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About rocketengineer1982

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  1. It's been three years to the day since I started this attempt to complete the Elcano Challenge. I'm getting there. Slowly.
  2. Part 14 (Day 6): Great balls of fire The latest update to KSP has made my game rather unhappy with my usual assortment of mods (~10 GB of ram usage), so I've had to strip most of my mods. This section was completed using only FAR, Kerbal Engineer Redux, and a few visual effects mods. Even with this light load, my computer was still not happy with the amount of memory required, and so refused to run faster than 1/2 speed. As always, all vehicles are comprised exclusively of stock parts. You can blame my inexperience with Texture Replacer for the altered appearance of my Kerbals. Don't worry, Haltrey's mustache will be getting removed soon. I also had some serious technical difficulties connecting the Rider to the Lifter. The last update has caused my aircraft to start sliding across the surface of the runway, which was making aligning and attaching to the Rider nearly impossible. I finally gave up trying to use the Klaw after spending the better part of an hour perfectly lining up the Lifter before locking the brakes and watching it slowly drift north. Hopefully this will be fixed soon. KSC Day 6, 00:30:00 UT "Oh-dark-thirty" It was a warm, sunny afternoon, and Roscia was lounging on the beach at Wave-Off Point, thoroughly enjoying hour 7 of her 12-hour leave. As she reached over to snag another snack from the "Box 'O Snacks" she brought along, Roscia's fingers found a distinct lack of Box... and snacks, too. Reluctantly opening her eyes, she looked over to find Haltrey with the Box in one hand and a snack in the other, munching contentedly and looking decidedly less green than the shade he'd usually been the past couple days. Roscia sighed, the sound of the waves and approaching commuter flight from KSC having masked the sound of the Box theft and subsequent munching. "Hey, Halt," Roscia prompted. Haltrey looked over, snack still halfway to his mouth. "Oops, sorry," he apologized, placing the Box back down withing easy reach of both of them - where it had been sitting for most of the day. Roscia snagged a snack from the Box. After a minute of contended munching, broken only by the inbound commuter flight on final passing nearly overhead, Halt mused, "You know? It wasn't really all that bad." "What wasn't?" "The flying." "Tell that to our radio." "No, I mean it. It really wasn't that bad. Sure, I was miserable, but we helped out Ted, and it was an awesome and wacky adventure. Take connecting to the Rider for instance. We taxied over top of it, and then sat down on the Rider to connect it to the Klaws! How do the scientists even come up with these procedures?" Roscia laughed. "You're right. They should have just used a docking port or something." After a few seconds of thought, she smiled slowly. "Even with the long hours, it wasn't that bad... as long as there were plenty of air sickness bags," she said jokingly. It was Halt's turn to laugh. "Yeah. I hope they guys in Mission Control don't get any ideas about making a Munar circumnavigation anytime soon. I think Ted's still a little out of it - I think he was cooped up in the Rider with his tunes for too long. Not to mention the potential for 6-hour air sickness. There wouldn't be enough bags," he replied, grinning. Roscia and Halt looked down the beach to where Ted was sitting by the water's edge, where Tedmore was meticulously making a sand sculpture of the Rider climbing the side of a mountain, alternately singing and muttering to himself about needing more thrust. "I cut my nails and I twiddle my thumbs," Ted sang. Roscia frowned slightly. "Yeah. Having him drive, alone, for days and days straight probably wasn't the best idea." "I'm really nervous, but it sure is fun." "At least they gave him the week off, though, rather than our two days," Halt mused. "Come on baby, you drive me crazy." "Yeah," Roscia replied. "Though all engineers are a little batty. I'd swear that when he was working on the intakes on his sand sculpture of the Rider I saw the suspension compress," commented Roscia as she and Haltry watched Ted work. "Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire!" Suddenly the sounds of the waves Ted singing was shattered by a horrible, loud noise. Roscia looked up, thinking that perhaps it was the commuter flight departing the Island Airfield on its return trip to KSC, but there was no offending aircraft, and the noise didn't sound like a turbofan, anyway. Frantically, Roscia searched for the source of the awful, grating noise, but there was no source in sight, and it seemed to be coming from all around. Halt and Ted seemed oblivious to the sound, and as Roscia listened, she realized that the sound was becoming clearer, and that it sounded just like a telephone ringing. ---------- After a couple seconds of blind groping, Roscia managed to snag the phone off her bedside table. Cracking her eyes open, she made out the time, and the location of the "pick up" button. She closed her eyes again, and aggressively stabbed at the button