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I propose two edits to help with docking:

  1. Make the intercept markers red when within 10km, yellow when in 5km, and green when in 1km.
  2. When within 10m of targeted docking port, there should be an option to auto-dock.

That would really help save a LOT of time, since I have to constantly mess with the maneuver node, then hover over the intercept, then repeat to get the intercept right. Plus, the autodock would save HOURS of wasted time.

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How would it save hours of time spent in the last 10m of docking? If both ports are vaguely facing each other then they just need to come close enough for the magnetic attraction to take over and automatically finish the docking for you. In other words, there already is an 'autodock' mechanism, it's just in the last .5m or so.

And the method you described is basically how I dock too, I dunno how to do it much more efficiently. Also, I understand the rough idea of making the markers colored differently for getting closer, but I don't personally think it would help. It's easy enough just to watch the numbers tick down.

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I basically want to shamelessly advertize Docking Port Alignment Indicator mod.

1. make sure target vehicle is on SAS in Normal/Antinormal, then

2. align ports face in same direction by moving brown circle in the middle with WASD (whilst SAS is disabled)

3. align ports also roll at same angle by moving brown slash above with QE

4. align vehicle against target by moving green cross in middle of white cross with IJKL (RCS on, SAS on)

5. push slightly forward at rate between 0.3 - 1 m/s with HN (RCS on, SAS on).

Docked!

On the average, usual docking requires 10-20 monopropelant units.

 

Edited by Kerbal101
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17 minutes ago, Maximus97 said:

How would it save hours of time spent in the last 10m of docking? If both ports are vaguely facing each other then they just need to come close enough for the magnetic attraction to take over and automatically finish the docking for you. In other words, there already is an 'autodock' mechanism, it's just in the last .5m or so.

Yes, but for inexperienced dockers would come in at the wrong angle, not enough for capture. Happens to me all the time.

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All it takes is some practice. I used to abhor docking, but the one thing you have to remember is that it's nothing like flying a plane. You want to use stop-and-go movements for all your transitions, don't try and get fancy. It'll just cost more monopropellant. Once you line up the CoM of the craft you're piloting with the docking port, then just point and shoot (gently, gently).

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15 minutes ago, Kerbal101 said:

I basically want to shamelessly advertize Docking Port Alignment Indicator mod.

1. make sure target vehicle is on SAS in Normal/Antinormal, then

2. align ports face in same direction by moving brown circle in the middle with WASD (whilst SAS is disabled)

3. align ports also roll at same angle by moving brown slash above with QE

4. align vehicle against target by moving green cross in middle of white cross with IJKL (RCS on, SAS on)

5. push slightly forward at rate between 0.3 - 1 m/s with HN (RCS on, SAS on).

Docked!

On the average, usual docking requires 10-20 monopropelant units.

 

I use the mod. pretty useless actually, it is built into the docking mode thing in the bottom left.

1 minute ago, Maximus97 said:

All it takes is some practice. I used to abhor docking, but the one thing you have to remember is that it's nothing like flying a plane. You want to use stop-and-go movements for all your transitions, don't try and get fancy. It'll just cost more monopropellant. Once you line up the CoM of the craft you're piloting with the docking port, then just point and shoot (gently, gently).

true. I hated docking too, but now it's an everyday thing. but it's still a struggle sometimes. :(

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16 minutes ago, KSP Bros said:

I use the mod. pretty useless actually, it is built into the docking mode thing in the bottom left.

true. I hated docking too, but now it's an everyday thing. but it's still a struggle sometimes. :(

Then you are using it improperly. Docking using DPAI and stock is like night and day. Its impossible to align with same precision in vanilla due to perspective skew.

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12 minutes ago, Kerbal101 said:

Then you are using it improperly. Docking using DPAI and stock is like night and day. Its impossible to align with same precision in vanilla due to perspective skew.

I never actually use it anyways.

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17 minutes ago, KSP Bros said:

I never actually use it anyways.

I can dock 2M size fuel train, made of Jumbo64's, using just medium ports, to the station of same size as train, reversed, at night - as easy as 1.2.3.
Algorithm is above.

Without following algorithm, DPAI is useless, because one does not understand what each step/indicator in that GUI means.

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16 hours ago, KSP Bros said:

Yes, but for inexperienced dockers would come in at the wrong angle, not enough for capture. Happens to me all the time.

Getting the right angle is challenging, but that challenge is a big part of what makes docking so satisfying.

Rather than removing a difficult element of the game completely, maybe we should be asking for a docking orientation indicator on the navball, so you can see what the right angle is more easily. Luckily there's already a mod for that.

 

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Stock could need better indicators for docking, but no auto-dock feature.

