The transporter room, turbo lift, and shuttle craft all rely on hydraulics to produce realistic special effects. According to Jeff Borba, department manager of engineering at Star Trek: The Experience, Las Vegas Hilton, The transporter room works as an inverse elevator. Instead of moving occupants to a different location, the occupants remain stationary and a new location moves to them. This occurs in two stages. First, the assembly of four walls surrounding occupants of the loading area is raised 13 ft in less than 3 sec. Once this occurs, the ceiling moves horizontally 22 ft in 2½ sec.When the lights come back on, visitors now see the bottom half of the wall assembly, which looks like the transporter room. Likewise, they now see a half of the ceiling that looks very different from the one they saw when they entered the room.

The upper half of the wall assembly is now 13-ft above them, but they can't see it because of the ceiling. Also, the half of the ceiling they first saw is now 22-ft away, obscured by the "new" walls. The 7000-lb wall assembly was raised by a hydraulic cylinder with 78-in. stroke. A cable-and-pulley assembly doubles the cylinder's effective stroke (and speed) to quickly raise the wall assembly to its final height.

The 3000-lb ceiling, on the other hand, is powered by a bent-axis piston motor. This motor drives a Ford 9-in. differential (the same differential used in trucks and industrial vehicles) to evenly distribute rotational power to a pair of high-strength belt-and-pulley assemblies that slides the ceiling into a slot in the middle of the wall assembly.

Clearance between the ceiling and wall assemblies is only 1-1Ú8 in., so moving these massive loads so quickly requires extremely precise timing and motion control. Hydraulics provides the high power for rapid acceleration and deceleration, while electronics ensure sequential accuracy and tight position control.

After going through the illusion of being beamed into the 24th century, guests are instructed to enter a turbo lift to start them on a quick escape. The turbo lift is a cylindrical chamber mounted vertically with a door on its side. After guests enter though the door, the turbo lift pivots on three 2½-in. stroke cylinders that present the illusion that the turbo lift is moving. At the same time, the turbo lift slowly rotates at approximately 1 rpm about its vertical axis.

When the turbo lift stops moving, visitors exit through the door and enter a new room on the same level as the one they just left. The ride in the turbo lift gives the impression of transporting visitors to a different level, but it actually is just a chamber joining two rooms on the same level.

Ken Griffin, Technician at Star Trek: The Experience, Las Vegas Hilton, says this HPU has a 200-gal reservoir with an off-line filtration (kidney) loop. The kidney loop is driven by a 5-gpm gear pump piggybacked to the main pump. Fluid is routed through 3-µm filters and a 2½-gal heat exchanger for cooling. A pair of 20-gal accumulators provides supplemental flow for short-duration peak demand periods. A 25-hp electric motor running at 1800 rpm drives a main, axial-piston pump, which is pressure-compensated at 1500 psi to deliver up to 25 gpm. The pump is driven by a 25-hp electric motor running at 1800 rpm.

Hydraulic time-space continuum

Visitors eventually make their way to a ride simulator that is a replica of a Star Trek shuttle craft mounted onto a 6-axis motion base. The motion base consists of three pairs of hydraulic cylinders mounted in a tripod configuration to provide six axes of motion — roll, pitch, yaw, surge (forward and back), heave (up and down), and sway (left and right). This tripod arrangement has become the standard for high-performance motion bases.

Hydraulic power for each of the attraction's four motion bases is supplied by a pair of Vickers 50-hp Integrated Motor Pumps. These pumps run quieter than conventional configurations, where the electric motor, hydraulic pump, and shaft coupling can transmit noise directly to the surrounding atmosphere.

High-tech effects bring legend to life

Early in our formal education, and even before, we are taught about our five senses. Not included in this mix are senses of motion and depth, which are integrations of sight, touch, and hearing. By stimulating these three senses, sophisticated motion simulators can create virtual experiences where participants can feel as if they have visited places that don't exist.

Such a place is the mythical city of Atlantis, which, legend has it, lies somewhere deep under the ocean. To bring this legend into modern times, the Caesar's Palace Hotel opened Race for Atlantis in January 1998. This is the first permanent attraction to incorporate a motion base with a large-format IMAX 3-D film. The 82-ft diameter IMAX Dome screen is the largest ever built for an attraction, and the four 27-passenger motion bases nestled within the dome can accommodate more than 1000 visitors per hour.

But that's not all. Multi-directional sound is generated by a 6-channel, 16-kW sound system, with an additional two channels transmitted by wireless Personal Sound Environment headsets worn by visitors. Another effect is provided by the world's largest water-based fog-generating system, which recovers and recycles the water to minimize consumption.

To provide three-dimensional images, the visual program is filmed through an IMAX 3-D camera and projected at 48 frames/sec. Left and right shutters on the projector cycle at 96 frames/sec to alternately display left or right images on the screen. Headsets worn by visitors contain LCD lenses that open and shut in synchronization with the images projected on the screen. So when the projector casts an image onto the screen from its right-hand lens, the LCD in front of the visitor's right eye is open and the one in front of the left eye is closed.

The headsets also contain left and right speakers to produce sound that is intended to be perceived as close by. Sound and LCD switching signals are transmitted to headsets through wireless infra-red transmitters.