The Turbo Entabulator is, according to it’s rather brilliant creator Chris Fenton, ‘a simple, 3D-printable (caveat: It requires some springs, bearings, rubber bands, and nuts/bolts), fully-mechanical computer. It has three, single-digit base-10 counters for memory, and processes a chain of 10-position punch cards. With the included program, it will compute the first few digits of the fibonacci sequence.’ A wonderful, retro computational device, and the product of some very hard work.
Gizmodo, a generic source of technology information, tends to be slow on individual specialist topics. 3D printing for example. Gizmodo has, however, spotted this wonderful maker creation on Thingiverse. Gizmodo suggests that it is the first 3D printable computer. That’ll depend upon how we define 3D printing and computing of course. The link to a fully home make-able Raspberry Pi 3D-printed portable home computer follows…
Chris says: ‘This machine is effectively an entirely-mechanical implementation of my FIBIAC machine. It uses the same principle for computing – a set of registers can be selectively incremented/decremented until a selected register reaches zero. I even kept the business-card sized punch cards. The best part? Zero electronics. Run the machine under water if you want, it won’t care. It’s all ratchets, gears and pulleys. The machine is entirely driven by a central crank-shaft with a handle attached to it – want to over-clock this monster? Crank faster! There is something about entirely mechanical systems I find appealing – the inner workings aren’t hidden in a nanometer-sized sliver of silicon, operating on pico-second timelines.’
3D-printed computers are not new, but, of course, a computational device mechanically, rather than electronically, orientated is. It’s going to take a while to set this one up, but given it’s pure intricacy, it’s surely worth the time for those who have the ability and inclination!
Another approach to home 3D printed computation as promised above, can be found on Dimensionext here.