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

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Old August 1 2010, 05:26 PM   #1
Penta
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Warp coils and nacelles

Okay. On my quest to write fluff for new Trek ships, I've noticed something that forces me to ask some questions. I know that there used to be "rules of starship design" laid down by Roddenberry, but those seem to have been in abeyance for years now, and in any case I'm looking for trek-tech answers, not so much visual-design answers.

Do the warp coils need to be physically separate from the rest of the ship, perched on nacelles?

Can they be integrated into the ship, instead?

Do they even need to be visible, say on small craft (Fighters and shuttlecraft and the like)?
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Old August 1 2010, 07:22 PM   #2
sojourner
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Re: Warp coils and nacelles

I prefer them not being integrated to the ship from a safety standpoint. The Steamrunner and Norway class buck this trend though and since they are in a movie, they are canon.

I would definitely say that you still need visible ques, i.e., not entirely inside the ship.
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Old August 1 2010, 07:33 PM   #3
T'Girl
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Re: Warp coils and nacelles

DS9's Defiant's "nacelles" certain seem to be integrated into the body of the ship.
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Old August 1 2010, 09:31 PM   #4
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Re: Warp coils and nacelles

^oh yea, the Millennium Falcon of Star Trek.
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Old August 1 2010, 09:32 PM   #5
Timo
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Re: Warp coils and nacelles

...And of course, all sorts of alien scum make do with ships that have warp drive but clearly lack warp nacelles.

This includes species that might spit at safety concerns, but also species that highly value their personal safety.

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Old August 2 2010, 08:32 AM   #6
SWHouston
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Re: Warp coils and nacelles

It would seem that standing them out away from the Hull would be an issue of safety or comfort, a temperature related issue.
However, the use of Polyferranide implies that alternate configurations may be possible, because of it's insulating qualities.
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Old August 4 2010, 08:46 PM   #7
The Badger
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Re: Warp coils and nacelles

Having them away from the hull might make the warp system more efficient. An internal placement could be better protected against enemy attack.
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Old August 4 2010, 10:26 PM   #8
SoM
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Re: Warp coils and nacelles

The Badger wrote: View Post
Having them away from the hull might make the warp system more efficient. An internal placement could be better protected against enemy attack.
And with that in mind, remember that the even the fixed Defiant threatened to shake itself to bits above Warp 9 unless power was diverted from other systems to hold the ship together. Whereas other ships of a similar vintage, but with outboard warp engines, held together nicely at 9.5+ without any such bodges.
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Old August 9 2010, 09:02 PM   #9
publiusr
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Re: Warp coils and nacelles

Having nacelles free and clear allow, say non destructive interferance patterns caused by a direct link to a large hull. A saucer hull slightly ahead, though, smooths out things perhaps.
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Old August 9 2010, 10:35 PM   #10
SicOne
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Re: Warp coils and nacelles

I think this has been covered once before, quite some time ago. If I remember correctly, design asthetics aside, the in-universe explanation on why warp drive looks the way it does was that (1) the warp nacelles were kept a distance from inhabited sections of the ship for safety from some kind of radiation from the warp coils when they were engaged, and (2) since the warp nacelles had to be away from inhabited areas anyway, the engineers tinkered with hull and warp field geometry until they ended up with a workable design, ranging from the Phoenix and on to the Daedalus and Constitution-class ships in TOS.

There was even some speculation that the concave portion of the aft secondary hull that is a design evolution in most Federation ships has something to do with improving warp field geometry as well. Look at the Daedalus, then the Constitution, then the Excelsior. If anyone on here would care to discuss that, give your thoughts.

If those above items are indeed the case, that would explain why most Fed starships have the warp nacelles sticking out thusly; a trade-off in speed versus space. Tighter-in nacelles equal a smaller defensive shield bubble and less power costs to provide greater protection, but further-out nacelles give greater warp speed with less power. If it requires greater power to go Warp 8 in a Defiant-class than it does a Galaxy-class because the warp coils are closer to the body of the ship, then the Defiant has that power in spades and the ship bulls its way through space rather than gliding through it with more grace and less effort than the Galaxy-class.

Or, equally possible, whatever radiation containment restraints older designs used to protect inhabited ship sections from the warp drive have been improved over the years to the point where the warp nacelles can be embedded into the ship, a la the Defiant, Saber, and Steamrunner-classes. That could even be an outgrowth of new warp drive design that is less stressful on subspace as a result of that situation in TNG where warp drive began to wear away at subspace. But then again, we don't know the top speeds of the Saber and Steamrunner; they might be content to go along at Warp 7 or 8 while ships with nacelles further outboard can go Warp 9+.

