Toying with ideas

 Posted by at 15:07  No Responses »
Sep 292010

A friend planted an idea in my head that has already started to germinate, though it may not bear this year. He made mention that if he were to make cool costumes of the kind I mentioned, rather than using vacuformed plastic, he would use carbon fiber. I didn’t even realize carbon fiber parts manufacture was something hobbyists could do. I really need to stop thinking hobbyists are so limited.

Turns out, making parts out of carbon fiber isn’t all that difficult. It involves resin, which makes me a little sad, but it can achieve results at least as nice as HIPS1. On top of that, it’s substantially stronger as a result of being a composite and, oh yeah, carbon freaking fiber. It may also end up being lighter, though even if it’s heavier, it’s strength-to-weight ratio will be leaps and bounds beyond that of a plastic part.

Evidently, you can use carbon fiber to make all sorts of stuff: aerospace parts, automotive parts, cellos, or pretty much anything else you have a mold to put it in…like a costume. The process is straight-forward, if more time-consuming than vacuforming: make a mold, apply release agent, apply resin coat, lay down first layer of carbon fiber and press into mold, lay down additional resin/carbon fiber layers as desired for added strength/thickness, allow to set, release from mold. Trim, sand, polish, and so forth to taste. Done and done.

The obvious up side is that it doesn’t require nearly as much infrastructure (i.e. building a vacuform table). The downsides are working with resin and the cost. Low-grade carbon fiber2 costs around $20/yd2. HIPS, by comparison, costs $3/yd2. What you spend in infrastructure—I figure building a vacuform table with integrated plastic heating elements will cost me $150-$200—you quickly recoup in materials costs. I’m also not factoring in the resin costs into the carbon-fiber estimate.

I like the idea, though, so I may visit it in the future for a particularly special costume3. We shall see.

  1. High-Impact Polystyrene, or the plastic one would likely use for vacuforming []
  2. I don’t need ultra-fine supermesh stuff; I’m not making airplanes. []
  3. I’m looking at you, Iron Man. []

EVE Musings

 Posted by at 16:25  No Responses »
Aug 072009

I mentioned a few posts back that I was trying to solve a complex integral for damage calculations in EVE Online.  I was doing so in the interests of identifying the “best” overall ship for tackling PvE, specifically L4 agent missions.  My current ship (a T2-fitted Apocalypse) does a fine job of it and I’ve never had to warp out of a mission when I didn’t do something stupid to aggro the whole pocket.  However, if I can be using something better, I’d like to know it.

The problem with the approach I was using, as pointed out by Fraser, is that there are many, many additional factors beyond simple DPS.  In particular, the targets themselves play a big role.  Their size, velocity, angular velocity relative to your ship, and the size of your own weapons all play into the damage calculation (if you’re curious what the full formula is, check it out).  The Raven, for example, is an incredibly common PvE battleship because of how cheap it is to purchase and fast it is to train for at a basic level.  Its main weapons are cruise missiles, which are intended for large targets like battleships.  Consequently, they do less damage against small, nimble targets that can out-run their explosions.  As a result, Ravens often do well to fit target painters, which artificially inflate the apparent size of a ship.  Raw DPS calculations won’t account for this.

I’m not really sure how to resolve it.  I do think there’s an answer — and a generic one, at that — but I’m just not sure what it is.