inside a computerised pipework scale reducer.

inside a computerised pipework scale reducer.

This is one of many devices that make bold claims about reducing build up of mineral deposits in pipework. There are units with fixed magnets inside and active units like this one that have wires that wrap around pipes and claim to expose the minerals to electrical pulses to change their behaviour.
These devices have been around for many decades and usually carry advertising that shows a section of pipe with extreme scale buildup and a section of new clean pipe to show how effective they are.

Note that I can’t find any proper research that indicates any of these things work. I like to keep an open mind, but feel that any sound theory behind these types of devices has been lost in the endless torrent of exuberant marketing.
It’s very clever though. The unit does employ an animated LED display for the layman and actual swept frequency pulses on the output for people like us to introduce doubt and wonderment.

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  1. Peter Fletcher on January 18, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    There are variants of these that are supposed to prevent yeast and sugar deposits building up in beer pipes. Pure snake oil, we tested them comprehensively and found they did absolutely nothing.

  2. Rýán Túçk on January 18, 2019 at 7:26 pm

    Those 1K output resistors are to isolate the unwitting user from contact with *EITHER of the 8.5V* power rails AKA antenna leads : there’s no “17V power rail“ nor ‘ground’ since neither rail of the WBR’s output is earthed.

  3. Snow Bunneh on January 18, 2019 at 7:26 pm

    Lets them put all the liability on the power supply manufacturer.
    Good luck we are in Taiwan 🇹🇼:D

  4. Andrew L on January 18, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    I had a friend who worked in a machine shop that used to make an absolute KILLING making the permanent magnet version of these things and custom-fitting them to the irrigation systems at farms. We were both in grad school for chemistry at the time (he was only part-time and I was full time), and we both agreed that they almost certainly do not work, but there isn’t exactly any money in telling people that…

  5. Tubmaster 5000 on January 18, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    I asked a local plumber about these and he said they were completely bogus. If you want to de-scale water, you pretty much have to use the salt-based resin tank type conditioners.

  6. Attila Asztalos on January 18, 2019 at 7:28 pm

    So 95% of the circuit flashes some LEDs, and the rest of 5% does absolutely nothing relevant to the task at hand. Gotcha. Exactly as expected. Except of course I can do the exact same thing with nothing but magnets, without wasting any electricity – they fail to do anything at all equally effectively.

  7. Benjamin Edwards on January 18, 2019 at 7:29 pm

    I’m a frakin’ cylon

  8. Silent Gamer2015 on January 18, 2019 at 7:31 pm

    "Its Polatiry Reversal."

    3rd Doctor "Its quite simple my dear boy, you just reverse the polarity of the neutron flow."

  9. terry jenkins on January 18, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    The light reminds me of kit from knight Ryder

  10. S James on January 18, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    Pipe Cleaner, a shadowy journey into the world of an effect that does not exist.

  11. edgeeffect on January 18, 2019 at 7:37 pm

    It looks like that microcontroller is spending much more time sweeping the LEDs a-la Night Rider than it actually is "trilling".

  12. Stoney3K on January 18, 2019 at 7:37 pm

    I’m actually surprised there’s a *driver* transistor for those coils because they can’t carry any current like this. For any capacitive coupling to happen it would have needed to be RF.

    Also, the copper pipe is earthed, so any power you’re going to pump in there is not going anywhere.

  13. Paul Woodhouse on January 18, 2019 at 7:37 pm

    Agree, just a fancy LED chaser with precious little else, what a con.

  14. Dexxter on January 18, 2019 at 7:38 pm

    When I read the video title my first thought was how the fcuk do you use a computer to reduce the size (scale) of a pipe?

  15. Shane Johns on January 18, 2019 at 7:39 pm

    I can think of two very different devices — one which descales, and one which only makes it more difficult for scale to build up in the first place. I don’t think this device descales. It may, however, have some nominal effect on scale build-up times. Someone should run a controlled test (on new pipes) over something like a couple/few years, and show a side-by-side comparison of cross-sections of the two pipes.

  16. Pleiadain scientists U.F.O builder on January 18, 2019 at 7:39 pm

    Thumbs up

  17. Lachlan Hamilton on January 18, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    That’s the light from the front of KITT from Knight Rider!

