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Old September 18 2010, 02:30 AM   #1
Kaelri
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Just Another Bridge Design

Hi folks! I wanted to share this bridge module design that I've been working on as a hobby, and see if some of the experts around here have any feedback or advice.

I should say right away that this does not follow the established design standards of Star Trek. Trek's bridges were a big influence - probably the biggest, in fact - but it also owes a lot to the CIC of Battlestar Galactica and the White House situation room. (This is why some of the labels in the drawing use generic terms; I "translated" them into Trek terms for this post.) I hope I've come up with a unique design that would still fit comfortably within the Star Trek universe.

Since I'm a newbie who can't post images:
Like all modern-Trek bridge modules, the design has three main components: the main control room, conference room, and ready room.

The main room does not have a main viewscreen in the traditional sense. Instead, the captain sits (or stands) in the center of the room, and all primary stations - of which there are six - face her. The captain, first officer, tactical officer, and up to three additional advisers are seated around the conn table, whose surface allows the captain to confer with her officers, view the current contents of any other bridge console, and set down a cup of coffee - which I thought Captain Sulu would appreciate. The captain can also turn around to face the other central display system, the sphere - a large holographic field which normally shows the ship, its internal component status (much like the MSD), and other ships and objects in its vicinity. The sphere takes up most of the open floorspace between the conn table and the Helm station; the captain can stand and interact with it somatically, instead of having to calculate courses and positions in her head. (I'm told the Titan novels feature a similar device.)

The four port and starboard stations are inside raised and hooded alcoves, a nod to Tuvok and Kim's stations on the Voyager. In addition, all six of the bridge's main entrances - two from the corridors, two from stairs, and two from turbolifts - are placed in the back of these alcoves, which shields the command area from the distraction of routine comings and goings (and offers an extra security buffer). The alcoves also allow officers to have semi-private discussions and concentrate on delicate tasks, while still having a good vantage point over the entire room.

In contrast, the fore and aft stations are sunken a few steps, which allows the captain to see over their heads. The far walls are occupied by two wide viewscreens. These screens are configurable for any purpose, and often show images from the ship's exterior cameras. However, they also have two unique features. First, they are semi-transparent (like the "windshield" viewers from the 2009 movie), allowing an unobstructed view between the ready room, conference room, and bridge. They can, of course, be blanked out in one or both directions. Second, each screen may be divided into as many as four modular workstations, which augment the abilities of the six main stations.

The bridge is designed to be expandable - in addition to the extra stations described above, all six main stations have just enough room to seat a second assistant or relief officer. Thus, the same facility which runs with only seven core officers can accommodate a crew of twenty-five (albeit a little cramped). This allows the standard bridge module to scale to a wide range of ship sizes and operational complexity.

The ready room is pretty self-explanatory. It's designed to serve as auxiliary quarters for the captain, should she need to be available at a moment's notice. The transparent displays allow her to keep an eye on the bridge from any part of the room. She's also just one door away from the bridge, a turbolift, or the corridor.

The conference room is actually a small suite of utilities which serve the bridge crew. The meeting area itself is flanked by two small hallways, separated by glass walls and open doorways, which provide access to the turbolift, head, and storage lockers for emergency defense, medical and survival supplies. The area does not have direct access to the rest of the ship; instead, it is separated by a security checkpoint, which is the entrance normally used by civilians, visitors, and low-ranking enlisted men who lack the necessary clearance. The center area is dominated by the conference table, which seats ten people, and features touch consoles and a holo-projector similar to the one on the bridge. On one side, it has two modular consoles and the viewscreen which it shares with the bridge; on the other, it has a raised observation window, which looks out into either a shuttlebay or space, depending on the size of the ship.

If you want a little more detail, including descriptions of the six core stations, you're welcome to read my draft on Google Documents. Otherwise, I hope you've found my little project interesting. Please feel free to leave comments, questions, and critiques. :)
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Old September 18 2010, 03:10 AM   #2
YARN
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Re: Just Another Bridge Design

Kaelri wrote: View Post
Hi folks! I wanted to share this bridge module design that I've been working on as a hobby, and see if some of the experts around here have any feedback or advice.

I should say right away that this does not follow the established design standards of Star Trek. Trek's bridges were a big influence - probably the biggest, in fact - but it also owes a lot to the CIC of Battlestar Galactica and the White House situation room. (This is why some of the labels in the drawing use generic terms; I "translated" them into Trek terms for this post.) I hope I've come up with a unique design that would still fit comfortably within the Star Trek universe.

Since I'm a newbie who can't post images:
Like all modern-Trek bridge modules, the design has three main components: the main control room, conference room, and ready room.

