<![CDATA[Shef Family - Development Blog]]>Tue, 16 Feb 2016 17:25:13 -0600Weebly<![CDATA[Flight Deck: Cockpit Design]]>Wed, 29 Jul 2015 18:32:08 GMThttp://www.sheffamily.com/development-blog/flight-deck-cockpit-designIn the previous blog post, I outline what sort of stuff needs to be in the Flight Deck. Well, now I have a neato visual showing the general layout of the cockpit! Take a look.
I tried to be straightfoward. On the left, there will be the throttle, as well as controls for defensive measures. On the right, there will be the control stick, as well as controls for offensive measures. Any miscellaneous controls will be split between the left and right panels -- I'm sure these will come up.

In the middle is the lower center console, between the pilot's legs (angled slightly upwards, of course). This is where all communication controls go.

Then, from left to right on the upper center console, we have the following multi-function displays (MFDs): Spacecraft Management Systems, Navigation Systems, Mission/Tactical Systems, and Spacecraft Monitoring Systems.

Mounted above the center console is the heads-up display (HUD).

Back to reality for a moment: Initially, all these controls will be represented by simple printouts. The main thing is to build the structure of the cockpit with future upgrades and modularity in mind. For instance, I know that I need FOUR removable panels in the upper center console, one removable panel each on the left and right side, plus mounts and space for a throttle and control stick, a mount for the HUD, and two removable panels in the lower center console. I can then keep the cockpit structure in-place and simply swap out individual components.
<![CDATA[Flight Deck]]>Tue, 21 Jul 2015 13:20:06 GMThttp://www.sheffamily.com/development-blog/flight-deckSo what to do with the Flight Deck? Well, the spaceship is a small exploration vessel. It might have some light weapons, but primarily its job is to find and reach new places, and transport stuff (or people) there. In my mind, my chief inspiration comes from the Raptor from Battlestar Galactica.
Size-wise, it's a perfect fit. Even the layout is L-shaped! You can see how the crew enter from a door on the side into the main deck, and then turn left to head into the flight deck. There's enough space for a small crew and some small cargo, and plenty of awesome sci-fi computers!

The biggest difference, though, is that the Raptor seats two pilots in its flight deck. I only have enough space for one.
So for our spaceship, I'll take the Raptor's center console, and split it in half; moving the halves to the sides of the flight deck, and leaving enough space for one seat in the center. I like the look of having four main multi-function displays, and a HUD panel, and then filling out any extra space with extra switches and buttons and stuff.

Alright! What systems do I need to represent for the pilot?

General Avionics
  • Radio - Simple unit-to-unit communication system
  • Spacecraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (SCARS) - Digital datalink system for transmission of short messages between spacecraft and control stations

  • Primary Flight Display (PFD) - Altitude (when applicable), velocity (space) or airspeed/vertical speed (atmosphere), pitch/roll characteristics (gyroscope), glide path needles, runway diagrams
  • Map display - Current position relative to a point, flight path, FTL Jump calculations, etc

  • Exterior Environment - Temperature, Pressure, Radiation
  • Interior Environment - Temperature, Pressure, Radiation
  • Note - The otherwise separate avionics systems of Collision-Avoidance and Weather Radar can be displayed here as well

Flight Control System
  • Control Yoke (Control Stick) - Controls roll and pitch
  • Rudder pedals - Controls yaw
  • Throttle - Controls engine thrust
Spacecraft Management Systems
  • Engine monitoring and management
  • Health and Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS) - Data collection and analysis to help ensure availability, reliability, and safety of vehicles. Condition-based maintenance (CBM) and Operational Data Recording (ODR).

Mission or Tactical Avionics
Target Tracking / Detection
  • Direction/Range/Distance (DRADIS) - Provides four-dimensional tracking of objects, such as other ships or planets.
  • Electro-Optical Sensors - Different types of sensors (RADAR, SONAR, LIDAR, FLIR, NV, etc)

Defensive Measures
  • Electronic Countermeasures - Signal jamming, shields
  • Physical Countermeasures - Flares, chaff

Offensive Measures
  • Missiles - Fox Four, away!
  • Guns - "Too close for guns, Goose"

Remote Control Station (Actually moved to main deck - not the pilot's responsibility)
  • Drone/Satellite/Probe Control

<![CDATA[Time to Design]]>Wed, 15 Jul 2015 13:42:52 GMThttp://www.sheffamily.com/development-blog/time-to-designThe playroom is now 95% complete -- it's all about the details at this point. That means within the next couple of weeks, the spaceship alcove will become simple overflow storage for the playroom. Which sounds like a setback, but really, it's not. Right now, the alcove is positively crammed full of random crap. When the time comes to turn it into playroom storage, it will get a simple coat of primer, and anything that goes in will do so in an organized fashion.

Which gives me the opportunity to take detailed measurements.

The basic design idea is this: Picture the alcove as an 'L' shape, with the top of the 'L' pointed South, and the other leg pointed West (towards the kitchen on the other side of the playroom wall.) Now, the entrance to the spaceship will be at the very end of the bottom leg of the 'L', with the crew entering from the North (facing South), and immediately turning left (to face East), to take the corner. At this point, they'll then turn right (facing South again) to enter the Flight Deck located in the top of the 'L' shape.  
I want to design the Flight Deck first, the Main Deck second, and the entry hatch last. The key thing about the entire design is that it needs to be modular, so I can easily pull out panels and give them upgrades and modifications. So whatever structure I come up with, I'm pretty much going to be stuck with it, and only certain modules will change.

