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In the first weeks of the CS 200 undergraduate research seminar, we were presented with a challenge that would require us to branch out from everything that we, as computer science majors, were familiar with. The challenge was to create an electronic device which would last 1,000 years without the need to be opened for repair or replacement of components (e.g. no new batteries needed).
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We divided into four teams focusing on different aspects of the challenge. We had teams for mechanical housing, electronic components, the self-sustaining power system, and one to create a "treasure" that would make the object worth to keeping around for 1,000 years.
We spent the next several weeks researching current manufactured devices and how they failed or survived over time. We researched the most common failure modes of electronic devices, spent a day attempting to destroy the most durable objects the class members could find, and created a list of elements to avoid in our design. This included
With this experience, we started brainstorming on the device itself. We originally wanted to make a pocket sized object which would use photo-resistors to control tones produced by a protected, piezoelectric speaker. It would be a form of "musical instrument" and although we liked the idea, the power requirements ended up being too high to be met by our power team. The backup plan was a flashing LED beacon drawing attention to a magnification system that would display text preserved inside. This turned out to be feasible and was substantially completed by the final day of class.
CSC 200 Spring 2012 Project
The goal of the class project was to design and build an electronic artifact capable of operating continuously for a span of 1000 years.
The constraints include:
Compactness--Capable of fitting into a pocket or even being wearable.
Attractiveness--Having an attractive final look.
Durability--Capable of tolerating anything from an accidental drop on the sidewalk to a run through a washing machine.
Autonomy--Having a self-sustained power system and not needing any human intervention through its run of a millennium.
Treasure--Having an informational treasure which can be viewed in an easy way.
Price--The materials and components making up the artifact need to cost less than $1000 in total. (This does not include the value of student labor.)