OT: slide rules still in use



#27

For the slide rule lovers among us:
(Please don´t get that link wrong. It does not express my political orientation)

check between 2:23 to 2:30

You tube film

even nowadays slide rules have their niche. Russians always seem to rely on prooven technology as long as it fulfills their needs instead of developing fancy new electronics. During the early days of space flight the NASA put some effort on getting ball pens working at zero gravity while the russians solved the problem by using a pencil.....

I know that pilots around the world still get some training on mostly circular slide rules for basic in flight calculations. As I learned we have at least one professional pilot on this forum. Don´t know if he still uses slide rules on board. I think he was far more interessted in this famous HP-calculator watch :-)


#28

Quote:
During the early days of space flight the NASA put some effort on getting ball pens working at zero gravity while the russians solved the problem by using a pencil....

You say that so negatively, if it weren't for this we might not have the Fisher Space Pen. I love my space pens, they always work. It's an indirect spin-off of the space program that has down to earth benefits.

Edited.


Edited: 15 Mar 2009, 12:14 p.m.


#29

My son discovered the space pen independently and got one from my wife (Santa) for Christmas a few years ago. Then I remembered that I had one somewhere from my youth...and I found it in a box with...slide rules!

Now he has lost both pens. Oh well :-(

#30

I'd like one of of each but my favorite is the contractor.

#31

Quote:
During the early days of space flight the NASA put some effort on getting ball pens working at zero gravity while the russians solved the problem by using a pencil....

Actually... The pen was developed independently of NASA and both space programs wound up using the Fisher pen. Apparently there is some danger associated with broken pieces of pencil lead floating around in a zero-g environment.

Cheers,

Brent

#32

I was still taking my slide rule into the field until the late 1970's when LEDs gave way to LCDs and I no longer had to lug around spare battery packs.

As far as the Russian philosophy regarding technology is concerned, I remember seeing a TV piece on a post-cold war exchange between US and Russian fighter pilots in which the US pilot flew a Mig and the Russion flew an F-15 (I think). They simulated a scramble situation in which the pilots ran to the plane, got in and took off as quickly as possible. It took less than a minute to scramble the Mig, but nearly 3 minutes to do so in the F-15. The Russian pilot bragged that he'd be ready for combat while the US pilot would still be stuck on the ground, fumbling around with all his fancy technology.

#33

Hello!

Quote:
As I learned we have at least one professional pilot on this forum. Don´t know if he still uses slide rules on board. I think he was far more interessted in this famous HP-calculator watch :-)

I know that you are talking about a different person... but as far as I am concerned: No, I do not use my circular slide rule at work. Never did, actually.

I was forced to buy one for the theoretical exam >20 years ago when electronic calculators were not yet allowed. For practical purposes however, I always used an electronic calculator, mostly dedicated aviation calcualtors. But there is really nothing left to calculate now. All the flight planning is done with dedicated software on some desktop computer (in my case, I get it done by our operations staff), and in the air, the flight management system (so to say the "onboard computer") takes care of everything. It is connected to all sensors of the aeroplane so that error prone data entry is avoided.

But I take two calculators with me most of the time: A little Casio thingy in my bag that can calculate with hours and minutes for filling out the logbooks, and a Ti85 (that I got for 1 Euro from that auction site) for unit conversions when refuelling. I never dare to take my precious calculator watch to work...

Greetings, Max

#34

Hello Frank,

I have two slide rules, one they still force me to carry due to air regs in Canada which still demand a non electronic back up. This is due to poor GPS coverage in Northern Canada combined with a lack of navigational facilities in sparsely settled areas. Also GPS units must be 'approved' for use and not necessarily attached to the aircraft systems (handheld). And we all know what batteries can do if they rundown!

They are:

1.   My jeppeson CR2 which does a wonderful graphic representation
of point to point navigation.

point to point discussion

CR 2 flight computer

2. My post 1461 for the heck of it. Although it does monetary
conversion rates faster than a calculator. Line up the 1 of
the C scale over the actual exchange rate on the D scale.
Now any total can be converted to the 'exchange total' using
the cursor alone.

3. This also works for time remaining on fuel flows and any
other calculation requiring ratios. Once the ratio is input
using the C and D scale one only has to move the cursor slide
to determine the next answer.

Yes, I always use the HP 01 in the flight deck! The dynamic functions are wonderful.

