WuphonsReach

[1.4.x] Stock Antenna Balance - July-29-2018

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Stock Antenna Balance

Uses ModuleManager to adjust the range, power usage and other attributes of the stock antennas and how they function with the new CommNet that was added in KSP 1.2.  This makes it much more important to use a mix of direct and relay antennas to communicate with Kerbin's Deep Space Network (DSN).

id8RrFB.png

License GPL 3.0

Links:

SpaceDock / GitHub (downloads & source)

Source code:

https://github.com/WuphonsReach/KSP-StockAntennaBalance

Current effects:

  • Direct-connection antennas are changed so that you usually can't reach back from Jool/Eeloo without relying on a relay network.
  • Stock antennas now have better defined niches.
  • Relay antennas are now equivalent in power (or stronger) then DSN antennas on Kerbin's surface.  This makes it possible to disable the extra ground stations on Kerbin's surface in the difficulty options.
  • The drawback is that relay antennas also consume a lot more power when transmitting data and should not be used on science-gathering probes / spacecraft.  
  • Relay antennas are also heavier and more expensive and some have constant power draw.  The optional contracts will give you guidelines on how much battery capacity you need to operate through Kerbin's shadow.
  • Full details are available at GitHub, including sample network links.

Installation:

Because this is all done through ModuleManager patches and no new models or assets are included, it doesn't matter where you put the contents of the .zip file as long as it's under GameData/ somewhere.  This also means that as long as ModuleManager and ContractConfigurer support the newest KSP versions, then this addon will probably work okay as well.

  • You must have ModuleManager installed (or from GitHub releases), this comes with a lot of other addons, so I'm not including it.
  • Installation of ContractConfigurer is optional, but provides in-game contracts for building out your CommNet.
  • Download one of the releases from GitHub.
  • Extract the .zip file into a folder under your GameData/ directory.

Upgraders should delete the old folder before installing the new version.  There are no settings that get shared across releases and this prevents problems in case I rename one of the configuration files.

Effect on existing games:

  • May cause loss of probe / craft control due to changed CommNet ranges.
  • May cause power issues due to the constant power demand of the relay antennas.
  • Science gathering spacecraft may be unable to send data back home if they only have relay antennas installed (and not enough battery capacity or power generation ability to process and transmit the data).

Removal is easy as long as you have not used any of the antennas which were added by this mod, removing this addon's folder under GameData/ will revert your antennas to the stock capabilities.

Recommended KSP difficulty settings:

These are available in the "Settings / Difficulty Options / Advanced" menu and can be changed at any time in a career save.  I'm running with the following values in my current career save:

  • DSN Modifier set to between 0.02 and 0.10
  • Turn off "Enable Extra Groundstations"
  • Occlusion Modifier, Vac = 1.02
  • Occlusion Modifirer, Atm = 0.98

If you don't adjust these values, you'll find that the DSN ground stations are often going to take priority over those relay satellites that you lovingly placed into KEO orbits.

Change log:

https://github.com/WuphonsReach/KSP-StockAntennaBalance/blob/master/CHANGES.md

ModuleManager Patches included for these mods:

 

Edited by WuphonsReach
v1.4.4.0 release

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VERY nice!!... :D
This is AWESOME, and finally makes CommNet something i might be able to use, now... (been using RT)...
My biggest peeve with CommNet was it pretty much obsoleted the need for most, and especially, local relays... To me, its almost a "god mode" for comms, and the ability to simply tweak it, or to have more options for how it operates, has been missing...

So THANK YOU for this! :D :thumbs_up:

 

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Thanks.  Consider this a lite version of RT, it doesn't get into things like pointing dishes, but it's enough that you really need to seed a relay satellite around a planetary body that you are going to explore.  I started playing with the difficulty settings in KSP 1.2 and then starting diving into the actual antenna balance.  

Of course, once you loft an RA-100 into orbit around Kerbin, a Comm 88-88 can reach back from parts of Eeloo/Jool orbits.  But that's not possible with just a DSN3/RA-15 around Kerbin, so the relay at Jool/Eeloo will still be needed.

I may swap the purpose of the HG-5 and the HG-55 (which is a much larger part).  Or I may swap the models on those two parts.  I'm pretty happy so far with the balance otherwise (other then mass/cost).

