Friday, 11 June 2010

Trains

Using something like this you can move model locomotives around under software control.

If you had a series of optical detectors or perhaps good old fashioned reed switches, you could transmit ones and zeroes by positioning the locomotives. If you had long platforms and short trains you could have perhaps four (2 bits) detectors per platform. If you had locomotives with some kind of detectable unique marking on them and you had the ability to switch trains between platforms (now that would be fun to watch), you could send different values by arranging them. If you had four platforms and three trains there would be 24 combinations. I can't think of a setup that would be a nice power of two, but wouldn't it be more fun to transmit a non-integer number of bits with each arrangement? And think of the fun you'd have working out an algorithm to shuffle the locomotives around, towers-of-hanoi style.

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