The Punch Card Reader

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The Punch Card Reader

Submitted By:
Brandon Mao

Entry Category:
Robotics HOW-TO Videos

Entry Age Group:
8th grade and below

Project Goals:
Punch Card - A medium for feeding data into a computer, essentially a card punched with holes or notches to represent letters and numbers with a pattern of holes to represent related data. It is also called a Hollerith card.

A Brief History

The punch card was invented in 1881 by Herman Hollerith as a faster way to tabulate census data than by hand . It completed the 1890 census in 1 year rather than 10 years like the 1880 census.

Semen Korsakov was the first person to use punch cards as an information storing and receiving system. He did not patent his discovery, instead, he decided to let the general public use his device.

IBM later developed several different versions of punch card readers, including one that could create and sort punched cards, even though several computing mediums had been developed by the 1950's.

Punch cards are obsolete now as new storage methods are available.

Our Project

01010100010010000100010100100000010101000100010101011000010101000010000 0010000010100001001001111010101100100010100100000010010010101001100100000010 0001001001001010011100100000101010010010110010010111000100000010101110100010 1001000000100000101010010010001010010000001000111010011110100100101001110010 0011100100000010101000100111100100000010000100100010100100000010101010101001 1010010010100111001000111001000000100001001001001010011100100000101010010010 1100100100000010001100100111101010010001000000100111101010101010100100010000 00101000001010010010011110100101001000101010000110101010000101110


The swarm of 1's and 0's above is actually a base 2 number system that can also be used to translate text, which leads us to our project.

Our punch card robot reads a circular disk using an infrared break sensor. The circular disk would be fed through the break sensor and whenever there is not a notch, and then it will be counted as a zero. Because binary takes up a lot of space, there is only enough room for a 3 letter word on the disk. If we wanted to send a coded message, then the word "Sun" would take up 1 disk.

The program starts with "Press A to begin reading a disk" Once the user presses A, the robot starts to read the disk. Once it has made a 360 degree rotation, then it prompts the user to press A again when the disk is ready to be read. If the user wants to decode the disks, they press B to compile the message.

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