Last year when I first noticed and mentioned the then-new-to-the-market Neon Wand electrical sex toy device that competes with the venerable violet wand at a much cheaper price point, I had a few people in meatspace ask me “So, what’s the difference?” And I was all “Umh, well, ya, it’s like, cheaper y’know, and solid state, no moving parts, and, um, maybe a little less powerful they tell me…” I’m good at interfaces and software, but I’m not the sort of guy who has to know how stuff works at the hardware level. (I own several screwdrivers, but when I’ve got one in my hand, something has gone seriously wrong, and odds are, some new shit is getting purchased real soon.)

Fortunately, mad scientists who do understand that tricky hardware stuff abound. One of them is Franklin Veaux, whose review of the Neon Wand contains the essential electronics/hardware discussion you’d never get out of me:

A lot of folks say that a violet wand is a Tesla coil. That’s not actually true. A Tesla coil is an air-cored resonant coil in which the primary and secondary windings share the same air core. You vary the output of a Tesla coil by varying the primary winding.

A violet wand is actually an Oudin coil–an iron-core resonant coil where the primary and secondary winding share the same iron core, and the primary winding is attached to a mechanical interrupter. You vary the output of an Oudin coil by changing the interrupter. In a violet wand, the interruptor is a magnet that vibrates very quickly; you change how strong the output is by turning a knob connected to a screw that actually changes the height of the vibrating magnet. That’s why violet wands always make that characteristic buzzing noise; you’re hearing the magnet vibrating.

The neon wand doesn’t use an old-fashioned Oudin coil at all; it’s entirely solid state. It uses a circuit board with electronics that are more similar to a camera strobe than they are to a resonating coil, though that’s a bit of an oversimplification. Basically, they’re an entirely different technology that does pretty much the same thing. These differences mean that the neon wand is way, way cheaper than a violet wand.

The more you know, right?

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