SDN Starship Design Commentaries

SF: discuss futuristic sci-fi series, ideas, and crossovers.

Moderator: NecronLord

Simon_Jester
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 28669
Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm

Re: SDN Starship Design Commentaries

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-07-27 01:07am

Tribble wrote:There is a difference between "should there be a fail safe that can decompress the bridge in the event of a fire?" and "let's run all 7 "separate" safety systems in the same network together, as well as everything else on the ship ". You'd think at least one of them might be seperate? There is also a difference between "should there be a warp core ejection system?" And "let's network that system to literally everything else on the ship". Why should the warp core ejection system be networked with things like the holodeck, turbolifts, food replicators etc.?
If Starfleet has gone a long time with minimal problems caused by networking of computers, then there are three valid answers to this question.

1) Why not network all the computers? It might well be that under some circumstances, having the ship's main computer able to decide to eject the warp core is safer, because it removes human reaction time from the decision loop in an extremely urgent situation.

2) As noted, wiring fail-safes into the main networks allows people to remotely activate those fail-safes in case the crew nearby are dead or incapacitated.

3) When it comes to normal emergency conditions, a ship with no computer support is as doomed as a ship with no power source. Without a computer, the ship's engines and reactors are likely to be uncontrollable, and you can't even call for help without the navigation computer to point your antenna and communications software to turn it into a usable signal.

Under abnormal conditions that were likely not foreseen by the ship's designers, yes, the single massive integrated computer network can become a liability. But it is far from obvious that this makes the massive integrated network an especially stupid or bad idea.

Yes, when literally everything on the ship is networked together it's reasonably foreseeable that when something goes wrong with the one part of the network it could potentially bring the whole network down with it. I'm not calling for additional fail safes as much as ensuring those fail safes are seperate from the main network. If they are capable of running independently anyways, that shouldn't be a problem.

Note that I am referring to emergency fail safes, not regular ship functions. There' are certainly good reasons for the tactical systems to be networked together, for example.
If the emergency fail-safes in question are systems that do not need to be activated remotely, that's fine- but many such systems would need remote activation to do their jobs under a variety of foreseeable emergencies.

If the fail-safes do not need to coordinate with normal ship systems in order to work, that's fine... but many fail-safes would. For example, if your ship has shields up and ejects the warp core, what happens if the warp core collides with the interior of the shield bubble? Is that okay, or will the core go 'splat' and explode in close proximity to the ship? Maybe you need a way to tell the shield generators to open a hole in the shield for the core to fly out through- in which case there has to be a connection between the emergency core ejector and the shield generators.

Likewise, maybe you need to remotely shut down antimatter feed lines or other systems- the fail-safe mechanism says "welp, ejecting the core, better make sure there isn't plasma or antimatter spraying around from the lines I just severed." Again, you need a way for the fail-safe to send messages to the routinely operational systems of the ship.
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

Prometheus Unbound
Jedi Master
Posts: 1034
Joined: 2007-09-28 06:46am

Re: SDN Starship Design Commentaries

Postby Prometheus Unbound » 2016-07-27 04:03am

NecronLord wrote:
Prometheus Unbound wrote:https://youtu.be/owP8rodvksA?t=54s (Romulan one)



That's not the Romulan Bridge. At least according to Andrew Probert the Romulan bridge is further forward on the ship than the hit from Tears of the Prophets.

That bridge window isn't there on the real model, so it may be protected or somewhere else on the final product, but we've no reason to think that it's on the top of the ship (or even evidence it's on the outside).



Very well - you win this time :D


So I raise you - The Borg Queen is PISSED at Janeway and is trying to kill her outright (note where they are firing)

https://youtu.be/527iJB9BUKU?t=47s

:)
NecronLord wrote:
Also, shorten your signature a couple of lines please.

User avatar
NecronLord
Harbinger of Doom
Harbinger of Doom
Posts: 26827
Joined: 2002-07-07 06:30am
Location: The Lost City

Re: SDN Starship Design Commentaries

Postby NecronLord » 2016-07-27 09:21am

Hey. I'm sticking up for my pet faction, I'm not defending starfleet on this one.
Superior Moderator - BotB - HAB [Drill Instructor]-Writer- Stardestroyer.net's resident Star-God.
"We believe in the systematic understanding of the physical world through observation and experimentation, argument and debate and most of all freedom of will." ~ Stargate: The Ark of Truth

User avatar
Sea Skimmer
Yankee Capitalist Air Pirate
Posts: 37000
Joined: 2002-07-03 11:49pm
Location: Passchendaele City, HAB
Contact:

Re: SDN Starship Design Commentaries

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-07-27 02:20pm

Simon_Jester wrote:[
2) As noted, wiring fail-safes into the main networks allows people to remotely activate those fail-safes in case the crew nearby are dead or incapacitated.


By definition a system that requires human action cannot be fail safe. This is a pointless argument on that end.

