Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Knex Computer - DONE

All 8 computational bits and the additional operand bit have been completed and the computer can now add and subtract numbers as large as 255, in less than 30 seconds, making it the most powerful, fastest and most compact k'nex computer in the world (to my knowledge). All of its functions are controlled by the "keyboard" at the bottom of the computer which are attached to the "RAM" (the long, dense bit along the very top) by long linkage rods. Video coming soon.

Friday, July 24, 2009

K'nex Computer reaches 5 bits

My K'nex computer is now more than halfway to completion with 5 fully functioning bits of cpu and memory, as well as 5 keys for keyboard input. I can now add and subtract numbers from 0-31, as well as simply have the machine automatically count up from 0-31 and then start over. At this rate my computer is doubling in power every day and should be completed sometime next week, having achieved 8x the computing power it has at the moment. In order for subtraction to function in binary I am required to add an additional bit, making 9 bits total, though this bit will not be as complicated as the other 8.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

K'nex Computer - Prototype 1 (3-bit)

I have completed a fully functional 3-bit prototype of my K'nex Computer. The model already stands at its final height of 7 feet and has many features completed and working. The automated ball loading system and keyboard input are functioning as expected and the computer can already add numbers from 0-7. The model is not even half done yet but it is a good start. Included are some pictures of the individual components of the computer:

Here is a cutaway of one "bit" of the CPU. With the ball in this position the bit is in the On, or 1 state. The position of the rocker determines the state of the bit.

This is 1 bit of "RAM", or more specifically, the automated ball loading mechanism. When the switch is in this position, a 1 is stored in the RAM. When a ball rolls over the trap door, it falls through, closing the switch (and removing the bit from memory) and continues through the "FSB" (series of pathways) to the CPU seen above. When all 8 bits of RAM and CPU are in place, the rockers will store the next operation to be loaded into the CPU, if you follow me :P

Though the individual components are quite small, combining enough of them together produces a very large k'nex computer. This view is from the bottom looking up. The dense diagonal row of pieces in the lower right is what is completed of the CPU. The arrows connected to each bit represent either a 0 or a 1 (they are all set to 0 in this picture). Above the CPU is the FSB if you will, though it is really just a series of vertical chutes that connect each bit of RAM to its corresponding CPU bit. The dense area at the very top is the RAM. The chain lift to the left brings the balls up to the top of the computer one at a time and they are delivered to the CPU in a precise order as determined by the switches in the RAM, which were initially set by the users input. Not shown in this picture, a series of very long linkage rods connect each key to the bit of RAM above, allowing the user to input calculations into the RAM directly for later computation. I'm sorry if this is hard to follow, when it is completed I will make a video so it makes more sense.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mini Project - Starship Enterprise

I had some extra pieces lying around so I built this scale model of the Starship Enterprise NCC-1701 from TOS. The model measures 4.5 feet in length, and the saucer section is 2 feet in diameter. The model, including the stand, uses about 650 pieces and took 3 hours to construct.

New Project - K'nex Computer

I have reached a structural limit with my K'nex ball machine and am unable to construct any more tracks for fear of the artificial ceiling collapsing. I have now decided to begin work on a new project, what I hope to be the worlds most powerful and compact K'nex computer in an attempt to surpass the speed and power demonstrated by the K'nex Computer seen here. My computer, if successful, will feature an 8-bit processor, keyboard input and a completely automated calculation process powered by a K'nex motor. If all goes as planned my computer will, like the computer in the above link, perform the calculations using K'nex balls to represent individual bits of data within the machine. A motorized lift and an automated ball input system controlled by a keyboard will eliminate manual loading of the balls into the machine. This new computer will expand on the design of a previous, 6-bit computer I started to construct but failed to complete. More information will be posted once construction progresses further.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Elevated K'nex Ball Machine: Stage 1 complete

The elevated K'nex ball machine now has 2 working tracks and 15,000 pieces. 3 weeks in the making, this ball machine is finally in a stable, working condition, but is still a work in progress. 2 more tracks are in the works, check back for more updates.

Click Here for the video.