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Chris Fenton

Feb 162015



We here at NYCResistor talk a good game about Dioramas, but it’s pretty rare to see any action taken (although full credit goes to our member Shelby for providing great Dioramas for multiple past Interactive Shows!). This weekend provided just the right combination of terrible weather and 3-day-weekendness to motivate me to make it happen. This project combines both my love of dioramas and my long-held passion for paper mache volcanoes. My wife and I created this enchantingly tiny realm perched on the precipice of total annihilation using newspaper, water colors, some tiny drink umbrellas, and other misc. objects found lying around the house. Note the family of 3d-printed Nessies visible in the shallow waters near the photo-realistic beach.

From our member Adam:

It’s been conjectured that the eruption was in fact triggered by the weight of the enormous half-mile steel flagpole installed on the northern shore, and that it was the memory this incident that scotched the original plan for a half-mile steel flagpole to be installed on the moon during the Apollo program.

And now watch it in all of its anti-climactic glory:

The gauntlet has officially been thrown, 4th graders!

Jan 042015


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!

Apr 192014


te_card_reader-300x300Got 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).

Jun 092013


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.

May 022013

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.

Go, download the simulator and have your own simulated 1980’s data-center! Or just read his incredible write-up on his progress so far!

Jan 092012

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!


Aug 292010

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!