The entire point of a fail safe is that it operates without such interaction, and that it should be difficult to the point of impossible to disable it without also disabling whatever system it is protecting. That's why real fail safes are usually linked together and controlled by simple stuff like power voltage levels or hydraulic pressure. Stuff that simply exists or does not exist, and yet can still involve very high energy levels if need be for the function of the protected process and the safety mechanism itself.

I struggle to think of any example of Star Trek having such technology fielded in a functional form. If you start saying "humans can operate the fail safes" you've already failed deadly. Human operated safety systems are very good to have, but they must be redundant to anything you call fail safe.

As for your shield example, how would the shields still be up if you just ejected the main power source on the ship? The shields fail mighty quickly when you shut them down, I doubt the core ejects faster.

Anyway that is something that could very easily be wired to fufunction with discreet voltage based circuits and simple (in this context) and near utterly reliable solid state transistors, or even simpler technology. Or hydraulic power for that matter, the shield being up could create a shield inside a hydraulic buffer for example as your yes/no function. Relying on any kind of databus style network computer for this makes ALL SOFTWARE ON THE SHIP a point of possible deadly failure! And that's just for starters. Fail Safe systems protecting the ship from complete destruction being wired to a main computer that is constantly changed and upgraded would make it utterly impossible to ever validate that anything works.

But maybe that's what the Federation did, just never validated any of this in service conditions. Wouldn't be the first time that happened, though it would have to be Star Fleet policy on the scale it's going on.
"This cult of special forces is as sensible as to form a Royal Corps of Tree Climbers and say that no soldier who does not wear its green hat with a bunch of oak leaves stuck in it should be expected to climb a tree"
— Field Marshal William Slim 1956

Simon_Jester
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 28669
Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm

Re: SDN Starship Design Commentaries

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-07-28 09:45am

Sea Skimmer wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:[
2) As noted, wiring fail-safes into the main networks allows people to remotely activate those fail-safes in case the crew nearby are dead or incapacitated.
By definition a system that requires human action cannot be fail safe. This is a pointless argument on that end.

The entire point of a fail safe is that it operates without such interaction, and that it should be difficult to the point of impossible to disable it without also disabling whatever system it is protecting. That's why real fail safes are usually linked together and controlled by simple stuff like power voltage levels or hydraulic pressure. Stuff that simply exists or does not exist, and yet can still involve very high energy levels if need be for the function of the protected process and the safety mechanism itself.

I struggle to think of any example of Star Trek having such technology fielded in a functional form. If you start saying "humans can operate the fail safes" you've already failed deadly. Human operated safety systems are very good to have, but they must be redundant to anything you call fail safe.
I think we have a miscommunication. I had the notion of being able to remotely trigger the system, without requiring that a human operator always be in the loop. By default the system would be automatic, but there would also be an option for 'manual' (actually remote controlled by a human) operation.

It's all very well to SCRAM the reactor whenever voltage condition XYZ is reached... But it is also desirable to have a human be able to push a large red button to SCRAM the reactor, in case a failure mode occurs that the designer did not foresee. Or, for that matter, to be able to SCRAM the reactor from some other location in case everyone in engineering is dead or incapacitated. Especially for Star Trek ships that may encounter unforeseen problems that interact with the reactor in unforeseen ways.

As for your shield example, how would the shields still be up if you just ejected the main power source on the ship? The shields fail mighty quickly when you shut them down, I doubt the core ejects faster.
Hm, I honestly hadn't thought of that. One would have to compare the exact time-scales of shield collapse and core ejection. If the core ejection acts on a timescale of seconds, then the shields may have totally vanished by the moment of core ejection. On the other hand, they may still be 'winding down,' and even a "shield at one percent" is probably rugged enough to present a problem here.

Anyway that is something that could very easily be wired to fufunction with discreet voltage based circuits and simple (in this context) and near utterly reliable solid state transistors, or even simpler technology. Or hydraulic power for that matter, the shield being up could create a shield inside a hydraulic buffer for example as your yes/no function. Relying on any kind of databus style network computer for this makes ALL SOFTWARE ON THE SHIP a point of possible deadly failure! And that's just for starters. Fail Safe systems protecting the ship from complete destruction being wired to a main computer that is constantly changed and upgraded would make it utterly impossible to ever validate that anything works.

But maybe that's what the Federation did, just never validated any of this in service conditions. Wouldn't be the first time that happened, though it would have to be Star Fleet policy on the scale it's going on.
They may have excessive faith in simulation (since they have AI even if the computers are building-sized, and holodecks that can do all sorts of exotic simulation).
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

User avatar
Elheru Aran
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 11171
Joined: 2004-03-04 01:15am
Location: Georgia

Re: SDN Starship Design Commentaries

Postby Elheru Aran » 2016-07-28 12:15pm

Bear in mind that the warp core is not the only power generator on the ship. There are batteries IIRC, and the impulse engines do use fusion reactors (again IIRC). It should, in theory, be possible to shunt power around the ship from those sources if you're deprived of warp power. Probably wouldn't be strong enough to keep shields up for long, though.
It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way.

