Is This Thing Still On?

Blogger's dropped support for gazillions* of their users who update via Blogger to personal sites via FTP.

(* ... for certain values of gazillion ...)

I've therefore been working on that new site backend that will hopefully allow all sorts of fresh new awesomeness, but in the meantime there won't be blogs.  Even this shouldn't work.

Stay tuned to the main site for updates.  I'm not posting an ETA because, well, this is a hobby and I've got other stuff to do too, and as a result of the needed backend work I'm trying to avoid doing page work.   That will hopefully keep me motivated to get the former done so I can do the latter even more easily.

But for the moment, this blog signs off.  Feel free to jaunt over to StarfleetJedi.Net's forums if you miss my geeky ramblings too much  . . . I'm sure I'll still post there sporadically.


Avenger and Devastator

Random fact:  The United States Avenger Class features the most badass and simple ship names of any current ship class, including the Devastator, Warrior, Gladiator, and so on . . . though they also have the Dextrous, which is kinda lame by comparison.  But that's about as lame as most other current Naval ship names.

In short, that class gets all the good names that are taken up in other classes by excessively verbose hails to various people in modern Naval naming conventions.  I mean, really, is USS Ronald Reagan or USS Dwight D. Eisenhower better in any way than USS Reagan or USS Eisenhower would've been?

But in any case, it's nice to see the Avenger and Devastator together.


Equinox Notes

Just a couple of random observations while watching "Equinox" . . .

1.  Voyager arrives near the coordinates indicated by the Equinox distress signal, drops out of warp, and the ship is 2000 kilometers away.  Janeway orders intercept.  As they approach and discuss the ship for a few seconds, Kim finally notes that "we're in hailing range".



A.  Kim is quietly suggesting they quit speculating in a vacuum, or simply that he's excited to hear from them.
B.  Their assessment of the ship's damage indicated that only a particular receiver or some such other unit was functioning, thus limiting the Equinox capacity to pick up signals.
C.  Voyager proves supremely limited comm signal range despite all other evidence showing interplanetary ranges even without relay stations.  Literally, relay stations would have to be placed every 2000km or so if this is true.

I figure it's B, or perhaps A.   Rabidly anti-Trek folks will no doubt conclude that the correct answer is C.

2.  While on the Equinox, Neelix taps his combadge and says "Neelix to Sickbay", at which point Voyager's doctor answers normally. 

Damn psychic combadges again . . .

3.  Cutie says "but we're the only humans in the Delta Quadrant."   Chakotay notes that they'd thought so too until just a little while ago.  It's a proper response.  But that brings us to the point that if we were to see "The 37's" in
flashback form after Equinox, somebody would probably complain about
Chakotay's line.

That's partially okay, too, I guess, but it wasn't really relevant to the conversation at that moment. 

4.  The guy playing Noah Lessik would later play a Cylon.  But he's equally creepy here without even trying.

Ah well, no time to finish the episode.  Maybe more later.


Volume Bender Over

Okay, no more volume stuff for me for a little while.  Cleaning out models to get volumes has killed it for me for right now.  Besides which, I've got pretty much every Trek ship of note and most relevant Wars vessels.

Also, the .off format is exportable by 3D Object Converter and importable by Blender, which of course can then export to LightWave or .3ds that SketchUp can then import.  Just an FYI . . . that was how I had to get the Republic Light Cruiser from an Empire At War mod (which uses something called Alamo .alo files I'd never heard of). 

Special thanks to Blender.org through all of this, since Blender can import just about anything but evil proprietary .Max files . . . that's how I got the Sydney Class out of Armada 2 (thanks Dragon for mentioning it!).

I still have some Star Wars fighters and whatnot to do, as well as more work with Trek shuttles.  I have them all sitting on the drive, but I've been way too obsessed with this stuff lately for my own good, so I'm dropping it for now.


ISD Width Ruminations

The ISD model for Episode IV and the one made for Episode V (commonly referred to as the Devastator model and the Avenger model, respectively) have differing proportions in addition to different detail work.

On this page, you can see images linked to above the text "Ventral views of the Devastator".  Most everyone seems to use the first image for width, which is odd since the model is missing pieces and has odd shadows and whatnot.  Also odd is that the first image shows a model that is too wide, her width some 63.26% of her length.  This is the source of the width estimates of around 1015 meters.

The second and third images (the blueprints and a model shot) seem to agree on a ship around 915 meters wide, or 56.74%.  This is especially interesting given that the model shot shows the finished model and makes clear that one or the other image is reversed between this shot and the 1015 shot.

