Wednesday was a breeze at KCC, just nothing going on. I had plenty of time to think about how to make the drones more useful, especially if we got all of Africa as Victor had said.
The only problem was half of Africa was at war with itself and anyone who happened to be in the way. I had just finished one skirmish in Morocco that had cost me two men. I did not want that to happen again; that’s why I was pleased with Robert and Burt’s continuous monitoring and the information they were supplying. They had taken on that job with real determination.
They were good at finding groups who were tied to the net. The question was, how many lone wolf and small groups that were staying off the internet were out there would we would encounter?
As my mind wandered and muddled through random thoughts, it finally hit me what was going on with the State Department security change as described by Victor.
The department was essentially doing a tactical retreat in the worst areas by withdrawing its own security personnel and substituting our personnel. They were simply reducing departmental exposure. Now they had 20 or more people at each site. After the change there were five or less – by my estimate – and we were easily expendable, at least on paper for them.
The proof was in the final Morocco report and official cover-up. I cleared that thought from my mind. The solution was to be better prepared than the Morocco embassy was.
I started drawing designs on copy paper – several ending up in the trash before I came up with a design that I liked and thought would work. My dream had been helpful. It was always intriguing how the conscious and subconscious mind worked together sometimes.
I called Robbie first, “What machine shop do you use that can be trusted to make me some special items that would be considered top secret – at least for JBG?” I asked.
I wrote down the name and number. Then I called Kevin and asked the same question and received the same answer that Robbie gave.
“Bay Machine Works makes all kinds of special items for us. Cory Richfield owns the place; he knows how classified things need to be handled. Do you need something built?” Kevin responded.
“Yes! I want to make my drones more useful in critical situations. I need fixtures made for that to happen,” I replied.
“Cory lives in the East Woods development on Woods Road just outside of C-ville; no wife or kids but has a high maintenance girlfriend. He stops in the airport restaurant for breakfast and coffee 6:45 on the dot every morning,” Kevin said.
“I will call him to set things up and you can show him what you need in the morning,” Kevin replied.
“If you would join in the conversation, you may have some ideas that would help. Howie and Andy are away on assignment so I am winging this alone for right now,” I replied to Kevin.
“Be glad to help if I can,” Kevin replied.
Our meeting tonight was a follow-up for everything going on. There were no rush decisions to be made or decisions to made about anything.
Much to Lisa’s dismay, we were home early to care for the boys. They were getting stronger and so were their lungs every day. They were sleeping better and so were we; longer every night. They seemed to be always hungry.
At 6:45 Lorrie and I were sitting with Kevin as Cory Richfield brought his filled mug to join us. A few minutes later Lorrie and I opened the vault door and we walked to the drones on the storage rack.
“So those are the toys that you used in the desert. Very nice – so small and mean looking – no wonder that was over so quickly,” Kevin replied as he was looking at the two gun drones. “I can’t wait until we have time to play with them back at the compound.”
I put drawings that I had made on the shelf and explained them. Cory was sharp and prepared. He pulled out a pocket rule and took some measurements, looked at the drawing several times while making notes on them.
Finally he spoke, “To do what you want we will need to make taller stands to move the device away from the propellers. I recommend that we leave the original stands on the drone. They have a lot of mounting holes in the main frame for different options that we can use. I will make the fixture to hold the device complete with the new height stands. All you will have to do is simply bolt it on,” Cory said then he continued.
“Your note says 100 pounds maximum. What kind of battery are you planning to use in the device and what kind of solenoid to make the drop?” he asked.
I handed him one of the batteries that Howie used and one of the extra solenoids from the box.
“Your drawing says threaded but that will create weak spots on both ends. I suggest dog legs – a total of six on each end at two different heights, it will be stronger and three setscrews on both ends to make sure vibration does not cause them to unlatch once assembled and to make the connection stronger,” Cory said.
“In the tail end I will machine a space for the battery to be accessible externally and just screw a cover to hold it in place. That way you can build the package weeks or months in advance. When you are ready to use it, just plug in a good battery and secure it.”
“Then machine the holes for the switch and the two LED lights. That’s a good idea to use two LEDs, and I have plenty of two-wire on and off keyed mini-switches that will work great,” he said.
“The 3 inch fins should work OK, don’t you think Kevin?” he said.
“Once you get one or two made, we can test them back at the compound to be sure,” Kevin replied.
“On the nose end I like your idea of using high density plastic for the plunger and the safety shear pin. It will cut down quick in the machine to give it a wide impact mushroom head. Then we can simply screw a copper disc on the inside as a contactor and it will be self insulating from the other metal.”
“The note says you plan to twist the wire and use epoxy to hold it in place; I don’t like that. How about we use a plastic plate to keep your ingredients from getting into the mechanism, embed a copper strip in the plastic for the contactor to hit and solder the wires to the strip.”
“The CNC machine will make everything the same so it can be assembled from either direction. I can balance it and weld the lifting tab in place. How do you plan to balance it with the components installed?” Cory asked.
“I plan to use Styrofoam to balance it by separating the components and to keep it under the 100 pound limit,” I replied.
“You have two different designs on the main tube and I think I know what for. How deep do you want the slots cut in it?” Cory asked.
I was looking a little puzzled because I did not have an answer for that when Kevin said, “One third the thickness of the schedule 80 pipe.”
“I will order the materials today. It will take the engineer about four hours to write the program for the machine, about as long as it will take the machine to make the 16 that you want, eight of each kind. It will take another day to assemble the contactor, components and welding,” Cory said.
“As soon as the first one of each is done I will bring them here for testing. That should happen sometime Friday. Can you take the cameras off and let me take one of the drones to make sure everything fits? And you want four of the mounts?” Cory asked.
“Yes, four,” I replied.
As Kevin and Cory helped me remove the cameras, Kevin said, “Those are nice looking cameras. That explains the quality of the video I have seen.”
“Should be nice for the thirty thousand dollars they cost each,” I replied.
“Do you have something going on that the agency does not know about again?” Kevin asked, “Off the record, of course,” he added.
“You have heard that JBG is getting all the embassies in Africa and the Middle East – even the bad ones – to furnish the complete security package,” I replied.
“No! I haven’t heard that! But that does not surprise me, no-one seems to know what is going on any more,” Kevin replied.
“It looks like you are expecting things to get ugly,” Kevin replied.
“I have to have better protection for my people in some places. This is the first part,” I replied.
With that I closed the door on the vault as we left. When I got to KCC I sent Howie an email for him to order 500 more pounds of C4, 100 caps and 25 more batteries ASAP.
Then I sent an email to Andy to have Howie on a commercial flight back to Summers Road tomorrow morning. I informed him that Howie and the four drone operators would be staying at Morton Field next week. The five of them would be replaced with five of the new ladies.
I wanted Howie in on the final stage of manufacturing to get his approval of the design.
The last step was to call Robbie in the aviation repair shop to place an order for the last piece of the component list.
“You want that much of them? What the hell are you doing? Never mind, I do not want to know,” he replied.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.