before holding the phone to here ear. "Mmmmmph.... Rosssh Krrmn hrrr." The voice of Gene Kerman answered her from the other end of the line. "Roscia, the Centipede Rider's refit is nearly complete. Report for preflight briefing in 15 minutes. Good morning." Roscia's reply was to aggressively stab the "hang-up" button before rolling out of bed and falling onto the floor. "Ow." ---------- Fourteen minutes later, Roscia dragged herself into the briefing room, a cup of Kerbonaut-Optimal Fluid For Energy and Excellence (KOFFEE) in one hand. Inside, Haltrey was awake and waiting for the briefing, as attested to by the slowly forming pool of drool on the table. Roscia sat down beside him, as he rested his head against the table, his half-open eyes staring at the projector screen currently filled by the KSP logo. "Good morning," mumbled Rose. "Uunngh," replied Halt. The briefing room door opened again, admitting Gene, who walked briskly to the front of the room, a cup of Koffee in one hand, an overflowing clipboard in the other, and a folder full of reports jammed under his arm. "Good morning, both of you. Sorry for waking you so early, but the finishing touches are being made to the Rider, and we need to get it out to Ted ASAP," Gene said, before turning around to look at Roscia and Haltrey. Looking vaguely disturbed, he paused a moment to dig through the papers on his clipboard. Finding the sheet he was looking for, Gene quadruple-checked the numbers printed there before returning his attention to the two members of the Lifter's crew. "Right, since you both have full crew rest, what do you say we get on with this briefing so you two can get flying?" he asked enthusiastically, hoping to get Rose and Halt to perk up. Halt replied with a quiet gurgle. "Ooookay. Moving on then," said Gene, switching to the next slide of the presentation. "As before you will be flying an equatorial course, departing KKSC at 01:45 UT this morning and passing north of KKIA..." KSC, Spaceplane Hangar Day 6, 01:17:32 UT Roscia and Haltrey stepped through the door double doors leading into the main construction area of the spaceplane hangar and were immediately assaulted by a wall of sound. It was like someone had taken the usual riot of activity and turned it up to, oh twenty-five or so. Several aircraft under repair had been relocated to the edges of the hangar to make room for the Centipede Lifter, and a couple of half-disassembled light aircraft resided underneath the Lifter's wings. Technicians were crawling all over the and the Rider, some riveting, some welding, others grinding, even more with airbrushes and the occasional can of spray paint. Roscia noted that one painter was working on painting a panel seam, followed by a welder who was welding the seam shut, followed by a grinder smoothing the weld, followed by another painter. She sighed. "Less than 3 minutes to roll-out," shouted a Kerbal into a loudspeaker micrphone, "c'mon, let's move Kerbals!" Hectic though it appeared, Rosica was impressed at how much work had been done to the Rider and the Lifter in such a short period of time - and how close the technicians were to being finished. With the exception of the painter/welder/grinder/painter team, everything seemed to be going... well not smoothly, but not terribly, either. As she and Haltrey watched, Kerbals were finishing their work and climbing down from the joined craft, taking their ladders and work platforms with them. She flipped through the sheaf of papers she'd been given detailing the Lifter's refit. ""Well, at least we don't need to connect to the Rider this time, Halt," she commented. "I can see that." "It says here that there were issues getting proper alignment - something about a gravitational frictional anomaly? Can't say I understand what that means... Anyway, they've given up on the whole "Klaw" approach and have attached the Rider to the Lifter with a decoupler, so perfect alignment is guaranteed for this flight. If another recovery becomes necessary..." "I hope not," interjects Halt. "...they'll replace the decoupler with a Klaw and then it's business as usual," finishes Rose. As they were speaking, the last workers finished up, and the hangar doors began to open. A tug slipped inside, while through the opening doors Roscia could see waiting fuel trucks. A lot of fuel trucks. She started musing about how it would be more efficient to have one GIANT fuel truck instead of a half-dozen small trucks, and then about the potential risks of a single truck carrying that much fuel. Halt poked Roscia's arm, breaking her concentration. "We should probably go get on board," said Halt, pointing to the stair truck that had been left pushed up against the Centipede Lifter's wing. "Right." KSC Day 6, 01:24:15 UT % preflight % before starting % pretaxi smoking and nonsmoking sections great balls of fire Full Part 14 album:
  3. This challenge has been quiet for a while. After a bit of a hiatus, I'm resuming my circumnavigation of Kerbin. There was a... minor accident... involving my first vehicle, but it's been recovered, refit, and is ready to be flown back out to the last checkpoint. I'm hoping to have time to make the flight and resume my circumnavigation this weekend.
