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Old 12-29-2017, 12:37 PM   #1
YankeeGamer
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Default Accumulators: A concept for GURPS Spaceships

Accumulators: A rough idea

In some science fiction, ships use batteries/accumulators. The Lensmen needed to be sure that the mighty Dauntless’s accumulators were full before reporting “Hot and Tight.” Star Fleet Battles—the batteries are vital. Honor Harrington’s “Superconducting loops” are very efficient batteries.
Real world submarines depend on batteries when submerged, unless they are nuclear boats. Modern spaceflight uses them, too.

Spaceship Accumulators could be useful. Instead of generating power points, they hold a certain number of “Power point hours.” Having stored power is useful for several things, depending on the universe. Anything that needs a LOT of power for a short time can benefit from accumulators. If entering hyperspace takes 5 power points for a moment, a 1 power point hour accumulator can give that blast of power, then be recharged at leisure—much more practical than including a massive 5 power point plant, if the ship never needs more than 1 or two power points at other times.

Other ships might run on engines, but fight using accumulators.

If you need to overload an engine to get more speed, but don’t want to overload the power plant—accumulators to the rescue.

Nuclear plants generate neutrino radiation; which, in some settings, can be detected. Run silently on the accumulators.

Accumulators are always ready, so if the power plant is offline for maintenance, the ship can still fire its weapons/

I would propose that accumulators cost an amount comparable to a similar power plant of the tech level and type, and have power point hours equal to the power points the plant puts out. They are, of course, volatile systems.

Ships that only have low power systems (Zero power points) can charge accumulators, but it takes a formidably long time—probably DAYS per power point-hour. The small power plants can dedicate spare watts to the accumulators.

This is just a very rough idea I had; I have not done any number crunching to see how it balances out—might need to be tweaked seriously in terms of cost, power point-hours, or anything else. Have fun; if anyone thinks it needs changes, please speak up.

(Now a ship with an oversized spinal mount, taking 9 spaces, might be able to fire it.!)
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Old 12-29-2017, 04:09 PM   #2
starslayer
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Default Re: Accumulators: A concept for GURPS Spaceships

I agree with your basic concept; however.

Energy storage capacity and discharge rate are pretty much inversely proportional. Capacitors discharge quickly (but can't store a lot) and batteries store a lot (but can't discharge quickly).

A superconducting loop is a capacitor, not a battery.

With that said power cells which start appearing at TL9+ seem to have solved this issue, having discharge rates fast enough for rapid fire lasers and energy capacity in excess of any modern battery while only being trivially heavier.

Massive storage of power and rapid discharge at the rate required for energy weapons, etc, will be at such high levels of power that you will be generating as much if not more detectable gauss energy and radio emissions, so I would dispose any notes about it being more stealthy to use the power reserve.
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Old 12-29-2017, 04:26 PM   #3
YankeeGamer
 
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Default Re: Accumulators: A concept for GURPS Spaceships

I was trying to keep it simple, without needing to distinguish between types of storage. (Call it ultra-tech equipment.)

Using the Accumulators to fire won't be stealthy, but they have no emissions until the gun is fired, keeping the emissions low until that first blast from a spinal gun. Reactors will radiate when idling, as long as something is reacting--they don't really have an "instant on" function.

They're still useful for a hyperdrive that needs a massive jolt to enter hyperspace, or ships that don't usually need lots of power, but when they need it they need it NOW, or need LOTS for a few minutes.

I'm sure that cloaking will be much more effective if there's no reactor running, too.
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Old 12-29-2017, 04:34 PM   #4
starslayer
 
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Default Re: Accumulators: A concept for GURPS Spaceships

Quote:
Originally Posted by YankeeGamer View Post
I was trying to keep it simple, without needing to distinguish between types of storage. (Call it ultra-tech equipment.)

Using the Accumulators to fire won't be stealthy, but they have no emissions until the gun is fired, keeping the emissions low until that first blast from a spinal gun. Reactors will radiate when idling, as long as something is reacting--they don't really have an "instant on" function.

They're still useful for a hyperdrive that needs a massive jolt to enter hyperspace, or ships that don't usually need lots of power, but when they need it they need it NOW, or need LOTS for a few minutes.

