Good news for bizarre gear lovers: There’s now an effect pedal that’s powered entirely by a candle. A simple tea light candle is all that need to “fire up” the Zvex Candela Vibrophase tremelo pedal. The bad news is that all your overly steampunk friends will instantly lose credibility unless they own this pedal. No wait, that’s good news too. Good news all around!
Seriously though, this clever bit of boutique engineering from Zachary Vex takes about 77 hours to make, according to Reverb.com, where you can find all of Zvex’s cool hand-painted effects pedals, so the price has hot-air ballooned up to $6,000 each. Obviously, the Candela Vibrophase was not meant to be the next Boss DS-1 that everyone has lying around, but rather an inspirational, one-of-a-kind piece for the either the wealthy elite or irresponsible musicians who love debt.
Whether or not you’ll ever own a Candela Vibrophase, you can an least understand how it works.
Two types of power come from the tea light candle. Two solar cells take electrical power from the tea light, and a Stirling engine, a 200-year old design, provides mechanical motion powered by the candle’s heat. The Stirling engine uses a hot cylinder, a cooling cylinder and the expansion and contraction of hot air to drive a flywheel, which drives an optical disc. The oscillations of the optical disc interrupt the light from the candle going to the photo cells of the phaser/vibrato circuit. You control the speed of the Stirling engine — and thus the effect — by moving a spherical neodymium magnet closer or further away, and that creates an electro-magnetic force that fights against the magnet and slows down when you get close.
You’ll probably appreciate and comprehend it more by watching the videos below. Science!
Zvex’s Candela Vibrophase Demo
The Tone King’s Zvex Candela Vibrophase NAMM 2016 video