  4. Wow, it's really been over a year and a half since Tedmore, Roscia, and Haltrey, along with the regular gang of nutca-(AHEM) highly esteemed Kerbonauts (much better) last provided a progress update on their epic mission to perform what will hopefully be the first equatorial ground circumnavigation of Kerbin. Poor Ted, stuck all alone in his small cabin for so long. He must be going stir-crazy by now, or he would be if he hadn't already been completely off his rock-(AHEM!), um... completely and perfectly sane and stable! Of course, because only the brightest and bravest Kerbals are allowed to train at Kerbal Space Center and become Kerbonauts. No, there was nothing at all about triple snack rations for the first 7 volunteers... And certainly, none of them are the slightest bit mercurial... When last we left our heroes, Tedmore was sitting in his cabin, singing along to his mix tapes, eating snacks, and gradually starting to wonder why no one was complaining about his singing over the radio, all the while as happy as Jeb is when things are blowing up. Meanwhile, a third of the way around Kerbin, Roscia and Haltrey were conducting flight tests of the Lifter and dealing with some minor stage separation problems - always a concern when it's a single stage vehicle - while Jeb and Val conducted tests of the refit, minorly explosive Centipede Rider. Or perhaps it was the tests that were minorly explosive, and not the Rider? Moving on swiftly, Tedmore is distracted, Roscia is dealing with unintentional engine separations, Haltrey is trying hard not to barf, Val is climbing hills, and most concerningly, Jeb is having fun. Poor, poor Gene. So, on the condition that I actually have some free time, yes, I do plan to complete this circumnavigation of Kerbin! How long it will take, I'm not sure. I may end up with the record for taking the longest to actually complete a circumnavigation of Kerbin, but it shall be completed! Oh, and kudos and extra snacks to the first person who can find the Easter egg hidden in this post.
  5. I've solved the Lifter's structural integrity problems. I'm not sure what changed since the pick-up, but something apparently did. The engines did not used to have a disturbing tendency to fall off... While waiting for the proper time to set out (so that I'll be making the drop-off landing during the daytime), I had Val do a little more hill-climb testing. I also charted a reasonable path for crossing the mountain range west of KSC. East............................................................................................................................................................................................................West Imgur Album:
  6. I worked out how to get the Rider connected to the Lifter. A single Klaw is mounted on the centerline and grabs onto the batteries in the Centipede Rider's cargo bay. The connection is strong enough to withstand 5G turns. I had a couple problems with the starboard engines falling off the Lifter during flight and maneuvers, so I ended up re-strutting them. Still need to run another test flight before approving the design. Album:
  7. It appears that the Klaws cannot grab onto radial air intakes and so my previous method of attaching the Rider to the Lifter is not going to work, at least using the method of having the Rider sat on. Back to the drawing board. Album:
  8. That's one of the changes I'm looking at to increase the static thrust and hill-climbing capability. I've got a design where the two jet engines on the pontoons are switched out for pairs of FLT-100s and Aerospikes. I then was able to switch out the intakes on the tops of the pontoons for more solar panels because of reduced intake air requirements. I still need to test out the changes, and getting oxidizer will be tricky and would probably require refueling pods dropped by aircraft. I could refuel using an Advanced Grabbing Unit on each pod (just drive the Rider into it), but I would still have to fly around Kerbin - again - to drop off the refueling pods. Frankly, I'm getting a bit tired of making aerial circumnavigations. Maybe I'll use suborbital lob shots to deploy the pods. EDIT: Aerospikes aren't worth it. The time at TWR=1 is too low to really be useful. I think I'll go back to the jets and just make some detours.
