Black magic and gremlins : analog flight simulations at by National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Gene L.

By National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Gene L. Waltman

This heritage of the Flight study middle (FRC) Simulation Laboratory (FSL) describes the advance of experimental flight-test simulators and the fast evolution of the pcs that made them run. (The FRC was once a predecessor of NASA’s Dryden Flight study heart, Edwards, California.) Gene Waltman has supplied a soft combination of anecdotal narrative and technical jargon that keeps reader curiosity even if the reader is machine literate

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The box would then be patched into the patch panel using standard analog computer patch cords. Shielding and grounding were always important considerations, and the black-box circuits were always built with these factors in mind. Many hours were spent designing and building these black boxes. There were several simulations that would not have been completely implemented if we hadn’t been able to use one or more of our special black boxes. The photos of the X-15 analog computers (E5808 and E-5809) show several black boxes patched into the patch panels.

That was when the fishing trips changed from looking for tuna to bottom fishing around the Channel Islands. Fishing for tuna was exciting if we got into some good-sized schools. But we never really had very good luck finding those larger schools of tuna. The bottom fishing trips were more productive—and became quite popular. We had no trouble getting the 45 people needed to reserve a nice-sized all-day boat. These fishing trips were later organized and scheduled by the Dryden Activities Committee and are still scheduled about once a year.

The amplifiers that could be used as a summer or an integrator also had a special jumper plug that would make the necessary selection of feedback components. When used as a summer, the feedback component was a precision resistor, and when used as an integrator, the feedback component was a precision capacitor. Special jumper plugs were used to select the appropriate components. The patch cables and jumper plugs were quite expensive and used gold plating on the contacts and shielded ends of the plugs.

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