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Corovaneer

Narrow band resource scanner - what for?

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I have a question and maybe a mod idea.

What is the point of stock narrow band scanner (the hexagonal thing) if it does not work on a planet without prior sweep by the big M700 scanner?

1) What sense does it make mechanics-wise? It's a scanner or it isn't?

2) What's the point of bringing one at all, if you already have the data from M700, and can see ore-rich areas? If you oh so wish to win few hours over few days of mining by moving to especially rich vein - there's surface detector for that.

Won't it be a better idea to have two scanners different in mass and size, with different capabilities? Trading smaller size for data limited to area directly below your ship, compared to instant whole-planet scan by the big bulky polar scanner?

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6 hours ago, Corovaneer said:

I have a question and maybe a mod idea.

What is the point of stock narrow band scanner (the hexagonal thing) if it does not work on a planet without prior sweep by the big M700 scanner?

1) What sense does it make mechanics-wise? It's a scanner or it isn't?

2) What's the point of bringing one at all, if you already have the data from M700, and can see ore-rich areas? If you oh so wish to win few hours over few days of mining by moving to especially rich vein - there's surface detector for that.

Won't it be a better idea to have two scanners different in mass and size, with different capabilities? Trading smaller size for data limited to area directly below your ship, compared to instant whole-planet scan by the big bulky polar scanner?

I wrote a tutorial on how to use the various stock and mod ore scanners.  There's a link in my sig.

But long story short, in stock, the key thing to understand is that Ore concentrations are tied to biomes.  Within a given biome, the amount of Ore varies slightly with terrain elevation but not that much.  The goal, therefore, is to determine which biomes have the best USABLE Ore.  Often the biomes with the highest values are impractical to use (such as mountains and poles).  So what you're usually looking for is the biome with the 2nd- or 3rd-best Ore concentration because that's what you usually find in the flatter biomes close to the equator.

The M700 tells you NOTHING about any of this, however.  It is intentionally vague.  The areas that look good on its overlay usually contain several biomes (unless the planet only has 2 or 3 in total anyway).  Thus, an area that looks good on the overlay simply contains more biomes with relatively high Ore concentrations than areas that look bad.  However, this is all averaged.  Thus, small spots of good biomes can be drowned out if surrounded by large area of bad biomes.  OTOH, several adjacent mediocre biomes can appear as a good location.

To actually start learning about biomes, you need a biome map.  Sadly, this is only available in stock with the ALT-F12 cheat menu.  But until you know where the biome boundaries are, you can't make much sense out of what the M700 is say, nor make good decisions about where to send the Surface Scanner and NBS.  Depending on the number of biomes on the planet, you can infer a fair amount from comparing the M700's overlay to the biome map overlay.

Anyway, your next step is to drop Surface Scanners onto the planet in the areas that look good in the M700 overlay.  These should be on rovers or landers with enough fuel to hop around several times because you need to sample all biomes in the "good" area (consulting the biome map overlay to know where they are).  Doing Surface Scans is just as essential for NBS use later as is doing the M700's initial survey.  The Surface Scanner tells you the average Ore value of the biome it's in, plus the exact Ore amount at that specific spot within the biome.  So after sampling several biomes, you'll know which ones are good and which are bad.

At this point, you look at the biome map overlay again to find areas of reasonably good biomes in tolerably flat terrain fairly close to the equator.  Those are your potential base locations.  Now you have to investigate these to make sure they're really flat enough for your base, and if there's a lot of flatness, use the NBS to find the highest Ore concentration within the target area.  But the NBS will only show you its full data if you've already done both the M700 survey and also the Surface Scanner in that area.  Discontiguous areas of the same biome each have to be Surface Scanned individually for the NBS to work correctly.

Therefore, at this point, it's best to have a rover with both the Surface Scanner and the NBS.  The Surface Scanner makes the NBS work, and the display of the NBS will show you a map with the exact Ore concentrations as they vary within the biome by altitude  So use the NBS display to see where the best Ore in the flattest terrain is relative to your rover, then drive there and use the Surface Scanner to tell you when you've arrived.  Then mark that spot, either with a flag (if this is a crewed rover) or the rover itself (if it's a probe).  This gives you a target to aim at when you're landing the mining base.

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12 minutes ago, Corovaneer said:

I have a question and maybe a mod idea.

What is the point of stock narrow band scanner (the hexagonal thing) if it does not work on a planet without prior sweep by the big M700 scanner?

1) What sense does it make mechanics-wise? It's a scanner or it isn't?

