Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Toys IT Technology

Roller Coaster Data Center 207

Posted by timothy
from the can't-let-you-do-that-dave dept.
stienman writes "The Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point Amusement Park may have more technology than your data center. From the article: "The parameters within which the Dragster has to operate are so finely tuned that variable load weights from people, wind speed and out-side temperature affect its performance. ... After every third launch, the data are averaged and compared with historic launch data in an effort to create that perfect ride - the roller coaster must go fast enough to clear the top of the tower, but slow to between 7 and 15 mph in order to give riders the maximum lift effect at the top."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Roller Coaster Data Center

Comments Filter:
  • Hmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bhtooefr (649901) <bhtooefr&bhtooefr,org> on Monday July 11, 2005 @08:49PM (#13038688) Homepage Journal
    Explains why TTD always closes at the WORST possible times ;-)

    FWIW, I actually know someone for whom the Dragster didn't launch QUITE quickly enough - it only hit 112MPH...

    When I rode it the one time, it was DAMN smooth, DAMN fast, and that was one DAMN steep descent. However, it was over WAY too quickly, and WAS actually boring. Besides, I'm not going to wait 1.5 to 3 hours in line for something that boring. I'd rather have a 2 minute wait (the time it takes to get from the exit to onboard a coaster) for something like Gemini - more fun, BECAUSE it's less smooth, and runs for plenty of time.
    • Re:Hmm... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by berboot (838932)
      When I went to the park last summer, TTD had been closed for the prior week or two, and re-opened the second day of my visit. After standing in line for almost 6 hours, we finally made it on, but the launch system was misbehaving due to the heat. It wound up taking 3 tries to get the coaster to clear the hill.

      I must say that making it up to the apex, only to stall out and fall straight back down backwards back to the launch zone was almost as fun as clearing the hill.
    • Re:Hmm... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by TomServo (79922) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @03:42AM (#13040257)
      The article mentioned Superman: The Escape out here in Los Angeles. It's an older model from the same manufacturer, using "linear synchronous motors" (essentially a series of electromagnets that can reverse polarity, at any given point one set pulling while the other pushes) for its launch. Like he said, it's 0-100 in 7 seconds, though it doesn't hit much over 85mph with a full load of people, that 100 figure is only for an empty car.

      Anyway, onto the point, that one is kinda dull. The 6 seconds of nearly zero-G is good fun, but otherwise, it's not that exciting, and it's decidedly not scary. I've ridden TTD's younger brother (essentially the prototype for TTD), Xcelerator, out here at Knott's Berry Farm, and it sounds like it's got a lot meaner kick over the top than TTD does.

      Anyone ride all three of these? I'd be curious to find out what impressions people have had between them.

      Oh, and the article was wrong about the 2 seconds to 120mph when the sled disconnects from the train, it's 4 seconds. If you really want your neck to snap, Dodonpa in Japan does 0-108mph in 1.8 seconds. I fear that thing.
    • Yah, but the Gemini is riged! Blue always wins. ;)
      • It's the weights of the cars. When you walk on to the Gemini loading platform, you naturally go to the left, which is the red car. Therefore, it'll (usually) have a higher loadout than the blue car.

        I've been on it when the red car wins, though, and that was even with me in the red car ;-)
  • wow (Score:2, Funny)

    by hazzey (679052)
    fast enough to clear the top of the tower

    Now that is a thrill ride!

  • by mikael (484) on Monday July 11, 2005 @08:55PM (#13038718)
    Does it run 24/7 with automatic backups and rollbacks if the system is overloaded by users?
  • Bah. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ScaryMonkey (886119) on Monday July 11, 2005 @08:59PM (#13038729)
    How am I supposed to enjoy a roller coaster if I know that sophisticated computers are monitoring the experience and ensuring my safety? That's just being fed stimulus. Now, the Cyclone in Coney Island... that's a roller coaster! You experience a genuine fear of death, not because the ride is particularly scary, but because the roller coaster is about a hundred years old and feels like it is going to collapse at any moment! Woo!
    • You'd be surprised (Score:2, Interesting)

      by vandoravp (709954)
      Actually, there were several times when I was at Cedar Point where it did not clear the hill and (though they claim in such an event it will return slowly to the station) it rocketed back down the hill as fast as it went up, not slowing until it reached the magnetic brakes along the acceleration section. Those were only test launches though, it was temporarily closed.

      We were lucky and managed to get at the queue entrance right as it opened again so the line was fairly short, most people having left the li
    • Re:Bah. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by uncqual (836337)
      Amen...