User avatar
SilverDragonRed
Padawan Learner
Posts: 217
Joined: 2014-04-28 08:38am

Re: SDN Starship Design Commentaries

Postby SilverDragonRed » 2016-07-28 04:21pm

Is this solely about Star Trek ships, or can I bring up the problems I have with Mass Effect ships?
Ah yes, the "Alpha Legion". I thought we had dismissed such claims.

User avatar
Crazedwraith
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 9699
Joined: 2003-04-10 03:45pm
Location: Cheshire, England
Contact:

Re: SDN Starship Design Commentaries

Postby Crazedwraith » 2016-07-28 04:28pm

SilverDragonRed wrote:Is this solely about Star Trek ships, or can I bring up the problems I have with Mass Effect ships?

If you read the thread you might notice discussions on star wars ships. aliens ships and b5 ships.

so yeah bitch away. pretty sure the stated rationale for FTL is bunk if nothing else.
To the brave passengers and crew of the Kobayashi Maru... sucks to be you - Peter David

User avatar
Borgholio
Sith Acolyte
Posts: 6270
Joined: 2010-09-03 09:31pm
Location: Southern California

Re: SDN Starship Design Commentaries

Postby Borgholio » 2016-07-28 04:39pm

Yeah this thread is for discussion on all forms of sci-fi starship designs. Mass Effect certainly qualifies.
You will be assimilated...bunghole!

User avatar
SilverDragonRed
Padawan Learner
Posts: 217
Joined: 2014-04-28 08:38am

Re: SDN Starship Design Commentaries

Postby SilverDragonRed » 2016-07-28 05:00pm

I don't know where to begin...

Let's see...
-the eezo cores are too easily damaged which can result in the ship blowing up
-the lack of damage control stations and training (kinda understandable given how fast they die)
-the fact that their frigates can be taken down by a single canister shot from a mortar taken off the back of a rover
-the form over function exterior designs that hampers the potential of the vaunted broadsides that the codex mentions
-the overly interconnected computer network (with a single core) that can result in someone hacking through sensors or e-mail to shut down anything they want--up to and including life support and artificial gravity--if they want.
and most egregious of all to me...

The stupidly low crew size of these big ships. A cruiser between 400-700 meters long has a crew of around 80 max while a less than 200 meter long frigate only has a crew count of 12 (24 on the Normandy SR-2 for some reason) which is reduced even further when you take into consideration that four of those people serve no other purpose than to be the marine contingent aboard.
Ah yes, the "Alpha Legion". I thought we had dismissed such claims.

User avatar
Sea Skimmer
Yankee Capitalist Air Pirate
Posts: 37000
Joined: 2002-07-03 11:49pm
Location: Passchendaele City, HAB
Contact:

Re: SDN Starship Design Commentaries

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-07-28 09:56pm

Simon_Jester wrote:I think we have a miscommunication. I had the notion of being able to remotely trigger the system, without requiring that a human operator always be in the loop. By default the system would be automatic, but there would also be an option for 'manual' (actually remote controlled by a human) operation.


Then that needs to be as physically separated as feasible, and it simply should not be referred to as a human activated fail safe. It isn't, its something else.


It's all very well to SCRAM the reactor whenever voltage condition XYZ is reached... But it is also desirable to have a human be able to push a large red button to SCRAM the reactor, in case a failure mode occurs that the designer did not foresee. Or, for that matter, to be able to SCRAM the reactor from some other location in case everyone in engineering is dead or incapacitated. Especially for Star Trek ships that may encounter unforeseen problems that interact with the reactor in unforeseen ways.


Sure but none of that involves fail safe anything. That sort of safety measure covers the 'Beyond Design Point Accident' sort of problem. Safety systems work best when they are redundant and simple. When you start wiring them together...you gain all kinds of new and ever harder to foresee potential interactions. You might shave a few pounds off the design, but it probably won't save you any money when it comes time to validate it all...

Hm, I honestly hadn't thought of that. One would have to compare the exact time-scales of shield collapse and core ejection. If the core ejection acts on a timescale of seconds, then the shields may have totally vanished by the moment of core ejection. On the other hand, they may still be 'winding down,' and even a "shield at one percent" is probably rugged enough to present a problem here.


Perhaps. But then the fact that a Trek ship may very well need to eject its core with the shields up as a result of enemy fire...on its own points to the unending glaring engineering failures their ships are riddled with. And then we have a great one, why is the warp core vertical? If it was horizontal and ejected to the rear then the ships forward momentum would provide a higher margin of separation before the core explodes. That in turn would mean you could take longer to eject the core, and yet still have the same probability of survival! Or a better probability if you had the same eject time. Also this would put less lateral stress on the core and generally make ejecting it smoothly easier cause PHYSICS.

