Monday, February 22, 2010

Blender Volumetrics and the Type-7

"Axeman" at Flare and TrekBBS has been working on a model of the Type-7 shuttlecraft that I really wanted access to . . . the Type-7 remains one of my all-time favorites, and I wanted to be able to check the volume and just size it up against other vessels.   After all, the poor things were largely forgotten, and really . . . comparing a Type-7 to any of the ugly Eaves-designed monstrosities (like any of the Enterprise-E shuttles) makes it clear that Probert's little babies are the best, right?

Holy cow, what have I done?

Axeman's Type-7 was a LightWave ship, and though I'd seen that there was no direct import function in SketchUp, and while I saw that there were costly solutions for converting the file, I decided to look once again for anything free that might do it.  Turns out my Google-Fu failed me last time, because this time I finally found Blender.   It's apparently a kickass freeware raytracing and mesh-making cross-platform and free program, and it will import and export to the two major formats of interest.  And, I saw reference to a volume calculation script.

 . . . Or so I thought.  Holy sweet crap what a funky UI that thing has.  SketchUp was sufficiently simple that I was able to get up and running pretty quick.  But Blender looks like a Linux programmer just saw Windows 3.11 and decided to try his hand at a UI.  I finally got the Type-7 to import to where I could see it, but then the funky Python script-running in Blender did nothing at all when the script finished.

But no matter, I simply exported that puppy to a .3ds and imported it within SketchUp. 

(3D Studio Max has a stupid proprietary file format, by the way, a .max that nothing else can read.  The older and more open 3D Studio format is .3ds, and is preferred.  However, there is the suggestion of a free version of Deep Exploration from years ago that might help with .max files here.)

When I rescaled the Type-7 (which was the size of the default dude's big toe), I got her up to 8.5 meters or so, which EAS has as the correct length.  I ran the volume ... and the program seemed to lock.   So I killed it, restarted, and tried again at 10% accuracy. 

The result?  59.436 cubic meters.  

But that blew my mind, because the Type-6 is somewhere in the 26 range.   (Here's a SketchUp model that reads 22, but I think that might be a tad low.)  Turns out, though, the figure is probably correct.  I had no idea, but the Type-7 is really quite huge compared to the now-puny-seeming Type-6.  I noticed the 8.5 meter EAS length for the Type-7 compared to 6m for the Type-6 (is that right?), but didn't think much of it . . . but in concert with how wide that big girl is, she really overwhelms the Type-6.




I have to say, now, after pondering the use (from an in-universe sense) of the Type-6 and derivative Voyager shuttles . . . what the hell?  Unless they're little mass-produced sports cars by comparison to the curvilicious but large Type-7, it doesn't make sense to me why they'd always want to fly those wee things.

But then again, these are the same people who often took Type-15 shuttlepods, which you could almost park in the rear of a Type-6 were it not for the wee impulse nacelles, so nevermind:



(And yes, I found a .3ds Type-15 that I was able to snag off of a web archive version of the old Star Trek: Australia site, may it rest in peace.  But the volume function in SketchUp doesn't act correctly on it.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

501st at Mardi Gras

Special thanks to the Bast Alpha Garrison, the Louisiana chapter of the Star Wars fan club the 501st Legion ... as of this weekend I'm the proud owner of a little plastic medallion with the 501st logo (as seen on the upper left of the main 501st site) emblazoned on it, as well as a couple of blue bead items. 

(The Jedi atop the skiff not only had a good acting range when movie lines are being played, but a good throwing arm, too.)

B5Tech.Com

I generally tried to stay out of the B5Tech.Com vs. BabTech-onthe.Net nerdfight, given that I had other nerdfights to engage in myself.  But while searching for something recently I discovered that the person running the B5Tech forum (presumably the B5Tech author) once decided to weigh in on Trek technology, including photon torpedoes, phasers, and ramming incidents.

The article I found was the one on torpedoes, and I bookmarked it because it had me laughing so hard.   For instance, "I cannot find a single scratch of visual evidence to suggest that they are used as anything but high-tech impactors which use an energy field to burn through their target and drain shields upon impact."  That was a rich quote.  I guess the antimatter is there for decoration?  "In ST-WOK Enterprise was hit by a PhoTorp fired by the Reliant, right near their bridge while their shields were down", says the author.   Apparently, sparks on the bridge concurrent with a torpedo hit shown on the viewscreen mean that the bridge itself has been hit directly!

Or, "In ST-TUC a cloaked BOP hit a Klingon D-7 type cruiser, holed the un-shielded D-7 but there was no evidence of a multi-megaton explosion, which would have turned the D-7 and Enterprise-A into confetti."   Who said Kronos One got its hull penetrated ("holed")?   And why exactly would multiple megatons turn the Enterprise-A into confetti?   No help with such questions comes from the author.  "In every episode of Trek, PhoTorps impact against shields, but rarely have we seen evidence of exterior explosions against shields."  Praytell, exactly what would produce the fiery explosion he's wanting?   The torpedo itself would be vaporized, but that's just a two-meter casing.  There's no physical requirement that it stick around and stay on fire upon the shield bubble in flame for the benefit of anyone watching.

Using other misunderstood/misrepresented normal examples or known small examples (e.g. "Alliances"[VOY2], but strangely not Star Trek V as far as I saw), the guy claims that there's no "multi-megaton PhoTorp" in evidence. 

To bolster his claim, he laughably goes to all the trouble of extensively calculating the speed of (and diagramming atop screen captures of) a torpedo that struck Excelsior in Star Trek VI, making the obvious point that "now we know that PhoTorps do not travel at a high enough velocity to produce a megaton yield impact during combat".

Good lord man, how many hours did it take for you to figure that out?   It's almost sad.  Did he honestly think people thought that?

He then tries to argue that though he believes "PhoTorps" have some sort of energy field that burns through shields and hull, this is not the same thing as a regular shield.  So, in his effort to argue against photon torpedo shields (but in favor of his hungry forcefield zappy things), he goes through all sorts of silliness, like ignoring "Half a Life"[TNG] outright.  Perhaps the funniest bit is his handling of the Doctor's shootdown of one of Voyager's own torpedoes in "Workforce"[VOY], when the Doctor (in ECH mode) intentionally phasers a torpedo to create a 'photonic shockwave'.   The B5 guy thus states "it is clear that they can be shot down {and} also clear that they are not shielded in such a way, by their normal function, as to make them Invulnerable to energy weapons."

Let's be very clear here.  The Doctor, piloting Voyager alone, launches torpedoes for the express purpose of shooting them.  Rather than conclude that the Doctor made it possible to shoot them (whether via timing a shield shutdown, knowing the shield frequencies, having a hole in the shields, or any similar known quantities), the B5 guy claims this is proof that they are basically unshielded.  He backs this up with the claim that one torpedo shot down another in ENT . . . as if torpedoes having shields means that these shields should be impossible to penetrate no matter the yield of the weapon being shot at them!

Sadly, it doesn't get any better from there.  His final conclusion is that photon torpedoes aren't used as "multi-megaton bombs" but only used for their impact (which he previously argued to be no greater than kilograms of TNT).  He says they can be used in a different mode for explosive yields in the kilotons or low megatons, but only at great range.  "Thus, Federation ships will most likely never switch from impactor mode to explosive mode unless they were more than 15 kilometers away from a Federation vessel... ranges which we have never seen used in combat for any Star Trek series."  (Except, y'know, when we have.)

Can you see why I was laughing? 

His methodology regarding phasers and ramming is no better.  Regarding phasers, he takes Mike Wong's 1-10TW crap as gospel, calculates poorly from a couple of drilling examples, and then when his figures don't match Wong's values he throws out his own figures.  With ramming, he takes Nemesis and concludes that 4.8 terajoules of KE is all that is needed to penetrate the Scimitar's shields, and presumably by extension that the torpedo weapons must be substantially less capable than that.  In other words, pure silliness.

Rather than hang his head in shame, he gives the "FINAL NOTE" that "These figures are totally consistent with the work of many other people on the web, including Mike Wong".

