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About Spatzimaus

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    Junior Rocket Scientist
  1. So glad to hear that the physics bits are starting to get sorted out; this mod has been one of my must-haves for quite a while. The tracks were essential for my larger (400+ ton) rovers, obviously. Also, I'm a big fan of multirole vehicles and one of my favorite designs was an electric prop-and-ion engine SSTO seaplane capable of flying itself to Laythe or Eve to act as an emergency all-terrain recovery vehicle; while early versions tried all sorts of pontoon setups, these repulsors made it MUCH more practical. But this comment made me want to ask a question: So, the question is, how "launch-y" CAN you make things while still being controllable in normal situations? I get that you've been trying to adhere to real-world physics as much as possible, but is it possible to make completely different styles of repulsor by taking advantage of these springiness issues? Can you add an active "jump jet" mode to normal repulsors, to let them briefly get in the air? One of the biggest problems I had with that multirole plane mentioned above was taking back OFF from the surface of the water, since I couldn't easily pitch the nose up while on the ocean, and this'd avoid that. But take it further, and imagine three distinct styles of repulsor: 1> A "classic" kind that's ideal for ground-effect vehicles and/or a landing gear replacement for planes; more-or-less useless at altitudes of more than a few meters, and a "soft" deceleration curve (i.e., the repulsive force scales up at altitudes approaching zero, but not THAT quickly). That soft curve minimizes strain on airframes, but is only really useful for things flying more-or-less horizontally at surface level as anything vertical would bottom out on the ground before its velocity zeroes. It also isn't very suitable for vehicles floating across the surface of a craggy moon (like Mun), where the surface can go from horizontal to 45 degrees instantly, although it'd do fine on Minmus. 2> A straight lifting repulsor; less efficient, and with very little ground effect (force nearly independent of altitude), but resulting in a much higher altitude ceiling. Basically, a helicopter-style setup that doesn't require rotors and such but that requires a lot more micromanagement to fly. You could use these to reduce the need for large wing surfaces as well on engine-heavy aircraft, a la the Snowspeeders on Hoth. It'd also be a way to reduce or replace parachutes on high-tech designs, but VTOLs are what I'd want the most. 3> At the other extreme, a "hard" repulsor to replace/supplement landing gear for large high-tech rockets with lots of battery power to burn at the end of their flights. Huge energy drain (so unusable for general ground-effect use) but with as high of a deceleration in those last few meters as a pilot can safely survive, so that it'd be nearly impossible to catastrophically crash. If you add an active jump jets to your Mun rovers to clear crater walls, this'd be what you'd use to safely land. (My old wheel-based Mun rover kept throwing tires every time it hit a sharp bump at speed; this, combined with the first type, would avoid that. And you'd have plenty of time to charge the batteries back up between uses, so the energy cost wouldn't be an issue.) Similar concepts could be applied to old-fashioned wheels, I'm sure. This'd help keep this mod's wheels distinct from the stock rover wheels. But repulsors came to mind first, as they're the least constrained by reality...
  2. Spatzimaus

    Sure, that's an unmanned probe

    Honestly, there are a LOT of things that could probably be handled like this. It's just way too easy to complete certain missions with craft that weren't designed for those particulars. Outpost missions? Land a larger rocket with a lander can, some wheels stuck to the side, etc. During the time it's sitting on the surface, the game counts it as a base, so as long as it's got all the bells and whistles it'll complete the contract. Science missions? Unmanned tiny lander with a thermometer, or an orbiting one with a grav sensor, can repeat these as necessary, and they'll pay for themselves after a few iterations for the nearby bodies and a single mission for the further stuff. They also work well as comm links to KSC, if you give them a decent antenna. Heck, I got my 1.2 career going by accepting six "recover a kerbonaut in low Mun orbit" missions at once, sending a single rocket with an Apollo capsule and lander can (all empty except the pilot), and recovering them all at once. The cash payout was insane, and set me up to send unmanned probes to every body in the system. While this does fit within the letter of the contracts, it probably wasn't intended when they decided the payouts (most of which would otherwise have gone to pay overhead on six separate launches). The problem with your suggested fix, though, is that many unmanned probes in KSP were initially attached to a manned vessel. It's cheaper to stick a 2-ton ion probe on the side of a 120-ton booster while it's busy launching your manned Mun landers than it is to launch the probe on its own dedicated rocket. Should it be disqualified because, at launch, it was part of a "manned" vessel? No matter how you parse it, there'd be abuses, and this is a single-player game with cheat options so it's not like people couldn't control the situation for themselves. Best to just let it go. Besides, half the fun of KSP is overengineering things, so it's not like people will cut corners that often just for the sake of completing one extra mission. I mean, back in 0.90 I launched this monstrosity, dubbed Mun Unit Zappa: When you're landing a 600-ton rover on Mun, launched by a ridiculously massive (~11 kton) SSTO booster "brick" setup, cost is not really a concern any more. There are no contracts requiring a rover that huge, when the dinky 25-ton rover in the foreground can serve just as well, but where's the fun in limiting yourself?
  3. Spatzimaus

