Idea: Capacitor bank

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Idea: Capacitor bank

Postby jintonation » Fri Dec 20, 2013 9:47 pm

There have been several discussions about the ship having limited power (which I myself think is a brilliant idea), so you might not be able to do multiple things at the same time. One thing that might make preforming power-hungry tasks easier is the capacitor bank. Basically, it allows you to slowly charge up a large bank of electrolytic capacitors at the cost of a bit of power from your ship (probably even after it's full from charging, because of leakage). You can then release the capacitor bank's power over a time determined by how much power is being drained.

The capacitor would be a 1-meter-sized-cube with an integrated controller. The cube would have a control panel that would allow setting the charge limit (you could keep it from sucking up all of your power), the discharge limit (so it doesn't dump all of its power into a fragile component all at once), and a physical disconnect (which physically internally disconnects the capacitor bank from the control circuity to slow leakage; dis- and re-connecting should take a while, say 5 seconds).

The applications of this are vast. For example, a small scout ship might only generate enough power to have lights, run the engines at 50%, barely keep the shield up, and run the the CPU at 400 Hertz, with maybe 5 W/s (watts per second) left. 5 W/s isn't much, but you could slowly charge the cap bank up with that surplus power, then use that power to run the engines at a higher speed, use a short-distance warp engine, or raise the shields.

Another application might be to give the CPU its own capacitor bank and have it run at about 100Hz (that's orders of magnitude slow). When you have to do something that'll take a long time, like floating-point math, (heaven forbid) a bubble sort, or (HEAVEN FORBID) a bogosort (just kidding :lol: ), the CPU tells the capacitor to release its power fast enough so it can run at 100kHz while it does that operation.

EDIT: I forgot to mention, everything controllable by the cap bank's control panel should also be controllable through the CPU.
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Re: Idea: Capacitor bank

Postby ConnorY71 » Fri Dec 20, 2013 10:31 pm

Great idea. The one thing you didn't cover was upgradability. The basic unit could take up a cubic meter like you said, but for higher voltages and/or higher capacitance the bank will need to be bigger.
I can imagine how cool this would be to have a measly little ship about to be blown apart then, out of nowhere, a massive laser blast destroys the attacker. Surprise counter attacks, here we come.
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Re: Idea: Capacitor bank

Postby Zardoz » Fri Dec 20, 2013 10:40 pm

ConnorY71 wrote:I can imagine how cool this would be to have a measly little ship about to be blown apart then, out of nowhere, a massive laser blast destroys the attacker. Surprise counter attacks, here we come.


I like that! :mrgreen:
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Re: Idea: Capacitor bank

Postby jintonation » Fri Dec 20, 2013 11:15 pm

ConnorY71 wrote:Great idea. The one thing you didn't cover was upgradability. The basic unit could take up a cubic meter like you said, but for higher voltages and/or higher capacitance the bank will need to be bigger.


For a higher capacitance, you might be able to place a second one and put it in "slave mode", which simply disables the controller and connects its capacitors to the master.
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Re: Idea: Capacitor bank

Postby ConnorY71 » Fri Dec 20, 2013 11:24 pm

Have a bank of a bank of capacitors, haha. That way you can use them independently, too, when the need arises.
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Re: Idea: Capacitor bank

Postby jintonation » Sat Dec 21, 2013 1:26 am

The idea of capacitors also opens up the thought of transmitting power with cables. For power, there would be different grades of cables that will melt if too much power is passed through them (turning red if they're at their limit, no?). For simplicity, only wattage is taken into account. Each device's power consumption is measured in W/h or W/s. If we had a generator that produced 100 W/s, we would only have to add up the totals of the power consumption of our devices. The capacitor would (and I don't know if it's like this in real life) act like a watt bucket. If we limited a 100 W/s capacitor to a 1 W/s charge, it would take 100 seconds to charge. If we used it to power a 10 W/s device, it would go for 10 seconds then run out.
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Re: Idea: Capacitor bank

Postby ConnorY71 » Sat Dec 21, 2013 10:34 am

Power units were discussed a bit in the "batteries and solar power" thread (as well as in other places, I'm sure). I agree that just using power would be simpler yet at the same time add enough complexity to the situation.
When dealing with energy consumption and production this should be the case. I think the voltage and current limitations/requirements of a device should still be taken into consideration to some degree, however, such as with the wires you mentioned. High current melts the wires, while high voltage causes shorts/arcing. Current vs. voltage also has a part to play in damage from electrocution.
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Re: Idea: Capacitor bank

Postby jintonation » Sat Dec 21, 2013 8:51 pm

I think it would also be fun stringing up the ship with normally-inactive bare wire. In case of space pirates, I would just hunker down in the bridge and turn on my zap traps. I'd have the voltage high enough so that it arcs a few feet, but low enough so that it just stuns them (if that's even possible).
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Re: Idea: Capacitor bank

Postby croxis » Sat Dec 21, 2013 9:07 pm

What would be the gameplay reason for a player to wire their ship in anything but the highest capacity wire?
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Re: Idea: Capacitor bank

Postby jintonation » Sat Dec 21, 2013 9:12 pm

High-capacity wire would have more metal and be thickly insulated. They would cost more to make, and the bend radius would be abysmal.
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