Author Topic: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)  (Read 34011 times)

Offline CuddlyRocket

I am not suggesting that they should try to get by with Victorian technology. I am trying to plan a Mars base that could survive and develop with out support from Earth.

I should imagine that any initial Mars base would be planned with modern technology and considerable support from Earth in order to enable it to grow quickly into a colony. Nonetheless, I think what you propose is a useful exercise as it might identify simpler and more cost-effective methods (particularly if taking into account the cost of transport from Earth) of achieving particular objectives or in enabling the base/colony to grow.

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I just thought that by using much simpler and maintainable systems, would provide a better chance of succeeding.

Maintainable ones, certainly! Simpler systems might have the benefit of needing less preexisting infrastructure; but not necessarily. What needs the least preexisting infrastructure? A related and useful question is what infrastructure enables the greatest development of other sustainable systems?

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It might even be possible to have a totally electricity free base, although it would be very uncomfortable.

I think an electricity supply is the infrastructure that answers my second question above! That isn't saying that systems that don't use electricity shouldn't be considered.

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If solar panels and LEDs could be made on Mars they should be used.

Solar panels: Not necessarily; solar-thermal generation could be used. But if they could be manufactured on Mars they'd probably be incredibly useful; particularly for smaller outposts etc.

LEDs would be less of a necessity, I would have thought - there are many ways of producing light - but any manufacturing system that can produce solar panels could possibly also produce LEDs.

Offline rakaydos

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Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #101 on: 06/17/2018 06:17 PM »
In principle, there's no reason a set of devices cannot remake themselves, so long as the chain of devices is sufficently long.

I dont think there's a question that a machine that knaps glass blades from raw sand could be used to mill wooden forms to produce technoligy that's needed for technoligy to create a glass-knapping machine. The question is simply, how short a chain can we make?

Offline colbourne

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Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #102 on: 06/18/2018 07:00 AM »
In principle, there's no reason a set of devices cannot remake themselves, so long as the chain of devices is sufficently long.

I dont think there's a question that a machine that knaps glass blades from raw sand could be used to mill wooden forms to produce technoligy that's needed for technoligy to create a glass-knapping machine. The question is simply, how short a chain can we make?
An example of devices that can create more of themselves are plants. These can be a sustainable item that would be able to create many of the things needed on a self sufficient Mars. By editing of DNA (on Earth before they are sent to Mars) we can create plants which will fulfill a purpose on Mars, previously filled by complex unsustainable machines.

Offline rakaydos

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Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #103 on: 06/18/2018 06:02 PM »
In principle, there's no reason a set of devices cannot remake themselves, so long as the chain of devices is sufficently long.

I dont think there's a question that a machine that knaps glass blades from raw sand could be used to mill wooden forms to produce technoligy that's needed for technoligy to create a glass-knapping machine. The question is simply, how short a chain can we make?
An example of devices that can create more of themselves are plants. These can be a sustainable item that would be able to create many of the things needed on a self sufficient Mars. By editing of DNA (on Earth before they are sent to Mars) we can create plants which will fulfill a purpose on Mars, previously filled by complex unsustainable machines.
That's true on earth, but unless you can build a pressure vessel out of sap or have the plant breath near vacuum, you're going to need a bit more than that for mars.

Offline colbourne

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Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #104 on: 06/19/2018 12:23 AM »
In principle, there's no reason a set of devices cannot remake themselves, so long as the chain of devices is sufficently long.

I dont think there's a question that a machine that knaps glass blades from raw sand could be used to mill wooden forms to produce technoligy that's needed for technoligy to create a glass-knapping machine. The question is simply, how short a chain can we make?
An example of devices that can create more of themselves are plants. These can be a sustainable item that would be able to create many of the things needed on a self sufficient Mars. By editing of DNA (on Earth before they are sent to Mars) we can create plants which will fulfill a purpose on Mars, previously filled by complex unsustainable machines.
That's true on earth, but unless you can build a pressure vessel out of sap or have the plant breath near vacuum, you're going to need a bit more than that for mars.
I would expect the plants to be kept in pressurised tunnels and use mirrors to reflect sun light for growth. If we can engineer plants to survive in the near vacuum of the Martian atmosphere all the better. I would be interested in whether plants can grow in the light given off by CO2 plasma as this would make enhanced lighting a sinch.