2) What's the point of bringing one at all, if you already have the data from M700, and can see ore-rich areas? If you oh so wish to win few hours over few days of mining by moving to especially rich vein - there's surface detector for that.

Won't it be a better idea to have two scanners different in mass and size, with different capabilities? Trading smaller size for data limited to area directly below your ship, compared to instant whole-planet scan by the big bulky polar scanner?

The global scan tells you kinda where to expect ore. You can actually go over a big swath of deep pink (or whatever color you use) with the narrow scanner and find that in fact the concentration there is garbage. This is because (as an example) there are 2 good areas just north and south of the area that looks good on the map, so the global scan combined them into a blob. Likewise, those two good areas may appear lesser on the big map because they are bordered by low concentration areas, making the average concentration poor.

Of course, without a stock way to drop waypoints based on what you find, the scanner itself has limited utility. But with Waypoint Manager it's a nice way to pinpoint great areas before even going down.

The surface module, IMO, is just to make sure that you landed in a good spot. It's better for prospector probes that land first and hop around looking for the best place. I don't really even know if its strictly needed.

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I've never landed into a completely empty area which looked good from orbit, using M700 data. Sure it might not be the absolute best in the vicinity, but usually it does not matter.

On the other hand, bringing M700 over is a nasty 2.5m business, while narrow band scanner fits nicely under a 1m fairing "radome". I can easily fit it in an spaceplane.

The size alone makes difference for layout of rocket, and rocket layout makes for a completely different mission. But having one dependent on the other kinda makes the choice pointless, because you're forced to always bring the big one first.

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7 minutes ago, Corovaneer said:

The size alone makes difference for layout of rocket, and rocket layout makes for a completely different mission. But having one dependent on the other kinda makes the choice pointless, because you're forced to always bring the big one first.

I don't think they want you to have a choice. What you're supposed to do is bring the big one and get it into a polar orbit, and then use the smaller one to find a spot (usually on the Equator. There are too many good reasons to stick near there). These two tasks are inherently different AND tied together, making for a more difficult and (presumably) rewarding experience.

If you could use the narrow one by itself, nobody would ever use the big one. That would make the game easier but the gameplay less... something. Deep? That doesn't sound like the right word but it's what they were going for.

The above said, I agree with the decision. ISRU is already a free ticket to Easy Town, no sense making it easier to get started.

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If you could use the narrow one by itself, nobody would ever use the big one. That would make the game easier but the gameplay less... something. Deep? That doesn't sound like the right word but it's what they were going for.

Not necessarily. Narrow band scanner offers you a display to look at - and you can limit all the information you get to that display. You get to know what is directly below your ship - but this data is not stored in the tracking station or the map view. So you can figure a decent spot along your orbit, say, "this crater looks better than the area around it" - but you still don't know how good the spot is compared to rest of the planet. And you would have to scan again if you play tomorrow, simply because you would forget what's where.

If I would like to establish a permanent refueling station - I would still bring M700 - but if I need an emergency resupply for my mothership somewhere out in the Jool system or on Dres - it makes for a tough choice to take huge dish on every mission. At this point I would simply hope to find a decent spot with save/load if I really need some fuel, than to bring it.

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3 hours ago, Corovaneer said:

On the other hand, bringing M700 over is a nasty 2.5m business, while narrow band scanner fits nicely under a 1m fairing "radome".

Hm, I've never had a problem flying the M700 wherever I want on top of a 1.25m tank and a Terrier. 

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Couple of points:

- M700 on top of an ion engine can do multiple moons / planets with ease. They are definitely my most travelled craft in 1.0.5. Haven't got there in 1.1 yet.

- the basic ore overlay can be very deceptive. I generally use the green-to-red shading, and on several moons the red areas end up having less ore than the orange ones, probably because of a mix of biomes and a greater variability of ore in certain biomes which still give a good average as far as the M700 is concerned. Maybe being on medium difficulty skews the result. So if I don't have the means to check with the NBS first, I generally aim for the boundary between orange and red with a reasonable (20-30%) cutoff.

Edited by Plusck

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6 hours ago, Plusck said:

- the basic ore overlay can be very deceptive. I generally use the green-to-red shading, and on several moons the red areas end up having less ore than the orange ones, probably because of a mix of biomes and a greater variability of ore in certain biomes which still give a good average as far as the M700 is concerned. Maybe being on medium difficulty skews the result. So if I don't have the means to check with the NBS first, I generally aim for the boundary between orange and red with a reasonable (20-30%) cutoff.

