Friday, June 28, 2013

How to spin a Psi Wheel

So you've followed the directions I posted earlier and made a Psi Wheel. Chances are you will spend more time putting it together than you will spend on actually trying to get it to spin. Unfortunately, most people give up rather quickly. They try it once, convince themselves it was a silly idea, and that's as far as they go.

Well, Don't give up! Seriously, that's step one in getting a Psi Wheel to spin.

I find it helps to have a personal connection to the wheel. Some of my best results have come from pinwheels made from foil candy wrappers I've saved from holiday treats. And those peanut butter jars I use? Well I'm the only one in this family who eats peanut butter. But even if the actual materials aren't so personal, you can still develop a relationship with your wheel. Talk to it. Tell it jokes. Make friends with your wheel. I know it sounds silly, but it helps.

Now that you and the wheel are BFFs, it's time to party! Yes, have fun playing together. Don't be hard on yourself (or the wheel). You don't have to get it spinning inside the jar right away. It's perfectly fine to get acquainted with the wheel without using a jar to begin with. It took me a few months of practicing without a jar before I was able to start moving the wheel inside a jar. I just kept going until it happened. But it has to be fun. Make a game of it.

If you can practice with others, that really helps too. I've done well taking my pinwheel to the pub with friends to hang out. It's more fun when you make this a social activity. (Maybe Psi Wheels are just party animals???) But if it's just you and your faithful Psi Wheel hanging out for some quality time together, you can watch this video and see if it provides any inspiration. (Is there such a thing as PK Porn?!?)

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Ever Elusive Personal Experience of Psi

I just did yet another guest post on Craig Weiler's blog. (Apparently he isn't tired of me yet.)

How to make a Psi Wheel

These days I use a commercially available Egely Wheel for my experiments, but I know they are kind of a pricy item and I don't blame anyone who wants to start off with a cheaper option.. I originally began experimenting with just a simple homemade pinwheel. Nothing fancy at all, but a great first step in learning to control PK.

You'll need a few basic items to start with:

  1. A jar with a lid.I used a plastic Kraft peanut butter jar, but glass jars are fine too. The advantage of glass is that it isn't as affected by static electricity, which can make the wheel stick to the jar. But you can just use an anti-static dryer sheet rubbed on the inside of a plastic jar to take care of that problem. The advantage of plastic is that it's lighter and easier to carry with you if you want to take it anywhere (school, coffee shops, the Rhine Research Center, etc...). If you live in a high humidity environment (like I do), static isn't a huge problem anyway.
  2. A eraser small enough to fit inside the lid of the jar.
  3. A sewing needle.
  4. A square of Al foil (I used a 4.5 cm square in my example).
The first step is to push the sewing needle into the eraser, pointy end upwards (for the pinwheel to sit on). Just make sure to get the needle straight up and down and not at an angle. Even a bit of an angle impedes the movement of the wheel.

The next thing to do is to fold the Al foil square into a little pyramid shape. Start off by folding the square in half, forming a triangle.

Now open up the triangle into a square again, and then fold the other two corners together.

Open up the square again, and it will pretty much already be a pyrimid shape. You could actually stop there if you wanted to.

If you want to get things a little fancier, then make additional folds in the middle of each of the first four triangles, forming eight triangles.

Once that is done, open up the pyramid again. You will notice that the very top is quite pointy. You can leave it that way if you want to, but I find that the pin will tend to wear through that spot quickly when you do get it to spin.

My remedy is to flatten the point into a little square at the top. I use something like the flat end of a pen or knitting needle to shape it the way I want it. Just be careful not to poke a hole through the foil. I find that the wheel spins more easily and lasts longer if I shape it this way.

So now you have a base and a pinwheel:

You just balance the pinwheel on the pointy end of the pin:

The next step is to place the pinwheel inside a jar. If you use a plastic jar, rub the inside of it with an anti-static dryer sheet first. You now have a Psi Wheel to experiment with!

As far as spinning the pinwheel goes, I worked on getting it to spin without a jar first, and after I was very good at that I moved on to learning to move it inside the jar. After I could do that I started to work on distance PK, which is something I'm still learning to do in a reliable fashion. 

I wish you all the best of luck in your own experiments!