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Inventing the Computer

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by Razma, Jan 21, 2013.

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  1. Razma


    Jan 21, 2013
    Actually I'm just look for advice since I have no idea where to begin.

    Just for fun, I wanted to see if I could puzzle out how to build a basic mechanical/electric calculator on my own. I don't know how it's done traditionally, and I THINK I know how to read binary.

    I have maybe a middle school education in mechanics.

    But I'm studying logic and some basic programming, so I think I'll figure it out. I've already figured out how I'll program and store numbers.

    I did some sketches and the things I need are:
    Lots of little light-bulbs. (For a screen.)
    Possibly pistons and magnets, not sure.

    I don't want any help on the design. I wont post it until I have a working model.

    I mainly posted because I'm unsure which parts are suitable for me. I am on a strict budget, and do not know how to make the best purchase. Though, I think that smaller is better.

    Would anyone be willing to offer some tips? Thanks in advance! :D
  2. CocaCola


    Apr 7, 2012
    Lots of websites dedicated to exactly this subject, at the end of the day to get any real functionality out of it (beyond trivial stuff) it's going to cost you a bit of money and a boat load of time...
  3. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

    Jan 21, 2010
    You could google "relay computer" to see how tricky and expensive this is.
  4. JimW


    Oct 22, 2010
    A binary relay ALU? Could be done that way, but lets look outside the box. I would find a few old decade stepper motors, maybe from some old pinball machines. And go directly to a decade based adder/subratactor. And adding another hierarchical level will let you do simple multiplication.

  5. Razma


    Jan 21, 2013
    I'm sure there are plenty of sites that do. I don't want instructions or advice on how to do it.
    I just thought someone would know of a great website for those particular objects I need.

    Switches, wire etc. I don't think I can get my hands on any pinball machines Jim, but I suppose I can find a place where people dump their electronics junk.
  6. donkey


    Feb 26, 2011
    razma what country you in?
    ebay is international and will have everything, there is jaycar, element 14, digikey... the list goes on for websites
  7. sjgallagher2


    Jan 27, 2013
    I know you said you don't want design help, but I strongly suggest you dont try and make a screen, that'd be a nightmare. If you want binary, use 1 LED per bit, and simply output answers to things, like math. Or, math. A computer literally computes, as in math! People created really good math machines before using a screen, trying to make a screen immediately is crazy!

    That being said, I would love to see it when it's done! Making a screen from scratch with a middle school education in mechanics will make it tough, but seeing it will definitely shut me up about screens :) Go for it! Just don't waste too much time, after all, it took a hundred years to figure it out from some of the greatest minds, but now you have the best tools should you choose to use them... good luck, keep us posted.
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