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Building a Mün/Minmus base


GwynJHawke
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My suggestions:

Test everything on Kerbin first. Nothing worse than getting everything on Mun and finding out that the docking ports are a quarter meter off.
Accept that things won't work even though you tested them on Kerbin. That way, if they do you'll be happy about it :) Different gravity means things can be slightly off. Usually you can get them to work anyway but be prepared for disappointment.
Use wheels, and sideways docking ports. Land nearby and drive the base together.
And Finally, look into the Kerbal Attachment/Inventory System mods. They make attaching landed structures much easier.
 

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2 hours ago, Aegolius13 said:

 I've found precision landings like this to be the hardest and most frustrating thing so far in KSP by a long shot, though I have not yet completely gotten the skill down.

Mechjeb has at app for that (if you like mods). Just make sure you pick your target to be a flag next to your base unless you want to land part of your base on top of another part (and probably melt the lower half) - MJ can land within a meter accuracy on Mun/Minmus. 

I would also check this link out:

It has got some really great ideas for making a base that you assemble on the surface of another world.

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Pinpoint landings are not too hard to do manually, with a bit of practice-- and as long as your definition of "pinpoint" allows for a couple of dozen meters of error.  :wink:

I've found that by far the most finicky and frustrating thing to do with linking together surface bases is trying to get the docking ports to line up.  Yes, there are techniques to do this, as some of the previous posters have linked to.  Personally, I've found those techniques to be finicky and unsatisfying:  either they involve building Rube Goldberg contraptions that offend my sense of design, or are really touchy and inconvenient to get to hook together, or both.  Apparently other folks are either better than I am at this, or have a higher frustration tolerance than I do, or both.  But for me, it's a total non-starter.

By far my preferred solution for base-building is to use Kerbal Attachment System, a.k.a. KAS.  Even if you don't use any of the other cool features in the mod, it has one part that I consider an absolute must for base-building:  a "connector port".  This is a small, light, radially-attachable part that you can put just about anywhere.  To use it, just land your two base components within a couple of dozen meters of each other, with a connector port on each one.  Send out a kerbal on EVA, right-click on one port, choose "Link"; walk over to the other port, right-click, choose "Link".  Presto, the two parts are now connected by a nice-looking "pipe" and are considered to be part of the same vessel, so you can do all the stuff you could if you had connected them with docking ports.  To disconnect, just send out an EVA kerbal, right-click on one of the ports, and choose "Unlink".

Simple, easy, intuitive, works like a charm, looks good, doesn't require any design contortions.  I wish like heck that this feature were stock.  Plus it gives my EVA kerbals something to do.  :)

 

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Well, you can just land numerous modules close by, each with their own propulsion...

You can make them rovers able to drive together and dock (suggestion: add action grouped gear to allow you to raise/lower one side or another of your craft) or you can connect them with mods

You could also make deployable rovers that don't have their own rocket propulsion like so:

07w3ToA.png

And there's your fuel depot, science lab, ISRU with 2 drills, power generation, and crew quarters. In the background is a monolithic 8 drill, 6 orange tank equivalent mining rig that serves as a fuel depot on demant for orbiting vessels. On the right is the mk3 dropship that can move the base, 1 module at a time, to a new location.

Its fully stock, but for more involved base building, you may want modded parts

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It depends on the purpose of the base. I mostly make bases for high performance mining. If that's what you are doing:

  • Land on the equator. I find this helps with takeoff and arrival.
  • The flats of Minmus are the most forgiving place to make your first base.
  • Send down a team to find the exact spot you want to put the base. Planting a flag, or leaving a rover in the location makes it easier to navigate to.
  • Build something useful with a single tower. If it's the only thing that lands, you've got something.
  • You should have a mental picture of the exact relative height relationship of the landing gear to the docking ports, so that they all match. Where they are on the base parts doesn't matter (provided they have ground clearance). It only matters where they are relative to each other.
  • While landing, ensure that your solar panels will be aligned to track E/W for max efficiency.
  • Don't forget cooling for ISRUs and Engineers for the drill. These have huge efficiency impacts. Extra battery and fuelcells are useful, but can always be added later.
  • Your two choices to connect things in stock are wheels or rockets. Recently, I use rockets. I have a short, squat, skycrane with wide-set rockets (so I don't scorch the towers underneath) with lots of RCS and reaction wheels so it can readily control the payload.

Here's my Mun Base.

 

 

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I would say strongly consider launching in one unit, if at all possible.  I've found precision landings like this to be the hardest and most frustrating thing so far in KSP by a long shot, though I have not yet completely gotten the skill down.  And that's without even trying to dock my base components with Clamp-O-Trons.  

That said, the components you mention are not that conducive to a single-launch base.  Putting them all in one stack would be too tall, attaching them radially would end up asymmetric.  Another option is to make a big log-shaped base (either on wheels or legs), and land it flat using radial engines or an aerospike mounted radially. I did that for an Ike base contract and it worked OK, though it required really careful engine balancing and fuel management to avoid thrust torque.  

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Yeah, bases in plain game are no go, unless you can land them in one piece. And presence of base enlarging contracts are one of biggest mysteries of KSP for me.

KAS is a krakenbait and IR just plain gamecrasher. I just given up on bases, but if you really want to try it, build on Minmus flats.
 

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Precision landing is like orbital rendezvous, if the main engine was constantly running at low throttle. Staying on course isn't too difficult and isn't very different from an orbital rendezvous, it's all about tracking the velocity vectors on the navball. The big challenge is added by gravity, you're constantly accelerating and gravity is also constantly curving your trajectory, it's obviously easier on Minmus than on the Mun. Building on Minmus flats as suggested above is an excellent suggestion, they are as flat as a parking lot.

I don't quite see how bases is a no go in vanilla KSP, you're basically just docking together a bunch of large rovers.

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Okay. First off, build it on Minmus before you try one on the Mun. It is much easier. Second: Standardize a docking port height. I typically use the large landing gear mounted on a horizontal 2 meter part. Third: Attach small rockets to each piece to that they can move around and dock. Fourth: If setting it up on Kerbin is too troubling, use subassemblies and assemble it in the VAB/SPH to test leg height and port height.

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19 hours ago, GwynJHawke said:

Ideally?  A crew quarters section, science lab section, ISRU section... three or four sections, ideally. 

I made something similar recently, using the methods 5thHorseman described.  Assembly on the ground is tricky, but one person's frustration is another's interesting challenge.  My standard height is that of a 1-meter fuselage on its side supported by LT-05 legs on its centerline, in Kerbin gravity.   I used octagonal struts as stiff (and non-exploding) legs for the central part, and let the docking ports grab as LT-05s lift the other sections off their wheels in moon gravity.  Each section has a probe core and landing rockets; the horizontal sections decouple their rockets before base assembly.someAssemblyRequired.jpg

Edited by OHara
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This project is frustrating. I built a good rover and tested it with moving tunnels, but discovered that it can't fit underneath/between the landing legs on a vertical 2.5m section (science lab, habitat, ISRU). I'm going to test whether or not I can attach wheels and turn those sections into trailers that I might be able to drag to and fro. I quite enjoy the challenge, I just wish the test phases were able to be conducted more quickly....

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If you're willing to use mods, I would suggest Simple Construction or (if you're really wanting to get complicated) Extra-Planetary Launch Pads.  These allow you to build ships anywhere in the solar system as long as you have the resources to do it.  I think this link says more.

However, if you want to do this the old fashioned and undoubtedly more fun/challenging way, I have a few suggestions:

  • Keep it simple: there's nothing worse than creating a super-complicated structure just to find out there's a part confliction. 
  • Standardize your height: What I normally do is use a fuel tank (normally an orange rockomax) and put the wheels for all my structures at half the height of an orange tank.  That normally helps pretty good.
  • Excessive Is Always Better: I will probably be yelled at for this, but it's definitely what I do.  If it seems like too much fuel, but it works, keep it! You never know what might happen that requires that fuel

Hope this helped!

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I've been making all the connection ports a uniform height. That hasn't been an issue. The issue has been fitting my construction rover under the landing legs of the vertical sections so I can move them into place. I have a few ideas. On how I might deal with this. I'm going to try redesigning my rover and going from there. Right now, the rover is too wide and can't fit between 4 equidistant radial legs at my standard height. I'm going to see what I can do with narrowing the rover, or widening the leg base of the vertical sections. Hopefully option one will work due to lower eventual part count.

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Someone called? Well here I am to show it for the nth time. :) This time, a completed example of the 1.1 version, posing next the the Orca that brought all the pieces to the Munar south pole. With the obligatory Kerbal X link, too.

JiL669X.png

Note the two rovers, because the old one stopped working with the new wheels, but was already in-situ and had science bits. Construction rovers work like a treat otherwise, as long as you make them low and slim enough to slip under the modules. Put a rocket VTOL system on it, make them slightly lower than the lowest module, and it can jump to catch them under any gravity. Afterwards, if you measured the leg/port relative position right, and you have a similar weight/leg on each module, it should be just a matter of deploying the legs to make the connection after you drive yourself to the right spot. And if it still doesn't want to dock, but only just... well, the VTOL system might be enough to nudge the lowest port into kissing the other. The corridors also help a lot. I put them up on their own set of disposable legs (you can see a couple still hanging around), but once they are hanging off of another module, they will take care of any misalignment due to terrain with their slight wiggle, and the docking will be much easier.

 

Rune. I didn't crash there. :wink:

Edited by Rune
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On 4/7/2016 at 7:15 AM, Aegolius13 said:

I would say strongly consider launching in one unit, if at all possible.  I've found precision landings like this to be the hardest and most frustrating thing so far in KSP by a long shot, though I have not yet completely gotten the skill down.  And that's without even trying to dock my base components with Clamp-O-Trons.  

I agree that you should try to send the biggest part you can on target. The less docking you do the better.

But precise landing is not that hard when you can manage landing well. Even, I though it was hard so I didn't tried until quite recently, I succeeded immediately. It was much easier than I though. I remember targeting a Mun arch and had to do a emergency burn not to hit it !

The hardest thing to do is to really slightly aim above your target. The left/right errors are the easiest to get (the display is not precise enough to get <3km precision without one or several course corrections). So it's the hardest to fix. The vertical distance is easier to handle because you can easily burn radial (in or out) and hover very far (by wasting fuel though).

I suggest avoiding the "kill speed and drop on target". It's very expensive and not precise. The cost of a correction burn is usually high because you fall toward the ground and you don't have much time to do it. With a shallow approach, a very small burn can increase or decrease your range by few kilometres.

As a final tweak, you can always do a little hop toward your target. It's easy if your ship isn't too bulky and responds well to reaction wheel control..

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