Cleopatra's Needle - Design Proposals

Discussion in 'Fan Art' started by DEWLine, Sep 15, 2009.

  1. DEWLine

    DEWLine Commodore Commodore

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    *looks forward to seeing competing designs while he works on deck two*
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    If we're talking about Magnus Hansen's expedition in the 2350s, then Starfleet may have known nothing of the kind. They knew that there was a refugee people who came along from a distant part of the galaxy. We don't know how much the El-Aurians revealed about the events that had turned them into refugees. Consider: Picard and Guinan had a relationship that was described as extremely close and stretched back over 30 years. Yet in all that time, Guinan never told Picard a single word about the Borg until they actually met them in "Q Who." And Picard never found out about her origins in any other way. That suggests that the El-Aurian refugees simply didn't tell anyone much about the events that had led them to lose their homeworld.

    Also, I think you're misunderstanding how classified information works. In a free society, the government or the military only classifies information whose release would pose a threat to national security -- such as information about troop movements and weapons systems that could jeopardize military personnel or civilians if the enemy gained that information. There's no reason to classify the simple information that there's someone dangerous out there; on the contrary; concealing that information from the public would make them less safe, because they'd be unprepared, and because the smart people who might otherwise help come up with solutions wouldn't be aware of the problem. I can see a dictatorship like the Cardassians or Romulans keeping its people ignorant of the very existence of a potential threat, but that's not the way a free and ethical society -- or a smart one -- operates.

    Not to mention that the Enterprise-B was carrying a boatload of reporters when it rescued the El-Aurians. Assuming the Federation has a free press, which we know it does, then there's no way the tales the El-Aurians told wouldn't have become publicly available. So they simply must not have said anything about the Borg, or anything they did say must've been so tenuous and fragmentary that Starfleet didn't register it as a serious threat. After all, these refugees had been travelling for nearly 30 years since they lost their homeworld. True, that's not as long a time for a people as long-lived as the El-Aurians as it would be for us, but it's still enough time for people's memories to fade (particularly traumatic memories) or for them to decide to move on and not dwell on the past.

    Besides, we know from "Dark Frontier" that nobody took Magnus Hansen's theories of the Borg seriously. That presumably includes Starfleet. They wouldn't try to classify information they didn't even take seriously. And if they were as Orwellian in their determination to hide the existence of the Borg as you propose, then they would've thrown Hansen in jail for voicing his theories.
     
  3. BolianAuthor

    BolianAuthor Writer, Battlestar Urantia Rear Admiral

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    ^

    Hey, fair enough, man... like I said, we have differing takes on this, and all I did initially was agree with your side of things. I don't want to detract from the topic of this thread any further. I totally respect your point of view, and just happen to see things a bit differently. No harm done. :)
     
  4. DEWLine

    DEWLine Commodore Commodore

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    [​IMG]

    Added the ladderways, and may yet reposition them depending on deck 2 factors and "between decks" stuff yet to be decided.
     
  5. DEWLine

    DEWLine Commodore Commodore

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    [​IMG]
    And the beginnings of deck two are taking shape as well, now...

    [​IMG]

    Click on the linked images to gander at a better-resolution version over on Flickr, if you like.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The lab space is kinda tiny, isn't it? It should be the biggest single area on the ship, followed by the lounge.
     
  7. DEWLine

    DEWLine Commodore Commodore

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    That will be remedied. Placeholder spaces marked out for now...
     
  8. Psion

    Psion Commodore Commodore

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    Well, since you're being generous with your thread ...

    [​IMG]

    I'm intrigued enough by DEWLine's arrangement to credit him and incorporate elements into this. I avoided interpreting the main hull as a cylinder largely to cut down on its phallic properties. The elongated teardrop atop the main hull isn't intended as an inhabited deck, but rather a location for sensors, some consumables, and the ship's "spinal" wiring.

    I've made the main hull less needle shaped and used the warp nacelles to evoke the needle image largely because I didn't like the look of a stretched hull. This and the cross-section are perhaps the largest divergence from DEWLine's efforts.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^That's an interesting take on it. The "teardrop" is a clever idea, and it would cut down on the need for storage space in DEWLine's deck plans. I think your version of the dimensions works pretty well; I still think DEWLine's version is too stretched-out.

    I think I'd like to see the nacelles mounted lower, though, so they wouldn't look as Starfleety. In general, the forward silhouette should be as compact as possible. Also I wouldn't mind having the front be a little bit more pyramidal to give it an "obelisk" look fitting the name.
     
