I have to admit to being seriously intrigued. I just saw an electronics-based trick that I cannot explain...
I have to admit to being seriously intrigued. I just saw an electronics-based trick that I cannot explain…
This all started with my recent blog I want two impossible balls! (sorry, that was a Freudian slip, it was called I want impossible balls too!) A university lecturer responded with a comment saying:
Nice, but if you want an FPGA trick, this is what I used for a final project in my course last semester. It's a fun project to demo in class and then see the faces of the students as they talk amongst themselves about how it works (this is an intro digital design course and they know all about state machines and what FPGAs can do by this point: hint).
He also included a link to a video on YouTube, so I bounced over to take a look. This is really very interesting (see The Original Magic Switch Box video below). We start off with four switches – each with a plastic cover colored red, yellow, green, and blue – and four corresponding LEDS.
Not surprisingly, the green switch activates the green LED, the red switch activates the red LED, and so forth. Next the presenter pulls out a couple of the LEDs and swaps their positions, but having done so, the original colored switches still control their correspondingly-colored LEDs.
The Original Magic Switch Box
This is pretty clever thus far, but wait, there’s more, because the presenter then starts pulling the colored plastic covers off the switches and swapping them around … and even with their new covers, the switches still control their correspondingly colored LEDs.
“Hmmm, I thought, I wonder how that’s done?” Now, one thing is that part of the setup is covered, so you can’t see what’s going on “under the hood” as it were. But then I was enticed by another YouTube video boasting a “Clear Magic Switch Box” as shown below:
The Clear Magic Switch Box
This one uses bulbs rather than LEDs (or does it?), but the trick is essentially the same except that you can see the internals of the box (or at least, the parts you are supposed to see). The really clever part comes towards the end when the presenter takes the batteries out … and the switches and lights continue to work.
I bounced over to their website at www.voltarsmagic.co.uk, but this just auto-returned me to the YouTube video. I finally got in touch with the guy in charge, who tells me that they are going to be selling these in the not-so-distant future (I want one) but that the first run is already reserved (bummer) and that he will email me when more become available.
In the meantime, does anyone have any idea how this is done?
But wait, there’s still more, because I also ran across the video shown below. This isn’t a trick or an illusion, but it’s still a bit of a laugh. It’s a box with a single switch. When you turn the switch on, the box physically turns it off again:
The “Leave Me Alone” Box
I sort of liked one of the comments associated with this video – the one that suggested that operator received an electric shock after turning the switch on some number of times (which immediately made me think about my 12-year old nephew Dillon [grin]).
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