Friday, December 19, 2014

Mario Question Block from Adafruit Part I

This is my next project, from a tutorial on the Adafruit Learning System.  I enjoyed working with the Pro Trinket in the Donkey project, so I thought this could be interesting.  Also, the enclosure is 3D printed, and I am intrigued by 3D printers, so that was a draw.

I found a local 3D printing service through and this is what he produced:
It's pretty good. The top does not fit right on the body, so I'll have to do some modification, and it's not as clean as I'd like, but I'll work with it.  It cost $20 for the print, including mailing it to me, plus $3 for the service.  When I get the time, I will do the modification to the enclosure and the construction. I have the parts, so it should go OK.

Here's what I've learned so far:
  • At first I thought the print was backwards, because I was comparing what I got with the photos in the tutorial. However, when I took a photo of the print to send to the guy who printed it, I realized that the photos reverse the I'm believing that it's OK.
  • In all the photos in the tutorial, it looks like the handle is part of the print. The printer said no, then I read the fine print in the tutorial and it said "attach a handle--you figure out how."  But, the handle DOES seem to be part of the print.
I have posted questions on the Adafruit Support Forum.  When I get some clarification I'll pursue this further. Meanwhile, I'm kind of stuck.

More when I get to construction.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

RetroTech: IBM 001 Manual Keypunch

While I'm working on my next projects, I thought I would contribute to the retrotech part of the Adafruit Show and Tell. My late father-in-law, who worked for IBM from 1940 to 1975, somehow got possession of a 001 Keypunch. He cleaned it up (about 50 years ago), and it's been in the family ever since.

This is a major piece of computing hardware history as well as computing business history.  The 1890 US Census was tabulated using Hollerith cards, but the punching technology was based on train conductors punches--one hole at a time.  Businesses soon discovered that all kinds of data could be tabulated in this manner (sales, inventory, personnel, etc., etc.), and the demand grew.  The 001 was a major advancement.  The 011 electronic keypunch came along in the 20's, followed by the 80-column card with rectangular holes instead of round in 1928.

Meanwhile, Hollerith sold his company, Tabulating Machine Company, in 1911 and took to farming, The resulting company was the Computing, Tabulating, and Recording Machine Company.  In 1914, Thomas Watson, Sr. became General Manager of CTR. He subsequently, became President and the company changed it's name to International Business Machines (IBM) in 1923.

Also, this was the time frame in which that Fisher, Pearson, et al., were developing modern statistical methods. The ability to tabulate large volumes of data and to apply statistical methods was a huge advance in a number of fields.

See me on the Show and Tell:  (~18:45-21:30)

IBM 001 Manual Keypunch from Herman Hollerith's original 1901 patent.  The cards are the 45-column punch cards used until the 80-column cards came into use in the 1920's.

Another view showing the Tabulating Machine Company nameplate