Reader comments are kept anonymous. I will shorten and edit comments when necessary but I will try to keep the meaning of your comments unchanged. I will sign my own responses so you know what the reply was.
20 Mar 04. Starting date. There were no comments at this time.
26 Mar 04 -- 0001
I guess that we have some specific comments, based on all the work that we
have done in developing and marketing the MotorVator. Having spent a serious
amount of money getting to where we are, I wish you luck but suggest that it
might be better to coordinate efforts rather than compete.
We have already built a complete, working language, with some 100
instructions. Most of your instructions are covered by our instruction set.
The reality is that instructions needs to be specific to the hardware that
interfaces between computer and hardware. I think that you're going to
struggle to get a standard set when there is no hardware on which to base
We are not averse to our MeccCode language being used by others, and we have
already shared our low level opcodes with others who are working on things
such as Linux compilers etc.
The key feature of the MotorVator is being able to download a program from a
PC, but then have the MotorVator run without the need for the PC. We believe
that this is the way to go, rather than having a box that needs the computer
for each instruction. Meccano Modellers don't seem to want to take the whole
PC to an exhibition (few have laptops). The MotorVator allows you to build
your model and perfect your program at home, but then run it "as an
Given your ability to make components, we would be interested in you
building add-ons that suited the MotorVator. e.g.
1. relay boards that take our low current output and allow high amperage
motors (or even 110/240V motors) to be controlled.
2. your switch and cam units could be adapted easily.
We have sourced a range of small gearmotors that offer a range of speeds,
and good useable torque at an affordable price. These are supplied with 4mm
shafts and mounting plates. See
These draw less than 300mA while giving over 1 kg.cm of torque. There is no
need for large, high amperage motors if the mechanical elements are well
designed and contructed.
You state that Servo motors are too expensive ...on the contrary, they are
very cost effective and useful, and we support two as standard on the
I think that by being too prescriptive, that you'll put suppliers off. It is
hard enough getting parts to suit Meccano without having arbitrary
Anyway, there are a few thoughts.
Look forward to reading your reply./
So far, so good!
I am a little concerned that several different people/teams and the Meccano/Nikko Company all seem to be working independently on this area of interest. Your declaration of standards is certainly a useful step in the right direction, but we do need to get a forum - perhaps a subset of one of the established groups Spanner or HSIG, to make sure you are all talking to each other. It is a bit like the open software problem. If you can get co-operation then we will really be cooking (as they say) on gas! Have you, for instance, played with the New Zealander's system? Equally, Michael Adler has sold a few of his controllers too.
I would be very happy to report concrete progress in all this in "IM", but someone does have to submit stuff that is robust and up to date!
BTW your Resume (cv) page is blank at the moment: I would be most interested in your background...
Before I start I need to say that I have not seen anything anyone has published so I cannot respond to that part. (Work done without disclosure, of necessity, does not count.) So on that I am insulated. Let me know what you think I need to look at and consider and I shall look at it and then respond.
If you look carefully you will see that I am not really trying to set a standard. I am providing my time and web space so that the group can create a consensus standard at one central location. I have put out a collection of ideas that can be taken from or ignored. I specifically say so in the introduction….every thing can change. In your words, this can be the “forum” if the group so desires. You may have some ideas as who might be encouraged to participate. We may want to limit participation but I tend to think not.
I have an intellectual interest in this and I have the expertise to help. At 64 I am not about to change the Meccano world. I tend to be the academic. So a lot of this will depend on who participates and how. You and I can provide some direction when needed.
On the mechanical end Meccano provides almost everything you can dream of. On the electronic end it provides nothing but a couple of motors and rudimentary switching. The electronic world has exploded. Nothing has happened in Meccano. (Lego does not even come close to getting the job done for us Meccano types. Besides Lego assemblies tend to fall apart if you look away!) It is Meccano that needs to be expanded. Immensely so and with electronics (and more transmission/gearing/motion options, high lead ball screws etc!). That is the motivation for the large list that I suggested as being able to be a part of Meccano. It is a comprehensive and realistic list that will allow us to build really imaginative machines. Turn the imagination loose. That's what its all about for guys like me.
I will be glad to work with the Italians if they have an interest in my services. I will be glad to work with anyone anywhere in the world and the web lets us do it almost painlessly. I welcome your interest your experience and your ideas.
I will post the preliminary section on controllers this week end to give you an idea of what I have in mind. It does not define the controller. It does not define the design. It defines what the controller should be able to do. You are free to design one hundred controllers that meet the “what it does” and the language it obeys and the hobbyists will know that a “Class I controller” will do this no matter who made it. And any controller manufacturer is free to provide more features than the minimum that say a “Class 1 controller” is specified as providing.
I will post my resume/cv soon and look forward to your response to it. I have had a rather interesting and full life. My brother and I were the last kids to grow up in Africa but that is a riddle the answer to which I will provide later.
Harprit Singh Sandhu
0004 09 Apr 04
I was surprised and much disappointed at the scant response you got. Perhaps Spanners were amazed at the amount of work you had done, but didn't quite understand it. Please just keep on at your endeavor as though everyone was supporting you.
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