Monday, 30 January 2012
I know I've mentioned this before here, but from time to time, both by email and through the blog, I'm urged by well-meaning people to test my designs with simulation software, and my response has always been the same; I have tried simulations and I don't get the feedback from it that I do when I build a model, so I don't use them. For me, there is no substitute for holding the pieces of a mechanism in my hands and, when I find that it isn't working, playing around with it and making all sorts of interesting and new (to me) discoveries. I enjoyed that experience earlier this January and made, what I think is a momentous discovery and suddenly the so-called 'connectedness principle' was laid bare before me and I understood exactly what Bessler meant.
I am fully aware that there are several people who are equally sure they too understand it, and maybe they do; perhaps we have all made the same discovery... and maybe not. I would never have made this short leap of understanding using simulation software because I would never have thought of moving the parts in the way I did, and even if I had, I doubt that I would have bothered to go to the trouble of entering that particular variation into the program - and there wasn't just the one variation I tried, but several different ones - who is to say which, if any, I would have tried out in the simulator? The truth is that you can test variations so much quicker on the work bench than at a computer - and you know that what you are seeing is real and not subject to some bug within the program. Other aspects of the design now find an echo in several different drawings from Bessler and some loose ends have been tied up.
If you have never tried making models to test your design, please try it. There are many impressive models shown on the besslerwheel forum and I am envious of the skills displayed by their makers but in all honesty there is no need to spend much money to test a hypothesis. I have often made test mechanisms out of cheap materials such as cardboard, ice-lolly sticks, string, glue, plastic plates, drinking straws, lead weights for curtains and even blutack. If the test answers the question then you can make something you wouldn't be ashamed of displaying!
I have no idea how many models I've made and if I knew, would I have counted separately all the variations on one design I'd tried? Bessler suggested he'd made hundreds and I'm sure he did if you include the variations he tried. I would say the same thing - hundreds.
So my advice is, don't depend on just testing the ideas out on simulation programs because you may miss a vital clue if you don't build a model. I'm sure that the successful machine will be designed by someone who is building models and not by someone who relies on simulation software.
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