Sunday, January 22, 2006

a horse of a different color

This blog is mostly about glass and fiber arts, but there's one member of this family whose creativity lies in the mechanical realm. Pulleys, gears, batteries, electronics, gadgets, science, and inventions are Jesse's passions. I just never know what he'll have rigged up in his room or what he'll be experimenting with outside. He creates some fantastic gizmos. Even though they're not made of glass or fiber, they're his works of art and sometimes I'll show them here.

Here you see a secret vault. The yellow thing to the left is a Lego Mindstorms RCX brick, which launches Legos to a mechanical engineering level. The RCX brick is programmed through computer software, then the programs are transferred to the brick. When different sensors are attached to the brick, they work with the programs, so you can create Lego robots that follow zig-zag lines, seek heat, do funny dances, activate when a light is shined on them, measure speeds and angles, and a million other funky things. This particular creation is the result of a challenge on the Mindstorms software. Using the remote control, the wheels at the top roll back and lift the vault door. Then a different remote control button is pushed to cause the vault drawer to roll forward. (It's partially out in this picture, underneath the vault door to the right of the contraption.) In reverse, the drawer retracts and reveals another small compartment hidden on the backside of the drawer. And another button closes the vault door again. The next planned additions are to make it operable only after it "sees" a card with "secret code" (lines drawn by Jesse, like a UPC symbol) and to put the whole thing on wheels so it can scoot around the house in search of heat or light.

And because this is a blog about fiber and glass arts, here's a knitting machine made out of Legos! No, it wasn't made here, but I can imagine something similar in our future, once I show the video clip to my favorite inventor. I wonder if he could invent one to knit a Philosopher's Wool fair isle cardigan... :-) Posted by Picasa

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