Art Creative personal

Ship a Day – 2 Jan 2017 AKA 8 Jan 2017

So a ship a day MIGHT have been a bit ambitious, and I MIGHT have built more detail than I needed for a concept, and I also MIGHT have ripped off a Lorin Wood design, but I’m pretty happy with how this turned out. A solid design that could be industrial, scientific, or, if you stick some guns on it, a nice pirate ship.

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3/4 rear

3/4 lower front

3/4 upper front

Screen Shot 2017 01 08

And a screenshot of the Modo scene.

Art Creative personal

Ship a Day – 1 Jan, 2017

I assigned myself a little challenge, to design a spaceship a day in January. I tend to take a lot of time to finish a design, mainly because I end up getting stuck on some detail and then never finishing. (I came up with my Bison redesign three years ago, and its still not done). So, with a hard limit of one day, I can at least get some thing down, call it done and move on. At the very least, I should end up with a few usable designs going forward.

Today, I have a generic anime-style warship, inspired by Yamato and Gundum.

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If I have more time, I’ll try to make better renders! 😛

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Use Cases

There have been more than a few good and thoughtful articles about the iPad over the weekend (along with a lot of stupid garbage). I wasn’t planning on adding anything else until I actually got my hands on one, but something interesting happened: everyone asked me if they should get one. I remain the sole tech person for two extended families, so that question wasn’t as straightforward as one might think. This is why there are so many reactions to the iPad and why so many “alpha geeks” hate it and swear they’ll never buy one, and why there are so many who like it. The question lies entirely in how the individual uses their computer. For the sake of brevity, I’m just going to present the use cases of a few people and then my own.

My Fiance

Current Gear: My old 2002-era 12″ Powerbook, iPhone 3G, 80GB iPod Classic

That Powerbook is a hell of a workhorse. It got me through the end of college and two years into my first professional job until I got the first-gen Macbook Pro that I’m using now. Since I gave it to my fiance, she used it through grad school and wrote her 900+ page master’s thesis on it. Its still going, but its time to move on. I told to wait until the Core i5 Macbooks come out before upgrading.

Despite not being a power user in the traditional sense, when she’s working, she is most definitely a power user. She really has no use for an iPad that I can think of. When she’s working, she spreads out all of her reference materials around her, so a single e-reader really isn’t going to cut it. The rest of the time, she’s happy to either use her iPhone or just grab my laptop instead of digging hers out of its bag (since mine’s always out anyway).

Verdict: She doesn’t need (or want) an iPad.

My Mom

Current Gear: Last-gen 15″Powerbook G4, Original iPhone

I would tell my mom to get an iPad in a cold second if not for two things. First and foremost, she’s a writer. She writes every day and has two published novels, and is working on numbers three and four, as well as a screenplay. She also wants to start podcasting her novels and blogging. The iPad simply doesn’t have enough content creation chops yet to pull that off.

The other reason is that she’s learning the more geeky parts of computer use. While the whole point of the iPad is that its for people who don’t care to tinker, the fact that both my dad and myself are such tinkerers always made her feel a little left out. Since he died, she’s had to learn to figure things out, and every time she learns something new or fixes some problem, she feels great about it. She spent her entire adult life thinking that she was too dumb to use computers, but now she knows what we all do: We’re not dumb, computers are, and we need to beat them into shape. She’s really enjoying herself, and I’m not about to take that away from her.

Verdict: She needs a new computer right now, that Powerbook is ancient. She wants a new laptop, but I think a 21″ iMac would be a better fit. Maybe an iPad for Christmas…

The In-Laws

Current Gear: Original Macbook, Blackberry Curve, Moto dumbphone

Not only did I suggest that they get an iPad, I suggested that they each get one and just use the Macbook to sync them. They need to use email and the web, but simply aren’t that interested in using the computer. There really isn’t all that much to sync, either. They don’t have any videos, audiobooks, apps, or anything beyond a few hundred music files. A single 16GB WiFi-only iPad is almost overkill, let alone two. In fact, the only reason why I suggested two is so I can set up each one with their own email accounts and avoid that bit of confusion. Depending on how powerful the maps app is, they might even be able to use it to plan directions. Or just use the web app’s printable directions. Assuming that the iPad really is able to send print jobs, they would almost never need to use the Macbook at all beyond firmware updates.

Verdict: Hell yeah, get two!

There are others, like my brother who should get one or my fiance’s brother, who doesn’t need one. It really all depends on the usage. So, what about mine? Like I said, I like my workstation setup the same basic way wherever I am.

Like this:

And this:

And this:
My desk RM313

And so on.

Basically, I like using the Macbook Pro as my main screen and use the secondary display for supporting tasks, like Mail, Omnifocus, iTunes and Preview. The main display gets Safari, Excel, Pixelmator, Scrivener, Lightwave, Xcode and the like. While I might move stuff around in the process of working, that’s the basic setup. Even the shot with the microscope is like that. In that case, the main work was counting hundreds of vials, so the laptop became the secondary display.

I was at a coffee shop on Saturday, trying to get some work done. While I was waiting for our latte, Claudia moved our stuff from our first table to a better one by the window. She mentioned that by bag was pretty heavy, and you know what? She was right. My bag is pretty heavy. I have the MBP, a Wacom graphics tablet and a book. I really don’t need to carry the tablet around, but I realized that I could really use an iPad as my secondary display there. I actually have a lot of ebooks and pdf’s already, but moving my active windows out of the way is a real good way to destroy my workflow. I can use iBooks, Stanza, Papers as reference when I’m writing or coding, and I can use the Photos app for visual reference when I’m using Lightwave. Additionally, I can use the browser, email and whatever else on the iPad instead of the laptop. The question there is do I want the 3G version, or can I stick with WiFi only? I suppose that depends on whether or not I can get on AT&T’s WiFi network without buying a 3G plan. There are an assload of Starbucks in San Francisco, and it would keep some strain off the cell network, but I seriously doubt that it’ll work that way.

Anyway, there is no way that an iPad could be a laptop replacement for me. But as a portable second screen that will replace a bunch of heavy stuff in my bag? And all I need to carry is something like this?That’s tempting, very tempting. And that’s just for doing work on the run. Like I mentioned earlier, my laptop is pretty much always on and out. Sometimes that’s because I’m working, but a lot of times, its also just because I’m browsing the web. I don’t need my laptop for that. An iPad would be perfect for the times when I just want to sit back and read. Or when Claudia takes my laptop out of my hands again.

I don’t really understand all of the anger about the iPad. Once you think about it, there really is a niche for it. Its just that its a different niche for different people. For some people, there’s no need for it, for others, it really is a laptop replacement for other people, its a nifty supplement. For me, its both of those. I’m keeping my iPhone, I’m keeping my laptop (at least until I can get a Core i5!!!) and I’ll be using an iPad as my second monitor when I’m out and about.

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Some More Concept Art

Just a (not so) quick update. Here are some 3D sketches for a helium 3 refinery station, an orbital colony and a new Lobo.

The H3 refineries are small manned outposts in low Jupiter orbit. They’re effectively skyhooks that suck helium 3 out of Jupiter’s atmosphere through a thousands of kilometer-long hose and store it for use in fusion reactors. The Jupiter refineries compete with H3 mines on Luna and asteroids. They’re quite a bit farther away from Earth and the colonies than the asteroid belt, but they have the advantage of not having to refine tons of regolith for kilos of H3.

The operation is largely automated, so the crew doesn’t need to be that large. The crew lives in the rotating wheel and supervise and maintain the operation. The spiderweb structure that surrounds the station generates a powerful magnetic field that protects the crew from Jupiter’s own highly energetic field, which produces an impressive aurora.

I’m still figuring out where to put the H3 storage tanks and the docking collar. Smaller boats like the Lobo need to dock directly with the station in order to transfer crew and supplies, but the tankers do not. I need to decide if its better to transfer the actual tanks or to use a pump and nozzle system to transfer the gas. The tanks don’t need to be all that large, since most fusion reactors don’t really need to produce insane amounts of electricity. The reactors on Earth, Mars and the orbital colonies largely supplement solar power generation, so a little fuel goes a long way.

