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The Military Technology

How To Make 96,000lbs of WWII Machinery Into High-Tech Research Platform 150

Posted by samzenpus
from the what's-old-is-new dept.
coondoggie writes "The US Naval Research Laboratory is taking a 96,000-pound piece of World War II-era machinery and turning it into a test-bed for leading edge communications and radar applications. The equipment was originally known as a three-axis tilting platform designed to simulate the movements of a large ship at sea. It was built by Westinghouse in 1943 as a gun platform requiring only primitive motion in roll, pitch and yaw, according to the Navy Lab. Specifically it was used as a mechanically operated deck with a heavy machine gun director and a machine gun mount installed. Gun crews and director operators could be trained on the platform under conditions that approximated the movements of a vessel at sea."
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How To Make 96,000lbs of WWII Machinery Into High-Tech Research Platform

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  • I'll bet... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cornwallis (1188489) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @06:46AM (#45974455)

    In 1943 it probably cost a few hundred thousand $ to build - if that.

    Today's "updates" will cost $4.3 billion, be obsolete 6 months before completed, take 6 years, be the subject of multiple disciplinary hearings, congressional investigations and DOJ corruption probes, won't work, then ultimately will be outsourced to China for completion prior to being abandoned for a new technology.

    • by symes (835608) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @07:16AM (#45974571) Journal

      Well hello there you little ray of sunshine

      • by SpzToid (869795)

        Now that's sarcasm. Speaking on behalf of the internet, this time I think we've nailed it.

    • ...is that yacht builder Sea Ray and several Mercedes Benz dealers will see a significant boost in revenue.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      They already tell you how much it cost - £96,000, or about $150,000.

    • by HetMes (1074585)
      non-constructive cynicism passes as insightful here?
    • Is anybody having better luck than I am coming up with the price of ~100,000 pounds of structural steel in 1943? I assume that a US Naval Research Lab project didn't need to dig ration coupons out of the couch cushions to buy hardware; but we were in the process of gearing up for one of the world's largest exercises in throwing men and materiel into the grinder...
      • by TWX (665546) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @10:13AM (#45975437)
        We were still using predominately virgin steel in the '40s, so the costs for this material by weight was probably not significantly different than for other forms of steel from the manufacturer. As the raw steel smelter was selling right to the government or to the durable-goods manufacturer, whatever their price was, should be fairly close.

        Or in other words, whoever smelt it, dealt it...
    • by trongey (21550)

      In 1943 it probably cost a few hundred thousand $ to build - if that.

      Today's "updates" will cost $4.3 billion, be obsolete 6 months before completed, take 6 years, be the subject of multiple disciplinary hearings, congressional investigations and DOJ corruption probes, won't work, then ultimately will be outsourced to China for completion prior to being abandoned for a new technology.

      Of course it will work. It was built for WWII. They made that stuff so you couldn't screw it up. There were still four Iowa class battlships active in the '90s.

    • by fuzzywig (208937)
      Defence contractors wouldn't be so good at bilking the government out of money if they hadn't had years of practice. I'm sure when this thing was first built someone made a killing, even if they couldn't aspire to the giddy heights of larceny practised today.
      • by cwsumner (1303261)

        Actually, fleecing the government in WWII could quite easily get you -hung-. It was classed as treason!

    • Re:I'll bet... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by supercrisp (936036) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @11:14AM (#45976005)
      Clearly the parent hasn't read much history. Military over-expenditures and boondoggles go way, way back. Hell, I was just reading about similar problems in the 14th century.
  • Jodrell Bank (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Molt (116343) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @06:58AM (#45974505)
    This type of reuse of ex-military kit quite often happens, although not normally so long after it was originally used. I'm not sure if it's still running on the same engines but I know that the Lovell Radio Telescope at Jodrell Bank (UK), at one time the largest movable dish telescope, originally had a lot of parts cannibalised from engines taken from two battleships. Lovell, the maker of the telescope, had also previously been using quite a lot of reclaimed military kit for his astronomical observations before the actual radio telescope was built.
    • Re:Jodrell Bank (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @07:53AM (#45974717)

      This type of reuse of ex-military kit quite often happens, although not normally so long after it was originally used. I'm not sure if it's still running on the same engines but I know that the Lovell Radio Telescope at Jodrell Bank (UK), at one time the largest movable dish telescope, originally had a lot of parts cannibalised from engines taken from two battleships. Lovell, the maker of the telescope, had also previously been using quite a lot of reclaimed military kit for his astronomical observations before the actual radio telescope was built.