The most complicated portion is the Flight Deck, due to the control panel(s). The control panel assembly will consist of a frame and four to six removable modules. Plus there will need to be a pilot's chair. What I will call Flight Deck Block I will consist of a bunch of printed controls, basic lighting, and printed starry sky in the main display. Subsequent Block upgrades will see introduction of flight controls, flashing lights, buttons, switches, etc. And eventually I'll be able to throw in a tiny projector and a little computer running simulation software.

The Main Deck will involve an engineering section -- essentially a big cupboard full of random pipes and wires.

The entry hatch will fold downward to form a small ramp.

<![CDATA[Finding our Spaceship]]>Tue, 31 Mar 2015 17:37:32 GMThttp://www.sheffamily.com/development-blog/finding-our-spaceshipI had actually intended to do a lot more design and groundwork on the spaceship in the backyard during February and March, but between inclement weather and little emergencies (looking at you, plumbing!), I hardly got anything done. However, Kristen finally convinced me to allow half of our garage to be converted into a playroom.

I only resisted because I felt it would be too huge a project for us to manage, both in terms of time and money. But Kristen's parents have experience doing this exact project themselves, which will help tremendously on the time. And the money isn't too big an issue, especially compared to a few other projects we're looking at (back doors, windows, attic insulation...)

But my favorite thing about our new playroom plan is the fact that the playroom includes a sweet alcove in our garage. And it struck me -- this alcove is the spaceship! Well, it makes up the hull, really. So this will save a lot of time and money, since we basically already have a shell to work with! And it's indoors, so there's no need to worry about weatherproofing. (The backyard can still be reserved for all sorts of planetary expeditions!)

I'm so very, very excited (admittedly, moreso about the spaceship alcove than the playroom as a whole), I already went ahead and rendered it in 3D! 
Children and dog for sense of scale. Dimensions are rough estimates.
I aim to get more exact measurements and do a full 3D rendering of the spaceship as time progresses. But check it out -- my original plans called for a "flight deck" area where the pilot's controls are, and a "main deck" area for doing various science missions and whatnot. And lo and behold, the alcove's L-shape lends itself perfectly to supporting the two partitions. The smaller area will become the flight deck; the bigger area will be the main deck. But wait, there's more! The back wall of the alcove butts up against a wall in our entry way inside the house, meaning I can easily set up a "mission control" intercom station that connects directly to the space ship!

I feel just like Captain Malcom Reynolds the first time he laid his eyes on a Firefly class ship.

<![CDATA[USS Stardust?]]>Thu, 05 Feb 2015 14:14:50 GMThttp://www.sheffamily.com/development-blog/uss-stardustSo in talking with people, it seemed the top three choices for the name of the spaceship were Stardust, Night Owl, and Luna. Personally, I was leaning towards Night Owl. Kaia has a lot of owl-themed stuff, and she would be the first commander of the spaceship. Plus, I think an owl-themed logo would look really cool! However, Kristen pointed out that Kaia would not be the ONLY crewmember on the spaceship, so the name (and logo) should be more universal. Since Kristen's favorite choice was Stardust, I'm probably going to use that. So below, I have a sample logo and color palette to use. I'm trying to be unisex, so I'm going to sick with a "Material" palette. I want the color scheme to be kid-friendly, as opposed to realistic (boring black/white) or gritty Battlestar Galactica (olive drab/gray/brown). So when I think of kid-friendly and spaceship, my mind immediately thought of red and indigo!

What do you think?

Sample Logo

Sample Palette

<![CDATA[Preperations]]>Mon, 26 Jan 2015 13:57:43 GMThttp://www.sheffamily.com/development-blog/preperationsCurrently, the Project is still in the design and planning stages. There's a lot of research that still needs to be done, especially when it comes to developing budgetary restrictions and a complete feature list. All I really have at this point are some very, very rough sketches and a sort of skeleton outline of the overall arc of the Project.
In fact, here are the various phases of Project Spaceship:

Phase I: Preparations
  1. Research - Perform cost estimations on common materials, such as plywood, concrete/wood foundation, PVC pipe, paint, hardware, and electronics.
  2. Define Requirements - Define the parameters of the Project, including the budget, human resources, material resources, and time.
  3. Produce Design Document - Includes detailed architectural designs, sketches, calculations, and other plans necessary for the actual production of the Project.

Phase II: Foundation
  1. Prepare the site for construction.
  2. Run shallow PVC pipe and power cable from house to site.
  3. Pour foundation or bury thick posts to support the structure.

Phase III: Frame Construction

Phase IV: Modular Deck & Bulkhead Construction

Phase V: Outer Coating

Phase VI: Electronics Installation

Phase VII: Crew Amenities Installation

Phase VIII: Software Development

Phase IX: Upgrade / Expansion Preparations
  1. Begin preparations for desired upgrades and/or expansions.
  2. Consider development of external Mission Control module.

As you can see, the project will be incredibly lengthy. But I'm incredibly excited about it!