The main room does not have a main viewscreen in the traditional sense. Instead, the captain sits (or stands) in the center of the room, and all primary stations - of which there are six - face her. The captain, first officer, tactical officer, and up to three additional advisers are seated around the conn table, whose surface allows the captain to confer with her officers, view the current contents of any other bridge console, and set down a cup of coffee - which I thought Captain Sulu would appreciate. The captain can also turn around to face the other central display system, the sphere - a large holographic field which normally shows the ship, its internal component status (much like the MSD), and other ships and objects in its vicinity. The sphere takes up most of the open floorspace between the conn table and the Helm station; the captain can stand and interact with it somatically, instead of having to calculate courses and positions in her head. (I'm told the Titan novels feature a similar device.)

The four port and starboard stations are inside raised and hooded alcoves, a nod to Tuvok and Kim's stations on the Voyager. In addition, all six of the bridge's main entrances - two from the corridors, two from stairs, and two from turbolifts - are placed in the back of these alcoves, which shields the command area from the distraction of routine comings and goings (and offers an extra security buffer). The alcoves also allow officers to have semi-private discussions and concentrate on delicate tasks, while still having a good vantage point over the entire room.

In contrast, the fore and aft stations are sunken a few steps, which allows the captain to see over their heads. The far walls are occupied by two wide viewscreens. These screens are configurable for any purpose, and often show images from the ship's exterior cameras. However, they also have two unique features. First, they are semi-transparent (like the "windshield" viewers from the 2009 movie), allowing an unobstructed view between the ready room, conference room, and bridge. They can, of course, be blanked out in one or both directions. Second, each screen may be divided into as many as four modular workstations, which augment the abilities of the six main stations.

The bridge is designed to be expandable - in addition to the extra stations described above, all six main stations have just enough room to seat a second assistant or relief officer. Thus, the same facility which runs with only seven core officers can accommodate a crew of twenty-five (albeit a little cramped). This allows the standard bridge module to scale to a wide range of ship sizes and operational complexity.

The ready room is pretty self-explanatory. It's designed to serve as auxiliary quarters for the captain, should she need to be available at a moment's notice. The transparent displays allow her to keep an eye on the bridge from any part of the room. She's also just one door away from the bridge, a turbolift, or the corridor.

The conference room is actually a small suite of utilities which serve the bridge crew. The meeting area itself is flanked by two small hallways, separated by glass walls and open doorways, which provide access to the turbolift, head, and storage lockers for emergency defense, medical and survival supplies. The area does not have direct access to the rest of the ship; instead, it is separated by a security checkpoint, which is the entrance normally used by civilians, visitors, and low-ranking enlisted men who lack the necessary clearance. The center area is dominated by the conference table, which seats ten people, and features touch consoles and a holo-projector similar to the one on the bridge. On one side, it has two modular consoles and the viewscreen which it shares with the bridge; on the other, it has a raised observation window, which looks out into either a shuttlebay or space, depending on the size of the ship.

If you want a little more detail, including descriptions of the six core stations, you're welcome to read my draft on Google Documents. Otherwise, I hope you've found my little project interesting. Please feel free to leave comments, questions, and critiques.
I like the idea of getting rid of the view screen. I think the sphere is a great idea.

I remember seeing the astrometrics lab and thinking "Wow, this is where the bridge should be" (the difference being that that lab was inside a sphere - I imagine yours would be an overhead preojection?).
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Old September 18 2010, 03:32 AM   #3
Kaelri
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Re: Just Another Bridge Design

YARN wrote: View Post
I like the idea of getting rid of the view screen. I think the sphere is a great idea.

I remember seeing the astrometrics lab and thinking "Wow, this is where the bridge should be" (the difference being that that lab was inside a sphere - I imagine yours would be an overhead preojection?).
Yes - it would occupy a column of space in front of the Helm station and emanate from there in three dimensions. (I love the astrometrics lab too; I always thought it would go nicely on the top of the primary hull, where the bridge usually is.)
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Old September 18 2010, 08:39 AM   #4
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Re: Just Another Bridge Design

My first thought was "admiral's bridge" for the flagship of a fleet. Nice.
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Old September 18 2010, 11:25 AM   #5
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Re: Just Another Bridge Design

It does look more like a central command centre rather than somewhere you would command and fight a starship from. That requires some immediacy and proximity for the heat of battle. Yours is so large people would have to shout across each other to be heard, and too many people to make quick decisions. As the C-in-C's command centre though, it would be great.
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Old September 18 2010, 01:29 PM   #6
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Re: Just Another Bridge Design

sojourner wrote: View Post
My first thought was "admiral's bridge" for the flagship of a fleet. Nice.
I agree. The ready room seemed more luxurious and spacious than the one on a Galaxy Class starship.
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Old September 18 2010, 05:53 PM   #7
Kaelri
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Re: Just Another Bridge Design