    Duna's Atmosphere in 1.x

    Dunes. There was a LOT of hopping on the terrain when I landed, and I'm amazed it didn't tumble during the LONG braking, but it somehow made it down in one piece. It's not easy to see from the picture, but it's got metric buttloads of lift. First, the Mk2 parts used as its fuselage base provide a little lift. Then, I used wing segments above and below the main fuselage to smooth out the design. And finally, that wing, while it looks small, is actually a triple wing with two full "shell" sections above and below a swiss cheese'd middle wing, like so: That's with the top wing shell removed. Here's a shot where you can better see the shapes of the shells: Point is, it had a LOT of lift, primarily due to my using wing segments for aesthetic reasons. I had no problems at all taking off from Duna and returning to orbit, and I didn't need to stand on the tail to do it. In 1.02, that much wing would be horrible for drag on Kerbin, of course.
  4. Spatzimaus

    Duna's Atmosphere in 1.x

    I didn't really have a problem back in 0.90: That was my long-range SSTO spaceplane, designed to go straight to Laythe from Kerbin without refueling. On a whim I tried it out on Duna, and it landed just fine. Granted, I'll bet that part of it was my use of the B9 landing gear (which has better shock absorption than the stock small gear) but it still wasn't bad at all for a complete dead-stick landing. I'd bet that a big part of it is lift. That spaceplane design had plenty of lift for 0.90, so it could handle Duna's thin atmosphere just fine. In 1.02, everyone's using less wing on their Kerbin-ascending designs due to the new drag rules, and it's now just not nearly enough for Duna. A Duna-specific design in 1.02 might be just fine (although I think you'd really need something like the Firespitter electric propellers).
  5. Kerbin's orbit around the sun has a semimajor axis of 1.3E10m, with zero eccentricity. Mun's orbital semimajor axis around Kerbin is 1.2E7m, again with zero eccentricity. So, the closest point and furthest point are only ~0.2% different in distance, meaning a 0.4% discrepancy in insolation between opposite parts of the orbit. (This'd also change the temperature of illuminated objects by 0.1%, or about 0.3 degrees Celsius, but that's not really relevant here.) Of course, we're only talking about half that difference since it'll be nighttime for the other half of each orbit, so the distance change would explain a ~0.2% difference in solar panel power output for a body in vacuum, assuming no energy is being reflected from the Mun itself. That's not quite enough to explain the observed disparity, although it's on the same order. (Yes, I used to teach radiative astrophysics, but this is well below that level.) Not surprising. Finding out if there's an unobstructed line of sight between two arbitrary points is not an easy process, since you basically have to move along the line checking terrain heights at each point. Sure, most of the line will be far, far above any terrain, but those aren't the parts you worry about. The accuracy of the answer will depend on how finely detailed the terrain mesh is (since the terrain is just a series of polygons connecting a grid of discrete data points), as well as how large a step size you use on the LOS check. I'd guess they're erring on the side of caution on either end, only turning the sunlight "off" when they're SURE it's obstructed, and only turning it "on" in the morning when they're sure it's visible again. Anything more than that would probably use up too much processor time to be worth the effort, given how rarely you'll actually care about those situations. That's not to say that you'll never care; I just landed a small probe almost directly on Duna's south pole, where even minor variations in the Sun's height above the horizon will change whether or not the surrounding hills block the light. But that's a rare circumstance, so I accept the headaches it might cause. (Yes, I used to develop simulation software involving terrain models.) ------------------ And yes, it's a lot of fun having these conversations about KSP. Where else can you learn stuff AND blow up things at the same time? Besides Detroit, I mean. I worry a bit that the new aero model will make the game a bit less accessible as a learning tool for schools, as it makes the game quite a bit less forgiving, but in general KSP is still an excellent way to learn physics. (Yes, I used to live in Detroit.)
  6. More likely, it's that the aiming isn't perfect. To keep the internal simulation running at a reasonable speed, they probably do things like have the solar panels stick to integer numbers of degrees of rotation, and there's probably some rounding on the solar angles as well. So, even though it says 1.00 Exposure, it might be varying by a percent or so simply based on the fact that internally it's actually varying from 0.995 to 1.005 (yes, I know it's physically impossible to go above 1.00, but internal rounding CAN do that). That'd explain the 1% variation seen in those shots.
  7. If your craft is a spaceplane, and you're talking about a payload to be deployed in orbit, the much easier solution is to disable the payload's tanks (right click on the part, click on the little green icon next to the LiquidFuel readout to change it to red) so that the craft doesn't consume it at all. Once you've deployed, reverse the process.
  8. So do I. My little lander (nothing but a probe core, a small parachute, a 0.625m inline battery, four of the lightest legs, a thermometer, and an antenna) has four OX-STATs placed around the sides. Obviously these can't track the Sun, so they're not useful for this sort of test, but I was amazed to see how little energy they produced even at the optimum times of day. It took hours to refill the batteries from even a single thermometer reading. ------------- As to the astrophysics of this, it's pretty realistic if you look at total solar energy. On Earth, the Sun produces 1367 W/m^2 of energy. When directly overhead, about 83% gets through the atmosphere. Three hours before or after (45 degrees off-angle) and you're down to about 80% of THAT amount, i.e. 65ish%. Five hours before or after the peak (75 degrees off, or 15 degrees above the horizon) and you're down to about 25% of the total amount (30% of the in-atmosphere peak). The Kerbin numbers in the OP match this almost exactly, and it does explain Eve's horrible surface numbers (very thick atmosphere), which makes yet another reason to ditch solar panels and use RTGs as soon as you can. The catch is, solar panels don't absorb every wavelength of light equally well. Like a lot of other things (mirrors, digital cameras, the human eye, etc.), you'd want something that was optimized for the types of radiation that do get through our atmosphere with less absorption, i.e. visible light, radio waves, and to a lesser extent infrared. So, the amounts might actually go up quite a bit depending on the chemistry involved, especially as you approach sunset. Although, this'd be different for other planets with different atmospheres, so unless we want to assume the panels are "tuned" for each body's particular absorption spectrum we should probably just stick with the numbers we have now. Still, it's yet another example of how the devs have done their physics homework.
  9. Spatzimaus

