Thursday, May 24, 2018

Installment 5.4: EMP...the life of the party


Walt retransmitted “Repeat: I have six columns approaching.Estimated speed is fifty miles per hour.  They must have removed the governors.  I got a laser on them and the data says they are moving at fifty miles an hour.”

“Holy shit!” Chad exclaimed off-mic.

“Do you have a firing interval figured?” Chad asked.

“According to my calculator, in total, we need to drop a round on them every four seconds if we want a round ‘shingled’ every 300 feet.” Walt said.  He was something of a whiz at math.  "Or we can salvo every fifteen seconds or so an paint a quarter mile of pavement."

"I direct the teams to salvo.  Team alpha sets the cadence, everybody else tweak time in flight to match." Chad said.

“I should have asked this earlier.  Does anybody know how many rounds of EMP we have?” Chad asked.  He could tell that he was handicapped by his lack of sleep.

“Our team has two pallets of EMP ammo.  I counted out one pallet and it had sixty rounds. So that means we have 120 rounds.” Team alpha responded.

The other teams concurred.  They all had two pallets of EMP ammo.

Walt chimed in, “Works out to 720 rounds or about fifty minutes worth of firing.  Do you want us to try to stretch it out?”
The "Kill zone" the Cali attack force must travel through.
“Nope.” Chad said.  “I want to give the defenders down the line a clear break point.  Start firing just before they enter the ‘kill zone’ and drop one round every four seconds on them.  Walt, you have the ping-pong paddles.  Everybody else, light them up when Walt gives you the word.”

Chad switched channels.  ““Izzo-to-Pitoitua.  Izzo-to-Pitoitua.  Come in.” Chad transmitted.

“Pitoitua here.”

“Cali columns proceeding south at fifty miles per hour.  I repeat, five-zero miles per hour, measured with laser.  Traveling in four columns and running without lights.  Anticipate arrival at highway 138 at 2:40 AM.”

“Are you under fire?” Pitoitua asked.

“Negative.  We can see artillery mixed in with personnel carriers.  They are all making fifty mph.  No return fire.  No drones.  We just about to start painting column with the EMP weapons.  No confirmation regarding effectiveness.” Chad transmitted.

The radio transmissions became uneven, even behind two ridges.  The squelch was fighting the bursts of static each time four EMP shell went off.

Walt and Kenny would have been a good musical conductors.  Kenny directed the teams to where the shells were coming in 100 yards apart and Walt tuned up the time-to-targets so they were bursting nearly simultaneously.

Each team had two loaders.  The first one picked it off the pallet and put it on the charging cradle.  The charging cradle was a capacitor with the size and appearance of a very large beer cooler.  A black box converted the 120V AC that into 30,000V DC was plugged into the generator and pumped up the capacitor banks in the charging cradle.  The charging cradle, in turn, charged the small capacitor bank in the EMP shell just prior to firing. 

Capacitor-to-capacitor charging is instantaneous.  The only complication when using high capacity capacitors is that instantaneous charging vaporizes the charging lugs.  Consequently, the process has to be de-tuned.  As it was, the charging was nearly instantaneous by human standards and accompanied with a loud “SNAP!” that stood everybody's hair on end.

The small capacitor bank on the EMP shell were the most expensive part of the system and comprised the rear 2/3s of the shell.  They combined reliability, capacity and compactness.  The electrical charge carried by the on-board capacitor was the primer for the EMP.

The front third of the shell was comprised of a drawn aluminum can wrapped with heavy gauge wire.  The can assembly was nested within a surprisingly thin shell of high explosive.  Protruding out of the can assembly was patch antenna that was made of pure silver and supported with carbon fiber scaffolding.

The shell detonated when the angle of descent pass the specified level.  A copper BB rolled down a "straw" and closed a contact which energized a relay.  The relay dumped the energy in the capacitor into the heavy gauge wire.  The copper sphere also initiated a timing circuit which fired the high explosive shell just as the coil was fully energized.  The explosive crushed the can-coil assembly and generated a very short, very intense power surge.  The explosive charge also severed the “return” leg of the coil.  Having nowhere else to go, the power surge energized the patch antenna in the nose of the shell.

The explosions three hundred feet above the pavement were less than impressive to mortar crew who were used to shells made by 24 ounces of TNT.

What they could not see was the havoc the EMP pulse did to the electronics on-board the vehicles.

Every electronic device that was connected to an antenna or was powered by exposed wiring was damaged.  Fuses melted, then vaporized as the pulse leapt the gap created by the fusible links.  The surge flooded into integrated circuits.  It arced across capacitors leaving carbon traces of charred shellac that turned the capacitors into conductors.  It broke down diode and transistor junctions and the thermal shock cratered the silicon substrate.

The problem was exacerbated by the recent upgrades the Cali technical people made to the electronics package.  They had looked at the military grade electronics and scoffed at the ferrite beads and abundance of chokes.  They laughed at the heavy wire, and in the case of the fire control package in the old Soviet self-propelled artillery, the vacuum tubes.

