Friday, May 2, 2014

Unusual usage (hours) counter with mercury capillary

This is a usage counter that works by moving mercury in a capillary tube via electrochemistry.  As electricity flows through the device, mercury atoms are transferred across an electrolyte gap in the capillary. The position of the gap changes as mercury is transferred, and shows how much total charge has been passed through the device.

I realize that the divider network looks more like 20:1.  This might kill my theory that the mercury ions are in the 2+ state.  I'm really not sure.


  1. cool - yes: I found it interesting ! Thanks!

  2. So did I - really interesting. These devices are found on old Russian electronic test equipments. Since the counter can't be reset this gives also an idea about the lifetime of such an equipment. I have seen these counters on oscilloscopes and frequency dividers devices.

  3. What is the name of the physical affect in this setup? It's not electrophoresis, right?

  4. excellent analysis..i loved the math involved

  5. I have one of those on a Russian sampling scope.
    This is an early implementation of a memristor, many years older than HP's version (a conical tube would lead to a strong change in resistance, but that is just a detail).

    Btw. your audience is waiting, when are you going to make artificial diamonds?