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Electrostatic Helicopter

X-rays plus high voltage DC equals hovering disk
  [vote for,

I was musing half awake about "electrostatic lifter" demonstrations, where high voltage ion-wind can make a grid of foil and balsa wood fly in the air.

How could we make this effect more robust? Increase the ion current: use radioactive corona wires, or corona wires coated with radioactive paint. No no no! Instead, BEAM SOME POWERFUL X-RAYS ALONG EACH WIRE! This would create a region of ionized conductive air which would then be accelerated by the strong e-field. And if the x-rays were somewhat collimated, and the x-ray generator was connected to the high-volt drive (and was otherwise electrically floating) then you might not even need the wires. The x-ray beams BECOME the lifter wires. It's a powerful "electric fan" with no moving parts. If this ionizes many cubic meters of air and provides a huge air flow, maybe we could build an "electrostatic helicopter" based on Lifters and x-rays.

Electrostatic helicopters.



And then... and then... Suddenly I see it.



Here are some of the side effects of such an aircraft:

1. a fuselage to intercept ions: no-tail helicopter. A disk.

2. it hovers silently except for unfiltered PWM power supply hum

3. the top of the craft glows slightly: violet-green from corona. Hard to conceal!

4. the top of the craft contains x-ray emitters covered with some sort of weatherproof cowling (dome!)

5. it fairly reeks of ozone. And nitrogen oxides.

6. the air downwash is laminar, so it hovers with no wind noise

7. air is pulled down from above. No downwash below our hovering disk

8. maybe a donut-shaped fuselage would work better than a disk?

9. the fuselage always remains charged to DC high voltage, so landing is a big problem.

10. it spews intense x-rays, so it sets off geiger counters

11. it has a natural plasma sheath, so it might fly transonic wo/sonic booms

12. enough x-rays will ionize HV insulation, so cars and radios malfunction

13. if forced to land it leaves behind charred and sterilized grass patterns (!)

14. Don't stand too close during takeoff. Sunburn or radiation sickness!

15. if no weighty shielding, pilots have shortened lives and defective children

16. early prototypes require a highly-insulating "landing cradle" at Wencelas mine site

17. during partial malfunction, two disks can touch to share fuselage charge

18. Nonconducting landing gear? why not inflated rubberized canvas hemispheres below. (!!!!!)

19. like helicopters it flies by tilting. No blades, internal gyroscopes *required*

20. put small x-ray "lifters" on the rim for station-keeping. They flicker and "chase," like a movie marquee

21. Oh and the sound is a high-freq whistle from the main HVPS, plus a deep hum from PWM power control.


wbeaty, Oct 22 2007

Tesla's "xray ion beam" diagrams http://amasci.com/tesla/tesray1.html
Nikola Tesla supplies a vision of x-ray-powered high voltage flying projectiles (but no helicopters) [wbeaty, Oct 22 2007]

Pilots needed: USAF antigravity squadron http://www.youtube....watch?v=8nB_ipeQfpM
Humorous training film for USAF crews of captured Nazi flying saucers. [wbeaty, Oct 24 2007]

Helicopter Archipelago http://bldgblog.blo...er-archipelago.html
Build a sky city composed of individual hovering buildings [wbeaty, Jul 12 2010]

Radiation Pills http://www.dailytec...ll/article10490.htm
Nothing could possible go wrong here... [DIYMatt, Jul 13 2010]


       Such a device might be very vulnerable as a military aircraft. Are you ready for this next part? Heh. A counterweapon would be a high power collimated x-ray or gamma ray source. A truck-mounted x-ray generator would send an invisible conductive beam out to make contact with the hovering disk-craft. This would short out the fuselage to ground, discharging it's high DC voltage, and causing the electrostatic propulsion to fail. And of course the gyros just HAVE to make the hovering disk start precessing wildly as it crashes into the Capitol dome, or perhaps into the base of the Washington monument.   

