Article in Groom Lake Desert Rat #37, Oct. 1, 1996|
Note: This document is subject to revision for first few weeks after its initial release. Please come back later for the final version.
Riding in the disk simulator is less exciting but more bizarre, according to mechanical engineer J-2. After powering up, the saucer-shaped assembly can incline up to 65 degrees on its central pivot, while inside you feel no change whatsoever. Regardless of the orientation of the craft, you are pressed to the floor at one "G", and you only know which way is "up" by looking at your instruments.
We have often wondered: if the simulator has its own gravity, pulling down on the occupants at one G no matter how it is oriented, why is does the craft need to pivot at all? Why can't the simulator just be fastened flat to the ground, with no "gravity field" needed except that of earth? J-2 calls this an "effects" craft, intended to reproduce all the effects of actual flight. Part of the challenge is to get all the instruments on the console to respond to complex phenomena in an manner consistent with the operational craft. In the computer era, we can easily reproduce complex scenarios in "virtual reality," but in the 50s and 60s computers were primitive (even those on the Apollo spacecraft), and the best way to model an unusual effect might have been to actually produce it.
Another part of the reason for creating gravity in the simulator may be that the nature and sensation of this artificial gravity is as important as the direction and force of it. As it turns out, the physical sensations are not the same as being on earth, J-2 says, and they would be disabling if you were not prepared for them.
Although J-2 has never been inside a fully functional flying saucer, he rode in the simulator many times, usually to conduct tests on the mechanical assemblies he designed. Presumably, the experience is virtually the same as in a fully functional flying disk, since the idea of the simulator is to give a pilot -- and his instruments -- all the sensations they would have in live flight.
J-2 reports that although you feel no heavier or lighter inside the activated simulator than you do in normal gravity, your body feels somehow different. If you were not prepared for the sensation, you might become nauseous and disabled. This is why J-2 and his colleagues went through extensive briefings before riding in the simulator. Once you know what to expect, he says, the feeling is not so alarming and you can get used to it quickly.
J-2 has found it difficult to explain to us what the feeling is like. Your arms, for example, do not feel any heavier or lighter than they do outside the simulator. There are no obvious physical forces on your body apart from "gravity" pulling you toward the floor. As you move around inside the craft -- once you learn to do so -- the sensations do not change; the forces you feel are no different whether you are in the middle or edge of the inner chamber or whether the craft is inclined at zero or 65 degrees relative to the earth. (Thus, the gravity of the craft and that of the earth are not additive, or the inclination is automatically compensated for.) The abilities of your brain are unaffected; your thinking is as sharp and clear as it would normally be. Therefore, we cannot say that the effect is purely neurological, like that of an enormous electrical field acting on the nervous system. What, then, does it feel like, and why is it disconcerting?
When the craft first powers up, "you may think you are paralyzed, but you're not," says J-2. Your limbs still respond to commands from your brain, but you have to be more deliberate in your actions. If you tell your arm to move, eventually it will figure out how to do it. J-2 uses two analogies, although neither of them is perfect. The sensation is something like moving around underwater, with a certain sluggishness and awkwardness to all of your actions -- but no actual interference with them. J-2 also compares it to your body being completely encased in plastic, with an even pressure applied everywhere. It is purely a sensation, however. Once you get used to it, you can go about your business with no impediment.
J-2 has never experienced these sensations for more than 30 minutes at a time, because that is about how long the simulator can operate on a single "charge." As we understand it, the simulator is essentially a complete, working flying saucer, with the exceptions that (a) it does not have a self-contained power supply, and (b) there is no main "propulsion system" to move the craft long distances. Lacking an internal power supply, this saucer is powered by cables from the outside which feed into high volume on-board capacitors, essentially acting as batteries. There are six capacitors in the simulator (but not the operational craft), with a combined capacity of over a million volts (whatever that means). The capacitors can require 24 hours or more to charge. When the simulator is ready to run, the power cable is unplugged from the side of the craft, and saucer becomes entirely self contained for a "flight" of up to 30 minutes.
Although this craft cannot go anywhere, it still manipulates gravity. There is, for example, that artificial force holding the occupants to the floor when the craft tilts, but the effects do not end there.
The PivotThe simulator is no cheap imitation of the real thing. It is almost a fully functional craft. This is illustrated by one of its details: the pivot on which it rests. This pivot is similar to a trailer hitch or the mount on a car's rear view mirror. It is simply a ball, attached by a shaft to the ground. It is covered by a cup which is attached to the saucer, and this allows the craft to turn and tilt over a wide range.
In DR#27, we said there was a gear mechanism to move the craft on its pedestal, but this turns out to be wrong. There are no gears, just the ball and cup. Although they are lubricated, there is no mechanical system to move the saucer around.