Dude, that's not anything to strive for.

Lemme just say that I still neither know nor care anything about the Babylon 5 nerdfight (if it's even still afoot, given that BabTech hasn't been updated since 2004), but unlike this guy, I at least have the sense not to start making proclamations about the content of other nerdfights when I don't know the first lick about what I'm talking about.  That said, though, if this is the quality of his methodology, I'd have to throw my hat in with BabTech.

Voyager's Hinges

It occurred to me the other day that despite all the battle damage and whatnot, Voyager's variable geometry doodad warp nacelle pylon hinges were never identified as being damaged, or being a reason the ship couldn't go to warp, or anything of the sort. 

Seems like the writers would've focused in on them, but so far as I know it never happened.  Given that they broke everything else at one time or another that's just odd.

Ah Crap

I just realized that I forgot the TPM reactors and reactor overload incident for the Star Wars Power Tech page.

D'oh.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Krenim SketchUp

The Krenim Temporal Weapon-Ship, scaled to about 1250 meters per DITL, nets me 12,862,049 cubic meters.   I was trying to avoid putting one-off ships in the list for some reason, but I may have to add it to the newly updated Volumetrics page.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

DS9 Scaling Retardedness

In Google SketchUp, I have a DS9 model, a runabout model, a Defiant model, and a Galaxy Class model, along with some little blue figurine dudes for scale, and I have them all scaled correctly.  SketchUp lets you create 'scenes', meaning you can carefully place your camera, adjust your field of view and zoom and such, and basically get a picture looking more or less like you want it.

I'll be reporting more on this soon (hopefully sharing images for comparison against DS9 screencaps). But first, I just wanted to say that David Stipes and his dramaturgical rescaling routine is really, really annoying.  I knew it would be going in, but it truly boggles the mind to actually watch it unfold on my screen.

In any case, this is just a quick note about the little mini-project.  Remember the DS9 opening credits with those welding dudes?  Yeah, even if the station is a 'mere' 1097 meters (as designed), those dudes are over 24 feet tall.  (James Cameron, eat your heart out.)   To get 1.8 meter humanoids to look anywhere close to correct against the station, it must be shrunk to around 335 meters.

Goofy.

In lighter news . . . well, I won't name names, but someone posted a screwed up model of the TNG shuttlepod . . . the one they made super-boxy so that it would be cheap to build.  A shuttlepod!  Good sweet heavens, man!  I realize it isn't a cube, but it isn't that complicated either  . . . no curves, no complex curves, no nothing.  Just simple angles. 

Now bear in mind, I respect these guys . . . I sure wouldn't want to do any of this mess.  I'd probably die trying to get the TOS Constitution right.   But good grief . . . I have to draw the line at a screwed up shuttlepod.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Updates on the Main Page

I haven't mentioned them here yet, but they're there, including updates to the Overview, a new page on SW power technology, and more.

I'm probably going to update the Volumetrics page with the new Star Wars and new Google SketchUp data, then quit for awhile.  Been spending a lot of time on this, which is nice insofar as making up for a lot of lost time, but I don't want to get burned out.  And, it would be nice to get other things done.  :-)

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Neo-Volumetrics

Sweet!

You can do volumetric analysis without LightWave or any other expensive modeler now. Google Sketchup has had a lot of Star Wars models made for it. And, with a volume plugin found here, you can get far better estimates of a ship's volume than you can by simply guessing at simpler shapes.

For instance, a TOS Connie I downloaded and tried to rescale by hand (I think it's about 850ft right now, which is only 259 meters) came out to 156,000 cubic meters, which is not too bad considering. If I calculate after the fact to try to correct it (bearing in mind I've never used the program so I don't know what I'm doing when measuring), I come up with 216,000 cubic meters. My ST-v-SW Connie volume is 211,000, so that's pretty damn close all things considered.

