Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Gas Panel Development

After some edits to my textbook at the coffee shop very early this AM (not teaching this quarter, but I am still working :p) I did a few modifications to the Gas Control Panel, which is now, I think, very close to the flyable state. The hoses will be replaced by stainless steel piping later; for the moment they prove the concept and allow some flexibility as I dial in the exact dimensions and layout of the cockpit.

In the photo: top-- breathing gas demand regulator (an old CRU unit, entirely functional but to be refurbished and inspected [and perhaps replaced] before flight), top left -- breathing gas pressure indicator; below this gauge, a chinzy (to be replaced) valve controlling breathing gas pressure; largest gauge -- pressure suit pressure indicator; needle valve below largest gauge -- suit pressurization gas control valve; below this, lever valves to control breathing gas delivery options (1 in center= default=CRU demand regulator, 2=backup #1=foot pedal breathing gas delivery, 3=backup #2=hand lever breathing gas delivery). Close to ready for a full test, now just detecting and knocking out leaks. All valves etc. in the final build will be certified compatible for delivering Aviator's Breathing Oxygen, a special, dry 100% oxygen such that no moisture is introduced into pipes, which could freeze at low temperatures and clog pipes and/or gauges.

Regarding these breathing gas optipons, a friend recently emailed me with the question:

"Do you have to practice breathing in four ways?"

...to which I replied:

"Tola, in fact I do. The default breathing gas (BG) is delivered from a regulator much like a SCUBA regulator: breathe in and you get BG. This is like normal breathing, though at low pressure might require a special technique called 'pressure breathing' that involves use of some stomach muscles to help oxygenate the lungs. The other options deliver BG with an actuator that I work with hand or foot; to get a breath, I press the foot pedal or pull the hand lever; this requires coordinating breaths (shallow, deep etc) with motions of those appendages. Imagine making a hand gesture or foot gesture each time you want a breath; combined with the possible need for pressure breathing, yes, these all indicate needing to practice breathing in several new ways. I've tried them and will do many simulations, and it is very interesting stuff!"

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