These little beauties are created using thousands of discrete components (LEDs, transistors, resistors) wired directly together without a PCB.
I recently received an email from someone we'll call Martin (because that's his name). Martin's message was short and sweet. In its entirety it read: "You need to see this!"
Martin is obviously a man of few words who likes to make each one count. Happily, he also included two links to the most amazing 3D electronic sculptures created by an artist called Gislain Benoit.
The first was to this clock, which took Gislain three years to create. One really interesting aspect to this is that Gislain has no truck with things like microcontrollers; instead, he works with discrete components. This clock, for example, comprises 1,161 diodes, 340 transistors, 346 resistors, 60 red LEDs, 3 dual-digit 7-segment displays, and 6 magnetic switches.
But the thing that really sets Gislain apart is that he also eschews printed circuit boards. As we see in the image above, the 1,916 components are soldered together to form a complex three-dimensional structure, after which the entire creation is sealed in a leaded glass frame.
Can you spot anything unusual in the above image? You're right; there are no controls for setting and adjusting the time. I personally think this part is really clever. Gislain uses "an elegant handcrafted piece of magnet" that he "hovers" over specific locations to control electromagnetic micro-switches embedded in the circuit. As he says on his website: "The 'Time Adjusting Magnet' has a chrome handle tip and its magnet side is covered with velvet."
The second link in Martin's email was to another of Gislain's electronic sculptures -- "The Tower." This not-so-little beauty comprises 1,415 LEDs, 393 transistors, 333 resistors, 6 single-digit 7-segment displays, and 6 magnetic switches.
The entire creation stands 60 inches tall and weighs-in at 60 pounds. My understanding from what I read on Gislain's Techno-Logic-Art.com website is that he's implemented this little rascal using a form of DTL (Diode-Transistor Logic), where the diodes are of the light-emitting flavor. I only wish I could see a video of this in action.
Also on his website, Gislain says: "My long-lasting dream project is to design an arithmetic calculator." Ooh, now there's a 3D electronic sculpture I'd really like to see!
I must admit that this has given me a lot of food for thought. At the moment I have my hands full with my own projects -- like my Vetinari Clock and my Inamorata Prognostication Engine -- but I can certainly see one of these 3D electronic sculptures in my future.
I really do have to finish my existing projects before starting any new ones (I do, I do)... but it wouldn’t hurt to start performing some simple experiments to implement logic functions predominantly using LEDs, would it? However, I have to say that my DTL skills are a tad rusty these days. Do you remember how to implement digital logic gates and registers using LEDs?
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting