Technical Events Programme

This page gives details of our programme of meetings for the 2017-2018 season. Further information will be added as it becomes available.

If you need any additional information please contact Tom Purcell by email or 07947 476910.

Technical meetings normally take place at Eaton Electric Limited (MTL) in Luton on the last Wednesday evening of the month, commencing at 6:45 for 7:00 p.m.

Where the date, time or venue of an event is different from normal this information will be highlighted in red below.

This is a link to the page, at the bottom of which you will find a map and directions to Eaton Electric Limited (MTL).

Members and visitors are welcome at all meetings

At each technical meeting at MTL light refreshments are available 15 minutes before the start
of the meeting and the evening normally concludes with a buffet supper and informal discussion
We ask for a donation of £2 per person to help towards the cost of the buffet

27th September 2017
Sands of Time - Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway
by Nick Hill

Nick will explain how the railway came to be built as a consequence of Belgium’s neutrality at the start of World War I.  From 1919 until the mid-60s the railway was used to move sand to both the mainline railway and the Grand Union canal in Leighton Buzzard.  50 years ago a group of enthusiasts were granted permission to run trains at the weekends.  Nowadays the railway is devoted to preserving the history of industrial, narrow gauge railways and the entire railway is a museum.  On 2nd June 2017 it was announced that that the railway has been awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.  Nick’s talk is illustrated with many slides covering the history of the railway over the last fifty years.

Nick Hill

Nick has been a volunteer at the railway for 11 years, working initially in the Steam Department and then transferring to the Carriage Department.  From his work in these departments Nick has become a qualified Guard and Diesel Shunting Driver.  For over seven years, until June 2017, Nick was a member of the Executive Committee, so was involved in the management of the railway.  For some years Nick has also been the Head of the Membership Team.

25th October 2017
Airlander 10
by Andy Barton of Hybrid Air Vehicles
DSCN2058 edited 1

The Airlander 10 is the world's largest aircraft, designed and built by Hybrid Air Vehicles. It is currently undergoing flight trials at Cardington near Bedford.
Airlander 10 is underpinned by the company’s numerous patents vested worldwide. From the latest materials technology, to the aerodynamic effects of its shape, it is full of innovation. There is no internal structure in the Airlander – it maintains its shape due to the pressure stabilisation of the helium inside the hull, and the smart and strong Vectran material from which it is made. Carbon composites are used throughout the aircraft for strength and weight savings.
Airlander is designed to fly continuously for up to 5 days when manned, or longer if unmanned. It can fly up to 20,000 feet, and has a maximum cruising speed of 80 knots (92 mph).
The hull is helium filled, and constructed of a sophisticated laminated fabric. Its aerodynamic shape, an elliptical cross-section allied to a cambered longitudinal shape, provides up to 40% of the vehicle’s lift. The internal diaphragms required to support this shape allow for a limited amount of compartmentalisation further enhancing the fail-safe nature of the vehicle. Multiple ballonets located fore and aft in each of the hulls provide pressure control.
The landing system consists of profiled pneumatic tubes / skids on the underside of the two outer hulls, which allow multi-surface ground operation including amphibious capability. On the production version skids are ‘sucked-in’ for a clean-in-flight profile.
Motive power is provided by 4 x 325 hp, 4 litre V8 direct injection, turbocharged diesel engines. Two engines are mounted forward on the hull and two on the stern of the hull for cruise operation. All four are configured with ducts with blown vanes to allow vectored thrust for take-off/landing/ground handling operation.

Andy will tell us about the development of the Airlander 10, its recent history, and plans for the future.

29th November 2017
Space Rider
by Alex Godfrey of Lockheed Martin
Engineers at Lockheed Martin’s site in Ampthill, Bedfordshire, will develop two key parts for the Space Rider, which is a reusable space plane being developed by the European Space Agency (ESA). The small, unmanned craft will be launched from a rocket and will be able to gather scientific data, carry out exploration missions as it orbits the earth, and deliver cargo to and from the International Space Station. Crucially, Space Rider will be capable of surviving re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere, making it reusable and an affordable way to bring important findings back from space.

Lockheed Martin will develop the actuator system, which operates flaps to steady the flight during re-entry; and the landing system to bring the spacecraft safely back to earth.

Alex Godfrey, the technical lead on the project for Lockheed Martin UK explains: “Space Rider will re-enter our atmosphere at 7.5km a second. Making sure it lands back on earth safely is a major part of the project. We’re looking at two solutions, pulling in expertise and capabilities from across Lockheed Martin Corporation."

The first is a mid-air retrieval system, or MAR, which will mean the spacecraft is slowed down by a parafoil and then captured in the sky by a helicopter; the second is more traditional wheeled or skidded landing gear, with it coming to rest on a runway."

31st January 2018
Bletchley Park Museums
by Nick Hill

Nick’s talk is not intended as a potted tour of the two museums on the Bletchley Park site: Bletchley Park Trust (BPT) and The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC).

Instead, Nick will show and describe what you might see when you make your visit(s).

In BPT you will discover the story of the breaking of Enigma, which gave Germany and its allies the equivalent capability of today’s battlefield tweets.  Enigma was used for the encryption of short messages at all levels, except the highest, of the German ‘war machine’.

At TNMOC you will discover the story of the breaking of the Lorenz encryption machine.  Lorenz was more sophisticated than Enigma – 183 million, million, million possible settings, as opposed to Enigma’s 156 million, million – and was unknown to the Allies at the start of the war.  It was used by Hitler and all the members of the German High Command to encrypt messages relating to their strategic plans, battle plans etc.  The breaking of Lorenz from the interception of just two messages is ranked as one of the most astonishing intellectual achievements of the 20th century.

Nick Hill

Nick has been a volunteer at both BPT and TNMOC for over ten years.  During this time he has built up a considerable set of background information with which to illustrate his talks.

28th February 2018

Joint meeting with the Institute of Physics
at University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield

Details TBA
28th March 2018
Subject and details TBA
25th April 2018
Technical subject and details TBA