I finished wiring the audio circuitry for BMOW yesterday, which marks the end of wiring for BMOW… for version 1 at least! I took the opportunity to reflect on my wire-wrapping odyssey, and took a bazillion photos of the namesake Big Mess o’ Wires before it disappears forever into an opaque case. It’s really quite a sight. There are 1253 wires with 2506 individually-wrapped connections, and I’ve got every one logged in a spreadsheet.
At first I found the slow pace of wire-wrapping to be a chore, but eventually I came to enjoy it. Once I get going, I can wrap about 25 wires in an hour. It’s almost like a form of meditation. Despite how long it takes to wrap, the wire-wrapping hasn’t really impacted my overall rate of progress. Design, debugging, and general procrastination consume the most time, and wrapping is just a small part of the total.
All this craziness is built on a 12×7 inch Augat wire-wrap board with 2832 gold wire-wrap posts, which I purchased from eBay for $50. I started wondering about all that gold… are those posts solid gold, or gold-plated? I broke one once, and its cross-section appears to be solid gold. I know the boards sold for astronomical prices when new, and the name Augat suggests the atomic symbol for gold. The board was even listed in the precious metals section of eBay, rather than anywhere electronics-related. With a postage scale and a little figuring, I estimated the total weight of all the pins at about 10 ounces. Assuming it’s solid 10 karat gold, that’s 4.1 ounces of pure gold, with a value of about $3700 at today’s gold price. Too good to be true?
In the photos, I tried to capture the feeling of order amid chaos. Click any image to see the full-size version. What I found remarkable is just how dense the wiring is in many parts. The wide shots show off the surface wiring, but the close-ups really get into some interesting rats’ nests. In the densest channels, those wires are stacked at least 10 deep! It’s hard to believe it actually implements a computer.
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