How computers and controllers combine to run MeccanIC devices that we make. This is one way. It is a way I have used and it works very well.
This is a quick and very non technical and simplified explanation.
The computer is connected to the controller and the controller is connected to the Meccano/MeccanIC device that you have made.
There are two commands that you can send the controller. You can tell it what to do and you can ask it what is going on. Not unlike how we talk to one another.
When you send the computer a query it sends back a short string of letters that tell you what every motor and every input switch in the controller is doing. You decipher this string and figure what is going on.
Then you decide what has to be done and send the controller a string that the controller deciphers and takes the necessary action. This sets every motor and every output line on the controller.
This is being done hundreds of time a second.
You have a very flexible system that can be made operational in every language in the world with ease. Here I mean every human language and every computer language. Every computer science college graduate should be able to design this system with ease and in a few days. I am not proposing anything earth shaking.
It should not cost much.
I have done it. It works wonderfully. This is how the 7000 robots that I sold worked. What we need is a whole lot less sophisticated than what the robots needed to run 8 motors simultaneously but the task is similar and everything we need in the way of hardware, software and information is easily available. The hard part is getting someone to put it all together and to do the work. Always the hard part is doing the work.
29 Mar 04