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djr5899

Any veteran tips for the docking inept?

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Different day, same recent topic for me.   Docking vessels together is going to be the death of me or cause me to set fire to my PC in frustration.  There has GOT to be a better way, without having a mod just do it for you.  There is just so much to do in this game that I haven't even scratched the surface of yet.  Never been successfully to a planet outside of Kerbin realm of  Kerbin, Minmus, and the Mun, and I feel it is because I can't dock for nothing.

What typically happens for me is that I can get my two vessels within around 50 meters apart from each other, and then it just seems like I play an endless game of having the one vessel fly around/by/past the other vessel that is in orbit.  I've been using docking port mod, and even with that I've noticed some issues, like it not being able to identify Rockomax Hubmax multi-point connectors (do those things need need docking ports placed on them to have Dock Port Indicator mod see them....hope not), and occassionally seeing my the front of my ship (where the docking port is) act like the back of my ship, meaning the orange doc alignment circle doesn't show up properly.

This guy just wants to build a simple space station about 250Km out from Kerbin.  I sent my Habitation module up first, and followed it off with my Science module. I spent 3-4 hours yesterday failing at docking the two pieces.  The main issue to me seemed to be even though I built my RCS thrusters as evenly spaced out from center of mass as possible, when using the thrusters, they still seemed to drift off course and not respond true to the inputs given. By some miracle, coming back to the game after a 2 hours break I managed to get my Science mod lined up,  speed down to 0 m/s, and guide it in and docked.  Figured, ok, maybe now I got it.  Sent out my last pieces, combined fuel station module as well as escape pod. Nope.....not happening.  Here I am again spending 2-3 hours this afternoon trying to get the damn things docked, and it just is not happening.  Biggest problem now is that I want to dock to the Rockomax multiport connector, and Docking module won't recognize it....but even then, I am stuck in the endless dance of getting close and then having the orbiting piece fly right by me.

If anyone has any other tips for a frustrated guy running 1.4.3 in accomplishing any of this, I'd appreciate it.  I was in this same boat over a month ago.  I really want to enjoy this game, but my inability and inefficiency in docking is sapping  the enjoyment.  I can't keep spending hours upon hours playing, doing the same thing, with no progress at the end of those several hours.  :(

  • Building vessels with RCS thrusters spaced properly to get proper movements without drifting.
  • Is there a way to make STS movement to defined markers (Target, prograde, retrograde, etc) move fast without turning on engines?   When you have a larger vessel to try and dock, it moves so slow or won't move at all without thrusters.  Would adding more reaction wheels help that?
  • Does Rockomax Hubmax multi point connect need docking ports placed on them to dock?  Or to have Docking Port mod identify them?
  • Tips on how to avoid getting in pattern of having orbiting object you are trying to dock continually get within 50m only to start drifting away from you?
  • Any tips on camera setting to use?  I constantly feel like I am adjusting the camera, or getting it stuck at the point where it won't spin one direction anymore.
  • Any mods that will dock for you once you get to a certain distance away?

 

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rendezvous within 100 meters, align docking ports, with navball in prograde mod, get your velocity vector centered on the target indicator at ~0.5 m/s. Use fine control (caps lock by default), and keep it centered.... docking successful.... Once you learn the navball, its really not hard at all.

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13 hours ago, djr5899 said:

So, maybe the biggest thing I have learned with all these docking issues is, when you are stuck, save, and come back to it the next day. 

And you know, it's entirely possible some glitch was building up as the game was running. Restarting the game (and sometimes rebooting the PC) is sometimes what you need to do to make things work right again.

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20 hours ago, MaverickSawyer said:

I actually dislike the magnets being as powerful as they are. Typically, I'll use Tweakable Everything to tone down the force, as well as the kick it gives you when you disconnect the ports.

