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Old 03-08-2021, 05:22 PM   #31
TerryW
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Default Re: Plausibility check for mixed TL3/4+2 firearm

Reading your posts my first thought was that, in the case of using resistance heating, it would take too long for the heating element to cool down before you could fill the flash pan. Then I realized you could just mount the heating element on a lock mechanism. It would work just like a flintlock, but with less mechanical wear since the element wouldn't actually strike anything to produce sparks.

Might be viable. I honestly don't know if this would be a practical device, but it could be a cool one for a game setting.

Last edited by TerryW; 03-08-2021 at 05:24 PM. Reason: corrcted spellign
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Old 03-08-2021, 05:43 PM   #32
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Default Re: Plausibility check for mixed TL3/4+2 firearm

Quote:
Originally Posted by TerryW View Post
Might be viable. I honestly don't know if this would be a practical device, but it could be a cool one for a game setting.
When in doubt, always go with cool.
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Old 03-08-2021, 06:50 PM   #33
Varyon
 
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Default Re: Plausibility check for mixed TL3/4+2 firearm

Quote:
Originally Posted by TerryW View Post
Reading your posts my first thought was that, in the case of using resistance heating, it would take too long for the heating element to cool down before you could fill the flash pan. Then I realized you could just mount the heating element on a lock mechanism. It would work just like a flintlock, but with less mechanical wear since the element wouldn't actually strike anything to produce sparks.

Might be viable. I honestly don't know if this would be a practical device, but it could be a cool one for a game setting.
I don't think that would be an issue, actually. The resistance heating isn't of a copper wire - gunpowder is conductive with decently-high resistance, so you're actually heating the gunpowder itself by running a current through it. While the electrodes are certainly going to get heated (mostly from the igniting gunpowder), only a tiny bit would be exposed, and copper is rather conductive of heat (meaning the entire copper wire will reach the same temperature fairly quickly, cooling down the exposed portion), so they should be good for several shots - probably at least enough to stay below gunpowder's ignition temperature until the barrel needs a cleaning.

I'm not certain how you would electrically isolate the wires and electrodes from the (metal) barrel at low TL, however. Maybe you could wrap a copper wire with finely-woven asbestos and feed it through small holes drilled into the barrel? You'll want a really tight fit so gas doesn't escape through said holes, of course. I still don't think you can produce enough power from striking a quartz crystal (for example) to get black powder to ignite, but I'd be happy to be wrong.

EDIT: I wonder if saltpeter-soaked paper would be electrically conductive? That would allow you to open the breech, toss in a paper cartridge, close the breech, and ignite the powder while it's still in the cartridge, no need to puncture it.
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Old 03-08-2021, 07:08 PM   #34
TerryW
 
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Default Re: Plausibility check for mixed TL3/4+2 firearm

All I could find is that potassium nitrate is used as an electrolyte in salt bridges, which I understand about as well as I understand ancient Sumerian.
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Old 03-08-2021, 07:19 PM   #35
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Default Re: Plausibility check for mixed TL3/4+2 firearm

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All I could find is that potassium nitrate is used as an electrolyte in salt bridges, which I understand about as well as I understand ancient Sumerian.
Doesn't really help since presumably your cartridge wrapper isn't meant to be wet when firing.
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Old 03-08-2021, 07:40 PM   #36
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Default Re: Plausibility check for mixed TL3/4+2 firearm

Not my area of expertise, but I've found:

A) Potassium nitrate is a salt, so nitrated paper might be electrically conductive if the salpetre concentration is high enough (I think. Listen, ask me about the spread of agriculture and its impact on indigenous populations, not chemistry. Or Star Trek. Ask me about Star Trek).

B) Once you have nitrated paper you're halfway there to nitrocellulose, aka guncotton, which can be ignited by electric shock.

There might be mechanical issues with a flash paper cartridge ignited by electric shock from primitive dry cells, but it's possible. It'd probably be extremely expensive at low tech levels.
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Old 03-08-2021, 07:57 PM   #37
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Default Re: Plausibility check for mixed TL3/4+2 firearm

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
An issue here is that I believe you need fairly thin wires to produce the spark (thicker ones would spread the voltage out, so you probably wouldn't have enough to ionize the air and produce a spark - feel free to correct me if I'm wrong!), and I fear thin wires wouldn't survive the resulting explosion.
The spark discharges directly from the crystal. No wires required, although they can be used to direct the spark somewhere else.
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Old 03-08-2021, 08:14 PM   #38
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Default Re: Plausibility check for mixed TL3/4+2 firearm

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Originally Posted by TerryW View Post
Not my area of expertise, but I've found:

A) Potassium nitrate is a salt, so nitrated paper might be electrically conductive if the salpetre concentration is high enough (I think. Listen, ask me about the spread of agriculture and its impact on indigenous populations, not chemistry. Or Star Trek. Ask me about Star Trek).
Salts in solid form are not electrically conductive as a rule, I believe. Not entirely certain that holds in this case - inorganic chem is out of my department as well. But fairly confident.

Molten or dissolved in water is a different story, but neither of those applies.
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Old 03-08-2021, 08:54 PM   #39
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: Plausibility check for mixed TL3/4+2 firearm

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Originally Posted by TerryW View Post
B) Once you have nitrated paper you're halfway there to nitrocellulose, aka guncotton, which can be ignited by electric shock.

There might be mechanical issues with a flash paper cartridge ignited by electric shock from primitive dry cells, but it's possible. It'd probably be extremely expensive at low tech levels.
I do not believe your statement about nitrated paper leading you to nitrocellulose to be accurate. The one is made with potassium nitrate and the other requires strong nitric acid.

Stop thinking about primitive dry cells. They're very bulky and won't produce the kind of shock you need. You would have to have a decent capacitor. We're talking 1970s flash camera rather than 1850s telelgraph.

Now if you want to ignite black powder with _magic_ that's easy. :)
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Old 03-08-2021, 09:06 PM   #40
DaosusLeghki
 
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Default Re: Plausibility check for mixed TL3/4+2 firearm

Flint and steel have been reliable sources of ignition for at least 2000 years.


On a different note, opening the cartridge to expose the powder can (and historically was) done by shearing the paper off with the breech block as it closes. That's assuming you use a falling block system. A lug/interrupted thread system would need another method. The Dreyse needle gun just punched through the paper, but the primer as inside the cartridge, at the base of the bullet.
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