Thanks for the replies, everyone. Your comments are already being helpful. :)

The Axeman wrote: View Post
It does look more like a central command centre rather than somewhere you would command and fight a starship from. That requires some immediacy and proximity for the heat of battle. Yours is so large people would have to shout across each other to be heard, and too many people to make quick decisions.
Hm, I had tried to avoid that issue. If you look at the size comparison, I scaled it to be approximately the same size as an Intrepid-class bridge: the front and back walls are congruent, and the captain remains roughly the same distance from all of the key stations (a little closer to some, in fact, since her chair is more centered and more forward than Janeway's). I was left with some extra space in the "wings," but even so, I think it ends up within the square footage of several bridges of the Enterprise.

As for people, that's a little trickier. I should make it clear that the "25" number is definitely not for normal operating status. While I wanted to make it scalable, the ship I was imagining while I drew this is closest to an Intrepid, and as such, the standard bridge crew is the same size: 8 people, including the captain and first officer. All ship functions are divided between six officers, and in anything but a crisis or heavy combat scenario, those six officers can do the job.

The extra stations, on the oher hand, are very much ad-hoc: in other words, I just decided not to waste wall space wherever an extra person could fit. This is a reaction to the annoyance I felt when Trek started covering the back wall of their bridges with that massive MSD - why not put a couple of hidden chairs there, like the Galaxy did, and use them when they're needed? But even so, they're not meant to be used regularly. You wouldn't double-up on the main consoles except to accommodate a temporary training or relief officer. And you'd only want to use the far ends of the modular screens, keeping the centers clear for common displays. All told, I wouldn't expect to see more than 13 or 14 people on this bridge, even in a combat scenario. 25 is a ceiling figure for extreme contingencies: if most of your stations are damaged and inoperable, or if you've got an admiral directing a battle and he needs a whole row of nothing but communications personnel.

I made these decisions before I started sketching, based on the following comparisons:
  • Enterprise-A (TUC): 1 commander, ~5 main crew. May add ~7 additional crew. Total: 5 min, 13 max. This is one of my favorite bridges, behind only the Intrepid's, and has always been an influence - I try not to stray too far from its efficient simplicity.
  • Enterprise-D: 2 commanders, 3 main crew. May add 5 crew and 3 advisers. Total: 5 min, 13 max. I have long thought that the main crew of Picard's bridge had way too much on their plates, especially given the sheer size of the Galaxy-class. Worf alone is responsible for weapons control, damage control, security, communications, flight control, and some degree of proximity sensors. And he doesn't even have a chair, much less a cup holder for some well-deserved prune juice. The extra six stations in Generations helped, though: assuming at least two of them were in regular use, that brings the main crew up to five.
  • Defiant: 1 commander, 5 main crew. Not scalable. Total: 6 min/max. Completely appropriate for a ship of her class - and, by the way, she still has a larger main bridge crew than the Galaxy. Although my bridge is meant for something a little bigger than the Defiant, this division of duties remains ideal in my mind.
  • Enterprise-E: 2 commanders, 6 main crew. May add 1 adviser and 6 crew. Total: 8 min, 15 max. While I don't much care for the layout of the Sovereign bridge, I think the numbers are about right.
The ready room seemed more luxurious and spacious than the one on a Galaxy Class starship.
On this, I definitely agree with you. My next draft will probably do something about the general waste of space behind the desk.
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Last edited by Kaelri; September 18 2010 at 05:55 PM. Reason: Typo ("not including" --> "including")
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Old September 18 2010, 07:18 PM   #8
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Re: Just Another Bridge Design

This bridge looks like it would fit in nicely sometime after the 24th Century, possibly as the bridge of the Enterprise J. Of course I'm talking about the Prime Universe, don't know about the Abramsverse though.
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Old September 18 2010, 08:04 PM   #9
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Re: Just Another Bridge Design

It could also work as a space station's command section
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Old September 18 2010, 08:59 PM   #10
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Re: Just Another Bridge Design

Kaelri wrote: View Post
Worf alone is responsible for weapons control, damage control, security, communications, flight control, and some degree of proximity sensors.
Just curious what you mean by "flight control" here? Obviously not helm/navigation. Shuttle bay?
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Old September 18 2010, 09:42 PM   #11
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Re: Just Another Bridge Design

sojourner wrote: View Post
Just curious what you mean by "flight control" here? Obviously not helm/navigation. Shuttle bay?
Ah, yes. Authorizing takeoffs and landings from the shuttlebay, launching probes, etc. And I know these duties have also been shared by Ops, on occasion... the TNG writers, as we know, were not always consistent.

