About this project
Update #5: Ferrocious' circuit board now has LEDs! (see the Updates section for a Vido)
Update #4: See the Simple Display when two magnets are used, it's wild! (see Updates section for Video)
What is Ferrocious?
Besides being a misspelled adjective, Ferrocious is an electronic ferrofluid sculpture that responds to sound. It's meant to be an elegant blend of modern technology and art. It's an awesome conversation starter for anyone who loves music, art, or technology. It makes a great gift too! Put it on your desk, entertainment center, in your studio or office and you'll find yourself constantly trying out new music on it to see how it reacts. Different music will cause it to respond differently...often making the fluid spike, jump between the upper and lower magnets, or shoot droplets of ferrofluid from one side to another. You'll see when you look closely, that some music will cause different beats to be superimposed on the fluid simultaneously. The rhythm will control the fluid's main reaction, while the melody causes fast-paced ripples to travel through the fluid. It's an experience that really has to be seen to be fully appreciated.
How it works
We packed a bunch of sexy science into this thing. An electromagnet (the orange/gold wires at the top of Ferrocious' glass tube) is powered in response to sound and causes the magnetic ferrofluid to move to rhythm of your voice, the beat of music, or any low-frequency loud noises. Its typical response range is around 250hz and lower, meaning it responds best to things like vocals, percussion, bass guitars, bassoons, violas, cellos, and quite a few other instruments in the lower frequency range.
It can receive sound through its built in microphone or through its 3.5mm audio jack. Power is supplied via a typical DC wall adapter that is included with each Ferrocious.
No leaks, but Oozes Style
While getting the Ferrofluid to move to the music like a salsa dancer on a sugar rush was the main goal, I wanted to make sure that the finished design would draw attention even when turned off. With that in mind, I opted to make the electromagnet and circuit board not only visible, but prominently displayed. The circuit board has been tastefully sculpted and the Ferrocious logo is silk screened onto each unit. If you look closely behind the Ferrocious logo (on the board), you'll see that we even incorporated a houndstooth pattern into the PCB's upper copper layer for a little extra flair.
The electromagnet features a custom aluminum heat sink, and the circuit board is given a bit of protection, compliments of the acrylic cover above it and the aluminum plate below it.
Or better yet, why not? I got this idea when I was introduced to ferrofluid through the wonders of YouTube sometime last year. Most of the videos were just people using magnets to play with the stuff, but I saw a few really well executed art installations that used it. I knew I had to find an excuse to play with some ferrofluid, so I started to wonder how I could make this into something that everyone could enjoy. I wanted to keep the interaction with it, because that really appealed to me, but I wanted to interact with it differently. At some point I decided I wanted it to move to music and sound, and eventually I wound up with what you see here. There were many other prototypes that preceded this one, but Ferrocious is the refined version of all of those.
More Music To Come...
Interested in seeing Ferrocious respond to other music? Below you'll find another video as well as 2 links to even more videos of Ferrocious.
Keep an eye on this project for more videos in the near future. I hope to uploade videos showing Ferrocious working with different genres of music as the project progresses. Links will be posted here or in the updates section.
There are quite a few rewards that have been made available for this project, so let's break those down. Note: International shipments will be shipped via USPS. Please note that international shipments will be valued at their purchase price and may incur duties or taxes upon arrival at your country.
Simple Ferrofluid Display: For $69 ($59 for the first 40 backers), you'll receive (1) aluminum, acetal, and glass ferrofluid display that makes a fantastic desk trinket or conversational piece. This display DOES NOT move to music like Ferrocious. Instead, it is supplied with a custom magnet that you can use to move the ferrofluid with. The display is roughly 7" (178mm) tall. What's neat about these display cells is that they are actually built mostly from the same parts as Ferrocious, with the exception of the Simple Ferrofluid Display's turned aluminum base. International shipping is available for the non early-bird version only. Pictures of this display are shown below.
For $139 ($119 for the first 30 backers), you'll receive (1) assembled and ready to use Ferrocious as well as the DC power supply for it. Ferrocious is approximately 6.5" (165mm) tall. International shipping is available for the non early-bird version only. International orders will receive a universal power adapter that has adapters to work in most of the various international power outlets. A picture of this display is shown below.
For $178, you'll receive one assembled Ferrocious with power supply and one Simple Ferrofluid Display. The pricing for each is equal to the combined early bird pricing on both, but I've put no quantity limit on this combo pack. International shipping is not available on this combo pack. A picture of the combo pack is shown below.
This is a reward meant for the do-it-yourselfer who has a bit of soldering and simple assembly experience. International shipping is available on this item. A picture of the DIY Ferrocious kit is shown below.
For $85, you will receive the following parts:
- Printed Circuit Board
- Upper acrylic PCB cover
- Lower aluminum PCB base
- Assembled glass tube with ferrofluid and electromagnet installed*
- Plastic standoffs and screws to assemble PCB, cover, and base
- Rubber feet for aluminum PCB base
- Bill of Materials for all necessary electronic components
This kit DOES NOT come with the electronic components that get soldered to the board or with the needed DC power supply. The bill of materials will give part numbers and suggested suppliers for those components.
Not only is it cool, it's quite safe too. The power supply uses a standard 120VAC supply and sends only 16VDC to Ferrocious. 16VDC is classified as "Extra Low Voltage" (ELV) by the International Electrotechnical Commision (IEC) and makes using Ferrocious and its exposed PCB quite safe. The fluid inside of Ferrocious is just medical saline (0.9% Sodium Chloride Solution) and Ferrotec's EFH series ferrofluid (which is primarily oil). The MSDS sheet for Ferrotec's EFH can be found here: http://ferrofluid.ferrotec.com/downloads/efhmsds.pdf
In the event that you should ever break the glass on Ferrocious or the Simple Ferrofluid Display, the fluid can create a mess, but it will clean up quite well with warm water and a liberal application of dish soap or Resolve.
Risks and challenges
The good news is that the greatest challenge (making Ferrocious work well) has been taken care of! Manufacturing is always fraught with potential problems, such as delays from material suppliers, manufacturers, shippers, or assembly. That said, I have been working with all of the suppliers for this project for quite some time and consider them all to be about as reliable as they come, with the exception of the occasional week delay here or there. I have setup the delivery dates over the span of a few months, which will give me time to handle all orders and deal with any unforeseen delays. I have been in the product design profession for nearly 7 years now and have handled everything from design, to production manufacturing, and customer service. My last project, The New Closet Guitar Hanger was successfully funded and all products were delivered in the promised time. My goal is for this project to be no different. If successfully funded, regular status updates will be provided to let backers know how things are moving along and when they can expect their products.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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