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Caveman: The Making of Another Nanocrystalline Diamond

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I promised myself I wouldn't do it. But, after @IncongruousGoat successfully completed NCD Caveman I thought I could just try it a little bit... Now, the first steps have been taken and the grinding is about to begin.

Of course, the first attempt ended at the third mission when I tried to find some additional KSC mini biomes. There are some very pretty stairs next to one of the R&D building and I figured there might be another biome up there. But, beware! IT'S A TRAP! Jeb tried to jump up the stairs but fell down and could not get up again. The recovery team thought he was flying and refused to go near him. By using RCS he could roll around a bit but when the propellant ran out he could no longer move. Now, he's gone. Consumed by the evil stairs.



After that ominous first attemp, the second attempt went better. I seem to be a bit more relaxed this time and not as concerned about cash as in my Diamond attempt. A bit too relaxed perhaps so the first part has a few failed attempts and cash problems:

https://imgur.com/a/nF1lp6s [EDIT: Imgur hates me and screwed up the post. I hope it is fine now]

Some highlights are jumping on the Tracking Station Hub micro biome (which is not the Tracking Station biome).


Failing to accomplish anything and almost burning up. Jeb seem to like that kind of thing... Maybe he needs a vacation...



EDIT: I am done. Here's a short summary of all posts:

Post 1 - The beginning: https://imgur.com/a/nF1lp6s
Post 2 - Mun flyby: https://imgur.com/a/r4dGQjJ
Post 3.1 - Microbiomes: https://imgur.com/a/ur3eHvZ
Post 3.2 - Biomes: https://imgur.com/a/fdBR8Uj
Post 3.3 - Reaching Minmus: https://imgur.com/a/PJADvIP
Post 4.1 - Materials Grinding: https://imgur.com/a/9AoL7TP
Post 4.2 - Bob in Space: https://imgur.com/a/Hld9wVY
Post 4.3 - Bill us useless: https://imgur.com/a/NmbaZt4
Post 4.4 - Comnet: https://imgur.com/a/cCvJuVq
Post 4.5 - Bob to Minmus: https://imgur.com/a/TnGNMXl
Post 5.1 - Mun surface intermission: https://imgur.com/a/Kv09quC
Post 5.2 - Minmus Comnet: https://imgur.com/a/IVruRV8
Post 6.1 - Bob on Minmus Surface: https://imgur.com/a/Dct0GeZ
Post 6.2 - Minmus Materials: https://imgur.com/a/6CA8On9
Post 7.1 - Minmus Greenolith: https://imgur.com/a/9Nd8Ckw
Post 7.2 - Mun intermission: https://imgur.com/a/ykq5ojT
Post 7.3 - Mun Greenolith: https://imgur.com/a/qjXRE7M
Post 8.1 - Minmus Highlands: https://imgur.com/a/ylHXdEY
Post 8.2 - Cash: https://imgur.com/a/v2MghxS
Post 8.3 - Finishing Minmus: https://imgur.com/a/E9tCGzQ
Post 8.4 - Bob to Mun: https://imgur.com/a/JcNBsV0
Post 9 - Building Ravens Nest: https://imgur.com/a/Zt78RDM

Post 10 - Escaping Kerbin: https://imgur.com/a/2Tze39I
                    Video: https://youtu.be/57iNAkb0U-w
                    Another video: https://youtu.be/rIynwubQWAE

Post 11 - Bob on Bop: https://imgur.com/a/q7Y1TPG
                   Video https://youtu.be/jYkzbPsMYRg 

Post 12 - Going Home: https://imgur.com/a/zs4v8yb
                    Video: https://youtu.be/eKW5h5yIC7w


Edited by dvader
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So you did decide to do this!


I wish you the best of luck and look forward to seeing how you proceed from here. As far as the survey contracts go, you're right in that Kerbin spins too fast for comfort. I just kind of stuck my survey craft in an orbit and waited around for it to fly right over the survey site. Often took ~7 in-game days per flight. Not a fast method at all, but a heck of a lot easier than doing anything else.

Also, 0.65 range modifier on antennae? That's... probably still going to be okay, although you're probably going to have to be a bit less sloppy with the comms network than I was (I more or less eyeballed all the altitudes). Interplanetary comms are still off the table, of course, but Minmus should still be in range of the DSN.