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Upcoming changes which are in GitHub, but not yet bundled up into a release:

  • Created an HG-5D (direct-connection version of the HG-5 relay).
  • Created an HG-55R (relay version of the HG-55 direct-connect).
  • Adjust the name of the stock HG-5 and HG-55 to be clearer about direct-connect vs relay operation.
  • Increased mass and costs on the relay antennas, you won't want to loft these en masse in career mode.
  • Relay antennas now have a constant power draw (0.5 EC/s up to 6.0 EC/s).

For example, the RA-2 now costs 45k to unlock and 18k per unit, mass of 0.45t and 1.5 EC/s power requirement when not transmitting.

I'm still testing balance.

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Interesting mod but I'm hesitant to try it because I'm waiting for RT 2.0. Do you plan to update the mod to be compatible with RemoteTech or maybe it is already?

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I would imagine that RemoteTech 2.0 will have its own set of parameters for balancing the antenna / DSN power which would replace this mod.  Once RT 2.0 gets into beta releases, I'll have to look to see how this works with it.

(And there's always the option to temporarily change game difficulty settings to disable CommNet.)

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Example of an RA-2 talking to other RA-2 antennas in the current balance.  The currently selected relay is headed inward to an orbit at 7Gm Ap/Pe around Kerbol (inside of Eve's orbit, but outside of Moho's).  It will barely be able to reach Dres/Duna, as planned.

mLhW80C.png

An RA-15 would be a better choice for this 7Gm Kerbol orbit, but I have not unlocked it yet in my career save.

 

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Mucking about with ContractConfigurator contracts for putting up relays.  The one for putting an HG-5R/HG-55R around Kerbin in stationary orbit (KEO) is working, but I need to add some checks.

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Tier 1-4 (HG-5R, RA-2, RA-15, RA-100) contracts are written for stationary orbits around Kerbin.  They don't yet require staying stationary over a specific point of Kerbin, so that's up to the player.  They also don't check for KSC connectivity, so that's also up to the player for now.

Working on a polar relay contract that requires a Pe around 100km, Ap around 75,000 km, on the north side of Kerbin.

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Here's the offered orbits for the 25,000km max polar orbit contracts:

8oxkWf8.png

Each has a slightly different Ap/Pe plus semi-random inclination, LPE and LAN.

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v1.2.2.2 - Jan 2 2017 

- Relay antennas power draw modified (0.4 EC/s up to 30 EC/s) 
- RA-100 boosted from 2T to 3T power 
- Created contracts for network (requires ContractConfigurator to be installed) 
- Home world (Kerbin) stationary (KEO) contracts for the four relay tiers 
- Polar home world contracts added for RA-2 (tier 2) relays and up

 

Edited by WuphonsReach

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v1.2.2.3 - Jan 4 2017

- Added contracts for inner world (anything inside home world orbit)
- Outer world contracts (out to 7.5x distance of homeworld based on SMA)
- Home world moon contracts now count up existing vessels for relay power before being offered
- Balanced contract rewards, loosened up deviation windows
- Better use of VesselParameterGroup from ContractConfigurator

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v1.2.2.4 - Jan 6 2017

- Boost rewards for tier 3/4 polar/stationary homeworld contracts
- Loosen up deviation windows (how close you have to be to the target orbit)
- Allow up to 3 inner and 3 outer planet contracts at same time

So mostly a balance patch, although it's possible that v1.2.2.3 didn't pick inner/outer planets properly.

I still need to do contracts for the moons around celestial bodies, probably requiring just a tier 1 relay antenna and only offered if there is a tier 2+ relay already in orbit around the parent planet.

The relay contracts for planets use random orbits, which I think is fine.  Given that the stock CommNet auto-connects itself, you can be pretty loose with how you arrange things around celestial bodies.  As long as you get a connection most of the time, it's good enough and you can plan maneuver windows around signal coverage.  If you have enough dV, you can move the relay sat into a better orbit after its been paid for.

I've been debating whether to require the homeworld (Kerbin) stationary (KEO) relay contracts to require exact positioning over KSC, or be equally spread out, or other restrictions.  In the end, because this is a "lite" mod, I'm not going to require a specific location above Kerbin's surface.  If you don't configure your relay satellites correctly, then you're going to have coverage problems and radio blackouts anyway - so there's already a built-in game reason in CommNet to do things properly.

