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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Misc. Star Trek > Trek Tech

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

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Old August 24 2008, 06:35 PM   #1
R’cher
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phasers - why only short bursts?

You'd think that a longer sustained burst would be much more effective against an attacking enemy than a couple of short bursts.

Watching Nemesis last night I got thinking; the Enterprise-E was outclassed big time by the Scimitar by I dunno, 500 percent (ex.) and the Enterprise was only firing really short phaser bursts.
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Old August 24 2008, 06:46 PM   #2
Plecostomus
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Re: phasers - why only short bursts?

Heat buildup. Even with magic-tech it takes time to disperse heat and you don't want to be caught with an overheated phaser array just when the enemy provides you with a clear shot.
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Old August 24 2008, 11:08 PM   #3
Timelord Victorious
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Re: phasers - why only short bursts?

Answer: constant low-yield phaser beam sweeping the sky until it hits, keep it then locked on target and switch to high yield, enemy ka-boom.
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Old August 24 2008, 11:32 PM   #4
JNG
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Re: phasers - why only short bursts?

The "leading edge," so to speak, of the beam is most efficient in a lot of cases. Hence the development of a pulsed phaser cannon, as used in Defiant. It's almost nothing but.

The TNG Technical Manual also suggests that rapid firing at different sections of an enemy shield bubble can weaken it, so sometimes they are trying to erode the protection overall instead of poke through it one beam at a time, if you follow me.

In other cases, continuous dwell time on the target is the most effective approach. The choice is presumably made by the Chief Tactical Officer and depends on the type of target and the goal of firing phasers at it, and it is one of many choices that must be made about the phasers, including power level, frequency and nutation.

The Tech Manual suggests the continuous firing time of those arrays is measured in minutes, so the heat issue isn't likely to come up too often, but the issues of power consumption and of intentionally limiting damage to certain targets are more prominent.
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Old August 25 2008, 01:06 AM   #5
C.E. Evans
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Re: phasers - why only short bursts?

And it's also hard to maintain a prolonged phaser beam contact on a moving vessel that's also firing at you too...
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Old August 25 2008, 08:17 AM   #6
Timo
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Re: phasers - why only short bursts?

Indeed, it's difficult to see how our heroes could have maintained phaser contact with the Scimitar, which was cloaked for the most part, maneuvered quite a lot, and was firing back so hard that the heroes had to maneuver, too. Most of the shots fired by the E-E were "ranging shots" anyway, attempts at establishing where the invisible enemy was, and any sustaining there would have meant wasted energy.

Apart from that, though, the standard mode of phasers in TNG/DS9/VOY era ship-to-ship combat does seem to be to dwell the beam at the target for as long as possible. It's just that in TNG, our heroes usually are so superior in firepower that they don't need a long duration beam to defeat their puny opponents - especially when "defeat" is defined as silencing the enemy guns while minimizing death and destruction. In DS9, a beam is often sustained until it starts coming out the other side of the target ship...

Timo Saloniemi
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Old August 31 2008, 02:40 AM   #7
AlxxlA
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Re: phasers - why only short bursts?

Maybe it's because they want to be able to see what happens to the target. When you fire short bursts, you can assess the damage each time. Imagine the following two scenarios, set on the Ent-D:

Scenario 1:

Worf: The Romulan vessel is closing! Recommend immediate action.
Riker: Shields up! Lock phasers.
Worf: Phasers locked.
Riker: FIRE!
(The phasers fire, and continue for about 30 seconds)
Data: Sir, sensors show a spike in the Romulan vessel's power distribution systems. The power core is destabilizing.
(The Romulan ship explodes, and everything in the area is sucked into the now-unstable singularity.)


Scenario 2:

Worf: The Romulan vessel is closing! Recommend immediate action.
Riker: Shields up! Lock phasers.
Worf: Phasers locked.
Riker: FIRE!
(The phasers fire for one or two seconds)
Data: Sir, the Romulan vessel is heavily damaged an is proceeding across the neutral zone at impulse speed.
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Old October 29 2008, 11:18 AM   #8
SicOne
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Re: phasers - why only short bursts?

Alxxla, your Scenario 1 demonstrates why it would be an exceptionally good idea to engage Romulan warships BEFORE they enter orbit of any planet you would like to see exist after the engagement!
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Old October 30 2008, 11:41 PM   #9
Strider
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Re: phasers - why only short bursts?