  10. DEWLine

    DEWLine Commodore Commodore

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    As to raw consumables storage...to each their own. It didn't seem to make sense to have the tankage areas stand out as part of the overall structure. I like the "obelisk" shape idea myself, after all, which plays into the length issue Christopher mentioned.

    I'm still planning on using the nacelles as part of the landing gear arrangement.
     
  11. Psion

    Psion Commodore Commodore

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    Alright, here's a second version, emphasizing the obelisk look. The hull originally looked more like Cleopatra's Needles, but that was too boring, so I stretched out the sides, turning the cross section into a slight hexagon, and left the warp engines to (again) pick up the design.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Okay, that's kinda nice, but I think you overshot. ;) I'd like to see something that's about halfway between these two. I do like the dorsal "teardrop" and the aft section from your first version, and its proportions are better, but this one has nicer contours in the front half and a better deflector. The first one's nacelles are better aside from placement; the version 2 nacelles look like stretched-out TNG shuttlepod nacelles, which is too Starfleety.

    I don't want it to be literally shaped like an obelisk, since in the book the ship was named after it was built rather than actually being designed to fit the name. So it should just be long and slender enough that it might suggest an obelisk to a character who's an archaeologist.

    And I know these are just shape studies, but the colors on this one are better. I was thinking maybe a white or grey color scheme with gold highlights, since Egyptian obelisks were made of light-colored stone and probably adorned in gold that's long since been stolen.

    And how do you do these so fast??
     
  13. DEWLine

    DEWLine Commodore Commodore

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    I'd dearly love to know the answer to that. I can not find a way to wrap my brain around 3D design software yet to save my life, and I'm using SketchUp whenever I can practice with such things at all.
     
  14. Psion

    Psion Commodore Commodore

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    [​IMG]

    Sorry about the delay guys, I had to cook the Sunday dinner and this is my last effort for today. As requested, Christopher, this is a mashup between versions one and two. I've brought back a teardrop and adopted nacelle and aft designs similar to the first, while keeping elements from the front of version two. I don't know what that tail thing is under the impulse engine (it was in version one, also), but it makes the aft end a bit more interesting. It could be just a volume representing space that will become a standard fantail. Or maybe it's a shuttlebay. Better yet, perhaps it's an extra compartment tacked onto the 'Needle prior to launch to house special equipment. I'm not worried about color right now other than to just highlight the usual gadgets, although I like the idea of a ship painted white(ish) with gold accents. Probably some tan, too.

    In any case, I've further toned down the obelisk elements, and made the hull a little less smooth. This current version reminds me most of a Learjet right now. DEWLine, I keep thinking about your desire to use the nacelles as landing gear. I haven't done that yet because I think of warp engines as delicate mechanisms that shouldn't be bumping into the ground or sitting in mud. But if you and I collaborate on a design, I suppose I'll have to discard my prejudices. And, I know you invited other designs into your thread, but are you certain you want me to continue posting here? I don't want to step on your toes.

    As far as speed, I have a 2500 millicochrane warp coil built into my desk so I can work faster than the world around me. The utility bills are a nightmare, but sometimes it's worth it. Either that, or these are relatively crude models that are easy to put out quickly. Personally, I prefer the first explanation.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Now, that's a cool design. I particularly like the '50s rocketship quality to the profile view.

    I think the ship's too small to have a shuttle, and I don't see much need for one when the crew's only a dozen people and the ship can theoretically land. Maybe the fantail extension is a jettisonable antimatter pod for the warp core. Or the back end of a horizontal warp core that can be jettisoned in full, or swapped out easily for upgrades. (I'm sort of swiping an idea from the designers of NX-01 there.)

    Nacelles as landing gear: I share Psion's doubts on that idea. Unless you flip the nacelles over, we're talking about having them rotate out or downward for landing, and that kind of mechanical movement seems overcomplicated, requiring extra machinery and mass that the ship can ill afford. And I like the nacelle placement in Version 3 the way it is.

    As far as I'm concerned, anyone with a design proposal is welcome to post here. It's really cool to see so much interest in the Needle, and I don't mind seeing competing designs.

    I'm still pretty fond of the idea Clawhammer shared with me, and I look forward to seeing what he'll come up with when he gets around to it, but I think I like this one just as much so far. In fact, this one's probably closer to what I originally had in mind, though I never really visualized the ship in my mind.

