Mac arrived in main engineering early for her shift and made her way straight to the COE’s office. The QSD and MARS systems were the two things she was most excited about on this ship and today they were going to be tinkering with one of them.
“So, I have a few ideas on how we can boost efficiency to the MARS system. I was thinking we could discuss them as we crawl around in the jefferies tubes tracing every wire for this sucker? Which is what I believe you threatened was on the table for today’s tasks.” Mac wryly smiled as she addressed the CEO.
Peter smirked. “I thought I was threatening you with a good time. Got your coffee ready? We’re close to lateral sensor pallet 7, why don’t we start there, and feel free to start shooting ideas out. We can keep notes on the PADD while we crawl.”
She lifted her coffee and nodded to indicate that she was ready to go.
“How familiar are you with ancient Earth electric vehicles?” Mac asked as they made their way to the lateral sensor pallet. While studying the systems the night before, she had remembered a type of technology used on electric vehicles in the 21st century that could be adapted to help pull extra energy for the MARS system.
“I’ll be honest, I didn’t really pay attention to history at the academy,” Peter stated, “but what do ancient earth vehicles have to do with the MARS system anyways?”
“So, back in the 21st century,” Mac started, “they used this concept on electric cars called regenerative braking.”
“Braking would mean slowing down I thought?” He asked as they drew closer to the sensor room.
“True,” Mac responded, “what I’m suggesting won’t make us go any faster, but it should help us harness some energy that we can then store for use when the MARS system is activated. Think about it, vehicles have a lot of kinetic energy, and when “brakes” are applied to slow a vehicle, all of that kinetic energy has to go somewhere. Regenerative braking in the 21st century used an electric vehicle’s motor as a generator to convert that kinetic energy that was lost when decelerating the vehicle back into stored energy in the vehicle’s battery.”
Worried she was losing Peter in the history lesson, she quickly continued to how the technology applies in the modern day world. “On the Ulysses we have a QSD that produces a lot of energy and when we want to come out of the slipstream, it enters it’s shutdown phase….like braking on the ancient earth vehicles. Then after it shuts down it enters a cooling phase. There’s a ton of energy coming off of that slipstream drive in those two phases and if we rig a way to capture and store it, similar to ancient earth vehicle batteries, then we’ll have extra energy to tap into next time we want to use the MARS system. And THAT should lessen the load on the rest of the ship’s systems.”
Peter thought for a long moment as he keyed open one of the Jeffrey tubes. It would not hurt to store that extra energy, but how would be the next question. “I like where you’re going with this and this is the kind of thought process I like to see. Ok, so we shunt the excess energy from the QSD, our next problem is storage. That is a serious amount of plasma energy to store. It would take a lot of space and then we would have to take into account energy decay while it is in storage. After storing the energy plasma, how long would it stay useful in a quantity that would make it worth the deckspace? We would also need to figure out rate of consumption.” He said tapping the questions into a PADD. “Do you see any other possible issues with the energy storage?
They entered the jefferies tube as Mac responded. “How is the biggest obstacle, it’ll take some digging to rig up the right equipment. I guess I didn’t really think about the deckspace, but I’m sure we could figure something out.” She started marking up the MARS wiring diagram on her PADD as she continued, “We should be able to calculate the rate of decay with a few simulation runs. All we really need is to know the initial amount of kinetic energy that we think we can capture and subtract that from the amount left with a factor for time. Rate of consumption we should be able to find out by looking at the current MARS data to see how much energy it pulls and how efficiently it’s consuming it. Plus I imagine we’ll be doing more tests once we leave dock and that’ll provide valuable data too, right?”
“Oh needn’t you worry about testing and sims. We will be doing a large amount of that.” He tapped his PADD some, crawled a little farther and pulled a hatch open revealing a nest of wires. He handed a scanner to her and began his own scans. “Good points though. Next problem, processing and information. I ran cables to the axillary computer core to help with processing all the shifting information. That is an option, but getting the information is another problem too. This thing needs a lot of data, but we can’t blind everyone else while we have this running. As it is now, it’s a working system, but it taxes the core pretty hard and you run the risk of latency in one system or another. Ideas?”
Mac took the scanner and tilted her head slightly, processing the question that the CEO had asked, “Hmm, we’d need to identify the limiting factor that’s causing the latency. It could be a memory constraint, programming….it could be a host of things. However, one way we could probably see immediate results is to reduce the number of points the data has to cross to get to its destination. Soooo once we get the wiring path for everything mapped out, maybe we can reroute some of it so that it doesn’t have to cross so many points to get to its destination?”