I've been looking for a way to lower the magnetic force. Thanks for the tip :)

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I can heartily recommend Navyfish's Docking Alignment Indicator.  It doesn't dock for you, but gives an indication showing when your docking ports are lined up parallel, and which way you need to move your ship so that they are in alignment.  As the controls for moving your ship are all relative to the indicator, you don't need to change camera angle or orientate your ship in any particular direction so that 'up' is up or 'right' is right etc.

I made a Youtube video showing how it works :

 

You can download the mod from this thread which also includes a video from Navyfish demonstrating the mod

 

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I thought of something else when docking earlier today that may seem trivial to most, make sure your ship is facing with the hatch up so it translates in the right direction.

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That's part of why a lot of people have advised using the navball instead of the camera view. ;)

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21 minutes ago, MaverickSawyer said:

That's part of why a lot of people have advised using the navball instead of the camera view. ;)

Still gotta check you're parallel, which is why others have said camera is important too. ;)

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3 hours ago, Pthigrivi said:

Still gotta check you're parallel, which is why others have said camera is important too. ;)

If you are using an alignment mod, like the one listed just above, you just have to glance at the camera to see that your orientation is close to what you want, and then use the alignment indicator to fine tune it.  Since most docking ports are attached in 90* turns, in terms of rotation, you can then use the alignment indicator to get the rotation of the vessel dead on.  

I know it's pilot error, but I find if I start watching the camera for even the slightest bit, I start to try to steer by what the camera is showing as 'up'. 

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8 hours ago, MaverickSawyer said:

That's part of why a lot of people have advised using the navball instead of the camera view. ;)

I guess I have a different docking style than some. I use the regular camera view and kinda "drift" around the docking port if the ships aren't parallel. What I mean is I set SAS to Target when I'm within 100m, then I alternate between translating sideways/up-down and forward so that the ship pretty much makes a "powerslide" around to the right side of the target ship. Probably a somewhat inefficient and unnecessarily complicated method, but space drifting is fun. :D

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1 hour ago, Mjarf said:

What I mean is I set SAS to Target when I'm within 100m

Worth remembering that SAS Target hold is only available with three-star or better pilots, or equivalent probe core.  In Sandbox, you'll have this, likely in Science unless you chose pilot experience in difficulty settings.  If you're trying to learn to dock in a Career game (as is often recommended for new players to start playing, to avoid "part overload"), you won't have this option yet (docking contracts come up as soon as you unlock docking clamps, and the Jr. size comes up before you've got the hardware for Mun and Minmus landings that would generate two-star pilots, if you're anywhere close to unlocking the tech tree evenly).

You will, even from the beginning, have the :targetpro: and :targetretro: markers for the target -- but you can only "hold" on them using the basic "heading hold" SAS mode (available with at least one-star pilots -- maybe no-star, though not with the Stayputnik; if you're trying to dock with a Stayputnik, you're a whole different level of persistent/crazy).

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That's a very good point, and it does make things a tad more complicated but still doable if you're patient.

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On 5/20/2018 at 5:19 PM, djr5899 said:

Different day, same recent topic for me.   Docking vessels together is going to be the death of me or cause me to set fire to my PC in frustration.  There has GOT to be a better way, without having a mod just do it for you.  There is just so much to do in this game that I haven't even scratched the surface of yet.  Never been successfully to a planet outside of Kerbin realm of  Kerbin, Minmus, and the Mun, and I feel it is because I can't dock for nothing.

What typically happens for me is that I can get my two vessels within around 50 meters apart from each other, and then it just seems like I play an endless game of having the one vessel fly around/by/past the other vessel that is in orbit.  I've been using docking port mod, and even with that I've noticed some issues, like it not being able to identify Rockomax Hubmax multi-point connectors (do those things need need docking ports placed on them to have Dock Port Indicator mod see them....hope not), and occassionally seeing my the front of my ship (where the docking port is) act like the back of my ship, meaning the orange doc alignment circle doesn't show up properly.