      When I went to Magic Mountain many (many!) years ago, the rides were just a bit more thrilling just because the place didn't seem very well maintained. I particularly recall a ride where the operator pulled back with significant force on a couple levers about three feet long to brake the cars into the loading/unloading area. One of these levers had broken and been (sloppily) brazed back on at the bottom (and they hadn't even bothered to paint over the repair). I suspected that even if the operator


    • One of my favorites was Mister Twister at Elitch Gardens in Denver. It was a wooden coaster, so it had this "give" as it rounded the tracks, and it was VERY bumpy, such that you could swear it would bounce off the tracks any moment. As if this wasn't enough, you'd plunge into a few seconds of complete darkness just before the end of the ride. It was quite fun.
    • Re:Bah. (Score:5, Funny)

      by FFFish (7567) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @12:08AM (#13039504) Homepage
      Damn straight!

      That's why The Zipper at the local once-a-year carnival is so damn fun: the bloody thing was assembled by carnie apes who only bothered finger-tightening the handful of nuts they scrounged out of the coffeecan, leaving the rest of the bolts to fend for themselves unaided.

      Get in the cage and... the door doesn't lock closed. Gonna have to hold it shut. Lap bar comes down... but only partially. The machine starts with a jarring clunk, and you notice the clove pin on the right-hand bearing is absent. A few sparks fly from a misaligned pulley, and you're off! Deathgrip on the door, head bashing the ceiling every time the cage flips, and an alarming squeal from the right-hand bearing... my god, is that Death looking at us from the opposing cage? It is!

      When the ride finally stops, life begins anew. The colours are brighter, the crush of people is comforting, and all the worries of the past year slip away: Death was cheated, and damn it feels good!
      • by Godeke (32895) *
        I really really really wish I had a mod point to give you, but I made the mistake years ago of visiting slashdot from a troll site's link so I have forever had my mod rights revoked. If you don't write for a living, you might want to give it a go... painting mental images like that shouldn't go to waste.
      • ...and you have to ask the carnie apes for your glasses that fell off and fell to the ground. They keep all the change that falls out of pockets, though. I think working ithe Zipper is highly sought after for just that reason.

        Oh. And Anthony runs off to puke in a garbage can. Don't let Anthony ride the Zipper with you. I wasn't sure he'd last the ride.

        One of the most evil rides ever. I love it. Closest thing to having a motorcycle wreck I've done without actually having one (I've had a few.)
    • lol, that's funny. I ride the cyclone every weekend during the summer (work at the NY Aquarium).

      I have to say though, as exhihilarating as it is, it stopped havent the "scary" part ages ago, I've ridden it too many times :-P.
  • Recent visitor... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Konowl (223655)
    As a recent visitor to the park for the first time, I have to say it's *THE* most thrilling ride I've ever gone on. I don't think anything less of skydiving will give me a rush like I experienced on this ride. Fantastic.

    As a side note, while my buddies and I were waiting in line, we saw a sign to the effect "This ride doesn't always make it over the hill the first time.". If it hadn't, I'm not sure I could have gotten on it again LOL.
  • I prefer the old wooden roller coasters. The artificial elation that accompanies the new ones just can't compete with the real fear that one of the old wooden ones will fall apart while I am riding it.
  • Crashes all the time (Score:2, Informative)

    by timmerk15 (753792)
    I've been there 4 times since the ride has opened, and each time the ride is closed for most of the day due to computer glitches. It's interesting to note they have to tighten the bolts every few weeks as well. On a side note, you have the be very skinny to ride this ride. I don't know why they don't make it a little bigger. I had to take off my belt and suck in my stomack to get the chest bar down.
    • Yeah, even the Cedar Point Site [cedarpoint.com] says "May not accommodate Guests of Exceptional Size."...exceptional lol
      • The best part? They give girth specifications on their website. They key here: no busty man titties.

        "Guests of Exceptional Size

        All passenger restraint systems, including lap bars, shoulder harnesses and seatbelts, must be positioned, fastened and tightened to allow guests to ride.

        Due to rider restraint system requirements, guests of exceptional size may not be accommodated on some of our rides. This may apply, but not be limited to, males who exceed 6'2", and those who exceed 225 pounds, have a 40" waist
  • ..to outdue my datacenter. At the moment it is made up of one P100 OpenBSD Apache server, a P3/933 Windoze box, a P3/550 Win 2k3 test server and another P3/550 that I haven't decided what to do with...

