Following the previous news, we had our first passenger carrying flight that did not contain any published test items. This occured on Saturday, May 8. This was also Mr. Tom Seck’s first flight with us, and for the short time he was actually on the flight deck, rumor has it he did a good job. The simulator performed almost perfectly despite a few problems bringing it online initially due to the motion control program not getting sycronized. The few problems that were found in the programming have since been easily corrected. Now that the new navigation formulas have been tested, it was decided over this past weekend to continue work in an effort to finish a much more graphical version of the screen which is based on the new layout, color, and font standards. Many things have been updated on this site and we suggest you take a look around. If you have not heard about SETI’s “at home” program, please check out the added link for them under “Links”. Although our organization does not have a position on the existance of extraterrestrial intelligence, their program is an exciting way to utilize the hundreds of thousands of desktop computers that are idle worldwide at this very moment.
Our apologies for not keeping you more up to date. Work on the project has continued at a steady pace and we had an exciting test flight this past Sunday. Updates include changes to the following…
1) Navigational systems – Problems with the formulas have hopefully been fixed. Basically the computer would recommend a speed to a given object and suddenly change its mind when it was past the time that we could safely decellerate. It also misled us as to the estimated time enroute (ETE) to various objects. The only thing that was found to work was the time until decelleration (TUD) which is what all the new formulas are now being keyed off of. The major obstacle is to accurately estimate a maximum attainable speed before decelleration is mandatory. There are farily simple formulas out there to determine this from rest (such as in Microsoft(tm) Space Simulator) but not dynamically when you are already on the move and with varied accelleration values. Once this has been proven to work accurately, we will focus attention on allowing lower consumption routes for long-haul flights (right now the fuel burn is 100% of the time; ie. we are always either accellerating or decellerating, never coasting).
2) Motion control – This system has been the most exciting addition to date. Several things have been tweaked. One big problem is that the running lights (strobes) seem to have enough discharge to reset the Motorola chip during flight which requires a restart, so those have been placarded as inoperative until a RF or magnetic shield can be installed. One big advance we made was explaining to the computer the amount tof time it takes the piston to travel from one end of the stroke to another. Before, especially during turbulance, the computer would attempt to make changes too suddenly and much faster than the inertia of the simulator could be changed. Now that it understands the times, it delays changes (a few hundredths of a second) which maximizes the motion effects.
3) Universe realism – Ian has been working the last several weeks on texture mapping the docking facilities and a few ships. To add an atmosphere of tension he added a floating man who died of unknown causes and is tumbling out there somewhere as we speak. We are not sure how to locate him but if we stumble across him it will be quite dramatic (or should I say traumatic).
4) Aerodynamics – A recent 4 month project that was just completed is taking the Audrey design and proving through simulated wind tunnel tests that the vessel, if constructed in its entirety, would actually be safe and stable for flight into and out of the Earth’s atmosphere. Some small modifications had to be made but otherwise the overall design is sound. The complete 17 page report will be made available in the Wind Tunnel section under Active Remote Access.
We hope to do the following for this site in the near future…
1) New pictures – The cockpit has really changed so much, most of the panels are backlit now and the flight controls have been completely replaced and reinstalled in a sidestick configuration (similar to the Airbus(tm) series of commercial airliners).
2) Construction zones – The few areas that have been under construction for quite some time will be added. Primarily, we want to make our training manuals and specifications available over the Internet and possibly offer flights (as passengers and eventually train for flight crew positions) to the public.
FOR USE WITH Berth, Retractable
USDC regulations (81.15) require use of restrainment devices during docking/undocking procedures, dustoff and planetfall operations, or any other time indicated by the flight crew.
USDC regulations (955.9) require all occupants to have seats available. If berthing is to be used, the maximum cabin occupant capacity falls rom five to four occupants.
Procedure listed is for extension.
Follow procedure in reverse order for retraction.
1. Remove beverages and retract beverage holders
2. Slide passenger chairs to full forward position
3. Remove chair headrests and securely stow
4. Fold chairs to position one notch away from wall
5. Unlock latch and gently guide the berth down
6. Ingress using overhead handles and chair as step
My friend Bryan Ball wrote this back in 1998/1999. The motion control was solenoid-based and used PWM from a Motorola board to control the airflow.
Ian Lambert and Jason Reskin went on a test flight today which was the first to test the velocity computer. Needless to say there are some bugs to work out, but a major hardware problem was corrected in the process. Work continues on the motion control system. The valves have all been replaced to support a better exhaust gas handling system. Bryan Ball, the other Comp. Sci. major was over on Monday from 10:40a to 5:00p working on the assembly program for the Motorola. He should be back tomorrow to finish the program and start running tests. Words can not describe the awesome power required to move something this size and weight around like a rag doll, and I hope we all take it slow to make sure there are no accidents to us or the equipment. Bryan Ball’s short biography will be added to “Meet the Crew” as soon as his pictures come back. Ian Lambert informed us that his video camera should be fixed soon and we will conduct a documentary of the new crew rest area and the changes that have been done to the cockpit. Many stills will be updated on this site and we may make the tape available for the public if you pay for shipping. It was also discussed to put it in a AVI or MOV format. If there is someone interested in these or has other ideas, please let one of us know. Talk to you all next year!
Work has begun on allowing the computers to control physical movement of the ship to simulate varous effects of turbulance, translational accelleration, and the normal flight orientations of pitch, roll, and yaw. This is being done with a system of pneumatic pistons that are controlled by a Motorola M68HC11 processor. It is a slow process and we are behind schedule from where we would like to have been at this point. Mr. Reskin is on a break for Christmas from his studies in college, so much of the catchup will be done by him. There was one test flight conducted on the 13th which included Mr. Tripp’s father Richard on his introductory flight. Since that test flight, another microprocessor was added to handle all the velocity information and velocity dependent sound effects. Work will continue through the holidays and we hope to get a few test flights in. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Jason completed his multi-engine add-on checkride today with the FAA and passed. The crew rest and transition area was finished yesterday and pictures should be available in an area that is currently marked under construction in the future. We reverted back to the old thrust control method with some new little perks relating to partial thrust availability when redirected for reversers as well as better sound effects than before. This week during Thanksgiving, Bryan Ball will be assisting us with a Motorola product that will control pneumatic pistons to move the simulator. Everyone is anxious to see that done, another first for us. Bryan is a valued member of the crew and flew as recently as Saturday. A brief biography and e-mail contact will be made available in the “Meet the Crew” section during his visit.
Happy Halloween! We took a successful test flight (Ian Lambert and Jason Reskin) and made a few decisions. The new accelleration method, although it has its advantages and is more realistic, has been deemed too difficult to operate with our current navigational information. During this week of programming, the code will be reverted. Additionally, five 100mhz Pentium computers have been ordered to replace the front view screen machines. This came about after the old 100mhz Pentium that used to run the dockmaster’s station was upgraded and the previous motherboard was installed in the new crew rest area. While testing it, it was apparent that our speed problems were not the fault of the texture mapping routine as much as the fault of the old 486 processors. A problem that has been plauging the dockmaster station for more than a month was identified as a new PCI network card that had a full-duplex mode enabled on it which was undetectable unless there was a high traffic situation on the network (during flights). We were also added to the Cape Canaveral Webring (see links) this weekend, so our traffic to this site should increase (we can only hope!).