Eh... needs to be about 20% cooler
June 28, 2011 10:58 AM   Subscribe

It is quite likely this is the coolest desk in the world! (Well, even if that's hyperbole, there are lots of other beautiful puzzles and woodworks in Kagen Schaefer's gallery, including some of his award winners from the annual Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition.)
posted by Wolfdog (28 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Could someone explain in greater detail how the 'pneumatic logic board' works?
posted by Think_Long at 11:00 AM on June 28, 2011

You are a liar good sir, for there is no way this could possibly be cooler.
posted by The Whelk at 11:00 AM on June 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

Should you play the correct sequence of notes or tune, a secret compartment opens up.

To reveal a signed copy of a Nancy Drew book.
posted by DU at 11:03 AM on June 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

The Twisty Pencil Box is utilitarian. It stores pencils and even has a sharpener built in to it. To unlock the secret compartment you must clear your mind of all premonitions.

Done and done.
posted by DU at 11:04 AM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Could someone explain in greater detail how the 'pneumatic logic board' works?
I really wish someone would.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:09 AM on June 28, 2011

The Lotus Trilogy will consist of three boxes. The Caterpiller Box, The Lotus Box, and the Butterfly Box. One must solve and combine the first two boxes to reveal a clue to unlock the final secret compartment in the third. Each box in the trilogy actually generates its own unique patterns.

I like that it's someone's job to invent Macguffins for mystery novels.
posted by The Whelk at 11:11 AM on June 28, 2011

DU, thanks for creating the Stay Puft, jerk.
posted by k5.user at 11:14 AM on June 28, 2011

Mind boggling.
posted by Specklet at 11:16 AM on June 28, 2011

"Should you play the correct sequence of notes or tune, a secret compartment opens up."

posted by jillithd at 11:27 AM on June 28, 2011

Like something out of Myst.
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:27 AM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure how his pneumatic logic board works, but pneumatic logic systems used to be fairly common (and perhaps still are?) in industrial controls. I used to get a catalog that had lots of pneumatic logic gates. You could put together valves, gates, and actuators to do fairly complex automated tasks. There were AND, OR, NAND, NOT type gates, plus premade circuit boards for common circuits like "Two Hand No Tie Down" (sort of an AND gate except you have to cycle both input switches each time, you can't just tie one closed).

Although it would be very complex, since you can build logic gates there's nothing preventing you (in theory) from building an arbitrarily complex computer out of them, just like you can with relays.

The commercial pneumatic circuit boards seemingly consisted of multiple layers of Lexan-type material with labryrinth-like designs cut into them and then laminated together, like very big multiple-layer PC boards. I'm not sure if that's what's inside the wooden 'logic board' box, but it might be a similar concept, with the knobs going to different depths to control the flow of air.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:36 AM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

How is there no video of this desk being operated?
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 11:44 AM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Could someone explain in greater detail how the 'pneumatic logic board' works?

I'm guessing, but the way I'd implement it is a stack of locks. Each lock, when properly triggered, unlocks the next lock. Each one, when improperly triggered, resets all the locks. The other factor is the reset should be disabled if the row is unlocked, and presumably, you reset the whole thing by closing the drawer.

So, you have, as a guess, 8 notes to choose from. The screws along the top row (or column, but it looks like it's rows) sets the function. One will be turned as "correct" and unlock the next row. The others will be set as fail, and reset *all* the rows.

I'm thinking just a rotating T would be the simplest way. 'Fail" has the T pointed up, air enters from the top and goes sideways to the reset trigger. "Pass" has the T pointed down, whereupon, the pressure rises, and turns *all* the valves so that the base of the T points inwards (so, no air reaches the resets) and the bars of the T points down, connecting the system to the next row.

Repeat for rows 2-7. Hit the wrong note, the air goes sideways and resets the entire stack. Hit the right note, the Ts rotate inward to cut off the resets and the bars pass the airflow down, on Row 8, instead of unlocking the next row, you have the correct answer unlock the drawer.

Assuming a spring loaded drawer that pops out, you can have it reset the lock when you close it.

The tricky part -- you'll need to inhibit the reset while a key is being played, otherwise, you get the situation where someone holds down the right key, which unlocks the row, but then the pressure stays up, passes through to the next row, and resets the lock because while that was the right 2nd note, it's the wrong third note. I'm thinking the easiest way is to not do either the reset or rotation until the key is released. So, press key, which sets "open" or "reset", and when the key is released, it then either unlocks the next row or resets.

Just some idle pondering. It's an interesting problem. The parts that need real force (rotation) probably need to be driven from the main air box, so you're really triggering one of two valves, one which rotates the row to safe and connects the next, and one to reset all the rows, which then opens a pipe to the air box to actually do that.

Having said all that, I'd love to look at the plans.
posted by eriko at 11:47 AM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I own one small Kagen Schaeffer puzzle, a Maze Burr, and it's so elegant and logical and well-made. There are very few people who have a love of math, a creative mind, and the ability to work with wood so beautifully.

If he calls this desk the coolest in the world, I believe it. I would of course need to own one of these to verify it (drop-shipped to my home would be fine).

All wood, including the screws!
posted by zippy at 12:12 PM on June 28, 2011

Thank you so much for quoting Rainbow Dash in your title, although I was a bit disappointed that it was not a thread about this song
posted by sawdustbear at 12:12 PM on June 28, 2011

A feast of exquisite craftsmanship! Thanks Wolfdog.

I like the links page on that artist's site too. Came across this page, which is also full of wows.
posted by nickyskye at 12:16 PM on June 28, 2011

eriko, c'mon, didn't you see goonies ?
posted by k5.user at 12:16 PM on June 28, 2011

even if that's hyperbole

Nope, nope. You're good.
posted by dry white toast at 12:21 PM on June 28, 2011

You can pick up the basics of valve-based logic through Dwarf Fortress. There's also a little bit of description of pipe organ logic in Stephenson's Cryptonomicon...
posted by kaibutsu at 12:48 PM on June 28, 2011

I can't decide who to forward this to first, the woodworkers I know or the organists I know. (Sadly, there is no overlap.)
posted by jrossi4r at 12:49 PM on June 28, 2011

That's astonishing. He even turned his own wooden screws!
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:48 PM on June 28, 2011

How is there no video of this desk being operated?

Because . . . SPOILERS!!!
posted by straight at 1:54 PM on June 28, 2011

But I'd hate to have to move it.
posted by bwg at 5:31 PM on June 28, 2011

You can learn more about pneumatic logic and it's hydraulic counterpart here. You might even own a hydraulic computer of sorts if you have a car with an automatic transmission.

And I agree that is the coolest desk ever; if I had one I might even be motivated to keep it uncluttered!
posted by TedW at 5:56 PM on June 28, 2011

Finally a place to keep my accordion files.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:50 PM on June 28, 2011

How is there no video of this desk being operated?

posted by Hartham's Hugging Robots at 2:13 AM on June 29, 2011

*scouring thread for links to cool and equally intense/unbelieveable things like this in DIY/blog format*

instructables does not count. been there, loved that

like this

posted by RolandOfEld at 9:22 AM on June 29, 2011

Stuff like this renews my faith in humanity's creativity and persistence. It's one thing to have the idea for a desk like this, but to actually make it.... wow :-)
posted by Colourpackagingdesign at 2:18 AM on June 30, 2011

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