With about 0m/s relative velocity within 10m range, is there still a chance to screw up the docking massively after you got this far?

Stock docking is fairly "simple" with some practice and experience since it's part of the early learning stage....

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The biggest way to improve docking would be for the SAS hold Target and Anti-Target buttons not to disappear when the speed drops too low.  Prograde and Retrograde options disappearing make sense but whether or not the nose is pointing towards the target has nothing to do with speed.

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17 hours ago, Maximus97 said:

It's easy enough just to watch the numbers tick down.

Well, it would be if you could see the number without having to keep your mouse over the thing. (This seems to be one of the interface quirks that's getting retooled for 1.1, FWIW)

18 hours ago, KSP Bros said:
  1. When within 10m of targeted docking port, there should be an option to auto-dock.

 

MAYBE if you have an extremely high-ranked Pilot (like 4-5 stars), AND have docked before a certain number of times. But having an auto-docker that newbies can use instead of learning how to dock would remove one of the most satisfying challenges from the game. (Go check out the KSP subreddit sometime, and see how many of the posts are "This isn't much, but I just docked two things and I'm SO PROUD". A widely available autodock would rob people of that sense of accomplishment.)

We could certainly use a better UI for docking (more or less what Docking Alignment mod does).

Edited by StarManta
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17 hours ago, Sequinox said:

Speaking of rendezvous, it would be nice if the intercept node didn't jump around the orbit path so much.

You can set up maneuver node in timewarp. That puts you on rails which helps a lot. There might be a jump when you leave timewarp, but small enough to be corrected with bit of rcs work.

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Since people are finding docking difficult, here's a 12 step fool proof guide to basic docking:

1. Set your target and your control surface. During the following steps update it as often as you can, set the docking port as the target via the right click menu. Set yourself to control the craft from the docking port.

2. Intercept the target orbit with your own.

3. Achieve proper inclination by burning at ascending and descending nodes. Try to have the nodes come to rest at apoapsis and periapsis. 

4. Burn to match the periapsis.

5. Burn to match the apoapsis. Generally also pay attention to the intercept. Get it to be within say 200km or so. Make your orbit slightly larger if you're arriving ahead of the intercept point and vice-versa if you're coming in behind it. Maneuver nodes may help with planning before committing to a burn.

6. Set your nav ball to 'target' mode. This can be accomplished by clicking the 'orbit'/'surface' velocity display at its top.

7. While keeping an eye on the intercept distance, burn using the nav ball indicators to close the intercept gap. The prograde and retrograde indicators represent your velocity vectors relative to the craft. The pink indicators represent the direction in a straight line to and away from the target. Align these indicators through burns. Burning moves the prograde indicator towards your heading and the retrograde away from your heading.

8. As you begin to approach the craft take note of the velocity bar (marked 'Target'). This is your speed relative to the craft. It is always a positive number, and moving away from the target will be represented by the retrograde indicator over the target icon on the nav ball.

9. As you near the target reduce your relative velocity, generally having it be no more than 1/10th of the distance. Within the last ten metres, zero your relative velocity, using only your RCS to maneuver.

10. Orientate your craft so that its orientation matches that of the port, i.e. the craft is orientated the same as a straight line that would be projected out of the docking port.

11. Using RCS and without rotating, align the center of the nav ball with the target indicator. Do so by using horizontal and vertical RCS (J, K, L, I) to manipulate your prograde indicator such that the target indicator is directly between and equidistant from the prograde indicator and nav ball center. Continue until both icons line up over the center, you are now aligned. At near zero relative velocities, it is sometimes difficult to see the prograde indicator; if you cannot see the prograde indicator, add a little forward RCS (H) until it comes into view. If you find yourself getting too close to the docking port unaligned, apply reverse RCS (N), until the prograde vector is visible. Orientate the prograde vector so that the nav ball center is directly between the vector and target indicator. Once aligned or at 10 meters, apply forward RCS and attempt docking again.

12) At distances <1m, the docking ports will pull together and attempt to align themselves. You may attempt to rotate it translate your craft as necessary to aid docking. When the vessel view shifts to show both craft, docking is complete.

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12 minutes ago, LorenLuke said:

3. Achieve proper inclination by burning at ascending and descending nodes. Try to have the nodes come to rest at apoapsis and periapsis. 

4. Burn to match the periapsis.

5. Burn to match the apoapsis. Generally also pay attention to the intercept. Get it to be within say 200km or so. Make your orbit slightly larger if you're arriving ahead of the intercept point and vice-versa if you're coming in behind it. Maneuver nodes may help with planning before committing to a burn.

Your instructions are solid and ought to help anyone trying to learn to dock.

