Hoody

The Docking Gym

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Challenge

The Docking Gym is a space station with eight docking ports which you must dock with in sequence. You must complete the course as quickly as possible using the ship that is already docked to the start. The provided ship has a useful green LED (a clipped battery) on the dorsal side for easy visual maneuvering. 

0. The starting dock — Press 1 to undock and start the challenge.

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1. Yellow "The Gimme" — A simple docking port.

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2. Orange "The Fat Socket" — A port in a recessed socket

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3. Red "The Cage" — Negotiate the iron bars

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4. Purple "The Pipe" — A tight-fitting pipe

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5. Blue "The Dentist Mirror" — An inverted port

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6. Green "The Obstacle Course" — Avoid the spikes and dummy ports — only the illuminated green one counts!

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7. White "The Shower Head" — An awkwardly angled port

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8. Back to the starting dock — you're done.

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Instructions

1. Download* the craft file ( https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/234955/Docking Gym.craft ) and put it into the "VAB" in the "Ships" folder in your save file. 

2. Launch the ship and use the cheat menu (alt-f12) to put it in orbit (choose the "orbit" tab and select the celestial body and orbit of your choice)

3. Make sure your timer is visible and is on minutes and seconds mode (MET in top left corner), and take a screenshot, then immediately go to next step:

4. Press "1" to undock the first node and away you go. (Note: Pressing "1" will also undock from all other nodes.)

5. Press F1 to take a screenshot at every port you dock at, and at the last port. Make sure the timer is visible in each shot.

6. Post your time and screenshots. Two screenshots is enough (start and finish) to show you completed the challenge, but all eight are preferable and required for verified leaderboard times!

*If link gives you a screen of text, try right-clicking and "save-as" or try this zipped version (your system might not like .craft files) https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/234955/Docking Gym.craft.zip
 

Leaderboards

A-Class — No assists or navball (finish the course with no instruments)

1. 3m 58s — Eidahlil

2.

3.

4.

5.

B-Class — Navball and other docking port tools allowed

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

C-Class — Bring your own ship (use a docking ship of your choice instead of the provided one)

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

 

Good luck!

Enjoy the challenge. This will make you a better docker. It will also frustrate your pants off. 

Edited by Hoody
Added rules for timing; updated craft file

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Interesting! I will definitely try that!

Have some reps.

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Excellent! This is a great way for Kerbfleet pilots to work on their space carrier landings. I might just orbit a version of your 'gym' for use in our training program. :D 

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This is actually a well designed, thought out, easy to understand, good challenge! I like it!

If you decide to run a second one, I suggest multi-port docking. Also, other sizes of docking ports.

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18 minutes ago, Dman979 said:

This is actually a well designed, thought out, easy to understand, good challenge! I like it!

If you decide to run a second one, I suggest multi-port docking. Also, other sizes of docking ports.

Thanks Dman979, and everyone else who gave some thoughtful feedback. My original intention was to feature a tug with all three docking ports on it and a much more complicated gym, but I thought "why not do a simple one first off and see if anyone actually plays with it before you spend too much time on it" — you dig?

If this gets much of a following, I'll happily design another one, which will be much more challenging and feature some fun ideas I have thought up.

If anyone has any ideas how to make this more easily measurable as a form of competition, I'm all ears. Right now I see it more as a fun challenge than something people can compete on, as most people lack the ability/will to make videos and upload to confirm their times. I've completed the course in about six minutes, but without really focussing. I'll try and upload a video of my bumbling efforts, perhaps that'll get the ball rolling.

Cheers!

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Just now, Hoody said:

If anyone has any ideas how to make this more easily measurable as a form of competition, I'm all ears. Right now I see it more as a fun challenge than something people can compete on, as most people lack the ability/will to make videos and upload to confirm their times. I've completed the course in about six minutes, but without really focussing. I'll try and upload a video of my bumbling efforts, perhaps that'll get the ball rolling.

Pictures. Have each contestant take 9 pictures- one at each station. They should have a tank on the tug and a tank on the gym open with the ability to transfer fuel, so you know it docked.

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One more thing you guys can do to help. When designing this gym I tried to use action groups to make all of the docking ports undockable using "1". However, this only works on the first docking port. Even if I set all the ports to undock and decouple using a hotkey, they won't work once the little tug has disconnected once. Is there a way to bind undock to the docking port on the tug to one key, or to all the other docking ports on the station without using mods? This was one major frustration. As it is you have to manually undock by clicking the relevant port, which can be a bit fiddly on two of the tighter ports in this challenge (the orange and the purple), which is compounded when you factor in the irritating camera pan that occurs every time you dock!

 

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Just now, Hoody said:

As it is you have to manually undock by clicking the relevant port, which can be a bit fiddly on two of the tighter ports in this challenge (the orange and the purple), which is compounded when you factor in the irritating camera pan that occurs every time you dock!

 

It's not a bug, it's a feature. A throwback, if you will, to when we didn't have action groups.

You should be able to either change that in the VAB/SPH, or by modifying the AGs in the craft file. Either way, you're going to have to reupload it.