    Ok, so this is a home "datacenter" but at least its mine... :-)

  • by menscher (597856) <menscher+slashdot@NoSPaM.uiuc.edu> on Monday July 11, 2005 @09:05PM (#13038758) Homepage Journal
    From TFA:

    ..."the cars on the Dragster sometimes fall below the minimum speed needed, and drop backwards down the same 42-story building"...

    • If you can call that an "interesting failure mode" for a roller coaster, then you must have a pretty weak imagination. :-D
    • I was just up at Cedar Point yesterday (didn't ride the TTD, the line was WAY too long); we were watching them shoot it up when, with a full load of riders, it stalled out at the top. Didn't make it over, didn't start to roll back. Stayed there, perched 420 feet in the air, for about ten seconds, then slowly rolled back and came rocketing down. I'd have shit my pants.
  • by gooman (709147) on Monday July 11, 2005 @09:07PM (#13038764) Journal
    For a moment I thought it was an article about my career.
  • by PetoskeyGuy (648788) on Monday July 11, 2005 @09:10PM (#13038783)
    How can I get the company to pay for my summer vacation to Cedar Point?
  • by creimer (824291) on Monday July 11, 2005 @09:11PM (#13038791) Homepage
    One of my friends took two pictures of a roller coaster ride that had a loop. The first picture showed someone throwing up (actually down) from the top of the loop. The second picture showed someone being hit by the vomit at the bottom of the loop. We could never figured out if it was the same person who hurled was on the receiving end. This why I stay on the water rides.
    • Reminds me of a time I was in a centrifuge, along with about 30 other people. You know, the things that spin the room around really fast so you feel the G forces? Everyone stands lining the walls of a circular room, which is then spun (operator stays in the center, where he can keep an eye on everyone). Anyway, while we were spinning at around 3 or 4 G's, a girl sneezed. About 1/2 second later, I heard about 20 people go "ewwww...".
    • I'm no physicist, but that doesn't seem quite right. The vomit leaving the first person would be travelling at roughly their velocity, which is in a fast circle. Given that the centripetal force at that point is enough to keep the riders in their seats, I'm pretty sure the vomit would travel outwards (e.g. upwards) and end up in the guys lap. It's like swinging a bucket of water over your head - if you spill some it goes outwards, not towards you.
      • by Paul Jakma (2677) <paul+slashdot@jakma.org> on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @02:32AM (#13040035) Homepage Journal
        Two points:

        1. If we exclude gravity from consideration, the vomit would travel at a tangent to the circle, not away from the centre of the circle. That is to say, once you remove centripetal force, it simply goes 'forward' as momentum demands (for it to go 'away' from the centre of the circle, ie go outside of the 'far' side of the tangent to the circle) would require some other additional acceleration, which isnt there. (gravity excluded)). Hence, if the vomit is let go at the very top of the loop, we would expect it to travel horizontally forward, given that the tangent to the top of the circle meets the circle at a point on the vertical axis of the circle, and the tangent hence must be a horizontal axis.

        (we ignore fact the person could, in vomiting, impart a thrust on the vomit - it could be any direction, so cant be generally accounted for. We'll just presume any such thrust will be relatively insignificant (which seems likely, to a degree.)).

        If we add in gravity, the vomit will simply accelerate towards the ground at 9.8m/s**2, as well as moving horizontally, according to its horizontal inertia.

        2. Roller coaster rides which loop typically are designed so that they approach a minimum of speed at the top of the loop, for maximum "weightless" effect (ie to 'hang' at the top of the loop), this is why most of them are oval shaped with the long chord of the oval aligned vertically, rather than circular.

        Hence, if you vomit at the top of the loop, on many rides, there will be a minimum of inertia to carry the loop horizontally outside of the loop. Gravity immediately starts acting on the vomit and also the coaster to start accelerating it down the other side of the loop.

        With a modicum of thought (ie consider it is the same force accelerating both of them) you should realise that it's very plausible that the vomit will strike the coaster again somewhere near the bottom, offset slightly by whatever horizontal inertia the vomit had (which might be quite small, for many roller coasters).

        Calculating exactly where the vomit will hit the coaster (ignoring air friction, as always) sounds like a really interesting basic problem to give students learning Newtonian mechanics. ;)
        • With a modicum of thought (ie consider it is the same force accelerating both of them) you should realise that it's very plausible that the vomit will strike the coaster again somewhere near the bottom, offset slightly by whatever horizontal inertia the vomit had (which might be quite small, for many roller coasters).

          Calculating exactly where the vomit will hit the coaster (ignoring air friction, as always) sounds like a really interesting basic problem to give students learning Newtonian mechanics. ;)

          As
    • Once at Magic Mountain (forget the name of the coaster), my brother lost his glasses at the top of the loop, and then they fell into his lap at the bottom. I saw it, it was weird. The glasses floated away from him, he reached out to grab them, then they stopped and come back (he missed his grab).
    • We could never figured out if it was the same person who hurled was on the receiving end

      The first one would get the last ones vomit ans vice versa. Unless they were vomiting diagonally of course...

  • Video of the ride (Score:4, Informative)

    by Rufus211 (221883) <rufus-slashdot&hackish,org> on Monday July 11, 2005 @09:26PM (#13038843) Homepage
    I was trying to figure out wtf the ride is, and found this:

    http://70.85.70.32/cp_website_media/ttd/cp_website _ttd_InOperation1_320_high_videofile.mov [70.85.70.32]
  • Though I'm not sure what that means in the big scheme of things either.
  • >> Do you want to run off the rails?

    NO NO NO NO NO NO

    >> Do you want to turn before you run off the rails?

    NO NO NO NO NO

    almost as much fun as Clippy at the nuke plant....
  • by cgenman (325138) on Monday July 11, 2005 @09:57PM (#13038999) Homepage
    The imperfections can help make a ride great. The Revolution at Great America in San Jose, a spinning boat ride that goes over the top, sometimes goes over forwards, and sometimes goes over backwards. You really don't know when it will, or why. Compare that to Superman, the Escape at Magic Mountain, which does exactly the same thing every time, and Superman just seems less interesting.

    I must admit, my favorite rides skew to the less predictable. At the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk, there is (was) a ferris wheel which consisted of little egg-shaped cages. The rider was given a bar they could pull on to lock the cages in relationship to the wheel, so that they would very slowly spin over the top. No seat belt, mind you, or safety bar or anything, just a little egg-shaped cage with a small bench and a rider flipping around inside, holding their head off the metal with a well-placed, frequently panicked arm. Drop Zone at Great America has a random timer, to ensure that nobody will know when it is about to fall. It's surprisingly good at catching you when you're not expecting it, no matter how many times you ride it. Even The Pirates of the Carribean at Disneyland has people concurrently going through lengthy looped scenes, so that certain boats see the beginning of the loop, others see the middle, and others the end. The rides at California Adventure seemed too controlled and soulless to be a lot of fun, even if they did do so with a bit of showmanship. The best ride there is the white water raft, because it combines the freeform risk of most raft rides with a lot of little technical controlling tricks (like artificially spinning you up).

    Personally, I would want to go on the ride when it fell back. That sounds like a lot more fun than just going forwards for 20 seconds. That sounds really, really thrilling. I wouldn't be at all surprised if that was left in on purpose, and I'm sure it helps the ride's reputation.

    • by Buck2 (50253) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @12:12AM (#13039526) Homepage
      Even The Pirates of the Carribean at Disneyland has people concurrently going through lengthy looped scenes, so that certain boats see the beginning of the loop, others see the middle, and others the end.

      I was once stuck in the Pirates of the Carribean's burning village listening to:

      YO HO
      YO HO
      A PIRATE'S LIFE FOR ME

      YO HO
      YO HO
      A PIRATE'S LIFE FOR ME

      for over 20 minutes straight. It was a nightmare.

      The first five minutes were interesting. I really got to see the details about the animatronics. I was able to appreciate how the ride was put together. I checked out the boat. I checked out the rails between which the boat rides. It was enlightening. Annoying, true, but preferable overall because I got to explore on my own for a bit.

      The next five minutes were a bit more confused. All the passengers were getting to know each other, chuckling, making pithy comments, getting worried, calling to passengers in other boats, and basically exhibiting various expected reactions to the situation. All the while, the bloody YO HO YO HO song was carrying on and on. And the puppets were dancing in the same way, over and over again.

      The next five minutes were spent dealing with fellow passengers freaking out about the music, the fucking puppets, and, mostly, the fact that we're "trapped" and WTH is GOING ON!? THERE MUST BE SOMETHING SERIOUSLY WRONG!! IT'S BEEN FIFTEEN MINUTES AND WE'RE ALL JAMMED IN THESE BOATS IN A BURNING VILLAGE SOMEWHERE!!