In fact, in my experience, steps #6-12 work well even if you replace the above steps with "get any closest approach within 1km". Your inclination, apoapsis, and periapsis will take care of themselves during approach as you slow your target-relative speed and nudge your retrograde vector onto the reverse-target vector. Even a high-velocity approach can be handled relatively safely, since you can always push the time to rendezvous out a little further by burning target-retrograde; I typically do this when it gets down to around 45 seconds.

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2 hours ago, Octa said:

Stock could need better indicators for docking, but no auto-dock feature.

With about 0m/s relative velocity within 10m range, is there still a chance to screw up the docking massively after you got this far?

Stock docking is fairly "simple" with some practice and experience since it's part of the early learning stage....

Yes, but when I get it wrong, I am an inch away and nothing happens because of my angle.

2 hours ago, RizzoTheRat said:

The biggest way to improve docking would be for the SAS hold Target and Anti-Target buttons not to disappear when the speed drops too low.  Prograde and Retrograde options disappearing make sense but whether or not the nose is pointing towards the target has nothing to do with speed.

yes.

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@LorenLuke You mixed rendezvous together with docking, which you described in only one (11) paragraph, and that vaguely.

5 hours ago, LorenLuke said:

10. Orientate your craft so that its orientation matches that of the port, i.e. the craft is orientated the same as a straight line that would be projected out of the docking port.

11. Using RCS and without rotating, align the center of the nav ball with the target indicator. Do so by using horizontal and vertical RCS (J, K, L, I) to manipulate your prograde indicator such that the target indicator is directly between and equidistant from the prograde indicator and nav ball center. Continue until both icons line up over the center, you are now aligned. At near zero relative velocities, it is sometimes difficult to see the prograde indicator; if you cannot see the prograde indicator, add a little forward RCS (H) until it comes into view. If you find yourself getting too close to the docking port unaligned, apply reverse RCS (N), until the prograde vector is visible. Orientate the prograde vector so that the nav ball center is directly between the vector and target indicator. Once aligned or at 10 meters, apply forward RCS and attempt docking again.

12) At distances <1m, the docking ports will pull together and attempt to align themselves. You may attempt to rotate it translate your craft as necessary to aid docking. When the vessel view shifts to show both craft, docking is complete.

This method burns through a lot of RCS.

The prograde/retrograde indicators are useless within 50 meters, because game tends to simply drop current target switchin back to "orbit" - which should be bug. Does not happen in Nav mode (N). For this reason alone I prefer to do rendezvous relying just on the Navball.

 

The best achievable method of docking is to align the ports and then vehicles by going into Locked camera mode (v) which locks the viewport relative to the vehicle.

However, since there are no visual indicators of port orientation whatsoever, larger vehicles will already experience problems. The only help I know of, is to dock during the "day" and to lock target into SAS at Normal or Antinormal, which minimizes the target port rotation.

Still, using DPAI over Vanilla is like night and day. Due to the available precision even when ports are locked-in in magnetic forces, its very easy to see exactly whats going on and maintain correct orientation - which results in zero incorrect attempts.Here is a 2 minute video explaining the DPAI algorithm:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaqCmnUfdzI

Edited by Kerbal101
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36 minutes ago, LorenLuke said:

I didn't know you could dock without a rendezvous.

Hm, but of course. Space station can be launched into low orbit as a whole, then "orbital worker" can undock, re-arrange (re-dock) fuel cans, help engineers with EVA assembly (if KAS installed).
Rendezvous does not necessary include docking and is more about orbital mechanics. Docking is about aligning the ports together in monopropellant- and time-efficient manner. =)

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On 3/8/2016 at 2:10 PM, Maximus97 said:

All it takes is some practice.

Ship: [drifts silently]

RCS jets: fsssssshhhhhh

Ship: [drifts silently]

Docking clamp: KACHUNK

Wife: Wait, what was that?

Me: Docking.

Wife: Docking? The thing that used to take you like hours?

Me: Yeah.

Wife: Wow, you have gotten better at this.

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5 hours ago, AbacusWizard said:

Ship: [drifts silently]

RCS jets: fsssssshhhhhh

Ship: [drifts silently]

Docking clamp: KACHUNK

Wife: Wait, what was that?

Me: Docking.

Wife: Docking? The thing that used to take you like hours?

Me: Yeah.

Wife: Wow, you have gotten better at this.

Remembers me of my girlfirend. She's not not very interested in KSP....ok...not interested at all. But when i docked my the of the 12 orange tanks on my fuel station (no RCS on the tank, only on the tug, so it was VERY unbalanced and hard to control), we both sat in front of my monitor and watched the docking. Such an intense moment. So suspense. Much cheer when i finally docked it.

"Honey, i docked a few times, now i will dock 12 times in a row and try not to mess up!

"Jesus....."

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