Courtesy of the United States Navy comes this incredible introduction to analog mechanical computers.
The context for this is that massive, mechanical computers were used aboard US Navy ships ranging from destroyers to battleships, from about 1944-1969, as part of the “Fire Control” system. This type of computer would take up to 25 continuously changing input variables in order to calculate the proper bearing and elevation for heavy caliber guns aboard the ship. This calculation— to ensure that a projectile will land at the place where the target is going to be —is marvelously complex, taking into account variables such as wind speed and direction, relative velocity of the ship and target, and parallax between the different guns on the ship. What’s truly remarkable is that it was all done with mechanical mechanisms such as gear differentials, cams, and mechanical integrators.
This two-part training film, from 1953, introduces the basic mechanisms that made these computers work:
The video embedded above (41:53 total length) contains both films, one after the other. (And, the YouTube link is here.)
Basic Mechanisms in Fire Control Computers, Part 1 discusses shafts, gears, cams, and differentials. Note that the first couple of minutes are not so much about the mechanisms, but more of an explanation— to the servicemen —of why they needed to learn about them.
Basic Mechanisms in Fire Control Computers, Part 2 discusses component solvers, integrators, and multipliers
If you enjoy these training films, you may also want to read through the little book entitled Ordnance Pamphlet 1140: Basic Fire Control Mechanisms, available here in PDF format, which covers much of the same ground.
Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is a protected marine and intertidal park located at Moss Beach, California, about 40 minutes south of San Francisco, just north of Half Moon bay. It’s a spectacular place to visit at low tide, for some of the finest, most accessible tide pools in the region.
And as you’ll see, there’s definitely a lot to look at.
gEDA is the open source (GPL licensed) Electronic Design Automation suite, which we use to design all of our circuit boards. gEDA now runs well on Mac, Windows, and Linux. If you’d like to try it out, you may want to begin with our own list of resources for getting started with gEDA, available here. And, if you produce open source hardware, you might find these footprints handy.
Here was a quick project that I created in time for C2MTL. It’s a simple, blinky, 3D printed, wearable electronic. We wanted to wear something that would be interesting and a conversation starter.
She used a LOL Shield on top of a Diavolino in a 3D printed case with a translucent lightning bolt. It was a success:
I wonder if all wearable electronic projects are like this- if people come up to you just because it’s something different and want to know more. Perhaps more world-wide friendliness & curiosity could be an unexpected result from wearable electronics! So, it worked and we were able to get people to talk to us. I extremely recommend this to other shy/not-exactly-social people.
Solder paste is the glue that holds together modern consumer electronics, binding surface mount electronic components to circuit boards and providing electrical and thermal connections in the process. But have you ever really looked at it?
Our friend Paul Rako posted a nice write-up about us on both the Atmel blog and EDN Workbench blog, filled with pictures he took at our last open house.
Evil Mad Science does not re-sell cheap imported junk. They design, test, and package their kits right here in Silicon Valley. Here are just a few of the kits Evil Mad Science sells. They all have great style, panache and entertainment value.
You can see read the rest of his post and check out his pictures either at EDN or Atmel. Thanks, Paul!
METEOR ALERT: Sky watchers in North America might see an outburst of meteors during the early hours of June 11th when Earth passes through a stream of cometary debris last seen in 1930. Forecasters Peter Jenniskens (SETI Institute) and Esko Lyytinen (Helsinki, Finland) predict the return of the gamma Delphinid meteor shower this Tuesday morning around 08:30 UT (04:30 am EDT). The shower is expected to last no more than about 30 minutes with an unknown number of bright, fast meteors.