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Steampunk Elf computer

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  • Lee Hart
    This is such a silly idea that it s fun to think about. :-) Nixies would make a good classic digital display, but would need to use octal (or split octal --
    Message 1 of 10 , Mar 15, 2010
      This is such a silly idea that it's fun to think about. :-)

      Nixies would make a good "classic" digital display, but would need to
      use octal (or split octal -- I think the latter would be easier to use).

      They did make some 7-segment neon display tubes -- and even some
      15-segment "british flag" types. Might be hard to find, though.

      I also like the idea of using analog meters marked "0...15" for each nibble.

      Telephone switchboard style lever switches could work for inputs. For
      that matter, you could use a telephone dial to enter octal numbers. :-)

      Put the whole thing in a well crafted wooden case, with black crinkle
      finish front panel (like classic General Radio equipment).

      Keyboard: Get an ancient typewriter, and use its keyboard (add
      microswitches, or maybe magnets and reed switches).

      Video: How about an old oscilloscope? It can easily be set up to display
      the output from an 1861.

      It would shock the heck out of someone to see such a setup running
      BASIC! They'd be looking in vain for a PC that's actually running it.

      Printer: Anyone see the movie "Hogfather"? It has a computer called
      "hex" that uses a quill pen and an inkwell to write its output. Use a
      couple of R/C servos to make an X-Y plotter to actually work like this!
      --
      Lee A. Hart | Ring the bells that still can ring
      814 8th Ave N | Forget the perfect offering
      Sartell MN 56377 | There is a crack in everything
      leeahart earthlink.net | That's how the light gets in -- Leonard Cohen
    • Dennis Boone
      ... Heck, the CDC PPUs drew on the vector console scopes. De
      Message 2 of 10 , Mar 15, 2010
        > Video: How about an old oscilloscope? It can easily be set up to display
        > the output from an 1861.

        Heck, the CDC PPUs drew on the vector console scopes.

        De
      • Lee Hart
        ... If you didn t mind building the hardware and software from scratch, a vector display is actually easier than raster scanning. But the 1861 chip and
        Message 3 of 10 , Mar 15, 2010
          >> Video: How about an old oscilloscope? It can easily be set up to display
          >> the output from an 1861.

          Dennis Boone wrote:
          > Heck, the CDC PPUs drew on the vector console scopes.

          If you didn't mind building the hardware and software from scratch, a
          vector display is actually easier than raster scanning. But the 1861
          chip and software that's already written happens to produce a raster
          display.

          OK, how's this: The oldest TV I've seen didn't have a CRT. Instead, it
          had a spinning mirror and a vertical line of neon lights. The mirror was
          spun by a 60 Hz motor; that was your vertical scan. The neon lamps were
          sequentially selected by a rotary switch; that was the horizontal scan.
          The video fed whichever neon lamp happened to be connected at the moment
          to control its brightness.

          Obviously, the display was dotty and orange. But it worked! For a
          digital display it should work even better.

          --
          Lee A. Hart | Ring the bells that still can ring
          814 8th Ave N | Forget the perfect offering
          Sartell MN 56377 | There is a crack in everything
          leeahart earthlink.net | That's how the light gets in -- Leonard Cohen
        • n1ist
          Actually, those TVs used a spinhning disk with holes cut in a spiral pattern, and one large neon bulb with long parallel
          Message 4 of 10 , Mar 15, 2010
            Actually, those TVs used a spinhning disk with holes cut in a spiral pattern, and one large neon bulb with long parallel plates.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mechanical_television
            /mike