This guy just wants to build a simple space station about 250Km out from Kerbin.  I sent my Habitation module up first, and followed it off with my Science module. I spent 3-4 hours yesterday failing at docking the two pieces.  The main issue to me seemed to be even though I built my RCS thrusters as evenly spaced out from center of mass as possible, when using the thrusters, they still seemed to drift off course and not respond true to the inputs given. By some miracle, coming back to the game after a 2 hours break I managed to get my Science mod lined up,  speed down to 0 m/s, and guide it in and docked.  Figured, ok, maybe now I got it.  Sent out my last pieces, combined fuel station module as well as escape pod. Nope.....not happening.  Here I am again spending 2-3 hours this afternoon trying to get the damn things docked, and it just is not happening.  Biggest problem now is that I want to dock to the Rockomax multiport connector, and Docking module won't recognize it....but even then, I am stuck in the endless dance of getting close and then having the orbiting piece fly right by me.

If anyone has any other tips for a frustrated guy running 1.4.3 in accomplishing any of this, I'd appreciate it.  I was in this same boat over a month ago.  I really want to enjoy this game, but my inability and inefficiency in docking is sapping  the enjoyment.  I can't keep spending hours upon hours playing, doing the same thing, with no progress at the end of those several hours.  :(

  • Building vessels with RCS thrusters spaced properly to get proper movements without drifting.
  • Is there a way to make STS movement to defined markers (Target, prograde, retrograde, etc) move fast without turning on engines?   When you have a larger vessel to try and dock, it moves so slow or won't move at all without thrusters.  Would adding more reaction wheels help that?
  • Does Rockomax Hubmax multi point connect need docking ports placed on them to dock?  Or to have Docking Port mod identify them?
  • Tips on how to avoid getting in pattern of having orbiting object you are trying to dock continually get within 50m only to start drifting away from you?
  • Any tips on camera setting to use?  I constantly feel like I am adjusting the camera, or getting it stuck at the point where it won't spin one direction anymore.
  • Any mods that will dock for you once you get to a certain distance away?

 

PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. 

RCS needs to be balanced from the Center of Mass. With large craft, I have a set on top (stock 4point RCS quads) and a set below on the major ZY axis (0,90,180,270). Small craft I just use one set centered on the center of mass. I usually, attach the RCS last. Set your gizmos where you like them to be without offkiltering the vehicle. Found out I did an experiment putting those quads at a 45-degree difference (45,135,225,315) that 2 sets of quads fired for a maneuver instead of one. Hard to lift off from a planetary body in a vacuum with turn a tight to make orbit.

Must be in exact orbit with the same apoapsis, periapsis, and inclination...about 2km with <10 m/s is a good target distance and speed...Good luck with that.... use small RCS burns, shut off the mains and just slowly approach the target. BE PATIENT! you'll get there. Make sure your docking clamps are crossfed. At 500mtrs slow to 3-1 m/s. Overshoot sucks and takes another 10 minutes to reset yourself. DONT WARP!

I use the LOCKED view to upright my vessel and the camera always has a view ahead even turning. Keep an eye on the navball with the prograde bug centered on the target bug.

Target is always tumbling slowly...just have to get ahead of your planning at the very end to intercept and soft dock. Took me a while but well worth it. All in good fun.

 

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     I recently had occasion to dock a refueler to one of my stations for some contract based money making,

I have to say docking is vastly  easier than it use to be.

For one thing the craft you at docking with will now track your craft and adjust it's facing to point at your craft.

But, back to the topic at hand,

1) Rendevous, I assume you can do this,  as you asked about docking, not rendezvous. 

2) Slow down to ~0.1 m/sec when you are about 50 meters away.

3) switch to the other craft using the brackets keys "[ or ]"

4) click on the docking port of the incoming craft and select set as target, turn on SAS/RCS and aim pro-target,

5) switch back to the first craft, select the docking port you want to dock to and set it a the target, have the pilot aim pro-target,

6) continue closer to the 2nd craft, it will adjust to point toward you, and you to it. slow speed, less than 1m/s are better.

7) success!!! {probably}

 

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I really didn't expect this to get bumped when I linked it the other day, but now that it has, I see it's in the wrong place.   I'll just move this over to GamePlay Q's. 

