Ideal, um... cockpit location/position

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the Gatekeeper
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Ideal, um... cockpit location/position

Post by the Gatekeeper » Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:53 pm

Keep joking to a minimum please. Thank you.

Well, I just finished Zone of the Enders: the 2nd Runner (I was expecting to play as naked Jehuty for longer) and dug up an old pondering of mine: Where is the best place for a mech's cockpit? How should the hatch open? (Back of the neck, Arm Slave style? Chest/gut Gundam style? Big-ass neck window, Xenosaga style? Disappearing crotch armor, ZOE style?)

For that matter, how the hell does the pilot even get up to the hatch? I've heard stories of workers on the 1:1 Gundam free-climbing to the hatch but could one really do that while getting shot at? The most practical alternative (and, to me, one of the most practical mech, second only to VOTOMS) would be the system of the Original Seven armors from Gun X Sword. I just assumed that they read the pilots/riders and simply picked them up with their hands-- I'm sorry: manipulators.

But back to the (two) meat(s) of this thread. Full Metal Panic mentioned something about being closer to the center of gravity, but what about head-mounted cockpits? (I don't imagine those being too comfortable.) or just plain... cock-pits. When I draw up mech designs, I'm sure to include a ladder system on the legs and a handle on the hatch itself, but I'm clearly putting more thought into this than the execs. (Then again, I can only imagine the frustration of a miniscule ladder strut breaking off of a 1/144 model-kit.)

Pretty much: Where is the best place for the cockpit to go and how should the hatch be accessed? (How come no one in the ZOE make fun of the non-Inhert machines? Are they used to it?)

Thanks in advance.
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Newtype87
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Re: Ideal, um... cockpit location/position

Post by Newtype87 » Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:05 pm

A number of mobile suits have had retracting lines to take the pilot up to the cockpit: 00 has them in most if not all of the Gundams. And VOTOMS just had their mechs crouching down so you could climb in… except those things were of course teeny-tiny.

For me, I would put a cockpit in the chest, A) to have it closer to the center of gravity and B) so it could more easily be armored. Head cockpits never made much sense to me, and Code Geass' backpack cockpits were just kind of silly. The further you move someone from the center of gravity of a mech the more they're gonna shift around in battle, which would only add more strain to the pilot under combat conditions and shifting g-forces. The tradeoff is that the chest and torso is the easiest target to hit.
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Re: Ideal, um... cockpit location/position

Post by Brave Fencer Kirby » Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:59 pm

If your mecha is a spacecraft, you want your cockpit to be as close as possible to the mecha's center of gravity. Otherwise, the pilot will get tossed around every time you maneuver. Imagine a mecha doing cartwheels. If the pilot is at the center of gravity, he's slowly rotating in place. But if he's away from the center of gravity (in the head, say) then he's being spun in huge, disorienting 60-meter circles. Obviously, you want to avoid giving your pilot motion sickness (or causing complications with unnecessary g forces), so putting the cockpit as close to the center of gravity as possible is ideal.

As far as cockpit access, the winch-with-a-footrest-on-it seems to be the best compromise of speed, convenience, and bulk, but it's only really necessary if you expect to be operating your mecha away from support facilities for extended periods of time. Hangers will certainly have roll-away stairs or ladders, and in a zero-g environment it's a moot point anyway, so it's not really necessary if you don't expect to be leaving your cockpit in the field anyway.
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Re: Ideal, um... cockpit location/position

Post by Malcadon » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:45 pm

I can totally see Bernard Monsha popping out of a crotch-mounted "codpit" without any sense of irony. Although, sticking the hatch at the rear underside hip would really be suitable for that obnoxious %$#@^%$. :mrgreen:

Adding a cockpit to the mecha's center of gravity would make sense, but so is adding a central gyroscope.

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Re: Ideal, um... cockpit location/position

Post by teslashark » Sun Oct 14, 2012 2:59 am

How about a retracting/folding system from the center mass moving the seat out? sort of inspired by the TU22 bomber.
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Re: Ideal, um... cockpit location/position

Post by Strike Zero » Sun Oct 14, 2012 3:35 am

One cockpit design I've always admired was the Knightmare Frame's from Code Geass. If nothing else, the key to ensuring survival in any mecha combat situation is to make sure that you have a way to quickly escape from your burning metal deathtrap.
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Re: Ideal, um... cockpit location/position

Post by GNRoyalFlash24 » Sun Oct 14, 2012 9:03 am

For me it's a tie between a Gundam G style chest flyer that acts as cockpit and a chest cockpit with a swiveling seat ala Seravee for escape purposes.

