The Argus: Nuts & Bolts.   Posted by GM.Group: 0
 GM, 13 posts
Fri 3 Nov 2017
at 02:47
The Argus: Nuts & Bolts
This thread is currently under construction, but feel free to drop in and say hello. Any and all ideas related to ship design are welcome here.
Odette Laframboise
 player, 51 posts
 Tiniest Engineer
 in Spaaaaaccceee!!!!
Fri 3 Nov 2017
at 02:59
The Argus: Nuts & Bolts

Most of the really big, fancy cruise liners, huge freighters, and military vessels have state of the art engines, operating on a cold fusion principle. These are efficient, fast, and very expensive. Smaller, older freighters use a nuclear fission principle. It works like this:

The ship has seven engines. One Primary Coil, two Secondary Coils, and four Tertiary Coils. Although called Coils (a hangover from very early deep space vessels, where engines were actually huge electromagnetic generators - these days they are reactors) each engine is actually a self-contained nuclear fission reactor. The main drive is the Primary Coil, and that provides most of the engine needs on a general basis. For long distance journeys at top cruising speed, the Secondary Coils can be activated, improving speed considerably, but reducing manouverability due to the increased velocity and inertia. Tertiary Coils are only used when the vessel requires a sudden, considerable boost - usually used to reach escape velocity from a planet, ot some other gravitational force. They can be used for general flight purposes, but this is very rare, and only really comes into play when high speed is essential, such as escaping from a hostile situation.

Each Coil is a self-contained reactor, and like any reactor, they operate using fuel rods that are inserted and removed as required, with the degree of fuel rod insertion being directly linked to the speed the engine will produce. The fuel rods are controlled by the Coil Regulators - each engine having a seperate regulator. Normally, these regulators are set to a specific safety limit that cannot be exceeded, and the helm command for velocity cannot push beyond those safety limits. These regulators can easily be overclocked in the engine room, however, though exceeding safety limits is a dangerous thing to do. If things go catastrophically wrong, you end up with a small Chernobyl incident at the back of your spaceship. Survival is unlikely. Even if you do survive, you flood the vessel with radiation. Oops! (This is why most new vessels stopped using fission engines. They're bloody dangerous! Effective... but dangerous!) In the event of a Coil Regulator failure, the engineer can shut down the reactor manually, though this takes some time. In a desperate emergency, the engineer can actually open up the reactor (not enough to leak radiation, obviously) and manually extract the fuel rods by cranking them mechanism by hand. If things are this bad, you really should think about your life choices.

Naturally, fuel rods have a limited lifespan. This is still fairly long, and it is possible to go for years without needing to change rods for Tertiary Coils. Fuel rod replacement is simple enough - using the same system as manually extracting the rods in a crisis, but with the engines turned off, so it can be done safely. Fuel rods tend to cost a fair bit, as those selling them know that they can charge whatever they like, as people have no choice but to pay it. Consequently, dodgy fuel rods are a fairly common commodity, either being almost burned out old rods, or cheaply made (and likely to fail) fuel rods, and both are available cheaply from untrustworthy types. Sometimes, when short of funds, such rods are the only way to keep the vessel flying. It proves to be expensive in the long term, but if you don't have access to the cash up front for proper rods, you have no choice.

Odette's groundbreaking work with Solar Sails has significant implications for space flight generally. Although they only work when within range of a sun (so, usually within range of planets, rather than very far out near a heliopause, or in interstellar space) the sails use the solar wind to power specially adapted Coils, bypassing the need for any nuclear reaction entirely. Solar Sails are mostly used by rich people with fancy pleasure vessels, or by racers. With Odette's modifications, they can be fitted to military and commercial vessels, and remove the need for fuel rods within a star system. Although very expensive to fit, and make the engine modifications, the long-term economic benefit is enormous, as using Solar Sails instead of fuel rods for even half the time while navigating interplanetary space can double the life of the rods, and halve the expense of running the ship's engines.

The engine room is full of banks, conduits, pipes, control panels, and a lot of complex looking machinery that performs the arcane science that keeps the Argus moving. The far end of the room has the access panels to the Engine Coils themselves. The Primary Coil is a single large circular hatch. On the left and right are two smaller circular hatches, for the Secondary Coil access. Completing the configuration, on the far side of each of the Secondary Coil hatches, are the four Tertiary Coil access hatches. The engine room itself is several decks in height, with walkways all around at various levels, giving access to the various panels. It feels like a large cave, full of almost obsolete engineering and mechanics. It echoes a little. And, even when stationary, the deep throbbing of the fission reactor engines can be felt in the vibrations in the air, and at the lower limit of hearing. It is a temple to an idea; the idea of incredibly dangerous engineering that is kept alive through constant care, and a great deal of luck.
Alan Kirschner
 player, 17 posts
Fri 3 Nov 2017
at 08:11
The Argus: Nuts & Bolts
The Logic Core

Quite literally the ship's central nervous system, the Logic Core is a medium-sized, circular room, with three entrances arranged in a T shape: two on opposite ends connecting it with the rest of the ship, and a third leading to a much smaller chamber, retrofitted by Alan to work as his workshop and design room.

The Logic Core itself holds a grand columm at its center, containing the many servers, cables and hardware used to sustain DASH, Argus' AI. The column itself insulates and protects the electronics stored within, while its base holds an array of cooling tanks designed to keep the Core from overheating. As such, entering within the column for maintenance work should only be attempted while DASH is in sleep mode and the coolant is turned off, as the temperatures found within are low enough to pose a serious threat for members of the crew.

Luckily, most hardware maintenance work is performed by DASH, and the AI rarely requires aid of that sort unless circumstances are dire. On the other hand, DASH's software must regularly be supervised, either via remote access or the Main Terminal, a screen and keyboard mounted directly onto the column.

Arranged in a circle around the chamber's center is an array of numerous other terminals, called stations, each of which holds a weaker, 'slave' AI entrusted with a specific task, which DASH manages and directs according to the needs of the ship as a whole. One such station is tasked with regularly performing diagnostics on the ship's systems; another remotely controls general maintenance drones, and yet another is responsible for surveillance and security. It is important to note that all of them act not as separate beings, but rather as extensions of DASH's own being, much like how a spinal cord is an extension of the brain; this also has the rather intriguing effect that the AI's personality occassionally 'bleeds' into the stations and their own functions, often without the AI's expressed intention, which is another reason why DASH must be regularly checked for anomalies in its thought patterns.

The stations themselves are connected to DASH's core via various wiring sprawled on the room's floor. They gain power from it, as well, while the column itself receives power from a thick cable half-imbedded into the ground, its destination being the wall directly opposite Alan's workshop. Once out of the room, the cable connects to a powerful generator accessible only via maintenance shafts, which acts as the energy source for both the AI and non-essential systems, such as lighting and other electronics on-board. This has the added effect that any mental strain on DASH's behalf might result in flickering lights, due to it temporarily diverting energy to its core processes.

In the event of an emergency, the cable's connection with the Logic Core's wall also sports a master switch, designed to 'pull the plug', as it were, and power down the ship's AI. It should be noted that the bulk of events which might warrant such an action involve protecting the AI during a cyber-attack or imminent EMP strike, rather than any actual AI uprising scenarios.
Gus Gorstag
 player, 7 posts
 Environmental Engineer
Fri 3 Nov 2017
at 15:36
The Argus: Nuts & Bolts
Life Systems Air, Heat, and Water Works

Air is circulated throughout the ship via two foot square ducts.  These ducts are also used as maintenance passages.  They are equipped with ladders and designed to accommodate a self propelled rolling sled that allows one to slowly creep along with tools and replacement parts.

Entry and egress points for these larger ducts are located in the Engine room, Life Sciences, Galley, Cargo Hold, and behind a corridor panel just behind the Bridge.

Branching off from these larger ducts are smaller ducts that collect and distribute air to the various compartments and spaces.  Each compartment has a supply and return vent.  The larger spaces have multiple vents while smaller rooms such as the staterooms have only 6"x12" supply and return ducts.

Every vent has an automatic seal to minimize atmosphere losses in case of unexpected pressure loss within a compartment.  There are also major seals within the trunk line to seal off unpressurized sections of the ship.

Air is circulated back through particle scrubbers and percolated through an algae matrix to remove harmful gases, carbon dioxide, and oxygenate the air before returning it for consumption.

The algae matrix is located below the translucent floor panels of the Life Systems bay and housed in another circular fixture around the ceiling.  The glow from their artificial lighting systems illuminates the panels indicating that the system is powered on.  Actual monitoring is done from a console system mounted in one wall of the room.  This wall also houses the consoles  monitoring, heating, cooling, and water filtration system status.

Central to the room is a circular aquaponics tank surrounded by an array of hydroponic plantings.  Mostly of leafy greens and compact vegetables such as cabbage and chard.  Above the tank is another planting column consisting entirely of strawberries.  Larger plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and other vine plants are arranged around the perimeter of the room in separate cupboard-like bays.  Each bay is sealed with it's own clear carbonate window that slides upward to access the planting media.  The edible output of the Life Sciences bay is minimal.

Located below the algae matrix tanks in the floor are the pumps, tanks, and filters of the water circulation system.  This area is accessed by ladders located at either side of the Life Systems bay.  This area ensures that non-potable water is converted back to potable water and circulated throughout the ship.  The main lines run beneath the corridor deck plates for ease of maintenance.  Water is heated at it's destination where applicable by on demand heating systems.  Some ship designs use the waste heat from engines for water heating but the complexity involved often outweighed the savings for most applications.

Waste heat from the engines and computer core are used to preheat the air circulated through the venting system but most waste heat is either converted to electricity using thermoelectric generators located in the engine room and computer core or expelled from the ship via cooling fins on the exterior of the ship.

Point of use heating coils in the deck and wall plates fine tune room temperatures via wall console controls.  In the unlikely event that the ship's air requires cooling, seldom used refrigeration coils located in the main ducting near the Life Systems bay may be engaged.  Generally these would be used planetside or in close proximity to a sun.  This system is not recommended for balancing excess heat from a runaway reactor core.

Life Sciences has only one entry point other than entering the ductwork system.
Solomon MacMillan
 First Officer, 68 posts
 Goes by "Sully"
Tue 7 Nov 2017
at 06:17
The Argus: Nuts & Bolts
The Bridge

The bridge is a somewhat ramshackle affair. It's large enough that ten people can stand cozily. The general shape is that of a rectangle with a forward trapezoidal outcropping coming centrally from the wide side. There are two doors at either end of the rectagular aft section with small corridors that feed into the same hallway. There are two air ducts with scrubbers specifically to keep the bridge decontaminated. The doors can be locked from the inside, but not from without.

 The trapezoidal section is largely filled with a dashboard covered in various switches, buttons, levers and screens, as well as a microphone for addressing the crew or other ships. It is, much like the cockpit of a passenger airliner, rather daunting to take in. At the center of the dashboard is an antiquated wooden ship's rudder wheel, though on top of rotating left and right the axis is mounted on a vertical knuckle joint so that the wheel can also control pitch. Foot pedals under the wheel control relative altitude, and there are superfluous controls on the dashboard in the event that these should malfunction. The wheel can be "disengaged" and folded into an upright position when not in use. To engage it again, one would pull it down into a neutral position at which point they would feel it lock into the control system, and then pilot manually at will. A throttle lever sits to the left of the wheel, but is only used for low-speed maneuvering.

Above the dashboard is a translucent three-piece windshield. Think of that little side bit of the Millenium Falcon. The material is specifically made for spaceships and is highly durable, though not quite on the same level as a good metal hull. Each piece of "glass" is eight inches thick, and retractable metal plates stand by to cover them in the event of attack, environmental hazards or other decompressive threats. They can be operated manually but will also snap into place automatically if major pressure changes are detected. The windows have a pockmark or two from micrometeorites.

Perpendicular to the cockpit area is an old and beaten leather seat. This seat is on a small, four foot track so that the cockpit can be operated from a seated or standing position. There is a bowie knife hidden in a sheath under it.

There is a dataslate on a track attached to the ceiling that can be extended to most of the room. On the port and starboard sides of the room, there is a motley mix of old CRT screens wired to hardy, but rather low-fidelity hull cameras, as well as myriad additional controls. There are rungs bolted to the ceiling, just in case.

Interspersed among all of this are various personal touches MacMillan and others have added over the years. This includes a woodburning that reads "Another day, another dollar", musical speakers haphazardly attached to the corners of the ceiling, an old Casio keyboard unattached to anything but often leaning against a wall, a small and overflowing bookcase jammed into a corner, and whatever else I think up during the course of the game. I'll try to add them as I think of them.

This message was last edited by the player at 06:22, Tue 07 Nov 2017.