Your secret pneumatic tube fantasy just got a little more real
October 17, 2014 6:37 PM   Subscribe

 
It's looking backwards, not forwards. I wanna see out the other end!
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:41 PM on October 17, 2014


Fantastic! Like a low-budget version of the stargate sequence in 2001.
posted by sobarel at 6:42 PM on October 17, 2014 [8 favorites]


It does reverse itself towards the end!
posted by Room 641-A at 6:42 PM on October 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Someone needs to overdub the tube travel with the Doctor Who theme.
posted by fings at 6:45 PM on October 17, 2014 [13 favorites]


That was amazing and the best use of a gopro I've seen yet!!
posted by bibliogrrl at 6:56 PM on October 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Thing is, those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it's going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material.
posted by Casimir at 6:56 PM on October 17, 2014 [12 favorites]


AHHHH!!!! Early David Lynch movie!!
posted by latkes at 6:58 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


There was a similar video posted last year which I thought was much better but sadly, while the build article is still there the actual video seems to be missing from Vimeo. While that camera wasn't as good the line of sight was perfectly centered on the tube bore, which even that article pointed out you can't do with a GoPro.
posted by localroger at 6:59 PM on October 17, 2014


It's like watching C3-PO's colonoscopy.
posted by bondcliff at 7:06 PM on October 17, 2014 [42 favorites]


beep beep beep beep BOOP BOOP BOPP BOOOOOOP
posted by pyramid termite at 7:10 PM on October 17, 2014


Ah, the majesty of nature.
posted by angerbot at 7:11 PM on October 17, 2014 [8 favorites]


It really needs an accelerometer and a graph of the g-forces experienced along with a barometer to graph pressure.
posted by Talez at 7:12 PM on October 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


Sadly lacking that sort of *THWUNCK* sound when it enters the tube though.
posted by sobarel at 7:14 PM on October 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


Oddly reminded me of when Jodie Foster was traveling inside the machine in Contact.
posted by buzzv at 7:23 PM on October 17, 2014 [8 favorites]


It's like a beige colonoscopy.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 7:29 PM on October 17, 2014


My god, it's full of interoffice memoranda.
posted by factory123 at 7:35 PM on October 17, 2014 [28 favorites]


Best of the web!
posted by en forme de poire at 7:49 PM on October 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Does the tube end at that French "Christmas tree"?
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:56 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


That's a very modern looking pneumatic tube system. What industry (?) are they still useful in?
posted by griphus at 8:18 PM on October 17, 2014


That's a very modern looking pneumatic tube system. What industry (?) are they still useful in?

Hospitals!

I support one, or at least the servers that control one, that is used to send blood from the various clinics down to the lab. It's used 24/7 and downtime is very hard to schedule. I also have to deal with an illiterate dude from facilities whenever it goes down! Good times.

It even looks like it might be the same brand as this one. I can't imagine there are too many companies making them these days.
posted by bondcliff at 8:37 PM on October 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


That to seem to go a surprisingly long distance. I wonder if it's part of an office complex, where it goes from one building to the next?

I'll have to wait for someone with more technical experience to estimate the distance and speed.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 8:39 PM on October 17, 2014


I swear I saw some teeth there towards the end.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 8:50 PM on October 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


This makes me want to play portal 2.
posted by Diablevert at 9:02 PM on October 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


That's a very modern looking pneumatic tube system. What industry (?) are they still useful in?

Costco used them to drop cash and cheques from the cash registers straight into the counting room until a few years ago. The tubes are still there in my local store, but I haven't seen them in use in quite a long time.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:08 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Didn't banks sometimes have them in the drive-thru?
posted by Room 641-A at 9:15 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Now do the Alameda-Weehawken Burrito Tunnel. (Previously)
posted by GamblingBlues at 9:21 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I belonged to a credit union a few years ago that was either in a worse-than-it-looked neighborhood or was fanatic about security. The tellers were in a separate room and stuff would get sent back and forth through pneumatic tubes.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:29 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


For extra fun turn on the closed captions and watch poor Youtube try to parse Norwegian as English.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:37 PM on October 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I've also always wanted to see where the poop goes after you flush...
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:49 PM on October 17, 2014


Jesus whaat?

That looks so violent!

How does something solid survive that!??
posted by blue t-shirt at 9:55 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Like a low-budget version of the stargate sequence in 2001.