       And after you've used your x-ray "conductivity ray" to shoot down all the flying saucers, the Japanese government can rent your fleet of truck-mounted beam generators to take down Godzilla! No need to build new ones!
wbeaty, Oct 22 2007

       Your focusing and transmitting xrays? How? And I read the idea, but what exactly receives the xrays?
evilpenguin, Oct 23 2007

       The first part of #7 doesn't imply the second part of #7. The second part of #7 contradicts #6.
baconbrain, Oct 23 2007

       These lifters normally don't scale up, since the thrust goes up by the square, and the weight goes up by the cube. But using conductive air to reduce weight or increase surface area means that the forces generated cannot be mechanically linked to the part that should be lifted. But if the ion sprayer was mechanically constructed, the return grid could be conductive air (laser?)
Ling, Oct 23 2007

       sp. IGOR
pertinax, Oct 23 2007

       > These lifters normally don't scale up, since the thrust goes up by the square, and the weight goes up by the cube.   

       Yes, but you're imagining a thin corona-wire device. This is not a lifter, i.e. it doesn't use extremely thin wires to deposit a fairly limited rate of charge into the air. Instead I'm trying to remove the thin-wires bottleneck by using a volume-filling corona discharge which is pre-ionized by x-rays rather than by high field gradients near a thin wire. Or in other words I speculate that I could create a far higher current than a "lifter" can; like many orders of magnitude higher. A few kilowatts power throughput to stir the air, so it approaches the power level of an aircraft engine.   

       > Your focusing and transmitting xrays? How?   

       No focusing. Do the same as medical devices: put a high-power x-ray source in a lead box. Poke a hole in the box. A somewhat-parallel beam comes out. Or perhaps simply aim the usual output of an x-ray tube upwards. The goal is to ionize the air, connect a HV DC source to the region of ionized and conductive air (with a simple metal plate,) then drive the air along with a strong e-field.
wbeaty, Oct 23 2007

       Ah, I see. More Ions per unit area; same area. Like a vacuum tube, but without the vacuum.
Ling, Oct 23 2007

       > Ah, I see. More Ions per unit area; same area. Like a vacuum tube, but without the vacuum.   

       Exactly. But the REAL goal is to have a humming nitride-stinking violet-glowing radioactive disk aircraft which causes cars to stall and leaves permanent marks in wheat fields. :)   

       And don't forget genetic damage to crew! Backscatter. And hauling around all that weighty lead shielding isn't THAT necessary. After a few generations, we saucer-pilots hidden in our underground Antarctic base will drift away from Human unless we kidnap outsiders to strengthen our precious bodily fluids!!!
wbeaty, Oct 23 2007

       >The first part of #7 doesn't imply the second part of #7. The second part of #7 contradicts #6.   

       Change it to "no huge obvious turbulent downwash below." I'm imagining a smaller total area of downflow above the craft, and a larger area below. Vaguely like an upside-down, time-reversed helicopter flow pattern. And if the x-ray corona cloud can reach far out, it would be like a "U-2" aircraft which gains lift by moving a vast amount of air down slowly, rather than a small amount of air down quickly. People below the hovering disk might suspect "antigravity" and not even notice the downflow.
wbeaty, Oct 23 2007

       Skipping abit fast . Build the helicopter with the electrostatics in the blades first .
wjt, Oct 27 2007

       Go greased lightning!
4whom, Oct 27 2007

       //But the REAL goal...// OK, in that case [+]
mouseposture, Jul 13 2010

       With the right medical technology [see "Nanotubes"] pilots would be immune to the radiation.   

DIYMatt, Jul 13 2010

       You've missed a trick.   

       A large part of the reason why helicopters work is that they are so ugly that the earth naturally repels them. The same principal allows very fat people to continue to walk to MacDonalds, when a normal person would collapse under the weight.   

       This machine needs to be properly ugly.
Twizz, Jul 13 2010

       There are more efficient, and humane, ways to cook a pilot.
whlanteigne, Jun 02 2015


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