The ware for October 2007 is a thickness gauge by Teclock. Shown below is the thickness gauge measuring one of my hairs.
As you can see, the gauge tells me my hair is about 53 microns thick.
I was first introduced to gauges like this when I was developing quality specifications for leather hides for Chumby (it’s funny because now I can’t help but wander into the shops I used to avoid — like Coach, LV and Bulgari — to inspect the quality of their work and reverse engineer their techniques; I have a hobby now of spotting LV fakes). This gauge can measure over a distance of 10,000 microns, down to a resolution of about 2-3 microns (the ultimate resolution depends upon your ability to interpolate between tick marks). That’s about the equivalent to the performance of a 12-bit A/D converter (simple A/D converter implementations have a little trouble reading that last bit anyways, just like you have to interpolate between tick marks on this mechanical device), or to frame it in other terms, equivalent to the performance of most entry-level handheld digital multimeters. Having designed some A/D converters in a CMOS process, I can appreciate how difficult it is to match components and design out the second and third-order effects that come into play when creating a device of this precision. So of course, I couldn’t help but open up the back and take a look inside to try and figure out what makes a mechanical device like this work so well. I am very grateful to the lady who gave this to me as a gift after seeing my “keen” interest in the device.
I think the winner of October 2007′s ware has to be Tim, because not only did he have the earliest correct entry, he noted that it was used in the leather quality control process — which is exactly how I came to know this Ware. Congratulations, email me for your prize!