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Mental XD. I hope you'll make it. It's going to be tough. Really looking forward to read the serie.

I will try it at some point, but I need a recovery period from the Jool thing. Chilling in "easy" career GPP for now.

Dumb question : In my caveman I never had any temp survey contracts. Is there something one has to do to trigger them ?

TBH, one of the reason to put Jeb around Duna with a thermometer in a polar orbit was solving the cashflow problem*. But the missions never came (for any body).


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@IncongruousGoat I think 0.65 is the default for Hard so I just didn't change it. It didn't make any difference in Diamond so I doubt it will make a difference here.

@Muetdhiver Hmmm.... that is weird. I think they appear once you unlock the thermometer and just visit the relevant body. I've never done anything to unlock.

Here's  a short intermission. It's just a mun flyby (and one failed attempt) but I figured I'd post it anyway since I've spent way too much time trying to figure out the best way to continue.


What to do next is tricky. I've been testing all kinds of Kerbal on a Ladder / Kerbal in a Box etc but with no reliable results. I've managed to go into a polar orbit many times but I've also crashed or burnt many many times. The main issues are:

  • Temperature: If I do a proper gravity run, I spend too much time in atmo and Bob overheats at 800K despite a thermometer next to him showing 350K.
  • Unreliable flight properties. The rocket either falls over shortly after start or goes smoothly and controllably all the way to space. I can't figure out why (yet).
  • Unreliable launchpad properties. Sometimes the rocket falls over right on the launchpad despite working properly on the previous launch. After such a failure, it will never be able to launch again but will fall over every time. I have a cargo cult understanding of the phenomenon but don't think I dare risking it.


Currently, my best guess on how to continue is this:


<THIRD EDIT: Found more mistakes in the calculations>

A detailed survey of every single accessible biome, mini biome and micro biome on Kerbin. It "should" be enough if I do everything. But, that means landing on a couple of KSC buildings which is something I have to practice a lot more before attempting for real. Hard landings or touching the buildings often have less than ideal side effects.




Edited by dvader
Had included the VAB South Complex in the calculations. Also removed anything "flying" over micro biomes
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Hmmm. Riding a ladder to orbit did take some testing when I went and did it, but I didn't have too hard a time getting my design to work. The trickiest part was figuring out an ascent profile that would leave Bob un-cooked. Keeping the ladder-naut behind some part (I used a capsule) and applying judicious and careful throttling seemed to work pretty well. You can make some compromises on aerodynamics, efficiency, and delta-V, since you only need to make it to a polar orbit (you can use the EVA's Kerbal's jetpack to de-orbit if you run out of fuel on insertion).

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@IncongruousGoat I've tried many different versions. I prefer Kerbal in a Box to Kerbal on a Ladder since he doesn't risk falling off due to speed. One less thing to keep track of. My main problem is the lack of predictable stability. Both on ground and in the air. The ground instabilities are the worst since I can't test fire the rocket for real in NCD since it may actually cause it to fall over the next time I launch it. I have a superstitious hunch that it works a few times after creation and then starts failing...

I haven't given up on trying yet but I have to find a much more stable design somehow. I tried your version with two command pods once or twice but not enough to find the right ascent parameters that left both fuel and a non-cooked Bob. I also dropped Bob too many times due to butterfingers...

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Try using the small radiator to contain kerbals. 

Part image

The aero dynamics are much easier to predict and less weight than the girder.  You may need two or three of them so it adds to part count.

If you attach them flipped over.  This prevents the attachment legs from colliding with the kerbal.


Another fantastic alternative is using a service bay that is attached 90 degree. Tricky part is getting the kerbal inside and closing the doors with out summing the kraken. 

Spaghetti-kerbal death is just a terrible way to go.



Try adjusting the position of your test rocket in the VAB.  You can move it so it no longer is on the buggy launch pad . The rocket should sit on the dirt.