-Insert the total time for the flight in the stop watch. Multiply the stopwatch by the average fuel flow for the flight and up comes the burn.

-At takeoff start the stopwatch and watch the time count down. The flight attendants want to know the time remaining for service.

-Hit the equals sign when you want to know the fuel burn remaining that is required for the remaining flight time. Watch the burn dynamically count down as each second passes.

I am with Katie on the Fisher Space Pen front. Bought my first one in 1977 and have used it at work and during my research in the field while doing my MSc. It worked in the rain, on wet papar, below zero (-30 centigrade) and on my plasticized field note book. The pencil smeared in the water and smudged in the field book.

Cheers, Geoff


#35

Hi!

Quote:
I am with Katie on the Fisher Space Pen front. Bought my first one in 1977 and have used it at work and during my research in the field while doing my MSc.

Ah the Space Pen :-) I am still with my first one (a gift from my wife when I passed my ph.d. exam (aerospace) in a previous life). I always carry it at work - but for real writing, I prefer a PaperMate fountain pen that I have been using for something like 30 years now.

And regarding the watch: I am not allowed to use times from my own watch at work! The technicians download the data from the flight managemet computer for their records, and there must be no discrepancy between the technical records and the operational logs filled in by the flying crews. Therefore, we must use the times from the FMS display... On most days, I do not bother to carry a watch at all.

But our environment is quite different from Geoff's then: If our navigation system fails, we will have crossed two state borders here in central Europe by the time it takes to locate the backup-slide-rule in our cramped and packed bizjet cockpit... By then, two fighter jets will already be flying beside us, escorting us to a suitable landing field!

Greetings, Max


#36

Hello Max,

How is the HP 01 project going?

Quote:
By then, two fighter jets will already be flying beside us, escorting us to a suitable landing field!

Same here, if you miss a radio frequency change and ATC cannot communicate with you via your company or VHF, we too have fighters on our wing. It can happen even when you do not cross borders!

Quote:
And regarding the watch: I am not allowed to use times from my own watch at work!

Quite correct, FMC on the 777 is GPS synched, but I wear mine for cross checking. I have seen incorrect data in data bases which is why I still carry the HP 41CX and complete my own independent navigational checks as well as fuel management and etc..

In fact, the requirement for an on board sweep second hand timepiece is still in the air regulations and the HP 01 fails that definition miserably ;-)

Cheers, Geoff

P.S. I do alot of Europe flying crossing one country to the next. Tel Aviv comes to mind; leaving from Toronto you cross Greenland, Iceland, Scotland, Amsterdam, Germany, France, Italy, Greece and into Tel Aviv. So navigational accuracy and prompt communications are mandatory!

Cheers, Geoff

"Shiny side up"

Edited: 15 Mar 2009, 7:28 p.m. after one or more responses were posted


#37

Quote:
I do alot of Europe flying crossing one country to the next. Tel Aviv comes to mind; leaving from Toronto you cross Greenland, Iceland, Scotland, Amsterdam, Germany, France, Italy, Greece and into Tel Aviv.
Interesting country counting d;-) But as long as GPS works ... many happy landings!

Just for my curiosity: Do you have a stopover in Amsterdam (NL) and relatives in Scotland (GB)?

Edited: 15 Mar 2009, 11:22 p.m.

#38

Quote:
In fact, the requirement for an on board sweep second hand timepiece is still in the air regulations...

Why is there still a requirement for a sweep second hand?


#39

Simple answer, the regulation required an independent timepiece consisting of a sweep second hand.

It was written prior to the digital age. Even after the advent of digital watches, the digital technology was not 'proven' therefore sweep second hands were still required.

Even today, although the onboard clocks have digital components, we still have an analog display with a sweep second hand.

Cheers, Geoff


#40

They call it "human factors" in the nuclear power industry. Control rooms in nuclear power stations are required to have mostly analog indication for many processes and to indicate control positions. The idea is that human minds are basically analog, and we perceive quantities in terms of physical distance, rather than numbers. The sweep second hand lets your mind see how far it has to go in time to get to a certain milestone, such as the next whole minute.


#41

Quote:
The sweep second hand lets your mind see how far it has to go in time to get to a certain milestone, such as the next whole minute.

Makes sense. A digital displayed number could easily be transposed in the mind and/or on paper.