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Re: Ideal, um... cockpit location/position

Post by Silver_August » Sun Oct 14, 2012 12:34 pm

To answer the main question I'm inclined to say the chest is the best place to put the cockpit because with so many Gundams for example where the cockpit is in the waist, that just seems like a really easy way to eliminate both the suit AND the pilot because all it takes it a quick slice with the beam saber and BOOM, done. Least with the chest the pilot still has a chance to escape (because it seems that the moment the suit's torn in half both ends blow up, most of the time atleast) or even keep fighting assuming they're still armed.

On the note of why cockpits would be int he head or back...and bringing in physics to fictional cartoons... would any of this matter in space? I'm no professor by ANY means, heck I suck at math, lol but I'm sure someone here would know this, but really, would the vacuum of space effect depending on their location? Then again it seems like the suits have their own artifcal gravity do-dads going on so...someone fill me in,

if it DOES matter then I'd make a joke about how that can explain why the Vagans were so wacky and insane, lol

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Re: Ideal, um... cockpit location/position

Post by Arsarcana » Sun Oct 14, 2012 12:48 pm

No artificial gravity doodads in Gundam generally speaking (unrealistic motion perhaps but watching 'realistic' space combat wouldn't be as exciting) but yes, physics is really really important. Inertia exists regardless of whether you're in a gravity environment or not. G-forces exist regardless of whether you're in a gravity environment or not. Objects still have mass in zero gravity (which is why they have inertia) and they still have a center of mass, they just don't have weight. A pilot in the head of a MS making some crazy maneuver is still going to be subjected to greater strain than a pilot in the torso whether they're in space, on the moon or on Earth.

Edit: I should add that I mean no magical artificial gravity a la Star Trek (with a few exceptions). Obviously there's artificial gravity generated in more mundane ways, most notably through rotation in the various types of space colonies that appear in the franchise.
Last edited by Arsarcana on Sun Oct 14, 2012 9:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Malcadon
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Re: Ideal, um... cockpit location/position

Post by Malcadon » Sun Oct 14, 2012 7:16 pm

Silver_August wrote:On the note of why cockpits would be int he head or back...and bringing in physics to fictional cartoons... would any of this matter in space? I'm no professor by ANY means, heck I suck at math, lol but I'm sure someone here would know this, but really, would the vacuum of space effect depending on their location? Then again it seems like the suits have their own artifcal gravity do-dads going on so...someone fill me in,
Yeah, I also suck at the technical stuff too. Much of my exposure to hard science was through tabletop RPGs (namely Star Frontiers, Jovian Chronicles, Cyberpunk 2020 and GURPS supplements) and a site I highly recommend called Atomic Rockets (witch is totally not a euphemism :P).

To my understanding, artificial gravity can be generated by momentum, be it by forward momentum or through centrifugal force (although, both can apply at once). With centrifugal force, the further you are from the center of gravity (which is gravity-neutral), the greater the pull of gravity becomes.

As for realistic space combat with fighter/mecha, the craft can only move in one direction with only slight variations, as it takes a lot of fuel and effort to alter its trajectory in the way you see it shows. On the other hand, the craft can spin around with vary little effort with maneuvering thrusters or with a heavy gyroscope (this option save fuel, but takes up half the mass of the craft and the entire center of gravity). With that, an attack craft would fling itself like a bullet towards the enemy, and spin itself around to shoot at enemies as they approach. When you are turning a craft like this, it is best to keep the cockpit at the center of gravity, as its the best way to maintain orientation, and if you are too far out, you'll be subject to short bursts of gravity (nothing harmful, but a great way to enjoy your last meal for the second time).

It truth, its better to remove the cockpit and replace it with a tactical computer, as they take up a lot less space, can take high-g effortlessly, have better endurance for prolonged battles, and are completely expendable (but folks have no interest in that).