      After WWII German Würzburg 'Riese' GCI radar antennas were repurposed for radio astronomy. Some of them remained in use at least into the 1980s. I wonder if any are still in use?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W [wikipedia.org]ürzburg_radar
      http://www.astron.nl/~leeuwen/video/dloo/JAHH9p3.pdf [astron.nl]

    • Re:Jodrell Bank (Score:4, Informative)

      by AlecC (512609) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Thursday January 16, 2014 @08:46AM (#45974947)

      Not engine parts - the main bearings that carry the dish are gun turret bearings from battleships. Since they are so central to the structure, I doubt they have been replaced.

      I like their pigeon prevention mechanisms as well - two nests of peregrine falcons, one in each support.

      • by cusco (717999)

        There is a little old observatory on the grounds of the University of Washington, built in the 1890s when the U was still well out of town. The bearings for the dome (which is small enough to be moved by hand) are Civil War surplus iron cannon balls.

    • The hypoxia research lab where I work has a USAF hypobaric chamber dating back to the early 1950s, still perfectly functional. So not quite that old, but pretty impressive when you think about it.

    • ...is that the Death Star was made from obsolete Star Destroyers?

  • Isn't it about time a technical site such as slashdot started using metric units , eg kilos? You know, for the rest of the world outside the USA who has no clue what the hell 96,000 lbs means? Even in the UK hardly anyone under the age of 60 uses lbs as a measurement any more.

    • by Sockatume (732728) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @07:31AM (#45974637)

      You need to use measurements people have an intuitive grasp of. Nobody in the US knows how much a kilo "feels like" but 96,000 lb is a readily comprehensible number.

      • by Viol8 (599362)

        I realise you're probably one of those americans who've never gone beyond your borders, but there is a world outside the USA where approx 6.7 billion people live and some of us there do read this site. And it would be nice on a *technical* site to have standard units used that the majority of the world understands.

        • I'm one of those Americans that HAS traveled abroad and I cordially invite you to create your own *technical* site with whatever units of measurement you see fit. The fact that you're even able to complain about this 'problem' is due to DARPA. You know them, they're the US agency responsible for the development of the internet.

          Everyone wants to bitch about our units of measurement, but nobody seems to have any trouble accepting our units of currency.

          • Everyone wants to bitch about our units of measurement, but nobody seems to have any trouble accepting our units of currency.

            The currency that has "metric" units (dollars and cents)?
            I wonder why.

            • by nobuddy (952985)

              I thought the metric system was a decimal system. Who knew it was divided in to parts of 50,25,10,5 and 1 like the US currency system. Learn something new every day.

              • by kyrsjo (2420192)

                When discussing a value measured in dollars, would you usually say "135 $" or "2x50 $ + 3x10$ + 5$"? Who cares what notes are currently circulating. And you forgot the 100$ bills and cents, and I've never seen 25$ bills...

          • by cusco (717999)

            Actually DARPA just takes credit for what a bunch of university system admins and some HP, IBM and DEC techs had already done on their own. Salescritters saw what they had done and said "We can charge for this!" DARPA mostly paid for writing down the spec. Internetworking was such an obvious development that it would have happened within the next year or two anyway.

        • by naris (830549)

          You know, the USA inherited those units of measure from the UK....

        • by chaim79 (898507)

          Some of us there do read this site.

          The target audience for this site is American English speaking technical people, just because other people read the site doesn't mean they should change things from the target audience to pander to a minor fraction of readers.

          You want an American site to pander to you and you call us arrogant and self-important.

      • by amalcolm (1838434)
        But US != world. Viol8 was pointing out that most of the world DOES have an intuitive feel for kilos, for example, as they weight themselves, their food etc. in kilos
      • by DrXym (126579)
        I very much doubt you know what 96,000lb "feels like" either.
        • by djmurdoch (306849)

          I very much doubt you know what 96,000lb "feels like" either.

          It feels quite a bit like 96,000 tons, but quite a bit different from 96,000 grains.

          Or in metric: it feels pretty much the same as 96,000 tonnes, but different from 96,000 mg.

        • by Sockatume (732728)

          That's the joke.

      • by kyrsjo (2420192)

        It's a comprehensible number IF you're used to pounds. To most people outside the US, pounds, miles, ounces (in all their weird varieties), galons, miles, yards, fathoms, inches, feet, fahrenheits and other weird US-specific not-base-10 units of measure are only usefull after converting them (mentally or via table and calculator) to the metric system. At least you probably have to learn the metric system at school - other places some of the units are only used as an excuse to practice multiplication (and th

        • So post them yourself then. We American's don't think in metric, don't use it and don't give a damn about anyone who's not an American. Sorry but the fucking poster is the one you need to bitch at as /. doesn't have editors

      • I'm in the US and I guesstimate a kilo to be just under a half pound. So divide the number of pounds in half, then you have a rough value for the conversion.

