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8 minutes ago, NSEP said:

I once had to do the same thing too, but i instead ran out of RCS fuel. Pretty crappy challenge.

If the craft has still decent rotation control authority, and the docking port on the nose, it's still pretty easy.

Fly way out ahead of the port. Burn retrograde to stop to a flat zero. Set target to port, control from your port. Then the navball minigame:

Aim at Target. Burn very gently - some 0.2-0.3m/s.

If prograde marker is not in the center of target marker, point in the opposite direction from target marker than the prograde marker, enough that you still see both markers on the navball, then burn VERY gently until it aligns. Possibly set thrust limiter on the main engine.

Point at target port, verify. Continue minimal corrections, trying not to exceed 1m/s.

If you exceed that speed - abort docking. Turn retrograde, stop, repeat.

When right about to dock, be sure to point directly at Target (or just eyeball on the screen, to align the ports using the reaction wheel.)

Done,

 

It's not nearly as easy if the port is "sideways" relative to the main engine, but still doable.

Start like before, as if the port was on your nose. Don't switch control to the port, don't aim directly at the port though, but about 1.5 your craft's length to the side from it.

Turn retrograde roughly halfway to the target position. Then burn retrograde to a flat 0.0 when your CoM is just above the target port. Rotate to align ports surfaces parallel to each other. Point in direction "just above" the target port.

Burn VERY gently. 0.1m/s may be too much.

Then using the reaction wheel perform the final alignment - just rotate your craft in such a way that your port lands above the target one.

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3 minutes ago, Sharpy said:

If the craft has still decent rotation control authority, and the docking port on the nose, it's still pretty easy.

Fly way out ahead of the port. Burn retrograde to stop to a flat zero. Set target to port, control from your port. Then the navball minigame:

Aim at Target. Burn very gently - some 0.2-0.3m/s.

If prograde marker is not in the center of target marker, point in the opposite direction from target marker than the prograde marker, enough that you still see both markers on the navball, then burn VERY gently until it aligns. Possibly set thrust limiter on the main engine.

Point at target port, verify. Continue minimal corrections, trying not to exceed 1m/s.

If you exceed that speed - abort docking. Turn retrograde, stop, repeat.

When right about to dock, be sure to point directly at Target (or just eyeball on the screen, to align the ports using the reaction wheel.)

Done,

 

It's not nearly as easy if the port is "sideways" relative to the main engine, but still doable.

Start like before, as if the port was on your nose. Don't switch control to the port, don't aim directly at the port though, but about 1.5 your craft's length to the side from it.

Turn retrograde roughly halfway to the target position. Then burn retrograde to a flat 0.0 when your CoM is just above the target port. Rotate to align ports surfaces parallel to each other. Point in direction "just above" the target port.

Burn VERY gently. 0.1m/s may be too much.

Then using the reaction wheel perform the final alignment - just rotate your craft in such a way that your port lands above the target one.

Thanks for tip sparky!

(ran out of likes)

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I docked on the first attempt I made though I had already some idea about orbital mechanics from playing orbiter, such as lower orbits are faster, higher orbits are slower. So it was no problem to get the crafts close enough for a rendezvous.

It took a while though to work out a strategy to use the information on the navball efficiently for docking and in versions pre 1.2.x the icons for to/from target and pro/retrograde in target mode weren't shown correctly with respect to the selected parts for 'set as target' and 'control from here'.

Since this is fixed now docking is totally easy, even easier than before. Just set the docking ports to dock to 'control from here' and 'set as target' on BOTH craft and use SAS to turn each craft towards each other and the ports will be correctly aligned. Then just use rcs to dock them (H-key).

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Two more things.

- when docking Senior ports. Also the middle ports, to a lesser degree.

They have a very lousy magnet and are very sensitive against alignment angle.

If you see you're coming at an angle: Keep the center aimed at target as precisely as you can, then in the final moment, right as the ports touch, activate the engine at lowest power. Then turn SAS off, and concentrate on holding center of navball aligned with target. Your craft will keep pushing against the target, and will slowly align itself as the off-center side of the port pushing at the target port provides the torque to turn it.

- when using the Klaw against light targets (grabbing items in orbit)

It's also quite sensitive about the angle, but it's sensitive about speed too.

Your speed should be between 0.2 and 0.3m/s. Too high, and Klaw won't engage. Too low and you'll bump the object away. Keeping the engine running at lowest power during the contact , or even slightly higher, will provide the needed alignment and force to catch the target.

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Couple of days for me, but I was clumsy at it and my craft had to carry a shed load of RCS fuel to prevent running out.  I've never used MechJeb though, so have always done it manually - there are so many milestones in this game that I feel achieving each of those yourself gives such a massive boost to your confidence and sense of achievement that it makes playing the game a real delight.  Took me quite a bit longer to land a Kerbal on Eve and return him safely though, and I've only done it the once.  I guess each of us has his own aspect of the game that seems somewhat more difficult than anything else.

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On 5.12.2016 at 1:20 AM, Draco T stand-up guy said:
  1. Target the craft that you're going to rendezvous with. This will allow intersect information to be displayed
  2. Use a manoeuvre node to plan a Hohmann Transfer to the orbit of the target moving the manoeuvre node and manipulating the direction and amount of thrust to get intersect distance down to less than 2km - preferably less than 1km
  3. Use a second manoeuvre node to plan a burn to make your orbit the same as the targets
  4. Switch between both craft and set the targets as the docking ports and both ships are controlled from those docking ports. This means that you can use the target indicators in the HUD to align the docking ports

After that it's just a case of using RCS to bring your craft to the target craft.

 

Really, never forget your RCS as docking two ships on main thrusters alone is a real PITA.

It's much easier to orient both.

This, some things make it easier: then launching I always launch a bit early, this put me 10-50 km ahead of target so I simply raise Ap a bit to make the target catch me. 
For higher orbits its better to arrive a bit behind target then raise Pe, this is more efficient but hard if target is at 70-80 km attitude. 

Then arriving to an orbit, keep Ap high then lower it for intercept. 
Remember to align orbits too, it makes intercept much easier and you have to compensate anyway so best not doing it then matching speed with target. 
After getting intercept down to 1-3 km its smart to use rcs for fine tuning. 

After matching speed and you are less than 3 km away, burn towards target, 5-10 m/s is enough, then target pass on your side, kill relative speed and repeat, you should now be around 5 times closer. 
Other are better explaining docking. 

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If you are approaching a station, and the docking port is not already facing you, you could rotate the station, but there is a better way.

 

Get your bearings so you know which way is up on the navball vs up on the screen.  This is trivial if you have Navball HUD.

Move your prograde marker to the side of the station where the desired dock is.  You can be quite generous with how far prograde is from the target, but make sure that target, dock, and prograde form a line.

As you drift past the docking port on the station, come to a halt when it is pointing at your ship.

Proceed to dock normally.

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On 4-12-2016 at 5:26 PM, 7499275 said:

Wow, that's all I can say at this point is wow... After playing this game since .18 and its now 1.2 I always thought docking was that hardest part of this game. Well, docking and the rendezvous before that. After playing my first true career game for about 3 hours I managed to get docking down! Still can't rendezvous without the help of mechjeb doing a hohmann transfer to the target craft but I am feeling pretty proud of myself after playing for so long finally being able to dock two craft on my own! 

How long did it take everyone else to get down docking by hand? Also anyone have tips for rendezvous with another craft?

 

(yes I was feeling strongly enough about this to make a post just to share my excitment over being able to dock finally lol)  

 

I see some good explanations here about docking that will surely help you in making docking easyer for you.

I.ve learned docking from watching mechjeb's autodocking. If you watch what mechjeb does and learn it that way, you know exactly how to do dock. Also for Hohman transfer orbits, if you watch closely to the manouvers that MJ makes, you can teach it yourself only by watch and learn.

Otherwise you can always watch Scott Manley's youtube channel. His videos explain a lot about "how to'" do things in KSP, he's got a few about docking. Here is one about rendezvous https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=St515zjUZHY

and docking https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srsiLZLPiv0

 

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@7499275 For some reason even the most experienced KSP players tend to eyeball the vessel alignment during docking or just use mods for that. But the game provides us with enough data for a super precise docking.

I made a "Trust the numbers" docking technique gif a while ago, text is a little fast, but apprehendable after watching it the second time.

AUE1cjJ.gif

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6 hours ago, Enceos said:

@7499275 For some reason even the most experienced KSP players tend to eyeball the vessel alignment during docking or just use mods for that. But the game provides us with enough data for a super precise docking.

I made a "Trust the numbers" docking technique gif a while ago, text is a little fast, but apprehendable after watching it the second time.

AUE1cjJ.gif

I use this technique too from far away. But for me at least, the thing with a docking camera / alignment indicator it that it gives you a) more "detail" for fine adjustments, b) peace of mind ('cos you see the target vessel when you're close) and c) the navball won't show alignment with the target craft.

And also they're cool. :D

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1.  Dig through the video options and turn on the "turn names on" option.  If you can't see it in space, you probably aren't going to dock.

2.  Try landing first (the OP did, but for others).  It should be a better introduction to "moving the prograde marker on to the target".  This is absolutely critical.

3.  Watch the videos, especially Scott Manley (while the KSP edition might be extremely out of date, docking really doesn't change.  Not sure about "[" and "]", see below).

4.  Build your rocket with RCS, adjust RCS keys.  Ignore Scott Manley's advice and don't wait for the approach to happen, keep the prograde/retrograde symbols on the target symbols the whole way in (presumably mostly watching retrograde and gradually slowing to a stop).

5.  Take some contracts to rescue kerbals.  You need only get within a kilometer or so (but should try to get as close as possible).  It is good practice, and if you play career mode you get free kerbals (they get expensive otherwise).

6.  Finally do a docking mission.  While you already learned most of it, there's still plenty to go.  Remember that you have control of both ships (some instructional videos seem to hunt and find the docking port, for years you have been able to hop to the other ship with "[" and back with "]").  Use these to make sure the docking ships point toward each other.  Only use RCS for final docking (you can use power if you forget, but remember to cut your power a good ways away and come in *slowly*.  Then don't forget next time).

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5 minutes ago, Rosco P. Coltrane said:

the navball won't show alignment with the target craft.

If your target port is not tumbling back and forth my little gif explains how to get that precise alignment, the HDG indicator at the bottom of the navball is very useful for that. Rotation angle is purely visual though, that's the downside. I use DPAI only for those precise rotation degree readings which are extremely useful for station constructions, navball is actually more precise in close proximity. Best alignment results are achieved in IVA or with the NavHud mod.

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helped tremendously.  Also DPAI has already been mentioned several times in this thread and I'll say that I won't play without it.  I dock all the time now.  My Duna mission that I did recently was Apollo style and I often build orbital stations over the course of multiple launches.

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On 12/4/2016 at 6:20 PM, Draco T stand-up guy said:

Really, never forget your RCS as docking two ships on main thrusters alone is a real PITA.

It's much easier to orient both.

It's not that bad to be without RCS if you are using 'klaw docking', just get close to the target vessel and basically stationary, then point your klaw at a mostly clear portion of the target vessel(as in nothing easily broken if you miss) and thrust forward at no more than about 0.8m/s.

Make sure your claw is perpendicular to the target so the correct part engages, and that should be all you need to do.

That is how I do all of my 'and vessel' rescues, as I do not generally bother with RCS.

(I also don't use docking much outside of rescues and, some times, refueling)

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Docking took me a long time, but now I'm good enough at it that I can reliably dock with the UI turned off. I have a couple of important rules for docking well:

  • Rotate before translating. Consider what orientation your vessel should be when docked to the target - relative to where the target is at the start of the docking maneuver - and rotate to that orientation first. You can then focus your efforts almost entirely on translation. Sometimes there will be minor rotation corrections needed, but for the most part it should be fine if you orientate the vessel correctly first.
  • Use caps lock. This turns on fine control, which means that RCS will auto-balance regardless of the position of the ports relative to center of mass. This also means that you don't need to worry too much about RCS port positioning in the VAB.
  • Be careful. Docking is best done slowly. That way, you're less likely to make errors that cost a lot of time and monopropellant to correct.
  • Translate until the two docking ports are facing each other but still some distance apart, and then kill lateral velocity and move forward. This means that the docking port magnets have less of an effect in sideways directions, which is useful if you want precision.

As for rendezvous, your best bet is to be starting from a circular orbit and aiming for a circular orbit. Plot a hohmann transfer to intersect the target orbit at apoapsis/periapsis (apoapsis if the target is higher, periapsis if the target is lower). Then, move the maneuver node around the orbit until you have an approach to the target of only a couple of kilometers (this is also assuming that you have matched inclinations already). Warp until you're almost at this point (a couple of minutes away) and set the navball to show relative velocity with the target. Point retrograde, and if you've done things right you should also see the pink anti-target indicator on the navball not far from the retrograde indicator. Point your rocket in such a way that the retrograde marker is between the anti-target and your heading, and gradually fire the engine. This decreases relative velocity and also fine-tunes the close approach. When the retrograde marker is approximately directly where the anti-target marker is, you have a very close approach, and can warp until that point and then kill relative velocity. It's best not to use high warp speeds though, because it's easy to miss your target completely.

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Took me 30 minutes to learn. Have not mastered it but I managed to dock even with poor designs (had a satelite with only two RCS thrusters). It was a painfull long process but doable. My bigest frustration comes from the actual meeting and not the docking. As Scott Manley said, docking is a very slow and relaxing experience. Play the tutorial on docking. It will explain the process well. It helps to switch to the locked cam on approach, them play around with the docking mode controls or switch between the docking mode with RCS enabled and normal mode with engine and RCS disabled (requires a good reaction wheel installed) to rotate the craft and allign with the dock. Spare yourself the frustration and always use the 4 way thrusters for optimal control mounted at the center of weight of your craft or you end up with some very unresponsive crap.

 

It helps to have the fancy plane nose installed thingy (CH-J3 Fly-By-Wire Avionics Hub) on your capsule as it enables target tracking and maneuver tracking and is easy to research. It's not great as a setup since you have to mount radial parachutes instead, but it means you can use any kerbal toperform fancy maneuvers available to pilots of level 3.

 

Also remember to double click the target dock and to switch to control from here from your own dock port to make controls easier.

Edited by mystik
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Docking was something I had done after probably 20 hours of game play. I had already rendezvoused several times for rescue missions so I had a good understanding of relative velocity. I also had watched dozens of videos about station building before I had even bought the game so I knew the controls for RCS translation and rotation so it was actually quite easy. But what I made was a station out of the smallest docking ports and I flew it to Minmus. Lets just say that a wet noodle has similar structural integrity to what I flew that day.   

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My first attempt at docking, I didn't know about target mode. It did not go well.

 

My second attempt at docking, I managed, and I managed it by ignoring the ship on my screen altogether and just chasing circles around on the navball. It wasn't efficient, and I was fortunate that it was an Apollo setup that didn't care about the roll differences between the craft, but it worked.

 

Since then I've horsed 180tonne bases through six inches of clearance to a multi-port docking on a spaceplane. Only reason to ever look at the screen is to make sure you're rolled correctly relative to the target; pitch and yaw problems can be seen and corrected on the navball, provided your target port is at a known orientation (normal and anti-normal are the best for that since they don't change as the target orbits).

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On 12/4/2016 at 0:26 PM, Gianni1122 said:

I must have reloaded hundreds of quick saves trying to rendezvous and dock in the past. It took me quite a long time to get it down.

These two mods offer a docking "camera" of sorts. It makes docking infinitely easier, more convenient and even a bit more realistic in my opinion:

 

Also: 

 

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Ooh, this brings me back.

 

My first attempt at docking was an utter shambles. I sent up two identical crafts with a lot of monoprop and some LFO, and ran out of LFO on both and monoprop on one. Then I sent up another two identical ships. I wouldn't say I nailed it (it could have been much more efficient), but I got a rendezvous in an orbit. The actual docking part was easiest for me, the rendezvous was hard. Although I did have trouble figuring out how to orient the docking ports.

Then I used the last bit of monoprop on the first set to dock them, transfered enough so the levels were equal, and brought all four craft home safely.

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i remember too, it was long time ago, somewhen around 2013, i was playing ksp about 2 hours ago, in the next hour ive landed on the mun... never ever even used mechjeb. on the 3rd day i had a superspaceship that was able to fly all over the kerbol system and at the end return to kerbin, carried a couple of thugs (3 irc). nearly all the fueltanks, hichiker units antennas etc were brought up with a separate craft and docked together up there. 

NHDPSRa.jpg

later ive rebuilt it with 3*3 hubmax matrix (now that was difficult to connect, even with perfect alignment usually only 2 pairs connected out of the 3) that one had 5 thugs, 4 landers and 2 big rovers... this game is really intuitive despite all of its flaws.

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