They may have excessive faith in simulation (since they have AI even if the computers are building-sized, and holodecks that can do all sorts of exotic simulation).


They do have some pretty advanced simulations. But the problem with simulation is it models how the design is supposed to be built, and now how it actually was built. Perhaps they go back and check this in turn... but that's pretty iffy to do. This problem is why for example real warships still conduct life fire training even when this costs millions of dollars per missile.

Meanwhile La Forge constantly tinkers with the Enterprise-D. And we know he isn't coordinating this with Star Fleet Engineering because they had an entire episode about how the ships engine designer knew nothing about it! Who is checking and signing off on his work? Who validates that he isn't using his own ego to destroy safety margins a much larger team concluded were needed? Nobody is my bet. Which would be exactly what you'd expect from a system run amok in which the customer is hostage to a giant socialist boondoggle run by people who basically seem to debate if they need a military or not, while surrounded by hostile empires with (no matter what yield you think a specific weapon has) planet destroying weapons.
"This cult of special forces is as sensible as to form a Royal Corps of Tree Climbers and say that no soldier who does not wear its green hat with a bunch of oak leaves stuck in it should be expected to climb a tree"
— Field Marshal William Slim 1956

Adam Reynolds
Jedi Council Member
Posts: 2138
Joined: 2004-03-27 04:51am

Re: SDN Starship Design Commentaries

Postby Adam Reynolds » 2016-07-29 04:38am

SilverDragonRed wrote:I don't know where to begin...

Let's see...
-the eezo cores are too easily damaged which can result in the ship blowing up

There becomes a point in science fiction settings that you are dealing with enough power that you can't totally contain it. Star Wars ships also share this problem. Hitting the reactor tends to destroy the ship. Defense is about protecting the core from being hit rather than allowing it to take damage. In Clone Wars, Boba Fett even destroys a reactor core with shots from a standard blaster rifle. Though clone rifles are a bit high powered.

Is it better to be capable of going to FTL with an eezo core, or not being capable without one? It isn't like Star Trek in which it is simply a question of energy generation, a fundamental property of eezo is that it allows FTL travel. Not having it would cripple a ship far more than potential damage.
-the lack of damage control stations and training (kinda understandable given how fast they die)

The fact that active defenses are required isn't automatically a sign of bad engineering. The same is largely true about modern warships. The AEGIS system is called that for a reason, the ship is using offense as defense by relying on its radar to engage incoming missiles before they can hit. One or two anti-ship missiles hitting a modern warship will be extremely likely to disable it.

Besides this, they are in space. Damage control on a modern warship is primarily about keeping the ship from sinking and putting out fires. A starship can't sink and exposure to vaccum solves the latter problem quite effectively. The ability to repair high technology systems is quite limited in any case and doesn't require scores of crew members.
-the fact that their frigates can be taken down by a single canister shot from a mortar taken off the back of a rover

Where was this? I don't recall this instance.
-the form over function exterior designs that hampers the potential of the vaunted broadsides that the codex mentions

The streamlined style might be for a purpose we don't fully know. Given that literally every race in the galaxy uses something in that general vein, even the Geth that don't even bother with windows, it likely is for a purpose. Perhaps having something to do with FTL travel.

-the overly interconnected computer network (with a single core) that can result in someone hacking through sensors or e-mail to shut down anything they want--up to and including life support and artificial gravity--if they want.

Though the network point is indeed a rather foolish flaw, it is something that requires an actual AI to pull off according to ME2. Which given the legal restrictions of the setting, barely exist. Lacking a defense due to legal restrictions is quite common in reality, even if just as stupid. Like treaty restrictions on battleships in WW2, or the vulnerability of ICBMs to anti-ballistic missiles never being exploited all that much. Also, I don't believe it was ever executed through email.
and most egregious of all to me...

The stupidly low crew size of these big ships. A cruiser between 400-700 meters long has a crew of around 80 max while a less than 200 meter long frigate only has a crew count of 12 (24 on the Normandy SR-2 for some reason) which is reduced even further when you take into consideration that four of those people serve no other purpose than to be the marine contingent aboard.
Why would Mass Effect as a setting need a larger crew? The primary reason terrestrial navies still use such large crews is mostly for the purpose of damage control, which is largely irrelevant in a setting like Mass Effect. For the SR-2 in particular, given that EDI can largely run the ship by herself, there is even less need for a human crew.

The large crews of a setting like Star Wars are actually more odd than the alternative, given the progression of technology, but Star Wars has an even stronger prejudice about using fully automated systems than Mass Effect. SW has no real equivalent to the VI interfaces used so heavily in ME. A system is either a droid intelligence, which is somewhere between a VI and sentient, or a dumb computer.

User avatar
SilverDragonRed
Padawan Learner
Posts: 217
Joined: 2014-04-28 08:38am

Re: SDN Starship Design Commentaries

Postby SilverDragonRed » 2016-07-29 03:06pm

Adam Reynolds wrote:Why would Mass Effect as a setting need a larger crew?

