I entered the CEO’s Executive office answering an ad for a technical illustrator. I figured my break from the (Pi)rSquared Club was nearly complete and my portfolio of technical drawings I had done in my lifetime of six years of college was pretty impressive. I had no idea what they produced at this corporation in the canyon, but here I was. It was an esthetic one-story basalt brick building among several shop buildings in the Bollinger Canyon, south of here, down 680 and west of San Ramon, California. It was 1967. Viet Nam was getting hotter daily. Jesus & Holy Moly, I had entered James Bond’s secret laboratory! That was the immediate sensation as I looked further. Every manner of handheld gizmo and firing device was on display in the center of the long executive table. The Gyrojet handgun, complete with its red velour and walnut wood case, you could then buy at the Simon’s Hardware Gun Department in Walnut Creek, M-79 grenade launchers and M-16 automatic rifle adapters to fire any variety of small rockets designed and manufactured at this firm.
I stayed 3 years, Cathy and Christopher were born to us in this time period and I was promoted back to project engineer before leaving the Military-Industrial Complex behind, and hopefully forever. A longer story will follow as I have energy to recast all these formative seeds.
©Peter Bray 11/13/2017
All rights reserved
The Beauty of a Rocket
The beauty of a rocket is that it can be a self-contained projectile. It needs no heavy-duty barrel to contain its explosive fuel charge, all that energy is contained and controlled inside the strong rocket body, so all you need is a lightweight aiming device or tube. And if you spin-stabilize the rocket the gyroscopic-momentum-action of its spinning keeps it flying in a straight line where pointed. Now, get smart, add canted ports at the rear end of the rocket, these will vent the internal burning gases, and give thrust and spin to the rocket. Get even brighter, add a central, pyrotechnic fuse to give time of consequence to the flight, then lead that to an explosive charge and a removable front ogive or nosepiece and a payload section behind that and you have all manner of ground-to-air or air-to-air work horse.
Oh, yeah, all these components need to be sealed from one another and the outside world to properly function, and “you can do stress calculations as well as draw? Damn, boy, you’re hired!” And so at age 24, this once upon-a-time high school hot rod builder from the suburbs of Walnut Creek was a tax-paying college graduate and adult and working again for a living.
Pi not Pie
Pi as I recall is 3.1416 as discovered perhaps by Pythagorus or some other very bright and early Egyptian, Greek or Roman mathematician. Pi goes on forever, non-repeating, but for our needs here, we’ll call it, 3.14. Every engineer or engineering student knows C = Pi x D and A = Pi x r(Squared) where C is the circumference of a circle, D is its diameter, r is its radius, and A is the area of a circle. Great stuff to know and carry with you always.
From the Drawing Board to Here
From the drawing board to here took 74 years more or less, way too much to cover in a singe column. More next week. I promise.
Peter Bray writes, works, and lives in Benicia
and has written this column since 2008.