The less-than-critical thinking free energy types are pointing to the "Super Joule Ringer" demonstrations online, where a quick touch with a 9 V battery illuminates an LED for hours.


I see an oscillating tank circuit, with the inductor and cap trading energy back and forth. If I'm not mistaken, we can combine the energies stored in the two components, since they're both charged up with the battery (unlike the traditional tank circuit in textbooks which has a cap or inductor getting switched in).

$$ E=\frac{1}{2}(CV^2 + LI^2) $$

So, assuming a 3000 uF cap and a 500 mH inductor (guessing), and 10 A from the battery, we'd have 25 J of energy stored.

Since the time to discharge that much energy for a given power draw is given by:

$$ t=\frac{E}{P} $$

Ignoring losses, an LED drawing 10 mA at 1.6 V would be dissipating 12 mW, so the circuit could power the LED for 34.7 minutes.

Is this circuit capable of achieving that? What explains the weird sawtooth-with-ringing waveform he shows on the oscilloscope?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ That circuit can't possibly work that way, notice that there is no closed circuit through the transistor base. Probably some parasitic capacitance is missing in the schematic. \$\endgroup\$ – starblue Jun 21 '14 at 7:56

Added at top #2:

This is beginning to look more like fraud with a small chance of ignorance.

This video allegedly shows a version of his device driving a significant bank of light bulbs. It appears he is getting 10's of Watts out and he says input is 200 mA. Voltage is unspecified but if it's 12V in then power = 2.4 Watts. If so he has some awesomely efficient light sources.
He MAY be simply saying that he has developed a switching regulator that seems to work efficiently but the average person would take this as a "free energy" claim. He does not say so and nowhere provides enough plain technical data to pin down what he IS saying.

So: Either he is making high efficiency inverters - there will be better ones, or he is claiming net energy production and is a fraudster (or he is working magic). .

2nd oldest below here:

Added at top #1 :

I hadn't noticed the high current and inductance posited to get the 25J suggested and I did no more than skim the material available. That current is possible but I'd need to take more time investigating it at present than I can spare on what is either a hoax (probably not) or a misunderstanding.

I had not realised that this is a claimed alternative energy magic power source concept. It is never worth my investigating those as the magic goes away and hides as soon as I come near and refuses to come out to play until after I leave. Alas.

If this is able to be replicated it is able to be measured and the people doing it should provide measurement results. If the system uses magic which cannot be measured they should say so and we can get on with other things.

The videos & text I noted seemed to be talking about operating times in the 30-60 minute range. Somebody else mentioned 12 hours but you'd want a signed affidavit on that one.
You can get a good appearance on an LED with 1 mA and a bright flash at an average of say 0.1 mA. At 1 mA and say 2.5V you need 2.5 mJ/second, 50 mJ/minute and 3000 mJ or 3J or 3 Watt seconds for an hour. A 2000 uF capacitor charged to 10V contains 100 mJ of energy (not all easily used) or about 2 minutes of LED operation at 1 mA mean. Inductor energy my explain what is happening but you'd need relatively immense currents and substantial inductance - more of both than seem likely to be present here.

One other possibility is "energy harvesting" from RF pickup. Seems unlikely.

So - hat I wrote before I'll leave BUT in fact I think either magic is happening (my job here is done) or things are misunderstood, or a series of pulses convey a sense of brightness at actual low power or its a hoax. The experimenter SEEMS genuine enough - but this would be very easy to 'cook' and I have seen any number of fraudulent claims.

Oldest below here:

There is no magic here, alas. I see nothing that surprises me energy wise.
A good modern LED will provide useful output at 1 mA so your energy calculations are in the right order of magnitude for what you are seeing.

A look at related circuits and associated videos show that the actual circuit in a given case may not be exactly what is drawn and also that they are using parasitic coupling of various sorts in some cases.

I will come back later and add a bit to this but for now here are some useful related links.

V2 - hard connection to base shown for feedback circuit

V3 - high value resistor provided for feedback

Another version = also has video

  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, this is too disorganised for me to follow... \$\endgroup\$ – Greg Bell Jun 30 '14 at 2:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GregBell As my answer says - there were two additions to the original. I've added labels to show which is which in case that is what is causing your confusion. I've re-read it. It's not clear why you can't understand what I wrote so as it's not obvious how reorganising what seems to be relatively straight forward statements will help your understanding. | One is sometimes tempted to feel discouraged after spending time on an answer and trying to be helpful - and finding links that should help, and having the efforts brushed off dismissively. I cant tell what you need from a 9 word dismissal. \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon Jun 30 '14 at 2:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ It seems Russell is saying: the circuit is not implausible to drive an LED at 1mA (not 10mA as OP mentions), but under no circumstances could it violate conservation of energy. Any claim that there is more energy coming out than went in is either a lie or a misunderstanding of what's actually going on. \$\endgroup\$ – Matt B. Jun 30 '14 at 5:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ It could be the lights are dim and the camera has exposure set for low light to make them appear brighter than a human eye would perceive them, thus assumptions about voltage/current are way off. These videos are coming from a site called "Free Energy News" and there just isn't such a thing in the sense of getting energy from "nowhere". Energy has to come from somewhere, and as such the flow is measurable, so one must wonder why those measurements weren’t given along with the video. \$\endgroup\$ – Matt B. Jun 30 '14 at 5:57

You've done the right thing coming to EE.SE! Here are my ramblings on the subject.

These sites and videos are kept going by a mix of credulous somewhat-technical tinkerers who can't quite replicate over-unity but will get there soon, and outright fraudsters who fake things to get attention.

The tinkerer often gets drawn into circuits involving some resonance, at frequencies a bit beyond the capability of his test equipment. Or circuits with mechanical interruptors that lead to very small duty cycles. These can lead to tantalising hints of the "vacuum energy" or whatever, when in fact his multimeter is just overreading the 100 kHz voltage, or not capturing the short high-current spikes. He enters a positive feedback loop of course; he'll slowly optimise until he's found something which exploits his test equipment's faults. Tinkerer circuits often involve a lead-acid battery, possibly because its low internal resistance means bigger, harder to measure current spikes.

The fraudster creates outright fake videos, not difficult to hide the wires when you control the camera. Some are so glaring that no-one would believe them for a second (but they do... see the comments). My favourite is a simple helical coil, 10 turns, powering an incandescent light bulb, when some rare earth magnets are held near it....

Mostly harmless but annoying. Now all my YouTube suggestions are these free energy videos.


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