(Please also allow me to take this opportunity to observe that Gregory House would indeed make a remarkable Starfleet captain.)
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Old September 19 2010, 06:23 AM   #12
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Re: Just Another Bridge Design

^No, his crew would hate him. hehe.
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Old September 22 2010, 10:46 PM   #13
Kaelri
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Re: Just Another Bridge Design

Thanks to your feedback, I've made a few changes, and I've put together a pretty graphic for the newest draft, along with giving it a name (probably temporary, but it's better than saying "that bridge thing").

"Aurora" Command Module - Draft 4

More Trek Bridges (For Scale)

Among the changes:
  • I separated the table from the upper railing and moved it to the center of the room. The holographic imager is now in the center of the table, and simply projects the image above it. This was a frustrating decision, because I liked having it adjacent to the Tactical console, and just because it seems like a very obvious way to go. But I couldn't get comfortable with the wasted floor space on the other side of the captain's chair.
  • I also made the table a bit smaller, and decreased the number of extra chairs; before I did that, it looked like there was a whole conference table sitting in the middle of the bridge, and that's not what I wanted to do; this is more like the table in DS9's Ops. That said, there's still theoretically room for about five more chairs.
  • Speaking of downsizing, I shrunk the entire room a little bit, relative to the Intrepid bridge (which I'm using as my size reference). It now has almost exactly the same area as the Intrepid and Constitution Refit bridges, and is significantly smaller than the Galaxy and Sovereign bridges, which is a lot closer to what I originally had in mind.
  • Someone mentioned that the ready room was a little large and luxurious, even compared to Picard's. I agreed, and was also bothered by the face that it spilled way out to the side, so I've condensed everything into the area behind the desk.
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Old September 29 2010, 09:09 PM   #14
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Re: Just Another Bridge Design

So far, so good; I always like to see a departure from the typical roundish-bridge-on-top-captain-in-the-center-facing-forward-with-nothing-in-front-of-him rules. On that note, however:

  • Having the CO face "backwards" does feel a little... off. That being said, I could get used to it.
  • The Ops/Contact/Tactical/Navigation sections; are these all pits or platforms? Or are Tactica/Nav platforms and Ops/Contact pits (as your shading seems to suggest?) The non-pointed end of the arrows should say "up" or "down" to indicate this. Personally, I'm in favor of the CO/sit table area being the highest point, but then the Navigator and Tactical officer have very limited views, so maybe the Command are should be lower than everything (sort of Galactica-style)
  • I think you should slightly re-enlarge the Ready Room in the bed/head area... when that bed is pulled out, the head door is hard to get to... maybe push the head forward a bit.
  • I take it "transparent viewscreen" is a sort of STXI-styling? If so, do the fore/aft ones look into the Ready Room and Observation lounge, or are they sort of curved up and over starting a level above the ceilings of these rooms? It seems odd to have the CO's office visible to the whole bridge crew.
  • On a similar note, I'm assuming from "Stairs to Upper Deck" and the corridors that this is not on Deck One? While I am a great proponent of NOT putting the bridge on top of the ship, the nature of the transparent viewscreens makes it a tad unclear. If those two in the bridge to curve up to view outside, then an "upper deck" would be in the way. Furthermore, the "observation dais" and it's viewscreen give the impression that this bridge is on the top deck, or at least all the way aft of the saucer (which is also a bit... odd).
That's my commentary for now; this is definitely one of the best thought-out designs I've seen in a while, and I'm looking forward to more. On a similar note, I'll likely be following your lead soon and trying to come up with my own version of a similar idea... I've always put Sit. tables in my bridge designs (usually in the aft in an NX-class style), but I've never thought to actually put to CO at the table, so this is something I want to play with.
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Old September 29 2010, 11:24 PM   #15
Kaelri
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Re: Just Another Bridge Design

Icarus68954 wrote: View Post
Having the CO face "backwards" does feel a little... off. That being said, I could get used to it.
The question I struggled with was whether it was more important for the Navigation or Tactical station to have an unobstructed view of the central display. The next draft will probably reverse the current layout to favor Tactical, simply because he's the officer in charge of controlling the image. And since I want to keep the Nav station facing forward, that would leave the captain facing the same direction, which aligns with your intuition.

