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A New Kind of Docking

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While upgrading my interplanetary transfer vehicle, which is currently positioned in LKO, I was faced with the task of installing a relay antenna. Now, in order to maintain stability of the vessel during acceleration, the relay antenna shouldn't weigh too much while at the same time looking cool and awesome, which is why I decided to attach the biggest antenna possible. Now the weight reduction is realized by attaching as few parts as possible to the antenna, which is why I opted for a battery and a docking port. Now, docking the antenna to the vessel usually requires some sort of propulsion. You probably could do it with a claw but well, grabbing an antenna with a claw might actually void guarantee...

I heard of many ways of docking so far: Standard RCS docking, docking without RCS, docking with Ion engines. Having no means of propulsion whatsoever, these methods are not suitable. Here, we present a new way of docking which is advantageous in a couple of ways: First no fuel is needed which naturally will save the environment, and more importantly your precious funds. Furthermore, this kind of docking is possible without whatsoever skill since pushing a single button on a GUI cannot be called skill in that sense. This method of docking is both: State-of-the-art, economically friendly and easy. So in future, all vessels should be docked like this. Eventually, monopropellant and RCS-equipment will no longer be needed to dock vessels, which - in turn - will further cut down the required budget.

In order to dock, attach a winch close to your target docking port. Then use the rope of the winch to connect the winch (in undocked mode) with the vessel you like to dock with. Optimally you will attach the winch close to the vessel's docking port. Then draw in the rope and the two vessels will eventually approach and finally dock due to the magnetic force. Using a set of winches actually gives you control over the angle of the two docking ports.

screenshot46.png

 

I am seriously convinced, somebody did exactly this before, however, I am not aware of any kind of publication, which I could reference or acknowledge here....

 

N.B.: Be sure to retract your solar panels in the proximity...I lost two of them in the process and now I need to rendezvous with just another supply vessel...

 

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KAS never quite "hooked" me so...  Nevertheless, there is good merit and at least theoretical (proposed ideas) precident for using cables in freefall construction.

I'll just sick with my RCS though.   I've gotten to the point where I usually expend much less monopropellant than my crew capsules  hold, and that ammount of fuel isn't as much of an expenditure as the mass of the winch, and the fuel it costs to orbit/rendezvous with it.  Plus RCS works without needing a kerbal, and if you use life support mods, adding kerbal means adding supplies.

 

 

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If you're using kas (to attach) and kis (to carry) why not just attach the dish to the side of your ship?

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First, your station has RCS. So you can dock the station to the antenna :)

Another stock method is a drone with Klaw.

KAS winches in freefall, when moving smaller items have an awful tendency to send them into a very fast spin around the winch, which is very hard to stop.

If you have KAS, you'd be weird not to have KIS. So you can just attach the antenna without any docking port, with an engineer and a screwdriver. And without engineer and screwdriver, any kerbal can just grab the antenna and the port and drop them on top of the target docking port.
 

Personally, I used something similar, but not single-use: a docking winch.

kfnkWBd.jpg

This would lower the crew to planet surface from a tall craft, letting them enter and exit at ground level. The winch and KAS port are clipped with the ports in such a way that they snap when the ports dock, creating a connection significantly sturdier than KAS port-winch alone. (although nowadays I'd just autostrut the cabin instead).

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3 hours ago, Sharpy said:

First, your station has RCS. So you can dock the station to the antenna :)

Another stock method is a drone with Klaw.

KAS winches in freefall, when moving smaller items have an awful tendency to send them into a very fast spin around the winch, which is very hard to stop.

If you have KAS, you'd be weird not to have KIS. So you can just attach the antenna without any docking port, with an engineer and a screwdriver. And without engineer and screwdriver, any kerbal can just grab the antenna and the port and drop them on top of the target docking port.
 

Personally, I used something similar, but not single-use: a docking winch.

kfnkWBd.jpg

This would lower the crew to planet surface from a tall craft, letting them enter and exit at ground level. The winch and KAS port are clipped with the ports in such a way that they snap when the ports dock, creating a connection significantly sturdier than KAS port-winch alone. (although nowadays I'd just autostrut the cabin instead).

Yes, the docking winch makes more sense on ground.
Most obvious use is an crane lander who can lift modules up and dock them securely. 
In space its a bit dangerous and normal docking works well enough. An arm should also work nice here. 

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This is a proof of principle experiment which basically shows that winch docking is possible - nothing more and as such it should be understood... I am totally aware it isn't practical but since it worked I just shared it here.

In good scientific tradition I shared the results included a short discussion of the pros and cons and totally overrated the own accomplishment (ok, I forgot the possibility of healing cancer). Could have made it clearer the post is a subtle satire regarding scientific articles, totally overstating their own achievements which starts with the title.

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12 hours ago, 5thHorseman said:

If you're using kas (to attach) and kis (to carry) why not just attach the dish to the side of your ship?

Agreed, KIS pretty much killed any usage for KAS winches. It's not even useful in space due to the whip lash and spinning from the hook. 

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Yes i agree with the others. Winching in space with KAS is dicey at best. My experience is that objects winched together tend to enter a resonance oscillation type thing and explode. 

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On 20.1.2017 at 6:07 PM, sardia said:

Agreed, KIS pretty much killed any usage for KAS winches. It's not even useful in space due to the whip lash and spinning from the hook. 

KAS winces are still nice for refueling without the need to dock, nice for some of the random stages I use for LKO fuel depots who is not really set up for docking except the 2.5 meter port in front. 
Was more important before 1.2 as part count was more importand and trying to dock two +300 part ships was not very fun. 
An short time warp tend to stabilize the winch, still you don't want it close to solar panels. 

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29 minutes ago, magnemoe said:

KAS winces are still nice for refueling without the need to dock, nice for some of the random stages I use for LKO fuel depots who is not really set up for docking except the 2.5 meter port in front. 
Was more important before 1.2 as part count was more importand and trying to dock two +300 part ships was not very fun. 
An short time warp tend to stabilize the winch, still you don't want it close to solar panels. 

KAS has connection pipes for docking like that. No winches needed.

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11 hours ago, sardia said:

KAS has connection pipes for docking like that. No winches needed.

Winches are nice for self-supported rover excursions. Just bring a ground base block. Of course, a lot can be done with SAS or landing gear turned upside down, but That kills the immersion. :) 

Edited by DrunkenKerbalnaut

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Yeah. I also used winches to re-erect a rocket on Duna. However, I pulled it up with a truck back in 1.0.5... Was kind of challenging to let it stop moving once being upright...

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IRL this technique suffers from a lack of brakes and control - you can't adjust the steering with a single point of pull,  pulling with multiple winches just makes the pieces move faster, and you just can't slow things down.

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1 hour ago, DancesWithSquirrels said:

IRL this technique suffers from a lack of brakes and control - you can't adjust the steering with a single point of pull,  pulling with multiple winches just makes the pieces move faster, and you just can't slow things down.

Might it be safe to assume that -were any space-fairing organization to use this method- they would use winches with fine motor speed control? Of course, that wouldn't address the braking issue. 

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