The subject of the pivot came up in conversation with J-2 when we were talking about center of gravity. Let's say the craft is powered down and is just sitting on its pivot, perfectly balanced. Now, someone steps into or out of the craft on one side of it. Isn't the whole thing going to keel over?
No, says J-2, it remains solid, even if there is nothing supporting it along the edges. The saucer does not move because the ball it sits on is very large -- at least 36 inches in diameter. With that much surface area and the weight of the craft bearing down on it, the saucer isn't going to move as long as it is reasonably well balanced to begin with.
But then what happens when the simulator is turned on? How does it move? The craft itself takes care of that. When powered up, the entire saucer become weightless, and might even lift off the pedestal if were not held down by straps around the ball. The craft tilts and whirls under its own power without any mechanical intervention.
The pivot ball is cast in solid metal (J-2 won't say what kind.), and is machined to "within 4 microns," as is the cup that rests on it. At rest, the ball supports the craft's weight, which is about 18-20 tons. When the craft is powered up, designers face a different problem: keeping the craft from raising up off the ball. To prevent this, there are two semi-circular metal straps, bolted to the bottom of the craft and embracing the ball. These keep the craft from flying off the ball, but they also restrict its movement somewhat. Although the craft can "pitch" up to 65 degrees forward or back, it can only "roll" about 12 degrees side-to-side (about 24 degrees total). Yaw (the ability to rotate on the pedestal) is unlimited.
When the craft is at rest, there is an "air gap" of about a half inch between the ball and the straps. As the craft powers up, the craft can lift up of the ball and is held down only by the straps. J-2 says that if the craft ever got loose, it probably wouldn't go very far, just crash into something. Even though this craft can "fly", its capabilities are limited.
The Simulator RoomThe simulator is housed in a very large building, nearly big enough, J-2 says, to hold a Boeing 747. The building is partially underground. We ask why this is so, and he replies that, at least in the beginning, there was some concern about possible radiation emitted from the craft, and putting it below ground level provides shielding. However, there was little concern about radiation when J-2 was working with the craft. When the craft was operating there was no need for technicians to clear the room or get behind a wall (although none were allowed under the craft).
Also due to radiation concerns, the simulator is mounted above a circular pit, with the pivot coming up through the center. The pit is about 38 feet in diameter and about 21 feet deep. The pivot ball is mounted on a hydraulic piston which is capable of raising or lowering the craft. The shaft of the piston is about 12 inches in diameter, and at the very top it tapers to about nine inches at the point where it joins the ball (to allow the greatest possible tilt).
Normally the craft is raised to just above the lip of the pit, and platforms cover the pit to give the staff access (and prevent anyone from falling into the hole). Although the craft may be stable on the ball, hydraulic, rubber-tipped rods, or "snubbers," are extended out from the side of the pit to make sure the craft stays in place. The simulator is normally tested in the same position, with the platforms and snubbers pulled away.
The design of the pit and the fact that the craft operates above it, not inside it, suggests that there is greater concern about radiation below the craft than on the sides or above it. The piston also allows the craft to be lowered below the lip of the pit. This isn't very useful, though, since in this position there is no longer space for the craft to tilt. (We note, however, that this might make for a dramatic introduction in the Hollywood version: As our Hungarian hero (whoever he may be) enters the simulator room, the saucer rises up ominously through the floor. When this scene turns up on TV or in another rip-off Fox movie, just remember where it came from.)
This piston is very similar to the kind that cars are jacked up on in many auto repair shops. As in auto shops, the piston itself can rotate, so when the craft is at rest, you can almost turn the entire assembly by hand.
When the capacitors have been charged up and the simulator is ready for operation, the power cable is unplugged from the side of the craft, and it becomes a self-contained world. The only communication with the occupants and instruments inside is by radio. (The operation of the craft apparently interferes with some radio frequencies but not others.) Because the distances are only a matter of feet in this case, there is no need for external antennas, only antenna "spots" on the hull where transmissions are set and received.
If J-2 was present at a simulator test, he would be either inside the craft or outside at one of many consoles in the room. He would be looking at numbers or graphs to gauge the performance of whatever device he was testing.
Center of GravityWe have been confused about center of gravity. Does the craft need to be perfectly balanced to operate? The answer seems to be "Yes and No."
Masses and their distribution seem to be of critical concern inside the craft. A craft that was built for four people might not work for six. The different masses affect the gravity "envelope". How the masses are distributed is important, too. For this reason, a saucer can not carry much payload. Very big saucers apparently present a lot of technical difficulties. 10 meter models are standard; if there are significantly bigger ones buzzing around, they probably aren't ours.
Although mass and its distribution are critical, the craft does not have to be balanced -- at least the operational craft does not. For example, the flight deck on one side of the saucer does not have to be balanced by a counterweight on the other side. As long as the configuration of the gravity system takes this into account, the craft will still fly.
On the simulator, however, balancing on the ball is a concern when powered down. Thus, the flight deck on one side is balanced by the large capacitors distributed toward the other side.
You cannot release masses from the saucer while in flight, so it is not suitable as a weapons delivery system. So what good is it, then? This is not something that J-2 thought much about. Like many other technically inclined males of our species, he was happy to be working with cutting edge technology and interesting engineering challenges. It was not his position to ask what the technology would be used for.
FOGETDesigning a flying saucer or saucer simulator is not much different than any other large engineering project, apart from the many oppressive security restrictions. It can be compared to the design process for, say, a complex jet fighter, with similar paperwork and organizational structures.
What is the organization? We are still fishing for the right term. It is a quasi-governmental entity, like the post office. J-2 calls it the "satellite government," a term that is much too expansive for our liking. As far as he knows, the only mission of the project is to reproduce the saucer recovered near Kingman, AZ, in 1953 [DR#24]. Thus, we prefer to call the organization, for now, the Kingman Follow Up Project (KFUP).
KFUP started with a saucer, a 10 meter model, and the motivation to reproduce it. Where that motivation came from and how the project was authorized is not yet clear to us -- but if you had a flying saucer and you were the government, wouldn't you want to reproduce it? In any case, the program got under way quickly. By "1956 or 1957," J-2 says, they began work on the simulator, which presumably paralleled the development of the operational craft. "Start-up," or the earliest testing of the first simulator model, was around 1965, and testing was completed by "1968 or 1969" -- definitely before the first moon landing. J-2 does not seem to see any irony in this.
The project might be compared to the development of the F-117A stealth. In that case, there was a need -- to evade radar -- and a solution was quickly envisioned to fulfill it -- build a plane with faceted surfaces that would reflect radar away from its source. This original goal might have been sketched on napkin. The master designer makes a few crude calculations that tells him, yes, it will fly, and on that basis the project begins. The real work, taking many years under total secrecy, is implementing that napkin.
Judging by the early start of the simulator work, government scientists apparently had little difficulty understanding the basic theoretical principles of "anti-gravity" flight. Implementing those principals with earth materials was the real challenge. By the mid-1950s, "KFUP" had assembled an organization and had produced the first draft of a preliminary design specification. This document is called FOGET, or Fundamentals of Gravity Envelope Technology (its real name). This is a multi-volume manual containing everything that was learned about the Kingman craft, as could be applied to its earthly reproduction.
J-2 has seen only parts of FOGET, chiefly those that concerned mechanical engineering. He had no access to information about the electrical or gravitic systems because he had no need to know. FOGET was revised many times as the project proceeded, until the first human-built saucer was completed and tested. At that point, the "preliminary" FOGET became the "final" FOGET; the design phase was complete, and the product, we can only assume, went into production.
At least initially, the aim of the program was not to be creative, but simply reproduce the Kingman craft in the same dimensions using earth materials and human-compatible avionics. Lazar used the term "reverse engineering" to refer to the dissecting of an original craft to see how it works. If both Lazar and J-2 are telling the truth, than Lazar must have been mislead by his employers, because J-2 indicates that most of the "reverse engineering," would have been completed at least three decades prior to Lazar's arrival. It was the "re-engineering" of the craft for human use that occupied J-2's career.
As a designer of mechanical systems in the simulator, J-2 had no direct experience with either the reverse engineering process or the design of the operational craft. He knew, however, that these processes were taking place because of the paperwork he received and the projects he was working on that directly implied it. How you can you believe in something you don't see? Any engineer or physicist does it all the time. They know something is real because the numbers tell them so, and they would trust their life to those numbers.
And then there are the gray aliens showing up at the facility from time to time, dressed in casual earth clothing and acting as consultants (at exorbitant hourly rates, no doubt). After this happens once or twice, we imagine it would wipe away any lingering doubts.
Microns or Microinches?G. Nieting (firstname.lastname@example.org), who works for a manufacturing company writes...
The latest Jarod-2 article has a small discrepency. The drawing shows the ball polished to "4 mic." This is not a size, but a surface roughness value. It is in microinches, not microns. It is an Ra (average roughness) or RMS (root-mean-square)roughness value. (The RMS designation wasn't used much after the early fifties and is about 10% higher than a Ra value.)J-2 said "microns" so that's what we put down. We're not too worried about it. J-2 often mixes up words, but not the technical concepts behind them. -- GC 10/2/96
Zero's Guide to Surface FinishAgent Zero, a machine shop owner, offers the following...
Date: Mon, 7 Oct 1996 08:45:27The reference above to "light bands" refers to a technical subject J-2 has previously discussed. He says that materials in the saucer were joined "metal-to-metal" without soldering, rivets or other connecting material. Surfaces were polished within "no light bands" and then were pressed together in a vacuum. The result was a molecular bonding almost as strong as if the two pieces were made from a single block of material. -- 10/11/96
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Created: 10/1/96 gc