#42

Back when I worked avionics, if I needed to check a potentiometer for smooth output (such as the output of an AOA probe, which was 0-28vdc off of a precision potentiometer), I always reached for a Simpson analog multimeter. Any noise in the pot could easily be seen as a disruption in the smooth sweep of the wonderful, jeweled movement of the Simpson meter. In this application a digital multimeter was useless, except as a paperweight on a windy flight line.

I need to find an old HP analog multimeter for my collection...

Hal


#43

Quote:
Back when I worked avionics, if I needed to check a potentiometer for smooth output (such as the output of an AOA probe, which was 0-28vdc off of a precision potentiometer), I always reached for a Simpson analog multimeter. Any noise in the pot could easily be seen as a disruption in the smooth sweep of the wonderful, jeweled movement of the Simpson meter. In this application a digital multimeter was useless, except as a paperweight on a windy flight line.

About ten years ago I did some consulting with a firm that was making instrumentation for fire trucks. The firemen needed to be able to read the displays from some distance away. Due to the extreme vibration when the pumps were running digital displays and standard meter displays were useless. We developed bar graph displays which were readable from a distance.

Palmer

#44

I had 400 or so before my last burglary, now I'm down to probably 200 but I haven't made accurate count.

Charlie

#45

Quote:

even nowadays slide rules have their niche. Russians always seem to rely on prooven technology as long as it fulfills their needs instead of developing fancy new electronics. During the early days of space flight the NASA put some effort on getting ball pens working at zero gravity while the russians solved the problem by using a pencil.....



This pencil thing is an urban legend and false...

About half way down the page here...
Space Pen on Wikipedia
...you can read about it.

Edited: 17 Mar 2009, 1:21 p.m.


#46

Got me! Didn´t know about that.

Anyway, I wonder if USAF crews onboard a B52 still use slide rules as their russian counter parts do as we could see.

Last summer the swedish Army held a "open house" day in Karlsborg. Among other units there was a heavy mortar platoon with a lot of electronic survey instruments and computers for range finding etc. Since I have been working as surveyor years back I enjoyed talking to the guys.

To my surprise they also showed up a box filled with special artillery slide rules and table books with the proud remark that they still would be able to fire even if all the electronics should fail (scandinavian winters). When I started asking them questions about the use of this gear the soldier told me that he did not receive any training on it and walked away for an officer to show me. He came back with a higher rank and also he confessed that he wasn´t able to handle this equipment.

I guess we really entered the electronic age with no way back. Already old fashioned calculators with one row LCDs without "like in the text book" dot matrix seem to be a hurdle.

I guess I start growing old.


#47

Quote:
Anyway, I wonder if USAF crews onboard a B52 still use slide rules as their russian counter parts do as we could see.

The flicght compter/slide rule is still in use as far as I know.
They also use a specialized calculator.

#48

Quote:
To my surprise they also showed up a box filled with special artillery slide rules and table books with the proud remark that they still would be able to fire even if all the electronics should fail (scandinavian winters).

This remminds me of the electromechanical Mk1A fire control computer that I studied in the Navy back in 1952. When fully operational it took the necessary information for the solution from synchro inputs from the Mk25 radar, gyroscopic systems, etc. and automaticallly delivered train, elevation and fuse settings to the guns. Every synchro input was backed up by a mechanical input capability with a hand crank. Input information could be received from the sound powered phone system and a degraded solution would be available to "fight the ship".
#49

Quote:
...he wasn´t able to handle this equipment...

Frank,

watch your back now! Swedish military intelligence might be after you for spilling these secrets to the enemy! ;-)


#50

Hi George,

I guess the bar fact that I am a foreigner living in Sweden put me on their list? Until some years ago there were still areas in Sweden foreigners were not allowed to enter, but where no limitations at all existed for swedes. For example outside Karlskrona, one of Swedens naval bases. But they took away these stupid rules as far as I know. Certainly the insight grew that these measures don´t really give more security.

#51

Wikipedia tells me, that a better-than-pencil-solution was needed, because of...


Quote:
the flammable nature of the wood present in pencils

Can I believe that? Couldn't they just have replaced the wood with non-flammable stuff? Wouldn't there be even more flammable material in the astronaut's hair?

Like Wikipedia, I also believe the pencil story is a hoax. But Wikipedia's reasoning is weak.


#52

Wikipedia's "reasoning" is weak because Wikipedia doesn't have a brain!


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