    Until Clawhammer or someone else comes along with a separate proposal, though, I'm endorsing Psion's Version 3 as my preferred exterior design so far. The only changes I'd suggest to the basic shape at this point would be to make the nose just a little bit blunter (I don't like having quite so much overhang in front of the deflector -- it seems it would reduce the beam's upward spread) and the tail end a little bit narrower. But only a little bit. Other than that, it's just a matter of deciding on surface details.
     
  16. BolianAuthor

    BolianAuthor Writer, Battlestar Urantia Rear Admiral

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    Wow... that latest profile view is so sleek and simple... it has such a TOS-ish feel to it... like a guest ship-of-the-week you would see on TOS. I like the color, too. :)
     
  17. Psion

    Psion Commodore Commodore

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    Thanks, BolianAdmiral! The color in these views is heavily influenced by the lighting which tends to make it more blue than the material settings I've used. If we proceed with making a full-blown model, I'll have to use less dramatic lighting rigs that will show the color under plain, white light.

    Thank you Christopher! I think a little '50s rocketship aesthetic works well for a hero ship.

    Agreed about the shuttle, but I viewed this design as a luxury yacht re-purposed for civilian exploration, and most contemporary luxury yachts have auxiliary craft for ship-to-shore operations. Some even have submarines and two or three helicopters! Of course, none of them have transporters, either.

    Right now that lump on the back is really my 3D version of a smudge. I wasn't certain what to do back there and tacked on the shape (on version one) just to test if that made a little more sense than nothing at all. In both versions one and three, that volume is separated from the impulse engine. That isn't necessary, but if we connect them, the lower part will lose a shape that vaguely suggests a rocket nozzle and the Cleo3 will look less like a '50s scifi rocketship. For now, it's a 'smudge locker' until we change it or figure out what it does.

    Now this has me grinning ear-to-ear. It's a goofy grin, not at all attractive as it reveals too many teeth in desperate need of an orthodontist, but this is one of those little victories in life.

    I blunted the nose and agree it looks better and is more functional, though at the cost of roughly 100 cubic meters of space. If you look at version three's 3-quarter top view imagine you can now see the navigational deflector peeking out underneath.

    Now I have to pin you down. When you say you want the tail narrower, do you want the impulse engines, the smudge locker, or both to be less wide? Personally, I want to narrow the smudge locker just so it evokes a rocket nozzle from more angles than the profile. And I'm assuming you mean narrower from port to starboard rather than dorsal to ventral.

    Presently, this design is about (based on the crude airlock) 110 meters long, 22 meters wide, and 12 meters high, including warp nacelles. There's enough room to have two full-sized decks, plus equipment for most of that length, and a short 3rd deck (or the upper deck might have a section with high ceilings). If we go so far as to detail this design, I'd be reluctant to mar the surface with lots of details. I'm a big fan of the Matt Jefferies school of starship exteriors, and want to minimize disruptions to the surface that aren't strictly functional. I don't even want to put a deflector grid on her. If you agree with my suggestion that this design is a re-purposed luxury yacht, I'd also want to add features to suggest that ... huge bay windows, ornamentation, polished fixtures, etc.

    Finally, a confession:
    I gave up on Trek novels some time ago. The writing in most was bland and predictable and usually lacked an essential element of science fiction in anything but the setting. I did read Ex Machina a few years back and recall thinking it was the kind of book Pocket needed to publish more often, but only read a couple others after that before giving up. There are only two books I've ever thrown across the room in anguish, and one was a Trek novel. Whether through a lack of quality control at Pocket or 'mediocritizing' interference from Paramount, it just wasn't worth my time skimming printed effluent for rare gems.

    Now, in researching this project, I ducked into Google Books and read through the provided excerpts for The Buried Age. I loved Phillipa's reprimand and the first encounters with the Mabrae, but, of course, Google's preview skipped where I believe the description of Cleopatra's Needle should be.

    As a result of this fun Sunday project, the good reviews on Amazon, and the excerpts on Google, I've decided to wander out to the bookstore this week and pick up The Buried Age. You've piqued my curiosity ... let's see where this goes!
     
  18. EmperorKalan

    EmperorKalan Commander Red Shirt

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    Might it have some sort of EVA pod? Something more akin to a Work Bee than to a shuttlepod or full-blown shuttle. To aid in external repairs, sample collections, etc. (manned and remote-control modes likely). Maybe an escape pod designed for double-duty?