I was thinking Contact. It never made it to the Louis XVI bedroom.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:58 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


and watch poor Youtube try to parse Norwegian as English.

You can actually set it to translate whatever captions it would generate for Norwegian into English.

It wasn't much better.

Anyway, this confirms for me that Elon Musk's hyperloop would trigger all sorts of claustrophobics into gibbering hysterics. Because I'm not, terribly, and it nearly did that to me, what with all the sucking sounds and uncontrolled rotations.
posted by dhartung at 10:51 PM on October 17, 2014


The Guild navigators gave us unprecedented access...
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:01 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


That's a very modern looking pneumatic tube system. What industry (?) are they still useful in?

They still use them in Hospitals. The Texas hospital that dealt with the first US ebola case used them to transport there samples.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 11:03 PM on October 17, 2014


It's looking backwards, not forwards. I wanna see out the other end!

The tube network is configured as multiple tree branches originating from a central root through smaller and smaller branches to destination stations. So the container starts at one of the most distant leaves in the tree and first travels backwards through the branches until it reaches the root. Then a diverter lines up the container with the final destination tree branch and the container travels in the opposite direction from root to a leaf. You can see this pause at about 2 minutes where the container reaches the root and then heads off in the opposite direction out to a destination leaf. This is when you see the camera looking forwards.

The root is usually some central machinery location in the basement. Vacuum pulls containers from the leaf to the root and pressure pushes it from root to leaf. The pause at the root allows a diverter to reposition the container to line up with the correct destination branch and also to reverse the direction of the blower.

Each fork in a branch typically goes to two to four smaller branches. Each fork is constructed from a crank shaped section of tube that has one central tube that rotates to line up with one of four branch tubes. When you place the container for dispatch, a computer must determine the entire route and line up all of the branch diverters at each fork before starting transport. There may be 20 to 100 stations in large facilities. So the root may have 10 major branches originating there that each connect to 10 or 20 destination stations.

These systems are often used in hospitals to transport blood from the bank to the operating room, samples to the lab, meds from the pharmacy, and paperwork all over. You place the container in the station, punch some buttons to select the destination address, the central computer determines the route to and from the root, lines up all the tube diverters and off it goes.
posted by JackFlash at 11:07 PM on October 17, 2014 [33 favorites]


Imagine the IMAX or Oculus Rift version of this.
posted by divabat at 11:44 PM on October 17, 2014


For people wondering about the size of the system, that's the pneumatic tube system at the Norwegian parliament. The woman the guy is with is a representative from the Conservative party, who's apparently the contact who made this video happen. She mentions that it's the first time she uses the system, although I'm uncertain if that's because she's new, or because it's little used.

She also says they're at the fourth floor in the main parliament building ("Stortinget", if you're following this on Google Maps), and she's sending it to "Tollbugata", the name of a street which is about two blocks from the main parliament. I can't find an actual parliament-related office on that street on Google Maps, but the minimum distance would be around two blocks, plus at least four floors down to get below street level, and up to whatever floor they're on at the destination end.

Now that I've looked around a bit more on Google Maps, there's a government department, the Integration and Diversity Department, and also the Knowledge Department (education and research), a bit further down that street, close to each other (on Google Maps, about where the marker is when you search for "Tollbugata", corner with "Kirkegata"). If that's where it's going, it's travelling two blocks over and about four blocks down, some 500 meters as the bird flies, or plus whatever bends and vertical displacement they need (they're unlikely to have a straight tube, it'd go under a bunch of other unrelated buildings). If they follow the streets, it's about 700 meters, maybe.

Now, what it says about Norwegian parliament security that some guy can get a representative to help him put some random equipment into the parliament's tube system and send it basically whereever, I don't know.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:24 AM on October 18, 2014 [12 favorites]


Best of the web!

The Internet is, indeed, made of tubes.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:32 AM on October 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


That made some properly gorgeous noises.
posted by sonascope at 3:26 AM on October 18, 2014


That's a very modern looking pneumatic tube system. What industry (?) are they still useful in?

