Sunday Things - eccentric edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday February 26 2017

Thematic!

Pullies, springs and knotted string.
W. Heath Robinson's Inventions - I was thinking the other day about Heath Robinson and his splendid inventions, having seen some of the works of Rube Goldberg and been distinctly underwhelmed by them. One thing led to another, and I soon discovered that the Wikimedia Commons had scanned the entire, out-of-copyright contents of the same Heath Robinson book as owned by my grandfather. With cartoons depicting humorous solutions to both World Wars to solving the problems of communal living, via inter-war sports, manufacturing and transportation, I love how the people depicted are all so terribly serious about it all - these inventions are important, and not to be laughed at.

Wintergatan - Marble Machine

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Wintergatan - Marble Machine - speaking of Heath Robinson, have a Terribly Serious Swede with his fully functional but ridiculously over-complicated, ball bearing-operated music machine. Here is your ear worm for the day - annoyingly catchy.

Bonus Additional Eccentricity corner:

Sunday Things - obsolete video edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday February 19 2017

Are you following Techmoan? You probably ought to be - a northern gadget nut who's been acquiring, repairing and documenting all sorts of weird and wonderful old bits of home entertainment systems. Most of which I've never heard of before...

Retro tech: The RCA CED Videodisc

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Retro tech: The RCA CED Videodisc - an unlikely contemporary of the LaserDisc, the CED was conceived of in the 1960s but only made it to market in the early 1980s. Involving vinyl discs read using a stylus, I've yet to see the analogue media enthusiasts claim it's somehow purer and better than those poxy digital Blu-Rays...

VHD - The forgotten 1980s Videodisc

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VHD - The forgotten 1980s Videodisc - and if the CED was obscure enough, Japan had its own, similar system named VHD. Still using a stylus and the same capacitative effects as the CED, but without the grooves - this was almost vaguely successful for a time.

Bonus Quantel Corner:

Sunday Things - warbird edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday February 12 2017

A hangar, neglected and abandoned since soon after the war became irrelevant. Sunlight streams through grimy windows on to faded plastic and tarpaulin sheeting covering unidentifiable mechanical shapes, spattered in the dust and detritus of decades.

He walks over to one of the lumpen masses, its covering still faded but clear of dust. Pulling aside the sheeting, he pauses briefly to admire the war machine beneath.

Built in the closing stages of the war, not long before both sides' struggle became pointless in the face of a third, ascendant superpower - its shape clearly echoing the lines of earlier machines but with a last-ditch internal hardware layout inside. This particular specimen is clearly not abandoned, at least not now - cleaned up access ports and new umbilical cabling show the man's work over the years. But beyond this functional rehabilitation, unmodified - true to the day it first left its long-forgotten factory.

He pulls out a device from his backpack, tiny and implausibly powerful in comparison with the old war machine before him, but still a direct descendant of that new enemy's clunky past. Loaded with newly engineered firmware, designed to circumvent this relic's system limitations - he plugs it into a cable harness, preparing for upload to the old bird. Firmware to make the machine's main engine and awkward yet hugely capable auxiliary power unit beat as one, in perfect synchronicity - firmware designed with the knowledge and experience of decades of work, to carry the weapon originally wielded by that new enemy but in a manner long thought impossible.

Transfer complete, he begins the boot process. The Atari Falcon030 shall fly again - and a friendly flight over old Amiga territory seems strangely appropriate, just for old time's sake...

Atari BadMooD

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Atari BadMooD: alpha preview - Doom running on a 16MHz, 14MB Atari Falcon030 from 1992, in 16-bit colour using the audio DSP as a coprocessor. More information here.

Atari Quake 2: Continuity

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Atari Quake 2: Continuity - not the full game, but a map renderer running on that same 16MHz Falcon platform, this time emulated in Hatari. Fully 3D with texturing and coloured lighting - positively ridiculous, with the DSP heavily relied on for texture mapping and maths work. More information here.

Atari Quake 2: Anomalous Code

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Atari Quake 2: Anomalous Code - and now that Quake 2 map renderer showing some Half-Life maps. Wait, what? While a computer from 1992 displaying a game from 1998 may no longer seem as impressive, it's hard to remember quite how fast home computers were progressing in the 1990s. Buy a machine, and it would be antiquated in a year. To compare, the computer I run VR stuff on at home is about four years old - albeit a bit over-specified for its time, and with a new (but already outclassed) GPU in it.

Bonus Soviet NASA corner:

Sunday Things - dredged from the bookmarks edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday February 5 2017

Quick selection this week - opening up 'Other Bookmarks', waiting for it to slowly (so slowly!) scroll near the end, then randomly clicking on a few things.

Going underground...
Train to Nowhere - How Cincinnati tried, and failed, to build one of America’s first subways - while watching QI recently, there was a brief mention of an abandoned, half-constructed underground railway network beneath Jerry Springer's home town. I had to go investigating on these intertubes. More photos via Wikipedia.
About 26 and a half years ago, I was stood next to those wheels.
An-225 Mriya is the world’s largest aircraft - remember how last week I was getting excited about photos of and inside the Antonov An-124? Well, this week - have some photos of and inside the closely related, but even more ridiculously massive, An-225. I've now got a new mystery photo blog to add to my subscriptions, to complement Lana Sator's solely-in-Russian urban explorations. Not understanding Russian only adds to the fun.

Makes the Lovell Telescope look like a puny satellite television dish.

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Arecibo Uncut: First Visit to the Platform & Dome with Dana Whitlow - over an hour long, this GoPro-on-a-hard-hat video is an extensive tour of the Arecibo Observatory, in particular the 900-ton platform suspended above the dish. Captured as part of the project to regain communications with and control of the then-abandoned International Cometary Explorer probe with the aim to return it to an Earth orbit, said probe sadly revealed itself to have run out of nitrogen gas used to pressurise its fuel tanks, and has now returned to its ghostly heliocentric orbit between the planets...

Bonus Crap Hardware corner:

Sunday Things - aeronautical aedition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday January 29 2017

It continues. Somehow.

Excuse the random arm in shot
Photos: An Inside Look of an Antonov An-124 - while recently walking to the bus in Seattle, I heard an apocalyptic rumbling noise from above. Looking up, I saw a big, many-wheeled bugger flitting through gaps in the low cloud - hang on, I thought, that looks familiar. No, it wasn't the utterly massive Antonov An-225 Mriya I'd seen at Farnborough in 1990 (this new interloper had four engines, not six, along with a more conventional tail and no Buran-carrying bumps on its back) - instead it was its little brother the An-124, likely delivering aircraft parts for Boeing. The interior looks like the second cousin to an old Soviet submarine. Bonus video!
Woe betide any vandals tagging these particular vehicles
Delivery - speaking of Boeing, deliveries and Seattle, one gets to see all sorts of things while riding one's bike round here. I thought they were peculiar, oversized fuel tankers from a distance. No, they were something much more interesting.

Flapping around in the breeze

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EEVblog #854 - B52 Bomber Automatic Astro Compass Teardown - enthusiastic Australian Dave Jones hammers his way into an analogue mechanical guidance computer, then somehow avoids losing his fingers in the intricate mechanisms within.

Bonus Antiquated Recording Media corner: