The seven-segment LED display is ubiquitous. But how old do you think the fundamental idea behind it is? You nixie tube fans will be thinking of the vacuum-tube era, but a reader sent us this patent filed in 1908 where [Frank W. Wood] builds a numeric display with plain-vanilla light bulbs, slots cut in wood, and lots of wires.
The OCR on the patent is poorly done — you’re going to want to download the PDF and read it locally. But as it states in the patent, “Referring again to Fig. 1, the novel arrangement of the lamp compartments will be readily understood.”
Technically it’s not a seven-segment display at all. [F.W. Wood] designed these really nice-looking “4”s with the diagonal heads, and so he needed eight segments per digit. But the basic idea shines through, if you pardon the pun.
The other figures demonstrate the machine that’s used to send the signals to light up the lights. It’s a rotating drum with the right contacts on the bottom side to make connections and turn on the right lights at the other end. Low tech, but it’s what was available at the time.
We’re stoked that we’re not responsible for wiring this thing up, and we’re a bit awed by how old the spirit behind one of our most ubiquitous technologies is.
Thanks to [mario59] for the nostalgic tip!
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: if you’re using a 3D printer to make a few hundred identical plastic parts, you’re doing it wrong. That’s the place for traditional manufacturing methods such as injection molding or resin casting. If, however, you’re looking at printing a few dozen identical plastic parts, or even running a script to optimize your machine time, the current open source 3D printer world leaves one thing to be desired.
An Automated Build Platform
An Automated Build Platform is a fairly simple idea: put a conveyor belt on your heated bed, and when the print is done, send a command to drive a motor, dumping the newly printed part into a bin, The printer then begins the next part with a clean bed, and the days of doting over a 3D printer soon fade into the past.
For such a simple and useful idea, it’s surprising there hasn’t been much done with this idea in open source circles. There are, of course, problems both technical and legal, but hopefully nothing that should indefinitely derail anyone who would want to create the first open source automated build platform.
Continue reading “3D Printering: A Call for an Open Source Automated Build Platform”
We’ve already brought you a homemade Twitter-enabled washing machine, and toilet, but now a new innovation is being brought to the table by a bigger player. IBM is working on a tweeting television remote, which would allow the user to inform the world what they are watching. Although unfiltered reporting could create awkward situations, the combination of America’s love for television and Twitter is sure to yield interesting results. They also mentioned that it could be configured to report to other sites, such as Facebook or joost. Any ideas why IBM would have in such a patent are welcome in the comments. More info can be found here and here.