NASA’s moon-mission airgun

by B.B. Pelletier

Today’s guest blog is written by Dr. William Abong, formerly of NASA. Dr. Abong worked at NASA on the Apollo Moon Mission, where he was a member of the extraterrestrial life sciences team.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email us.

Guest bloggers must know how to take clear photos and size them for the internet (if their post requires them), and they must use proper English. We’ll edit each submission, but we won’t work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.


The LOOPH Lunar air rifle is a unique airgun and now available exclusively from Pyramyd Air!

by William Abong, Ph.D.

Until recently, the gun I will present to you today was highly classified. NASA has now declassified this part of the moon mission and given me permission to write about it.

How it began
Back when we were getting ready to go to the moon, there were concerns for the safety of the astronauts on these far-flung missions. You don’t read about it today, but back in those days we took the UFO threat very seriously. So many of the early astronauts had seen and photographed extraterrestrial phenomena that we felt we had to give them something to protect themselves.

Firearms were ruled out early on because the astronauts are often working in oxygen-rich environments that would not handle a chemical explosion very well. We came up with the idea of making them a defensive airgun — something that would not endanger the environment.

The gun we built was different than anything you see today. First, it had to work reliably in a vacuum. Second, we had no guidelines as to how powerful to make it for we didn’t know the threat. Oh, we had some data on the anatomy and resilience of the Grays; but since they’re not the only species known to exist, we felt we had to design for something more powerful and deadlier. In the end, we pegged our design on something that was three times more difficult to kill than a cape buffalo.

The gun we built is called the LOOPH Lunar air rifle, with LOOPH standing for Lightweight Open Orifice Pellet Heaver. You would call it a precharged pneumatic air rifle because it operates on 1,000 psi air, but it is unlike any PCP you have every heard of. For starters, there are 25 air valves lined up sequentially along the top of the barrel. Each opens just as the projectile passes it to maintain a constant 1,000 psi thrust on the projectile. It was difficult to time these valves; but once we did, we operated them with special electronic switches that can be controlled very precisely.

It was our design to keep the pressure behind the projectile constant for greater acceleration. A normal PCP has one valve that opens and closes. When it closes, the air pressure in the barrel immediately starts dropping off. The LOOPH delivers constant air pressure, so acceleration always increases. The gun is very loud on Earth, but since it’s designed to be used in a vacuum, it makes no difference because in space no one can hear you scream.

Safety
The gun is too dangerous to let safety pass lightly, so the design team decided to make it the safest gun ever made. There are 12 different safeties on the weapon. They take over a minute to disconnect if you are in shirt sleeves. We never tried it in a spacesuit, but we estimated it would take over five minutes. Since the astronaut may encounter situations where it is desirable to get into action faster than that, we put in a voice override. If the astronaut says “Shoot!” all the safeties come off, making the gun instantly ready to fire. Because of the primitive state of the early voice recognition software/firmware, we had to limit the astronauts who could use this feature on the gun to those with a Northeastern or Midwestern accent. Southerners could not make it work. Unfortunately, a high percentage of astronauts come from the Southern states, plus it was popular in those days for an astronaut to affect a Texas drawl, so not too many people in the program could use this feature.

EMI/EMP
The team was concerned about electromagnetic interference (EMI) from various sources, so we considered TEMPEST-ing the whole gun. But after learning that would approximately double our development budget of $27 million, we decided to just put two wraps of tinfoil around the receiver until use. After all, tinfoil is a well-known safety precaution when dealing with alien RF emanations and most of the design team wore some whenever they were in the mission mode anyway, plus it cost us less than a dime for each use.

Projectile and caliber
Since we had no known threat on which to base our design (killing Grays is like shooting frogs, you know) we decided to go overboard and design for the worst threat we could imagine. The caliber of the gun was the most difficult choice we made. The team leader wanted it to be .30 caliber, but several of our younger members were aware of the U.S. Army’s experimentation with a new .22 caliber round. Debates went on for over a year, and we finally had to have a sequestered off-campus team session in Las Vegas to decide. In the end, we got a book written by Mr. Jack O’Connor, who touted the .270 caliber as the finest compromise of all. Since compromise is the hallmark of the Agency, we settled on a caliber of 0.2767 inches. That’s not exactly the same as a .270, but we couldn’t just use a conventional caliber without risking criticism from some quarter, so we made one up. That way, there was nothing to complain about.

If the caliber was the hard part, the material for the projectile was easy. Iridium. It’s dense, has a high melting point and is resistant to almost all known acids. This was at a time before the movie Aliens, but we actually did think about the possibility of encountering a race that had concentrated acid for blood. In fact, I think one of the team members later collaborated on the script for Aliens.

The projectile weight is 11.5 gm (177.471 grains), and it leaves the muzzle at 1,399.9464 m/sec. (4593 f.p.s.). That gives an energy of approximately 8,315 foot-pounds. Since it’s shot in a vacuum, it continues at that speed until acted upon by some outside force.

The one thing we didn’t figure was the cost to produce the projectile. Iridium is extremely difficult to machine. So, the individual rounds cost something like $5,000 each to make. At NASA, our motto is “Pick the very best. We’ll find a way to fund it.” So, we don’t worry too much about things like cost unless we get close to the end of our budget. However, with a projectile costing as much as this one, we found that at the end of each budgetary year, we could spend the remainder of our funds buying extra projectiles. I think we ended up with something like four tins of 200 rounds each. For those of you who are budget types, that represents more money than our entire development budget. But we also had a yearly allowance that wasn’t costed into the same budget, so we spent a lot more than $27 million on this project.

Sights
We incorporated a heads-up display on the inside visor of the astronaut’s space helmet, so there are no sights or displays on the gun itself. You point the rifle normally and watch the HUD until the pipper gets on target, then take the shot. Since we were required to have complete redundancy, we arranged valve No. 4 so if you align the right side of that valve with the end of the muzzle you got a reasonably good sight. I guess if you buy the rifle today, you’ll have to use that method because I don’t think NASA will sell you an active helmet.

The extra stuff
You probably noticed all the tools coming out of the top of the receiver. They’re there because of some arguments we got into during development. Management kept asking us to add this and that feature to the gun, until it was completely unworkable. So our team leader decided to stifle them by building in a kit of special tools that astronauts would always have on hand if they had the rifle. They don’t detach from the receiver, though, so unless you’re weightless they’re of limited value. But just having them appear on our briefing slides stopped a lot of the random comments.

Well-built
From reading this blog, I know that most of you value the best materials in an airgun. Well, we certainly put them into the LOOPH! Most of the gun is made from tool steel; and where synthetics are employed, we went with a dense Styrofoam to save weight. We were going to blue the metal parts, but because of the environment in which the gun will be used, we had to settle with vacuum-deposited platinum. I think it looks pretty snazzy.

Economy
You have to save money somewhere, so we decided to do it by not firing the rifle except during testing. The astronauts never got to shoot an actual round in the real gun. However, we were part of the mission training and simulation team; and for only $1.5 million plus software, we developed a training device that they could use. Individual shots on the trainer were less than a thousand dollars, which saved us a bundle in ammunition costs. Plus, we didn’t have to open a tin, so they were available to all the moon missions.

Testing
We never actually fired the gun during testing except one time to make sure it all worked. But I developed a simulation that we used to test with. The gun seems to be very destructive and should do well against any reasonable threat. Of course, it won’t stop Superman, but we feel confident that there isn’t a species of alien with his powers out there. If there is, too bad for all of us!

In the simulations, the gun was quite accurate. It could drill a Gray at 100 yards before he started warming up his temporal lobes to defend himself — not that we ever did that, of course. I guess it would put 5 rounds through a 5-inch circle at 100 yards.

Mission end
The Apollo 13 astronauts had to leave their gun in the Command Module upon their return to Earth. Of the seven guns made, only six remain today. When the mission ended, we asked NASA management for permission to fire the guns a couple of times, but they felt it was too dangerous and declined. Besides, it was very expensive.

I learned a lot during this development. The most important thing was that there are very few problems that exotic materials and more money can’t solve. And, when you do encounter one of those unsolvable problems, just revise your goals to keep what is possible within your grasp. Do that and you’ll probably never go wrong.

Happy April first!

120 thoughts on “NASA’s moon-mission airgun



  1. I was in absolute stitches 30 seconds into reading this. I love the management references. Seriously, I could not stop belly laughing and I had to stop to wipe the tears away from my eyes at least three times. My absolute favorite part is “The extra stuff” paragraph.

    The listing on PA was icing on the cake. Thanks for giving me a great start to the new month. Who wrote this, anyway? I have to wonder if Slinging Lead had a part in it.

    – Orin


    • Orin

      I never know what day it is, so I couldn’t have written this. Nope, I think the handsome bald guy with a talent for making up witty names is behind this one. I’ll bet he’s got some screamers that aren’t fit to print in the blog. Thanks for the nod though. It is good tosee you around.


  2. Damn if that wasn’t a story worth laughing about for the weekend, surprised it was posted. I need to reinstall my CAD software so I can create some weapons. What a joke, made for amusing reading though. It was too funny to read through it all, a creative writer though πŸ™‚

    rikib πŸ™‚


  3. B.B.

    Soviets solved that problem from a more practical side during “Almaz” program.

    Soviet PVK and PVK-M space combat and survival rifle (pnevmaticheskaya vintovka kosmicheskaya (modernizirovannaya) – pneumatic rifle for space – modermized) were firing 9.2 tungsten carbide bullets with teflon leading belts (to fire it both in space @ 1600 m/s relative to the shooter and in atmosphere @ 295 m/s).
    Magazine contained 10 bullets and 10 more were stored in a spare magazine in rifle’s stock, with 20 more tungsten shot shells in storage container, to use for hunting in survival situations.
    It was both repeater and semi-auto, fed and powered by 2 0.5 liter bottle tanks,enough for 50 shots on planet’s surface, one containing UDMH and another – LOX, so it could be refueled from spaceship’s tanks and vice versa.
    It was shoulder-fired weapon with selectable jet recoil compensation, fitted with PSO-K space telescopic sights with IR matrix (to see and shoot objects it space shadow) and automatic ballistic calculator.
    Luckily it was never used against American astronauts, as well as a NR-23-K twin barrel recoilless autocannon – primary armament of “Almaz” heavy space reconnaisance and combat stations and “Spiral'” series space superiority fighters/surface bombers. During orbital tests it was able to penetrate 15 mm target armor plate (I don’t know how many “Apollo” or Space Shuttle hulls is that).
    The main concern for developers were orbiting bullets – they were afraid if the bullet could make an orbit and hit the shooter or his spacecraft, however tests proved it to be impossible, as bullets were eithe leaving orbit, or “sinking” into Earth atmosphere.

    duskwight




        • B.B.

          Oh yes, they do. Machine gun elks for example. I love this story about Soviet Army using riding mooses with machineguns installed onto bipods screwed to moose’s antlers during Winter War with Finland.

          duskwight


          • duskwight,

            Well, I can’t really say anything about that, because when I was in the Cavalry our Air Cav guys went out killing coyotes with miniguns.

            I also remember one time in Germany when a boar was spotted on a tank gunnery range. One lieutenant was sitting in the gunner’s seat and saw the boar. He started after it with the coaxial machingun, forgetting that as he traversed the turret he was slewing back towards the range control tower. Hot day on that range!

            B.B.

            B.B.


            • B.B.

              Machinegun moose was one of the loudest and funniest April jokes in Russian guns community. Of course, there could be no such implementation, as the poor animal would have died or went mad because of noise.
              Jokers took a Soviet Army FM on how to use a domesticated moose for moving things and as mount for reconnaisance, scanned it and forged another 4 pages in Photoshop. It was a real web battle πŸ™‚

              And as for tank hunting, I’ve heard stories on using APC’s KPVT machinegun (14.5×114) to hunt for hares. The art was in shooting @ 500 or so meters right into the head, as it left a beheaded hare body, quite suitable for cooking. A body shot left a pelt turned inside-out and some minced meat spread evenly on an acre.

              duskwight



            • Matt

              Yes, of course. Read my post from April 1st 4:50 p.m.
              I wonder why nobody supposed something on 0.5 bottle tanks for that PVK rifle πŸ™‚

              duskwight




  4. When will there be some Preds available for this rifle? I would like to see them with tungsten carbide tips for penetration, a plutonium core to boost B.C. and the main pellet body made of potassium metal for it’s violent reaction with water(and particularly with acid).
    You never know when the alien starlings will arrive.

    twotalon


    • twotalon,

      “You never know when the Alien starlings will arrive.”?

      Every one KNOWS they come back from Zeta Centuria on April 1st of every year. Fortunately they only stay 1 day! If you want to drive over to my place you can see them at my feeders right now! But do hurry. They are resistant to pellets from my Sumatra 2500R carbine! So if you could bring some heavier fire power it would be appreciated!


  5. I bought one of these at the local flea mkt.I am lucky to live here near the Huntsville Space and Rocket center! I missed the April fools day last year Tom…..good to have you “all the way” back!!
    Now all is right in my little universe:)






      • B.B.,
        Yeah, but if those nails had actually been tested against any spec., they would have cost a great deal more, EACH. It’s the testing that “justifies” the exorbitant price tag. In the case of the LOOPH, your simulator alone would jack the price up.
        Victor



    • Duped,

      We were given special instructions to disable the “add to cart” function. And Edith was asked several times if she had done it.

      I just hope the Call Center isn’t inundated with questions. πŸ™‚

      B.B.




  6. You know, you had me going for a couple of paragraphs until “Dr. Abong” referred to tin foil for shielding the electronics of the gun! Then I wasted a minute or so to see if Dr. William Abong was an anagram for April Fools. Well done, BB! Oh, I sent a link to my brother at Picatinny to see if he knew about this :). He should get the joke quicker than me as he’s smarter than me – occassionally.

    Fred PRoNJ



      • George Nouri and Coast to Coast doesn’t come on until 9pm Central time BB. Keep an eye out for the Grays, and Art Bell actually has one of these rifles in his Pahrump NV home/compound, right next to the 2012 calendar and the freeze-dried food.



    • Paul, that got a good laugh outta me too! I’m so used to seeing a percentage off there and literally laughed out loud when I saw the frankness of β€œyou save – 0%”


  7. BB,
    When I got to the part about the $27 million additional for the incorporation of EMI/EMP protection, and then doing it for 10 cents worth of tin foil, I burst out laughing. That is so real! I have been there!
    You are killing me!!
    That was great!
    Lloyd


  8. What a sap I am! You had me! I was copying and pasting the article before the last paragraph was read. It was then when I noticed the “happy April 1st”.

    Great read!

    ka




  9. I guess the real question is, will it work on Zombies?

    Hey Lloyd, can we use krytron switches for this baby to maintain the 1,000 psi push? They aren’t that expensive, are they?

    Fred PRoNJ


    • Fred PRoNJ,
      Good question. Zombies will survive a trip to the moon better than the rest of us, and the lower gravity will make them even more dangerous, as will the shortage of food (humans).
      Victor


      • Victor

        While you correct about zombies being better suited to surviving in a moon/outer-space environment, on account of they are dead already, and don’t need to breathe, you have forgotten one important fact. They cannot eat our brains while they are wearing their space suits. Without them the zombies would freeze solid, or incinerate. Also, zombies are known to be very stiff, which makes it very difficult to don a space suit in the first place.

        Fortunately, zombies are something we only have to contend with here on earth.


  10. Morning B.B.,

    It was just a question of when, but you knew it was going to happen. The modders have already started working on and improving Dr Abong’s MMA’s functionality. A person who signs on as The Hitchhiker has added a shroud containing a liner accelerator that boosts the velocity in a vacuum into a classified area.

    Bruce


  11. If memory serves, NASA did consider putting a personal defense weapon aboard some missions just in case the capsule landed in hostile territory. Seriously. I think the worry was landing near a primitive tribe that had never heard of astronauts. I think the weapon was a pistol, but am not sure. May also have been intended to let them take game for food.




  12. B.B. nice try, but the last time I was taken in by something like this was in college when Sports Illustrated ran a story about a new pitcher who could throw at 130 mph. He used an unorthodox throwing motion and could knock bottles off of fences at an incredible distance. I was the total sucker for that one. But your NASA gun looks nice, except for the blades. For a second, I thought we were getting a blog of the Rogue.

    Science question! If the combustion of gunpowder generates its own oxygen in what must be an almost airtight container, couldn’t you shoot a firearm in space?

    Victor, I like the idea of love as the source of creation, but how then do you explain the creation of the Third Reich? It didn’t spring out of nothing. It was the product of creative forces and whatever else you can say about it, it was extremely capable in many different realms: military, scientific, social, political….”

    Okay, here’s another reloading questions after all. Anyone have advice on a good set of calipers? I would be measuring case length and width and probably the depth of primer seating too. I’m looking for quality at a cheap price as usual with quality as the priority. What about vernier vs. digital?

    Also, does anyone know what is a “straight pull” rifle? Bolt-actions work by rotation as anyone can see from looking at the lock on a bathroom stall. So how would a straight pull rifle lock the action?

    Matt61


    • Matt61

      A straight pull rotates internally or through the inside of the bolt by cam action and rotation of internal lugs and parts. Styer/Mannlicher were one of the first to perfect this method, makes for a very quick cycle time compared to up, back, forward, down cycle of a std bolt action.


    • Matt,

      Yes, gunpowder burns in space. It’s called solid fuel.

      I own a Schmidt-Rubin straight pull M31. It works by a camming action, just like the M16 bolt.

      B.B.


      • Ah yes, I think this point was brought up before. Time for me to learn what “camming” means. It comes up in all discussions of the bolt-action mechanism.

        Matt61


    • Matt61…bullets in space

      Yes, all modern gunpowders have addtional oxidizers in them. Ignition is not an issue in space. Lack of gravity for the shooter to anchor himself is a big problem. As BB noted “solid rocket fuel” is what the cartridge will be acting like so, the shooter will feel little jolt or impact from the firearm, but he would go for a ride, far less speedy than the bullet, but a ride nonetheless. Unless he were anchored somehow. Think of the small directional rocket ports on the shuttle, they are miniature rocket nozzles that can re-position the 4 million pound shuttle in just a second or two of burst of the nozzle.

      The bullet will go on it’s way at whatever fps + that the round was charged for on earth + lack of air,+ lack of air pollution and gravity. It would continue in a straight line until it met an object or some gravity or other gravitational effect. The small amount of clearance in the barrel around the bullet (lands & grooves) might also add a few 100 fps to velocity due to no air pressure in the barrel.


      • So, even faster than on earth!? I had supposed that the ignition of gunpowder depended partly on the ambient oxygen (in addition to what it generates) of which there would be none in space.

        Matt61


        • Matt61, think about the amount of oxygen needed (volume-wise) to combust any fuel. Next, consider how much empty space there is in a loaded cartridge that can contain air. Lastly, consider that this tiny bit of air only consists of 20% oxygen. Even if it gets used, it’s such a tiny amount as to be insignificant. Remember – the air in the barrel in front of the bullet and the air behind the breech is all sealed off from where combustion takes place.


    • Matt61,

      re: calipers

      I like digital calipers, especially the ones that have modes for decimal inches, fractional inches (e.g. 3/32) or mm. However, I don’t like replacing the battery. I’ve found that I use dial calipers most of the time to get a quick reading. I bought the dial calipers for about $25 at Cabela’s.

      AR


      • Matt,
        Harbor Freight has digital calipers for sale all the time. You can get them for around $9 and sometimes cheaper on sale. They are probably good enough for what you want to do, but like A.R.T says, the batteries need replaced every so often. However, that’s not that bad because they are also graduated on the shaft so they can be read manually. And I think that’s even accurate enough for your need. They can read either in inches or mm.
        -Chuck


    • Matt61,
      Sometimes people are prone to loving the wrong things, for whatever reason (hatred, fear, selfishness, lack of integrity, etc.). That’s why propaganda is such a successful weapon. Lots of people are ready to have the right buttons pushed. People can be inspired, or passionate, about their hatred as well. But in any case, to be inspired, or passionate about anything is a powerful thing, and THAT is the point. Also, it’s not unusual for someone to hate someone more than they love someone else, and join with that someone else against the one that they hate. That’s why it’s sometimes good to question someones motives.
      Victor


      • Yes, I agree. As St. Augustine said: Everyone needs to love just as they need to breathe. It’s just a question of what they choose to love. Reading about the Third Reich, one is struck by the harnessing of what elsewhere would be stellar virtues of bravery, self-sacrifice, idealism and so on that were leveraged in a diabolical fashion by a relatively few twisted individuals. The result was far more dangerous than a simple cabal of evil people. On a side note, I’ve been watching YouTube videos of Hitler recently. What a pathetic jerk, so peculiar in appearence. He would never have passed muster for today’s media-savvy politics, and he even clashed with his own rhetoric of robust, healthy supermen. But his hold on the German people was hypnotic. It’s like the whole nation went temporarily crazy.

        Matt61


        • That’s one reason why a Jewish rabbi who lived a couple thousand years ago told His followers to love God above all else. ‘Cause if you don’t, you’ll have no idea how to properly use all that other stuff.


        • Actually, all that evil was not an expression of love, but of fear, hatred, jealousy, false pride, and deceit (including self delusion). The difference here is the same difference between Power versus Force. Love is Power, while Evil requires force. Love requires no justification, while evil does. Love always results in a win-win outcome, while evil results in a win-lose outcome, at best (and more often than not, a lose-lose outcome). Individually, it’s a matter of intentions. Do we have good intentions, or do we have bad intention’s. Do we need to justify what we’re doing, or will it stand on it’s own.


    • Matt,
      I remember something about an action that works somewhat like a blowback semi, no rotation needed, but the bolt is worked manually to extract and load. They were using something along those lines in the Winter Biatholon — they would pull/push back on the “bolt” to extract the spent cartridge and load a new one. I may be mis-remembering, but I think there was a similar design for centerfire, that worked but had problems going past modest power cartridges because of the weak “lockup”. I think was Chuck Hawks site that I read about it; I’ll look and see.


    • Matt61… re calipers etc

      You can get a good set of digital calipers for less than $50. The $9 types are “useable” but I have checked them on NIST standards and they are not usually linear or are prone to hysteresis in the circuit (ie they mic out ok at some point on the scale but not thru the entire range).

      You will be measuring at less then .50″ for reloading, so just get a good, but less then $51 mic or caliper. Also, the better ones have interchangeable anvils for small work, we call them pins. It is hard to find a good, analog only pair anymore, everything is digital now. I still have a pair of chrome plated Starret Mics and Verniers from about 40 years ago. But, I can hardly read the numbers and lines any longer! Same with my old slide-rule, also a Starret. Man, I can’t believe we used that slide-rule to figure out all the math and calcs that a $10 calculator can do in .010 the amount of time!

      Mitutoyo is also a great brand, from Japan, of course, home of precision.


      • Brian,
        I was a little late for slide rules, but I liked them since grade school from reading too much old science fiction. Actually used one on my AP physics exam in high school when I dropped my calculator in a puddle. Got credit on the exam, so it wasn’t a handicap at all. I still have one slipstick, although I’m not very good with it anymore.

        I really wish they would use them in schools instead of calculators, because they don’t do the thinking for you, just some of the work. In electronics, I sometimes had trouble at work with a few of the younger recent graduates taking whatever result they got on the calculator as the “answer”, even if it was obviously wrong. Its always better to run through a simplified calculation first, so at least you know the order of magnitude — that is required with a slide rule, but they don’t always learn it very well anymore because of calculators apparently.


        • BGF yup, the iterative process or skill set has faded from the scene, that’s what a slip-stick did for you, it sped things up and provided for precision but, it didn’t hide all the fundamentals inside the microchip away from the user.

          I remember my first TI scientific from Sears, about the size of a small book and took 4 C cells, what a brick that was! You can do nearly all the same calcs on a Casio wrist calc now!



          • Might not be that difficult if the calculator in question is the HP50g. I have one at home… I actually have to slow down my key presses to avoid losing them. The 50g is noticeably slower than my 48sx (at work) at taking user input.

            I should maybe search to see if there are any speed-up mods on the net. The 50g has something like a 233mHz ARM processor underclocked to 80mHz to extend battery life. On top of that, it is running a SATURN processor emulation, on which runs the interpreted RPL (for those with the time to master it, one can actually code assembly routines at three levels: SysRPL, SATURN machine code, or ARM machine code). It should be able to beat a 2mHz native Saturn processor.


      • I used a Pickett when I was in EE school. Aluminum with black on yellow finish. Was easier to look at than black on white. Only one guy had a calculator.

        One of our instructors told us a story about a newly hired engineer just out of school who went to the parts window and asked for a 1F capacitor. The parts man handed him a 1mfd cap thinking that was what he meant. The new guy insisted that he wanted a 1F capacitor. He was fired right on the spot.

        twotalon


        • About 8 years ago, my son came down to my “man cave” with his TI graphing calculator with a question on how to solve some plain geometry problem. I explained the process and then grabbed my old log-log-decitrig K & E slide rule ($47 in 1970 dollars) and raced him. He hit a wrong button and had to start over allowing me to beat him! His comment was, “I don’t know what you did but you’re pretty close”. My answer was 3 places – the cheating calculator was 8.

          Last time I took it out of the orange dyed, leather case.

          Fred PRoNJ


          • I still keep the log-log 5″ pocket sliderule I carried everywhere from my grad student days until the dawn of the HP-35 and the similar Texas Instrument calculator came out on my desk at home. No I don’t use it; I just like to know it’s there if I want to. The best thing about sliderules in education is that kids are forced to learn to keep track of orders of magnitude and can develop a little bit of instinct about how things behave.

            And I still have my dad’s old 20″ log-log-duplex-decitrig K&E that he used throughout his engineering career. Probably should frame it.


  13. Well SNAKE POOP!!!! I fried a speaker.
    Took a lot of looking around to find a place that sells speaker components and finally found a place just south of Dayton. Got a pair of mid range speakers coming tomorrow.
    This should keep me busy for part of the weekend getting them to fit.
    At least I know where to look now. Massive amounts of speaker repair parts.

    twotalon


    • TT, I don’t know what kind of speaker set-up you have so this may be way off base but if you fried a speaker, be careful that you didn’t also fry the cross-over network. If the speaker is part of a two or three driver unit (woofer, midrange, tweeter), there is a filter also within the enclosure that controls the signal to each driver or speaker. As I remember from my EE days at College, we always found that amplifiers oscillate and oscillators amplify. Nothing can blow a speaker or driver out faster than an oscillating amplifier. The speaker would blow to protect the fast acting fuse. It was a corollary of Murphy’s Laws.

      Fred PRoNJ



        • in additon usually some resistors and chokes – aka wire-round impedance introducing devices. Tiny transformers if we’re talking expensive systems but that was all 30 years ago technology. Back then, there were no integrated circuits. I have no idea what’s going on now. I ended up in the insurance business!!!!!

          Fred PRoNJ


          • Likewise, I was a big tinkerer with electronics back when solid state just meant “no vacuum tubes”!

            Used to love SW Radio too but it’s all but gone today, it’s all internet now.


      • Definitely cooked off the mid range on the right channel. The crossover should be ok. If not, I can get another.
        The speaker was open..infinite resistance. Could have broken off a wire to the voice coil. They have taken a beating for a lot of years. (Herald speakers).

        These are home made. All the parts came from Radio shack a long time ago except for the plywood enclosures.

        twotalon



          • The quality of your stereo is defined by how many neighbors get upset…unless they like rock. If you can’t hear it while you are mowing the lawn then you need to turn it up some more.
            It needs to be as effective as a front row seat at a Who concert.

            I was in a bar in Udon (Thailand about 30mi south of Vientien Laos) one time listening to a band called “After Die”. I was up front and had to hold onto my bottle to keep it from vibrating off the table. They were good!!!

            twotalon


            • TT, I was unfortunate enough to actually get tickets to and attend a “Who” concert in the late 70’s. I suspected trouble when I spied all the security guys sitting in front of the stage wearing industrial ear protection. I listened to that concert with my fingers in my ears. As I walked out with the rest of the audience and my girlfriend at the time (sigh, big blonde – use your imaginations), everyone was shouting at each other. Now I wear earplugs when riding my motorcycle and dislike loud noises.

              Fred PRoNJ


              • I lived with lot of airplanes in the AF. At Udon, it was F-4s. Later Sac (BUFFs). Even in the shop you could not hear yourself think between the noise outside and the noise from the electronics running inside. Later back to F-4s at Kadena Japan. I was an electronic warfare tech for 20yrs.
                Wonder why my cats leave the room when I don’t have the stereo cranked up very loud.

                twotalon




  14. Good one, B.B.. Here’s mine…

    MOUSETRAP MOOSE

    By Joe Bradley

    This novel approach to moose hunting began about 7 years ago, in Saskatchewan. It was initially written about by several well-known sports writers, but its believability quotient was zero, so it never saw the light of print. Here for the first time then is the whole, exciting story.

    1983 was a bumper year for moose in the Moosketan Valley of Saskatchewan. The woods were so thick with moose that if you missed one, you were just as likely to hit another; no one was going home without a trophy animal. In fact, all the fun was going out of the hunt. No one could figure out why so many moose had suddenly taken up residence in a valley roughly 1/2 mile wide by 3 miles long, and they were on the verge of re-classifying the animals to the status of varmints because of the damage they were doing to people’s gardens and getting in the way of traffic and all. Then someone had the idea for a different kind of hunt.

    Sitting around a pot-bellied stove in Zeke’s market/sporting goods/gas station/ale brewery, were Wally Westmore — a local guide — and a batch of disgruntled moose hunters. The topic, as usual of late, was the overabundance of moose in the area. Various ideas were being passed around between long pulls of Zeke’s legendary ale, most of them pretty sarcastic, when Wally suddenly stopped dead in mid-sentence, a look of pure wonder slowly spreading its way across the broad expanse of his rugged face.

    “Doggonit!” he exclaimed, “Them mooses is gettin’ so’s a feller can’t feel no PRIDE in bein’ a hunter no more! What we need, see, is a way t’ hunt ’em that gets us back our self respect!”

    There were several grunts of approval, and all the men began to bang their rifle butts against the floor. One of the rifles discharged into the ceiling, killing a moose that had been feeding on the thatch of Zeke’s low-sloping roof.

    There followed many long hours of debate on just how to hunt the moose in some manner befitting a real hunter. Many ideas were tabled, but in the end it was Wally himself who came up with the winning entry. Perhaps it was the late hour, or perhaps the general infusion of too much of Zeke’s fine ale. Perhaps it was a joking reference to the plurality of moose being “meeces”, but Wally came up with the plan to catch them in mousetraps.

    Now I know what you’re thinking. How in God’s name could you expect a full-grown moose to be caught in a dinky little contraption like a mousetrap? But the answer to this lay in the fact that Wally hadn’t ALWAYS been a guide; for most of his life he had earned a good living as a skilled metal worker. By the end of the week he had devised and built a moosetrap of heroic dimensions, along with a rack and pinion cocking device that was just, well, sheer genius.