  9. Reaction control wheels! Pretty sure that it means the aircraft has to be amphibious. Take off from the runway Fly through the course Land on the water at the end of the runway Take off from the water and land back on the runway. I'd suggest requiring a screenshot when passing through the final gate. Screenshots passing through each gate would be nice, but it might be impractical unless you can remap the screenshot button to a joystick button. Pounding "Print Screen" while trying to fly a course at high speed can be quite difficult. Alternatively, a screencast uploaded on YouTube would work as well - provided the mission time is legible.
  10. First, you're going to need a scoring system. I'd suggest using the lap time. You also might want to consider adding a condition that the aircraft has to also be able to take off from water. Second, as a college senior majoring in aerospace engineering, I'd like to point out that the designs (see examples below) were developed by car designers who "let their imagination run wild". They look amazing, but just are not practical, or in some cases, even flyable. Not to bash on your idea - I love the thought of more Schneider Cup races - I just have a personal pet peeve about concept art designed by non-aerospace engineers, and presented in a way that implies that it is a viable concept.
  11. Thanks! Doing the circumnavigation flight gave me a much better idea of what I would have to climb to complete an equatorial circumnavigation. The inlets look excessive, but actually just barely give enough intake air. I'm quite glad that they do, because there isn't room to add more unless I start partially clipping them through each other. I also came up with an absolute tolerance for my circumnavigation. KSC's runway is 2 minutes 26 seconds south of the equator and the tracking station is 7 minutes 37 seconds south, so I'm going to give myself at least 8 minutes on either side of the equator to work with. I'd like to keep it within 3 minutes, but that may not be possible because there are some pretty sharp ridges in those mountain ranges. My next installment will have more testing west of KSC, and the sharp corners in the terrain were a bit of a problem. I'm pretty sure that I can stick to within 8 minutes, though. That should let me avoid a particularly nasty spike directly west of KSC EDIT: That range directly west of KSC is nasty beyond belief. 70+ degree slopes and terrain joint edges at 45 degrees. I've tried going over it several times, and it just isn't working. The engines lose power with altitude, and I top out at about 4000m on a 70 degree slope. I think I'm going to have to go around. I might have to allow detours of up to 1 degree from the equator to go around particularly nasty mountains because only deviating 8 minutes leaves me with an impassible ridge west of KSC. We'll see how close I can cut it now that I have a good feel for the limitations of the improved design.
  12. Part 13: Jeb takes a drive Gene wasn't exaggerating: the design for refitting the Centipede Rider is something to see. The engineering team at KSC started by removing the useless refinery and drills, and packed into the central bay as many batteries as could possibly fit. To improve the climbing ability, they replaced the rear sections of the two pontoons with a pair of Wheelsey turbofans, which give the Rider a total thrust to weight ratio slightly greater than 1. However, static thrust flow simulations found that the engines would flame out unless provided with an insane number of intakes. The front ends of each pontoon were replaced with adjustable ramp intakes, and 16 radial air intakes were added (12 to the pontoons, 4 underneath the main body). Solar panels were tacked on wherever possible. Most importantly, the engineers decided to add landing gear to the Rider, so that if it suffered a blowout again, it could just be jacked up for repairs. The water rudders had to be realigned to be slightly more vertical because they were causing "wheel blocked" errors. Six Mk.0 fuel tanks were installed along the edges of the central bay, They bring up the total weight to roughly 1 ton more than the original Centipede Rider, so they might be removed before testing is completed. Additional reaction wheels and a probe core were also added to the central bay. As soon as repairs were completed and the modifications made, Jeb took the Rider out for an early morning test drive. He soon found that the landing gear could be used for a high speed - although extremely fuel inefficient - cruise over land. First on the procedure was to head west from KSC and test the Rider's mountain climbing ability. "Let's see, head to 79o 20' 36" west, 7' 54" north and proceed with climb testing. Where the heck is that? Oh well, this mountain looks as good as any." Mission Control gave