How about for operational endurance? Take that crew of twelve that a frigate has--now take four away for the marines; three for the Captain, XO, and Naviagator, another three for Engineering, two or three to be the pilot, and one for the medical department. That is all that is left to man multiple stations in CIC for a 24 hour rotation and having to perform maintenance on the non-engineering related equipment. You see, its not just about having bodies to throw at a fire or leak; you need to bodies to perform everyday stuff on the ship.

And god help them when it comes to port where they'll need to have multiple duty sections if they want people to have shore leave. Then you have to break down those duty sections into different watches that all need their own rotations.

Though, it does bring up the minor question of how do they clean their ships underway, and how often. Like, do they pull people out of the cryo-pods to do that on a daily basis or do they take half-a-day where nobody can sleep to do a field day? Huh?!

Adam Reynolds wrote:
SilverDragonRed wrote:-the fact that their frigates can be taken down by a single canister shot from a mortar taken off the back of a rover

Where was this? I don't recall this instance.

Mass Effect: Revelations Ch. 18, Pg. 271-272 wrote:Moving with a quick, but calm sense of purpose, he leaped out of his rover and started shouting orders. Following his commands, the mercs quickly unloaded and assemble the portable mass accelerator cannon they'd stashed in the back of the vehicle.
While the Alliance frigate fired its lasers on the defenseless rover, Skarr was arming the weapon; loading an ammo packet filled with hundreds of small explosive rounds. As the frigate banked in a long, sweeping arc, he adjusted the aim and locked in on the target. And when he heard the cheers from the marines hiding behind the overturned APC, he fired.
The GUARDIAN laser systems of the Iwo Jima, programmed to target and destroy incoming missiles, were overwhelmed by the sheer number of hypervelocity rounds fired at point-blank range. Normally the deadly projectiles would have deflected harmlessly off the ship's kinetic barriers. But in order for a space-faring vessel to touch down on a planet's surface and pick up a shore party, the barriers had to be shut down. As Skarr had suspected, the Iwo Jima hadn't had time to reactivate them yet.
Hundreds of tiny explosive shells impacted the ship's exterior, shearing fist-sized holes in the hull as they detonated. The personnel on board were shredded by the sudden storm of burning shrapnel ricocheting around the interior of the vessel. The Iwo Jima veered out of control and crushed into the ground, disintegrating in a fiery explosion. Huge chunks of shrapnel rained down all around them, sending the mercs scampering and diving for cover. Skarr ignored the melted chunks of metal falling falling from the sky, instead slinging his assault rifle over his shoulder and marching out to the overturned APC.
Ah yes, the "Alpha Legion". I thought we had dismissed such claims.

bilateralrope
Sith Devotee
Posts: 3404
Joined: 2005-06-25 06:50pm
Location: New Zealand
Contact:

Re: SDN Starship Design Commentaries

Postby bilateralrope » 2016-07-29 09:57pm

SilverDragonRed wrote:
Adam Reynolds wrote:Why would Mass Effect as a setting need a larger crew?

How about for operational endurance? Take that crew of twelve that a frigate has--now take four away for the marines; three for the Captain, XO, and Naviagator, another three for Engineering, two or three to be the pilot, and one for the medical department. That is all that is left to man multiple stations in CIC for a 24 hour rotation and having to perform maintenance on the non-engineering related equipment. You see, its not just about having bodies to throw at a fire or leak; you need to bodies to perform everyday stuff on the ship.

And god help them when it comes to port where they'll need to have multiple duty sections if they want people to have shore leave. Then you have to break down those duty sections into different watches that all need their own rotations.

Though, it does bring up the minor question of how do they clean their ships underway, and how often. Like, do they pull people out of the cryo-pods to do that on a daily basis or do they take half-a-day where nobody can sleep to do a field day? Huh?!


All three Mass Effect games had Sheppard zipping all over the galaxy. Sure, there is some travel time, but I doubt it takes more than a few days to get from anywhere in known space to anywhere else. They don't need much operational endurance.

As for the shore leave question, Mass Effect: Citadel answer that: The entire crew goes on shore leave at the same time. I'm guessing that's also when any maintenance is done.

User avatar
SilverDragonRed
Padawan Learner
Posts: 217
Joined: 2014-04-28 08:38am

Re: SDN Starship Design Commentaries

Postby SilverDragonRed » 2016-07-29 10:59pm

Shepard's vessel never has to perform normal missions like patrolling a region, defend colonies, pirate interdiction, or being escort. Why you're trying to use an abnormal crew in an exceptional circumstance to try and justify this bizarre decision on their part is beyond me.