I'm sure that cloaking will be much more effective if there's no reactor running, too.
If the reactor can be turned on and off at will (which is not the case for any current atomic reactor), then it will have no problem turning down to enter 'stealth mode' and only providing the bare requirements for life-support and the cloaking device while reducing its emissions to near-nil in the process (unless the stealth system is particularly hungry, but then you go back to the stored energy releasing so much gauss and EM that its a beacon in and of itself)
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Old 12-29-2017, 05:03 PM   #5
YankeeGamer
 
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Default Re: Accumulators: A concept for GURPS Spaceships

Quote:
Originally Posted by starslayer View Post
If the reactor can be turned on and off at will (which is not the case for any current atomic reactor), then it will have no problem turning down to enter 'stealth mode' and only providing the bare requirements for life-support and the cloaking device while reducing its emissions to near-nil in the process (unless the stealth system is particularly hungry, but then you go back to the stored energy releasing so much gauss and EM that its a beacon in and of itself)
I'm assuming that a reactor takes time to power up, so Instant On is very valuable.
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Old 12-29-2017, 08:06 PM   #6
gruundehn
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Default Re: Accumulators: A concept for GURPS Spaceships

From my experience as an electronics tech, capacitors can hold a charge only for a small time as they will "bleed" their charge off continually. Also, find yourself a decent basic electronics principles book and notice just how big a capacitor has to be to hold a decent charge. I do not think "Doc" Smith ever mentioned just how big his spaceships were but unless the Lensmen found a way to modify the laws of physics as we presently understand them, the Dauntless would be close to the size of our Moon and most of the interior space would be capacitors in order to power effective weapons.
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Old 12-29-2017, 08:18 PM   #7
Fred Brackin
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Default Re: Accumulators: A concept for GURPS Spaceships

Quote:
Originally Posted by gruundehn View Post
. I do not think "Doc" Smith ever mentioned just how big his spaceships were but unless the Lensmen found a way to modify the laws of physics as we presently understand them, the Dauntless would be close to the size of our Moon and most of the interior space would be capacitors in order to power effective weapons.
Doc did indeed modify the laws of physics as we understand them. That was one of the things that made him a Master of Superscience!

The one time specific real world power numbers were mentioned was early in Triplanetary and the power cell of a blaster pistol was exploding and releasing all the many kw/hours it held. It was much more energy than even a Gurps 3e superscience power cell.

No specific numbers on ship size but the Dauntless was on the order of hundreds of yards long. It's weapons were not powered by accumulators but rather by directly tapping into cosmic energy.

There were accumulators in Spacehounds of IPC but superscience was rife in that book too.
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Old 12-29-2017, 08:56 PM   #8
Johnny1A.2
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: Accumulators: A concept for GURPS Spaceships

Quote:
Originally Posted by starslayer View Post
If the reactor can be turned on and off at will (which is not the case for any current atomic reactor), then it will have no problem turning down to enter 'stealth mode' and only providing the bare requirements for life-support and the cloaking device while reducing its emissions to near-nil in the process (unless the stealth system is particularly hungry, but then you go back to the stored energy releasing so much gauss and EM that its a beacon in and of itself)
Even if the reactor is just ticking over, it's still likely spitting out either neutrinos or anti-neutrinos.
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Old 12-29-2017, 08:57 PM   #9
Johnny1A.2
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: Accumulators: A concept for GURPS Spaceships

Quote:
Originally Posted by gruundehn View Post
From my experience as an electronics tech, capacitors can hold a charge only for a small time as they will "bleed" their charge off continually. Also, find yourself a decent basic electronics principles book and notice just how big a capacitor has to be to hold a decent charge. I do not think "Doc" Smith ever mentioned just how big his spaceships were but unless the Lensmen found a way to modify the laws of physics as we presently understand them, the Dauntless would be close to the size of our Moon and most of the interior space would be capacitors in order to power effective weapons.
By the time of the Dauntless, Civilization's technology and physics were both well past our level. Think Vingian singularity level, though without computers.
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Old 12-29-2017, 09:05 PM   #10
Johnny1A.2
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: Accumulators: A concept for GURPS Spaceships

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
Doc did indeed modify the laws of physics as we understand them. That was one of the things that made him a Master of Superscience!

The one time specific real world power numbers were mentioned was early in Triplanetary and the power cell of a blaster pistol was exploding and releasing all the many kw/hours it held. It was much more energy than even a Gurps 3e superscience power cell.

No specific numbers on ship size but the Dauntless was on the order of hundreds of yards long. It's weapons were not powered by accumulators but rather by directly tapping into cosmic energy.
It also carried total-conversion reactors, and in this case Smith gave hard numbers. Each mass converter could turn 400 lbs. per hour into useful energy, which means each converter had an output of 4.5 petawatts. When the cosmic energy collectors were running, that was amplified by a factor of 100,000 to 1, so the minimum energy potential of the Dauntless was 454 million terawatts. That's over 2600 times the energy the Earth intercepts from the Sun.

Interestingly, unlike some writers, Smith was not completely unaware of the implications of this kind of power. The Patrol and the Boskonians could and did volatize entire planets, reshape star systems, etc. OTOH, the effects on daily life were limited, and there are some interesting questions about how this kind of power was controlled absent computers and related tech.
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