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Posted: 4/20/2011 7:38:16 AM EDT
You know those pneumatic tubes you see when you pull up to the bank or pharmacy drive through to hand over your check or prescription...why would it not be feasible to develop such a system on a nation-wide scale? I realize that this was attempted to some extent in the early 20th century but I don't understand what caused its failure.

Here's my thinking behind why this system could become useful, even in today's age of the internet and all sorts of electronic communications. Say I place an order on Newegg for some piece of hardware. Every order I place to Newegg ships out of their warehouse in Memphis, TN, though I believe they also have one on the east coast. Anyway, what's the fastest it can get here? Next day air I think? So, I'd probably be looking at at least a 12 hour wait minimum for my new stuff, but more than likely 18-24 hours is probably realistic. If there were a sort of pneumatic tube system running throughout the country, Newegg, or any other business for that matter, could have a couple of full time employees on staff whose sole job was to ship physical "stuff" (in this case computer hardware) to the customers who pay for it. If I select an option "Ship via tube" or whatever, could I not potentially receive my order within maybe 8 hours?

I have no idea what the top speeds of sending something via pneumatic tube network could be, but surely it could be faster than packaging stuff up, sorting it for UPS, loading onto UPS jet, flying it here, then doing everything in reverse and putting it on the truck for delivery. In my mind, Newegg would package it up in one of several standard size tubes available - larger sizes cost more - putting in the shipping/tracking info for the tube system to route it to my area in Texas, they go to whatever company or .gov agency runs the tube network, pay them, then they stick in the transport and off it goes. Surely these things could get up to a couple hundred miles per hour in speed, thereby arriving at my nearest tube pickup location within a few hours. From there I could either pick it up or have someone deliver it.
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 7:39:49 AM EDT
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 7:41:01 AM EDT
Haven't you heard? In a thousand years, it's going to be everywhere.

Link Posted: 4/20/2011 7:41:17 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/20/2011 7:41:41 AM EDT by nvgeologist]





/dammit, 16 seconds

Link Posted: 4/20/2011 7:42:37 AM EDT


do you see it?
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 7:42:39 AM EDT
Compressors, vacuum pumps, tube lines, all the new infrastructure to be installed when this nation has a hard time with esisting roads and brides as it is.

Link Posted: 4/20/2011 7:45:33 AM EDT
There is a distinct limit on the size and distance. The cost goes up dramatically as those increase. It's great for short distances of fairly small containers, not so good for anything else. I've seen it used in large shops to move items from a secure area out to the retail area and send cash back the other way rather than using a drop safe in the front of the store.

On a trivia note, The Shadow made use of such a system all over the city in that story line. It was how he got information quickly from all his sources.
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 7:46:41 AM EDT
Series of tubes joke.
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 7:48:01 AM EDT
Cost and volume. These are called pipelines and most motor vehicle fuel travels through it. All natural gas.

Cargo jets fly at 500+ MPH. 730 feet per second. Pneumatic tubes at just a few feet per second, otherwise the seals on the containers burn.

Say your order from TN to your house in Dallas is a 600 mile trip...that would be over 290 hours at 3 feet per second. 12 days.

Link Posted: 4/20/2011 7:48:21 AM EDT

Originally Posted By nvgeologist:




/dammit, 16 seconds


Plus, I got Amy and you've just got some "meh" gal.
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 7:48:49 AM EDT
My city is home to the only pneumatically operated McDonald's drivethrough in the country. The Drive Thru is on a little island in the parking lot away from the main restaurant. (It's beind the island in the picture.)



But it closed recently.
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 7:49:00 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Remyrw:
There is a distinct limit on the size and distance. The cost goes up dramatically as those increase. It's great for short distances of fairly small containers, not so good for anything else. I've seen it used in large shops to move items from a secure area out to the retail area and send cash back the other way rather than using a drop safe in the front of the store.

On a trivia note, The Shadow made use of such a system all over the city in that story line. It was how he got information quickly from all his sources.


You could use an electromagnetic system for longer distances. I don't know if it would really be cheaper than planes, trains, trucks and vans though.
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 7:50:44 AM EDT
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 7:51:26 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/20/2011 7:51:48 AM EDT by Kharn]
Costco uses them so the tills never get too full.

Kharn

Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 7:51:44 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Keith_J:
Cost and volume. These are called pipelines and most motor vehicle fuel travels through it. All natural gas.

Cargo jets fly at 500+ MPH. 730 feet per second. Pneumatic tubes at just a few feet per second, otherwise the seals on the containers burn.

Say your order from TN to your house in Dallas is a 600 mile trip...that would be over 290 hours at 3 feet per second. 12 days.