Still, I haven't given up on other possibilities. With the captain in a centered position, she's always going to have her back to someone, but I wish it were one of the side stations, who would at least be over her shoulders rather than directly behind her. I tried to rotate the table 90 degrees, which would also eliminate the line-of-sight problem, but there's no good way to make that fit with the oblong shape of the room - too much wasted space on the sides, too narrow above and below.

Icarus68954 wrote: View Post
The Ops/Contact/Tactical/Navigation sections; are these all pits or platforms? Or are Tactica/Nav platforms and Ops/Contact pits (as your shading seems to suggest?) The non-pointed end of the arrows should say "up" or "down" to indicate this. Personally, I'm in favor of the CO/sit table area being the highest point, but then the Navigator and Tactical officer have very limited views, so maybe the Command are should be lower than everything (sort of Galactica-style)
All arrows indicate the "upwards" direction of a stairway, so as drawn, the port and starboard "wings" are raised, while the fore and aft "pits" are recessed. I think this is necessary for the pits, at least - if they were raised, the command area would no longer have line-of-sight to the modular station screens, and the office/briefing room windows would be really awkward, instead of the administrative vantage points that they're meant to be.

As for the wings, I'm pretty sure that it's right to raise them - it gives them line-of-sight to the center, as well as each other. And I think it supports the other purpose of the wings, which is to provide a buffer between the command area and most of the entrances to the bridge, eliminating the most common source of distractions. But I'm open to persuasion; my feelings may change when (if) I get to the stage of modeling the interior. In an abstract way, I visualize the room's shape as a pair of cones joined at the tip: the ceiling is lowest, and the floor highest, in the center, and then it opens up vertically as you go outwards.

Icarus68954 wrote: View Post
I think you should slightly re-enlarge the Ready Room in the bed/head area... when that bed is pulled out, the head door is hard to get to... maybe push the head forward a bit.
Actually, the bed - and I know this is terribly ambiguous in the drawing, it was a last-minute change - is recessed into the floor a little, while the shelf passes above it. I just really wanted to keep the shelf for some reason, and looking back, I'm not sure why. I'll probably end up having it mirror the couch on the opposite side.

Icarus68954 wrote: View Post
I take it "transparent viewscreen" is a sort of STXI-styling? If so, do the fore/aft ones look into the Ready Room and Observation lounge, or are they sort of curved up and over starting a level above the ceilings of these rooms? It seems odd to have the CO's office visible to the whole bridge crew.
This, again, is not evident in the drawing, which will eventually come with a proper writeup. But the two screens adjacent to the bridge itself are completely interior, and do not extend above the height of the deck. Their purpose is to allow personnel in the commander's office and the briefing room to keep an eye on the situation in the main room while engaged in other activities. Think of a plant director's office looking out onto the factory floor - or, for a more relevant example, the windows between Sisko's office and DS9's Ops. By the magic of future technology, I'm assuming the screens can be blanked out in one or both directions as privacy or security demand.

This is really a feature born of putting myself in the captain's shoes; I would love being able to retreat to my ready room for a little quiet and seclusion, while still feeling well-connected to the center of activity. This also informed the long, narrow shape of the office: it maximizes the window area, like a viewing gallery. By letting the captain keep an eye on the bridge from any point in the room, it ensures that she's never too isolated from her officers, nor they from her.

Icarus68954 wrote: View Post
On a similar note, I'm assuming from "Stairs to Upper Deck" and the corridors that this is not on Deck One? While I am a great proponent of NOT putting the bridge on top of the ship, the nature of the transparent viewscreens makes it a tad unclear. If those two in the bridge to curve up to view outside, then an "upper deck" would be in the way. Furthermore, the "observation dais" and it's viewscreen give the impression that this bridge is on the top deck, or at least all the way aft of the saucer (which is also a bit... odd).
We're definitely not on Deck One here. This is a modular facility which is ideally installed as close as possible to the heart of the ship, protected on all sides by many layers of hull. However, I kept a deliberately agnostic mindset with regard to the ship outside the bridge; it's not meant for any single size or class. So if the ship is small enough, this area, even if it's centered, could still end up right against the aft hull - in which case, the observation window actually looks out into space, and the airlocks are usable as docking ports. In a larger ship, the window would look into some large internal ship area, like a shuttlebay or arboretum. It's my way of reconciling the aesthetic appeal of an observation lounge with the pragmatism of a protected bridge.

Icarus68954 wrote: View Post
I'll likely be following your lead soon and trying to come up with my own version of a similar idea... I've always put Sit. tables in my bridge designs (usually in the aft in an NX-class style), but I've never thought to actually put to CO at the table, so this is something I want to play with.
Excellent! I look forward to returning your favor. :)
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