        So 1000 kilograms is around 500 lbs. Just don't use it as a conversion of a woman's weight. You may well feel the pain of that "rounding" error.

        • by nicomede (1228020)

          I'm in Europe and you seem to be using Imperial Arithmetics as well as Imperial Units, leading to some confusion in my brain.

        • by onepoint (301486)

          also in the US, but I am shocked at your lack knowledge. a kilo is about 2.2 lbs ( you did it opposite ). talking about in the terms what a kilo feels like ... 2 good study books and a cup of coffee, or 2 t-bone stakes before placing on the grill ... I would not be surprised that you could find similar measurements of what a kilo feels like ( I can not grasp how many pints of beer it would be, but I would guess about 3 )
          a bottle of wine feels less than a pound but not near a kilo, a bottle of champagne feel

          • by Dareth (47614)

            Yeah I swapped my units. But you appear to be cooking vampires. t-bone stakes indeed. ;)

          • 2 T-Bone steaks? Those aint Texan Steaks then being that small. Remember, everything in Texas is bigger, including our women and food

            • by onepoint (301486)

              Yes you are correct, 1 Texas t-bone stake before grilling is at lease 1 kilo maybe even more. Sorry should have clarified.
              1 Texas t-bone steak had a height ( thickness ) of about a 3 fingers
              while the ones I'm grilling are about 1 finger

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          You have that backwards. A kilo is 2.2 pounds. Double, not half. You're confusing it with miles and km; a mile is .6 km.

      • So i just typed it into Google, and it looks like it can do the conversion
        1 lightyear = 1.03461597 × 1014 American football fields
        1 lightyear = 4.70279985 × 1014 chain
        1 lightyear = 2.06923193 × 1016 cubits
      • by trongey (21550)

        I'm pretty sure a lot of people in the US know what a kilo feels like. Just ask the folks in Colorado and Washington.
        Well, OK, maybe not the whole kilo - unless they toss one in the campfire.

      • I know you're joking, but quite seriously: one liter of water weighs one kilogram. (This is no longer exact since the units have been more precisely defined, but it's close enough.) So if you know what a two-liter bottle of soda feels like, you know roughly what two kilos feel like. Figuring out what 48000 such bottles feels like might be a bit tougher, but at least it's a point of reference.

      • by yurtinus (1590157)
        Everybody in the US knows what a kilo is... At least they aren't measuring it in stones...
    • by CharlieG (34950)

      Maybe because the source article (yes I read it) used those obsolete terms, and the /. author didn't bother to convert them for your convenience?

    • by SpzToid (869795)

      Assuming the rest of the world has access to something like Google, one might do a simple conversion with a search term as follows:

      96,000 lbs = kilos

      Here's a working example:

      http://www.lmgtfy.com/?q=96%2C000+lbs+%3D+kilos [lmgtfy.com]

      I know this isn't a perfect solution, but I'm used to converting foreign texts in a similar fashion. This works for me in edge cases like this, however YMMV [urbandictionary.com].

    • Its a US story about a US installation. Why convert that to kilos? Should we also convert every US story that uses Dollars to some other currency? What else is too offensive for you that would need to be converted? Why not just use google to do the conversion for you if it bothers you that much.
    • For rough calculations, 1 lb = 0.5 Kg. For Fahrenheit to Celsius, subtract 30 and divide by 2.
    • Isn't it about time a technical site such as slashdot started using metric units , eg kilos? You know, for the rest of the world outside the USA who has no clue what the hell 96,000 lbs means? Even in the UK hardly anyone under the age of 60 uses lbs as a measurement any more.

      Explain 'Stones"

      • by LoRdTAW (99712)

        Explain 'Stones"

        1. the hard, solid, nonmetallic mineral matter of which rock is made, esp. as a building material.
        "the houses are built of stone" rock, pebble, boulder More (in metaphorical use) weight or lack of feeling, expression, or movement. "Isabel stood as if turned to stone"
        ASTRONOMY: a meteorite made of rock, as opposed to metal.
        MEDICINE: a calculus; a gallstone or kidney stone.

        2. a piece of stone shaped for a purpose, esp. one of commemoration, ceremony, or demarcation.

        • Explain 'Stones"

          1. the hard, solid, nonmetallic mineral matter of which rock is made, esp. as a building material. "the houses are built of stone" rock, pebble, boulder More (in metaphorical use) weight or lack of feeling, expression, or movement. "Isabel stood as if turned to stone" ASTRONOMY: a meteorite made of rock, as opposed to metal. MEDICINE: a calculus; a gallstone or kidney stone.

          2. a piece of stone shaped for a purpose, esp. one of commemoration, ceremony, or demarcation.

          3. The stone (abbreviation st) is a unit of measure equal to 14 pounds avoirdupois (about 6.35 kg [nb 1]) used in Great Britain and Ireland for measuring human body weight.

      • by cellocgw (617879)

        Explain 'Stones"

        Stones: noun, obsolete: groundbreaking rock/blues group

      • by naris (830549)

        <sarcasm>"Stones" are what the author of the complaint about units of measure used on this 'murican site has. Can also be referenced as "Big Brass Ones" </sarcasm>

    • Judging by the fact that summaries so frequently contain simple errors (this one seemed to be missing an "a" - which sounds kinda stereotypically Japanese in the context of WWII: I then read "Pratform" instead of "Platform"), it seems as though they post the summaries without editing. If that's the case, the units are whatever the submitter submitted. Maybe he's simply an American who prefers pounds, or someone from the UK over 60.

      So, if you use your preferred units in the article summaries that you submi

      • by cwsumner (1303261)

        Judging by the fact that summaries so frequently contain simple errors (this one seemed to be missing an "a" - which sounds kinda stereotypically Japanese in the context of WWII: I then read "Pratform" instead of "Platform"), it seems as though they post the summaries without editing. If that's the case, the units are whatever the submitter submitted. ...

        On slashdot, "they" is us. And we don't get to change text, just rate it...

        • On slashdot, "they" is us.

          Or, to paraphrase Pogo, "We have met the enemy and they is us."

          And we don't get to change text, just rate it...

          So even the Slashgods don't have the power to fix summaries? If so, I guess that explains a lot. But surely if they don't already have that power, at least they have the power to grant that new power to themselves. Or am I overestimating them again?

          • by cwsumner (1303261)

            And we don't get to change text, just rate it...

            So even the Slashgods don't have the power to fix summaries? If so, I guess that explains a lot. But surely if they don't already have that power, at least they have the power to grant that new power to themselves. Or am I overestimating them again?

            I think they would rather not...
            The idea was that the readers would do all the work. 8-)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Dunno. But in Canada our units seem to depend on what we're measuring.

      I measure my body weight in pounds. But I purchase food in grams/mg/Kg.

      The temperature outside is in Celcius. But my oven is set in Fahrenheit.

      We measure our properties for Real Estate purposes in metres. But building materials and construction labour is sold in terms of square feet.

      I buy bags of fertilizer by the Kg, but dirt by the yard.

      Day-to-day it works for us, but the more I think about it the less sense it makes. I blame our southe

    • In the late 70s, there was a push to get the US to go metric. Protests from the auto industry that the costs would force them out of business, IIRC, squashed the effort. I don't really understand why we haven't gone metric -- $DEITY knows we all have metric tools to work on our Toyotas, Nissans and Hondas. And the industries (those that are left) have retooled several times since the 70s. It's frustrating being the last holdout, and for no good reason.
    • You know, for the rest of the world outside the USA who has no clue what the hell 96,000 lbs means and aren't bright enough or are too lazy to perform the conversion?

      There, fixed that for you.
       
      When I encounter an unfamiliar measurement, I familiarize myself with it. Or I use Google or some other service to convert it into a measurement I *am* familiar with. What I don't do is insist that other people alter their behavior to suit me.

    • by trongey (21550)

      We in the USA are really sorry that the rest of the world doesn't have the mental capacity to deal with multiple measurement systems. Now run along and play with your cubic centimeter.

    • 96,000 lbs is the weight of 300 Americans. Seems pretty intuitive.

    • Just divide by 2 (2.2 actually) and you will have kg. And don't expect the US to change any time soon. Sorry, it is us.
    • Now why in hell should /. start using the metric system when even though the U.S. was supposed to be metric back in 1850 by Treaty, we still haven't switched?

    • by CWCheese (729272)

      Isn't it about time a technical site such as slashdot started using metric units , eg kilos? You know, for the rest of the world outside the USA who has no clue what the hell 96,000 lbs means? Even in the UK hardly anyone under the age of 60 uses lbs as a measurement any more.