The orbital colonies are of the type imagined by Gerard O’Neill as the Island Three type. It’s basically a long spinning tube with a habitable interior. This style has two counter-rotating sections that keep the colony from spinning out of control. (Smaller rotating stations like the refineries can use gyroscopes to hold position.) O’Neill himself imagined a pair of counter-rotating Island Three stations attached at their tips to keep station, but somehow that seems even more complicated that what I have.


he rings at the end of the hab section are for agriculture. The usual Island Three illustrations show tend to have a single huge ring, but that seems like a terrible design to me. Unless it rotated separately, it would have crushing gravity, not to mention a hell of a time getting goods to and from the main station. My solution is to have a series of agriculture rings directly attached to and rotating at the same rate of the rest of the colony. The large disk at the end is a solar collector that uses fiber optics to pump the sunlight to the interior of the agriculture rings. I haven’t done the math yet to determine how big the collector needs to be to equal the interior surface of the rings, so it might get bigger or smaller.

There are also going to be three mirrors on the main hab section that direct sunlight into the interior. I need to do math again to figure out how long the mirrors need to be to illuminate the whole thing. This also means I get to build big-ass windows into the mesh and model the interior space. Power is generated through a combination of solar, fusion and thermal (as heat gets “pushed” from the sun-facing tip to the farthest tip).

The counter-rotating section includes heavy industry, manufacturing, the fusion reactors and the docking bay. The dock is at the extreme end of the station. I need to figure out how big it is and how large a ship can dock there. It needs detail on the sides, so a large, non-rotating dock should fit in nicely there, as well as the heat radiators. These need to be out of the sunlight.

And here’s a quick shot of both of these guys together, just to give a sense of scale.

That’s a huge bitch!

And last but not least, some more Lobo. I took the same mesh as before and moved the wings to the top, and changed the spine from an innie to an outie. I am so not going to be able to use this geometry, but it gives me ideas of where I want to go.

I’m going with a blended wing, hypersonic, Osprey-in-space thing for this boat. The nose, spine, wings and tail are all going to be one piece, with the modular cargo section “hanging” from the spine underneath and aft of the wings. The bigger, “go fast” grav pods are still attached to the wingtips, and the plasma jets get stuck to the tail. The hump will be a bit more pronounced than here and I think I’ll angle the wings more downward.

All in all, I think I had a successful Sunday evening!

Art Creative personal

Lobo Design 1

I’ve been doing some concept designs for a novel I’ve been writing for the last year. Well, trying to do concept art, since I still pretty much suck at drawing. So, I come up with something in my head and either try to do some 2D sketches, which so far has not turned out well, or I just get into Lightwave and play with shapes until I get something I like. And no, I won’t be posting any parts of the book until its done. I already have enough people bugging me to finish as it is. 🙂

The Lobo is the hero ship of my little adventure. Its a converted dropship that now does fast courier runs between Earth, Mars, asteroid belt miners and the helium 3 refineries orbiting Jupiter. Normally, boats of this class are basically plane-shaped, as their primary purpose is to drop cargo from orbit to the surface as fast and smoothly as possible. The Lobo’s modifications break up its lines with large gravity drives on the wings and stern and big plasma jets. It also has a larger sensor module and gyroscope blisters for fast, fine maneuvering.

Here’s my first go at it.

Here’s where I confess that I’ve had this mesh lying around for a while. I did it originally as a submission for Ex Astris Scientia’s JOAT subsite, but lost interest as life moved on. However, I really like the shape and profile of it, but didn’t really know what to do with it. As I started writing and describing the Lobo, this is basically what I had in mind, at least in terms of the basic size, profile and capabilities.

What I want to do now is merge the wings and control sections into a single spinal unit. The wings will get moved to the top and the rear cargo area will be modular and “hang” off the spine. I also want to do a stock version so I have something to compare to. I still want to use this mesh for something later, just not this. I also have a bunch of other stuff in the works. Let’s see if I can manage to follow through this time.