Author Topic: Warp coils and nacelles  (Read 3807 times)

Offline Penta

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Warp coils and nacelles
« on: August 01, 2010, 11:07:21 AM »
This got posted over at TrekBBS too, so I hope nobody minds crossposting. Just trying to get the widest possible array of answers:
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Okay. On my quest to write fluff for new Trek ships, I've noticed something that forces me to ask some questions. I know that there used to be "rules of starship design" laid down by Roddenberry, but those seem to have been in abeyance for years now, and in any case I'm looking for trek-tech answers, not so much visual-design answers.

Do the warp coils need to be physically separate from the rest of the ship, perched on nacelles?

Can they be integrated into the ship, instead?

Do they even need to be visible, say on small craft (Fighters and shuttlecraft and the like)?

Offline Shik

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Re: Warp coils and nacelles
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2010, 03:07:34 PM »
Of course they can be integrated. Look at the Galor-class or the KBoP.

Offline Jon

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Re: Warp coils and nacelles
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2010, 07:19:11 PM »
1. No not really
2. Yes...Defiant, Saber (I would call it integrated), Cardassian Galor and Keldon, Klingon Bird of Prey and Neg'var, numerous other ship designs.
3. Unsure. Probably not.

Offline Indefatigable

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Re: Warp coils and nacelles
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2010, 10:25:04 PM »
Of course, we don't know where the warp coils were on many alien designs, anything from Talarian warships to Borg cubes.  Starfleet just happens to like to put them on the outside, probably for safety and utility reasons.  Nacelles often get used for venting plasma, and we saw the Bussard collectors at work in Insurrection, plus I suppose it's easier to change the coils, or even whole nacelles.  It's also a lot easier to manoeuvre if you have two nacelles a long way from the ship (ignoring the rubbish statements in Fury that you can't change course - oh yes you can!).  Integrate them if you like, say to protect them from incoming fire (probably the reason for the Defiant design) but I think they must be external for a reason.
Still rambling away...

Offline BorgMan

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Re: Warp coils and nacelles
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2010, 02:40:41 AM »
In the case of the Defiant, they're not 100% integrated; they're still in pods on the outside, which can be swapped out if need be for different versions. Plus, they do have visibility on the underside of the hull, though not 50/50...
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Offline Marian87

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Re: Warp coils and nacelles
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2010, 07:01:21 AM »
I think you can get away with pretty much any design now if you just provide a good enough reason for it.
For most shuttles and fighters i've seen so far, most have those red and blue lights integrated into the hull or on nacelles to show that they are clearly warp capable federation space vehicles.
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Offline The Unbound

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Re: Warp coils and nacelles
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2010, 08:04:36 AM »
...which is odd, since some of them weren't acually supposed to be warp capable. Not that that stopped them...

As for the design rules, i would suppose that at the time they were laid down (TOS era), the were necessary for designing a workable starship, however by the time of TNG, it has become possible to work around those limitations, it's just easier/more efficient/safer to follow them. Which is to say, if you ignore one, there needs to be a technical justification. Of course, this being a fictional universe, that shouldn't be too hard.
Steady on.

Offline Aemielius

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Re: Warp coils and nacelles
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2010, 11:47:25 AM »
This got posted over at TrekBBS too, so I hope nobody minds crossposting. Just trying to get the widest possible array of answers:
---
Okay. On my quest to write fluff for new Trek ships, I've noticed something that forces me to ask some questions. I know that there used to be "rules of starship design" laid down by Roddenberry, but those seem to have been in abeyance for years now, and in any case I'm looking for trek-tech answers, not so much visual-design answers.

Do the warp coils need to be physically separate from the rest of the ship, perched on nacelles?

Can they be integrated into the ship, instead?

Do they even need to be visible, say on small craft (Fighters and shuttlecraft and the like)?


Cool, another writer!   
Being pretty much old school Trek, I'll try to be of some help.

Warp nacelles do not need to be separated from the 'living' portions of the ship, however, back in the day, Matt Jefferies thought it a good idea because all that energy might play havoc with any people caught between the nacelles while at warp.  DNA mutation, getting vaporized etc.
With the TNG era and advancements in Warp technology it can be assumed that it is okay to integrate the entire warp system within the hull of a ship, perhaps due to specially modified shields or new materials to protect the crew.

As far as 'Roddenberry rules',  there was really only one, and that was that a starship had to have an even number of nacelles.
While we see some ships with 3 and others with only one, 2 'is considered to be the optimum number'. 
This makes sense from a engineering point of view for a few reasons.  (And, yes, I am schooled electronics communications engineer.)

1) Using only 1 nacelle, the coils would take a great deal of abuse.  Particularly at high warp, because of the amount of plasma being pumped into the nacelle.  Multiple nacelles would require a proportionally smaller amount of plasma in each.

2) Even numbers of nacelles can be tuned work together.   A bit of electronics 101...   Warp engine nacelles are not Newtonian engines like Rockets and Impulse engines are, they are more like huge radio antennae.  In electronics we call these,'transducers'.
The frequency and amplitude of these engines distort the space around them so that the ship essentially surfs through space, In using pairs or other even numbers of nacelles the amplitude produced by each nacelle can be reduced(for reason stated above) and with their frequency and phase matched, still produce the required amplitude because any electronic signal that is matched and set in phase with another like will increase the total amplitude.  I have a rough example...     If those 2 wave forms were the out of phase output of a pair of warp nacelles, the power(amplitude) would be just as it is.  If they were tuned and phased(so that it looked like only one wave) the power would double. (The peak of each side of the wave would be 2.00 and -2.00)  Three waves would triple and so on.   Note, that the frequency MUST be the same or this doesn't work.

3) The third and perhaps the trickiest reason has to do with warp field geometry.   Every configuration of ship has its own warp field geometry because the ship's hull is also part of the transducer.   It, in essence, focuses the field, aims it so to speak.   For even numbers of nacelles, you can put the nacelles at just about any point on the ship so long as they are aligned longitudinally and in opposing pairs.  For odd numbers, such as 3 as seen on the future Enterprise D, the nacelles would need to be place at equidistant angles around the hull, not clustered on the dorsal side like we see.
Now I'm sure there is some fancy equations the Trek Engineers could use to compensate for this but I don't think it would be as efficient. nor as powerful.

Hope this helps.
James Aemielius
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