    There was much satiric merriment and drunken shenaniganism amongst the general populace at its unveiling, but people sobered up pretty fast after Elmer Jenkins lost his legs below the kneecaps during the initial testing. Afterwards things settled down and it was mostly a matter of what to use as bait for the thing. One grain or animal feed was tried after another, but to little avail: no moose was interested enough in the bait to brave the strangeness of Wally’s contraption, even after it had been disguised with camo paint and half-hidden with grass and small brush. In the end it was Davis Farraway’s wife who discovered the proper lure, and that by accident.

    It was Thursday, and on Thursday Letitia Farraway always made potatoes au gratin for her family in the little wood cookstove she’d been using since she’d gotten married. After so many years, Letitia’s dish had become legend in the valley; so much so that relatives so distant that Letitia had never even HEARD of them took to just sorta bein’ in the neighborhood of a Thursday evening. Letitia being the kind-hearted soul that she was, started baking an extra large amount of her famous casserole, just in case any new distant relatives might take it into their heads to drop in. This Thursday being no exception, Letitia was baking lots of her specialty and putting the finished ones on the window sill to cool a bit before being served. She was just bending over the oven to insert #’s 5 and 6, when she heard such a clamor and commotion from the back yard that she immediately ran to the window to see what it could be.

    There in the last, fading light of day she saw about twenty bull moose fighting to the death over her potatoes, which they had dragged in their gluttony from her windowsill. They were snorting and grunting and bugling such ferocious moose insults that the earth shook with the sheer passion of it all, and Letitia ran to the phone to call her husband and tell him all about it. She told Davis and Davis told Wally and Wally commenced to quivering all over with excitement. By morning he had baited his moosetrap with a generous helping of Letitia’s casserole that she had donated to the cause.

    There was only one problem. Not one moose gave the casserole even a second look.

    Folks were pretty confused by this turn of events, Wally being one of them. Why had the moose gone bananas over Letitia’s potatoes au gratin last night, but were turning up their nostrils at it this morning? After several false starts it was discovered that the moose had little use for COLD cheese dishes, no matter how superb they were, and Wally had to devise a system for baiting his trap with a Crock Pot full of the casserole. Once the aroma of WARM potatoes au gratin hit a moose’s nostrils, that moose was a goner. At first, much care was taken to camouflage the extension cord, but this was abandoned when it was discovered that a moose in the throes of gourmet potatoes-rut was blind to everything but the gourmet potatoes.

    Wally and the townsfolk pitched in and purchased ads in several of the larger hunting magazines, but little came of it; it was just too fantastic an idea to be believed. In the end it was by word of mouth from hunters who had actually been there that helped turn the tide.

    And that’s the story. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed the telling of it. If you’re ever near the little town of Mooseketon Valley, please feel free to try your hand at moosetrap hunting, and stop in at Letitia’s new Gourmet Moose Cafe to savor some of her now-internationally famous Potatoes au Gratin au Moose. And after that, come look me up. I have some swamp property in Florida I’d like you to consider.


  15. Oh. Oh, that was good.

    Between the report, the link to sales and the comments from others on this blog, I have enjoyed my first genuine belly laughs, in months.

    Thank you all for ending that little streak.

    Best to everyone here,
    Perk


  16. My dad was requisitioned one of these when he was in the space program but I ruined it by lubricating the seals with 3-in-1 oil. I had to buy him another one with my paper route money.
    -Chuck



  17. Given the velocity and accuracy specifications I think they must have used light weight pellets in the simulator when they tested it.I also wondered with the heads up display if you could quick scope with it??


  18. B.B./Edith,

    Please remove my moose story. It sounds like I’m trying to upstage Tom’s lunar airgun story and it makes me uncomfortable now that I see it in print here.

    Thanks!



  19. B.B.,
    So, do we have to wait until next April 1st to see what the ammo looks like? Back in 80’s, this probably would have been called a Kinetic Energy Weapon.
    Victor




  20. I’m posting this for a reader who posted it to an old blog:

    hi everybody, does anyone know or have a diagram for the assembly of the mendoza rm2000 air gun?

    B.B.


  21. This question needs to be directed to the Techs at Pyramyd Air. They may have what you need.

    I will ask my wife to ask them, if you will post your question to the current blog:

    B.B.


  22. I have a quick question about the Axsor PCP hand pump that I just picked up from PA. I noticed that the main shaft is dry and there is no lube at all…Is this normal for the Axsors? It works great, I just want it to last.


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