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  1. #1
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    Default More Un-Known Equipment.

    Hi folks,

    I work at a technical college, recently we were having a tidy up and found an intriguing piece of equipment in a forgotten cupboard.

    Anyone have any idea what this is used for? It seems to be some sort of rotary measurement device.

    What really piqued our interest was the calibration date - 1946!

    img_4045.jpg img_4043-web.jpg

    The blurry circle in the second picture is a magnifying glass that enlarges the linear scale.

    Thanks,

    Steve

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    I would guess it is used for measuring the area of an arc. The far right is held in a fixed location and the dial is worm gear driven from the roller which rotates as you drag it across your drawing or map. You then multiply the length of the arc by the radius.

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    Its a planimeter, used to measure the area on a 2d layout. I'm sure there are many more hidden away in other cupboards. When working at a University I think every cabinet of older stuff had a planimeter and at least one spline weight.

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    That's brilliant - thank you very much, we can stop scratching our heads now

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peri View Post
    That's brilliant - thank you very much, we can stop scratching our heads now
    Unless it's too late I'd try it out on something and then demonstrate in class. You might impress them

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gordon B. Clarke View Post
    Unless it's too late I'd try it out on something and then demonstrate in class. You might impress them
    This is true. While the statement "Any technology, when sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic." is true, so is the reverse. You show a group that grew up with nothing but digital everything, and a full analogue tool that can do the same with some perfectly engineered gear ratios can be just as magical.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CAMasochism View Post
    This is true. While the statement "Any technology, when sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic." is true, so is the reverse. You show a group that grew up with nothing but digital everything, and a full analogue tool that can do the same with some perfectly engineered gear ratios can be just as magical.
    And you never know if one of the students will have a moment at some point in their career where something they learned from an old piece of technology has a new application. Obsolete tech might not compete with modern tech, but there's always something to learn from it. The old tools are the ones building the new ones, and our world as far from efficient enough to keep old ideas from slipping through the cracks.

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    I saw an article (New Yorker, maybe the Atlantic), titled "how Much Can We Afford to Forget?" or similar, haven't read it yet, but that is the premise, that if we lose all that earlier knowledge in favor of the new, there will be a point of no return, and we'll likely be much the worse for it.

    "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it..."

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    I have spent many hours measuring cut and fill areas on cross-section sheets for road construction using a planimeter. Tedious and boring work. I still have an antique planimeter marked Illinois and Mississippi Canal Commission.

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