    Of course that's also something they might decide to cut to save space for other needs. I'd have to re-read TBA to recall if there were any scenes where they would certainly have used such a vehicle if they had one available.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    In the book, I described it as a custom job designed for this particular mission. Its overall shape is part of that. I posted this passage in the Trek Literature thread that spun off this one (see the first post of this thread for the link), but I'll repost the relevant paragraph from The Buried Age here:
    After all, the Federation is a culture that values exploration highly, considering that they assign it as a primary purpose of their space navy. So I'm sure there's just as active a culture of civilian exploration. Civilian ship contractors, therefore, would probably do a lot of exploration vessels and wouldn't need to repurpose other types of craft.

    Which suggests, come to think of it, that maybe this is a customized version of a standard high-speed explorer or courier design.

    I like having it as a separate piece from the impulse engines. It gives it a distinctive look.


    Yeah, but that space would've been kind of flat and skinny, not very useful except maybe for shielding or a tank of some sort. We're going for compactness and minimalism. Definitely not luxury.

    Yes, narrower, not flatter. Basically, I'd like it if the whole rear half of the ship were tapered inward a bit more. I would be okay with leaving the impulse engines at their current width, though -- just taper the lower part more, so the rear view is more like an inverted trapezoid. Similar to the rear view of version 1, but not as narrow. Does that make sense?

    Whoa, that surprises me. That's substantially bigger than what I was estimating. This is a cramped, bare-bones 12-person ship, so I was thinking something maybe 2-3 times the size of a runabout. There's no need for a third deck.

    Think of something along the lines of Serenity in the Firefly universe, but without the big cargo space and the big engines on the back and sides. Needle only contains a small bridge (barely more than a cockpit), a half-dozen compact double-bunk quarters, a lounge/mess, a fair-sized lab, a small medical bay, a tiny engineering space -- much like Serenity's interiors if you replaced the cargo bay with a lab. Serenity is 63 meters long, 40 wide, 18 high. We're talking about something of a similar length but flatter and narrower.

    I hope that wouldn't require changing the proportions of Version 3 to give it more height, but then, the novel does describe the Needle's ceilings as relatively low -- enough to give clearance for a typical human, but requiring the taller Caldonian crew member to hunch over.

    I agree, but definitely the functional things need to be there -- maneuvering thrusters, maintenance hardpoints, that sort of thing.

    As stated, I think that's the wrong way to go. This is a practical research craft, born and bred. It's more a submarine than a yacht. Windows should be compact. Maybe a bridge window, small portholes for six crew quarters, larger windows for the lounge, but not huge, because every space on this ship is compact.

    (Small windows would also fit the '50s-rocketship aesthetic.)


    Great! I hope you enjoy it. I think it's probably my best Trek novel (to date, at least).


    There's nothing like that in the book. But you make a good point about the benefits of an EVA pod. Might be a good idea to have a small one, something that can fit two people if they're very friendly.

    I still like the idea of a jettisonable antimatter pod at the very back, though. That would be the safest place for it, since the ship is designed with straight-ahead motion in mind; since any expected impacts would be of meteoroids or debris coming from the front rather than attacks from the side, the far aft section would be the most protected. It's also the farthest part from the crew, which is the best place to keep the dangerous stuff.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2009
  20. Psion

    Psion Commodore Commodore

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    Sounds good! My super-yacht concept was just a guess. So I'll ditch the planned gold filigree and piano-finish.

    Agreed!

    Perfect sense!

    Size isn't a huge issue yet. By rescaling the airlock doors, the vessel shrinks and it's now 73 meters long, 14 meters wide, and 9.5 meters high. Including nacelles. The fuselage itself is about 64 meters long and 11 meters across at the widest point. Assuming 3 meters per deck (and that's 2-2.5 meters of open space plus structure), there's one deck almost the full length of the fuselage and one ten meter long deck above that that may shorten to a crawl space under the ship's spine. Towards the back, with the narrowed hull, engineering has at most about five to six meters before it pokes out the sides. Given structural requirements like framing and the like, this thing is starting to get cramped. If necessary, we can widen it easily, but that will come at the cost of an even less obelisk-like appearance.

    If we assume this thing doesn't have big landing gear, but instead sits on belly skids, then I think we can squeeze everything we need into the available volume. No wonder Picard wanted to get out of the ship when they got to Tanebor. Children or no, I'd want out too.

    All of this sounds quite logical and I think we're now on the same page. How's this look? Note that I've added a metallic reflection to the skin in this shot, so it comes out looking darker than before (reflecting the inky black void).

    [​IMG]
     

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