The NBS can be used from (low) orbit.  However, unless you've already hit that area with a Surface Scanner, the NBS will only show average Ore values for the biome, not the actual value at any particular location.  This can be important due to the local variation of Ore within a biome.  If you site your mine based solely on NBS, you might well end up with less Ore than you expected to find there.

Remember, at most planets/moons, the best Ore is usually in the mountains and poles but you need flat terrain in proximity to the equator.  This means you'll be building your base on the best mediocre biome that meets these requirements.  "Mediocre" means 5-6% Ore on average, but the local variation with elevation can produce hotspots up to like 8% and coldspots down to like 3%.  That's a 50% swing possible in either direction, which makes a HUGE different in mining speed in these mediocre biomes, so it's definitely worth your while to avoid the coldspots and find the hotspots.  Which means it's quite risky to site your base judging only from an NBS overflight without first doing a Surface Scan there.

This is why I ALWAYS use the Surface Scanner and never use the NBS from orbit.  I put both on the same vehicle and use them as a team on the ground.  But really and truly, the NBS is more a convenience than a necessity.  It's possible (although time-consuming) to determine local variation with just the Surface Scanner by driving up and down hills with its right-click menu open, to determine how the Ore varies with terrain elevation.  Once I know that, I can eyeball the local terrain to spot the nearby hills and valleys and drive to them to verify my guesses and find the best locally available Ore.  I can also use the ALT=F12 biome overlay to show me the biome boundaries if I need to move to a different one.  Having the NBS takes the eyeball estimation out of it and also shows me biome boundaries without needing the ALT-F12 overlay.

All that said, however, I prefer to use SCANsat with its resource settings changed to disable stock scanning and several other possible tweaks (plus I can draw my own biome map instead of using the ALT-F12 overlay).  Then I can get very detailed info on local Ore concentrations from orbit (but only after completely mapping the planet instead of instantly).  However, the resolution is not so high that I can immediately build a mine based on the SCANSat map, so I still need to land rovers with both Surface Scanner and NBS to find the best base location.

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8 minutes ago, Geschosskopf said:

The NBS can be used from (low) orbit.  However, unless you've already hit that area with a Surface Scanner, the NBS will only show average Ore values for the biome, not the actual value at any particular location.  This can be important due to the local variation of Ore within a biome.  If you site your mine based solely on NBS, you might well end up with less Ore than you expected to find there.

Remember, at most planets/moons, the best Ore is usually in the mountains and poles but you need flat terrain in proximity to the equator.  This means you'll be building your base on the best mediocre biome that meets these requirements.  "Mediocre" means 5-6% Ore on average, but the local variation with elevation can produce hotspots up to like 8% and coldspots down to like 3%.  That's a 50% swing possible in either direction, which makes a HUGE different in mining speed in these mediocre biomes, so it's definitely worth your while to avoid the coldspots and find the hotspots.  Which means it's quite risky to site your base judging only from an NBS overflight without first doing a Surface Scan there.

This is why I ALWAYS use the Surface Scanner and never use the NBS from orbit.  I put both on the same vehicle ...

Absolutely agree. The problem is:

- I neglected to put an NBS on my mining vehicle,

- from low orbit, without cheating improving gameplay in a manner not immediately available to the casual user and using the biome overlay, it is extremely hard to see which bit of ground the NBS is pointing at. In fact it looks like it doesn't point to what is apparently directly underneath it on larger worlds,

- for some moons and planets, my mission fuel levels mean that I simply cannot afford to go down and wander around looking for hotspots - I need to land and get fuel based only on what I can see from orbit.

So under those circustances, the vague orbital scan is all you have to go on when deciding where to land the first time. And I'vebeen hugely disppointed several times by the concentration in the supposedly "red" (on a scale of green to red) areas.

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25 minutes ago, Plusck said:

So under those circustances, the vague orbital scan is all you have to go on when deciding where to land the first time. And I'vebeen hugely disppointed several times by the concentration in the supposedly "red" (on a scale of green to red) areas.

Well, hopefully you've learned your lesson and won't make these mistakes again :)  Send a recon mission first, which should include an orbital survey/mapping satellite and 2 or 3 rovers equipped with both Surface Scanner and NBS.  You drop these in several places around the planet to figure out what you've really go there and hopefully find a good base location.  Once you know this, THEN you design your base to work in those conditions and sent it out on the next window.

But anyway, I've never had a problem with the NBS.  It's just that it's got much higher resolution than the overlay display, and only shows a very small area of the surface, so it's often hard to compare what it shows to what you see in the overlay, and this gets worse the higher you are.  This is why I pretty much use it only on or very near the ground.

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