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barfing_skull

Electricity exhaustion and dead ship

Question

This isn't a typical "why did my ship run out of power?" question.  I know why it ran out of power, but I'm wondering about recovery from this situation.....

The problem is, I have, at times, on my craft greater consumption than I do production.  Which is fine until it hits 0.  My question is, when this happens why can't I turn off the power-consuming components to breathe new life into the craft?  You can't do ANYTHING to the craft, really, which might make sense if there was no power production, but I'm a bit baffled at the inability to turn off consumption in the zero-power state.  Is this a conscious design condition?

 

Yes, I can stick extra batteries on there and halt their usage, then re-enable them if I run out, but this is problematic in this scenario because I'm using the standalone Alcubierre drive mod, and that draws 10,000 Ec/sec.  My production is a little over 2,000 Ec/sec.  I can also carry capacitors, but when in the zero-power state, I can't even discharge those.

I don't think this is mod-related, as it seems to be a general feature of the game that nothing can happen in the zero-power state.  Correct me if I'm off base here.

 

Cheers,

-BS

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It's not quite true that nothing can happen in zero-power state.  For example, you can still enable/disable resource containers (such as batteries).  However, from your post above, it's clear that you already know that.  :)

Other than that, though... yeah, dead is pretty much dead.  I don't think Squad's likely to "fix" that, either-- clearly they regard it as a feature, not a bug (otherwise, why would they have coded it that way?), and I'm inclined to agree with them.  (Actually, the fact that there are some things you can do, like enabling a reserve battery, seems like a bug to me.)

The whole point is, if there's no power to run the computer that's running the ship (i.e. the probe core), then it can't send any commands to the rest of the ship to turn anything off.  That's a real problem that NASA has to contend with, so why not you?  ;)

Now, what would be nice would be if the heavy-duty power consumers could be configured to automatically turn themselves off if they run out of electricity, so that your ship could recover automatically that way.  But that's not a game feature, that's a feature of the individual parts, and it sounds like those are parts from a mod, in your case.  So the way to fix that would be to get the mod author to add that as a feature.

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4 minutes ago, Snark said:

It's not quite true that nothing can happen in zero-power state.  For example, you can still enable/disable resource containers (such as batteries).  However, from your post above, it's clear that you already know that.  :)

Other than that, though... yeah, dead is pretty much dead.  I don't think Squad's likely to "fix" that, either-- clearly they regard it as a feature, not a bug (otherwise, why would they have coded it that way?), and I'm inclined to agree with them.  (Actually, the fact that there are some things you can do, like enabling a reserve battery, seems like a bug to me.)

The whole point is, if there's no power to run the computer that's running the ship (i.e. the probe core), then it can't send any commands to the rest of the ship to turn anything off.  That's a real problem that NASA has to contend with, so why not you?  ;)

Now, what would be nice would be if the heavy-duty power consumers could be configured to automatically turn themselves off if they run out of electricity, so that your ship could recover automatically that way.  But that's not a game feature, that's a feature of the individual parts, and it sounds like those are parts from a mod, in your case.  So the way to fix that would be to get the mod author to add that as a feature.

I think I agree with the above when there's no power production, that would absolutely make sense that everything is dead and you're SOL.  But even a sufficient trickle would seem to be able to run a probe core.  Maybe there needs to be some sort of facility for power prioritization?  I don't immediately see a mod for that poking through CKAN.

I think I've seen cases where things like ion engines would just pulse or lose thrust to match the power production when stored Ec ran out.  I wonder if it's the huge draw of this particular part that's causing some sort of race condition that the consumer is winning.

It would be nice if the modded part had the ability to run at a slower pace.  It does have an indicator of the load percentage it's using, but it would also be nice to be able to cap that percentage.  I don't have one up right now, but I don't think that ISRU's can do that either?

I wonder if the mod part that's filling its exotic matter is still filling it up when in the zero power state, given the power draw.  Maybe it would come alive again after it filled up and the consumption went away?  I'll have to try that....yep, it fills up the resource and power returns.  I'm favouring the race condition hypothesis with this huge power draw part.

Cheers,

-BS

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10 minutes ago, barfing_skull said:

But even a sufficient trickle would seem to be able to run a probe core.  Maybe there needs to be some sort of facility for power prioritization?

