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Computers on Safehold

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Computers on Safehold
Post by William Underhill   » Sun Apr 01, 2018 10:21 am

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One of the threads here mentioned in passing a question of computing devices as Charisian naval technology advances. Bearing in mind that the Proscriptions (at least until the orbital bombardment system is taken out of play) won't allow electronics, how about pneumatic computers?

I'm not suggesting something like the pneumatic computing equivalent of a PC or laptop, but more specialized, single-purpose computers - e.g., firecontrol computers similar to what was used on battlewagons such as the Missouri, only pneumatic instead of electric. I'm thinking similar to, for example, Bailey pneumatic computer/control components.

Just a thought.
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“Take sides! Always take sides! You will sometimes be wrong - but the man who refuses to take sides must always be wrong. Heaven save us from poltroons who fear to make a choice.” R.A. Heinlein, Double Star
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Re: Computers on Safehold
Post by Weird Harold   » Sun Apr 01, 2018 10:47 am

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William Underhill wrote:I'm not suggesting something like the pneumatic computing equivalent of a PC or laptop, but more specialized, single-purpose computers


The Lead Computing Sight and Ballistics Computer (bomb balistics) on the F4D phantom were analog computers using gears and servomotors. They were also heavily dependent on electricity, but the principle of using gearing to derive mathematical solutions could be adapted to pneumatic or hydraulic drive motors.

I'm sure the Naval historians can turn up examples of analog fire control computers on battleships. I fairly certain the first iteration of fire control computers for battle ships was non-electric.
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Re: Computers on Safehold
Post by ErikM   » Sun Apr 01, 2018 5:08 pm

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Weird Harold wrote:
William Underhill wrote:I'm not suggesting something like the pneumatic computing equivalent of a PC or laptop, but more specialized, single-purpose computers


The Lead Computing Sight and Ballistics Computer (bomb balistics) on the F4D phantom were analog computers using gears and servomotors. They were also heavily dependent on electricity, but the principle of using gearing to derive mathematical solutions could be adapted to pneumatic or hydraulic drive motors.

I'm sure the Naval historians can turn up examples of analog fire control computers on battleships. I fairly certain the first iteration of fire control computers for battle ships was non-electric.


The original Babbage designs were purely mechanical. However, I imagine that shipboard units like rangekeepers were electrically powered as soon as that became feasible. Rangekeepers certainly used electrical connections for sensor input and weapons control.
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Re: Computers on Safehold
Post by Silverwall   » Mon Apr 02, 2018 4:54 am

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I really don't see a device like this being viable once you start taking hits from enemy shells.

Given how often pneumatic and electrical circuits were blown out in WW1 and WW2 I can't see somthing this fragile surviving concussion or shell hits on the hull. Also I am not sure how quick programable they would be.

Image

All the historical analogue computers from WW1 onwards relied on electricity to power them however and you don't get the same level of control with pneumatics (or the same level of miniaturisation).
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Re: Computers on Safehold
Post by Weird Harold   » Mon Apr 02, 2018 9:52 am

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Silverwall wrote:All the historical analogue computers from WW1 onwards relied on electricity to power them however and you don't get the same level of control with pneumatics (or the same level of miniaturisation).


From https://arstechnica.com/information-tec ... -the-waves

Mechanical analog computers were used by astronomers for centuries to predict star positions, eclipses, and the phases of the moon—the earliest known mechanical analog computer, called the Antikythera Mechanism, dated to 100 BC. But nobody got around to using computers to try to kill people until much later.


and

The Rangekeeper Mark 8 still gave operators the option of manually entering data just in case a connection to a sensor failed, and they could also override or adjust data based on observation of shot and other corrections. The machine could even be operated without electricity by turning a hand crank.
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Re: Computers on Safehold
Post by Silverwall   » Mon Apr 02, 2018 3:56 pm

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A most impressive device.

However having read up more about it I am not sure it would give particularly amazing performance over jutland era shooting without radar you can only get the bearing to target and approximate range using standard broad base optical rangefinders.

What you can't get accurately with optics are the targets vector details. Specifically the sailing angle relative to you and the rate of advance. Some optical devices were available but they are of limited utility at longer ranges or shooting at targets of unknown size. It was Radar providing these two additional pieces of data combined with a more accurate range measurement that would make a device such as this potent.

Without Radar I can't see gunnery improving that much over Jutland era performance where 3% hit rate at 12 NM or so was typical performance for both sides. Note I am not considering the Guadicanal night gunnery of both sides in this as the americans were terrible without radar and the Japanese were at basically point blank range with simple solutions.

http://www.navweaps.com/index_tech/tech-086.php has some really good info on how it works.
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Re: Computers on Safehold
Post by Weird Harold   » Mon Apr 02, 2018 5:45 pm

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Silverwall wrote:Without Radar I can't see gunnery improving that much over Jutland era performance where 3% hit rate at 12 NM or so was typical performance for both sides.


The question isn't how much better gunnery computers are with Electricity in play, but how much better can Charis' gunnery be (naval and army) Vs CoGA gunnery without mechanical, analog, computers.

Pretty much everything Charis has or will develop would be better without the Proscriptions and with Electricity. That doesn't mean that Charis can't still be decades ahead of the rest of Safehold with 3% hit probability instead of "no bloody way we can hit anything at 12nm"
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Re: Computers on Safehold
Post by Silverwall   » Mon Apr 02, 2018 7:14 pm

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As I think they church will be unable to match the King Harald with thier artisanial workforce and lack of real heavy industry I would worry about that first. There is no evidence that the church forces have access to iron foundries capable of producing more than Merimac/Monitor level of armour.

Also given that Charis now has a foothold in the republic I would be dedicating my industry to building up the army rather than trying to create another navy from scratch, especially with the reliability of Dohlar very much in question. Honestly I can't see how the church can catch up given the proscriptions before Charis figures out how to break them and then all hell breaks loose.
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Re: Computers on Safehold
Post by USMA74   » Tue Apr 03, 2018 8:49 am

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The early US M-60 series of tanks used a mechanical computer with a range finder. E-Bay has FM 17-12-2, Tank Gunnery, M60, M60A1, M60A1(AOS), and M48A5 Tanks (1977 edition) for sale for US $12.00 if anyone is interested in learning more about how the US Army found a solution without the use of electricity. Admit that the readouts were lighted so you could read them. I could hit a stationary tank size target reliably from a short halt at 4,400 meters if the 105mm M-68 cannon was zeroed properly. Freely admit that having both the target and shooting platforms moving on their X, Y, and Z axis complicates the gunnery problem significantly over what I accomplished.
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Re: Computers on Safehold
Post by n7axw   » Wed Apr 04, 2018 9:03 pm

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Silverwall wrote:As I think they church will be unable to match the King Harald with thier artisanial workforce and lack of real heavy industry I would worry about that first. There is no evidence that the church forces have access to iron foundries capable of producing more than Merimac/Monitor level of armour.

Also given that Charis now has a foothold in the republic I would be dedicating my industry to building up the army rather than trying to create another navy from scratch, especially with the reliability of Dohlar very much in question. Honestly I can't see how the church can catch up given the proscriptions before Charis figures out how to break them and then all hell breaks loose.


I think that for both Charis and Siddarmark there is going to be lots of pressure to return the emphasis to the civilian economy now that the danger is past. Once it is no longer presurized by immediate military neccesity, R&D will take different directions. Militarily, Siddarmark will continue to modernize its army and Charis will remain dominant at sea. But the pace will be a lot more relaxed.

This is as it should be to avoid militarized societies.

Don

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When any group seeks political power in God's name, both religion and politics are instantly corrupted.
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