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 Post subject: Long-Term Backup Power
PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2015 6:48 am 
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One sci-fi trope I like is finding an old ship, or an old station/facility, with minimal power, but which you can power once more and explore. And another trope - finding long-frozen people in still-functioning cryoberths. But if I recall correctly, Traveller power plants usually have limited fuel which lasts for a few weeks and then they power down. Or is there a way without deviating too much from the basic CT/MGT rules and technological assumptions, for such long-term power? This need not be long-term power for power-hungry systems such as M-Drives and energy weapons, but rather for minimal life support, emergency lighting and low berth survival.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2015 7:48 am 
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Traveller's fuel use for fusion power is daft.

The draft HG for the 2e is sitting on my HD unread at the moment and I've heard rumours the fuel for power plants is being stretched some, that may go some way to answering your question but personally, given that PP fuel is relatively small compared to jump fuel and it's easy enough to transition the space to cargo and run 57th century fusion as we see fission reactors aboard ships today, self contained units that don't need refueling with a lifetime that matches when the fuel runs out. I don't have any issue with the change and think it would have little to no effect on the game. Yes you can wander round systems for longer with no fear of running out of power but that's a good thing, it encourages more exploration of a system. The limits become food and perhaps life support.

You could also add something that doesn't encroach on the rules to solve the problem that allows you to stick to canon/RAW, the end result would be the same, be it some kind of battery with an incredible amount of storage or a fuel cell that could reprocess it's waste to keep generating power.

The last part of the puzzle would be to allow a ship's computer to autonomously run the power plant as the humans have either buggered off or are asleep ;) But why stop there? Let the computer run the whole ship!


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2015 3:15 pm 
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Golan2072 wrote:
One sci-fi trope I like is finding an old ship, or an old station/facility, with minimal power, but which you can power once more and explore. And another trope - finding long-frozen people in still-functioning cryoberths. But if I recall correctly, Traveller power plants usually have limited fuel which lasts for a few weeks and then they power down. Or is there a way without deviating too much from the basic CT/MGT rules and technological assumptions, for such long-term power? This need not be long-term power for power-hungry systems such as M-Drives and energy weapons, but rather for minimal life support, emergency lighting and low berth survival.


I think the "fuel lasts for a few weeks" thing is when the reactor runs at full power. If they┬┤re just running a few systems - like low berths and the control computer systems - the fuel should last longer.

Plus, there is always the option to replace or supplement reactor output with solar collectors.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2015 2:18 pm 
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MegaTraveller (and TNE: FF&S) had power requirements for everything at a level of detail that made even gearheads like me facepalm (am I really calculating the watts used by the radio on a hundreds of megawatt starship? I guess we wouldn't want a 0.0000001% error would we?)

So you can probably find the power requirements for life support (like Low Berth and basic temp-light) and assume that a starship PP can throttle down that low ... like when sitting on a starport landing pad and you don't want to stumble around in the dark and manually open doors, but will not be needing the laser turrets, grav plates or MD.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2015 2:35 pm 
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I think you could reasonably say that if you shut everything down but minimal computer and Low Berths, maybe a low-power distress beacon sending out a signal once a day or so... You could reasonably assume that your power consumption would be in the range of 1/1,000 or less of your normal power requirements. Weapons and the M-Drive take up a LOT of power relative to anything else.

On a modern submarine, everything other than the Engines can be run on about 5% power. Shut down most of that and your get a VERY low draw; enough that a modern (TL7) battery could last for a long time. Assume a TL12 battery and you should easily be able to justify a decade or more per week of fuel. If the ship has a solar panel, I would say it could operate as long as needed, certainly centuries.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2015 2:37 pm 
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I think MGT2 will use fuel lasting for 1 year, so if you use those lower level of consumptions, I could see 1 week of fuel easily lasting a century or more at minimal power.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2015 4:32 pm 
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Thank you for your detailed replies... This will be highly useful for me in a product I'm working on.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2015 11:56 am 
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Are the low berths actually DOING anything apart from keeping the occupants cold? In which case, space is really cold, so why not open that low berth cargo bay to vacuum* and save the power for something else? basically, you only need the power to chill down or warm up in a medically controlled way...


*Don't put it in direct sunlight though...!


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2015 4:25 pm 
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Well, vacuum isn't necessarily cold - as you point out, direct sunlight could warm it up, and heat radiating from the rest of the ship (through the walls of the cargo bay) would as well.

It also depends on how the suspended animation works - there may be computers monitoring the body and doing lots of tiny adjustments all the time to keep it stable, or it may not require freezing at all and just use hibernation drugs or something.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2015 5:42 pm 
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And, depending on how cold the ship gets, and cold a low berth keeps its passenger, they might actually need to keep their passenger warmer than the ambient temperature - which is probably something low berths are not equipped for.

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Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go straight upwards. Sir Frederick Hoyle
Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot live in a cradle forever. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
Man has earned the right to hold this planet against all comers, by virtue of occasionally producing someone completely bat**** insane. xkcd #556
Just like people, stars can be very important without being terribly bright. Phil Plait, "Bad Astronomy"


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