Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Dnoth, Jul 25, 2007.
Cool. That's my brother's name, so it'll be easy to remember.
Maybe the jadedness of being on the internet so long has gotten to me but...
Do we have any "proof" or evidence that this really is Andy(rew) Probert? I mean, I could make a dual with a name like "DesignR" and put Probert's homepage in my profile and go around and speak like I know things.
Sternbach and others from Trek's behind the scenes who've posted here provided evidence to that effect and even got custom titles to reflect. But we're just taking this guy for his word? Even after all the "troll" attacks we've been through?
No offense intended if this really is Probert (in which case it's an awesome honor to have him here, there's few in the production staff I'd like the chance to meet) but I'm just a little more cautious about taking people for their word, especialy on the internet and after all the troll attacks we've had here the past few weeks.
I understand your concerns, Trekker4747, send me an email from my website and I'll put your mind at ease...
Now if we can just get Mr. Probert back to WonderFest some time....
Welcome to the party, Andrew.
Ya might want to have a chat with the moderators to see about getting one of those specialized IDs like Sternbach and Okuda have. Besides making it easier for folks to take you at your word, it should also allow you to post images to the boards right away, instead of forcing you to work your way up the rank ladder like some newbie.
Agreed... perhaps something like "Chief of Starfleet Design" or something equally over-the-top like that...
Seriously, the two best-thought-out Trek ships (the 1801... er, I mean the 1701-refit... and the 1701-D) are in very large part his work.
Andrew, any particular preference?
I think that Commodore Probert would fit nicely.
(TMP Reference - background chatter from the scene w/Epsilon 9 station - for those who don't understand....)
I'd have to disagree with Cary on this one (I rarely do, he's usually pretty sharp about these things) but in my own pet theory I'm convinced that warp drive works on a principle of manipulating some specific element of space-time to create motion without actually creating momentum. We have common precedent to think of subspace fields as "reducing mass" of a ship; truthfully, I think subspace fields actually manipulate space itself to accomplish this.
Mass equivalence gives you E=MC^2; by the same token, M=E/C^2. The subspace field could therefore reduce the EFFECTIVE mass, not by actually changing the properties of the ship, but changing the value of C in a given area around the ship, which in effect reduces the mass of the vessel. This has two effects: it both reduces the amount of thrust needed to move the ship forward (or turn it, for that matter) and it makes it possible for the ship to travel at speeds that, for observers OUTSIDE the subspace field, would be close to or greater than the speed of light.
Real warp fields would be a variation of this trick. As before the speed of light is increased, but a vector component is added; light moves faster in one direction (forward) than the other (backward). The warp factor, then is, a measure of exactly how much space is actually being warped; at warp 1, inside the warp field, light tends to move twice as fast in one direction than it does in the other. Therefore, at Warp 1, the ship them experiences forward motion at light speed relative to the rest of the universe, but WITHOUT experiencing any real acceleration, and WITHOUT acquiring any kinetic energy of any kind. No thrust, no momentum. Literally, traveling without moving.
Now as to the Nacelle Question: co-dependence of nacelles may have less to do with the nature of warp drive and more to do with a particular drive system. Many naval aircraft, for example, have two engines, and many airliners have four. This is yielded by necessity, a vehicle that due to its size and desired performance needs more power to get the job done. Without knowing the details, I would speculate that there are many different types of warp engines in the universe (TNG-style coils and whatever else) just like there are different types of propeller and jet engines (turboprop, radial, inline; turbofan, turbojet, ramjet) all with different performance envelopes and different uses.
Paired Nacelles are probably optimized for a balance of speed, maneuverability and endurance. The workload is distributed between two sets of nacelles, which between them keep the warp field stable, balanced, uniform. Single nacelle (or very small nacelle) would be optimized for speed first and foremost, with alot of power being concentrated at a single point for a more intense warp field. Triple or quadruple nacelles would be optimized for maneuverability and efficiency; distributes that power evenly and allows for more extreme maneuvers at warp speed. Perhaps ideal for ships that have to operate in turbulent environments, lots of quantum hyperboles and subspace distractions?
The engines would only be interdependent insofar as an engine configuration optimized for one setup may not work very well in another. An aircraft with two engines suddenly becomes very clumsy if one of those engines flames out, and in that case isn't even as good as an aircraft DESIGNED to run with just the one engine. The reverse may also be true; strapping two additional warp nacelles to Enterprise-A would probably put too much strain on the reactor and halve the ship's top speed without any real benefits. Lots of fine tuning involved here.
That, of course, doesn't even BEGIN to explain weird engine configurations like the Bird of Prey, the Vulcan nacelle ring, the Telarian bubbleship, or ANYTHING about the Borg. Suffice to say, there's more than one way to skin Einstein.
Thought I'd follow everyone else up on this.
I got an eMail from Andrew Probert verifying that DesignR is, indeed, him. So (since it seems I was the only with concerns) my mind, and those who may have also had dobut, can be at ease.
Welcome aboard Andrew! Glad to have you!
Thank you (all).
Live long and prosper.
Best theory I ever saw on the matter was in the Spaceflight Chronology (horrible timeline, but wonderful tech stuff).