The above explanations are as good as any I've seen thus far for "scientific" reasons rather than design asthetics.
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Old August 10 2010, 12:46 AM   #11
publiusr
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Re: Warp coils and nacelles

Well, nature allows us to see aerodynamics with a sense of design aesthetics--so there is some back and forth to be expected.
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Old August 10 2010, 07:34 AM   #12
Timo
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Re: Warp coils and nacelles

There was even some speculation that the concave portion of the aft secondary hull that is a design evolution in most Federation ships has something to do with improving warp field geometry as well. Look at the Daedalus, then the Constitution, then the Excelsior. If anyone on here would care to discuss that, give your thoughts.
Some Okudagrams do show warp fields in isometric curves that closely follow the contours of that undercut, and those of the saucer as well. It would be impossible to build a differently shaped ship within the confines of such a field. OTOH, we do see Starfleet ships that are shaped differently, and those supposedly then have differently shaped warp fields. It's not clear which is the chicken and which is the egg here, and whether the stern undercut is a great way to cram the maximum shuttlebay volume within the ideal warp field shape, or whether it is a good idea to always pull in your warp field to snugly fit against the hull shape you already chose for other reasons.

Cut and paste this non-hotlink scan from the TNG Tech Manual...

http://www.ex-astris-scientia.org/tr.../warpfield.gif

Or, equally possible, whatever radiation containment restraints older designs used to protect inhabited ship sections from the warp drive have been improved over the years to the point where the warp nacelles can be embedded into the ship, a la the Defiant, Saber, and Steamrunner-classes.
I'd rather go the "placement balances speed against protection" way. Or perhaps "placement balances speed against economy or maneuverability". After all, there is no clear, monotonic trend to indicate that "tucking in" would become safer with time: we see some of that in ships that don't appear particularly combat-oriented in the ENT era already (e.g. the Sarajevo) while we fail to see it in other ships that would probably need the extra combat protection.

When the nacelle placement is all over the map for two or three centuries, it would be attractive to think that the underlying rationale stays the same and the balance being sought does not evolve even if technology does. Engines may become more powerful or less harmful with time, but the balance between speed and economy, or speed and maneuverability, stays more or less the same, encouraging the designers to use the same range of placements.

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Old September 3 2010, 05:02 AM   #13
SicOne
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Re: Warp coils and nacelles

Timo, had you heard anything in any Trek episodes or books to the effect that the warp engines emitted anything hazardous to human(oid) health that necessitated their positioning on the end of the pylons (i.e. an in-universe explanation as opposed to design asthetics)?

I know the Defiant is the design I can think of off the top of my head that has big warp coils right alongside inhabited areas (well, aside from shuttlecraft...), but I was looking for something more substantial in way of explanation. Elsewise, wouldn't all starships tuck 'em in for defense?
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Old September 3 2010, 05:33 AM   #14
Wingsley
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Re: Warp coils and nacelles

In the ENT ep "The Catwalk", there is a concern about the pylons becoming uninhabitable for the crew if the warp engines are re-activated. The reason? Heat. Apparently the normal operations of the warp engines generates a tremendous amount of heat.

As for Sisko's Defiant, keep in mind that even that class of warship's single-hull design allows for the warp engines to be kept in separate compartments on the outer edges of the hull.
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Old September 3 2010, 09:20 AM   #15
Timo
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Re: Warp coils and nacelles

Timo, had you heard anything in any Trek episodes or books to the effect that the warp engines emitted anything hazardous to human(oid) health that necessitated their positioning on the end of the pylons (i.e. an in-universe explanation as opposed to design asthetics)?
Various novels have postulated various hazards. Waste heat is an obvious factor, but probably doesn't justify the pylons - it's a mere inconvenience. Memory Prime mentions, of all things, the brightness of the light emissions from the working innards - consistent with the flashes we see in exterior view, but again not a justification for the pylon mount.

The most commonly suggested reason is that the actual warp field created by the nacelles would be a health hazard - many novels speak of "turning people inside out" when the geometry of space is being manipulated. But that makes little or no sense, because obviously the warp fields don't turn the engine pylons inside out even when at high power!

Since we see fairly short pylons on some ships and no pylons at all on others, including ships that haven't been built for suicidally high-risk purposes (say, the Oberths), we can probably surmise the separating pylons are not a safety measure at all. Rather, they facilitate a placement that's optimal for some other reason. Perhaps it's structurally fairly trivial how the various parts of the ship are put together, and there are ample strength margins for constructions that look flimsy to us. Thus, nacelles, primary, secondary and tertiary hulls and various mission pods can be placed where they do the most good relative to each other, even when this calls for long and spindly pylons.

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