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LEGO Difference Engine Answered

 Babbage never got a chance to build his difference engine. Ironically it is considered one of the most advanced and is arguably the most famous of these old mechanical computers. One was eventually made in 1991  for the Science Museum in London. Don't live in London? Too far to drive? Well, no worries, Andrew Carol has built a working difference engine from LEGO's and with a kind donation of server space from Steve Wozniak, he's posted a very detailed explanation of his project so you can build one too!

acarol.woz.org/

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kelseymh (author)2010-05-27

That is awesome!  Thanks for find this and passing on.

I think we've got a throw-down here to the K'nex community :-)  Can any of our K'nexers quit playing with their ball machines long enough to build a real engineering project?

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johnpombrio (author)kelseymh2010-05-28

 Heh, my son build a K'nex difference engine when he was in high school. He only had enough gears for three digits but it worked! He also had to use string on some of working parts as there was no equivalent piece that fit. Alas, it was wiped out years ago and no pictures were taken. It CAN be done but not as elegant as this lego set...

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kelseymh (author)johnpombrio2010-05-28

Outstanding!  Three digits still isn't bad.  String or elastic bands don't detract at all from the engineering.

I was reading Mr. Carol's description of the project (see the link at the end of the posting), and it seems like he went through multiple prototypes to get to this point.

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Shadowman39 (author)kelseymh2010-05-27

What's wrong with ball machines? They have engineering in them, too.

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kelseymh (author)Shadowman392010-05-27

:-D  It worked!  You guys are just too easy...

There's nothing wrong with ball machines...they're just, same old, same old.  The number of truly unique K'nex projects (the card shuffer, your awesome miter saw, the piano player, and others) is pretty small compared with the endless series of "guns" and roller coasters...

I think it would make for a really awesome project if somebody built (and fully documented before and during the build, hint, hint) a Difference Engine fragment out of K'nex.

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Shadowman39 (author)kelseymh2010-05-27

Yes, that would be interesting. I just don't know how these work though, and I don't feel like finding out. :-P Maybe when I'm older I'll make stuff like this.

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kelseymh (author)Shadowman392010-05-27

Hey, that's fair enough.  You've already built more than one really outstanding and unique K'nex project!

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Shadowman39 (author)kelseymh2010-05-27

I have many more ideas. ;-)

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fungus amungus (author)2010-05-27

Here's video of a Meccano version.


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Culturespy (author)2010-05-27

 That's exactly what I was thinking. Almost posted it in the K'nex forum to throw down the gauntlet. :) We'll have to make sure they see get the hint.

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kelseymh (author)Culturespy2010-05-27

Well, Shadowman saw it :-)

P.S.  to reply to a comment, use the orange REPLY link below and to the right of the comment text, rather than adding a new top-level comment.

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RavingMadStudios (author)2010-05-27

SO epic. Wow. Thanks for posting this.

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NachoMahma (author)2010-05-27

.  Wow! As much as Legos flex, the amazing part is not that it works so well, but that it works at all. Very interesting.

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He is using the old style technic beams that are held together by pegs.
That accounts for less flex. 

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Culturespy (author)Kiteman2010-05-27

 I didn't notice any video but we can look around or maybe ask him directly. His email is in the full article over at woz.org  

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