Specifically, that no warp engine generates a perfect warp field. There are fluctuations and irregularities that are simply a fact of life and the occasional bumpy ride is just something you have to live with, if you're gonna run around with one nacelle.
Two nacelles, however, tend to balance each other out and make for a much smoother ride.
Stick a third one in the middle of all that, ala the ill-fated USS Tritium, and all you do is accentuate and amplify those irregularities, to the point where you can't push the ship past warp 3 without shaking the poor thing to pieces.
I wonder if it was a picture of him in front of his computer on TBBS. That would pretty much close the case.
I eMailed him through his website.
Considering I got an eMail response that wasn't "What the hell are you talking about?" I think it is safe for me to say it is him.
Due respect to Messers. Probert and Roddenberry, but I have a notion that explains how three-nacelle rigs could function....and why they aren't common in Starfleet. I also explain single-nacelle ships without having to resort to the "dual inline coils" handwave. I draw my inspiration from the world of mundane electrical engineering. In order to do what it does, warp engines must involve a cycle of some sort, a sinusoidal (if not actual sine wave) somewhere at the foundation. Which implies circular geometry, like conventional electrical generators.
So, lets think about phase relationships. US standard 110 Volts Alternating Current can be represented by a circle with a "radius" of the difference in potential, 110 volts. The centerline of the circle is zero, neutral, the "top" of the circle is +110, the bottom is -110, and as the radius rotates around (as part of the cycle) the actual voltage varies at any given moment on time; but it switches back and forth 60 times per second (or 50 times, in Europe. Frequency cycles in CPU's do this billions of times per second, +/- 3v. The voltage on your electric range or dryer (220VAC) is accomplished by having two taps on the generator, 180 degrees apart; therefore when one side is at maximum (+110), the other is at nadir (-110), and the difference is 110-(-)110, or 110+110=220. But they are in exactly the same phase relationship. File that thought for a moment.
Let's take the case of a single nacelle, and assume it's just like that 110VAC line, a radius of the circle representing the power output of the warp core. The cycle goes back and forth from extreme to extreme (but designed to always push "forward" in warp, like the crankshaft of a steam engine). What does that suggest to you? A potentially rough ride, on the microscopic level at least; inertial dampeners take care of that on the human-detectible level. As such, a single-nacelle ship will do the job, but it is not going to have a long operational lifespan. Which is why, Gentle Reader, single-nacelle designs are exclusively destroyers, scouts, and (like the Kelvin) wartime-construction science vessels. Specific design reinforcements can mitigate these harmonic stresses, but never eliminate them altogether. These vessels are frankly expendable, quicker to build than two-nacelle ships, economical during a wartime economy, with simpler engineering infrastructure, and are expected to be expended. As the Kelvin was. And this is also why, while a multi-nacelle ship can go to warp with a single nacelle, it is, in the words of "Hunt for Red October", possible....but not recommended. Captains of damaged multi-nacelle vessels don't want to worsen their vessel's condition, if they can avoid it!
Two nacelles, in single phase, but 180 separated in the warp cycle will therefore have twice as much "pull" (that is, top speed for the ship), but also share some of the characteristics of that single-nacelle ship. Haven't you ever wondered why, in the free-ranging TOS era, Constitution-class and similar vessels had to return to base every five years or so for extensive refitting? AND why they make such an awful racket when the engines wind up? Harmonic stresses!
That's TOS. Something different is clearly going on once we hit the "flat nacelle" movie-era refits, because going to warp has problems we've never seen before -- the wormholing Enterprise did on its first attempt to go to warp. Fiiiiiirrrrrrreeeee Phhhhooooottooooon....
I would venture to guess that instead of going opposite, the nacelles are being kept in tight synchronous lock, in the same part of the cycle at all times, an engineering feat not possible during the TOS period. You still get twice the "pull" of a single nacelle, and the Federation does seem to favor speed, but with new engineering, the stresses are mitigatable....as long as you have two nacelles in balance,
OK, now to three-nacelle ships. I dislike the use of the term "dreadnought" for all three-nacelle ships. The Federation-class was a true dreadnought, larger and heavier than a cruiser, with, the designation implies, some limitations on its mobility. But other designs, like the Franz Joseph Ascension-class, are based on other hulls, such as the Decatur/Belknap light cruisers. And being a fan of that era, I regard them as canonical, period. Roddenberry signed off on those designs, back in the 70's! He had to! Anyway, the nomenclature I've arrived at is to refer to any 3-nacelle vessel as a "trireme", a nice historical term. So, all dreadnoughts are triremes, but not all triremes are dreadnoughts!
Three nacelles do work, but the have to be balanced differently, with a 120-degree phase offset. Websearch up a graph of three-phase electrical power. It would be challenging, but not impossible. What does three-phase warp drive do? It gets you about 94% of the output of the conventional 2-nacelle setup (208VAC vs. 220VAC, to use my previous analogy), and it provides more even and consistent application of power throughout the energy input cycle. Absent the stress fluctuations, trireme/dreadnought hulls don't need the ability to "flex" as much, meaning they can be built with the Treknological equivalent of regular steel instead of spring steel. Heavier, more rigid...can you say "armored"?
