A Clever Cardboard Computer

Back in the 70’s when computers were fairly expensive and out of reach for most people, [David Hagelbarger] of Bell Laboratories designed CARDIAC: CARDboard Illustrative Aid to Computation. CARDIAC was designed as an educational tool to give people without access to computers the ability to learn how computers work.

The CARDIAC computer is a single-accumulator single-address machine, which means that instructions operate on the accumulator alone, or on the accumulator and a memory location. The machine implements 10 instructions, each of which is assigned a 3-digit decimal opcode. The instruction set architecture includes instructions common to simple Von Neumann processors, such as load, store, add/subtract, and conditional branch.

Operating the computer is fairly simple–the cardboard slides guide you through the operation of the ALU and instruction decoder, and the flow chart shows you which stage to go to next. The program counter is represented by a cardboard ladybug which is manually moved through the program memory after each instruction completes.

Even though the CARDIAC is dated and very simplistic, it is still a useful tool to teach how microprocessors work. Although modern processors include multi-stage pipelines, finely-tuned branch predictors, and numerous other improvements, the basic principles of operation remain the same.

Feeling adventurous? Print out your own CARDIAC clone and try writing your first cardboard computer program.

[via Reddit]

Your Halloween Costume May Be Cool, But It’s Not Laser-Cut Cardboard Vintage Airplane Cool

While others are absorbed in baseball playoffs, [Aidan] has spent his recent Octobers planning incredible Halloween costumes for his son. We don’t know what he did last year, but there’s no way it’s better than this laser-cut cardboard airplane costume.

He had a few specs in mind and started with a model of a Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat from 3D Warehouse. Using SketchUp, he simplified the model and removed the landing gear and the propeller. [Aidan] created a simpler model on top of that, and set to work changing the proportions to make it adorable and toddler-sized.

To build around his son’s proportions, he inserted a 10-inch diameter scaled tube vertically into the model and squished down the fuselage in SketchUp. The plan was to have it laser-cut by Ponoko, which meant turning the design into flat pieces for them to cut. He ended up with 58 parts, many of them mirror images due to the symmetry of his design.

When the box from Ponoko arrived, [Aidan] was giddy. He was astonished at the quality of the pieces and found the plane very satisfying to build. But, he didn’t stop there. Using LayOut, he created a custom instrument cluster with reflections and shadows. The plane also has a Wii steering wheel, a motorized propeller, and of course, decals.

Cardboard lampshade makes ordinary recycling a centerpiece of your room

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This cube lamp was assembled using common cardboard. Not only does it look interesting, but it’s basically free with every Ikea purchase since all you need is a source of cardboard, cutting implements, and glue.

[Lindarose92] fabricated the shade out of narrow strips of corrugated cardboard. This particular lamp also has a cardboard base but we’re sure you could use it for just about any light source with doesn’t generate enough heat to cause problems. The build starts out with the tedious process of cutting 5mm by 8cm strips, and you’re going to need a lot of them. Each strip is cut perpendicular to the corrugation, which allows the light to shine through the wave pattern. The strips are then glued into 8cm x 8cm squares, which are in turn glued together into the four by four panels that make up each side of the cube.

Boom, you’re done. And if you get tired of it, just toss the thing in your recycling bin.

[via Hacked Gadgets]

Rube-Goldberg provides liquid refreshment

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The image to the left doesn’t make this look like much, but inside of the cardboard vending machine lives a clever Rube-Goldberg device. The video after the break gives a look at the inner workings to show how a quarter manages to dispense a full can of Coke. But that’s about all the detail we get on the project.

There are two sets of counterweights used in the design. Some marbles, and what look like giant pinballs. The coin chute, located on the left side of the venting machine, funnels the money into the waiting marble. When the marble rolls off it lands on a spoon. The weight rotates the spoon-filled disk and causes one of the waiting pinballs to drop from their rack. As that metal ball falls it operates a ratcheting system to dispense just one can. It looks like the capacity of the machine is limited to two refreshing cans of sugary liquid, but that could be scaled up if more room were made for cans and counterweights alike.

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Hackaday Links: December 13th, 2012

Cardboard box computer

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[Alistair] chapman had a Laptop with a broken screen sitting in his parts bin. He knew he had an LCD panel on hand that would probably work with it, but it wouldn’t fit in the case. His solution was to transplant all the computer parts into a cardboard box from a motherboard.

This violin is garbage

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The kids in this orchestra live in a villiage built on top of a landfill. But they make the most out of what they have. This orchestra is composed of instruments built from garbage and they seem to work pretty well. [Thanks Bruce]

More LED mystery puzzles

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[Henryk] is at it again. He puts together some very impressive circuits that play tricks on your engineering mind. His latest is three LEDs in series. Look closely and you’ll see they’re not performing as expected. Watching the solution to one of his previous puzzles will help you figure out how he’s doing it. His work is simply amazing.

Netbook framed as a dedicated weather station

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Not wanting to get rid of old but still working hardware, [Retro Toaster] built a dedicated weather station by mounting the screen, keyboard, and track pad in a picture frame.

Current and voltage testing your USB projects

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This dev board is a pass-through for USB devices. It makes voltage and current testing your device quite simple.

Make a cardboard bookshelf in less than a day

Lucas came up with a real winner when upcycling cardboard to use as a bookshelf. It’s visually pleasing, can be built basically for the cost of glue and a mounting brackets, and you don’t have to feel bad if you decide to get rid of it later on.

What he saved in raw material cost he spent in labor. There are 23 different layers of cardboard that went into the project, not including the spacer squares between each piece. The vast majority of the time spent in the clip after the break shows a fast-time video of him cutting out the layers. It apparently took about eight hours of cutting, and we’d image he’s got a claw of a hand after all of that work.

This is hanging from a single L bracket positioned in the square opening with two nails to keep it level. We’d suggest including a better mounting technique in your design. If you have some ideas about this please let us know in the comments.

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Bike made from cardboard is too cheap to steal

If you’ve ever had to replace a bicycle, [Izhar Gafni] is your man. He created a bicycle made completely out of cardboard that is strong enough to support the largest riders and costs about the same as combo meal at McDonald’s.

[Izhar]’s bikes are made from varying thicknesses of cardboard, the thickest sheet being about an inch wide. After cutting and gluing these pieces of cardboard together, [Izhar] submerges them in resin and brushes on a little paint creating an incredibly strong, very light, and unbelievably inexpensive bike.

[Izhar] says the cost of production is about $10 per bike and estimates it could be sold for $60 to $90, cheaper than even the most inexpensive metal bike. If you’ve ever had a bike stolen, you know the sting of having to replace your main means of transportation. [Izhar] says his bike is so cheap thieves wouldn’t even bother taking it off your hands.

You can check out the awesome video of [Izhar] making a cardboard bike after the break.

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