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Trek Tech Pass me the quantum flux regulator, will you?

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Old November 7 2010, 07:22 PM   #1
Flashover
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Exploding Consoles Of Doom Explained At Last

I was goaded into joining this forum by a fellow Trekker after I explained to him in extreme detail how surge-protectors and insulator devices fail under heavy loads. I used the example of the Exploding Consoles Of Doom from Star Trek to make my point.

The insulator devices I manufacture have a certain rating that we call the flashover rating. On paper we need to maintain a specific sized gap between the power line and the support structure. This way a surge induced by lightening or a transformer switching error won't jump from the line to the pole. If that happens, the surge can damage other devices like telecommunication devices, switches, street-lamps... and in extreme cases it can destroy the support structure.


We're talking about ratings of up to 35,000 volts during "normal operation..." During a lightening-induced surge the the voltage can increase to well over 300,000 volts.

Our product is designed to prevent an arc from forming, and if it does it is deigned to burn away forming a quenching and non-conductive gas that immediately arrests the arc.

What you are seeing when a console explodes is the failure of the insulators and surge protectors. Just like the product I work with, Starfleet Issue Protective Isolators would have a maximum rating.

During combat, lets face it... both sides are slinging massive amounts of power around trying to make the opposing side explode. Eventually one or more isolators are going to be overwhelmed and an arc is going to jump between the power-carrying components of the ship and the frame... and all that power has to go somewhere.

Sometimes it dissipates harmlessly, other times it causes things to fail catastrophically. Frankly given the power levels we are talking about I'm surprised there aren't more internal explosions.


Now for whatever reason nameless guest-extras seem to attract these surges... I am trying to isolate this property and incorporate it in our Generation IV design. I think it has more to do with blood-thirsty writers, Screen Actor Guild contracts and the VFX department more than any physical property.... however testing is ongoing as I speak.
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Old November 8 2010, 04:29 PM   #2
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Re: Exploding Consoles Of Doom Explained At Last

Thanks. It's cool to hear an explanation that makes sense from someone with an intimate knowledge of the analogous real technology.

Now if we can get some folks in here from the auto industry and maybe OSHA to address the lack of seat belts, we're set.
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Old November 8 2010, 04:55 PM   #3
Wingsley
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Re: Exploding Consoles Of Doom Explained At Last

Don't tell this to David Gerrold. He still ridicules the "direct hit!" explosions on TREK.

I always knew he was full of it.
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Old November 8 2010, 06:32 PM   #4
Flashover
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Re: Exploding Consoles Of Doom Explained At Last

Wingsley wrote: View Post
Don't tell this to David Gerrold. He still ridicules the "direct hit!" explosions on TREK.

I always knew he was full of it.

Sudden catastrophic flashover. Power travels up the frame of the ship following the path of least resistance.

Causes a nice big explosion if it happens to be a low-power device like a console.
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Old November 8 2010, 08:31 PM   #5
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Re: Exploding Consoles Of Doom Explained At Last

I can totally buy that as a locigal explanation. But my followup question would be is there any way people can NOT make it do that?

I mean, we have exploding consoles most because that's where characters are sitting, and you can't blow up the set because that's far more expensive to rebuild than popping off sparkers and squibs. But is there a reasonable way to have SOMETHING explode that'll not be blamed on the consoles?

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Old November 8 2010, 10:04 PM   #6
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Re: Exploding Consoles Of Doom Explained At Last

In "reality" the system would be designed to dump those surges into suppressors. Think giant giga-ohm resistor blocks. These would heat up and that heat would have to be removed.

The isolators would be a last line of defense, if the surge overwhelms the system the isolator would work to prevent that power from arcing from the console to Ensign Weatherbee's crotch.

In "dramatic reality" we need the explosions on screen to remind us How Fucking Serious the situation is.
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Old November 9 2010, 11:19 PM   #7
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Re: Exploding Consoles Of Doom Explained At Last

Yeah, I always figured it was something like that. I included a similar -- though nowhere near as detailed and precise -- explanation for it in a couple of my Trek novels. Nice to have it confirmed by an expert. (Actually I got the idea from Mythbusters' episode about whether lightning strikes could electrocute you on the phone or in the shower. They can.)
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Old November 10 2010, 11:29 AM   #8
Flashover
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Re: Exploding Consoles Of Doom Explained At Last

Christopher wrote: View Post
Yeah, I always figured it was something like that. I included a similar -- though nowhere near as detailed and precise -- explanation for it in a couple of my Trek novels. Nice to have it confirmed by an expert. (Actually I got the idea from Mythbusters' episode about whether lightning strikes could electrocute you on the phone or in the shower. They can.)
Look at it this way, we are talking about the equal of MILLIONS of amps of electricity... plasma surges and other exotic powers and fluxes here. Normal daily operation no one gets zorked, zapped, zotted or voom'd (requires 4,000 volts). It takes extraordinary situations to cause stuff to explode or shock people.

Now if in the course of daily operation people were getting face-fulls of console or power-surges to the crotch THEN I'd be more worried.

The fact is that these (imaginary) devices keep the internal explosions to a minimum... considering the power levels we're talking about.
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Old November 10 2010, 02:13 PM   #9
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Re: Exploding Consoles Of Doom Explained At Last

Welcome to the forums, Flashover!
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Old November 10 2010, 06:19 PM   #10
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Re: Exploding Consoles Of Doom Explained At Last

USS Mariner wrote: View Post
Welcome to the forums, Flashover!

NOOO! NOT ANOTHER INITIATION RITUAL! *runs*



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Old November 13 2010, 10:18 PM   #11
Verteron
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Re: Exploding Consoles Of Doom Explained At Last

They should perfect the subspace surge protector: A device some way down the cable detects surge and transmits this fact to a physical circuit breaker at superluminal speeds!
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Old November 13 2010, 10:20 PM   #12
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Re: Exploding Consoles Of Doom Explained At Last

So in fact it's dampening the surge faster than it arrives at the surge protector.

Brilliant not only does it violate causality it's capable of ripping a hole through space AND time with each use!

I can't wait to be on the marketing team for this one.
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Old November 14 2010, 06:08 PM   #13
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Re: Exploding Consoles Of Doom Explained At Last

Flashover wrote: View Post
So in fact it's dampening the surge faster than it arrives at the surge protector.

Brilliant not only does it violate causality it's capable of ripping a hole through space AND time with each use!

I can't wait to be on the marketing team for this one.
Pah, causality violation is a matter of course on Star Trek whenever you engage the warp drive!
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Old November 14 2010, 06:46 PM   #14
Flashover
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Re: Exploding Consoles Of Doom Explained At Last

Verteron wrote: View Post
Flashover wrote: View Post
So in fact it's dampening the surge faster than it arrives at the surge protector.

Brilliant not only does it violate causality it's capable of ripping a hole through space AND time with each use!

I can't wait to be on the marketing team for this one.
Pah, causality violation is a matter of course on Star Trek whenever you engage the warp drive!
And the transporters as well...
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Old November 14 2010, 08:33 PM   #15
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Re: Exploding Consoles Of Doom Explained At Last

Verteron wrote: View Post
They should perfect the subspace surge protector: A device some way down the cable detects surge and transmits this fact to a physical circuit breaker at superluminal speeds!
Well, the whole point here is that even circuit breakers can be overwhelmed by a voltage differential large enough to jump the gap (at least in an atmosphere). There are limits to any form of protection.
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