Analog Computer - Components

Components

Analog computers often have a complicated framework, but they have, at their core, a set of key components which perform the calculations, which the operator manipulates through the computer's framework.

Key hydraulic components might include pipes, valves and containers.

Key mechanical components might include rotating shafts for carrying data within the computer, miter-gear differentials, disc/ball/roller integrators, cams (2-D and 3-D), mechanical resolvers and multipliers, and torque servos.

Key electrical/electronic components might include:

  • Precision resistors and capacitors
  • operational amplifiers
  • Multipliers
  • potentiometers
  • fixed-function generators

The core mathematical operations used in an electric analog computer are:

  • summation
  • integration with respect to time
  • inversion
  • multiplication
  • exponentiation
  • logarithm
  • division, although multiplication is much preferred. Can be accomplished by placing the multiplier in the feedback path of an Operational Amplifier.

Differentiation with respect to time is not frequently used, and in practice is avoided by redefining the problem when possible. It corresponds in the frequency domain to a high-pass filter, which means that high-frequency noise is amplified; differentiation also risks instability.

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