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Lovelace & Babbage


#37 - 10K

This project originally started out as art therapy for me after losing my dad, but over the last year it’s become so much more. Thank you to everyone who helped us reach the 10K, it’s been a daily source of joy and motivation for all my family.

Cross those fingers and toes for the LEGO Review phase, we should hear the results early 2017.

Please keep up-to-date with project news by following Lovelace & Babbage on social media:

Love, Stewart Lamb Cromar .( ´͈ `͈ )


#36 - 97% - final furlong

With less than 3% to go, it feels like we’re on the final furlong!

We all know Ada Lovelace had a lifelong penchant for horses (see update #32 "Flyology and Ada's horsey ornithopter”) and the race to the 10K finishing line is exhilarating! Heartfelt thanks to everyone for backing this project, fingers crossed it's a winner!

Please follow the project on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for exclusive updates. Ada has over 34,000 followers on social media now, so come join our LEGO Lovelace & Babbage community and help spread the word!

Love, Stewart  ─=Σ((( •̀ω•́)


#35 - 9000+

It's officially summer now, despite the dreich weather in Edinburgh, and this week we managed to pass the 9,000 mark. Who needs sunshine when you have a 90% project status, certainly not me!

Many thanks to all of you for voting and spreading the word, this project if definitely a team effort.

We now have 330 days to garner less than 1,000 votes, cross those fingers and toes!

Love, Stewart .( ´͈ ᗨ `͈ )◞


#34 - 8000+

Just in time for our Easter celebrations - we've passed the 8,000 supporters milestone. Thank-you all for taking the time to register and vote. This leaves us 414 days to find 2,000 more new friends, cross those fingers!

As always, there are a few kind individuals I'd like to thank for publishing articles about the project, please take some time to read them if you can (links below).

Happy Easter, Stewart (๑′ᴗ‵๑)

News Articles


#33 - Babbage's tea party

Following on from update #32, the tea party has been included as nod to the first ever meeting of Lovelace and Babbage. Stephen Wolfram has written a wonderful summary of this historic encounter…

On June 5, 1833, 26 days after she was “presented at Court” (i.e. met the king), she went to a party at the house of 41-year-old Charles Babbage (whose oldest son was the same age as Ada). Apparently she charmed the host, and he invited her and her mother to come back for a demonstration of his newly constructed Difference Engine: a 2-foot-high hand-cranked contraption with 2000 brass parts, now to be seen at the Science Museum in London.

Ada’s mother called it a “thinking machine”, and reported that it “raised several Nos. to the 2nd & 3rd powers, and extracted the root of a Quadratic Equation”. It would change the course of Ada’s life.

‘Untangling the Tale of Ada Lovelace’ - 10th December 2015

Whilst we don't know for certain they ate Victoria sponge and drank tea, I like to think that at just age seventeen it was very respectable party which included doiliesfinger bowls and the like.

Love, Stewart ( ˘ ³˘)


#32 - Flyology and Ada's horsey ornithopter

A few people have asked why I included the 'Ada Junior Classroom' bonus set. The simple answer is I'm very keen for this set to enable storytelling and offer play features for LEGO fans of all ages.

Furthermore this classroom is designed to showcase Ada Lovelace's visionary qualities at a young age. When Lovelace was just 12 she conceptualized a flying machine:

“… I have got a scheme … which, if ever I effect it … is to make a thing in the form of a horse with a steamengine in the inside so contrived as to move an immense pair of wings, fixed on the outside of the horse, in such a manner as to carry it up into the air while a person sits on its back.”
Excerpts from letters to her mother - 7th April 1828

She investigated different material and sizes. She considered various materials for the wings: paper, oilsilk, wires and feathers. She examined the anatomy of birds to determine the right proportion between the wings and the body. She decided to write a book 'Flyology' illustrating, with plates, some of her findings.

My original photographs featured an unmodified LEGO Harry Potter blackboard piece, I've now updated this to include a preliminary chalk drawing of Ada's horse-based ornithopter. An ornithopter (from Greek ornithos "bird" and pteron "wing") is an aircraft that flies by flapping its wings.

Please let me know what you think in the comments section, Facebook or Twitter.