As for the second half, I would like to see some verification on that cause that is too stupid to believe. But if what you're saying is true then the SA is even dumber then I thought they were already. If everyone goes on shore leave and nobody is there as corrective maintenance is done, then it becomes entirely too easy for saboteurs to have their way with the ship. Also, I certainly hope ashore time is not the only time when maintenance is being done otherwise I'll just have to add preventive maintenance to the growing list of things that humanity has forgotten in a century.
Ah yes, the "Alpha Legion". I thought we had dismissed such claims.

User avatar
Sea Skimmer
Yankee Capitalist Air Pirate
Posts: 37000
Joined: 2002-07-03 11:49pm
Location: Passchendaele City, HAB
Contact:

Re: SDN Starship Design Commentaries

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-07-30 03:00am

I never played mass effect much, does the ship has space for more crew and marines or just a handful of people all the time? Being able to operate with a small crew is fine, but it'd be kind of silly to go to trouble to build a ship that size and tech and not be able to put 400 extra passengers on board short term.
"This cult of special forces is as sensible as to form a Royal Corps of Tree Climbers and say that no soldier who does not wear its green hat with a bunch of oak leaves stuck in it should be expected to climb a tree"
— Field Marshal William Slim 1956

User avatar
Parallax
Jedi Knight
Posts: 845
Joined: 2002-10-06 04:34am
Contact:

Re: SDN Starship Design Commentaries

Postby Parallax » 2016-07-30 04:12am

What about various craft that have AI in control of systems? Sometimes it's almost total control such as HAL or TARDISes. Other times, such AIs seem little more than computers with some tweaking.

Where do you all think the balance is? What craft are an example of this?

User avatar
Starglider
Miles Dyson
Posts: 8567
Joined: 2007-04-05 09:44pm
Location: Isle of Dogs
Contact:

Re: SDN Starship Design Commentaries

Postby Starglider » 2016-07-30 05:16am

Sea Skimmer wrote:I never played mass effect much, does the ship has space for more crew and marines or just a handful of people all the time? Being able to operate with a small crew is fine, but it'd be kind of silly to go to trouble to build a ship that size and tech and not be able to put 400 extra passengers on board short term.


Life support might be the issue. Mass Effect is relatively low tech (compared to Trek, Wars) and their CO2 scrubbing, water recycling etc is probably relatively bulky/heavy/maintenance intensive. This isn't the ocean where you have free water for cooling, distillation and electrolysis; if you packed the ships to the density of cold-war submarines, the life support system might take so much space as to compromise effectiveness of other systems.
Narrative Analysis : http://www.mylittleprogram.net (under construction)

User avatar
SilverDragonRed
Padawan Learner
Posts: 217
Joined: 2014-04-28 08:38am

Re: SDN Starship Design Commentaries

Postby SilverDragonRed » 2016-07-30 09:06am

Sea Skimmer wrote:I never played mass effect much, does the ship has space for more crew and marines or just a handful of people all the time? Being able to operate with a small crew is fine, but it'd be kind of silly to go to trouble to build a ship that size and tech and not be able to put 400 extra passengers on board short term.
From what was shown of frigates in the novels (and Normandy SR-1 in the first game) there are only three spaces that are relatively small; CO's quarters, Medical, and the Bridge. Everywhere else is a wide open space with the marine garage on the bottom having a ceiling two decks above above them.
Ah yes, the "Alpha Legion". I thought we had dismissed such claims.

User avatar
Sea Skimmer
Yankee Capitalist Air Pirate
Posts: 37000
Joined: 2002-07-03 11:49pm
Location: Passchendaele City, HAB
Contact:

Re: SDN Starship Design Commentaries

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-07-30 02:56pm

Starglider wrote:Life support might be the issue. Mass Effect is relatively low tech (compared to Trek, Wars) and their CO2 scrubbing, water recycling etc is probably relatively bulky/heavy/maintenance intensive. This isn't the ocean where you have free water for cooling, distillation and electrolysis; if you packed the ships to the density of cold-war submarines, the life support system might take so much space as to compromise effectiveness of other systems.


But that's a sorta pointless comparison, a submarine is absurdly constrained by the cost of welding 2in thick HY80-100 style steel plates that are barely weldable in the first place. In space volume is very cheap, and Normandy sure doesn't look like it was tight on volume margins for technical or structural reasons. The stealth system is supposed to be heat limited, the exterior of the ship sure doesn't look like conventional concepts of stealth were relevant.

You do need some serious life support compared to any real spacecraft to date, but I think stuff like Trek tends to distort what kind of impact this would really have in peoples minds.

For cooling for example 400 people at 150 watts each turns into only needing about 17 tons of AC chiller capacity. Even if you need to radiate to space that really isn't much, and probably almost nothing compared to the radiator capacity needed for the ships primary power systems. To put that in contrast, a DDG-51 destroyer has five 200 ton AC plants to cool its electronics and radar, and the USN plans to increase those to 300 ton units (already tested) with no volume increase for Flight III. Sure seawater makes the actual plant cheaper on a ocean warship, but the point being the human heat load might not even be relevant compared to other requirements, you would just need bigger ductwork to ensure you can circulate the air fast enough in the habitable spaces.