  18. tusseboi on January 18, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    It would work with a 555 timer too

  19. Paul Illingworth on January 18, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    Made for effect, I’m not convinced lol, as many believe it’s a marketing ploy, I wonder what it does with what it catches in the pipes 🤔🤔

  20. Orella Minx on January 18, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    That display would be great for an RC K.I.T.T

  21. David B on January 18, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    i would say if you just get an extension cord and wrap that around the pips a few times you would have more chance of having any kind of an effect. Or placing a run of neodymium magnets in a row could be more effective. But really i think it’s all snake oil.

  22. Vink on January 18, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    What do you mean the circuit board is upside down? Sincerely, an Australian.

  23. Dirty Robot on January 18, 2019 at 7:43 pm

    You used Autoscale on the scale reducer. Was expecting the world to end.

  24. John Harris on January 18, 2019 at 7:49 pm

    Homeopathic circuitry, I’m surprised it has no Royal Warrant yet.

  25. helloworld on January 18, 2019 at 7:50 pm

    Anytime you see more money spent on blinking LEDs than the actual circuit, it is dead give away that the product is a placebo. I was actually surprised to see two boards and a neat cable going between the two. They could have very well mounted everything on a single board.

  26. Paul Bradley on January 18, 2019 at 7:50 pm

    What is the function of the output? Lime be like?

  27. Rodewerksahed on January 18, 2019 at 7:51 pm

    Clive, I think you should have set the scope to Auto De Scale…

  28. Eidetic Ex on January 18, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    Having lived in a house where lime scale buildup was so bad that it could clog 1/4" PVC within a year or two of use. I had the idea that maybe I could use electromagnetism to make the scale stay afloat until it’s washed out. Then I looked into it and found that really isn’t a viable option. If I remember right the current required would heat copper wire to double the safe operating temperature of schedule 40 CPVC.

  29. Nick Bird on January 18, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    When I saw the led lights it made me wonder if KIT from "NIGHT RIDER had been recycled. These products also claim they cost penny’s to run. We all know the old saying " at best you only get back what you put in" I try to keep a open mind that items like this may work, however as the leds are using most of the power I cannot see how it can be any good. Clive keep up the good work. P.S I made a comment on the "se*ual stick up your b*m device" you made a promise! Are you going to keep it?

  30. Snow Bunneh on January 18, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    This seems like some kind of homeopathic torture device.

  31. Nintendo Life on January 18, 2019 at 7:53 pm

    If you put it in a metal bucket with a TV aerial it turns into a free energy device.

  32. Will Tisdale on January 18, 2019 at 7:55 pm

    Haha. Love your videos. When you first opened it up I thought – bridge rectifier, smoothing cap, microprocessor to run the LEDS…which is basically what it was.
    What a load of bollocks – I was playing about with those chips in the 1990s when I was at school.
    Keep the videos coming! ❤️

  33. Beany2007FTW on January 18, 2019 at 7:55 pm

    Just got a minute in and I’m wondering how a magnetic field is supposed to impact limescale, which traditionally (well, I mean, by the nature of it’s chemistry) isn’t considered metallic. I’m gonna guess it’s a load of old horseshit.

  34. MannyJazzcats on January 18, 2019 at 7:57 pm

    Clive did you see that news story about a kid in Malaysia getting electrocuted to death by her headphones?a very sad story but is the story worth some dissection with the benefit of your electronical knowledge to make others aware of actual dangers related to this story.Cheers for the videos mate!

  35. Ronnie Pirtle Jr on January 18, 2019 at 7:58 pm

    I have the exact same screwdriver big Clive.
    I switched out to one with a bigger handle but Precision tip.

  36. Bryan St.Martin on January 18, 2019 at 7:59 pm

    Copper very magnetorestrictive! I would have to see the water quality results for a true determination. Simplest trick is to drop an ice cube of "Treated water" into a clear clean glass of distilled water and watch the melt. The RF may just dislodge the TDS’s. But it will build up somewhere.

  37. David Evans on January 18, 2019 at 7:59 pm

    So is there any method/device that can de-scale water coming into a property which can be verified to function as advertised?