The Avenger, meanwhile, is noted as being not as wide, proportionately.  This is probably why, based on TESB scenes, I once obtained a value of around 815 meters for the width of the Star Destroyer (811 actually, but everyone else seems to end on 15 so why not me, too?).  That would be 50.72%.

However, the EU reports 885 meters (55% even), and though some deride this value it may be accurate.

Anyway, all this came about because I discovered that apparently, the old LightWave ISD previously used to derive a volume estimate apparently had some sort of issue.  As such, I think the old volume value on the Volumetrics page was about 40% too low.  Confirming this for sure with a new model and via other means is taking some time (nobody seems to make a leak-proof ISD model), but I'm very close.

(Initially, the new model's width was some off-the-wall figure, and it was only in checking around for the correct width that I was reminded of the whole ISD width debacle which you now know of, too.)


Volumetrics - Scimitar

Model Source

Reading:  15,016,739 cubic meters.


One must be a bit careful using the SketchUp plugin.  Be very sure to check the volume slices to make sure nothing is missed.  In this case, gaps existed in the center section of the ship, requiring a little modification and some flipping (to sit on her tail) to get the volume to calculate correctly.  So:

Updated reading:  19,949,862

I'm also working on fixing the D'deridex, which I recently dropped to 18 million and change based on a model I thought to be more accurate, but which I didn't realize was more leaky.

The Kumari and Model Ridiculousness

Just to give you a sense of how far I'll go . . .

1.  Take this quasi-accurate model of the Kumari.
2.  Research the file format of Bridge Commander models, since they're not simple LightWave LWOs like Klingon Academy used to use.
3.  Discover that BC uses some delightfully-open-source format you've never heard of before.  ("What the hell's a .nif?")  Discover also that you have to install two different things to make Blender import them, but they're available.
4.  Load up the Kumari in Blender, cursing its standards non-compliant user interface.  Export it to .3ds.
5.  Load up the Kumari in SketchUp.  Be unsatisfied with it.
6.  Go try to find Klingon Academy mods, only to discover that the main storehouse site is dead because some jackass hacked something supposedly damaging files and the slacker running it just shut it down.
7.  Persist and find them anyway, thanks in part to this TrekBBS thread.
8.  Get the Kumari from here.  
9.  Import the .LWOs (since for some reason there are several) to Blender. 
10.  Export the .3ds.
11.  Import the .3ds to SketchUp.
11a.  Change camera view so you can move it to the right spot in the field.
11b.  Change to the dimension tool so you can have a measurement of the ship alongside it.
11c.  Change to the rescaling tool to get it to 360 meters, because there's not a single 3D modeler who ever seems to put models to scale. It's some cultural thing I don't understand.
11d.  Change the camera view because it doesn't work right in parallel (orthographic) view.
11e.  Rescale it to close to the right size, because SketchUp is imprecise in this regard.  Then sit there typing in numbers to get it closer.
11f.  Save that thing so you don't have to do it again.
12.  Discover that the volume calculator can't operate on it correctly for some reason (i.e. at 360m it only reads the same volume as a Constitution, which isn't right at all . . . the Connie is long slender lines and flat saucer, the Kumari's a big fat school bus by comparison).   This probably has something to do with the multiple different .lwo files.
13.  Screw around with the model trying to get it to work.  Fail.
14.  Recalling a superior BC Kumari here, go get it.
15.  Start cussin', because instead of the .nif file format you've gone to all the trouble to be able to load, this is a .bcmod file.  What the hell is that?
16.  Find the Bridge Commander Universal Tool here.
17.  Figure out how to use its standards non-compliant user interface.
18.  Get it to unpack the .bcmod file so you can then steal the .nif file out of it. 
19.  Go find the damn .nif that's in some weird ass location and move it to where your other mods and ship models and whatnot are all in a semi-organized mess foolishly located 15 layers deep on one of your drives.
20.  Open the Kumari in Blender, cursing its non-compliance.
21.  Export the Kumari as a .3ds to the place where you've been putting all the exports.  Chide yourself because you know that you'll never remember what came from where, and so even if you do ever get around to putting all these ships in SketchUp's 3D Warehouse like you've been thinking of, there's no way in hell you'll be able to credit all the right people.
22.  In SketchUp, import the Kumari.  Follow the steps from 11a-11f.
23.  Run the volume calculator.
24.  Cuss because the damn thing didn't even report a volume as large as a Constitution Class, meaning the model's boned somewhere.
25.  Fiddle with it to try to make it work.  Fail.
26.  Go back to the inaccurate Kumari and say tohellwifit, run the volume, and get a decent-looking figure anyway.
27.  Cuss.
28.  Copy the Kumari and paste it alongside a Constitution.   Compare the hull dimensions, ponder how many of such-and-such part can fit into such-and-such other part, and so on.  Accept the 592,291 as being pretty close comparing the two models you're looking at.
29.  Then double-check against the orthographic views of the Kumari at Drex Files, realizing that the big fat ship you're looking at only has the most passing of resemblances to that graceful bird.
30.  Overlay the SketchUp window in semi-transparency and try to stretch and skew the inaccurate BC ship to fit as closely as possible, then rescale it again.
31.  Run volume again. 
32.  Get 314080 cubic meters. 
33.  Gun-shy now, copy this revised model and paste it alongside a Constitution in SketchUp.  Compare the volumes of different pieces in your mind.
34.  Decide it looks okay, and call it a good day. 

