What Dark Magic Makes This Weird Yo-Yo Work?

Yo-yo tricks are already a miracle of physics. But Ben Conde specializes in a type of yo-yo with an unattached string, and does things that defy all logic. But there’s one sneaky feature that makes these contraptions work.


Hidden between the halves of his yo-yo are tiny silicone friction pads. These—combined with high rotational speed—grab onto the string in midair and give it just enough of a tug to let it wrap back around the core. Thusly snagged, the friction increases exponentially, and the yo-yo flies back. It’s a neat trick of physics, but it still makes it look like Conde made a deal with the devil.

Unfortunately, there’s no fancy science or belt friction equation that explains why Conde is so much better at yo-yo tricks than most people. His secret is very boring hard work and practice.

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It’s called a Diablo. I bought one circa 1993, and got... fair with it.

High toss, etc, sure, whatever. My best was a toss to catch on half the string (put both sticks in one hand, grab the string with the other), then toss again while splitting the sticks in one hand between my finger. Then timing the falling Diablo... whip the string down over the top of it to re-catch it in one hand.

It was cooler than it sounds. I gave a presentation on it in some public speaking class, talking all about it while doing various tricks, culminating with that one... and with maybe a 10% success rate, I was amazed when it worked that time.

No, it didn’t get me any girls.

Whoever this guy is, maybe it worked for him.