            --- In cosmacelf@yahoogroups.com, Lee Hart <leeahart@...> wrote:
            >
            > >> Video: How about an old oscilloscope? It can easily be set up to display
            > >> the output from an 1861.
            >
            > Dennis Boone wrote:
            > > Heck, the CDC PPUs drew on the vector console scopes.
            >
            > If you didn't mind building the hardware and software from scratch, a
            > vector display is actually easier than raster scanning. But the 1861
            > chip and software that's already written happens to produce a raster
            > display.
            >
            > OK, how's this: The oldest TV I've seen didn't have a CRT. Instead, it
            > had a spinning mirror and a vertical line of neon lights. The mirror was
            > spun by a 60 Hz motor; that was your vertical scan. The neon lamps were
            > sequentially selected by a rotary switch; that was the horizontal scan.
            > The video fed whichever neon lamp happened to be connected at the moment
            > to control its brightness.
            >
            > Obviously, the display was dotty and orange. But it worked! For a
            > digital display it should work even better.
            >
            > --
            > Lee A. Hart | Ring the bells that still can ring
            > 814 8th Ave N | Forget the perfect offering
            > Sartell MN 56377 | There is a crack in everything
            > leeahart earthlink.net | That's how the light gets in -- Leonard Cohen
            >
          • awasson2001
            First, thanks Steve for the offer of the Nixies to play with.... If I have the chance I ll certainly take you up on the offer and send a few Numitrons your way
            Message 5 of 10 , Mar 15, 2010
              First, thanks Steve for the offer of the Nixies to play with.... If I have the chance I'll certainly take you up on the offer and send a few Numitrons your way too. Lee you're right, Numitrons are a tube version 7 segment display. They run on a couple of volts somewhere between 3 and 5 as I recall.

              On the display alternative side of things how about a POV LED Display? I'll bet we could make some pretty nicely formed letters and numbers with a few leds.

              This one is pretty amazing because it looks like they are lighting the viewing area and using the absence of light to form the images: http://hackaday.com/2008/11/28/96-led-pov/

              Andrew





              --- In cosmacelf@yahoogroups.com, "n1ist" <n1ist@...> wrote:
              >
              > Actually, those TVs used a spinhning disk with holes cut in a spiral pattern, and one large neon bulb with long parallel plates.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mechanical_television
              > /mike
              >
              >
              >
              > --- In cosmacelf@yahoogroups.com, Lee Hart <leeahart@> wrote:
              > >
              > > >> Video: How about an old oscilloscope? It can easily be set up to display
              > > >> the output from an 1861.
              > >
              > > Dennis Boone wrote:
              > > > Heck, the CDC PPUs drew on the vector console scopes.
              > >
              > > If you didn't mind building the hardware and software from scratch, a
              > > vector display is actually easier than raster scanning. But the 1861
              > > chip and software that's already written happens to produce a raster
              > > display.
              > >
              > > OK, how's this: The oldest TV I've seen didn't have a CRT. Instead, it
              > > had a spinning mirror and a vertical line of neon lights. The mirror was
              > > spun by a 60 Hz motor; that was your vertical scan. The neon lamps were
              > > sequentially selected by a rotary switch; that was the horizontal scan.
              > > The video fed whichever neon lamp happened to be connected at the moment
              > > to control its brightness.
              > >
              > > Obviously, the display was dotty and orange. But it worked! For a
              > > digital display it should work even better.
              > >
              > > --
              > > Lee A. Hart | Ring the bells that still can ring
              > > 814 8th Ave N | Forget the perfect offering
              > > Sartell MN 56377 | There is a crack in everything
              > > leeahart earthlink.net | That's how the light gets in -- Leonard Cohen
              > >
              >
            • Lee Hart
              ... That must have been a different make/model. This one was made around 1945 by DuMont, if I recall correctly. -- Lee A. Hart | Ring the bells that still can
              Message 6 of 10 , Mar 15, 2010
                n1ist wrote:
                > Actually, those TVs used a spinhning disk with holes cut in a spiral pattern, and one large neon bulb with long parallel plates.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mechanical_television

                That must have been a different make/model. This one was made around
                1945 by DuMont, if I recall correctly.
                --
                Lee A. Hart | Ring the bells that still can ring
                814 8th Ave N | Forget the perfect offering
                Sartell MN 56377 | There is a crack in everything
                leeahart earthlink.net | That's how the light gets in -- Leonard Cohen
              • Mark Graybill
                I love Terry Pratchett s stuff. Hex in the film Hogfather does a good job of representing the computer from the book. I guess we ll need an ant farm and a male
                Message 7 of 10 , Mar 16, 2010
                  I love Terry Pratchett's stuff. Hex in the film Hogfather does a good
                  job of representing the computer from the book. I guess we'll need an
                  ant farm and a male sheep's skull, too.

                  I've been thinking of building a steampunk keyboard from scratch, as
                  it happens. The internet versions with old-style keycaps on modern
                  boards just aren't doing it for me. My plan was to start with a hex
                  keyboard, then try expanding the design to a full ASCII keyboard. Then
                  I decided the 8085 project was going to be hardware rather than an
                  emulation, so it's been set aside though bits of hardware are set
                  aside. I wanted to make something that has the crunchy/springy feel of
                  a manual upright without actually gutting a typewriter, so I'm looking
                  at a keylever pulling a spring-loaded bellcrank at least, with key
                  levers striking bails that depress switches to give an encoded output.
                  If you don't want a particular lever striking a bail, grind some off
                  so that it doesn't hit that bail. I repaired typewriters to help pay
                  my way through college, so I've got some background. Wish I still had
                  the parts from my junk box back then.

                  But first I've got two systems to finish. My own membership card,
                  which is in a tupperware with all its parts (only the board
                  interconnect is on so far) and my 8085, which is getting its enclosure
                  built now. Bad health this winter backed up everything, and clearing
                  out work had to come first, I only got back to the 8085 last Friday
                  and Saturday, and I need to do a web page update on that.

                  Anyway, steampunk sounds good, no matter how it's accomplished.
                  Pneumatics, steam valves, brass leaf springs and conning rods. It's
                  all good. ;)

                  Mark Graybill
                  -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  http://saundby.com/
                  Electronics, Books, Video Games, etc.

                  On Mar 15, 2010, at 3:05 PM, Lee Hart wrote:

                  > This is such a silly idea that it's fun to think about. :-)
                  >
                  > Nixies would make a good "classic" digital display, but would need to
                  > use octal (or split octal -- I think the latter would be easier to
                  > use).
                  >
                  > They did make some 7-segment neon display tubes -- and even some
                  > 15-segment "british flag" types. Might be hard to find, though.
                  >
                  > I also like the idea of using analog meters marked "0...15" for each
                  > nibble.
                  >
                  > Telephone switchboard style lever switches could work for inputs. For
                  > that matter, you could use a telephone dial to enter octal
                  > numbers. :-)
                  >
                  > Put the whole thing in a well crafted wooden case, with black crinkle
                  > finish front panel (like classic General Radio equipment).
                  >
                  > Keyboard: Get an ancient typewriter, and use its keyboard (add
                  > microswitches, or maybe magnets and reed switches).
                  >
                  > Video: How about an old oscilloscope? It can easily be set up to
                  > display
                  > the output from an 1861.
                  >
                  > It would shock the heck out of someone to see such a setup running
                  > BASIC! They'd be looking in vain for a PC that's actually running it.
                  >
                  > Printer: Anyone see the movie "Hogfather"? It has a computer called
                  > "hex" that uses a quill pen and an inkwell to write its output. Use a
                  > couple of R/C servos to make an X-Y plotter to actually work like
                  > this!
                  > --
                  > Lee A. Hart | Ring the bells that still can ring
                  > 814 8th Ave N | Forget the perfect offering
                  > Sartell MN 56377 | There is a crack in everything
                  > leeahart earthlink.net | That's how the light gets in -- Leonard Cohen
                  >
                  >



                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • ted_rossin
                  I like your idea Lee. Here is a link to a couple Neon lamp and NIXIE tube projects I recently completed for those who are not familiar with the orange glow.
                  Message 8 of 10 , Mar 17, 2010
                    I like your idea Lee.

                    Here is a link to a couple Neon lamp and NIXIE tube projects I recently completed for those who are not familiar with the orange glow.

                    http://www.tedrossin.x10hosting.com/ElectroArt/ElectroArt.html

                    I really like the NIXIE tube displays but I think for a Steampunk Elf, a binary Neon lamp display would look pretty good and basic.

                    Here is another link to some really cool NIXIE tube clocks:

                    http://www.electricstuff.co.uk/nixiegallery.html

                    Scroll down to find the ones that look really old.

                    Dieter has a nice web page of various NIXIE tubes. The decatrons could also be used for a display

                    http://www.tube-tester.com/sites/nixie/nixie-tubes.htm

                    --- In cosmacelf@yahoogroups.com, Lee Hart <leeahart@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > This is such a silly idea that it's fun to think about. :-)
                    >
                    > Nixies would make a good "classic" digital display, but would need to
                    > use octal (or split octal -- I think the latter would be easier to use).
                    >
                    > They did make some 7-segment neon display tubes -- and even some
                    > 15-segment "british flag" types. Might be hard to find, though.
                    >
                    > I also like the idea of using analog meters marked "0...15" for each nibble.
                    >
                    > Telephone switchboard style lever switches could work for inputs. For
                    > that matter, you could use a telephone dial to enter octal numbers. :-)
                    >
                    > Put the whole thing in a well crafted wooden case, with black crinkle
                    > finish front panel (like classic General Radio equipment).
                    >
                    > Keyboard: Get an ancient typewriter, and use its keyboard (add
                    > microswitches, or maybe magnets and reed switches).
                    >
                    > Video: How about an old oscilloscope? It can easily be set up to display
                    > the output from an 1861.
                    >
                    > It would shock the heck out of someone to see such a setup running
                    > BASIC! They'd be looking in vain for a PC that's actually running it.
                    >
                    > Printer: Anyone see the movie "Hogfather"? It has a computer called
                    > "hex" that uses a quill pen and an inkwell to write its output. Use a
                    > couple of R/C servos to make an X-Y plotter to actually work like this!
                    > --
                    > Lee A. Hart | Ring the bells that still can ring
                    > 814 8th Ave N | Forget the perfect offering
                    > Sartell MN 56377 | There is a crack in everything
                    > leeahart earthlink.net | That's how the light gets in -- Leonard Cohen
                    >
                  • Lee Hart
                    ... Wow! Cool stuff! These folks certainly put a lot of time and craftsmanship into them. I built several digital clocks, too. I wish now that I had kept them.
                    Message 9 of 10 , Mar 17, 2010
                      ted_rossin wrote:
                      > Here is a link to a couple Neon lamp and NIXIE tube projects I completed...
                      > http://www.tedrossin.x10hosting.com/ElectroArt/ElectroArt.html
                      > Here is another link to some really cool NIXIE tube clocks:
                      > http://www.electricstuff.co.uk/nixiegallery.html

                      Wow! Cool stuff! These folks certainly put a lot of time and
                      craftsmanship into them.

                      I built several digital clocks, too. I wish now that I had kept them.
                      One used early LEDs and a bunch of 7400 TTL chips. Another used CMOS
                      chips and vacuum fluorescent 7-segment displays.

                      > I think for a Steampunk Elf, a binary Neon lamp display would look pretty
                      > good and basic.

                      I think you're probably right. It's easy, too. And it's something in
                      keeping with the period in which the 1802 was born. In the 1970's, neon
                      lamps were actually lower power and cheaper than LEDs.

                      At least for me, it is anachronistic to use modern parts to build
                      something like a nixie clock. Otherwise, you might as well display a
                      picture of an antique clock on your desktop computer and pretend that it
                      is "original".

                      --
                      Lee A. Hart | Ring the bells that still can ring
                      814 8th Ave N | Forget the perfect offering
                      Sartell MN 56377 | There is a crack in everything
                      leeahart earthlink.net | That's how the light gets in -- Leonard Cohen
                    • ted_rossin
                      Lee wrote: At least for me, it is anachronistic to use modern parts to build something like a nixie clock. I ll admit that I had to look up the word
                      Message 10 of 10 , Mar 17, 2010
                        Lee wrote:
                        "At least for me, it is anachronistic to use modern parts to build
                        something like a nixie clock."

                        I'll admit that I had to look up the word anachronistic. Isn't using modern parts to create a relic of the "past" the whole point of the Steampunk movement? Or maybe I should say the point is to show what our "modern" machines would look like if we kept the style of the Victorian age?

                        For example, the computer pictured on the wikipedia page:

                        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Steamtop.jpg
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