It's within a respectable margin of error, so if you don't like it, you can kiss my ass.  (And I say that with love.)


Blender Volumetrics and the Type-7

"Axeman" at Flare and TrekBBS has been working on a model of the Type-7 shuttlecraft that I really wanted access to . . . the Type-7 remains one of my all-time favorites, and I wanted to be able to check the volume and just size it up against other vessels.   After all, the poor things were largely forgotten, and really . . . comparing a Type-7 to any of the ugly Eaves-designed monstrosities (like any of the Enterprise-E shuttles) makes it clear that Probert's little babies are the best, right?

Holy cow, what have I done?

Axeman's Type-7 was a LightWave ship, and though I'd seen that there was no direct import function in SketchUp, and while I saw that there were costly solutions for converting the file, I decided to look once again for anything free that might do it.  Turns out my Google-Fu failed me last time, because this time I finally found Blender.   It's apparently a kickass freeware raytracing and mesh-making cross-platform and free program, and it will import and export to the two major formats of interest.  And, I saw reference to a volume calculation script.

 . . . Or so I thought.  Holy sweet crap what a funky UI that thing has.  SketchUp was sufficiently simple that I was able to get up and running pretty quick.  But Blender looks like a Linux programmer just saw Windows 3.11 and decided to try his hand at a UI.  I finally got the Type-7 to import to where I could see it, but then the funky Python script-running in Blender did nothing at all when the script finished.

But no matter, I simply exported that puppy to a .3ds and imported it within SketchUp. 

(3D Studio Max has a stupid proprietary file format, by the way, a .max that nothing else can read.  The older and more open 3D Studio format is .3ds, and is preferred.  However, there is the suggestion of a free version of Deep Exploration from years ago that might help with .max files here.)

When I rescaled the Type-7 (which was the size of the default dude's big toe), I got her up to 8.5 meters or so, which EAS has as the correct length.  I ran the volume ... and the program seemed to lock.   So I killed it, restarted, and tried again at 10% accuracy. 

The result?  59.436 cubic meters.  

But that blew my mind, because the Type-6 is somewhere in the 26 range.   (Here's a SketchUp model that reads 22, but I think that might be a tad low.)  Turns out, though, the figure is probably correct.  I had no idea, but the Type-7 is really quite huge compared to the now-puny-seeming Type-6.  I noticed the 8.5 meter EAS length for the Type-7 compared to 6m for the Type-6 (is that right?), but didn't think much of it . . . but in concert with how wide that big girl is, she really overwhelms the Type-6.

I have to say, now, after pondering the use (from an in-universe sense) of the Type-6 and derivative Voyager shuttles . . . what the hell?  Unless they're little mass-produced sports cars by comparison to the curvilicious but large Type-7, it doesn't make sense to me why they'd always want to fly those wee things.

But then again, these are the same people who often took Type-15 shuttlepods, which you could almost park in the rear of a Type-6 were it not for the wee impulse nacelles, so nevermind:

(And yes, I found a .3ds Type-15 that I was able to snag off of a web archive version of the old Star Trek: Australia site, may it rest in peace.  But the volume function in SketchUp doesn't act correctly on it.)


501st at Mardi Gras

Special thanks to the Bast Alpha Garrison, the Louisiana chapter of the Star Wars fan club the 501st Legion ... as of this weekend I'm the proud owner of a little plastic medallion with the 501st logo (as seen on the upper left of the main 501st site) emblazoned on it, as well as a couple of blue bead items. 

