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The history of computers is not all digital, from the humble slide rule to hydraulic models of the economy there is a rich history of both electronic and mechanical analog computers. Here are some of our favorite examples. These computers have certain advantages over their symbolic counterparts. They measure continuous variables in parallel and therefore their accuracy is limited only by the granularity with which their results are read and their speed is not limited by sequential operations.

Amazing Analog Computers

People sometimes make fun of the Swiss, since all they are famous for inventing is the Cuckoo Clock. Which is not really fair, because they didnt – the Germans did. Here are some post modern alternatives (both intentional and accidental) to the classic Black Forest Cuckoo Clock.

13 post modern cuckoo clocks

Thanks to an intrepid group of urban explorers, some of the most magnificent hidden engineering triumphs that lie, hidden, beneath the streets of the worlds cities are being recorded and posted on underground (no pun intended) websites.Here are some of our favorite sewers and drains, from Paris tourist attraction sewers to Londons Escher-like, arched, Victorian Gothic drains, to still working ancient Roman systems and the infamous giant storm drains beneath Tokyo. Vote for your faves.

Spectacular Sewers

Sometime in the last few years bored programmers realized that they could strap things like chairs and surfboards to the end of an assembly line robot – and so was born the robocoaster. Here are some videos of them as actual rides and as a recreational high for coders.

programmable roller coasters

Papercraft, knitting, gardening and weapons.

craftsy weapons

It is no accident that very few production gull-wing door cars have ever been built. It is a design gimmick that looks superficially interesting but is highly impractical. Most gull wing cars are concept designs, and the company that made the most famous of all, the De Lorean DMC 12, went bankrupt. The Mercedes 300 SL is a lone example of a wonderful looking gull wing car, but even that was deemed dangerous, and nicknamed ‘the widowmaker’.The gull wing’s marginally less impractical sister, the scissor door, has actually become a signature feature for Lamborghini. How fitting that a symbol of bad design should represent a, once great, car producer that has reduced itself to churning out expensive kitsch, since the mid 80s.Somewhere in between a scissor and a gull wing are the doors on the cheaper Toyota Sera, which is a car that looks like someone’s grandmother trying to be cool.Vote for your very worst.

bad design gull wing cars

Tube testers are machines to test the notoriously unreliable predecessor of the transistor – the vacuum tube, or valve. If you are a hi-fi nut with a tube amp you might actually even need one of these.What makes them special as vintage gadgets is that they have that particular density of retro buttons and switches that spells complicated and releases Serotonin in male humans.The link to the Catalog for the ‘Supreme’ brand on Steven Johnson’s site is particularly fine. Tube testers can be picked up on Ebay, fairly often, for reasonable prices.

13 tube testers

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WTF is that? #14

August 28th, 2009 #link

wtf

What is it? What do you do with it?



11 Responses to “WTF is that? #14”

  1. me Says:

    meals on weals for miners…

  2. me Says:

    wheels

  3. admin Says:

    @me both surprisingly close and a million miles away.

  4. John Says:

    Ice Cream Cart for the Mines

  5. John Says:

    My real guess would be Explosives Transport

  6. olaf Says:

    Its a bathroom on wheels. Dump in the darkness of the coalmine. The lokomobile will take the poo after the shift back to the surface.

  7. admin Says:

    @olaf. Yes! It’s a miners toilet. I thought nobody would get this one, well done.

  8. admin Says:

    What I found so interesting about it is the total lack of ergonomics. Its as if to say, being in a mine is so uncomfortable anyway, making the toilet have a seat would be pointless.
    David

  9. Glen Says:

    Obama Care ambulance. It’s used to take the “Olds Folks and Infirm” down to the salt mines for transformation to one inch green squares.

  10. Nelg Says:

    They call it a honey wagon.

  11. Aaron Says:

    It’s for heating in cold mines. I think.