The requirement to fulfill at least one polar homeworld (Kerbin) contract before you get Mun/Minmus contracts was chosen partly for artistic value.  It's a more difficult orbit to put things into.  But I think it also provides good radio coverage to the rest of the homeworld's moons.  Those highly eccentric polar orbits are only in the wrong place for a fraction of their orbit time and are well above/below the orbital plane 80-95% of the time.  Paired with a good stationary satellite over KSC and you get really good signal coverage with few blackouts.

It's a similar reason as to why I require at least 2 polar contracts to be completed before I'll let the inner-planet contracts show up.  With (2) polar homeworld relays, you'll get high signal coverage anywhere in the inner solar system.

Outer planet relay contracts require at least one tier 3 or tier 4 relay placed into polar orbit around Kerbin.  That should suffice for sending a tier 2 relay out to Jool/Eeloo.

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v1.2.2.5 - Jan 8 2017
- Boost rewards for inner/outer planet relay contracts
- Inner/outer planet contracts now require 90 days of settle time
- Create contracts for inner/outer planet's moon relays

The contracts do pay out nicely (I estimate it only takes you 25-35% of the reward to fulfill), but they do eventually run out unless you are sneaky and decommission satellites.

Edited by WuphonsReach

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v1.2.2.6 - Jan 10 2017

- WARNING: Do not install this unless you have fewer than 3-4 contracts active
- Reduce number of simultaneous contracts for the entire group down to 5

The old version allowed for up to 50 simultaneous contracts (offered + accepted), when I lower this number, Contract Configurator will take away active/offered contracts until it gets below the new limit.  That includes contracts that are currently in progress of being completed (you'll get them again, but it's a loss for the moment).

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Quote

 

Recommended KSP difficulty settings:

  • DSN Modifier = 0.10 down to to 0.02


 

I don't understand this. The Settings start the DSN Modifier at 1.00.

 

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Sorry, one more question. I'm playing on mostly "Hard" settings, so the Range Modifier starts at 0.65. Will this be ok with your modifications, or will that need to be adjusted also?

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I started looking at CKAN (and Spacedock), but haven't dug in too far.  So it's possible.

For the DSN strength in the settings, if you leave it at 1.00 (the default), you'll find that the CommNet will prefer to talk directly to KSC (or other ground stations, if you have the extras enabled) rather then use your relay satellites.  The problem with this behavior is that you're going to end up with a lot more cases of poor signal quality then you'd expect, because the antenna on your probe/craft can see KSC at something over 1% signal.

So by changing the DSN setting to be in the range of 0.02 to 0.10 (2% to 10% of normal), you make it a lot harder for KSC and the ground stations to take priority over a relay satellite.  Things then behave more like you'd expect where the signal travels from your probe, to a nearby relay, to a relay around Kerbin, and then down to KSC.

I balanced the numbers around a single RA-15 at Kerbin and an RA-2 at Jool/Eeloo and a range power setting of 1.00.  Adding more antennas on either end will give you increased signal strength (due to diminishing returns, it takes four relay antennas in order to double the power).

A range modifier of 0.65 should still be fine.  You may need to always outfit your key relay satellites with two dishes instead of just one, in order to get better signal.  (Once I unlock the RA-15, I tend to launch large and heavy polar sats around Kerbin with three or four RA-15 antennas.  It requires a lot more power, but gives me much better signal coverage.  The polar relay contract won't pay out enough to cover a quad-antenna satellite, but it would probably cover a twin-antenna satellite.)

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Hi!

First of all, thank you for your mod. I am enjoying it a lot. It feels like the exact level of comm complexity that I would like.

But, I have a problem. It's gotta be something very obvious but I really can't figure it out.

I am trying to complete the first stationary satellite contract. I have matched the required orbit as closely as I can to the point that rotating the ship is causing orbit parameters to change. I have spent at least 15 days on this orbit. Still no go :(

I have placed a screenshot in the spoiler. Please, help me out! This is driving me crazy :( 

Spoiler

WdvuVBs.png

 

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@canisin Technically, you're off on your inclination by 0.36 degrees (which is probably why you're failing).  The equatorial contracts are pretty strict (maybe too much, I've slowly loosened them up).  Sometimes it has trouble with the "under acceleration" parameter as well (so I should loosen that up too).  

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Thanks a lot for the reply. After your reply I went ahead and zeroed out the remaining inclination and finally got the contract!

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Very nice.

What about antennas in mods?  If this can't change those, can you offer guidelines on what to change?

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