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Technical Details of the Disney Monorail

Last Sunday, a tragic monorail crash at Walt Disney World (between the Pink and Purple trains) killed the driver of Purple, Austin Wuennenberg. In the aftermath, Disney closed the monorail system for investigation and there has been a surprising amount of web coverage of the incident from monorail experts and drivers. But one forum post caught my attention. Written by a former monorail driver (sorry, "railie"), the post is educated speculation about what might have happened. It's interesting mainly because the immense technical detail revealed about the monorail system -- including its safety features, and information about what drivers must do in order to override them. Below are a few snippets, after a YouTube slideshow that explains the crash in detail.

The system at Disney is called the MAPO system, or more precisely the Moving Blocklight System (MBS). It consists of a number of transmitters along the beam every 7-10 pylons or so that place RF signals of three different frequencies onto the positive buss bar (power rail), and a corresponding receiver in each train. The trains are wired with a capacitor that shorts the MAPO signals to ground, preventing any signals generated ahead of the train from getting past it. The transmitters are arranged sequentially around the beam- if any given transmitter is putting out frequency #1, then the next one will be emitting frequency #2, and the next one after that will have frequency #3. The one after that will be transmitting frequency #1 again, and the cycle continues all the way around the beam. The upshot of this is that in normal operation, the following distance should be such that there will be three or more transmitters between a given train and the train ahead of him, thus the following train will "see" all three frequencies, and the driver will have a green MBS light on his console.

...there are a number of situations where the MAPO system needs to be turned off, and for that, there's a "MAPO override" button on the console, which allows the driver to do just that. When MAPO override is active, the train is limited to 15 mph, and the driver has to continue to hold the button down to keep the system overridden. Some examples of when the system needs to be overridden are when trains are on any of the spurlines (since they have no MAPO transmitters), or when trains are being switched between beams.

Read the rest for an inside look at the Disney monorail system.

(Via Daring Fireball.)

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WASProject via Flickr
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The World’s First 3D-Printed Opera Set Is Coming to Rome
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WASProject via Flickr

In October, the Opera Theater in Rome will become the first theater to play host to a 3D-printed set in one of its operas. The theater’s performance of the 19th-century opera Fra Diavolo by French composer Daniel Auber, opening on October 8, will feature set pieces printed by the Italian 3D-printing company WASP, as TREND HUNTER reports.

Set designers have been using 3D printers to make small-scale set models for years, but WASP says this seems to be the first full 3D-printed set. (The company is also building a 3D-printed town elsewhere in Italy, to give you a sense of its ambitions for its technology.)

Designers stand around a white 3D-printed model of a theater set featuring warped buildings.
WASP

The Fra Diavolo set consists of what looks like two warped historic buildings, which WASP likens to a Dalí painting. These buildings are made of 223 smaller pieces. It took five printers working full-time for three months to complete the job. The pieces were sent to Rome in mid-July in preparation for the opera.

Recently, 3D printing is taking over everything from housing construction to breakfast. If you can make an office building with a printer, why not a theater set? (Though it should be noted that the labor unions that represent scenic artists might disagree.)

[h/t TREND HUNTER]

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iStock
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A Simple Way to Charge Your iPhone in 5 Minutes
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iStock

Spotting the “low battery” notification on your phone is usually followed by a frantic search for an outlet and further stress over the fact that you may not have time for a full charge. On iPhones, plugging your device into the wall for five minutes might result in only a modest increase of about three percent or so. But this tip from Business Insider Tech may allow you to squeeze out a little more juice.

The trick? Before charging, put your phone in Airplane Mode so that you reduce the number of energy-sucking tasks (signal searching, fielding incoming communications) your device will try and perform.

Next, take the cover off if you have one (the phone might be generating extra heat as a result). Finally, try to use an iPad adapter, which has demonstrated a faster rate of charging than the adapter that comes with your iPhone.

Do that and you’ll likely double your battery boost, from about three to six percent. It may not sound like much, but that little bit of extra juice might keep you connected until you’re able to plug it in for a full charge.

[h/t Business Insider Tech]

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