April 17, 2006

Long day...

Had a client call at 9:30 with an email emergency, then went into Bellingham to pick up my auction loot. The controller cabinet for the robot arms has to weigh over 1,200 pounds -- this thing is heavy. They had a forklift to load it into my trailer but getting off the trailer and into the studio was a 60 minute meditation on Sir Issac Newton. Had dinner with my Mom and Dad this evening and we just got back. The controller is this big blue monolith sitting about five feet to my right -- it was built in 1985, sold to Boeing who used it for a bit. They then transferred it to a local school who wasn't really able to get it running. The controller uses MS-DOS and there is no hard disk and no software but this is not an issue as there is an amazing suite of CNC software available these days. The unit is actually in very good condition -- there is a meter that records the number of hours of operation and it is sitting at 568.1 Hours -- it's barely broken in! Fun thing -- when Intel first came out with the 8080 and the 8086, there were no math functions available. If you wanted to multiply six times nine, you had to add nine to itself six times. That takes a long time! Complex Multiplication and Division took even longer and Floating Point was Pure Unobtanium. To address this, Intel developed the 8087 Math Co-Processor and they sold it with a daughter board for about $800 in 1980's dollars. You would c..a..r..e..f..u..l..l..y remove your 8086 (these things were spendy too), place it into the empty socket on the daughter board, plug the whole thing into the socket the 8086 used to live in, turn on the system and enjoy a major boost in performance. Statistics, Math and Graphics applications would often see a greater than 1,000 times speed improvement. This puppy had one of these installed:
This goes into my little Museum along with one of Dennis Hayes' first commercial Modems, a 2,048 bit core memory board and my IBM desktop card punch. Posted by DaveH at April 17, 2006 10:52 PM

Are you going to use it with the original controller, or hack a modern controller onto the existing hardware?

Posted by: Al at April 18, 2006 6:00 PM
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