Timo wrote: View Post
Indeed, it's difficult to see how our heroes could have maintained phaser contact with the Scimitar, which was cloaked for the most part, maneuvered quite a lot, and was firing back so hard that the heroes had to maneuver, too. Most of the shots fired by the E-E were "ranging shots" anyway, attempts at establishing where the invisible enemy was, and any sustaining there would have meant wasted energy.
Timo Saloniemi
Ok, so if they were trying to establish where the Scimitar was, why didn't they fire phasers at 1 percent or less of total yield for a second at a time? They could fire a whole lot more often, and when they made a hit the computer would note the location and possibly even calculate the velocity and direction of travel of the Scimitar and calculate where it was likely to be in the next few seconds. You could then follow up with torpedos and full power phaser strikes. I know the Scimitar maneuvered a lot, but assuming it doesn't maneuver like a fighter you'd think the computer would be able to track reasonably well.
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Old October 31 2008, 01:41 PM   #10
Search4
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Re: phasers - why only short bursts?

One of my greatest issues with Nemesis is exactly this point. Scimitar is pretty large, and can't maneuver past a certain, albeit respectable, envelope. Once "hit", though, it should have been relatively easy to project course and keep hitting it - each additional hit provides new course information. And setting torpedoes on more of a "proximity" setting (e.g. blow up when you get -here-) would at least guarantee some damage.

Oh well, its all in the writing, we needed a cool crash scene.
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Old November 3 2008, 12:59 AM   #11
darkwing_duck1
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Re: phasers - why only short bursts?

Search4 wrote: View Post
One of my greatest issues with Nemesis is exactly this point. Scimitar is pretty large, and can't maneuver past a certain, albeit respectable, envelope. Once "hit", though, it should have been relatively easy to project course and keep hitting it - each additional hit provides new course information. And setting torpedoes on more of a "proximity" setting (e.g. blow up when you get -here-) would at least guarantee some damage.

Oh well, its all in the writing, we needed a cool crash scene.
You're forgetting the role of evasive action on the part of the Scimitar. Even cloaked, the helmsman would be making evasives to prevent exactly the scenario you propose...
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Old November 3 2008, 09:52 AM   #12
Timo
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Re: phasers - why only short bursts?

And the ship did pull respectable turns every time she went back under her cloak...

As regards the failure to use "tickling" phasers to smoke out the enemy, and then switch to lethal power levels, there are two possible opposing arguments.

1) Perhaps they did exactly that?

2) We have no evidence that it is possible to retune a phaser from "tickling" to lethal in a short period of time. Quite possibly the enemy would have slipped away long before the phasers ramped back up to lethal levels. Although in that case, Picard would do wisely to leave a certain percentage of the phaser strips at full power and on standby during the ranging.

Timo Saloniemi
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Old November 5 2008, 02:18 PM   #13
USS KG5
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Re: phasers - why only short bursts?

Also it is quite possible that Picard wanted to make that one random hit he seemed to occasionally get had some whack to it.

After all - artillery fires explosive shells when ranging - not just when firing for effect.
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Old November 5 2008, 02:27 PM   #14
Timo
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Re: phasers - why only short bursts?

...But sometimes only because it has to - because the logistics chain cannot be expected to provide the artillery with a supply of ballistically genuine blanks.

In any case, what reason do we have to think that it would be a bad idea to fire full power shots into empty space? We have never really heard that this would result in a "shortage of ammo" as such. We do hear that phasers can be "depleted", but there is no evidence that this would be as the result of firing high-power shots.

Supposedy phasers get their energy from the general power grid of the ship, and can be fired with as little as what's in the batteries, not even requiring auxiliary let alone primary power. Thus, when phasers are said to be at as low as 4% at the end of the ST:NEM battle, but the ship still retains enough energy for impulse maneuvering, it is difficult to believe that this phaser "depletion" would be as the result of energy wasted through high power shots. Energy should still be there aplenty for a thousand or ten thousand additional high power shots - something else must be depleting the phasers.

Okay, so perhaps the depletion does come from high power shots: perhaps they cause such stress to the phaser emitters that these degrade and cannot easily be restored. But low power shots might have the same effect. And ramping between low and high power might be the worst possible thing to emitter lifetime.

Timo Saloniemi
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Old November 5 2008, 09:52 PM   #15
USS KG5
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Re: phasers - why only short bursts?

Timo wrote: View Post
In any case, what reason do we have to think that it would be a bad idea to fire full power shots into empty space? We have never really heard that this would result in a "shortage of ammo" as such. We do hear that phasers can be "depleted", but there is no evidence that this would be as the result of firing high-power shots.
Agreed - one of the supposed plus points of energy weapons is the need for just energy - no ammo stores.

Energy should still be there aplenty for a thousand or ten thousand additional high power shots - something else must be depleting the phasers.
Well we know from DS9 that there are phaser consumables on the Defiant - presumably the Ent-E has a similar device in each of its arrays, and that these devices are not "hot swappable" in combat.

...ramping between low and high power might be the worst possible thing to emitter lifetime.
It is with many other things of course.
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