    Better to drop or Orbit

    Exactly this. All of my boosters are like this, now. Remember, you don't need to aim exactly; just get in the general ballpark of KSC to recover most of your money.
  10. They've rebalanced the electricity production, but I think it needs quite a bit of work. First, because of the new temperature dependence issues; an OX-STAT on Eve produces almost nothing, which has caused problems for the unmanned lander I put there. (Transmit one temperate report, and it takes hours to recharge off multiple panels.) Second, because the panels are so useless once you get out to Jool that you pretty much HAVE to use multiple RTGs to power any ions; I don't want the old distance scaling, but the base values might need a bit of tweaking upwards. I haven't had a problem with this; you generally just let atmospheric braking slow your incoming design down until the shockwave effects go away (400-500m/s), and THEN pop the chutes. Assuming you have enough parachutes on your design for its mass, it'll be just fine; old designs that used the souposphere might have insufficient braking under the new model, so you might need to just add more. Of course, you could also try adding drogues, or changing the settings on your chutes, but I haven't seen much need for that sort of multi-phase braking. Their use is that they're dirt cheap. You might have a fully recoverable liquid fuel launcher that uses disposable SRBs; it won't cost you nearly as much as an all-liquid design would, despite being a bit heavier. Sure, a liquid engine has higher efficiencies, but the larger LFO engines get REALLY expensive. Here's one of my own setups, to illustrate: That's a 7-man lander on top, designed to move people to Mun, Minmus, or for brief hops out of the SOI to get Sun credit. Great for training unskilled kerbonauts, and it also counts as a station/base since it has power, a docking port, etc. so I can get big money from those contracts. The booster is fully recoverable (probe core and all), but the SRBs get thrown away on the way up. The booster setup has enough delta-V to get into orbit with ~900m/s to spare, detach the payload, and safely return near the KSC. (The big black tanks are from KW Rocketry; they're just big LFO tanks that attach radially, nothing special.)
  11. This one surprised me too, at first, but honestly it's just meant that I don't hire Kerbals. I've got a fleet of 1-man recovery vessels (costs ~22k on the pad, almost half of which gets recovered on landing) designed to grab stranded kerbonauts from low orbit. Basically it's an old Mk1 cockpit (launched empty), a probe core and small battery, a couple solar panels, a 1.25m heat shield, a couple parachutes, and some legs. (Newer versions add some RCS jets and monoprop, but the original just used a small, detachable liquid stage for orbital maneuvers.) Mount it on top of some SRBs and you can get to orbit with more than enough delta-V to spare, while still keeping costs to a minimum. I put several of these up at a ~90km orbit, in varying locations around Kerbin. Accept the contract whenever one comes up (10k up front, 40-50k on completion), find the nearest recovery vessel to the stranded person, and voila, new kerbonaut AND some cash. I've now got 13 or 14 kerbonauts at the KSC, with a half-dozen waiting recovery vessels if I ever find I need more. Well, seven of them are currently on a trip to Duna and Ike, but they'll be back (I hope). The thing that really screwed me up, as an experienced player, was the reorganized tech tree. I used to rely on ion engines for all of my interplanetary probes, but now those are an endgame technology. In ye olden days I'd lift a 2-ton ion probe inside my 10-ton RAPIER-equipped spaceplane for dirt cheap, and I could send it anywhere in the system even at the mid-tier techs. This really helped my finances, as those "science from X" missions were the best way to make money on Hard. But honestly, I've loved the changes. Sure, the new aero model is taking a lot of getting used to, but I do like the concept of it better than the old souposphere.
  12. Spatzimaus