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Just now, Dman979 said:

Pictures. Have each contestant take 9 pictures- one at each station. They should have a tank on the tug and a tank on the gym open with the ability to transfer fuel, so you know it docked.

Right, but the timer feature. I guess I could adjust it to "finish the map with the most monopropellant remaining" instead of making it a timed challenge, but this is also easily cheatable — not that that's a huge concern here.

One timing idea I came up with was a series of ion drives that are all triggered by "1" when you undock. Each has various levels of xenon gas, which makes them burn out at certain intervals (say 30 seconds each). Their thrust cancels each other out (I have them facing each other) so it doesn't effect the station's rotation. So the challenge is to complete the map while as many of them are still burning. This is also cheatable, however, as it requires you to start with full thrust, an someone could easily tone it down and appear to have finished much more quickly. Not a huge concern — but I was interested in making the most intuitive, easiest, hard-to-cheat, and visually appealing solution possible, and I didn't quite get there.

 

2 minutes ago, Dman979 said:

It's not a bug, it's a feature. A throwback, if you will, to when we didn't have action groups.

You should be able to either change that in the VAB/SPH, or by modifying the AGs in the craft file. Either way, you're going to have to reupload it.

OK How would I change it so that the action groups work consistently for all ports? I tried the conventional way, but it doesn't work in practice.

I might re-upload if I can fix this, as it won't really effect the rest of the challenge, especially as no-one has entered a time yet. I'll work on a timing mechanism too and see if I can put it all together in one re-upload.

Thanks for helping me out man.

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4 minutes ago, Hoody said:

Right, but the timer feature. I guess I could adjust it to "finish the map with the most monopropellant remaining" instead of making it a timed challenge, but this is also easily cheatable — not that that's a huge concern here.

Check the MET at the top left of the screen. Each picture should increase. It gives you the time to the second, which is about all we need here.

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I just designed an elaborate clock-face using ion drives as countdown indicators. My plan was to use decouplers with crossfeed disabled and xenon gas containers of decreasing amounts to produce a timer. Then I discovered that xenon gas does not respect crossfeed rules, like monopropellant and electricity! The only way my timer design can work is using liquid fuel engines, but this is very noisy. Darnit! Back to the drawing board.

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7 minutes ago, Hoody said:

I just designed an elaborate clock-face using ion drives as countdown indicators. My plan was to use decouplers with crossfeed disabled and xenon gas containers of decreasing amounts to produce a timer. Then I discovered that xenon gas does not respect crossfeed rules, like monopropellant and electricity! The only way my timer design can work is using liquid fuel engines, but this is very noisy. Darnit! Back to the drawing board.

Really, no need to overengineer this thing. Using the MET clock should work fine.

On the other hand, if you do get that timer working, I think a bunch of people in the Spacecraft Exchange would like to see it.

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43 minutes ago, Dman979 said:

Check the MET at the top left of the screen. Each picture should increase. It gives you the time to the second, which is about all we need here.

Great idea Dman979. I added your suggestion to the rules. 

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And just for the record, Dman979, here's the timer concept working with ant engines. Six minute timer in 12 increments of 30 seconds. A bit noisy even at 21.3 thrust limiter. Ions would have been perfect! Seems like a rudimentary idea to me, but if you think the spacecraft exchange folks will like it I'll send it over.

 

"Clock" on the launchpad

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In space. Thrust neutral and thirty seconds passed

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Only one minute left!

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Considering that I'm now good enough at docking to dock a large fuel tank with pretty much zero clearance in total darkness, I might try this some time.

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Well, let's get the party started. I'll take the liberty to assume videos are also fine. :) It's not particularly eventful, feel free to watch it accelerated. :)

If I see it correctly, I started at 4:26 and finished at 8:24, making the time 3:58. I went for the "no instruments" run, hope I did it correctly.

By the way, I fixed the action groups for myself. What you need to do is make sure the action on all the docking ports except the first one is "Undock", and not "Decouple". "Decouple" is for the initial separation (parts attached in VAB), "Undock" is for separation after docking in space, afaik.

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42 minutes ago, Eidahlil said:

Well, let's get the party started. I'll take the liberty to assume videos are also fine. :) It's not particularly eventful, feel free to watch it accelerated. :)

If I see it correctly, I started at 4:26 and finished at 8:24, making the time 3:58. I went for the "no instruments" run, hope I did it correctly.

By the way, I fixed the action groups for myself. What you need to do is make sure the action on all the docking ports except the first one is "Undock", and not "Decouple". "Decouple" is for the initial separation (parts attached in VAB), "Undock" is for separation after docking in space, afaik.

Congrats Eidahlil. Nice video too. I'll look into changing the action groups and re-upload the station. I swear I tried undock only and it still didn't work, but I'll try again.

 

EDIT: I updated the craft file. The craft will now undock with "1" from all nodes. I also re-rooted to the docking ship so that it defaults focus when you undock — I was having to manually press ] every time... Thanks for the tips.

Edited by Hoody

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IMO there should be 2 categories here. Speed and Least amount of fuel used. But yeah sounds quite fun.

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