  38. Ralph B on January 18, 2019 at 8:02 pm

    cool, i have had clients ask for these kind of sacle reducers before its a cool idea but I don’t think they are very effective, even from a quality brand.

  39. icslook on January 18, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    I live in a hard water area and a few years ago spent a lot of time researching these devices. I saw many manufacturer web sites that had my BS detector pinging. I read the limited academic literature on the subject. The overall picture was inconclusive as to whether or not they work but my impression was that there is a fair amount of controversy, suggesting most or all of these devices are probably not what they purport to be.

    I went on to build my own. I forget all the detail but I took care to maximise the current going through two coils (each connected both ends to give a magnetic field). It was a lot more powerful than the device here. There was no change to the scale in our house or to the taste of the water. I was using a microcontroller to produce rapidly swept frequencies, according to my notes, from about 600Hz up to nearly 4KHz… and I may of course have chosen those incorrectly.

  40. Diakun on January 18, 2019 at 8:07 pm

    I descaled my house and now i cant weigh anything

  41. Lachlan Hamilton on January 18, 2019 at 8:07 pm

    I’ll say it for you, Clive. "No, it doesn’t work!" If you want to have less limescale in your kettle, move to Scotland.

  42. MadMan on January 18, 2019 at 8:08 pm

    Yeah, you definitely don’t want to descale lead pipes. The scale is what stops the lead from being leeching into the water.

  43. Mick Foster on January 18, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    As an engineer myself I was very sceptical about these devices however about 16 years ago I bought one just to try it out (it wasn’t expensive). It has been in use since and is still working and I find it does seem to work. Much reduced scale build up in the kettle and my last washing machine lasted 27 years until it rusted away. I bought it from Screwfix and they are still selling them made by BWT who are a serious global water conditioning company. If they were a con I doubt these two companies would risk their reputations and continue to sell them and for so many years. I suspect their effectiveness is extremely dependant upon the pipework and the installation. I agree it looks like snake oil but then it works?????

  44. NutsFathead on January 18, 2019 at 8:11 pm

    Snake oil… yes here’s is my money

  45. r1273m on January 18, 2019 at 8:13 pm

    My house was built in 1913 with some improvements in 1947. About 5 years ago we had it all replumbed and even though we live in a very hard water area there was absolutely no evidence of any furring up in either the lead or the copper pipes. I personally think circuits such as this serve no useful purpose and the LED display is to make sure the gullible think something must be happening. Bob

  46. chemicalvamp on January 18, 2019 at 8:15 pm

    I wish I had my own K.I.T.T. on my wall, Ohh or maybe a Cylon faceplate would make it even better.

  47. TheMarkSpurs on January 18, 2019 at 8:15 pm

    The most engineered thing in this box is the LED sweep; ala "kit."

    "Yes Michael… you have been duped."

  48. BangDroid on January 18, 2019 at 8:17 pm

    14:41 my new ringtone

  49. DA666 on January 18, 2019 at 8:18 pm

    The Cylons are much less scary than I thought.

  50. thephantom1492 on January 18, 2019 at 8:19 pm

    I think your idea on how the code work is most likelly right. Since it is an older microcontroller, it probably have no PWM output, so the pseudo code is something like:

    while (true) {
    loop(number of pulses for 1000Hz and the time for each frequency (200ms?)) {
    pulses(cycles for the pulse, cpu frequency / pulse frequency / 2)


    void pulse(cycles) {

    In other words, very easy to code. The schematics is also very basic. I could actually replicate the whole thing with less than a day of effort and have a board layout made and ready to be sent to a fab house. Of course, due to the casing, it need more work, but I wouln’t be surprised if the hardest part of all of this is the actual plastic casing itself.

    With a modern microcontroller, it would be even easier to do as they have a timer and a PWM output. The PWM work via an hardware counter. The PWM goes high at 0, and goes low when it hit the set value. The counter reset when it hit a second value. By adjusting the top value, you change the frequency, and by setting the middle value to half of the top you keep a 50% pulse. Sound complicated, but… really, you just set x,y… delay… set x,y, delay…. And you save a truckload of instruction space since you don’t have to make so many loops, so even the 3 cents microcontroller is way more than enought for it!

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