Shadowmage

[WIP][1.3.1] SSTULabs - Low Part Count Solutions (Orbiters, Landers, Lifters) - Dev Thread [10-09-17]

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Low-part count solutions are achieved by combining 'always needed' functionality into the parts that always need it.

For Lander Core parts:

Landing gear are integrated into fuel tanks, so that is 4 parts saved. RCS thrusters are integrated into command pods, so there is another 4 parts saved. Command pods also have integrated static solar panels and battery capacity - more parts saved. Engine clusters are...well a single part, so there is 2-11 parts saved depending upon engine. Decouplers are integrated into command pods and/or fuel sections, so there are more parts saved.

Basically, a mun-capable 2-stage lander using these parts is 6 total parts (>1000dv descent stage, >1200dv ascent stage). A single-stage mun capable lander can be made in 4 parts (take out the ascent engine and swap the main tank type, remove half-height filler tank)

That is, for a 2-stage lander:

1. Docking Port

2. Command Pod (and ascent fuel tanks, RCS ports, and ascent stage decoupler)

3. Ascent engine

4. Descent fuel tanks (and landing legs, possibly landing lights as well.. concept WIP)

5. Half-height interior filler tank for extra capacity on descent stage

6. Descent engine cluster

Compared to the stock example landers, that is like a 30+ part reduction (not sure of their part numbers off the top of my head, but they are ridiculous for a simple lander).

The fuel tanks actually will have several integrated modules that may be swapped in the VAB (in the render above) (using mesh-swapping plugin). Currently those are Landing Legs (light or heavy, depending on tank size), Monopropellant tanks, and Deployable Solar panels. Planned for inclusion is an RTG/Battery combo, and perhaps a secondary RCS quad (and/or other ideas if any come up).

For SC-B (Orion) Parts:

Docking Port has integrated parachute (1 part saved)

Command pod has integrated decoupler and heat-shield (2 parts saved). Also integrated RCS, though not strictly needed (optionally 4 parts saved)

Service module has integrated RCS, solar panels, fairings, and engines (11 parts saved)

ICPS is fuel tanks + engine (1 part saved)

An example orbiter using the SC-B could be as low as 3 parts:

1. Docking Port/parachute combo

2. Command Module

3. Service Module (fuel, rcs, solar, batteries, main engines)

4. (optional) ICPS - range extender (allows for transfer to Mun or Minmus)

Again, compare that to the 30+ part count stock example solution. I would consider that quite a savings.

Series-C Parts:

Command module has integrated docking port, lights, transmitter, and RCS (6 parts saved)

Service Module has integrated rcs (2 parts saved)

Landing Module has integrated landing legs, engines, and fuel capacity (3-8 parts saved depending upon how you look at it)

The entire reason I started making parts in the first place was to clean up the 40+ part contraptions I was constantly making for simple jobs such as crewed orbiters or simple landers. I was quite sick of my stations and bases lagging in the yellow/red when I had a ship or two docked at them. Now I can save the part-count to be used for the stations and bases themselves rather than the ships docked/landed at them. I had previously used part-welding as a fix for these problems but found far too many limitations (e.g. with multiple solar panels or landing legs, or even engines); and the fact that it has not officially been updated to 1.x has only pushed my development harder.

Admittedly, some of these parts/series have limited application outside of their intended use. But if they can fulfill their intended use while freeing up part count for other more specialized designs and uses; I consider that a net-win.

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*In-depth reply*

I see, I didn't realize all those parts were integrated. Going by the pics in the OP they all appeared to be standalone parts. Thanks for the detailed reply :)

I'll be looking forward to trying this out!

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I see, I didn't realize all those parts were integrated. Going by the pics in the OP they all appeared to be standalone parts. Thanks for the detailed reply :)

I'll be looking forward to trying this out!

Yeah, I'm not sure about you, but my computer is a tad bit garbage, and I still even get a pretty good framerate using these parts! They really do work! :P

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More dev updates:

Concept development shots:

Leg-slot module - RTG + Battery combo - geometry done, basic AO bake diffuse texture shown (no colors or actual texture work done on it yet).

FkaoAvh.png

Optional external paneling - early concept render; geometry is not finished, and there is no texturing yet; just figuring out how things will fit and if it will look good at all.

Any thoughts? Should I include an optional mesh-switch variant for paneling?

xvxDZhH.png

And the most exciting bit... (for me anyway..)...

Early concept work on a 'skycrane' module. These will be half-height sections with deployable engines. So you could mount these above a payload, use them to drop rovers, whatever. They will be of the same width/length as the other fuel-sections, so they should look okay while in use. These will also include some small'ish fuel tanks for some integrated fuel capacity (to take up whatever space is not being used by the engines).

This is a -very- early concept... I'm still working out how things will fit, how they will be animated, etc. The current geometry will -not- be used (aside from the engines), I am just slapping bits together at the moment to see what looks good; will be reworking the geometry after I figure out what it should look like/what the mechanics will be for the animation.

FazvdX9.png

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Thanks for the support guys.

I'm looking to get a final(?) private testing release out sometime this weekend after I clean up/finish up a few things (models/plugins) and do another balancing pass.

If all goes well I -might- be able to have public beta testing releases available in a week or two (will be waiting until I return from vacation, so 24th or so). Initial public test releases will have unfinished textures for many parts (texturing takes me forever). There are also a few planned parts that will not be in the initial releases (as they are only in the planning stage; trying to hold off on starting any new stuff until the existing parts are finished or at least released).

For the testers:

How do you guys feel about the current mass/fuel balancing on the lander parts? Do they work out well enough for designs you have attempted?

I'm thinking about increasing the base mass for all the command pods slightly (they have a lot of integrated stuff that must be accounted for), at the same time I would 'correct' the mass ratios on the fuel tanks. Currently they are using the same 85% fuel ratio as stock tanks; however, they have less wasted space compared to a stock cylindrical tank, so I will probably be increasing them to a 95%+ fuel ratio with an additional static/preset dry-mass for the structure.

So tank mass would be:

set mass for structure for that size (more for larger tanks)

5% of 'potential fuel' (by volume) will be used as dry mass for the tank skins/etc. (at 1m^3 of fuel = 1t)

the remaining 95% of potential fuel will be actual fuel.

Edit:

Alternatively, I have considered setting them up as if they were a solid tank and ignoring the actual geometry of the model; this would remove the rift/gap between the fuel sections and the cargo sections regarding capacity. I would take the volume of the frame (as if it was solid), and use the standard stock 85% fuel/mass ratio.

Will have to do some testing on my part-setup spreadsheets to see how these changes would effect the overall balance. Trying to make things easily usable without making them blatantly overpowered.

Edited by Shadowmage

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Oh! Sorry I've been so sidetracked lately!

I really like thos new two modules for the LC parts! Very nice! And the skycrane as well.

As for the fuel weights, you said something about just making the values to match the stock balancing system. Honestly, balancing it against stock usually works pretty well, so you should do the 85% one!

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I like the lander parts.

The procedural adapter fairing needs to have a freescale-able size range, though.

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I like the lander parts.

The procedural adapter fairing needs to have a freescale-able size range, though.

Aye, I need to do a good usability pass over the plugin stuff. Many variables that could be exposed to tweaking, and more that could use more adjustment options / cleaner description of available options. So, yes; expect them to get slider-based scaling in the near future -- if I can do it without using KSPAPIE as a dependency.... cannot bundle any external plugins, and don't really want to re-invent the wheel - so I guess it depends on if it is available in stock or not; if it is not available in stock, then don't expect me to implement it. Mostly I'm unwilling to do any extensive GUI work until after KSP 1.1 with Unity 5 and the new GUI systems that are accompanying it.

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Just a FYI on the SSTU_ShipCore_A_LMD you have the ModuleLandingLeg 4x you just need it once as it's calling the samething was getting it 4x in the menu took 3 out and all good.

EDIT- O And you put MJ part on some of the craft files :( I delete MJ parts and just use MM to add it to parts.

Edited by Mecripp2

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Just a FYI on the SSTU_ShipCore_A_LMD you have the ModuleLandingLeg 4x you just need it once as it's calling the samething was getting it 4x in the menu took 3 out and all good.

The 4x modules are needed for it to properly work the suspension transforms for the landing legs; with only a single module, the legs will not work properly; only one leg will have suspension. This is a limitation of the stock ModuleLandingLeg (and why I have started coding custom plugins for everything).

The Series-A parts will be removed in a near-future update, so no real worries on it. I haven't setup a repository/storage area for 'archived' stuff yet, so have just left it in my dev setup for the time being. Expect those parts to disappear with likely the next dev test release.

Anyhow..heading out camping for the next few days. Will likely have an updated test release when I return; Sunday or Monday seems probably.

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Anyhow..heading out camping for the next few days. Will likely have an updated test release when I return; Sunday or Monday seems probably.

Ah, well take your time and have fun!

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The 4x modules are needed for it to properly work the suspension transforms for the landing legs; with only a single module, the legs will not work properly; only one leg will have suspension. This is a limitation of the stock ModuleLandingLeg (and why I have started coding custom plugins for everything).

The Series-A parts will be removed in a near-future update, so no real worries on it. I haven't setup a repository/storage area for 'archived' stuff yet, so have just left it in my dev setup for the time being. Expect those parts to disappear with likely the next dev test release.

Anyhow..heading out camping for the next few days. Will likely have an updated test release when I return; Sunday or Monday seems probably.

Have fun!

Also have you considered re-doing Series A?

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Have fun!

Also have you considered re-doing Series A?

Thanks :)

Yes, I will likely redo the series A, at least the CM and SM. As to when... not really sure; have a few things in the pipeline already that need finishing. Not in a huge rush to re-do them though, as stock parts already fill the intended purposes (2.5m 3-man pod) well enough (aside from part count).

Will be back on Sunday and return to working on cleaning up the plugin end of things in prep for the first public test release. Hopefully will have everything ready by the end of Aug. At least that is the 'plan' so far; things may take longer than that, and I tend to get distracted by other projects on occasion.

Will leave you all with this teaser:

(didn't want to get too involved this week, so decided to bash out a part that I've been wanting to get done for awhile; only took 2 1/2 days for modeling and texturing... very fast for me)

KJOthfJ.png

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Similar, but as I play with New Horizons, I need a craft with approx. 4km/s to go to the Mun and back, which basically requires the Dune Explorer from Scott Manley's videos!

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God, I was looking for this thread all damn day. Beautiful landers and the ICPS Upper Stage looks gorgeous! Can't wait to pair it with Sumghai's SDHI.

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Is it by chance similar to Altair? :P
Indeed! But the landers are actually based on Altair's precursor, the LSAM.

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