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Posted (edited)
On 5/20/2018 at 10:12 PM, strigon said:

A big tip is to make sure each vessel is pointed along the same axis - most people like Normal/Antinormal since they don't drift - before docking. Just use SAS to hold that position on both craft, and the biggest problem - orientation - is solved.

Technically, they DO drift, but it's along the normal/antinormal axis, so it's not going to put you off-center.

Also, unless you NEED to use the RCS for extra SAS authority, you're better off turning advanced tweakables on and removing pitch/yaw/roll from RCS.  Use it for translation only if at all possible, and possibly hit CAPS LOCK for fine control mode (which balances better as well).

oops, looks like this is a fair bit of a necro, though still relevant...

Edited by Kryxal

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Quote

“Roger that,” Alex said. “We’re comin’ in.”

In the dramas and action films that Prax had watched back on Ganymede, piloting a ship had always looked like a fairly athletic thing. Sweating men dragging hard against the control bars. Watching Alex was nothing like it. He still had the two joysticks, but his motions were small, calm. A tap, and the gravity under Prax changed, his couch shifting under him by a few centimeters. Then another tap and another shift. The heads-up display showed a tunnel through the vacuum outlined in a blue and gold that swept up and to the right, ending against the side of the turning ring.

Prax looked at the mass of data being sent to Alex and said, “Why fly at all? Couldn’t the ship just use this data to do the docking itself?”

“Why fly?” Alex repeated with a laugh. “’Cuz it’s fun, Doc. Because it’s fun.”

- The Expanse, Caliban's War, page 239

Alex up there summarizing my opinion on docking mods, but don't let my opinion stop you.  :)

Sounds like you're struggling a lot with the RCS part of docking.  One of my recommendations is to learn when to alternate between RCS and SAS.  You almost never want them on at the same time while docking, and you might find one working against the other.  But switching between the two can make things a lot less frustrating.  For my part, I only use RCS when translating (moving backward and forward or laterally) while I only ever use reaction wheels to change orientation (direction of the craft.)  That way, I don't waste monopropellant trying to turn or introduce "wobble" in the translation from oddly placed RCS thrusters messing up my translation with micro-pushes.  The process is mostly one of translate, rotate, translate, rotate, translate, rotate, repeatedly until docked.

It sounds like you have the rendezvous down if you can regularly get within fifty meters of your target, so getting lined up with it and moving in sounds like your big challenge.  I assume you are right-clicking on the port you want to dock with and doing "Set As Target"?  That gives you a more precise thing to aim for when moving in.  You should also right-click the docking port on your own craft and select "Control From Here" so your navigation tools know that is the part you want to use as the "nose" of the craft.  Further, if the other craft is controllable (i.e. it has a probe core or a pilot aboard) and has its own reaction wheels, then I find it's worthwhile to switch to that craft with ] or [, then set the first craft's docking port as it's target, control from the port you want to dock it to, and rotate it around until it's lined up with the incoming craft.  Then switch back to that craft and bring it in.  This is much, much easier than trying to translate one craft around another until it lines up with the desired docking port.

Oh, and one last thing, once you have the craft lined up and close together, turn off the SAS.  This is important.  The docking clamps have some magnets in them that will line them up with each other if they're close together, but the force of those magnets are pretty weak and will be overwhelmed by an SAS system trying to keep the craft "stable" instead of letting the magnets pull it into alignment, and you may end up bouncing off.

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Ha, good times.  Seeing that this thread is almost a year old, I can report that yes, I can dock just fine now.

Just a few of the reasons that that impeded my progress (aside from practicing a ton):

  1. Wasn't fully matching the orbit, hence the "getting close to 50m only to see the craft fly away fast in the other direction."
  2. RCS Build Aid was a big help in terms of thrusters.  Also, realizing the MK 1-3 command pod had built in RCS, which was throwing off my other thruster tuning.
  3. Move faster without engines....it's called reaction wheels.  :)

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