Models I've tried so far:

TOS Enterprise with bad length
http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid=c6fbcd07ca96c97ed217db332f4745ff&prevstart=0

Gorgeous Munificent, but only 733m long (had to lengthen it)
http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid=9ad48f8c225108697417f80cc0f3cf2c&prevstart=0

Venator (bad length, had to lengthen to 3725ft)
http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid=99aa1f34d852fbb5ff2c56fe607e6796&prevstart=0

Invisible Hand (awful length)
http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid=768aca096055b122a64762cc420ce77a&prevstart=0

The very pretty Munificent model I measured to within 5% gave me a volume of 2,137,120 cubic meters. A simple Venator model at the same accuracy nets me 10,616,929 cubic meters . . . a difference of almost five times, despite the ships being only 1130 vs. 830 meters (the Muni's shorter). (For reference, the Muni's volume is less than a Sovereign Class Federation starship, and she's 130 meters longer . . . we all know how sleek and spindly the Sovereigns are.)

Given that much of the Venator volume is composed of carrier-related space, though, she's really a big empty ship. If we assume half of her volume is dedicated to fighters, then the ship's only about 2.5 times the volume of the Muni, which (in concert with life support and other humanoid crew requirements) gets us closer to understanding the combat ratio from TCW.

The Invisible Hand, at only 1088m, comes out to a length-corrected volume value of 6,436,107m^3.

Other models:

AT-AT:
http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid=1a451e8ef0305f6ec4e5bc34eca27821&prevstart=0
615 cubic meters at 22.5m height (or thereabout).  Seems about right compared to Danube Class at 542 cubic meters.

Pretty good Falcon:
http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid=4ebf7bc43d767bd425405c61741b95bb&ct=mdsa&prevstart=0
But something's wrong with it . . . even with the length corrected, it only reads ~700 cubic meters, which is very wrong.  Even a 30m wide 2m tall saucer should have twice that.  The Falcon should be at least 1500m^3 and probably double or so.

ISD with excessive docking bay:
http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid=f9efd56c3137d14ba4ee0fb6a51564c3&prevstart=0
There's another ISD with excessive reactor bulb and unshapely docking bay.  Can't seem to find a really good one.
Edit:  Ah, here's one:
http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid=b656e4ab907a876b213ef50647c3c88&prevstart=12
But when I make it a mile long, I get a volume of 86,547,000 cubic meters, which is way high.  I tried doing the volume in cubic feet, since the template for the model is in feet, but it came out the same.  So something's wrong with the model, I think.
http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid=ec3479e79c61cf1ef33214a2991e934f
Tried this one, too, but ended up with 18.7 million something whatever, which is also crap.

Dammit, Star Wars fans, can't we build a model that doesn't suck!

Executor:
http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid=21053701a00c82de630a81e41b3b6ffd&prevstart=0
The volume comes out wrong (10% of expectation based on what I had already), but the ship is of approximately the correct dimensions.

Romulan Warbird:
http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid=c5b88c16e0091eed6208ceb8c2299bcc&ct=mdsa&prevstart=0
Scaled to 1358m, I got a volume of 18,389,163 cubic meters, which is probably much closer than the 26 million that came from a really crappy looking Lightwave model back in the day.

Runabout:
http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid=d421c83927baa74e264c43f47c3e0e4d&prevstart=0
The length is bad.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Klingon Battlecruiser Question

So in TOS the Klingons were supposedly flying D-7s but most of the rest of the time we're seeing K't'inga Class ships, including in "Unexpected"[ENT] from 2151.

But see, here's my thing:  Am I the only one who can't tell the bloody things apart?  

Bernd at Ex Astris suggests there is a "clear difference between the two ship classes", but other than extra greeblies and similar surface detail I can't see it.  And the DS9 "Trials and Tribble-ations" ship and the remastered TOS Klingon ship had surface detail, too (especially the DS9 ship), so unless I'm supposed to determine ship class by looking at hull plating intersection designs I'm not seeing an obvious way of doing it, and I'll be damned if I'm going to care to distinguish them by intersection designs.

So what's the deal?  What am I missing?


Monday, February 01, 2010

Star Wars Text vs. the Enterprise

This is fantastic . . . the amateur effects (mostly the fire FX) are remarkable:



Star Wars vs. Star Trek