      I vote for English units, thus the platform weighs in at nearly 6900 stone.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Conversions are easy unless you need exactness. A kilo is a few ounces more than two pounds. A litre is a little more than a quart (quarter gallon). A meter is a few inches longer than a yard. A kilometer is .6 mile. Simple.

      As to using metric units for a WWII era American device that was designed and built using imperial units, why? Just take the weight of the thing and divide by two and it's a little heavier than that. Precision isn't necessary and why should someone else convert their measurements to your

    • by naris (830549)

      Except that the article did not originate on slashdot. You should bring up your concern with networkworld, the other technical site that did originate the article. Which is where the quote of 96000 lbs came from.

  • by tommeke100 (755660) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @07:26AM (#45974621)
    So it was used back then as a platform to simulate movement at sea, and that's exactly what they are going to use it for now (after a few upgrades).
    The F-16 jets were created in the 70s and are still upgraded to this day. I don't see how this is that different.
    • can't see how it's different? because the F-16 is not used for simulating movement at sea. obviously.

  • My grandfather served in the Aleutian Islands during the Korean War. They found a floating crane had been sunk in the bay. They pulled it up out of the water, repaired it, and actually got it working again. So the people at Grandpa's navy base proudly told the Pentagon what they'd accomplished. The Pentagon's reply? They were ordered to sink it back into the bay. Otherwise it would cut into sales of newly-manufactured floating cranes.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @09:11AM (#45975073) Journal
    Works out to some 42000 Kg. But the picture shows the platform was getting its three degrees of freedom by very heavy gimbals. Though the whole apparatus is very heavy but the payload is not likely to more than any modern aircraft simulation platforms. Modern designs would use six hydraulic jacks and electronics to get not just three rotational degrees of freedom, but also limited degrees of freedom in translation. So wondering why someone would go through the trouble of rescuing that relic. The inertia of the gimbals is so high compared to the payload, upgrading the motors and electronics is going to be so expensive, it is probably cheaper to build a platform of similar capability using modern technology.
    • by onepoint (301486) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @10:36AM (#45975651) Homepage Journal

      While what your saying is correct, I think it's more for the ability to handle weight. ...
      while the platform is about 42MT ( 96,000 lbs in case someone needs that )
      the original machine gun turret has a low weight of about 80MT ( the Yamato's were in excess of 2200MT )

      so I'm thinking it's for that ability.

    • It's possible that the gimbals more accurately reflect the motion of a ship buffeted by waves than 6 hydraulic jacks would. It would certainly be a more difficult test for the electronics to compensate.
      • Six hydraulic jack system [wikipedia.org] has more degrees of freedom, range of translation and range of rotation than the gimbal system. Three points on the platform, each supported by two hydraulic jacks. They connect to three points on the floor to maximize the range of motion. They are incredibly agile, they can simulate up to 8 G pulls and turns. They take advantage of the threshold of sensitivity of human bodies, especially the viscosity of the fluids in the inner ear tubes (I don't know its name in English, it is
  • Was disappointed.
  • So they have a device to mimic the sea in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland which is next to the sea. It seems to me they could be better served by simply taking a boat out and training with the real thing. This is like having sex with a blow up doll while your wife is in the bed next to you.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      On the days it isn't wet and/or blowing then the simulator might be needed.

    • by PPH (736903)

      Well, there's the cost of running an entire ship vs this platform. And the time lost going out and returning between tests.

      And there are some things a blow up doll will let me do that the wife objects to. Just saying.

    • If you poke a hole in your wife while trying something new, she does not just make a whistling sound and fly away. (Ok, maybe- depending on the location of the hole.)

      the point is experimentation without the disaster involved with failure when tested at sea.

      "chief, the turret bolts failed, and it slid off the platform."

      Option A: "get the crane and put it back on."
      Option B: "get a diving crew, survey the wreckage, and determine if recovery is feasible. Notify supply to start the build on a replacement just in

  • Eperlecques (near Watten, France) V2 launcher bunker: 120000 cubic meter of concrete
    I guess the bombing campaign by the Allies ("Crossbow") was also a record.
    The bunker remained intact but the oxygen compressors were too much of an explosion hasard during the earth quakes caused by the "tallboy"-bombs so that the V2 launching got postponed until the end of the war happened.
  • Wouldn't want to be the guy to wire that one up.
  • by ebvwfbw (864834)

    I know exactly where this is. It overlooks the bay. A lot of really old crap on that base.

One picture is worth 128K words.

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