Snark

[1.3] JX2Antenna v2.0.2: Giant 1000G antenna for big solar systems

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What it does

This is a giant, 2.5m stack-mounted relay antenna that provides 1000G (or, if you prefer, 1T) of transmission power-- ten times the most powerful stock antenna.  This is useful for playing with modded solar systems that include extremely distant planets.

The design is inspired by the JAXA Large Deployable Antenna.

It also comes with two additional deep-space antennas, smaller 300G models suitable for a 1.25m stack.

 

Download from SpaceDock

 

How to install
Unzip into your GameData folder, same as any mod.

 

Gallery

JX2LDA.png

Retracted, it's a cylindrical component slightly taller than the MPL science lab.

open_closed.png

Here it is in action:

JX2animation.gif

Check out this video review by Kottabos!

The mod also includes the JU1 Medium Deployable Antenna, a sleek 1.25m relay antenna with 300G power.

JU1MDA.png

And its sister, the JW1 Medium Deployable Antenna.  This 300G direct antenna is even more compact than the JU1 when retracted.  Its lateral-opening design makes it perfectly suited for rovers and small planes.  Caution: Do not open while plane is in flight.

JW1MDA.png

 

Why would anyone want this?

If you just play with a stock solar system in KSP, you really don't need this antenna (unless you just think it's pretty).  It mainly becomes useful if you are running any mods that increase the size of the solar system, in which case the most powerful stock antennas may not reach far enough.

For example, the most powerful stock antenna is 100G, and a level-3 tracking station at KSC is 250G, for a maximum range of 158G meters from Kerbin.  The farthest object of interest in the stock solar system is Eeloo, which reaches a maximum distance of 127G meters. Therefore, the stock antennas will reach.

However, some mods boost the size of the solar system considerably larger than 158G meters. Some examples:

Outer Planets attempts to deal with this by patching all stock antennas to have 4x the power, and the level-3 tracking station to have 8x the power.  However, this makes everything extremely over-powered for the inner solar system, without really adding any depth to the gameplay.

This mod provides a single, very powerful relay antenna that can fill that gap.


Compatibility with other mods

JX2Antenna currently includes compatibility patches for the following mods:

  • IndicatorLights: Data-transmission indicators, similar to what IndicatorLights adds to all the stock antennas.
  • Outer Planets: Undoes the 4x antenna power and 8x tracking-station power boosts that "vanilla" OPM adds to the stock game.  (If you don't like that, just delete the relevant .cfg file from the patches sub-folder of this mod after installation.)
  • Galileo's Planet Pack:  Undoes the 10x power upgrade that GPP gives to the stock RA-100 and 88-88 antennas when the "largeUnmanned" tech node is unlocked.
  • RemoteTech: Makes the antenna work as a RemoteTech antenna, rather than using the stock KSP CommNet.

If you want to use this antenna with some other mod, and it needs a compatibility patch, please post here to let us know!
 

Credit where credit is due

Much as Snark would love to claim credit for this mod, this is a joint project.  The fact is that the overwhelming majority of the hard work (and the design inspiration, and all the artistic talent) came from @steedcrugeon, who produced the model for the part.  All Snark did was say "hey, wouldn't it be cool to have a big antenna", and then supplied some config, various patches, and gratuitous nitpicking.  :)

 

Edited by Snark
Update to v2.0.2 (fixed a model bug that causes KSP to hang on ship launch if there's more than one JX2 aboard))
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So, I've only just started using commnet, but can't you just have relays slowly progressing to out of the solar system? Not 100% sure how it works

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1 minute ago, The Destroyer said:

So, I've only just started using commnet, but can't you just have relays slowly progressing to out of the solar system? Not 100% sure how it works

Yes you can, however since everything orbits around at different speeds the position of the relays won't stay static for long, and there will come to a point in time that the distance between relays will be too great for effective communication.

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Yay, we managed to make it to release! I really enjoyed building this although it was a bit of a head scratcher at times. It's not 100% finished yet, as I practice more with textures it will probably get a re-skin at some point in the future. Always open to feedback from the community as well.

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Any planned Community Tech Tree compatibility (haven't been able to check if it exist yet, at work eagerly awaiting to download mod)

I really like the concept, as I never really liked the way the OPM fix to antenna range impacted the Comnet balance inside Jool's orbit.  You could go pretty far without any antenna on a probe and still have control with a level 3 tracking station.

 

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8 hours ago, GDJ said:

Yes you can, however since everything orbits around at different speeds the position of the relays won't stay static for long, and there will come to a point in time that the distance between relays will be too great for effective communication.

There's also the point that a fair number of players don't want to form a "bucket brigade" of comm links to stretch the range, for various reasons.  Having a big antenna like this just gives a different play-style option.  Folks who are happy with multi-step chains as range extenders don't need the JX2.  :)

5 hours ago, Birdco_Space said:

Any planned Community Tech Tree compatibility (haven't been able to check if it exist yet, at work eagerly awaiting to download mod)

Hadn't thought about it-- worth taking a look at, I suppose.  Currently it doesn't; the antenna lives on the "large unmanned" tech node, alongside the 2.5m probe core.  A few reasons to put it there:

  • It's the next step up in power from the 100G antennas that are available on the "Automation" node, so it seemed to make sense to make it a step up on the tech tree, too.  It's on a 1000-science node.
  • I never cared much for the "large unmanned" node before, anyway.  My problem is that the 2.5m probe core doesn't really offer much in the way of concrete advantages over the 1.25m core, so I never had a strong reason to blow 1000 science on that node, other than "I've got scads of extra science, might as well spend it" in the late game.  Yes, there are a few minor CommNet nits where the 2.5m can do a little more stuff than the 1.25m can... but none of those "extra" features are ones that I ever use.  For all practical purposes, the 1.25m core does everything that I want.  The main convenience of the 2.5m core (for me) is the fact that it's 2.5 meters, so that I can put it in-line in a 2.5m stack... but it seems silly to need 1000 science points just to be able to (in effect) wrap a 1.25m core in a bigger box.  So I like having the JX2 antenna on that node, as something that's actually higher-tech and extends play options.

That said, though, Community Tech Tree is a handy thing to have out there, and it hadn't even occurred to me to take a look at.  Should look into this.  :)

 

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1 minute ago, Snark said:

There's also the point that a fair number of players don't want to form a "bucket brigade" of comm links to stretch the range, for various reasons.  Having a big antenna like this just gives a different play-style option.  Folks who are happy with multi-step chains as range extenders don't need the JX2.  :)

You'll get no argument from me on this point.

HOWEVER, with the right antenna from other mods and Tweakscale I did build a couple of Kerbin ground arrays in the north and south poles. 
Comprised of 10 dishes, tweak scaled up to 400% normal size (each dish is rated for 1600 Gm) and a whack of RTG's to keep the power going. It works pretty good, but one could do the same thing and stop at 5 dishes and have 99% of the range my 10 dish stations have.

But 1000 Gm from one single part is damn impressive. :)

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35 minutes ago, Snark said:

Hadn't thought about it-- worth taking a look at, I suppose.  Currently it doesn't; the antenna lives on the "large unmanned" tech node, alongside the 2.5m probe core.  A few reasons to put it there:

  • It's the next step up in power from the 100G antennas that are available on the "Automation" node, so it seemed to make sense to make it a step up on the tech tree, too.  It's on a 1000-science node.
  • I never cared much for the "large unmanned" node before, anyway.  My problem is that the 2.5m probe core doesn't really offer much in the way of concrete advantages over the 1.25m core, so I never had a strong reason to blow 1000 science on that node, other than "I've got scads of extra science, might as well spend it" in the late game.  Yes, there are a few minor CommNet nits where the 2.5m can do a little more stuff than the 1.25m can... but none of those "extra" features are ones that I ever use.  For all practical purposes, the 1.25m core does everything that I want.  The main convenience of the 2.5m core (for me) is the fact that it's 2.5 meters, so that I can put it in-line in a 2.5m stack... but it seems silly to need 1000 science points just to be able to (in effect) wrap a 1.25m core in a bigger box.  So I like having the JX2 antenna on that node, as something that's actually higher-tech and extends play options.

That said, though, Community Tech Tree is a handy thing to have out there, and it hadn't even occurred to me to take a look at.  Should look into this.  :)

 

That's a perfectly reasonable and balanced place to put a 1Tm antenna.  Headin' home now to test this puppy out

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My optimal gameplay is that I have to make a bucket brigade through the outer planets up until I unlock this later in the tree.

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Ohhh would pair nicely with GPP

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I would like to say a HUGE thank you to you both! This is a very elegant solution to the problem of long-range communications in OPM, and the model/animation are fantastic! I can't wait to deploy some!

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Wow! this is awesome work! Thanks!

Just an idea, since the (gorgeous) modeling is already done, what about a smaller 500G Relay antenna that uses just one of the gold arrays? I really hate that the only relay antennas are these giant, heavy fixed dishes that simply aren't launch friendly.

Edited by Tyko

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i think this is a fantastic mod and could go very far, great for planet based communications.

any chance of a rover compatible container?

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1 hour ago, Squishydoo said:

any chance of a rover compatible container?

Well, wasn't planning on it.  Part of what this antenna is going for is an interesting gameplay tradeoff:  huge transmission power on the one hand, but the price you pay for that (other than actual, literal price) is that it's big, bulky, awkward.  Bear in mind that this puppy's several times more powerful than a fully-upgraded DSN on Kerbin... not exactly designed for trundling around on a rover, particularly while extended.  So it's supposed to be somewhat physically awkward, for game-balance reasons.  This is an antenna for motherships and large bases.

That said, you can always get creative with designs.

  • Bear in mind that it's a relay antenna, so it doesn't actually have to be on the rover.  You can leave the big antenna parked in orbit, and put something smaller on a rover that goes down to the surface.  If you need better coverage than the one relay, you can make a local constellation of smaller satellites with little relay antennas.
  • If you don't need the antenna to be turned on while you're actually driving around, you could probably rig up something with some landing legs-- i.e. a rover that can park, extend some legs to tip up one end, and open the antenna that way.  Or use big landing legs like the ones in SpaceY, and you could hoist the whole rover pretty high off the ground.  (Or, for that matter, don't use landing legs at all, if you don't mind voiding the warranty.  Just open the antenna as-is, so that when it opens, it jacks the rover off the ground.  Doable, though I confess I have trouble making myself do that... just makes me cringe.  What a way to treat delicate, expensive equipment...)  :wink:
  • The two "trunks" on the sides of the container are surface-attachable.  So it's possible (if somewhat physically awkward) to make a rover that has the big antenna mounted vertically in the middle, pointing at the sky.  Or perhaps have it parallel to the ground, but mount the wheels on some I-beams or something that are canted downwards to give the antenna some ground clearance.

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Very cool both in function and appearance. (I haven't seen very many translucent parts anywhere in KSP!)

I was looking at OPM the other day and I was a bit disappointed that it completely overwrote rather than extended the stock balance for antennas etc. The special deployable relay is a lot smarter than my idea of simply using rescaleFactor on the stock fixed dishes, which would require either off-world construction or 5m+ fairings and launch vehicles just to launch a <3-ton part.

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1 minute ago, PocketBrotector said:

The special deployable relay is a lot smarter than my idea of simply using rescaleFactor on the stock fixed dishes, which would require either off-world construction or 5m+ fairings and launch vehicles just to launch a <3-ton part.

Yeah, I was really happy I was able to persuade @steedcrugeon to model a big antenna (not that I exactly had to twist his arm... he really liked the idea of making one, and immediately came up with the inspiration of modeling it after the JAXA LDA).

Before that, I was having to make do with using a rescaleFactor'ed Reflectron GX-128 from RemoteTech, with some ModuleManager hackery to get it to work with stock CommNet instead of the RemoteTech communications implementation.  It worked, kind of... but it's not really designed for use with stock CommNet, and in any case, anything I did with it was unshareable, since the RemoteTech license doesn't allow redistribution of the models.

I like steedcrugeon's design idea way better.  :)

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Just to let you know: Kobattos managed to spend 12 minutes raving about this part.  :wink:

 

 

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6 hours ago, DStaal said:

Just to let you know: Kobattos managed to spend 12 minutes raving about this part.  :wink:

Thanks for calling it out!  Nice to see it's appreciated.  :)

That said, though.... @Kottabos, if you're reading this, perhaps you could make sure to give @steedcrugeon credit, here?

The video simply mentions that the antenna is "by Snark"... whereas I'm just the "publisher" and the config author.  steedcrugeon did the model & animation, and that was the large majority of the actual elbow grease that went into the mod.

