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Hurricane Simulator to Destroy Full Size Building 162

Anonymous Coward writes "This is a shameless plug, but I thought Slashdot readers might be interested in the hurricane simulator system the company I work for (Cambridge Consultants) helped develop for the University of Western Ontario. The BBC article is light on the kind of technical details Slashdot readers enjoy, so here are some titbits. The servomotors for the 100+ valves are controlled over an IPv4, gigabit Ethernet network connected to an Athlon dual-core AMD64 PC. The entire real-time control system runs on this machine, utilizing well above 90% of each processor core, and roughly 30% of the network capacity. The sampling frequency of the control system places a huge demand on the machine, with about 70,000 context switches taking place every second. Yes, it runs Linux. "
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Hurricane Simulator to Destroy Full Size Building

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  • by Attila the Bun ( 952109 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @08:09AM (#15604580)
    BBC article is light on the kind of technical details Slashdot readers enjoy

    ...but not so light as the Slashdot article. Are you telling me that you've built a hurricane machine capable of destroying a building, and the most interesting part is the office PC which controls it?

  • Real-time? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 26, 2006 @08:36AM (#15604693)
    Runs on Linux? RTLinux, then? Or some other RTOS? I'm just curious what people are using out there.
  • This seems not good (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 26, 2006 @08:38AM (#15604709)
    If you want to know what a hurricane does, study the effects of hurricanes. One of the best studies was done after Hurricane Andrew and the results were published in Fine Homebuilding Magazine.

    What they found that the building code was pretty good. There were a couple of issues.

    The rain of an actual hurricane was responsible for a lot of the destroyed homes. Rain would get up under the shingles and soak the fiberboard sheathing. The sheathing would swell and the roofing staples would then cut into the sheathing and the sheathing would blow off. Once that happened, the house was toast.

    Another issue was that builders didn't always build to code. They found a lot of nails that missed the lumber they were aimed at.

    This experiment misses a couple of things that caused most of the destruction during Hurricane Andrew.

    If you state what winds you want a house to withstand, you can reliably build the house to withstand those winds. I am skeptical that this experiment will turn up anything we didn't already know.
  • Re:Doubts... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ohreally_factor ( 593551 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @08:51AM (#15604784) Journal
    I found the article to be pretty fascinating, but I'm really curious as to how they've modeled hurricane winds. The hardware details are pretty mundane, but the algorithms they've used to model a hurricane would be a very interesting subject.
  • Re:Doubts... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by saider ( 177166 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @09:03AM (#15604860)

    The point is, they're NOT going to be able to do a goddamn thing about flying debris (well, they could build all houses out of 10" of tempered steel), what they are trying to do is make houses designed to be as hurricane resistant as possible.

    A cement brick house (standard in Florida) is able to stop any debris hurled at it by a hurricane. The standard test is usually a 2x4 at 120mph or somesuch. One weak spot is the connection between the roof and the wall. If these are not properly secured, the roof will be lifted up into the windstream, and you've seen the video of this happening. Protecing the openings of the house (windows, doors, etc) is important because of this same effect. As long as you protect your openings and your house was properly constructed, hurricanes are not a problem. And we have known how to build hurricane proof houses for a long time. People just like being cheap and want to know how much they can get away with.
  • by 15Bit ( 940730 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @09:22AM (#15604968)
    ...if it was the Big Brother house.
  • Re:Yeah... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rwven ( 663186 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @09:26AM (#15605001)
    To just sounds like an article full of buzz-words. None of that makes a bit of difference as to the outcome. Who, frankly, gives a crap that the simulator uses utilizes "well above 90% of each processor core, and roughly 30% of the network capacity." I do this with my home computer on a daily basis. I'm interested in the core story but trying to win over /. users by using a bunch of words that are "supposed" to mean something just seems lame to me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 26, 2006 @12:21PM (#15606216)
    Straight line winds are just one hazard. The level of damage varies with wind direction, velocity and duration

    And on top of that, you can have the winds shift 180 degrees over the course of an hour without ever letting up. I didn't see anything in the article that suggested the simulator did or didn't account for that, but it's something that definitely happens.

    I agree that while this sounds like an interesting experiment, it's very unlikely that we're going to learn anything that structural engineers don't already know. There are so many tropical storms that hit the southeastern U.S. that there is a lot of abstract scientific knowledge of the beasts, but more importantly a lot of practical hands-on knowledge in the construction industry regarding what works and what doesn't.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 26, 2006 @12:37PM (#15606365)
    20 years ago, when I worked for CCL, I wrote a proposal for Building Research Establishment in Watford. The CCL-internal codename was "Big Bad Wolf", since the equipment was to simulate simulate wind loading on building materials by sucking and blowing until the materials fell apart. The BRE actuators look remarkably similar to those pictured, so far as can be seen.

    So, is this an up-scaling of that project?

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky