Fun with Homebrew Parts

Posted 21 Dec 2003 at 16:26 UTC by steve Share This

Every robot builder has been faced with needing (or wanting) parts that don't fit the budget. What's the solution? We try to improvise by building a homebrew replacement. Jack W. Crenshaw has written an amusing article in Embedded Systems magazine on this subject. He tells of an obsession in his college days to have (then unaffordable) seven-segment displays to play with. First he struggled to build a seven-segment display out of things like ice cube trays and light bulbs. He followed that up with a plan to build a circuit full of oscillators and counters that could generate the waveforms needed to turn his oscilliscope into a seven segment display.

Sort of reminds me of, posted 22 Dec 2003 at 03:01 UTC by earlwb » (Master)

when I built my first digital wristwatch. Let's see, that was about 1973, and it cost $88.00 in kit form. You had to solder and assemble it. At the time the cheapest store bought one was around $600 or so. I used it for about a year, when I discovered that you don't expose the primitive LCD display to direct sunlight for too long. Unfortunately that killed the watch as you couldn't get parts for them anymore. Primitive LCD's didn't last long in direct sunlight way back then. Humm, around that time I also built my first digital 4 function calculator kit too. Four functions not five. It even ran off of some AA batteries and had a LED display too. If I remember right it cost less than $100 too.

Before that there were- - -, posted 22 Dec 2003 at 14:20 UTC by Frank McNeill » (Apprentice)

mechanical displays that worked like flash cards, rolodexes etc. and those weird stacked displays that were nearly unreadable under some lighting conditions because reflected light would show all the other numbers waiting for their turn to be illuminated. Makes one wonder, will their be a final type of display after all the current marvels are gone, or will the "parade" continue on and on?

Actually the wave of the future is, posted 22 Dec 2003 at 14:40 UTC by earlwb » (Master)

Actually, I think the ultimate wave of the future display will be a retina based display system. You just think about it and a computer display will be presented right in or on your eyes directly. Of course they might go for a direct brain feed display system too. No keyboards, no mice, we simply think about it and it gets done. We'll all be standing in line to get computer system emplants when that day comes. You won't be able to work live or survive without them.

Sounds too much like attack of the BORG- -, posted 22 Dec 2003 at 21:20 UTC by Frank McNeill » (Apprentice)

- - if I had my druthers, I druther have a holodeck instead.

Could be worse, posted 23 Dec 2003 at 02:48 UTC by earlwb » (Master)

Remember Arthur C Clark's last Space Odyssey Book? 3001 The final Odyssey? They all had metal skull caps on. You'd remove all your head hair permanently, and they'd fit you for a skull cap. After all the tests, it became permanent and little hair like electrodes would grow into your brain, connecting you to the world network. It seems Arthur C Clark has a good track record on predictions. I'd rather have implants internally myself (at least under the skin).

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