Peter grunted as he glanced at some of the wires in the next panel over. “You’re right about that. Wiring is just shoved in here. Like MARS was an afterthought. Streamlining this would help with as much data as will be flowing through.” He waited for her to crawl up and pointed at a cluster of wires. “If we streamlined this, just for MARS and ran straight to the cores, we could eliminate most of the processing lag at the bio-neural gel packs. Less data they have to sort for direction and make an easier load for the standard information processing.”
Mac sighed upon seeing the poorly wired system, “Well, looks like we have our work cut out for us.”
“I’m pretty sure this is going to be a long process. Sounds like we’ll have lots of time once we leave the dock to work on this. You up for the task?” He asked pulling down a hatch.
“Yep!” She responded. Mac secretly loved crawling around in the jefferies tubes. Mapping out wiring wasn’t the most exciting activity, but it would help in the long run so it was worth it.
“So thinking about how we contain all of the power that we siphon from the QSD….what if we somehow tie that into the shielding grid? We’d have to rig a way to convert the power and we’d have to increase the load capacity in the EPS conduits and the deflector, but it could be done and it would take less deck space if we’re just modifying systems that we already have. What do you think?”
Peter thought while he crawled around. “It could work. Using the capacitors in the shield generators to hold extra power might work for added, but we would need to run load tests for sure. A problem could be too that the draw from the generators may have to be spaced as a slow bleed.” He crawled through a hatch and straightened up some. “You’re pretty on your game you know that?”
“Thanks!” She said, blushing. So far, Peter was shaping up to be the nicest CEO she’d ever had. “I’m just a total engineering nerd. Sometimes it’s impossible for me to tear myself away from engineering at the end of my shift because I just enjoy it too much.” Mac laughed momentarily before noticing a group of wires that looked misplaced. She cocked her and inspected the cables. “Hey, these look like they’re routed into the wrong processor….they’re MARS cables…but they’re being run through one of the auxiliary relays and then into the grav plating processor. See?” She moved aside so that Peter could get a better look.
He slid close and looked to where she was pointing. Sure enough, her eagle eye caught a miss wire. He checked his Padd and pulled up a schematic. “Good catch. Sure enough it’s in with the grav plating. Wiring was obviously done by the lowest bidder.” He said and showed her his Padd. “It’s a short cut of sorts. Short cut in cutting the amount of cable to run it to the next BNG pack by about 30 meters, but adds one more processing on its way to the core.” He said indicating the next junction.
“Well, it should probably be one of the first things we repair with this wiring. Who knows what kind of havoc could ensue by having it go through the grav plating processor. On the other hand, it could turn out to be quite amusing if every time we activated the system it caused the grav plating to go out.” She chuckled, playing pranks and getting into mischief were Mac’s go to hobbies outside of work and she could think of quite a few scenarios involving the grav plating that would make for a lot of fun. Thinking about pranks spawned her next question, “so what do you do for fun when you’re not crawling around in jefferies tubes and mapping out wires?”
“Not as fun as it sounds. First test of the MARS on the old Ulysses triggered the sabotage and the gravity generator failed in Commander Winters quarters. She was in the shower and ended up with head trauma.” He said sheepishly. “Zemke in Ops said I started extreme showering.”
“Far as R&R, it feels like it’s been a while. Spent all my time the last couple weeks either making sure the old Ulysses made it back home or studying these new systems. I do like to cook and have a holodeck program of Earth Hawaii where I go to try and clear my mind. Otherwise, I’m pretty dull. You?”
“Extreme showering?” Mac laughed. “I enjoy flying shuttles, my dad taught me. He was a pilot in Starfleet. Other than that, mischief and thrill seeking in general. My go to in the holodeck is usually a skydiving program with Klingons. Think skydiving mixed with mok’bara.”
Peter looked over at her. “If you go skydiving with Klingons, I think extreme random Zero-G showering might be right up your alley. They key is you don’t know its coming.” He laughed and looked down. “Speaking of showering. Looks like I need one before the department meeting this evening. Mind if I crawl out of here a little early?”
“Sure no problem, but I’m making not making any guarantees on the gravity holding up for the next hour while I finish poking around in here.” Mac replied with a smirk. “Have a good afternoon!”
Peter smirked. “You too and this is a brand new ship. What could go wrong?”