Electromechanical Pong

From: Paul Koning <pkoning_at_equallogic.com>
Date: Fri Sep 24 15:44:10 2004

>>>>> "Tom" == Tom Jennings <tomj_at_wps.com> writes:

 Tom> On Fri, 2004-09-24 at 12:06, Vintage Computer Festival wrote:
>> > http://www.fi.edu/pieces/knox/automaton
>> Now THAT is amazingly cool.

 Tom> Those things really are extraordinary. Even more amazing must be
 Tom> the method of describing, in cams and levers, the motions
 Tom> necessary to carry it out. It's "programmable".

Sure is.

 Tom> I *never* hear any interest, discussion, or documentation of how
 Tom> the process of 'programming' these machines (as well as music
 Tom> players and related automata) was done. There's a transformation
 Tom> and abstraction of thought, through arbitrary hardware
 Tom> constraints, into a desired end. It's an algorithm, and (pun
 Tom> intended) if it walks like a duck, it's probably a duck -- it's
 Tom> programming.

In some cases there isn't much abstraction. For example, music boxes,
player pianos, and calliopes all have a tape or roll with one
"channel" per sound making element, moving at constant speed. So the
program is simply a two-dimensional representation of the sound:
frequency (or more precisely, sound actuator) on the x axis, time on
the y axis.

That cam mechanism is similar to what you find in many mechanisms,
though a whole lot more complicated. Describing motion of mechanisms
by one or more cams is classic mechanical engineering. Design of
cams, in particular cams in fast moving mechanism, is a serious topic
for ME majors...

Received on Fri Sep 24 2004 - 15:44:10 BST

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