Acland’s Orbo tests are now 0 for 2

This will be a quick update because there have been very few developments lately. Almost none of them were positive.

First, neither Rachel Wallace nor Jennifer Roe have provided any further “weekly” updates about the status of their OPhones. It seems that their phones have fallen within what is, according to Steorn CEO Shaun McCarthy, the 40% failure rate of Orbo-based products so far put into the field for testing.

The OCube sent to Frank Acland, which was immediately acknowledged to have been a test unit that shouldn’t have been shipped in the first place, suffered two accidental short circuits (the first of them at the mischievous paws of Acland’s cat). According to Steorn CEO Shaun McCarthy, the short circuits would have “fecked” the OCube’s domains, compromising its function. Attempts were made to realign the domains by applying brief jolts of higher voltage, but these were not met with success. Acland’s OCube never returned to being able to produce anything more than an occasional brief discharge of power.

To Steorn’s credit, they did quickly send Acland a new device to test. This second shipment consisted of what McCarthy said was the internals of an OPhone: a black resin-potted brick connected to two blocks of terminals and a 9 volt battery. The potted brick was described as containing an Orbo cell that provides the output power, as well as a second Orbo cell that provides reference voltage for the first. It is said to do this only by the effect of its electric field being in close proximity to the first Orbo cell, and without any wired connection between the two cells. The 9 volt battery, then, was said to provide a reference voltage to the second Orbo cell.

However, even though this latest test contraption was apparently tested by McCarthy immediately before it shipped, it has not worked correctly since arriving with Frank Acland. The voltage of the reference Orbo cell has gradually and consistently been declining. Acland plans further tests, with the help of McCarthy’s advice, but the prognosis for Acland’s second Orbo test unit does not look good.

Really the only positive news to report at this time is that Shaun McCarthy has been going well out of his way to provide support for Acland’s tests. He’s provided lots of information and advice over the course of an e-mail exchange and several Skype conversations.  McCarthy is acting like someone who believes in his product and wants to see it proven. Of course his actions could also be interpreted as those of a con man putting on an act of good faith just to string along his investors for more money.

That’s still all we can do now, interpret, according to our own hopes, fears and biases. For my part, I’m hoping Steorn can get their act together and ship something that works half as well for others as they seem to believe that it works for them.