Computing with Thread: Part II

Levers and Cranes

In this class we will explore the potential of levers and cranes for kinetic machines

The fundamental law of threads

You can pull something with a string, but you can't push it.
That's common sense. And no computer knows it. (Marvin Minsky)

Threads between two points

Using a threads to transmit information:

  • stick: symmetric with respect to push and pull
  • thread: pull, yes. push, no.
  • Can you build an anti-thread? (i.e. pull no, push no)


Sliders are bars that connect transmit a motion by sliding back and forth

  • Getting to know the concept of degrees of freedomn
  • How can we make sure a bar only goes back and forth?
  • What other constructions can you think of?
  • What kind of constraints are imposed by your constructions?


Levers are bars that transmit a motion by rotating around a hinge

  • What practical applications of levers can you think of?
  • Explore different setups and their properties
    • How many points are involved, and how are they arranged?
    • How many different setups can you find?
    • How are the involved forces and distances related?
    • Which setups are suitable for which purposes?


Linkages are bars that are connected via hinges.

  • how would you create rotating hinges using bars of wood and screws?
  • can you create a hinge using thread and what are the limitations?
  • create a linkage that can draw interesting curves




Kinematic Models

Wheels and Pulleys

In this class we will explore the potential of wheels and pulleys for kinetic machines


Cyclic Motion

Combined Cyclic Motion


Models and Tools

Looms and Logic

In this class we will explore the potential of looms for computing with thread


Mechanical Calculators

Unconventional Computers


A trip to Kassel to visit the exhibiton + attend the talk of Ralf Baecker and Georg Trogemann