by gamera (35 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
To truly get the most out of this you should only use tallow-based tea lights hand rendered from waygu steers
posted by Dr. Twist at 3:19 PM on February 25, 2016 [10 favorites]


Snark at tonequesters aside, this is pretty neat
posted by Dr. Twist at 3:21 PM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is awesome.

It's about as analog as it gets, no?
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:22 PM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


To truly get the most out of this you should only use tallow-based tea lights hand rendered from waygu steers

On a guitar discussion forum somwhere, people are having an argument about how beef tallow gives you warmer tone than beeswax.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:25 PM on February 25, 2016 [10 favorites]


Not steam powered, though: Stirling engines use only air as their working fluid.
posted by scruss at 3:25 PM on February 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Not steam powered, though: Stirling engines use only air as their working fluid.

Oh, you're right. All that brass blinded me.
posted by gamera at 3:27 PM on February 25, 2016


This is the most beautiful thing I've seen all week.

I have visions of Baird-style mechanical TVs, made of brass and driven by candles, dancing in my head.
posted by Leon at 3:33 PM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is really cool. Is adjusting the proximity of a flywheel to a magnet a common way to control the speed of a thing? I haven't seen that before, but I sure like it.
posted by aubilenon at 3:36 PM on February 25, 2016


It's about as analog as it gets, no?

I sometimes practice through a Zinky Smokey Amp, which I set on the floor face up and mash my bare foot over the speaker in rhythm for a sort of roto/wah/tremolo effect. I'd argue that my foot-on-speaker technique is more analog than this. But not nearly as cool as this.
posted by The World Famous at 3:40 PM on February 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


aubilenon: "magnetic governor" is probably the right search term. Google shows up a US patent with a '49 publication date... but I bet electromagnetic governors were more common (easier to vary power than distance).
posted by Leon at 3:42 PM on February 25, 2016


I now want ZVex to build an entire electric guitar rig like this, that would look like a steampunk version of Trent Reznor's crazy modular synth setup that he uses for soundtracks.
posted by The World Famous at 3:44 PM on February 25, 2016


Is the Selenium in the photo-resistors hand mined and locally sourced? Are they artisanally crafted?
posted by Confess, Fletch at 3:44 PM on February 25, 2016


Yeah, a tea light powered trem is nice, but I'm holding out for a coal powered Super Seek Wah.
posted by mosk at 3:45 PM on February 25, 2016


At last! An effects unit that also lights your spliff!

(Although there was that fuzzbox where I got the biassing so hooelessly wrong you could probably have sparked one up on the output transistor. if you were very quick.)

Aubilenon - it's not common, but there's a neat trick where you drop a magnet down a copper tube and it falls very slowly, due to the same effect. Also, car speedometers used to work by rotating a magnet next to a brass disk held back by a spring - the same effect in reverse dragged the disk around more as the magnet span faster.
posted by Devonian at 3:48 PM on February 25, 2016


Does it still work when a beer gets spilled on it? 'Cause that's my primary criterion when selecting effects 'pedals.'
posted by dubwisened at 5:00 PM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


WANT.

I am an incorrigible tinkerer, this is right up my alley. I would totally attempt to use this live, too, full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes ("KEEP THE DAMN DOOR CLOSED YOU'RE TURNING OFF MY VIBE PEDAL!!!") And it sounds really good.

Unfortunately, it apparently takes some 77 hours to build, and so will be very expensive - one site says somewhere around $6k.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:06 PM on February 25, 2016


So, aside from the power, this rig is just creating an LFO, right? All the actual phasing is done by the "electronics unit"? Wouldn't it be more useful as a CV expression pedal that could plug into any effect with an expression jack? I'd be tempted to use it to control a faux-Leslie stompbox, just to be silly.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:22 PM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Art Of Shredding!
posted by comealongpole at 7:39 PM on February 25, 2016


beautiful
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 7:44 PM on February 25, 2016


Call me when there's a Lava lamp version.
posted by doctor_negative at 7:57 PM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Is adjusting the proximity of a flywheel to a magnet a common way to control the speed of a thing? I haven't seen that before, but I sure like it.