Offline laszlo

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Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #105 on: 06/19/2018 02:38 AM »
Having knapped glass and obsidian as well as having milled wood, I can tell you that a knapping machine will never be able to mill. Knapping involves concentrated pressure with a relatively blunt soft tool while milling wood uses a very hard tool to cut fibers.

But that does bring up the possibility of using Neolithic tools sourced from local resources. :D

Offline rakaydos

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Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #106 on: 06/19/2018 11:50 PM »
Having knapped glass and obsidian as well as having milled wood, I can tell you that a knapping machine will never be able to mill. Knapping involves concentrated pressure with a relatively blunt soft tool while milling wood uses a very hard tool to cut fibers.

But that does bring up the possibility of using Neolithic tools sourced from local resources. :D

I was apparently unclear- I was referring to knapping glass blades, which are then used in a second device to mill wood.
But yes, rebuilding technoligy from neolithic on up is possible, if we remember how.

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #107 on: 06/20/2018 03:39 PM »
Fortunately we do not have to go back to neolithic. We can deliver a workshop to Mars. Just ensure the workshop can duplicate itself. This can be tested on Earth.

Offline Kansan52

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Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #108 on: 06/20/2018 04:08 PM »
Contact your local Society for Creative Anachronism. They have a lot already figured out.

Plants could provide alcohol  for fuel. During the oil embargo, there was a lot of talk about rape seed could be crushed, then filtered, and then used as diesel fuel.

Clock work mechanisms can do most anything.

Online speedevil

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Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #109 on: 06/20/2018 06:30 PM »
Clock work mechanisms can do most anything.
Expensively.
On earth, you can survive in many environments naked, with things you bootstrap, at a level of technology dependant on how many people you have, and skills.

I note.
This is machining a simple calculator to work out properties of the solar system.

Going back to your bootstraps is _hard_ and everything takes orders of magnitude more time and/or people.
And your life support has to be good enough - by definition - for the work of one person to keep a person alive for a year.

This is making one of the simplest electronic display tubes.

Now, what goes into making the brass sheet, or the glass-metal seals? Complexity explodes as you move away from the stone age.
And productivity probably can't be high enough.
« Last Edit: 06/20/2018 06:32 PM by speedevil »

Offline Kansan52

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Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #110 on: 06/20/2018 06:43 PM »
Sorry, hyperbole on my part.

I was thinking simpler things like timers and such. And more complex things like mechanical calculators and typewriters.

Also was thinking of such things as a single transistor, capacitor, resistor, and power can do the same job as an IC and many more items.

Offline guckyfan

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Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #111 on: 06/20/2018 07:12 PM »
Any such solution will consume much more power than more advanced chips.

Offline rakaydos

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Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #112 on: 06/20/2018 07:29 PM »
Any such solution will consume much more power than more advanced chips.
If you can manufacture primitive solar collectors, power isnt an issue. Run your 3d-printed 3D printer on circuit boards and vacuum tubes, if you can get a 3d printed motor winder and 3d printed vaccume tube assembler.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #113 on: 06/20/2018 08:09 PM »
Any such solution will consume much more power than more advanced chips.
If you can manufacture primitive solar collectors, power isnt an issue. Run your 3d-printed 3D printer on circuit boards and vacuum tubes, if you can get a 3d printed motor winder and 3d printed vaccume tube assembler.
I'd remind people of KE Drexlers caution on failing to understand the limits of nanotechnology.
True it is very impressive. But it cannot break the laws of physics.

But that is not necessarily a problem.

The challenge is not to make a 3d printer from a 3d printer.

It is to make all the tools need to make the parts to sufficient accuracy to make a 3d printer.

Given the huge range of materials and sizes involved that should be a much simpler task.
One thing that people ignore in these scenarios is the "universal assembly robot" IE the operator. 

BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #114 on: 06/21/2018 02:23 AM »
At a low technology level there is solar paint. That may be a more viable system for Steam Punk Mars.
https://understandsolar.com/solar-paint

Online speedevil

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Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #115 on: 06/21/2018 09:01 AM »
At a low technology level there is solar paint. That may be a more viable system for Steam Punk Mars.
https://understandsolar.com/solar-paint
That is not - remotely - low technology level. The application method may be something you are sort-of-familiar with, but the 'paint' is very, very high tech.

"10% isnít nearly as efficient as silicon panels, but because solar paint is much cheaper to produce even at this lower efficiency level itís still cost-effective."
Note, as an example https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanosolar - who went under after claiming cheaper to produce printed solar cells. (they never ended up being cheaper).

