Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Violet Rays / Violet Wands

So about a hundred years ago when people first started figuring out how to manipulate electricity, someone got the brilliant idea that if you applied electricity to the human body just right, it could fix... well... anything. In the 20's-40's there were a great number of Violet Wands or Violet Ray devices built.

Turns out, they don't cure cancer, but they do stimulate blood flow in an area. So anything that's helped by improved blood flow can be helped with violet wand stimulation. This includes improving hair growth, skin quality, and a few other minor things... Its like applying a heating pad... except different.

The problem was they people selling these things were claiming they would cure cancer, and any various body-part-itis you could think of. So when the FDA got teeth, many of these companies went out of business. Seems like the only modern versions being built and sold are "neon sign testers".

Fast forward a couple decades and these days, violet rays are used for science demonstrations, historical quack medical demonstrations, and by the BDSM community for various flavors of sensation exploration.

Most of this I knew, I'd just never seen one in real life. Then one night, hanging around the lab (after midnight), I noticed a strange looking... device sitting on the table. I asked what it was. Several people chuckled, someone yelled: "We have a volunteer!" and its excited owner popped their head into the room.

As I had anticipated, I was totally into them. So I started buying vintage rays on Ebay. Some were broken, some worked, but were kinda sketchy/scary. So I started repairing them.

First were the easy ones. They worked, they just had scary, old cables. Ninety year old wax impregnated cloth wrapped copper is not something I trust to protect me from high voltage. Swap out some cables with some modern cloth cables (made to look old for antique restoration). And they rays still worked. Sweet! I upgraded the safety of a vintage ray, and didn't break the thing. That was a moment I was proud of.

Then I had a broken ray, and I was pretty sure it was a dead capacitor. So I did some estimation of what kind of capacitance I probably needed, bounced some ideas off my buddy Rob, and because I was familiar with the use of Deep Fried Neon's MMC Calculator; I was able to figure out how to build a couple different capacitor's MMC in the range I was looking for. So I ordered a bunch of ceramic capacitors from China off ebay. Soldered my MMC, removed the 90 year old wax-paper-aluminum-foil capacitor, and connected mine into the circuit. When that ray came to life... that was a categorically different moment. Resurrecting an electrical antique from the dawn of the electrical era with parts from China purchased off ebay. Yeah, that ruled.

Tho it turns out, its too hot. Modern ceramic capacitors discharge so much more quickly than their 90 year old counterparts, so they ray ends up being too sharp. I have some more experimentation to do with chokes and other options to vary the circuit's output.

Somewhere along the way I realized I'm beginning to intuitively feel the difference between high frequency and low frequency. Between the 5-10 mA range, and the 50-100 mA range. Between 60hz and a few khz. Its hard to explain, but its pretty awesome.

So yeah, if you're having a party, lmk if you want me to bring the electricity. At this point, I have about 12 violet rays. I don't honestly need that many. Let me know if you'd like to buy one. I know a great deal about them, and we can find one that suits your interests.

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