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DragonHeart
05-08-2007, 03:05 AM
My current (fantasy/western/steampunk) WIP is set in a desert. Other than the basics of deserts being really hot and really dry, I'm not quite sure exactly how people (or large animals, for that matter) would survive in a desert enviroment. If anyone can point me in the direction of good sources (online or off) about desert living and the hazards of deserts in general it would be much appreciated. Small town living specifically; I have two towns a few miles apart from each other that sit in the outlands of a desert.

That brings me to my next question regarding sandstorms. Two of my MCs get caught in one and I was wondering how believable it would be for them to survive and even function in it (one MC is nonhuman, by the way), and what conditions they would be facing in an average sandstorm.

My last question is about the feasibility of airships powered by steam engines being able to function in such a harsh enviroment. I'm not talking about zeppelins, but more along the lines of a "flying ship" design. Would the sand be a huge issue, and what problems might it cause for machinery? Or the effect the sand would have on guns and cannons, for that matter. My WIP has both.

My apologies for asking so many questions, and my thanks for reading. I know it's fantasy and I could just wing it, but I'd prefer to have at least some realism to it.

~DragonHeart~

Vanatru
05-08-2007, 06:33 AM
My current (fantasy/western/steampunk) WIP is set in a desert. Other than the basics of deserts being really hot and really dry, I'm not quite sure exactly how people (or large animals, for that matter) would survive in a desert enviroment. If anyone can point me in the direction of good sources (online or off) about desert living and the hazards of deserts in general it would be much appreciated. Small town living specifically; I have two towns a few miles apart from each other that sit in the outlands of a desert.

Survival in any environment is easy, of course, if you know the secrets. The desert has many of those.

Ever spend time in a desert? It's cool.......to think about.......or till you get aclimitized......otherwise it sucks. Of course, so does blizzardly, snowy places. :)




That brings me to my next question regarding sandstorms. Two of my MCs get caught in one and I was wondering how believable it would be for them to survive and even function in it (one MC is nonhuman, by the way), and what conditions they would be facing in an average sandstorm.

Depends on the strength of the wind and the amount of sand whipping about.

Here's a pic taken by one of our MPs in Iraq. One of the Voodoo kids, for those who know him.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v336/Vanatru/DustStormVoodoo7.jpg

Your visibility sucks. Dust, sand, and grit are getting in everything and everywhere. No nook, cranny, or orifice is safe from grit. I've seen people doing plenty of manual labor in the storms........but don't expect to do anything fancy. No triple lindies and such.

If your equipped properly and know what to do............it's no problem. Otherwise you could easily get lost, buried, or killed in a harsh sandstorm.

I've seen who trucks get buried in a storm. I wouldn't be suprised if a person couldn't end up with 4, 5 feet or more of sand over 'em. Try digging out of that...........before you die that is. :) Joy.




My last question is about the feasibility of airships powered by steam engines being able to function in such a harsh enviroment. I'm not talking about zeppelins, but more along the lines of a "flying ship" design. Would the sand be a huge issue, and what problems might it cause for machinery? Or the effect the sand would have on guns and cannons, for that matter. My WIP has both.

Yes. During heavy storms, all aircraft are grounding. The dust will choke an engine to death. It can cause pieces to seize up. Camels will sit down and stop unless you prod them on..........with harsh prods.

Air filters seem to have a weekly lifespan. Replace, replace, replace. Grit getting into fuel and oil lines is a given. Wipers being used during the sandstorm will shred your windows.


The wind and flying crap will certainly impede your sighting and range.

For a dirgible, I'd recommend gaining altitude and waiting it out. Unless you design some kind of cool dessert blimp, specially adaptide (sp).



My apologies for asking so many questions, and my thanks for reading. I know it's fantasy and I could just wing it, but I'd prefer to have at least some realism to it.

~DragonHeart~

Dammit, Sir. There is a two question limit. Next time, floggings shall be given out.

Otherwise, ask away. :)

WishWords
05-09-2007, 12:25 AM
If you go to my photo page here: http://photos.yahoo.com/ruhkeddi (http://photos.yahoo.com/ruhkeddi) and click on the gallery called "Life at Al Asad" you can see photos of two of the sandstorms that hit the base. You can function during them, but it's not recommended. You would need goggles and a scarf over your nose and mouth. Even then you breath the crap and get it in your eyes. We normally watched them roll in 'till the last minute then battened down the hatches to wait it out. They don't normally last more than a few minutes. But they sure are impressive.

