Main Power Board


To restore the power that Nedry foolishly shut down (and thereby regain a technological advantage over the dinosaurs), Dr. Sattler must head into  the utility bunker that routes power to different parts of the park. Once she is there Hammond, back in the Visitors Center, communicates to her via two-way radio that operating it is a two part process: Manually providing a charge to the main panel, and then closing each of the breakers.

The Main Panel


To restore a charge to the main panel, she  manually cranks a paddle (like a kinetic-powered watch, radio, or flashlight), then firmly pushes a green button labeled “Push to Close”.  We hear a heavy click inside the panel as the switch flips something, and then the lights on the Breaker Panel list light up green.

Now that she has built up a charge in the circuit, she has to turn on each of the breakers one by one.

The Breakers


Each individual circuit has a dedicated button to open/close it.  Each is  switched with a simple illuminated button protected by a heavy, clear pushbutton cover that has to be opened manually.

Green indicates that the circuit has tripped, and power is not flowing to that part of the park.  Red means that the circuit is closed and live.  Slowly, one by one, Dr. Sattler flips the cover and presses the red button for each part of the breaker panel.  These switches are clearly labeled as HERBIVORE FEEDING COMPOUND, or VISITORS CNTR.

As she flips each circuit on, red lights behind the label turn on.

The Circuit Breakers

The pushbutton covers do a good job of protecting against inadvertent flips, but could be made better by having hinges that close them automatically.  It is unlikely that someone would accidentally push one of the buttons, but the high-risk nature of the panel begs for more protection.  Spring hinges would also make closing the panel up after service quicker.

A second consideration is an emergency scenario: there is no obvious way to flip all the circuits off at once, or turn them all back on quickly.  Here, all that extra time is super dramatic since it happens to save Dr. Grant and the kids, hanging at this same moment as they are from the unpowered electrified fence. But if someone was trying to reactivate the park quickly, to say, save the visitors from being eaten, this circuit-by-circuit method takes a surprising amount of time.

Labeling & Color

The labeling here is good, but could still be better.  The lights are the first thing to draw attention, but it’s actually the charging panel that needs to be tended to first.  A good flowchart of how a person is supposed to use the panel would be an effective addition; as would a map showing which labeled breaker leads to which area of the park.

At first the red-and-green colors are backwards, but it turns out a longstanding standard within electrical engineering uses red to indicate “shock hazard” rather than “operating normally”, so this color coding is actually OK. But it might be more effective to only light up the breakers’ labels when power is actually flowing to them. For someone not experienced with the interface or electrical engineering conventions, having a few of the breakers active and a few flipped could be extremely confusing. Are the lit ones active? Inactive? Is power flowing to the panels with lights?

This panel would be a solid candidate for usability testing.

7 thoughts on “Main Power Board

  1. The main breaker is a Westinghouse SPB100. When Hammond says “charge” he really means “mechanical charge”. This is confusing, but correct in regards to the wording on the panel itself. When Sattler pumps the priming handle, she is compressing a spring that is used to throw the switch very quickly (to avoid 800-5000 amps arcing as the contacts close). When the panel indicates “Charged”, the spring has enough tension to disengage the interlock (you hear a loud click just before she stops pumping) and open/close the circuit safely. When she pushes the green button, switch is thrown and the panel switches to “Discharged”, meaning the spring tension has been released.

    • Interesting! That does make sense, and the explanation in the movie definitely makes sense know that I know what’s going on in the background.

    • If you mean the big stack of green/red lights in the first image, those are the switches to turn on/off power to the giant electric fences around each dinosaur enclosure.

      If you mean the two big red toggle levers by her knee I’m not sure, but I get the impression that they’re main power switches for the panel.

      • Thanks for the quick reply. The big stack of lights in the first image, is that a product you can purchase or custom for the movie, I’m curious to know if the lamps behind the area names are all powered from the main current to that board, because they seem to be on all the time as long as that board has power.

    • “…I’m curious to know if the lamps behind the area names are all powered from the main current to that board…”

      From the research I was able to do for this article, I think it was custom built (a set piece) for the movie. If I had to guess, they just plugged the lights into a 120v plug on set and called it good.

      The more serious-looking pieces on the right side of the board are real buttons and switches from a big power system. The set designer did a good job of making them look like they were part of the same piece of equipment.

  2. RE: “there is no obvious way to flip all the circuits off at once, or turn them all back on quickly.” You use the red “Push to Open” button on the main breaker to shut everything down at once.

Leave a Reply