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Instant results from analogue computing
Powerful in simulating complex processes, analogue computers produced results immediately. They were suited to situations where values, like electrical voltages and air pressure, vary continuously, and contrasted with digital computers which use discrete values. The PACE TR-48 on display shows how car suspension could be made comfortable.
Each analogue computer was set up to do a specific task and they were ‘programmed’ on a plugboard by connecting electronic circuits together. They proved powerful in the simulation of complex processes because the inputs could be changed with results being available immediately. They have been used to simulate trajectories and as teaching tools.
TNMOC has on display an operational PACE TR-48 analogue computer manufactured in 1962 by Electronics Associates Inc. Weighing in at almost 200kg, it was described in its day as compact and suitable for the desktop. One of its uses was by the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Bedford from 1968 until 1977 to research automatic approach and landing systems.
The TR-48 was easily programmed to replace any of the pitch, roll, yaw and engine control elements of the standard flight control system, and became known as the “Versatile Autopilot”.
At TNMOC, it is set up to model a “mass-spring-damper” system, and clearly shows how the outputs (the upward and downward motion of the car) vary on the oscilloscope display to enable a “comfortable” suspension system to be designed.