The sand and dust get into everything. If you are caught out in one in a vehicle you turn everything off and hope the vents aren't open. All the filters and lubricants have to be changed very often. The life expectancy of a piece of equipment is much, much less than it is outside a desert.

We survive by drinking a lot of water and Gatoraide (if you don't replenish your electrolites you will kill yourself by drinking too much water), doing as much work out of the sun (evening, inside, in the shade) as possible and taking frequent breaks.

Vanatru
05-09-2007, 12:40 AM
The sands not so bad...........say, if you have warts on your feet. Wait till the storm approaches, stick feet out into sand and like a loofa (sp) brush, it'll help scour those warts away. :) What's a little bit of sandblastin'.

WishWords is right.........I think I forgot the goggles part. But only if you want to see. :)

DragonHeart
05-09-2007, 04:50 AM
Thank you both very much for your input, I really appreciate it. ^^ Those pictures are amazing! All that sand, wow. It almost looks like a tornado. Only...bigger. And...sandier. If that's even a word lol. ;)

~DragonHeart~

Prawn
05-09-2007, 07:59 PM
If you have steam operated machines in the desert, you need to solve the problem of where you are getting fuel for all that combustion. A desert usually lacks trees. There were rumors about mummies being used as fuel for trains in Egypt in the 19th century because wood was scarce and coal expensive.

waylander
05-09-2007, 09:53 PM
If you have steam operated machines in the desert, you need to solve the problem of where you are getting fuel for all that combustion. A desert usually lacks trees. There were rumors about mummies being used as fuel for trains in Egypt in the 19th century because wood was scarce and coal expensive.


And you need plenty of water.

Vanatru
05-09-2007, 10:31 PM
Well, if you burn sand you can have both a viable fuel source and a glass production facility. :)

It's magic sand ya know.

DragonHeart
05-13-2007, 06:50 AM
Well the airships aren't based there, they make supply runs to the two towns. So I'm figuring that they store any fuel they may need. I'm also thinking that since I do have crystals capable of storing elemental power (ie, my form of magic for this particular series), the airships run on a combination of conventional fuel and crystal power.

I haven't worked out all the details yet but thanks for bringing that up, I wouldn't have thought of it myself. ^^; I don't usually write this type of story so I'm still experimenting with what's feasible and what isn't.

Again, thank you all for your input, it is very much appreciated. I will take all of these things to heart while doing my complete rewrite.

~DragonHeart~

Terry L. Sanders
05-14-2007, 03:51 AM
For the steam zeppelins, you might take a look at this website:

www.flyingkettle.com (http://www.flyingkettle.com)

Done by a group in the UK who are actually trying to build a working steam balloon. In particular, look at their earlier articles, when they were actually looking at the possibilities of large steam dirigibles. (They haven't written them off, but it's not the direction they're looking in right now...)

Then you could take a look at this one

www.personalblimp.com (http://www.personalblimp.com)

I think the two technologies could work together rather well, and could be scaled up to give you what you're looking for. Consider, for instance, a big zeppelin lifted mostly by hydrogen or helium, but using a few ballonets to condense steam from your engines. By jockeying your engine power and cooling rate, you could adjust your buoyancy by adjusting the steam flow into the ballonets, like trim tanks on a submarine.

Buoyancy control has always been a nightmare for dirigible designers. This might make them much happier in your world. And if you don't give them internal combustion, it would explain why airplanes never got big...

I agree with your earlier poster--any balloon captain who knew a sandstorm was coming would try very hard to get above it. No machinery really does well in blowing grit. (It might even make a nice dramatic point--your MC's in trouble because an approaching sandstorm means a) the zeppelin isn't coming for a while, or b) is leaving NOW!!!)

An interesting side-note--If you follow the flyingkettle view, a zeppelin could be slightly more versatile than our version. Since the condenser is part of the lift system, it could have more buoyancy control than the standard hydrogen/helium zep. And you wouldn't have to valve the lifting gas to keep it on the ground--just stop replenishing the steam in the condenser ballonets (or the whole balloon, if steam is all you're using for lifting gas).

So a steam zep could simply land and tie down--but only at a port that had a big boiler, to generate enough steam to refill the steambag. Such a zep might could survive a sandstorm tied down in port, if your plot called for it...

Terry L. Sanders
05-14-2007, 03:51 AM
And now, will somebody tell me how to get carriage returns to register????