Sunday 3 December 2023

Building a Lego Supercomputer - The Cray-1 - Part 4

As I read more about the history of the Cray-1 and some of those involved in the design and manufacture of these intricate devices, I'd also started to think more about how to represent the inside of the Cray-1 Supercomputer.  Having some ability to view the insides of the towers also needed to be considered.

However as I spent more time working on these early designs I realised there were a couple of problems.  The first one was the that the seat height wasn't correct for the scale of the towers - this was relatively easy to fix.  The second problem was much more challenging - the shape of the towers in the Cray-1 form, in effect, an unbroken cylinder.  My towers had a large gap between the outer edge of each tower.  In order to solve this problem I would have to return to the drawing board to redesign both the seat and the construction of the the towers.

Saturday 4 November 2023

Building a Lego Super Computer - The Cray-1 - Part 3

 A better understanding of the angles of rotation for each "Cray-1 Lego Unit" (the seat and the tower) led to a better Lego representation of the Cray-1 Supercomputer.

Rendering some of these early designs began to look more like the classic shape of the Cray-1 Supercomputer

Sunday 1 October 2023

Building a Lego Supercomputer - The Cray-1 - Part 2

 If there was one site that inspired me whilst I was thinking about building a Lego model of the Cray-1 Supercomputer it was this one

The detailed diagrams and photos were invaluable when I was looking at how best to represent a Cray-1 in Lego.  Some of the images, from the website show the schematic diagrams for the Cray-1, seen below

These diagrams would prove invaluable when I was trying to work out the best angles for rotating each "Cray-1 Lego Unit" (the tower and seat) - And as this image below shows - it's very easy to get the angle of rotation wrong for each "Cray-1 Lego Unit" and end up creating some kind of Cray-1 auditorium!

Saturday 16 September 2023

Building a Lego Supercomputer - The Cray-1 - Part 1

Having worked in computing and technology for over 30 years, I've noticed that some names come up more often in computing history than others.  One of those names is Cray.  Cray Research Inc was originally founded in 1972 by Seymour Cray, but it was the probably the creation of the Cray1 Supercomputer in 1976 that caused the Cray name to become part of computing history.

Image of Cray-1 In the Science Museum London - From Wikipedia -

I'd been looking at smooth sided cylindrical and conical Lego models for a while now - Smooth sided cylindrical Lego models are quite difficult to get right - The Lego Saturn V model is a great example of when it works well.   And smooth sided conical models I've found even more difficult!  So building a
Cray-1 with it's cylindrical towers and seating seemed like a good fit for a new Lego model build.

Building an initial representation of single "Cray-1 Unit" ie. the seat and tower, was relatively straight-forward

However I quickly realised that the remainder of the model would not be that easy!

Sunday 20 November 2022

Going back to Lego Digital Designer

 For complicated reasons I decided to rebuild my model of The Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells using LDD - it's been a while since I used LDD and I'd forgotten how exacting it was with regards brick placement (which I suppose should only be expected really)

Rendering still leaves a bit to be desired - I did eventually manage to download a copy of BlueRender the java based rendering tool for LDD which allowed me to make this image

and turnaround animation

Wednesday 5 October 2022

Animating In Blender (Part 4)

 Finally I added in a brick stack that our little robot friend could knock over (using Blender physics!)

All the sound effects were also added in Blender and sync'd up using the compositing tool

Thursday 8 September 2022

Animating In Blender (Part 3)

Having spent a bit of time with playing with both Blender physics and drivers, I started to think about combining all the elements into a short sequence.  I wanted to create a character and an animation that combined all the elements I'd been looking at - I designed the initial character in LDCad and then imported it into Blender.

I knew how important the eyes were going to be, so I used three different circular round eye tiles that I planed to animate between  in Blender, to create a blink (there are other tools available for animating minifigure rigs and expressions in Blender including EpicFigRig - but I wanted to keep it simple!