up on trying to rein in Jeb a long time ago. Jeb gets impatient and pushes the Rider to 55 m/s. Cruising using the landing gear is surprisingly smooth. "I feel the need - the need for speed!" "Hey, Gene, this is Jeb. I'm looking up at this mountain and it looks pretty steep. You're sure that bunch with the slide rules know what they're doing?" "Yup, should be just fine. The Rider is practically a VTOL now. Climbing shouldn't be a problem as long as you don't slide sideways. Even then, you've got some parachutes, just in case." "Wilco, Gene. Engaging crawler mode!" "I'm at about a 40 degree climb angle now. No problems at all. There's plenty of power available and I'm accelerating up the slope nicely. The wheels provide a great boost to the climbing ability, and the alternators and solar panels are providing more than enough power. Total thrust state: 183 kN." "Bit steeper now. It started to fishtail a little, so I turned on the RCS. I'm at just under 20m/s and accelerating in a 50+ degree climb with 226 kN thrust." "Roger, Jeb. Watch your speed. The intakes won't function well under 10 m/s, but if you hit a change in slope while going too fast..." "Ah, you worry too much. This is fun!" "Almost 60 degrees now with no problems. I can see KSC from here!" *CRUNCH* "Whoops!" "Whoops? What's 'whoops'?" "Only a little bit of damage. Caught some air off a slope change and landed pretty hard. I think I might need a recovery team - there's lots of blown tires and I lost some parts." "The gearheads aren't going to be happy. They just finished repairing the Rider." "Aw, it won't take them long. They should be on a K1 pit team." "Where do you think we got them from?" About 30 minutes later, after a quick bit of repairs... "Parachutes test out OK - very effective!" "You're lucky Gene is on a koffee break - he'd have a fit if he saw you taking the Rider up to 120 m/s. You should be glade you didn't go airborne." "Don't think I didn't try..." "What was that??!" "Well it floats OK. Quite a bit lower than the last one, though. Speed seems to be reduced a little bit, but not much. I think with the intake and the engines we lost a bit of pontoon volume. Could also be that extra tonne, too. The steering is also a little more sluggish, but still easily controllable." "Roger, Jeb. You are cleared for the speed run testing - just take it slow and think your way through it." "When haven't I?" "..." "Dang! Guess the speed testing is over." Jebediah waits for the Rider to finish doing cartwheels and settle out. "You're going to need to send out a boat to pick up some of the pieces." "C'mon, Jeb. Full report, please." "Right, right. I got up to about 36 m/s on one engine without any bad characteristics. Then I went to 3 engines and full throttle. I got up to about 100 m/s before it flipped on me." "What happened to 'go slow and think it through'?" "You can't really go slow if you're doing a speed test, can you?" "Not what I meant.... Anyway, once we get all the pieces back, I guess we can have the engineers put the Rider back together - again. And you wonder why they never invite you to come along when they get off work." "But I do such a good job testing their designs." "Yeah, destructive testing..." Full Part 13 album:
  13. Part 12: Take the long way home, cont.- AKA Random parachute deployment "Wow, Halt, from this altitude I can see why everyone says it's an impact crater. I was here last year on vacation, you know, and it just doesn't have the same impact when you see it from the beach," comment Roscia. "Kind of unnerving, thinking that something big enough to leave a crater like this hit Kerbin. Kind of makes me a little scared," replies Haltrey. "Yeah but big impact events are really rare. The scientists say that this one happened tens of millions of years ago and wiped out the Kinosaurs. We aren't likely to have one happen anytime in our lifetimes, or in the next million years for that matter," says Roscia reassuringly. "Centipede Lifter to Mission Control. The terrain we're flying over now looks pretty rough. The ground isn't particularly steep, but it goes on for quite a while. Ted is going to be slowed down a lot here," says Roscia. "Roger, Centipede Lifter. We'll be sure to advise Ted that he's going to need to be careful, but he really shouldn't have much of a problem. You should see what the engineers are whipping up for the refit." "Hey Halt, wake up! We're over the Great Western Desert. Doesn't it look so peaceful? No one around for hundreds of kilometers, just gently rolling hills of sand." "Unngh. Uh, looks like a bad place to get stuck to me." "I suppose so, but it looks so peaceful at night. Anyway, the ground here is nice and smooth - Ted should have no problems." "Got any wood?" "Fine, you'll feel better now. The Great Western Desert is behind us and we're over the ocean