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Month: April 2021

Jetsons Tech

Posted in Blog, History, and Photography

In a previous entry I talked about a test track for GM / Otis Elevator’s 1980’s “Hovair” people mover that I found and photographed in 2014.

While researching this site the other day for the blog here, I initially thought it was Otis Elevator’s “Winterization” test track – but upon further investigation of a circa 1982 US DOT report the track layout for the winter testing was different…

From a scan of a 1982 US DOT report on the Otis Elevator people mover.

So this got me curious if I could find the “Winterization” test track, and if so would any of it still be viewable…

The answer to both questions is “yes”.

A circa 2020 satellite image of the winterization test track east of Denver.

So, having found it in Google Earth, this meant I needed to head out there and have a look. But the access road to get to the site is definitely ‘unimproved’ – fortunately my roommate has a Jeep…

Some off-roading and mud-bogging later and we arrived at the site.

The site is fenced off by new three-strand barbed wire, and I tend to be respectful of fences, so the photos are from as close as I could get…

Where the station building and control buildings were located.

The western loop of the test track.

A closeup of the track itself. The power rail for the people mover would have been on the inside edge of the track, and the channel in the middle of the track was where the metal rail for the linear motor used to be.

The eastern loop of the test track.

All in all it was a nice day to be out and about, and I got to find and photograph some cool Jetsons Tech from the late 70’s / early 80’s.

Murano Miles

Posted in Blog

The Murano finally hit 14,000 miles on the way back from the office last night…

So, now I’m averaging right about 424 miles a month since July 13th, 2018. That’s down from the 464 miles/month I was averaging in November, and 555 miles/month I was averaging in January of 2020.

There’s one up-side to the plandemic I suppose; my car is seeing so little use it’s still pretty much brand new. And I only have to change the oil once a year…

The down-side is I never get on the highway, so my MPG average is pretty low with nothing but stoplights between home and work.

Maybe this weekend I’ll go do the spring/summer service, and maybe go for a drive to bring that average back up a bit. 🙂

Interesting Infrastructure

Posted in Blog, History, and Photography

I’m continuing to rifle through old HDs in search of historic artifacts…

Today’s find was a series of photos I took on October 25th, 2014 while out investigating curious things I spotted in Google Earth.

See, Colorado is just chock-full of weird things you can only see from space. This is because back before easy satellite imagery, sparse civilization, hilly ground, and lots of acreage was all you needed to hide things. And Colorado has those things in abundance.

Anyway, back in 2014 I found this weird structure out in the middle of nowhere in Google Earth…

Google Earth, 2014

It vaguely looked like a particle accelerator as seen from space, but I was pretty sure there weren’t any of those in Colorado… So I took a road trip to find out.

The place was surrounded by fencing, but the fence near the road was down so I walked in to have a look around…

Standing at the west-side junction of the two loops, looking north

Same place, looking south

The large structure on the west side of the oval

Each loop was about ten feet wide with a shallow trench about eight inches wide cut into the middle of it, and I’d estimate the larger of the two loops as being about a mile around.

I puzzled over this thing for about a week or so before assuming it was probably a light rail test track.

Today I spent more time on it, and after digging through the Internet for clues for a few hours I finally found out what it really was…

In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, a group at General Motors Research Laboratories had been working on ground-effects machines for the Army. These were air-suspended vehicles that could run on a variety of surfaces, but with such low power on paved roads that air suspension appeared applicable to transit. Since an air-suspended vehicle made no direct contact with the roadway, a new type of motor was required that did not use wheels for traction. The logical choice was the linear induction motor (LIM), and thus the combination of air suspension and LIM propulsion was born. The development program was impeded at General Motors because of anti-trust laws that made it difficult for GM to be involved in development of transit systems. As a result, the air-cushion-vehicle (they called it Hovair) development group separated and formed a corporation they called Transportation Technology, Incorporated. TTI developed the idea into what became one of the leading candidate PRT systems. They carried their system to full-scale testing in Detroit in 1969. In 1971, they became a wholly owned subsidiary of Otis Elevator Company. They demonstrated at Transpo72, then for political reasons moved to Denver where they constructed a second test track and participated in the AGRT program until its funds were withdrawn.

Some Lessons from the History of Personal Rapid Transit (PRT)
J. Edward Anderson, Ph.D.

The Hovair system used a linear induction motor (LIM) and hovercraft-like air-cushion systems. Neat stuff.

“Popular Mechanics” March 1978, Page 18

Anyway, having seen US DOT reports on the first test track – a more linear track with turns at either end that was re-purposed for winterization testing in the 80’s – it turns out that what I’d found was a second test track.

The second track was built in the mid 80’s by Otis Elevator in accordance with US DOT AGRT (Advanced Group Rapid Transit) requirements for funding. This section of a Congressional document from 1985 shows Otis asking the government to release allocated funds to finish the second track…

Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations for 1985

AGRT was primarily designed to research automated / computerized command and control systems to improve rail or guideway traffic. It’s not clear on how that all worked out by the end of the 80’s though.

These days though you can only see a small portion of the track peeking out from under a Martin Marietta asphalt plant…

Because we can’t pave the planet without more asphalt

And with that yet more interesting history gets bulldozed by ‘progress’ – but at least I have a ton of cool photos of the place in 2014!

Okay, maybe I should take some time off…

Posted in Blog, and Work

Even Microsoft is telling me I should probably slow down a bit… From an email I got this morning from the O365 Analytics human interaction algorithm:

Yes, my ‘at work’ icon is a robot. Mostly because at work I’m a robot…

I honestly don’t even notice anymore when it’s 3 in the afternoon on a Saturday and I’m working on some web page thing for the Biometrics department, or it’s 9 in the evening and I’m still working out how to do some impossible thing for Sales and Marketing.

But if I didn’t do that, everyone else would certainly notice…

Anti-Social Media

Posted in Blog

I get asked fairly often if I have a social media account… The answer is apparently ‘no’ because running your own website / journal doesn’t count.

I kinda/sorta participated in Twitter for a few years between 2014 to 2017, but I’m far too wordy for 140 characters. That and the manufactured outrage stated to get to me; I actually did some research on how ‘Trending’ is manipulated to drive advertising dollars or the agenda du jour. And that really illustrated why I didn’t need to be involved.

I never got into Facebook because when Facebook was invented I was already involved in LiveJournal. That and FaceBook’s invasiveness was a bit too creepy for me.

As for the rest; nope. No Instagram, no TikTok, no Snapchat… I don’t even have a Reddit account anymore.

Apparently YouTube qualifies as social media now… I did use gmail for a number of years, between 2004 and 2010, and then on and off as disposable email addresses… But these days I’m even free of the Big G; no gmail account, no youtube account, no Blogger account – no all-seeing eye of Sauron heavily embedded into every aspect of my Internet use… I’m even transitioning my company off of G-Suite.

I do use Telegram to chat with a few friends, and I have a Discord account I’ve not really had time to interact with in a couple of months, but that’s about it.

My DNS is privately hosted, my email is privately hosted, my website is privately hosted, even my backups are privately hosted – which is kinda how the Internet of yore used to operate; if you wanted to do something online, you had to build it yourself.

I like that kind of self-reliance.