I'm sure those puny plastic lids they use at banks probably wouldn't hold up to anything fast. Surely something like maybe an aluminum tube would be able to withstand such speeds.
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 7:53:24 AM EDT
That's a fantastic idea. However, to expand on it just a bit, it would be REALLY cool if the tube containers could be large enough for really big packages, or even people. Also, since there could be reliability problems with vacuum leaks in such a system, it might be better to make the containers self-propelled. And taking it a step further, it would be a lot more flexible if the routing of containers could be adjusted so that more of them are sent to certain locations when demand is higher.

I propose something like this:

Link Posted: 4/20/2011 7:56:04 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/20/2011 8:04:58 AM EDT by Electrician29]
Originally Posted By Keith_J:
Cost and volume. These are called pipelines and most motor vehicle fuel travels through it. All natural gas.

Cargo jets fly at 500+ MPH. 730 feet per second. Pneumatic tubes at just a few feet per second, otherwise the seals on the containers burn.

Say your order from TN to your house in Dallas is a 600 mile trip...that would be over 290 hours at 3 feet per second. 12 days.



The carriers in the pneumatic systems used at the hospital I work at travel between 26-28 FPS.

ETA: We have driven them much faster without "burning the seals" but the forces generated whipping around 48" radius bends were hard on the contents, especially blood products.
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 8:05:34 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/20/2011 8:06:30 AM EDT by fish223]
One of my earliest and fondest memories is going to the hospital with my Dad.

When he went on rounds, he would drop me off with the guys in the tube room, which to a little kid was just awesome.

Hundreds of tubes, in banks, heading to all corners of the hospital. Nursing stations, pharmacies, laboratories, etc.

Carriers would pop in, and get transferred to the destination tube, and head back out again with a woosh.

Loved it.

Not to sure if it is practical on a regional, or national scale, but the infrastructure would be incredible
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 8:20:29 AM EDT
I guess I'm thinking of a system that could become pretty expensive. In order for something to achieve speeds in the 100+ mph range, I don't know if pneumatics would be enough, especially if you wanted to send something that was heavy, say engine parts. A smaller scale maglev system might work, somewhat smaller than the typical maglev trains, but again yes the cost would be pretty high.

I remember reading Subnet's post many months ago talking about going down to the auto parts store for something and if you're any kind of serious DIY'er when it comes to car repair, most of the time your local guys aren't going to have it and they have to order it in from a warehouse somewhere. This has become more and more the norm for all sorts of things. It would be nice if we could get that part "from the warehouse" in a faster timeframe is all.
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 8:26:21 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/20/2011 8:28:52 AM EDT by sq40]
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 8:27:11 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Holden_McRoyne:
That's a fantastic idea. However, to expand on it just a bit, it would be REALLY cool if the tube containers could be large enough for really big packages, or even people. Also, since there could be reliability problems with vacuum leaks in such a system, it might be better to make the containers self-propelled. And taking it a step further, it would be a lot more flexible if the routing of containers could be adjusted so that more of them are sent to certain locations when demand is higher.

I propose something like this:
http://i51.tinypic.com/116md1l.jpg


perfect answer with just the right hint of smiling sarcasm

Link Posted: 4/20/2011 8:27:33 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Holden_McRoyne:
That's a fantastic idea. However, to expand on it just a bit, it would be REALLY cool if the tube containers could be large enough for really big packages, or even people. Also, since there could be reliability problems with vacuum leaks in such a system, it might be better to make the containers self-propelled. And taking it a step further, it would be a lot more flexible if the routing of containers could be adjusted so that more of them are sent to certain locations when demand is higher.

I propose something like this:
http://i51.tinypic.com/116md1l.jpg

What if we put a jet in a tube?


Link Posted: 4/20/2011 8:30:36 AM EDT
Originally Posted By gonzo_beyondo:

Originally Posted By Holden_McRoyne:
That's a fantastic idea. However, to expand on it just a bit, it would be REALLY cool if the tube containers could be large enough for really big packages, or even people. Also, since there could be reliability problems with vacuum leaks in such a system, it might be better to make the containers self-propelled. And taking it a step further, it would be a lot more flexible if the routing of containers could be adjusted so that more of them are sent to certain locations when demand is higher.

I propose something like this:
http://i51.tinypic.com/116md1l.jpg

What if we put a jet in a tube?




And it's on a treadmill
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 8:31:19 AM EDT
every time I'm somewhere with the tubes, I immediately think: "Hmm, if I had a squirrel with a little crash helmet, I bet hilarity would ensue..."
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 8:37:07 AM EDT
A courier or a bike messenger can do the same job locally without having to invest in the infrastructure. Regarding long distance, why would I want to ship something in a tube at 100 m.p.h. when I can ship it in an airplane at 550 m.p.h.?
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 9:17:48 AM EDT

Originally Posted By sigp226:
A courier or a bike messenger can do the same job locally without having to invest in the infrastructure. Regarding long distance, why would I want to ship something in a tube at 100 m.p.h. when I can ship it in an airplane at 550 m.p.h.?

