Sunday, December 16, 2007

Why The Vault Operating System Should Be Based On an Ethernet Ring LAN

My ideas on this subject have changed rapidly over the past couple of months. Here are my reasons, starting with the most important:
  1. Ethernet whether embedded or driven off a card is now down to around $10-$20 per node. It's the cheapest tech available and it has been thoroughly proven.
  2. The wiring and connection of Ethernet is standardized, simple and cheap.
  3. TCP/IP is too complex, too interdependent and too demanding of system resources for 8086 technology or embedded devices.
  4. There is no master and no slave in Ethernet. No node in Ethernet can crash the rest. If Ethernet goes down for some reason, nodes can still operate independently anyway.
  5. All Ethernet cards come with a unique address.
  6. Ethernet comms is easy to program in VB-DOS (or C++) for any purpose and easy to monitor with simple packet sniffing code.
  7. All nodes can ignore information they don't need to look at or broadcast a system wide message. All nodes can filter messages just for what they want to respond to.
  8. Optical isolation for Ethernet connections is rapidly dropping in price. (EMP protection)
  9. Accessories for Ethernet are dirt cheap and wireless Ethernet can be made transparent.
  10. Ethernet is easy to monitor, debug and trace as a protocol for a single engineer.
  11. Industrial processes using Ethernet have proven it can run for months or years unattended virtually without error.
  12. Most of the drivers, tools and utilities for Ethernet are free.
  13. Like VB-DOS, Ethernet is largely a dead language/protocol. This means that it won't be constantly undergoing revisions, updates, patching and upgrades.
Every node connected to the Internet can implement some feature of the standard messaging protocol used on the system internally. The aboveground weather station can simply send a packet once every few seconds that represents the consolidated values of all of it's instruments. A water level monitor can transmit the temperature and percentage water remaining in it's tank. A radiation monitor can send a mapped picture of radiation aboveground as a series of point measurements on a diagram as a packet.

Nearly every 8086 compatible terminal inside the shelter can run the same version of the software in VB-DOS, except tailored locally to behave according to it's responsibilities. The terminal in the storage area can only respond to messages related to requests concerning inventory and resources. The terminals in the entryways can send a request to open the nearest door after receiving a password or code. The controller terminal in the house can monitor and control nearly every other terminal pending security authorization to check on what is happening inside the shelter ... when the last time the air conditioner was turned on, what the current temperature and humidity is inside, examine the event log, turn on the ozone generators, watch for carbon monoxide leaks or battery charging.

Any terminal can chat/whiteboard/email to another terminal. The Permaculture lab can report shortages of growth medium or project crop yields and if another workstation is configured for it then it can save/log/process this information. If necessary a safe, secure proxy can forward email or other types of comms to the outside world.

Feedback appreciated. There may be something I don't know or have missed on this topic.


Anonymous said...

I think you should use a TCP/IP stack, it is too ubiquitous these days, there's security cameras etc that support it and these devices are only going to get more prevalent over time. You're limiting your expansion capabilities by omitting it.

Anonymous said...

i would like to see a drawing of your sleeping area in underground shelter system and a stowage area
my email is

Texas Arcane said...

If you look on the main page under "RESEARCH" and click "Sparkgap" there is a map posted of the intended layout for the completed shelter complex. The living and sleeping area in the blast shelter is the drum on the right, storage is on the left.

If I build the "Grand Redoubt" next year I plan to divide it into two similar units side by side.

Texas Arcane said...

The photos page was down just now when I clicked on it. I may host the photos locally on my other web page soon so I won't have these kinds of problems.

The problem with TCP/IP is that for small embedded devices it's still expensive, around $50.00 or more for a single board.