They replaced all of the military grade electronics with state-of-the-art commercial electronic; electronics that ran 50 times faster, consumed 5% of the electricity, occupied 20% of the space and in audio applications did not clip the high frequency content.  The Cali tech people did not have a very high opinion of their military counterparts.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Seven Chipmunks and three Mice...and counting

Seven chipmunks and counting

Three mice.  More than I expected.  All were nocturnal.
Image showing bait choice and presentation.
A quarter pecan continues to be the bait-of-choice.  Its shape lends itself to wedging beneath the bait tang, especially if you bend the tang up slightly.  It is physically tough enough that the pest must 'work' at removing it, thereby increasing the odds of the trap firing.  I am getting about 70% clean catches.

And it is a suitable "last meal" before the pest slips its mortal coil.

Installment 5.3: A game of chess and surprises


“Well, I am going to complicate things but I know you guys are pros and will figure out a way to make this easy.  We need to lay a round down every 100 yards of their column.  I cannot give you the time interval until we have a good estimate of their speed of advance.” Chad said.

“Soooo, I need some of the observers to do timed miles on them before they get into the kill zone.” Chad said.

“Way ahead of you, boss.  We got it handled.” Walter said.

“Thanks.” Chad said.  “Make sure you communicate it to all teams and I need to know so I can pass that information up the line.”

“Teams: this is a good time to start the generators if they are not already running.  Remember, the projectiles need to be placed into the cradles until the light turns from red to green.  The capacitor in the round is not charged and it is not ready to fire until it goes green.  Oh, and by the way, don’t touch the two exposed lugs near the rear of the round after it is charged.  You will not be a happy camper if you do.” Chad radioed.

The teams radioed back by the numbers, “Team Alpha copies, start our generators now, charge projectiles before firing, don’t load before green light, don’t touch lugs

And then Chad leaned back and waited.

Beanie said, “You know, I never understood why Cali doesn’t have tanks…real tanks, not self-propelled artillery.  And why doesn’t it have attack helicopters and bombers and fighter planes?  They would crush us if they did.”

“Didn’t you study Bona-Brown Socialist theory in school?  All conflict is due to class differences and Scientific Socialism eliminates those differences so there is not conflict.  Socialism does not require police or a military because She has no enemies.” Chad said.

Beanie snarked back, “Sarcasm alert.”

Chad said, “I gave that a little bit of thought.  Let me start with a question.  When a government gets overthrown…a coup if you will…who does the heavy lifting?”

Beanie thought for a moment.  “Usually the military, I guess.”

“And who does all of the manipulation and string-pulling?” Chad asked.

“I dunno.  Maybe other politicians.  Maybe the intellectuals.” Beanie said.
“Close enough.” Chad said.

"What if you put all of the ambitious political types in charge of the military and gave them a bunch of morons to lead?” Chad asked.

Beanie started to object.

Chad held up his hand to forestall her.

“Do you know anybody in the Cali military?” he asked.

“Well, sure.  Everybody does.” Beanie said.

“To be brutally honest here, would you trust them with big-boy scissors or would you be more comfortable if they were only given the Kindergarten version?” Chad asked.

Beanie had to smile.  “Well, seems like most of the kids I know who ended up in the military were the Kindergarten scissors crowd.”

“There is a reason that most of the soldiers, recruits they call them, never fire a round of live ammunition in training.  There is a reason the recruits wear shock collars.” Chad said.

“What is that?” Beanie asked.

Chad said, “They are a danger to themselves and everybody near them.”

“What is the point of having a military that cannot fight?” Beanie asked.

“Well, it keeps the folks who might overthrow Bona-Brown occupied and it keeps the ‘less gifted’ gainfully employed.” Chad said.

“But what if Cali was invaded?” Beanie persisted.

“Who is going to invade Cali?” Chad scoffed.  “The US hates Cali but they would never allow a competent, foreign power to gain a foothold on the western portion of North America.  They might hate Cali but they would defend them out of strategic self interest.”

“The other thing is that tanks and aircraft are expensive to maintain.  It is not just crews and pilots.  It is maintenance and facilities and parts and training and all that stuff.  Bona-Brown dumped a pile of money into social programs.  There was not any left over to keep the hardware running.”  Chad mused. “I guess we are lucky they went that way.”

“You got that straight.” Beanie said.  “It feels like we are playing a game of chess and all we have are a king and a couple of knights.  We would have been slaughtered if the other guys were playing with all the pieces.”

“True, that.” Chad responded.

The sound of the distant engines changed and caught their attention.

Chad switched back to all-teams.

“Pipe up when you have solid estimates of what is coming toward us.” Chad said.

After a minute of silence, Walt transmitted “I have six columns approaching.  I think we have Cali advancing on both sides of I-5.  That is, both north bound and south bound.  Based on the spacing between the headlights it looks like they are running buses in the two outside lanes and artillery the middle lane.  Estimated speed is fifty miles per hour.”

“Bullshit.” Chad said.  “The self-propelled artillery has a max speed of 35 miles per hour.”