Yeah, that's a good point, feels like a hole in the game.  If there are multiple contenders for electricity, then the probe core really should get priority over everything else.

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I agree that you should be able to turn things off, and have run into the same problem with my early SCANsats. Fired up a heavier duty scanner with only surface panels, and it ran out.

Interestingly enough, the trickle of power was still enough to run the probe and reaction wheels, but not enough to turn off the scanner.

As a workaround, this is exactly what cheat menus are for. Turn on infinite EC, switch off the power hog, and turn infinite EC back off. Since you're actually just using a workaround for a feature that should be possible in the first place, it's not cheating

Edited by Sir_Robert

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I ran out of juice on the night side a while back while trying to construct a fuel tanker.

It was time against distance. Mano a mano. Man to man...

 

And, when the Sun finally emerges over the horizon.. Son of A!!!

 

nGXe4Lh.png?1

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On 12.2.2016 at 11:13 PM, barfing_skull said:

I think I've seen cases where things like ion engines would just pulse or lose thrust to match the power production when stored Ec ran out.  I wonder if it's the huge draw of this particular part that's causing some sort of race condition that the consumer is winning.

In stock KSP, an electric engine will indeed lose thrust when it only receives a partial input of power, but it won't throttle itself. What actually happens is a super high frequency flickering of the on/off state. The engine tries to run at the preset throttle level, consumes all available power, discovers a lack of Ec, flames out, discovers that Ec is once again present (since there is active generation), and reactivates itself at the preset throttle level. All in the same physics frame. Then the game steps into the next frame, and the process repeats.

There exist the following solutions to this problem:
- Having a manned control pod maintains control even without Ec present. NOTE: Many modded control pods like to add probe features into manned control pods, so that even scientists and engineers can enjoy some computer-aided SAS. Unfortunately, for the purposes of KSP, what actually happens is the opposite. Such pods are not considered crew pods with SAS, but rather probe cores with crew capacity, and will behave exactly like probe cores when losing power, regardless of the amount of crew present. Which technically is realistic, since well, if your fly-by-wire system goes offline...
- Giving the engine a non-instant throttle response, like a jet engine has. Basically any non-instant value works; it can be really tiny. All it needs to do is ensure that the engine cannot fully throttle up in the span of the same physics frame in which it switched itself off and back on again. That will give you a tiny window of opportunity in which your Ec production potentially remains higher than the engine's consumption, since the engine is still spooling up. You might have control during that tiny window, and hammering x might let you zero out the throttle.
- Installing MechJeb, which nowadays comes with the ability to auto-throttle electric engines when the craft's Ec storage approaches zero. It'll even throttle the engines back up for you if the Ec storage recovers.
- And, of course, the old wisdom of having a deactivated backup battery that'll allow you to at least gain control for a second or two so you can zero out the throttle. Probe core batteries are great for this in stock KSP, though modded electric engines may have much higher Ec consumption than the Dawn ion engine.

Now, the Alcubierre drive is probably not an engine, but rather a miscellaneous consumer. It doesn't have a throttle, so neither MechJeb nor throttle response tweaks will help you with it. The only solutions are providing enough Ec, or ensuring that your craft remains controllable even when bone dry.

 

Edited by Streetwind

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On most of my ship, I always lock the small batteries in pods and probe cores so I always have a safety. Those bats should be enough to let me shutdown other parts.

But, it's quite strange that you can't disable research/refinery when you don't have any power left. It's only a switch or a cable to cut...

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On 12.2.2016 at 11:58 PM, Snark said:

The whole point is, if there's no power to run the computer that's running the ship (i.e. the probe core), then it can't send any commands to the rest of the ship to turn anything off.  That's a real problem that NASA has to contend with, so why not you?  ;)

Every real "probe core" have protection measures against such problems. If they detect that there will be emergency situation, for example battery charge becomes too low, they interrupt all scientific observations, turn off all devices but necessary avionics and communication equipment, rotate itself to an attitude where solar panels get power and communications to Earths is possible and enter into safe mode until mission control resets them and begin to investigate situation. I think that it should be default function on KSP cores too. It would be relatively easy to program (except attitude changes if ship is not active). Game could halt possible timewarp and show a message in such situation.

But I think that SQUAD has another opinion. It is possible and relatively easy to use safety battery or "cheat" by editing save file.

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