(I think this is especially relevant because Kottabos spends quite a bit of time raving about how frickin' gorgeous this antenna is-- the design, the animation.  I happen to agree with him there :) ...but that gorgeousness is 100% due to steedcrugeon, who's the origin of both the model and the visual design.)

[EDIT] Okay, I finally figured out how to make the YouTube comment thingy work, left a note there.  These newfangled contraptions...

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@Snark I've been waiting for something like this, so thank you. I understand the 4x power boost from OPM, but also felt it was unbalancing to early game antennas. One minor suggestion: make the MM config file require OPM to prevent your patch from quartering stock antennas without OPM installed. 

Spoiler

@PART[*]:HAS[@MODULE[ModuleDataTransmitter]]:NEEDS[OPM]:AFTER[OPM]
{
    @MODULE[ModuleDataTransmitter]
    {
        // Outer Planets has a patch that boosts the power of all antennas
        // by a factor of 4.  It does that because the bigger solar system
        // needs antennas with longer ranges. Since we now have the JX2, whose
        // range is plenty big enough to deal with Outer Planets, we un-boost
        // all of those antennas back to their original stock power.
        @antennaPower /= 4
    }
}

I'm sure there are some that will enjoy your antenna as a stand alone mod and will not necessarily have OPM installed. I personally do play with OPM, but am awaiting its 1.2.2 update and currently have it uninstalled. I noticed my Communotron-16 only had a range of 125k..

Cheers,

Edited by Stratickus
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1 hour ago, Stratickus said:

One minor suggestion: make the MM config file require OPM to prevent your patch from quartering stock antennas without OPM installed.

I'm sure there are some that will enjoy your antenna as a stand alone mod and will not necessarily have OPM installed. I personally do play with OPM, but am awaiting its 1.2.2 update and currently have it uninstalled. I noticed my Communotron-16 only had a range of 125k.

Not sure what's going on, there.  The OPM patch already does the following:

@PART[*]:HAS[@MODULE[ModuleDataTransmitter]]:AFTER[OPM]

It has always been my understanding that the "AFTER" directive in ModuleManager also implies "NEEDS"-- that is, by saying "AFTER[OPM]", that means "doesn't apply if OPM isn't present".

That's always how I have authored patches in MM, and it has always seemed to work for me.  Certainly in my own test environment here, I'm running JX2Antenna, with the OPM patch present, and without OPM actually installed... and everything looks just fine.  I see Communotron-16 as 500k, RA-100 as 100G, and so forth.  If I then try deleting the ":AFTER[OPM]", then it shows me all the antennas having 1/4 their usual power.  So everything I observe is consistent with "AFTER[OPM] means it won't apply if OPM isn't installed."

So, I'm not sure why the results you observe are the precise opposite of what I'm observing.  Something weird is going on here.

It may be that my understanding of the semantics of AFTER is incorrect, or perhaps it has an inconsistency bug that causes it to work or not-work based on some other side effects of other stuff.  Just to verify:  Are you saying that (in contrast to what I observe), the following three things are true?

  1. the default-installed OPM patch that comes with JX2Antenna causes all the stock antennas to have 1/4 the power
  2. deleting that patch fixes the problem (i.e. verifying that your 1/4 power observation isn't caused by something else)
  3. leaving the patch in place and adding ":NEEDS[OPM]" also fixes the problem (i.e. verifying that NEEDS is actually not redundant, if AFTER is specified)

If you have observed those three things, then that would seem to indicate that I do indeed need to add "NEEDS[OPM]" ... though, why the dickens I'm not observing the problem in my own game, I have no clue.

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On 12/7/2016 at 8:26 AM, Snark said:

Hadn't thought about it-- worth taking a look at, I suppose.  Currently it doesn't; the antenna lives on the "large unmanned" tech node, alongside the 2.5m probe core.  A few reasons to put it there:

  • It's the next step up in power from the 100G antennas that are available on the "Automation" node, so it seemed to make sense to make it a step up on the tech tree, too.  It's on a 1000-science node.
  • I never cared much for the "large unmanned" node before, anyway.  My problem is that the 2.5m probe core doesn't really offer much in the way of concrete advantages over the 1.25m core, so I never had a strong reason to blow 1000 science on that node, other than "I've got scads of extra science, might as well spend it" in the late game.  Yes, there are a few minor CommNet nits where the 2.5m can do a little more stuff than the 1.25m can... but none of those "extra" features are ones that I ever use.  For all practical purposes, the 1.25m core does everything that I want.  The main convenience of the 2.5m core (for me) is the fact that it's 2.5 meters, so that I can put it in-line in a 2.5m stack... but it seems silly to need 1000 science points just to be able to (in effect) wrap a 1.25m core in a bigger box.  So I like having the JX2 antenna on that node, as something that's actually higher-tech and extends play options.