The downside of course, is the extra material that has to go into building each ship. Also, a trireme has another engineering challenge; they have to have hot-swappable intermix-balance profiles for both three-phase and single-phase mode, for all three nacelles and for each possible combination of two nacelles, and for each single nacelle (especially the saucer-section nacelle, in case of separation). It's easy to see how Starfleet's Logistics Division would throw up their hands and say "it's not worth building these suckers"! This is an institutional bias that remains largely in effect.
So, then, why return to that experiment, with the Niagra-class glimpsed in the wreckage of Wolf 359?
Remember that bit, late in TNG, where warp drive was found to be damaging to subspace? Voyager's variable nacelle pitch was ostensibly a solution for that IIRC, but what if that wasn't the only solution? Remember how I said that three-phase "pull" is more even? Therefore, it seems to me, it would be less "ragged" and less damaging to subspace. But of course, someone in the Starfleet Corp of Engineers eventually found yet another solution that didn't involve wonky moving pylons or those despised third nacelles, aka the Enterprise-E nacelle design, so Starfleet (in keeping with its institutional bias) went with THAT instead.
But there really could be three-nacelle ships if you wanted. I can make sense of four nacelles, too (that's for another post), but I'll say that five or more gets into a realm of "diminishing returns" somehow.
How's this for a debut post?
For future reference, we generally prefer that you start a new thread than post in one this old (10 years). I'll let this one stay open if anyone else wants to contribute, but I understand sometimes new members prefer to find older topics.
It's just whatever the art department chose to have and director's choice, etc at this point. It's changed so many times now there can't really be any workable in-world theory for why nacelles are in pairs, single, flat, round, finned, polka dot, etc.
"Flat" nacelles exist on ships prior to refit-Connie and Mirandas and seem to be more the rule than the exception. All or nearly all the ships at Battle of Binary Stars had them, and some of those ships like Shenzou were definitely older than Constitution class. (and at least one of the ships present had 4 nacelles).
So in the Pre-TOS era you have ships with one nacelle (Einstein class), two rounded nacelles (multiple), two flat nacelles (multiple),four flat nacelles, plus annular drive Vulcan ships, etc.
Welcome to the forum.
@Rowenaster I really like your explanation. And I look forward to seeing what you have to say about four nacelles and up.
I for one do include the FJ Technical Manual stuff as canon as it appeared on screen in the TMP movies, and because for a few years it was the main official Star Trek stuff available to fans. I would say though that you're a little in error about the Ascension and Belknap classes being his work. There was a second wave of Trek Tech stuff in the 80s and early 90s including stuff like the Mastercom Ships of the Star Fleet books and Jackill's Star Fleet Reference Manual, and similar/related works. All of the TMP styled ships sprang from those creative wells.
And as far as the ships from Discovery, I firmly stick to the idea that it takes place in a wholly different quantum reality from any Trek we've seen before. Since they've had both a Klingon D-7 and a Federation Connie, that both look pretty substantially different than what we're familiar with, I think it's fair to ignore them for the purposes of discussing the ships from earlier incarnations.
Also, welcome to the board!
I've been sitting down for a little while today thinking about warp drive and ship design and the old idea from TOS that the drive units had to be a significant distance away from the rest of the ship.
I started to get the germ of an idea based on newer traffic lights and such that are made up of many smaller bulbs rather than one large one so that if some fail but others do not, the light still functions.
Did a little research and came up with this thread about the nacelles.
Also came across this article:
It seems to me that if a nanite swarm produced a warp field bubble, the bubble itself would be traveling at warp speed while the ship inside the bubble would essentially be stationary. No more need for warp drive engines on the ship itself, which would free up design elements. Nacelles no longer necessary. It would also be difficult to destroy an entire nanite swarm....especially if the nanites were self-replicating....and thus it would be difficult to destroy the warp bubble.
The way I see it, it requires Warp Fields to intersect in 3D space and work together to be efficient.
The only exception to this rule seems to be the Borg.
They've figured a way out to go to Warp without having any overt Warp Fields.
My explanation for four nacelles is that they are in essence the same as two nacelles; it just takes extra engineering to get them "in sync". The process is something as follows: Pick any two nacelles. Shut the other two down or operate them in a way (perfect spherical warpfield?) that it does not interact with or affect the overall warpfield. Calibrate the active two together as a pair, to form a virtual gestalt. Shut the first two down (or "put them in neutral") and repeat the process with the other two. Then balance the two virtual gestalts for a final maximum-output warpfield. With saved profiles of every possible combination of two nacelles, you can hot-swap to them on the fly in case of combat damage. Checking down to less than four nacelles reduces you maximum warp (say, drops you down to TOS-level warp factors instead of TNG warp factors) but you can still warp, smoothly.
More than four nacelles, I see as getting into a realm of diminishing returns. Five nacelles doesn't offer any appreciable benefit over three, if you graph out five sine waves offset by 72 degrees versus three offset by 180, and then take the average peak value. Six nacelles would have to apply three-phase methodology to virtual-pairs, again not worth the expenditure and hassle. Seven has the same faults as five, only more so, and so on.
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