Heat Rejection and Heater Power

Hey Folks! Spent a bit of time mulling over cooling systems today, which turned out to be a lot more complex than I was originally thinking. Also, upgraded the heater to have an off and on mode, and solved some power bugs along the way.

First, cooling. I did a bit of research to see what's involved in cooling systems, and there's a lot of complexity here. Namely, where does the heat go when we remove it from the cabin? In the real world, places like the ISS run a coolant loop to some external radiator (Or in the case of life support, an internal coolant loop that exchanges with an external coolant loop that exchanges with an external radiator.)

Now, that on it's own isn't a bad thing. More stuff to make ships interesting! However, the radiator is going to be matter of stylistic debate. In the real world, such radiators are massive, age-of-sail-like panels sticking out of the ship. Which puts a damper on our Serenity/Rocinante/Millennium Falcon fantasies. But on the other hand, I'm trying to make these ships feel like real, running systems.

One approach might be to make a futuristic radiator that isn't such a buzzkill. Maybe some speculative tech does the job while looking cool? I've heard of some solutions that might fit the bill. One interesting example used a forward-facing coolant fountain that relied on the ship's acceleration to later recapture the coolant. Some other examples eject cooling materials that can be moved and held in position by magnetic fields, for retrieval later via field manipulation.

Rimworld handily side-steps this issue by simply making its coolers eject heat in the opposite direction, which I suppose would be a quick and dirty solution here. You'd end up heating a different room as part of the process, or even venting hot air into space.

Or, I could just handwave the issue away. We have a jump in radiator tech that allows us to use cool-looking louvered surface panels instead of giant sheets sticking out perpendicular. I'm leaning towards that one, personally :)

Anyway, I put that aside for a while to do actual work, and tackled the heater again. This time, providing an "off" state for it, and some power consumption stats. Now heaters won't work without power supplied, which is at least a step towards completing their shortcomings.

In the process, I also found and fixed a few bugs in related components. For one thing, my items' "Christmas lights" had a positioning bug that made it hard to choose good values in the data. Turns out that was a scaling issue caused by the parent item when its sprite was non 1x1 grid squares.

I also discovered that my air pumps were consuming a whopping 360000W. Each. For reference, a typical modern-day pump is more on the order of 300W. Oops!

Anyway, it was a small step forward today. But fixing hidden bugs is always a good thing, and I think I'm finally starting to reap the rewards of the cooling research now. Louvers, mmmm :)

Tags: Ostranauts


Asthepanda2iscool2's picture

360000W... I feel like the player should be able to buy a system like that at their own peril. Or maybe malfunction event where a machine's stats all triple. Power consumption, in-ship effect of the item, etc.

But yes, the player should be able to accidentally crush their crew with a bad purchase.

Rar! Rar rar rar! Thanks for reading :)

dcfedor's picture

I agree! Players will definitely be able to buy enough rope to hang themselves with.

This, however, was beyond science fiction. The 360kW we were dumping into it wasn't doing anything. Not even generating heat! (360kW is like 200 toasters running at max power, so it should at least be getting toasty :)

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games