25 Oct 2005

Electro static discharge and handheld devices

Uncontrolled static electricity discharge can cause damage to electronic equipment, for that reason measures are taken to design handheld devices in ways that protect them from the evils of static electricity. But what if you can utilise static charges in a constructive way? What if you can store static electricity to top-up batteries of various handheld devices?

Imagine yourself in a train and want to make an important and urgent call to your wife letting her know you'll be late for dinner because Great Western Trains have messed things up again. You look at your battery indicator and you realise that it just ran out flat. So what do you do? You rub your mobile on the seat next to you (make sure the seat is empty first!) for a couple of minutes, perhaps less, and voila! your mobile has enough battery power to make that important call.

How to achieve that is another story. Remember the Leydon Jar? This is a capacitor-like device that collects static electricity. What is required is a leydon jar-like device with a mechanism that enables the capacitor to top-up the battery (not the other way around). With my limited knowledge of electronics I could only think of a circuit containing a diode to enforce the direction of a trickle charge moving from the capacitor to the mobile battery.

Perhaps an enhancement to the idea is not to have to use any kind of manual movements (since you can equally use a wind-up mechanism) by constructing the device in such a way that it collects static charge while it is in your trousers or jacket pocket, continuously in touch and rubbing with your garment's fabric. In that case wearing woolen jackets in summer is a great give away that you're keeping your handset well topped up with energy for that important call.

Any of you folks out there think this will work?

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