For oxygen for 400 men for 120 days you need around 40 short tons of actual O2. Of course we need a way to store that, but solid Vika system used by the ISS can store the O2 for one man for one day in a volume of 1 liter and weight of 2.4kg. So we'd need 48,000 liters of storage space, which is only 1,700 cubic feet. Be flammable as hell but that's why you break it up into a bunch of smaller compartments each with its own emergency vent to space. Surge capacity for CO2 can be handled in a similar manner, and you can just break the cans open and dump absorber on the floor if you want.

For water diesel submarines used to go on about 10 gallons fresh water per man per day and can get away with that for a couple months. 25 gallons though would be a lot more comfortable for our notional embarked marines or refugees. That means 1.2 million gallons, or about 160,000 cubic feet. Which is still only a 100 x 10 x 16 ft tank if we wanted to recycle nothing, on a six hundred foot ship you could probably find unwanted structural voids to put that kind of water in. You'd probably have a huge amount of water on board anyway for various industrial purposes.

If we recycle meanwhile we need to cover 10,000 gallons a day. With present typical reverse osmosis water filtration unit that's going to be a unit that is similar to the size of a Smart car, not shipping containers or large industrial buildings ect. We'll still end up turning ~30% of the water requirement into brine doing that though. However the water system on the ISS can recover 93% of water, and dry toilets greatly reduce filtering requirements, just blew that overboard, so its just a question of how much we really care. More days of endurance required the higher we might want the ratio.

Once you start having ships the size of an LPD-17, as Normandy seems to be a surge capacity for personal is really not going to cripple your design, and it would be extremely valuable. Otherwise...space is murder, being unable to rescue anyone would just suck, while for raw military missions landing troops is probably an unending need. Warships and marines are linked through all of history and with awful good reasons. That's why I love the war galley so much, since it was the ultimate merger of the two. A lot of sci fi ends up on similar lines intentionally or not.
"This cult of special forces is as sensible as to form a Royal Corps of Tree Climbers and say that no soldier who does not wear its green hat with a bunch of oak leaves stuck in it should be expected to climb a tree"
— Field Marshal William Slim 1956

Adam Reynolds
Jedi Council Member
Posts: 2138
Joined: 2004-03-27 04:51am

Re: SDN Starship Design Commentaries

Postby Adam Reynolds » 2016-07-31 05:26am

Another reason why the Normandy in particular has a small crew is that it is a special operations vessel in all of its incarnations. The small crew is likely a result of opsec as much as anything. Though it certainly has some serge capacity, given that they rescue the salarians on Virmire, even if that was also a small team.

In the third game the small crew was a result of the fact that there wasn't a proper one, it was cobbled together out of the refit crew and whoever is recruited throughout the game. Similarly in the second game, the crew is recruited throughout the game as well, as a result of the sort of covert operation they were involved in. The SR-1 actually isn't as big in the first place.

Another factor that likely limits life support is the extreme speed capacity of mass effect relays limiting the need for endurance. While their overall technology is much less advanced than something like Star Trek, their FTL is much faster, albeit limited to the mass relays. Without those it is both much slower and more expensive. Which is why developed systems tend to bunch up around the relays to varying degrees.

Though of course the real reason for such small crews is that the game engine couldn't handle larger ones, and the fluff had to be consistent with that. But the same is actually true about the Venator class in Clone Wars. They are extremely undermanned compared to their theoretical capacity, especially in terms of fighters.

bilateralrope
Sith Devotee
Posts: 3404
Joined: 2005-06-25 06:50pm
Location: New Zealand
Contact:

Re: SDN Starship Design Commentaries

Postby bilateralrope » 2016-07-31 05:51am

SilverDragonRed wrote: Also, I certainly hope ashore time is not the only time when maintenance is being done otherwise I'll just have to add preventive maintenance to the growing list of things that humanity has forgotten in a century.

You're assuming that in-flight maintenance is useful in Mass Effect. Convince me of that assumption.

Given how little endurance ME ships need, saving the preventative maintenance for when the ship is docked seems like a good idea. Lets say someone is maintaining the life support system, makes a mistake and breaks it. In-flight, that's going to go badly for the crew. While docked, the crew don't even need to rush to get to somewhere with functioning life support.

ME fields probably have a lot of utility in that area. Or for patching up problems until a ship can dock. After all, they can be scaled down to be used in toothbrushes.

User avatar
SilverDragonRed
Padawan Learner
Posts: 217
Joined: 2014-04-28 08:38am

Re: SDN Starship Design Commentaries

Postby SilverDragonRed » 2016-07-31 09:15am

bilateralrope wrote:Given how little endurance ME ships need, saving the preventative maintenance for when the ship is docked seems like a good idea. Lets say someone is maintaining the life support system,...
And that is where I stopped reading what you said. Out of all the systems and possible checks that could've been chosen you went with one of the mission critical systems that won't be performed underway. When something like this shows in the PMS schedule, one of the requirements for it will be that the ship is ashore. Next time, pick something that could be done underway (like the sleeping pods or something).