(The Jedi atop the skiff not only had a good acting range when movie lines are being played, but a good throwing arm, too.)


I generally tried to stay out of the B5Tech.Com vs. BabTech-onthe.Net nerdfight, given that I had other nerdfights to engage in myself.  But while searching for something recently I discovered that the person running the B5Tech forum (presumably the B5Tech author) once decided to weigh in on Trek technology, including photon torpedoes, phasers, and ramming incidents.

The article I found was the one on torpedoes, and I bookmarked it because it had me laughing so hard.   For instance, "I cannot find a single scratch of visual evidence to suggest that they are used as anything but high-tech impactors which use an energy field to burn through their target and drain shields upon impact."  That was a rich quote.  I guess the antimatter is there for decoration?  "In ST-WOK Enterprise was hit by a PhoTorp fired by the Reliant, right near their bridge while their shields were down", says the author.   Apparently, sparks on the bridge concurrent with a torpedo hit shown on the viewscreen mean that the bridge itself has been hit directly!

Or, "In ST-TUC a cloaked BOP hit a Klingon D-7 type cruiser, holed the un-shielded D-7 but there was no evidence of a multi-megaton explosion, which would have turned the D-7 and Enterprise-A into confetti."   Who said Kronos One got its hull penetrated ("holed")?   And why exactly would multiple megatons turn the Enterprise-A into confetti?   No help with such questions comes from the author.  "In every episode of Trek, PhoTorps impact against shields, but rarely have we seen evidence of exterior explosions against shields."  Praytell, exactly what would produce the fiery explosion he's wanting?   The torpedo itself would be vaporized, but that's just a two-meter casing.  There's no physical requirement that it stick around and stay on fire upon the shield bubble in flame for the benefit of anyone watching.

Using other misunderstood/misrepresented normal examples or known small examples (e.g. "Alliances"[VOY2], but strangely not Star Trek V as far as I saw), the guy claims that there's no "multi-megaton PhoTorp" in evidence. 

To bolster his claim, he laughably goes to all the trouble of extensively calculating the speed of (and diagramming atop screen captures of) a torpedo that struck Excelsior in Star Trek VI, making the obvious point that "now we know that PhoTorps do not travel at a high enough velocity to produce a megaton yield impact during combat".

Good lord man, how many hours did it take for you to figure that out?   It's almost sad.  Did he honestly think people thought that?

He then tries to argue that though he believes "PhoTorps" have some sort of energy field that burns through shields and hull, this is not the same thing as a regular shield.  So, in his effort to argue against photon torpedo shields (but in favor of his hungry forcefield zappy things), he goes through all sorts of silliness, like ignoring "Half a Life"[TNG] outright.  Perhaps the funniest bit is his handling of the Doctor's shootdown of one of Voyager's own torpedoes in "Workforce"[VOY], when the Doctor (in ECH mode) intentionally phasers a torpedo to create a 'photonic shockwave'.   The B5 guy thus states "it is clear that they can be shot down {and} also clear that they are not shielded in such a way, by their normal function, as to make them Invulnerable to energy weapons."

Let's be very clear here.  The Doctor, piloting Voyager alone, launches torpedoes for the express purpose of shooting them.  Rather than conclude that the Doctor made it possible to shoot them (whether via timing a shield shutdown, knowing the shield frequencies, having a hole in the shields, or any similar known quantities), the B5 guy claims this is proof that they are basically unshielded.  He backs this up with the claim that one torpedo shot down another in ENT . . . as if torpedoes having shields means that these shields should be impossible to penetrate no matter the yield of the weapon being shot at them!

Sadly, it doesn't get any better from there.  His final conclusion is that photon torpedoes aren't used as "multi-megaton bombs" but only used for their impact (which he previously argued to be no greater than kilograms of TNT).  He says they can be used in a different mode for explosive yields in the kilotons or low megatons, but only at great range.  "Thus, Federation ships will most likely never switch from impactor mode to explosive mode unless they were more than 15 kilometers away from a Federation vessel... ranges which we have never seen used in combat for any Star Trek series."  (Except, y'know, when we have.)

Can you see why I was laughing? 

