Well, you can’t actually meet it, as it’s really heavy and awkward to carry on a train, but feel free to gaze upon it lovingly from afar. From the good people at Fenton Heavy Industries (who brought us such hits as the FIBIAC and Turbo Entabulator), the Numbotron is the latest and greatest in impractical computing. It wasn’t ready in time for 2014′s Interactive Show, but I finally got around to properly documenting it. This electromechanical wonder can emulate Babbage’s Difference Engine with ease – it can even find all the prime numbers under 1000 in less than half a century! Enjoy the full write-up on my site, and if hate yourself, take a shot at writing your own code for the simulator!
Got a shiny new 3D printer, but not quite sure what to do with it? Interested in learning to make your projects move? Sign up for “Intro to Mechanisms” on May 10th and get a gentle introduction to making stuff spin, wobble and reciprocate using things like gears and cams. We’ll also explore more advanced control mechanisms like Geneva Drives and Jacquard-style Punch Card readers, so you can live out your steampunk fantasies and setup your own desktop Dickensian sweatshop! Taught by Chris Fenton (chris on thingiverse).
Take that Babbage! A *working* mechanical computer. That’s right, I said it. Come check out the Turbo Entabulator at the upcoming NYCResistor Interactive Show this coming Saturday! This is the latest diabolical machine to come out of the labs at Fenton Heavy Industries. Its lack of speed is only surpassed by its unreliability and general mechanical shakiness. But hey, it’s probably the only computer you can print out yourself.
Some of you may remember the last installment in our on-going series on computational necromancy, where I made a call out to the internet to help revive my bit-rotted copy of the once-lost Cray Operating System. An amazing programmer named Andras has answered that call in a way I would have never thought possible – he not only used his kung-fu to recover an intact copy of COS from my disk image, he wrote a simulator for an entire data center worth of Cray X-MP equipment and got it to boot!
If anyone has been sitting on Cray-1 or Cray X-MP software (or you just have some idea of how to use COS!) for the last 30 or so years, now is the time to come out of the woodwork! Get in touch with me or Andras and we’ll make it happen.
Well, work is continuing on my electromechanical computer project. I now have a sort-of-working prototype of my clunky punch-card reader. Hopefully something will be working in time for the interactive show this year =) Enjoy!
As part of my on-going quest to fill my apartment (and hackerspace) up with semi-working 1970′s supercomputers, my effort to revive the Cray-1 supercomputer needs your help! Through the grapevine, I managed to get my hands on a genuine backup disk pack of the once-thought-extinct Cray Operating System (COS). Using my homebrewed disk reader I was able to make a copy of the disk, and the folks over at the internet archive (thanks Jason!) were kind enough to host it for me. Now is where you, kind reader, come in! Help me reverse-engineer the file system so I can recover the actual operating system files and take a step closer to towards booting this awesomely-useless machine!
Download it and get hacking!
No hackerspace is complete without it’s own rockin’ supercomputer – and when a Gibson isn’t available, a Cray-1 will have to do. My 1/10-scale, binary-compatible Cray-1 is finally done! This project took a long time (almost as long as my infamous electromechanical computer, or *gasp* the MegaScroller), but it’s done. And it’s awesome. NYCR now has its own Cray-1A, complete with wrap-around pleather sitting area. Eat your hearts out fellow hackerspaces!
So as not to leave my fellow hardware engineers unrepresented, I present my entry for day 3 of March Madness:
The following code implements (poorly, no doubt) the 64-bit floating point reciprocal approximation unit from the Cray-1 (in Verilog 2001). Warning, not for the faint of heart =)
As part of our on-going Awesome-August effort, I just completed my FPGA-based DNA sequence alignment accelerator! Behold!
This bad boy can reach 1.8 Giga-cell-updates-per-second when aligning two DNA sequences, all while running off of less than 2.5W from a USB port. Step 1 in my evil plan to take over the world is complete!