    Large rover wheels

    Not a bad design, although it's a bit top-heavy. You might roll if you try to make a turn too fast, or go up a steep slope. I'm currently trying out a large, flat design so that this isn't an issue. When you're at your imgur page, and you click on an image, one of the options on the right will be the "BBCode" entry: (img) (except brackets instead of parentheses). That's the one you want to copy for embedding on boards like this.
  13. Spatzimaus

    Large rover wheels

    Back in the old souposphere days, here's how I launched my huge 600-ton rover: Basically, the rover itself was close enough to symmetry on both axes that a mounting point under the center connector would stay balanced. The huge (12000-ton) stack of rockets below the rover was an SSTO launcher (fully recoverable, other than the fuel of course), and once in orbit the skyhook on top would draw fuel from the rover's tanks for the rest of the trip. (After landing on Mun and refilling all of the fuel tanks, the skyhook detached and flew up to Mun orbit to act as an emergency fuel depot.) With the new atmosphere model, that sort of design might have a bit more drag than it used to, but it should still work given the raw power of the booster.
  14. Spatzimaus

    Large rover wheels

    It's doable. Back in olden days (0.23ish), I'd send this 300-ton rover to Mun: It was a mobile Kethane miner, using a number of parts from other mods. But, the wheels were stock, so it'd work for your contract. The downside was that it was only designed as a 1-man rover, but had the capacity to hold far more. I tweaked the design a bit, but I did this in three or four separate versions so I know it's workable. I later switched to even larger rovers, and that necessitated the use of caterpillar treads from a mod: That's a 600-ton megarover in the background (default crew of 3, but can hold 9), and a 25-ton smaller rover (also a kethane refinery) in the foreground. The smaller rover uses stock wheels, but it doesn't have enough crew for those contracts. I highly recommend using treads, though, simply because of the fact that they don't rip themselves apart under even minor shears. (They do have a very poor top speed, though. That huge rover tops out at about 12m/s; those 5m KW fuel tanks are really heavy when loaded.) Honestly, though, all of those base construction contracts are simple because of one simple flaw: a lander qualifies, as long as you stick any necessary parts (docking ports, antennae, wheels) on the side as necessary. The wheels don't have to touch the ground, the ports don't have to be reachable, etc., they just have to be on the craft (even inside a cargo bay). In my career I'm still in the second tier of techs, and I've got a 7-man lander (3-man pod plus hitchhiker) that I use for quick astronaut training. (One trip to Mun or Minmus with Jeb piloting, and POOF, a half-dozen level 2 kerbonauts!) I stick a couple extra parts on it, and suddenly it's completing my orbital station contracts as well for big money. I'm just about to send it to Duna and Ike for HUGE profits, as soon as I unlock the LV-N for my transfer burn.
  15. Spatzimaus

    Mining for ore in Joolian system

    If you're going out to Jool's moons for something like this, just forget the solar panels altogether. They're really expensive, but go with RTGs; one RTG can offset the drain from that scanner, although it'd take 12 to produce enough electricity to keep an ion going at full thrust. Realistically, I'm planning my ion probes to use four of the things and run at 33% thrust once I'm near Jool. If you're only using this probe to scan each moon once and then leave, you could even do it with fuel cells, but I prefer probes that can stick around to fulfill science contracts as well so that's not really an option. Back in ye olden days, that's exactly what I'd do with my Kethane and Karbonite fuel networks. Pol was the primary fuel depot for the Jool system, and I'd keep one refinery there and one tanker down at Laythe. I'm planning on doing the same with the new system, although it's also handy to have a land-based refinery (using a large rover) that can meet up with already-landed vessels. I had small 20-30 ton rovers and huge 600-ton megarovers for this sort of role, and it worked nicely.