His methodology regarding phasers and ramming is no better.  Regarding phasers, he takes Mike Wong's 1-10TW crap as gospel, calculates poorly from a couple of drilling examples, and then when his figures don't match Wong's values he throws out his own figures.  With ramming, he takes Nemesis and concludes that 4.8 terajoules of KE is all that is needed to penetrate the Scimitar's shields, and presumably by extension that the torpedo weapons must be substantially less capable than that.  In other words, pure silliness.

Rather than hang his head in shame, he gives the "FINAL NOTE" that "These figures are totally consistent with the work of many other people on the web, including Mike Wong".

Dude, that's not anything to strive for.

Lemme just say that I still neither know nor care anything about the Babylon 5 nerdfight (if it's even still afoot, given that BabTech hasn't been updated since 2004), but unlike this guy, I at least have the sense not to start making proclamations about the content of other nerdfights when I don't know the first lick about what I'm talking about.  That said, though, if this is the quality of his methodology, I'd have to throw my hat in with BabTech.

Voyager's Hinges

It occurred to me the other day that despite all the battle damage and whatnot, Voyager's variable geometry doodad warp nacelle pylon hinges were never identified as being damaged, or being a reason the ship couldn't go to warp, or anything of the sort. 

Seems like the writers would've focused in on them, but so far as I know it never happened.  Given that they broke everything else at one time or another that's just odd.

Ah Crap

I just realized that I forgot the TPM reactors and reactor overload incident for the Star Wars Power Tech page.



Krenim SketchUp

The Krenim Temporal Weapon-Ship, scaled to about 1250 meters per DITL, nets me 12,862,049 cubic meters.   I was trying to avoid putting one-off ships in the list for some reason, but I may have to add it to the newly updated Volumetrics page.


DS9 Scaling Retardedness

In Google SketchUp, I have a DS9 model, a runabout model, a Defiant model, and a Galaxy Class model, along with some little blue figurine dudes for scale, and I have them all scaled correctly.  SketchUp lets you create 'scenes', meaning you can carefully place your camera, adjust your field of view and zoom and such, and basically get a picture looking more or less like you want it.

I'll be reporting more on this soon (hopefully sharing images for comparison against DS9 screencaps). But first, I just wanted to say that David Stipes and his dramaturgical rescaling routine is really, really annoying.  I knew it would be going in, but it truly boggles the mind to actually watch it unfold on my screen.

In any case, this is just a quick note about the little mini-project.  Remember the DS9 opening credits with those welding dudes?  Yeah, even if the station is a 'mere' 1097 meters (as designed), those dudes are over 24 feet tall.  (James Cameron, eat your heart out.)   To get 1.8 meter humanoids to look anywhere close to correct against the station, it must be shrunk to around 335 meters.


In lighter news . . . well, I won't name names, but someone posted a screwed up model of the TNG shuttlepod . . . the one they made super-boxy so that it would be cheap to build.  A shuttlepod!  Good sweet heavens, man!  I realize it isn't a cube, but it isn't that complicated either  . . . no curves, no complex curves, no nothing.  Just simple angles. 

Now bear in mind, I respect these guys . . . I sure wouldn't want to do any of this mess.  I'd probably die trying to get the TOS Constitution right.   But good grief . . . I have to draw the line at a screwed up shuttlepod.


Updates on the Main Page

I haven't mentioned them here yet, but they're there, including updates to the Overview, a new page on SW power technology, and more.

I'm probably going to update the Volumetrics page with the new Star Wars and new Google SketchUp data, then quit for awhile.  Been spending a lot of time on this, which is nice insofar as making up for a lot of lost time, but I don't want to get burned out.  And, it would be nice to get other things done.  :-)

Thanks for reading!




You can do volumetric analysis without LightWave or any other expensive modeler now. Google Sketchup has had a lot of Star Wars models made for it. And, with a volume plugin found here, you can get far better estimates of a ship's volume than you can by simply guessing at simpler shapes.

For instance, a TOS Connie I downloaded and tried to rescale by hand (I think it's about 850ft right now, which is only 259 meters) came out to 156,000 cubic meters, which is not too bad considering. If I calculate after the fact to try to correct it (bearing in mind I've never used the program so I don't know what I'm doing when measuring), I come up with 216,000 cubic meters. My ST-v-SW Connie volume is 211,000, so that's pretty damn close all things considered.