I used to own a shitty old portable turntable run by a little shaded-pole induction motor, and it had an aluminium disc mounted to the induction motor shaft with a permanent magnet on a linkage controlled by a knob on the deck. It yielded about ±5% speed variation from nominal.
posted by flabdablet at 9:13 PM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also, this construction is not so much a governor as a straightforward brake: eddy current brake is your search term. And yes, they get used all over the place. The most spectacular application I have personally experienced is on the Giant Drop ride.
posted by flabdablet at 9:23 PM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is awesome - good for zachary vex. I always liked his demo videos, and was nice to hear his voice on this one. Extra points for building the thing out of brass (it is brass, right?)

The ability to draw your own optical waveforms is also really cool. This would be a fun (and pretty easy) mod to do to a standard trem/phase/vibe pedal which uses light-dependent resistors (as a lot of those kinds of pedals do). He's probably based it off of a univibe (with the four LDRs), but you could use a LDR in lots of different designs.
posted by ianhattwick at 9:54 PM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


That's (my) techno-lust back in business. Just when I managed to talk myself out of a laptop, too... Very beautiful. I love the way the spin speed reacts slowly to movements of the magnet - some sort of cable arrangement could actually allow the guitarist to vary the distance while playing. And I would love to hear the sound of oddly patterned discs rotating very slowly, then you could have the tone change in less predictable patterns. And combining two discs spinning at separately adjustable speeds would give you kind of audio epicycles. And then there's the sheer beauty of the contraption.
posted by holist at 10:07 PM on February 25, 2016


So, aside from the power, this rig is just creating an LFO, right? All the actual phasing is done by the "electronics unit"? Wouldn't it be more useful as a CV expression pedal that could plug into any effect with an expression jack?

Haha this is exactly what I was going to say (though I was thinking synth, not guitar pedal).
posted by atoxyl at 10:33 PM on February 25, 2016


It's about as analog as it gets, no?

It looks like once you get past all the pizzaz your just triggering a regular pedal circuit with a candle instead of a different LFO source. This is a very complicated to make something simple happen. You could have the sun light blocked by a windmill, that would be more expensive.
posted by bongo_x at 10:36 PM on February 25, 2016


Can an LFO circuit do the delayed, smooth reaction to adjustment thing? That seems a genuine advantage.
posted by holist at 10:41 PM on February 25, 2016


I saw this at NAMM it uses the candle to excite the optic sensor so the candle does dual duty.
The speed is controlled by the magnet by causing a eddy current in the spinning disc as you move it closer this causes drag based on speed.

I tried to chat up the person demonstrating it at the trade show since I build steam engines, boilers, and cars but I seemed to annoy him.

It is a very nicely made piece.

Mod 2 use a flame licker as the driver, a bit noisier but it should give a rhythm to the optic sensor as the flame is altered with each stroke.
posted by boilermonster at 11:38 PM on February 25, 2016


Can an LFO circuit do the delayed, smooth reaction to adjustment thing? That seems a genuine advantage.

Anything you can do with a given moving part can be reasonably easily emulated with electronics. But this thing isn't really an effects pedal so much as an auxiliary instrument; much like a turntable, it will admit of playing techniques that have yet to be invented. Building an electronic circuit emulating all this device's potentially controllable parts would in fact be doing it the hard way.
posted by flabdablet at 12:50 AM on February 26, 2016


That's what I thought. And I think mechanical devices to give the guitarist access to all the controllable parts while playing would be an interesting way forward.
posted by holist at 1:50 AM on February 26, 2016


Candlepunk
posted by kcds at 4:11 AM on February 26, 2016


not appearing in a stompbox anytime soon. Still, cool and beautiful.
posted by Artful Codger at 8:59 AM on February 26, 2016


I’m not saying this isn’t a neat thing, it’s a cool little art piece. But it’s also not a particularly useful thing, or meant to be. What I read the other day said it was $6000.00

It’s an art piece for lawyers, who buy most expensive hand made guitar gear.
posted by bongo_x at 9:15 PM on February 26, 2016


I guess useful is not the right word there, practical would be more appropriate.
posted by bongo_x at 9:18 PM on February 26, 2016


It’s an art piece for lawyers, who buy most expensive hand made guitar gear.

Hey, I'm a lawyer and all my gear is cheap, mass-produced crap. You take that back.
posted by The World Famous at 10:21 PM on February 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


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