It would actually work well on a national scale. Just hub in each post office and let people rent a mailbox. It would be great for deliveries, even 600 miles away.. at 100mhp, it would arrive at your local post office in 6 hours or so and you could pick it up locally.
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 9:51:14 AM EDT
Tubes are on the schedule. Right after the nation is crisscrossed with high speed rails.
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 9:53:27 AM EDT
My kid rides the bus now... but when we picked her up it was a family joke... can't they tube her here?

Link Posted: 4/20/2011 11:31:30 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Electrician29:
Originally Posted By Keith_J:
Cost and volume. These are called pipelines and most motor vehicle fuel travels through it. All natural gas.

Cargo jets fly at 500+ MPH. 730 feet per second. Pneumatic tubes at just a few feet per second, otherwise the seals on the containers burn.

Say your order from TN to your house in Dallas is a 600 mile trip...that would be over 290 hours at 3 feet per second. 12 days.



The carriers in the pneumatic systems used at the hospital I work at travel between 26-28 FPS.

ETA: We have driven them much faster without "burning the seals" but the forces generated whipping around 48" radius bends were hard on the contents, especially blood products.


This. We also found out that, like the station wagon with a bunch of tapes, the throughput of tubes was a lot lower than a wage slave with a cart.
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 11:37:28 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Angelshare1:
My city is home to the only pneumatically operated McDonald's drivethrough in the country. The Drive Thru is on a little island in the parking lot away from the main restaurant. (It's beind the island in the picture.)

http://img.groundspeak.com/waymarking/large/b61a8a4c-0ae7-4205-a34c-7b0d56dd08b0.jpg

But it closed recently.

In the late 1970s, there was a hamburger concept called Chutes. You got your burger via tube. There were 2 or 3 in the suburban KC area, and I recall that they were closed within a couple of years.

Generally speaking, pneumatic conveying is horribly inefficient, because of the compressed air requirement. However, there are still a lot of tubular package conveying systems being designed and built for hospitals, pharmacies and all sorts of manufacturing. Also, a lot of bulk materials are loaded and unloaded to/from trucks, rail cars, ships and other vessels. Flour, cement and other fine powders lend themselves very well to this type of specialized conveyor.
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 11:38:24 AM EDT
Vacuum.

How does it work?
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 11:43:03 AM EDT

Originally Posted By TexasSmooth:
You know those pneumatic tubes you see when you pull up to the bank or pharmacy drive through to hand over your check or prescription...why would it not be feasible to develop such a system on a nation-wide scale? I realize that this was attempted to some extent in the early 20th century but I don't understand what caused its failure.

Uh, hello McFly? We already HAVE this system in place...you're using it right now to read my reply!







Link Posted: 4/20/2011 11:43:11 AM EDT
If it's slow and expensive and will be run by union workers, Zero will be pushing it to Congress soon.
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 1:07:24 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/20/2011 1:14:17 PM EDT by UberPhLuBB]
Probably has to do with the volume of air you would have to pump in behind the container to propel it over a large distance. The air in front of the container has to go somewhere, too.

If you had a 10" diameter tube 1 mile long, you would need to pump in 414,480 square feet of air if it were at neutral pressure. I don't know how much more would be needed to propel it. I also may be retarded and even that math may be wrong.

Edit: That's clearly wrong because if it were a 12" tube it wouldn't even be 5280 square feet to fill a mile of tube. Whatever, it's a lot of volume.
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 1:18:03 PM EDT
Originally Posted By UberPhLuBB:
Probably has to do with the volume of air you would have to pump in behind the container to propel it over a large distance. The air in front of the container has to go somewhere, too.

If you had a 10" diameter tube 1 mile long, you would need to pump in 414,480 square feet of air if it were at neutral pressure. I don't know how much more would be needed to propel it. I also may be retarded and even that math may be wrong.

Edit: That's clearly wrong because if it were a 12" tube it wouldn't even be 5280 square feet to fill a mile of tube. Whatever, it's a lot of volume.


You don't fill and unfill the tube everytime you use it. Also on large scale, I wonder if a different type of gas would be better.
Link Posted: 4/20/2011 2:19:58 PM EDT
Remember the guy who claimed we could force gas prices lower by an embargo of the Quicky Mart soda and donut?

Well, that idea was far more practical.
Link Posted: 5/2/2011 5:16:57 AM EDT
I don't see how it would work on a larger scale.
Link Posted: 5/2/2011 5:27:57 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/2/2011 5:36:06 AM EDT by AeroE]
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