99 percent invisible has got you covered.
posted by shelleycat at 5:24 AM on October 18, 2014


I saw one of these pneumatic tube systems in use at Major Warehouse Shopping Chain last week, to send cash from register to office-or-whatever, and I was filled with irrational, childlike glee.
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:40 AM on October 18, 2014


I'm pleased and amazed that these things are still being deployed and improved upon, complete with switches, bypasses and sidings - it's like a railroad or data network, and the smoothly curved white plastic everywhere reminds me of a retro-future from the early '60s.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:59 AM on October 18, 2014


I've also always wanted to see where the poop goes after you flush...

You're welcome.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:51 AM on October 18, 2014


Now, what it says about Norwegian parliament security that some guy can get a representative to help him put some random equipment into the parliament's tube system and send it basically whereever, I don't know.

Some guy? Pfft. He's a former member of a communist revolutionary rap group - Gatas Parlament. You can see him in this video where they talk about assassinating George W Bush.
posted by knapah at 7:57 AM on October 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


knapah: "Now, what it says about Norwegian parliament security that some guy can get a representative to help him put some random equipment into the parliament's tube system and send it basically whereever, I don't know.

Some guy? Pfft. He's a former member of a communist revolutionary rap group - Gatas Parlament. You can see him in this video where they talk about assassinating George W Bush.
"

He's also press for three months. Apparently it was representative Lunde's idea.
posted by Aiwen at 9:33 AM on October 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


For anyone interested in the pneumatic tube system details, here are some pictures.

This is a 6-way diverter. There is a disk on the left attached to the left end of the tube. A motor rotates the disk to align the tube with any of six other tubes. Diverters are scattered throughout a building wherever it is necessary to connect to smaller and smaller branches like a tree. It may require passing through a series of diverters to arrive at the final destination.

This is a central root using a linear connector system. All of the main branches converge on a rack at the bottom of the photo. A linear conveyor moves the container from the incoming tube and aligns it with the desired destination tube. A blower uses vacuum to pull a carrier in from a station to the connector rack and then a linear conveyer shuffles it to align with a different tube and the blower pushes it out to the destination.

This is a picture of a different kind of central connector using a diverter matrix instead of a linear switch. Each of those boxes is a four-to-one diverter. There are four diverters on one end and four diverters on the other end. There is one tube exiting from the back of each diverter that you can't see. These are the connections to the main branches -- four on one end and four on the other. By shuffling carriers back and forth through this connector matrix, you can connect to any of the eight possible branches. Those are 6-inch tubes so you can see that this takes up a whole room. You can see a Flash animation of how this works in a much simpler system here.
posted by JackFlash at 9:44 AM on October 18, 2014 [10 favorites]


That made some properly gorgeous noises.

Times of your favorites? (Mine are right about 2:00...)
posted by weston at 9:59 AM on October 18, 2014


That's a very modern looking pneumatic tube system. What industry (?) are they still useful in?

I've done this elsewhere on the blue, but I worked in a polymer plant and we used them to send samples and results back and forth from a 5th story production floor to a lab that was probably a 20 minute walk away. Needless to say there were lots of shenanigans especially on the night shift.

Someone up above said, why aren't these used more? I agree they are technically great but compressor power costs are nontrivial, setting aside the capital costs of the installed system itself. Our old system leaked like a sieve and hummed and whistled a regular symphony.

There was a privately owned clothing store in my town that used pneumatics to send cash to a central location from each cashier location. Very ornate brass piping and scrolled upcomers, I wonder if they are still using them?
posted by hearthpig at 9:59 AM on October 18, 2014


Requisition me a beat!
posted by Poldo at 1:26 PM on October 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


That's a very modern looking pneumatic tube system. What industry (?) are they still useful in?

They still use them in Hospitals. The Texas hospital that dealt with the first US ebola case used them to transport there samples.


Funny you mention that - despite working at a hospital, I never knew pneumatic tubes were still a thing until a couple weeks ago when I read a memo from the hospital about their ebola response plans, which included not using the pneumatic tube system to transfer blood samples of suspected patients between labs. (No confirmed cases here, and our airport doesn't have many/any? flights to Africa, but I guess everyone's expected to be prepared now).
posted by randomnity at 2:22 PM on October 18, 2014


Surprisingly smooth compared to what I expected.
posted by bz at 4:45 PM on October 18, 2014


Once Tenacious D takes down City Hall, that's what all of our daily commutes will look like.
posted by happyroach at 10:55 PM on October 18, 2014


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