Claims of 'cheaper to produce' should be met with massive, massive scepticism if after several years they have not started producing them.
 

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #116 on: 06/21/2018 12:00 PM »
At a low technology level there is solar paint. That may be a more viable system for Steam Punk Mars.
https://understandsolar.com/solar-paint
That is not - remotely - low technology level. The application method may be something you are sort-of-familiar with, but the 'paint' is very, very high tech.

"10% isnít nearly as efficient as silicon panels, but because solar paint is much cheaper to produce even at this lower efficiency level itís still cost-effective."
Note, as an example https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanosolar - who went under after claiming cheaper to produce printed solar cells. (they never ended up being cheaper).

Claims of 'cheaper to produce' should be met with massive, massive scepticism if after several years they have not started producing them.
 

Paint does not need a dust free vacuum chamber to make it.

Offline CuddlyRocket

At a low technology level there is solar paint. That may be a more viable system for Steam Punk Mars.
https://understandsolar.com/solar-paint

That is not - remotely - low technology level. The application method may be something you are sort-of-familiar with, but the 'paint' is very, very high tech.

But what sort of tech is needed to manufacture the stuff and is this replicable on Mars? How does it compare to what you need to manufacture solar cells?

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"10% isnít nearly as efficient as silicon panels, but because solar paint is much cheaper to produce even at this lower efficiency level itís still cost-effective."

Claims of 'cheaper to produce' should be met with massive, massive scepticism if after several years they have not started producing them.

But the question here is not which is cheaper but which is easier for a Mars colony to produce!

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #118 on: 06/23/2018 08:02 PM »
But the question here is not which is cheaper but which is easier for a Mars colony to produce!
Correct, and very relevant to this threads title.

The historical development of various products has been driven by various competing pressures, particularly to make products faster/cheaper and with less skilled labor (you'll notice I didn't say "better" because that's rarely been a driving requirement).

OTOH designing systems for Mars may (probably?) be driven by different priorities.
You could do a lot of work using a standard relay design, with different connections configuring several different functions with a core design.
I know, clumsy, slow and heavy.
But adequate to handle a large range of tasks, easy to scale to higher powers and not requiring parts-per-million (or billion) impurity control. BTW the first "Micromice" running mazes were implemented in the late 1940's with relay based systems.

According to National Instruments electromechanical types can switch in 5-15ms and reed relays 10x faster (and in principle much more dense, while (in principle) configurable in 2 input AND, OR or NOT switching.
Yes 666Hz doesn't sound too good but remember a lot of embedded control application processors are quite slow (by server or even desktop standards).
[EDIT A later Google search showed you could get reed relays with switch times of 300 micro seconds, about 3333 Hz.  Again not earth shaking but for a lot of tasks good enough. Automotive relays (for car window and seat controls can have a footprint of 5 x 6 mm and switch 25A. Relays can also be latching, acting as registers or memory with zero power.

To put this in perspective you could put 1976 relays with the footprint of the automotive relay on an A4 sized panel. The LS74181 ALU is about 96 gates. Such a panel could hold enough gates to match 20 of these packages. 4 of these were used to implement the Alto and PDP11 computers (and quite a few other mini computers of the 70's and 80's). 8 of them were the core of the Symbolics and Lisp Machines Inc LISP systems.

A Mars built reed relay might be very different to the Earth design. If glass is difficult to make they might be made as ceramic blocks, or a multi-step electroforming process

I'll note that while the hardware may be (apparently) primitive that doesn't mean it wouldn't be designed using SoA CAD, CAM and FEA tools running on a server farm on Earth. ]
« Last Edit: 06/30/2018 08:57 PM by john smith 19 »
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline colbourne

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Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #119 on: 06/26/2018 03:54 AM »
Have any studies found what is necessary for a Mars base to be self sufficient , with no contact with Earth ?
If a Mars base is to be an arc, giving humanity and Earth life (maybe the only life in the universe) a second chance , we need to plan this from the early stages of its development.
I wonder what would be the minimum base to give the inhabitants a fighting chance to survive and prosper in to the future.

I support Elon in aiming for this goal, and I expect that he has looked into this , and this probably explains why his designs are so much bigger than most of us feel are necessary. I would have been happy with a Mars base of 4 to 10 people, surviving totally dependent on Earth, but if the goal is to set up a self sufficient Mars colony , maybe we do need to house millions of people to have the infrastructure to allow a modern society to exist.

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