      What turned out to be roughly the last five minutes were spent AGREEING THAT THIS IS CrAzy! WHY CAN'T THESE FUCKING PUPPETS SING A BIT MORE THAN YO HO YO HO A PIRATE'S LIFE FOR ME OVER ... AND ... OVER ... AND OVER!? IS THERE ANOTHER VERSE?! WILL THIS BOAT EVER START AGAIN!? IS THIS THE TIME YOU USE THOSE EXITS IN THE RIDE? IS IT OK TO STEP IN THE WATER? WHY ARE THERE 5 BOATS ALL BUMPED AGAINST EACH OTHER IN THIS BURNING TOWN!? HAS THIS EVER HAPPENED BEFORE? OH GOD FUCK THESE PIRATES, FUCK THESE PEOPLE, JUST GET ME THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!! THIS SUCKS! I HATE DISNEYLAND. I DON'T EVEN WANT TO BE HERE IN THE FIRST PLACE.

      And then the boats started up and all was fine.

      I survived.
      • I was on it once when it stopped .. I think it was right after the cannonball bit, right at the bottom of the final ramp back up to the loading dock. It was only three or four minutes, so it didn't bother me too much.

        More interesting was when the mine train ride at Knott's Berry Farm broke down. They led us out through the maintenance tunnels underneath, past the basketball court, and emptying out on the back side of the "mountain". (I can't remember whether it was a full court, or just a half court lik
    • I must admit, my favorite rides skew to the less predictable. At the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk, there is (was) a ferris wheel which consisted of little egg-shaped cages. The rider was given a bar they could pull on to lock the cages in relationship to the wheel, so that they would very slowly spin over the top. No seat belt, mind you, or safety bar or anything, just a little egg-shaped cage with a small bench and a rider flipping around inside, holding their head off the metal with a well-placed, frequent

    • if imperfections make the ride, cedar point has plenty to offer you. might i recommend the magnum, which was their record-setting steel coaster 10-ish years ago. its age has roughened it up, and it is one fun ride.

      if you have a chiropractor on speed dial, i'll recommend the mean streak - their at-the-time world setting wooden coaster. that thing is painful, but soooo much fun.

      cedar point really is the coaster capital, they have something for everyone.

      the millenium force, their record setter that came
  • The Dueling Dragons ride is designed to have three "near misses" where two trains that leave the station at the same time pass within six feet of each other. Perhaps the best "near miss" is two outside loops opposite each other - there's nothing more fun than looking down and seeing the feet of the people on the OTHER train whizzing by.

    The trains are supposedly weighed upon departure so that the three misses are timed perfectly. As with the other rides, a failure doesn't kill the ride, just diminishes t

  • TTD Rocks (Score:2, Informative)

    by Fornoth (569470)
    For those of you wondering how it doesn't crash, it is all pretty much logic control. Also, in the event of any kind of failure (on any roller coaster), all the brakes default to the on position (stopping the ride as fast as possible). The best part about TTD would be a rollback (I've never gotten one, in 30+ rides), or the ultimate (when a train got stuck at the top for 20 mins loaded). For more info check www.pointbuzz.com
  • I don't know anything about this coaster, but most ride control in the US is done with PLCs and programmed in ladder logic. Here's a picture of an Allen Bradley PLC [princeton-indiana.com] from some wastewater treatment page [princeton-indiana.com].

    In Europe, most ride control is done with relays. This actually makes sense - you only need about one relay per block zone. A relay control system has less room for bugs and hidden effects. Remember, people get injured or killed on coasters, and engineers will have to testify in court as to the system de
    • Of course, PLC's were designed specifically to replace relays. Relays are a pain to troubleshoot and are very difficult to make changes to. PLC's may add a bit of software to simulate and we all are afraid of buggy software, but the design is meant to be rock solid. In the event of a failure, there are plenty of fault handling options that can be set to ensure proper shut down of the machine.
  • by Shag (3737) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @03:12AM (#13040150) Homepage
    How's that supposd to even begin to compare with a datacenter? Why, back in the day, our datacenters would go up and down several times at high speed, with a couple loops and corkscrews thrown in for good measure!
  • Let's just hope they don't run IIS!
  • ...and that's fucking fun. You end up falling back alllllll the way to the starting point and get to relaunch (free ride!) ;)

    Um, but yeah, regardless of how much technology exists in the ride, the fact is, TTD still breaks down every few hrs... and it's been TWO YEARS since it was made.

    In fact, it's the best time to get in line when it breaks down. People don't KNOW that it breaks down so often, so the 3 hour line filters out with people grumbling. Little do they know, it'll open 30-45 minutes later (only

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's funny ..." -- Isaac Asimov

Working...