Adam Reynolds wrote:Another reason why the Normandy in particular has a small crew is that it is a special operations vessel in all of its incarnations. The small crew is likely a result of opsec as much as anything. Though it certainly has some serge capacity, given that they rescue the salarians on Virmire, even if that was also a small team.
Which is way I usually want to stick to talking about the standard ships that are likely to be encountered rather than the one-time (or two-time) built gimmick ship. Cause, lets face it, after not even completing the trial runs for the SR-1 it was turned over to a Spectre and wasn't apart of the SAN anymore, so some leniency is afforded to that ship. Especially the crew count for SR-1 (after booting an old save file) is around 20 personnel, excluding the Marines onboard.

Another factor that likely limits life support is the extreme speed capacity of mass effect relays limiting the need for endurance. While their overall technology is much less advanced than something like Star Trek, their FTL is much faster, albeit limited to the mass relays. Without those it is both much slower and more expensive. Which is why developed systems tend to bunch up around the relays to varying degrees.
Even with their regular FTL, ME ships still clock in around about the very fastest that ST warp travel can provide. But even with that SA ships still require some sustainability with the sheer amount of territory that they have to provide security for; not helped by the fact that in-system travel is limited to 50c (one possibility being a safety concern) and the fact that there are only two identified spaceports in the Attican Traverse--Elysium and Camala--and that both are major trading hubs leads me to believe that their scarce in the primary region where the SA is operating.
Ah yes, the "Alpha Legion". I thought we had dismissed such claims.

bilateralrope
Sith Devotee
Posts: 3404
Joined: 2005-06-25 06:50pm
Location: New Zealand
Contact:

Re: SDN Starship Design Commentaries

Postby bilateralrope » 2016-07-31 05:36pm

SilverDragonRed wrote:
bilateralrope wrote:Given how little endurance ME ships need, saving the preventative maintenance for when the ship is docked seems like a good idea. Lets say someone is maintaining the life support system,...
And that is where I stopped reading what you said. Out of all the systems and possible checks that could've been chosen you went with one of the mission critical systems that won't be performed underway. When something like this shows in the PMS schedule, one of the requirements for it will be that the ship is ashore. Next time, pick something that could be done underway (like the sleeping pods or something).


So respond to my first line. The one that occurred before you found an excuse to ignore my post. Convince me that in-flight maintenance performs any useful function on a Mass Effect ship.

I am thinking as suggested by this post
Lord Revan wrote:Something I'm not sure is mentioned yet but we should as default assume there's a (semi-)rational reason in-universe why things are done the way they are. It's way too easy to assume "they're stupid" for everytime when something seems less efficient then you think it could be at first glance, so we should avoid the "they're stupid" explanation as much as it's rational to do so.


That is I'm assuming that is a rational in-universe reason for ship design until I hear an argument about why it's a bad idea. Especially when I can see a rational reason for such things: For example, on the issue of the small crew sizes:
- You say that it's stupid because the numbers are low compared to real life vessels.
- I say that advances in technology and the fact that a ship is in space, not on the water, render larger crew sizes unnecessary.

SilverDragonRed wrote:-the overly interconnected computer network (with a single core) that can result in someone hacking through sensors or e-mail to shut down anything they want--up to and including life support and artificial gravity--if they want.

When exactly did hacking enemy ships happen ?

Cerberus ships don't count, as I'm not aware of any Cerberus project before ME3 that didn't break free and start killing Cerberus personal. Suggesting some serious incompetence within the organisation.

User avatar
SilverDragonRed
Padawan Learner
Posts: 217
Joined: 2014-04-28 08:38am

Re: SDN Starship Design Commentaries

Postby SilverDragonRed » 2016-07-31 08:25pm

bilateralrope wrote:You're assuming that in-flight maintenance is useful in Mass Effect. Convince me of that assumption.
Fine, I'll try to convince of some common sense stuff. Seeing as how you don't know what maintenance checks are for, I'll explain it clearly so even you can understand. Preventative maintenance checks are done to ensure that equipment is functioning properly; if it fails then the equipment is scheduled for corrective maintenance. How often is determined by the piece of equipment itself. From my experience a new set of checks is issued out every week, so if the ship isn't scheduled to spend a significant portion of every week in port then they would have to perform such basic stuff underway.

As for the second part, I'll admit that Adam Reynolds had it right. I mistook what EDI said and thought cyber warfare was a more common occurrence.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDOUB2rU7t8
Relevant part at :47-1:29.
Ah yes, the "Alpha Legion". I thought we had dismissed such claims.


Return to “Science Fiction”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests