Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Playtime on the farm

On a wet and windy Saturday, I sat for the first time at the wheel of a tractor, and tried to figure out how to make it go... lots of levers, but which for gears? Eventually, I located a "high - low - reverse" lever similar to that in a 4WD pickup or a jeep... and after some very surprising results, figured out that the knob was loose, indicated "R" where "L" should be, and vice versa. Later, I got to play with lots of other levers - turns out a tractor hitch has controls for lowering and raising - and also to play with a lifting-arm mechanism at the front. What a versatile machine this is... couldn't help feeling that what all that power really needs is to provide better control inputs and an extra degree or two of freedom. Ultimately, I suppose, something like this...

Next toy: a teleporter, which isn't quite as sci-fi as it sounds. The big feature on this machine is an arm capable of being extended to 40ft or so; the "hand" at the end can also be tilted up or down. The controls were hydraulic, very powerful, very responsive. Out near full extension, the law of the lever makes itself felt at as control inputs to the lifting arm rock the cab. Just as well the outrigger legs were well bedded down - my wife's brother-in-law was perched on that "hand". Interesting machine.

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