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Ekranoplaneti become much more efficient as their
wing area increases.
I therefore envisage this scheme working in a sort
cooperative, flashmob kind of a way.
Simply arrange for several thousand cyclists to
converge on Hackney Downs one morning. Each cyclist
an 8x4 sheet of plywood on their head, with straps
running under their armpits.
Volunteers with long arms and nailguns will also be
As the beplywooded cyclists converge, they park
to eachother in a testudo-style formation, overlapping
their plywood boards which are then joined by the
Once the formation reaches a critical size (say 50-
100 cyclists on a side), they all start pedalling quite
At a few mph, the entire formation will rise majestically
several feet into the air, supported easily by the ground
Steering can be accomplished by the cyclists on the
extreme left and right of the leading edge, simply by
flexing their boards.
Of course, propulsion will be lost once the cyclists
the ground. To resolve this, the starting point can be a
gentle incline (which would allow for an almost
ground-effect glide), or the nailgunners can abandon
nailguns and instead grab the tow-ropes dangling from
front row of cyclists.
||Our close (if unbeknownst to them) associates the
Mythbusters already did this, only without the bicycles and
nailguns, which I see as the real strength of this plan.
They were actually trying for a 'plywood parachute', but
Jamie did speculate that Ground Effect might come into
play. It didn't work out well for poor Adam.
||//become much more efficient as their wing area increases// not quite: the amount of lift that's lost at the tips is pretty constant based on chord, although the greater the chord the higher your ground effect maximum can be.
||The bicycles and nailguns are, as you note, rather a
key part of this.
||[ft] you're quite right, and the actual efficiency
depends heavily on aspect ratio as well as total
area. Howevertheless, what tends to happen is
that lift per unit area rises dramatically as you get
further away from the edge, so a big square wing
has way, way more lift than a small square one.
||Of course, the greatest ground effect can be
attained by eliminating the edges altogether,
which no doubtless accounts for the elegant
efficiency of the Dyson Sphere. What with that
and those tornado vacuum cleaner, he was one
||It's the length of the chord (from the front to the back of the wing) that determines the <dammitwhatsitcalled> lift loss at the tips as the air simply rolls over from bottom to top. So if you've a wing that loses 4 foot on each side: 8ft, then the difference between an 8ft wing (pretty well nothing in the way of lift) and a 40ft wing (32 ft effective) is quite a bit obviously, but between that and a 60 ft wing (52ft effective), not so much and probably made up for by the increased bendiness from using unreinforced plywood.
||When you see an airliner with winglets at the tips of the wings, that's what those are for: to prevent the air from rolling up over the wing sideways; normally it's the last 4-5ft of wing that does this, but the winglets make it easier to park.
||Dyson's good but his idea of putting all the dirt-creating things into bubbles to keep from soiling the place is a bit odd.
||Yeah, but you've got to admire the way he handled
||// make it easier to park. //
||This is a Boeing we're talking about. An 800-rider bicycle-
and-nailgun-powered plywood ekranoplan would probably
be easier to park than that. Especially with winglets.
||This idea is completely whacked (+).
||//The bicycles and nailguns are, as you note, rather a key part of this//