Power. It's the key to anything that moves without the muscles of a sentient. Vehicles use it. Blasters use it. Starships use it.
We take it for granted, really. You spend a lifetime surrounded with technology and machines and you become jaded. Those from primitive cultures see it as magic. They attribute the workings of something as simple as a food processor to the divine graces of one or more deities or, perhaps, the mood of the spirit within such a thing.
The Mandalorians and other such races see technology as a weapon or a tool, but know well enough how to fight and survive and live without such things. I've seen their homes and learned much from their culture when I was a youth, long ago. While a family from Coruscant might panic and degrade with the loss of technology after too long, a Mandalorian clan often sees no change in their lifestyles. Perhaps they may not be able to travel to the local trade centers more than once every few weeks as opposed to the once a week they used to visit, but otherwise they are unfazed; unencumbered by the lack of machines and power and technology.
At my age now, I wouldn't be surprised if they could conquer the galaxy with nothing but sticks and stones and beskar breastplates.
We take energy for granted, but rely upon it for our needs. We don't realize how much we rely on such things, but the economy does. If a company makes a food processor, does it plug into the wall? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Does it run on a fuel cell, albeit a small one? It will run out eventually and require a replacement. Where do you buy a replacement power cell? From the store, often made by the same company that made the food processor.
In the field, you can't go to the store. You can't rely on the resupply of more fuel cells to power your equipment, which is why power armor is so rare. The few suits you find either run off integrated fuel cells that need replacing later or feature an integrated battery that needs to be recharged.
If you're placed in the field for weeks on end, constantly fighting, constantly using your armor and equipment, you can't afford time to go and charge up your armor and your supply of fuel cells will eventually run out. This is unacceptable for my design.
I considered fusion or power crystals or other forms of long term power generation, but discarded all of them. They became too complex or eventually required replacing. Sure, a power crystal might last a week or two and is easily replaced, but when you're trapped behind the lines for months, a crystal with a two week power supply may as well be useless. Indeed, bringing extra crystals can extend that time, but for each spare power supply brought, that much less ammunition, medical equipment, or maintenance supplies can be taken.
So, I once again pulled from the Mandalorian culture I know so well.
Nuclear fission is crude, primitive, and wasteful. But it's also reliable, simple, and long lasting. The rods need replacing, this is true, but this occurs over a great deal of time. My best guess tells me that it will take perhaps two to four years before the fuel source requires replacement.
I have to make the power plant small enough to be portable and compact enough to be carried on the suit. This was the easy part, if I'm honest.
The fission power plant is encased in a small casing that is roughly the size of a standard suitcase. The casing is heavily shielded against radiation and will be plated in heavy armor, just in case. Around and below the casing the soldier can mount equipment or jump jets, something I will cover later on in my notes.
The power source is a constant, steady flow of power capable of powering what I estimate is roughly one city block of a city such as Coruscant. This means that the suit will have more than enough power for all systems with enough to spare in the event the user needs to go beyond the safety measures installed in the armor itself.
The downside is that the power source can be dangerous, but such is the way of all such things. It won't explode, but penetrating hits can cause radiation leaks that will affect the outside world beyond the suit until patched, effectively stranding the soldier inside their own armor. Internal damage works in the reverse, shunting radiation into the armor and containing it, but effectively killing the soldier inside.
As a precaution, I have shielded the armor itself from radiation as heavily as I can. The armor won't be able to survive the most hostile radiation zones in the galaxy, but a few minutes after a nuclear blast? That it can handle well enough.
I've also included radiation detection equipment for inside the suit and outside the suit. I'll also have to come up with safety protocols for power plant breaches in the event one occurs. External breaches are pretty simple, I figure. Include a lead patch to cover the breach and weld it in place. That will keep the radiation levels low enough that the soldier can be extracted safely with little danger to the soldier or those around.
Internal punctures are... trickier. Granted, if something punctures the internal wall of the power plant, radiation poisoning is the least of the wearer's worries, but I suppose protocols should be included if only for a placebo effect. I might go over that later on. Possibly emergency rescue protocols?
Anyways, the power source is complete and ready to go. I'll have to run a few more tests but for the most part, it should be solid. Thankfully, short of maybe an orbital kinetic strike with a direct hit, these things won't go off like fission bombs. I suppose that's something to put up on the achievement list.
Now, I just have to move on to the other things for this project. With luck, I should be done in... maybe a few weeks. At worst, another month or two.