Models I've tried so far:

TOS Enterprise with bad length

Gorgeous Munificent, but only 733m long (had to lengthen it)

Venator (bad length, had to lengthen to 3725ft)

Invisible Hand (awful length)

The very pretty Munificent model I measured to within 5% gave me a volume of 2,137,120 cubic meters. A simple Venator model at the same accuracy nets me 10,616,929 cubic meters . . . a difference of almost five times, despite the ships being only 1130 vs. 830 meters (the Muni's shorter). (For reference, the Muni's volume is less than a Sovereign Class Federation starship, and she's 130 meters longer . . . we all know how sleek and spindly the Sovereigns are.)

Given that much of the Venator volume is composed of carrier-related space, though, she's really a big empty ship. If we assume half of her volume is dedicated to fighters, then the ship's only about 2.5 times the volume of the Muni, which (in concert with life support and other humanoid crew requirements) gets us closer to understanding the combat ratio from TCW.

The Invisible Hand, at only 1088m, comes out to a length-corrected volume value of 6,436,107m^3.

Other models:

615 cubic meters at 22.5m height (or thereabout).  Seems about right compared to Danube Class at 542 cubic meters.

Pretty good Falcon:
But something's wrong with it . . . even with the length corrected, it only reads ~700 cubic meters, which is very wrong.  Even a 30m wide 2m tall saucer should have twice that.  The Falcon should be at least 1500m^3 and probably double or so.

ISD with excessive docking bay:
There's another ISD with excessive reactor bulb and unshapely docking bay.  Can't seem to find a really good one.
Edit:  Ah, here's one:
But when I make it a mile long, I get a volume of 86,547,000 cubic meters, which is way high.  I tried doing the volume in cubic feet, since the template for the model is in feet, but it came out the same.  So something's wrong with the model, I think.
Tried this one, too, but ended up with 18.7 million something whatever, which is also crap.

Dammit, Star Wars fans, can't we build a model that doesn't suck!

The volume comes out wrong (10% of expectation based on what I had already), but the ship is of approximately the correct dimensions.

Romulan Warbird:
Scaled to 1358m, I got a volume of 18,389,163 cubic meters, which is probably much closer than the 26 million that came from a really crappy looking Lightwave model back in the day.

The length is bad.



Klingon Battlecruiser Question

So in TOS the Klingons were supposedly flying D-7s but most of the rest of the time we're seeing K't'inga Class ships, including in "Unexpected"[ENT] from 2151.

But see, here's my thing:  Am I the only one who can't tell the bloody things apart?  

Bernd at Ex Astris suggests there is a "clear difference between the two ship classes", but other than extra greeblies and similar surface detail I can't see it.  And the DS9 "Trials and Tribble-ations" ship and the remastered TOS Klingon ship had surface detail, too (especially the DS9 ship), so unless I'm supposed to determine ship class by looking at hull plating intersection designs I'm not seeing an obvious way of doing it, and I'll be damned if I'm going to care to distinguish them by intersection designs.

So what's the deal?  What am I missing?


Star Wars Text vs. the Enterprise

This is fantastic . . . the amateur effects (mostly the fire FX) are remarkable:

Star Wars vs. Star Trek




Star Trek forcefields are described as electrostatic . . . but I must say, this one sounds cooler.


Star Destroyer Mass and Density Guesstimate

While working on an old unfinished page I'd forgotten about, I realized that I really needed a decent estimate of Star Destroyer mass.   Despite not having much to really go on, I decided to make a guesstimate.  

Unless and until we get more information, it's as good as anything else:

So, let us assume that a Star Destroyer is 1600 meters in length.   Now we need an estimate of their density.   We have options here.

1.  We can attempt to use the density of Star Trek vessels.   Star Trek vessels like the Intrepid Class, for instance, have a density of over 1100 kg/m³.  However, we know that the vessels are constructed of different materials and so on, so this is a somewhat dangerous assumption.  There's also the fact that the Constitution Class ships had a far higher density of over 4300 kg/m³.   However, given that the Intrepid can land as most Star Destroyer classes seem able to, the Intrepid density seems the safer (albeit still dangerous) assumption.

2.  We can attempt to use the density of real-world spacecraft.   This is also dangerous, of course, since real-world spacecraft are hardly military vessels.  They are designed to allow people to get to space for a brief period of time, but can hardly be expected to withstand even a single hostile bullet or other decent-velocity impact.

Now, it happens that when Star Trek guru Rick Sternbach was designing the Intrepid Class for Star Trek: Voyager, he intentionally based their stated mass off of an estimate of the ship's volume, calculating the mass via a density derived from an estimate of the Apollo capsule command module.  And indeed, the Intrepid density is within about 10-20% of that value, assuming the Intrepid model used on this site for the estimate is basically the same as his.   However, the command module was basically just the crew compartment and heat shield for re-entry, a single part of the combined Command/Service Module (CSM), with the service module featuring the large engine bell and other machinery that enabled Earth-Moon transit.

