Candela Vibrophase, a Steampunk Mechanical Guitar Effect

You know how I love Steampunk stuff, especially when it does something real, or appears to do something real. Like Steam Workshop's USB drives and Zippo lighters (he's out of stock at the moment), or the insanely cool musical instrument designed and built by Wintergatan that I showed you last Friday. Today I have something at least as cool as that—a mechanical guitar effect powered by candlelight and controlled by magnetism.

Candela Vibrophase

Zvex Candela Vibrophase

Come on...I mean, that's just so much awesome!

It's called Candela Vibrophase from boutique pedal maker Zvex. Here's the demo video:

I am so in love with this device. Firstly it does have a modern circuit inside it, and that circuit is powered by solar cells that are themselves powered by a candle. A tea light candle.

Powered by candle

Powered by Candle

Secondly, the device modulates the sound created by the circuit via mechanical means, and that is made possible by a small Stirling engine. Stirling engines were invented in 1816, and they harness the power of hot air, which is fed in this case by a tea light candle. The same tea light candle producing light for the solar cells.

Cool, right? And the nature of a Stirling engine means that it has life-time internal lubrication, so no messy oils to spill and drip.

Stirling Engine

Stirling Engine and Flywheel

Next we have the Neodymium magnet, a rare-earth magnet. It has a very strong field, so I'm guessing you should keep your watches and electronic devices far away from it. The Candela Vibrophase uses it to control the speed of the flywheel. Move the magnet closer, and the flywheel slows down. Rotate it farther away, and it speeds up.

Neodymiun Magnet

Neodymium Magnet Controller

All of which is cool, cooler, and coolest. And it sounds even better than it looks in my mind.

This might look like a one-off, but Zvex is taking orders. Zachary Vex, company founder, told me each one has about 77 hours of billable machine shop hours, plus "many more at my lab designing the electronics." He also said the Candela Vibrophase works in all lighting conditions (I asked because the video was filmed in low light).

Here's the bad news. If you want one of these babies, prepare to pony up US$5,900.