That said, though, Community Tech Tree is a handy thing to have out there, and it hadn't even occurred to me to take a look at.  Should look into this.  :)

 

If I may put in my 2 cents here, I think the large unmanned tech node is a very good location for this part. Not only does it fit well for the reasons you mentioned, but also because sometimes a part belongs in one of the stock nodes even when CTT is installed. I think this is one of those parts. One thing I tend to worry about is when a mod author tries to put all of their parts into CTT nodes whether it makes sense for them to be there or not. 

TL; DR: I wholly support your reasons for wanting to keep this part in the large unmanned node. 

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1 hour ago, Snark said:

Not sure what's going on, there.  The OPM patch already does the following:


@PART[*]:HAS[@MODULE[ModuleDataTransmitter]]:AFTER[OPM]

It has always been my understanding that the "AFTER" directive in ModuleManager also implies "NEEDS"-- that is, by saying "AFTER[OPM]", that means "doesn't apply if OPM isn't present".

That's always how I have authored patches in MM, and it has always seemed to work for me.  Certainly in my own test environment here, I'm running JX2Antenna, with the OPM patch present, and without OPM actually installed... and everything looks just fine.  I see Communotron-16 as 500k, RA-100 as 100G, and so forth.  If I then try deleting the ":AFTER[OPM]", then it shows me all the antennas having 1/4 their usual power.  So everything I observe is consistent with "AFTER[OPM] means it won't apply if OPM isn't installed."

So, I'm not sure why the results you observe are the precise opposite of what I'm observing.  Something weird is going on here.

It may be that my understanding of the semantics of AFTER is incorrect, or perhaps it has an inconsistency bug that causes it to work or not-work based on some other side effects of other stuff.  Just to verify:  Are you saying that (in contrast to what I observe), the following three things are true?

  1. the default-installed OPM patch that comes with JX2Antenna causes all the stock antennas to have 1/4 the power
  2. deleting that patch fixes the problem (i.e. verifying that your 1/4 power observation isn't caused by something else)
  3. leaving the patch in place and adding ":NEEDS[OPM]" also fixes the problem (i.e. verifying that NEEDS is actually not redundant, if AFTER is specified)

If you have observed those three things, then that would seem to indicate that I do indeed need to add "NEEDS[OPM]" ... though, why the dickens I'm not observing the problem in my own game, I have no clue.

I'll start off with, you're probably right. I did not understand MM to work that way, though it logically stands to reason that if you are applying a patch "AFTER" a mod, that it "NEEDS" it to begin with. Additionally, upon further investigation on my end, I still had the OPM folder in my GameData. I had uninstalled it via CKAN, but I found that the parent OPM folder remained with cache files in it. So, if in fact your patch was applying both the "NEED" and "AFTER" qualifier, in my case the 'need' condition was met with the folder still remaining while there was no OPM config file (CKAN did delete that) multiplying the range of my antenna's by 4. Which is probably why yours ended up quartering my range because MM 'thought' OPM was there. I'll assume this is what happened. I did not test your 3 steps as I had already managed to 'force' MM to do what I want, but I do not doubt your 3 steps are accurate.

I don't think it was a factor, but I already had a personal MM patch that slightly changed the 16 & 16-S to differentiate them in the stock game. I had no "AFTER" or "NEEDS" filters, so I had just assumed it was your mod/patch since it is the only mod I have installed recently.

Either way, its all sorted out on my end. MM FTW.

TL;DR: My bad

Cheers,

Edited by Stratickus
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5 minutes ago, Stratickus said:

Either way, its all sorted out on my end. MM FTW.

TL;DR: My bad

Great, glad it's worked out for you!  :)

(And thanks for the analysis & explanation... if anyone runs into this problem in the future, I now have one more "well, did you check ___?" thing to ask them.)

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Once I stop working 14+ hour days (and seven day weeks) and have time to update to 1.2.2, I'm gonna be all over this for my GPP install.

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