Best wishes, Stewart 。^‿^。


#30 - Punched cards

When I first designed this Analytical Engine (AE) set I didn't propose any bespoke printed tiles. My initial idea for the punched cards was a simple variety of 1x2 grill pieces (see RHS of 1st photo). I now believe they would be better represented by 2 different prints.

A punched card is a piece of stiff paper (see LHS of 1st photo) that contained either commands for controlling automated machinery or data for data processing applications. Both commands and data were represented by the presence or absence of holes in predefined positions.

Perforated paper tapes were first used to control looms around 1725. However, the paper tapes were expensive to create, fragile, and difficult to repair. By 1801 Joseph Marie Jacquard had developed the machines to create paper tapes by tying punched cards in a sequence. The resulting paper tape, also called a "chain of cards", was stronger and simpler both to create and to repair.

Charles Babbage proposed the use of "Number Cards" in his description of the Calculating Engine's Store:

"pierced with certain holes and stand opposite levers connected with a set of figure wheels ... advanced they push in those levers opposite to which there are no holes on the card and thus transfer that number"

His plan was to use x3 different types of punched cards: x2 operational and x1 variable. This also required the AE to have x3 card readers (data input).

  • operational cards - 2x5 matrix [0-10 holes]
    • for inputting instructions (arithmetical & load/store)
  • variable cards - 5x11 matrix [0-55 holes]
    • for inputting data (numerical constants)

For data output devices there was already a printer, curve plotter and bell. Babbage also intended to include a punch card writer.

In my punched card designs a pair of operational cards are represented on a 2x2 white tile (2nd photo) and the variable card on a 1x2 white tile  (3rd photo).

Best wishes, Stewart ()



#29 - Minifigure refinements

It’s a new year and time for some minor tweaks to our mini figure line-up.

Taking inspiration from Alfred Edward Chalon's 1840 watercolour portrait, I've attempted to recreate what is arguably Ada's most iconic look.

Borrowing a hairpiece from the Princess Leia LEGO minifigure I was able to mirror the painting's double-bun hair style. There are some fascinating articles about the historical inspiration for this look, including references to a 2,500 year old Iberian princess and Native America women of the Hopi nation.

The mantilla (a lace or silk scarf worn over the head and shoulders) is represented by a black cape and ruff. This is purely an artistic interpretation, ruffs were worn mid-16th to 17th century, but here it gives a nice impression of fabric draped around her neck and shoulders.

Her evening dress is from the recent Doctor Who LEGO Ideas set. The Weeping Angel figure minfigure has a beautiful monochromatic 'draped cloth' print that works well for a more glamorous Ada.

Ada Junior remains untouched apart from the addition of her childhood pet cat - Madame Puff (see update #17 and #18 for more details).

Lastly Charles' has benefited from a wee haircut (see update #07). The beard and top hat are out, and a grey hairpiece and neckerchief/cravat are in. Ideally I'd like to offer a double-sided face, both sad and happy. But if you do a quick image search, you'll soon see that the majority of his images depict a rather dour Charles. Bless him.

Best wishes, Stewart



#28 - Mini-computer dimensions

The 'Lovelace & Babbage' model has capacity to house a mini-computer such as the Raspberry Pi v2.0 single-board computer (optional and not included). Since the project launched in May 2015 several new mini-computers have been launched and I thought it might be useful to discuss how this design can easily accommodate these different models and sizes.

There are at least 7.7 million different mini-computers currently in homes worldwide. Here is a list of some of the most popular and recent models:

  • As of 8 June 2015, about 5 to 6 million Raspberry Pis have been sold.
  • The BBC plan to give away the Micro Bit free to every year 7 (11- and 12-year old) child in Britain (around 1 million devices).
  • Adafruit Industries estimated in mid-2011 that over 300,000 official Arduinos had been commercially produced, and in 2013 that 700,000 official boards were in users' hands.

The LEGO model's internal cavity is 11x8 studs, this is designed to perfectly fit the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B (the largest of the 5 following boards):

Using a combination of slopes, corner pieces and tiles any of these 5 circuit boards can be safely securely inside the LEGO Analytical Engine. And with 3 different points-of-access (2 doors & 1 roof), the model still allows for all cables and connections to be used comfortably.

Best wishes, Stewart (•‿•)

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