Taking that combined vehicle which masses 30 tonnes and ballparking her volume based on her 4m diameter and 8m length (she's actually 11 meters, but between the rear engine bell and conical front section a 'shave' is not out of order for determining ballpark density), the CSM volume is 100m³ and her density is thus 298kg/m³.

That seems a bit light, so we can also compare to the space shuttle orbiter.  Empty, a newer shuttle like Endeavour weighs about 70 tonnes, and she's about 105 tonnes when full.   At about 37.25m long, 23.75m wide, and 17.25 meters tall, she's a big girl.   Determining her density is a little bit of a trick, though, since much of her total empty mass . . . not to mention her width and height . . . is nothing more than wing surfaces.   But since we're ballparking, we can simply take the fuselage as a cylinder and tack on a couple of extra meters for the eyeballed volume of the various atmospheric control surfaces.

So, per estimation from this site, we have the total length of 37.25 meters.   A smidgen of that is the vertical stablizer (the tail fin), but we'll just roll with that figure.  Given that the shuttle fuselage is roughly cylindrical, the height and width values of about 6 meters are sufficient for diameter (the crew area and payload bay are below six meters, the rear fuselage with the engines is over six).   So if we ballpark a 40x6 cylinder, we come up with a total volume of 1130m³.  Given her empty and full masses, the density ranges between 62 and 93kg/m³.

Well, now.   It seems that Rick Sternbach's choice was rather on the heavy side, after all.  The space shuttle tops out at around 100kg/m³, the Apollo CSM 300kg/m³, and the Apollo command module with heat shield by itself is near 1000kg/m³.  And yet the Constitution Class still came in four times more dense than that, and about 40 times denser than the space shuttle!

So where should we attempt to put the Star Destroyers?   Considering that large warships of the Clone Wars era seem to be largely hollow (e.g. the Venators with their extensive landing bay areas, the Malevolence with its massive open center railway areas, and so on), I hardly feel comfortable comparing it to an Intrepid Class ship that has very little empty space by comparison.

On the other hand, given the extensive use of simple steel even for external towers on the Death Star (per the ANH novelization), Coruscant buildings, and similar, it seems unlikely that durasteel or steelcrete will be superdense.   After all, given that a natural stone on Yavin was so dense that no weapon was thought capable of penetrating it, we could be forgiven in believing that Star Wars ships are built strong but as light as possible.

That said, I figure Star Destroyer density probably falls somewhere in the 500-1000kg/m³ range.

Given a calculated volume of about 54,000,000m³ for Star Destroyers at 1600m length, and a density range of 500-1000kg/m³, the mass of a Star Destroyer should fall somewhere between 27,000,000,000 and 54,000,000,000 kilograms.   That's 27 to 54 million metric tonnes.  

If one wants a specific estimate, I'd guess a density of 750kg/m³ and an ISD mass of 40,000,000 tonnes.

Using this density figure elsewhere would give us the following masses:

VesselMass in KilogramsMass in Tonnes (est.)
DS1 (@120km):678525000000000000680 trillion
DS2 (@160km):16080000000000000001.6 quadrillion
Super SD:94844250000009.5 billion
Home One:253978500000250 million
Trade Fed:15208125000001.5 billion
Tantive IV:4856400050,000
Imp. Shuttle:357750360
Millennium Falcon:29377503000

Actual figures could vary significantly, of course, and my rounding above was somewhat haphazard.   I would say that this is especially the case with smaller vessels, but interestingly the X-Wing mass is almost identical to the empty mass of an F-14 Tomcat.  Once missiles and fuel are added, though, an F-14 can mass 33 tonnes.

Also, I don't have volume figures for the Venator or Acclamator.  I'd guesstimate the former at 15 million tonnes and the latter around 8-10, but I really have no clue as to the proper value.  This is just a complete pulled-from-the-posterior guess from memory.

Neuranium in Star Wars

During the Clone Wars, a forged metal called neuranium is, at more than a millimeter's thickness, "impervious to sensors", and standard security scans for items coming into the Republic Senate do not include any sort of gravimetric detection for determining mass-related oddities.  As a result, a neuranium statue made it into the Senate building while secretly containing a weapon.