again." "Great, life rafts." "Stop being so gloomy." "Ha ha! I KNEW something was going to go wrong! Hee hee hee hee hee. We're going down!" Haltrey starts laughing hysterically. Rose things that he might have cracked after almost a full day of near-constant airsickness. "What the heck? Low speed and stall warnings all over! Angle of attack is -40 degrees and we're rolling! Oh. Parachutes deployed. Halt, did you have an accident with the parachute arming toggles like you had with the radio stack?" says Roscia. "Maybe..." replies Halt. "Well at least we have a checklist for accidental parachute deployment due to lunch-induced toggle short-circuit. Maybe someone tipped off the engineers that you get airsick. Let's see, cut parachutes... throttles up... accelerate to 80 m/s, pull up... and level off. No problem - only dropped 3800 m." "Centipede Lifter to KSC Approach. We are 135 km west at 7000. Request vectors for landing." "Centipede Lifter, KSC Approach. You are entering our airspace. Maintain heading 090 and climb to 8500. Expect vectors to the active." "Approach, Centipede Lifter. Roger. Maintaining heading and climbing to 8500." "Wow, Halt. Ted's worst challenge might be right near home. I never really looked at how rough these mountains are," comments Roscia "Are you sure we're going to clear them? Those peaks look really high," says Halt. "Don't you even know how high K1 is? We could fly over K1 with almost 1 1/2 kilometers to spare. The mountains here barely top 6000 m, and the approach path to KSC has us crossing at 8500 m. We'll clear them just fine. Oh, and that's K2 right over there. Look, we can see the campfires of one of the mountaineering expeditions." "Why anyone would want to climb a mountain where they need to use a jackhamer to chisel out a spot large enough for a fire pit from the side of a 70 degree slope is beyond me," replies Haltrey. "What about Jeb?" asks Roscia. "Oh. Right." "Centipede Lifter, Approach. Descend and maintain 3000. Slow to 150 m/s. You are number 1 for landing. Maintain heading 090 and report when runway is in sight." "Approach, Centipede Lifter. Descend and maintain 3000, slow to 150, roger. We are number 1 for landing." "Approach, Centipede Lifter has the runway in sight." "Centipede Lifter, Approach. Roger. Contact Tower on 119.9." Roscia tunes the radio to the Tower frequency. "Tower, this is Centipede Lifter. We are 19 km west, inbound for landing. We have the runway in sight." "Centipede Lifter, Tower. Roger. Wind is calm. You are cleared to land, runway 09." "Tower, Centipede Lifter. Cleared to land, runway 09." "OK, Halt. We're nearly down. Too far to the right... c'mon left... left... left..." "Yeah! Nice, solid, ground!" "Aw dangit! We don't have any drogue 'chutes because they deployed during flight. Oh well, reverse thrust will have to do." The radio crackles to life: "Centipede Lifter, exit runway when able. Contact Ground on 121.9." "Contact Ground on 121.9, roger." As Rose slows the Centipede Lifter to a stop, she wonders what the engineering division has come up with for the Centipede Rider. Before she left, she saw them assembling a new rear section for the left pontoon, but it wasn't even close to finished. And Gene had implied that the engineers were working on something that would get Tedmore over the mountains with ease... She hopes she will get time off to watch them test-drive whatever modifications they've come up with. Full Part 12 album:
  14. @Claw Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. No sepratrons will be harmed in the completion of this circumnavigation, and any detachments of the intakes will be completely unintentional and probably catastrophic. I've got 7 more small mountain ranges like the last one I crossed, and 2 really nasty ranges like the one to the west of KSC. Before the wheel mechanics were reworked, I could climb a 45 degree slope, but even with maxed friction control, 45 degrees is out of the question without a lot of jet assistance. After struggling with wheel blocked and landing gear unable to extend for a bit, I managed to fit the jacks back on. Should keep me from getting stuck the next time a bunch of tires next to each other blow. Those obstruction boxes are weird.
  15. I have a design that works. Apparently the critical number for static thrust is 8 intake air per engine - 24 intake air total. It looks a bit better than the intake air monster, but I had to remove almost all the small solar panels from the pontoons, and the landing gear mounted in the pontoon ends that would allow me to jack up the craft to repair blown tires. I can reach 338.4 kN static thrust, which givens my refit circumnavigator a thrust to weight ratio of 1.09 - I've made a VTOL! K2 here I come! @Claw Does this still count as a "slight modification"? I had to go a bit crazy with the air intakes...