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Re: Ideal, um... cockpit location/position

Post by teslashark » Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:40 am

Strike Zero wrote:One cockpit design I've always admired was the Knightmare Frame's from Code Geass. If nothing else, the key to ensuring survival in any mecha combat situation is to make sure that you have a way to quickly escape from your burning metal deathtrap.
Most Knightmares don't have a spine or have a really high mass center because of that. They are too small after all...
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MechLife
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Re: Ideal, um... cockpit location/position

Post by MechLife » Sat Nov 17, 2012 4:10 am

I would think the head makes sense in terms of perspective...but in terms of convenience in getting into the cockpit, I would think something nearer the ground would be easiest? Maybe a foot-pit? Or a knee-pit? :P

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Arsarcana
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Re: Ideal, um... cockpit location/position

Post by Arsarcana » Sat Nov 17, 2012 1:06 pm

See above for why a head cockpit would be disorienting (and yes, I'm aware it happens anyways sometimes) and anything in the legs would be just ridiculous.

Also, the head/perspective thing only works if you have a literal window to look out of and adds another level of vulnerability unless you've got Ringworld-level super strong transparent materials. If you can make a 10+ meter tall walking machine, you can make cameras good enough that you don't need to use your eyeballs. Stick those in the head and around the rest of the body while you stay somewhere closer to the center of gravity.

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Re: Ideal, um... cockpit location/position

Post by HellCat » Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:41 am

I always felt the chest worked best, for reasons similar to already mentioned. You just seem to get a better sense of judging the use of an entire second body when you're at its centre. If you look at Tomino Gundam stories, head cockpits tend to be used as a sign of truely dangerous pilots who can handle MS better than a regular one.

The discussion reminds me of the infamous Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle from Captain Scarlet, where the driver sat backwards and used a screen to drive.
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Malcadon
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Re: Ideal, um... cockpit location/position

Post by Malcadon » Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:52 am

HellCat wrote:I always felt the chest worked best...
Ray Palmer and I agree. The chest is the only way to fly. :twisted:

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Re: Ideal, um... cockpit location/position

Post by Nebfer » Tue Nov 20, 2012 5:36 pm

Well for a space craft or a unit that can be used in both space and gravity, the torso cockpit has the advantage of being better for dealing with G-forces, and is likely the better armored area, to protect the power plant and or other items, so placing the cockpit in that area takes advantage of that.

The advantage of not placing the cockpit closest to or in the center of mass/torso, is that it can allow for an easier time in making an escape system for the pilot/crew (i.e. a head mounted cockpit can be used as a escape pod, or a roof mounted blow off panel for an ejection seat). Another advantage is that you place the pilot not in the center of mass which is a likely target for opposing forces to aim at, increasing the pilot survival rate (as rounds hitting the center torso is not hitting the pilot). Another reason is that your power source might have some harmful side effects to the pilot, as such you might want to place the cockpit location as far away as possible.

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shinaobi
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Re: Ideal, um... cockpit location/position

Post by shinaobi » Thu Nov 22, 2012 9:55 am

Assuming you stick to a humanoid design for your suit, then the biggest factors you're considering for cockpit location can probably be summarized thusly:

-potential extra G forces experienced as you move the cockpit farther from the center of mass
-risk of radiation poisoning or long-term health effects depending on the nature of your power source
-ability of your pilot to enter/exit cockpit on short notice (in gravity, or during emergency situations; note this also covers escape systems or a potential lack thereof)
-how exposed the cockpit is (i.e. how much armor/shielding/what-have-you is protecting the pilot from enemy action/extremely determined asteroids/extremely idiotic geese)

I'll note right now that I don't think that any one concern (except perhaps exposure) could be reliably defined as the number one priority when determining location, in part because, depending on what exactly the mobile suit is expected to be doing, it may not be as important for the cockpit to be particularly close to the center of mass (if, say, the suit is mostly meant to serve as an artillery platform, then it likely isn't intended to perform lots of high G maneuvering, so you can justify moving the cockpit farther away from the chest and instead putting say, a big ol' cannon there or summat) or, if the suit runs on some harmless, non-explody miracle engine, then there's not much reason to keep the pilot far away from the power source; G Gundam provides an interesting reason as to why accessibility might not be a concern: if your pilot is almost always going to have all the time they'll need to get in and prepare for engagement since all their sorties are scheduled at least a few hours in advance, why waste the time to build a ladder, or rig up a winch?

More explicitly, I believe that generally, if all the factors I listed earlier are taken into at least some degree of account, then the best cockpit locations lie around the chest/stomach, situated so that the pilot has the maximum amount of armor on the front and back of the cockpit (i.e. that they aren't sticking out the back or the front, either of which can be shot/asteroid'd/goos'd at any time)

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