That's from the RotS novelization.  Considering that no more than a millimeter is required, one wonders why this substance isn't used a bit more often.


Ferengi First Contact

It's been bothering me for a long while that the Ferengi were such an unknown to Starfleet circa 2364.  Even before Enterprise showed a couple of Ferengi pirates encountering an Earth ship and Ferengi (maybe the same pirates) making contact with Valakians in the 2150's, it didn't make much sense to me.

The Ferengi are traders, first and foremost, and the economy of Ferenginar features markets but seems to be based on a somewhat mercantilist philosophy.   Prior to first contact, Data described them as Yankee Traders in the sense of "the worst quality of capitalists", referring to the principle that the buyer should beware.   In other words, he was associating Yankee Traders with hucksters and shysters.  Hucksters are capitalists only in the grossest possible sense.

At any rate, however, the Ferengi economic system . . . whatever the particulars . . . would seem to be one which favors policies opening up trade.  The Ferengi were, if anything, too interested in opening up trade with the Dominion, for instance.

So the question remains as to why the Ferengi would've been a mystery to the Federation in 2364, despite many years of contact with other nearby powers (like the Cardassians), and despite individuals of their species being well-travelled (as seen by the 2150's Enterprise example, not to mention a Ferengi being assimilated by the Borg circa 1925).   After all, if we're going to compare with Americans, we can't forget Commodore Matthew Perry's "Black Ships" excursion to 'force open' trade with Japan.  The Ferengi ought to have been chomping at the bit to get their sharpened teeth into the succulent Federation trade routes. 

But instead, so far as we know, they were in virtual hiding.  Individual Ferengi were on the very border of the Federation around that time (Quark's bar on Terek Nor in orbit of Bajor supposedly dates from 2363), but the Federation only caught up with them because a Ferengi Marauder was unlucky enough to steal from a Federation outpost that happened to have Picard's Enterprise nearby.  (It's possible that this theft was the form of first contact the Ferengi were going for, i.e. that they were intentionally caught, but that's neither here nor there right now.  Even by this time they'd had at least a couple of decades to make contact, if not more.)

The fact that the Ferengi were so insular in regards to the Federation is perplexing, until one adds in another factor.

The Federation is commonly said to be communist.  It isn't, since communism and capitalism are scarcity-based economic models where scarce raw materials get value added by processing or manufacturing into other useful objects.  The Federation seems based more on a post-scarcity model (though raw materials are still needed of course), and the presence of replicators defeats the concept of value addition by process or manufacture.  When an object's value is not based on its intricacy and the labor to
create it but instead merely on its raw materials or energy content . .
. when an iPod and a cigarette lighter cost the same . . . modern
economics (whether collectivist or capitalist) is turned on its ear.

I would submit that the Ferengi Alliance knew about the Federation and were scared to death of it.   The fact that they knew of the Federation is shown by the statements of the Ferengi landing party during first contact on Delphi Ardu, suggesting some knowledge of Federation policy and disgust with it.   Unlike the Cardassians or other powers they had likely encountered, the Ferengi knew that the Federation's open, egalitarian society and particular economic model presented an existential threat to not only the Ferengi economy, but -- given how tied in their society and economics were, even to the point of religion -- the Federation was an existential threat to the Ferengi way of life.

So, the Ferengi economy might've managed to weather the introduction of replicators and so on, persevering by sheer will despite the obvious implications, and managing to find niche markets.  For instance, whereas something like modern Coca-Cola could be easily replicated, Ferengi Slug-o-Cola features live algae, and thus could not be replicated.  Similarly, latinum cannot be replicated, and when 'pressed' in with gold makes a scarce item useful as a currency.  (Though it seems that latinum was their currency well before replication was discovered . . . might've simply been a nice happenstance.)    Quark's Marauder Mo action figures might've had some sort of anti-replication technique employed.  Those with replicators might've managed to perform some sort of licensing fee for replication of particular objects, though enforcement of this seems complicated. 

There are, in other words, ways for the Ferengi to adapt, but they become increasingly absurd.   And the the closed and militaristic Cardassian Union or other lesser nearby powers, might not've been as big a blow to Ferengi absurdity as the open and charitable Federation.  Hence the existential threat.

And frankly, given what happened to the Ferengi over the course of the TNG era, I'd say that those Ferengi who might've viewed the Federation as an existential threat were right.   Rights for women, Nog as Nagus . . . the fact is, first contact with Starfleet was the death knell of Ferengi society as it existed in 2363.