Edited by MoeslyArmlis
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I tried both the radiator cage and the 125 service bay death trap approach to riding along to space, but in the end the 2xMk1 while holding on the ladder proved "easier" (*For me, YMMV)

Issues I faced : radiators if angled have horrible aerodynamics and I got crazy instabilities and flip overs. Not good. 125 service bay : didn't find a way to put the poor sucker in. (IMO, the service bay, if there is a practical way of making it work is the superior option on paper : heat shielding, don't need an extra mk1, no off center stuff)

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@Muetdhiver, @MoeslyArmlis I didn't have radiators so I couldn't try them. Now I do, but that's because I have unlocked both the Terrier and the Materials Bay :) Still, I might go for an EVA in space but now with the Terrier it should be much easier.

I only had Bob go up in smoke once (out of 20 tries) when using the service bay. But, now that I open the bay doors horizontal and just climb in, he seems to actually enjoy it in there. No hysterical shaking or anything. I think it is a fairly safe approach. The 2xMk1 approach is much easier though since it requires no loading or other shenanigans which reduces risk of launchpad failures.


I had high hopes for a central service bay design (below) but I it seems to not have any better flight characteristics than the side mounted and it may also be more draggy.


While trying to get a screenshot of this, I went through about 7-10 launchpad tipping failures before I recreated the rocket and got a stable enough launch. Note that I got tipping issues despite the very large separators acting as "feet". Moving it around on the launchpad as suggested didn't really help unfortunately, but strangely enough, rebuilding from scratch did. Maybe one day I might compare craft files to figure this out... but not today.



Also, I "may" have solved the mysterious forces by unplygging my joystick :) Haven't gone back to test it with service bays but my Reliant only InterKerbin craft no longer pulls slightly to north.



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Here we go again. Some adventure and a lot of grinding.

I could not find a reliable way to send a Kerbal on EVA to space and calculations showed going to all Kerbin biomes was not enough. So, I figured I had to max out both the mini biomes (VAB, SPH etc) and the micro biomes (VAB Main building etc). The most risky part was the micro biomes since the buildings are mostly built from left over rocket fuel and easily ignites:

First part, landing on top of buildings is here:



Second part, Kerbin biomes. All but Tundra and Southern Ice Shelf which wasn't needed in the end:


Fortunately, this is not representative for the missions but it is a pretty picture. Valentinas facial expression fits the occassion for once.


Third part is going for Minmus Surface and unlocking the Material Bay. I did some contract hunting to get good "World First" contracts before doing the missions.


The only scary thing was this menacing red text that suddenly appeared:


I really thought I was finished since I expected it to be perhaps millions in fines but 18k was quite manageable at this point in the game. Still, it was scary and I might pay attention to fines before accepting contracts in the future.

Next, there's a lot of grinding. I should start farming Minmus, I should go over all previously visited biomes and do Material measurements etc... yay...


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I have a bit of a back log of missions now. I didn't do as much grinding as I feared I had to because... well, it's boring.

First, some materials grinding:


But, that was so boring I had to do something more interesting. Bob thought it would be just another day at work...



Then Bill wanted to contribute to the space program (and now he does). I researched the OKTO here but forgot to screenshot it:


Before I could continue on Bobs great adventure, I had to set up a comnet. Nothing special, just the usual failures and "nudge to get the solar panels working":


But, then Bob could continue on his journey:


This could be the achievement of his life... if Val ever tells someone about it...



To be continued...




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@dvader Now this is what I came here to see! Riding a ladder to the Mun or Minmus is something I considered doing if I ran out of science, but I never thought of it as a serious source of science. It would seem my evaluation was mistaken. The question is how to proceed from here (other than sending Bob to the Mun, of course). You could grind the Mun and Minmus for science, or you could start doing orbital assembly and going interplanetary. In fact, you might end up having to do both (I would work out the math, except I'm sick and tired of science return calculations at this point). Either way, I'm sure it'll be interesting. Anyone who thinks farming the Mun is all boredom and no excitement has never tried to land in the Polar Lowlands.

Also, it's good to see that your choice to prioritize the OKTO over docking ports paid off. It's a bit of a risky move, but you seem to have made it work.

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Ladder riding to minmus. Pure Madness. I love it.

OCTO before ports is ballsy, nice to see it did work.

This serie is getting better and better and makes for a jolly read. I'm impatient to see your next move... minmus farming to interplanetary ? OTOH, you already have everything you need for a Duna flyby already...

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@IncongruousGoat I'll see if I can post the next steps tonight. But, it turns out Bob was a lot more usefull than expected. I used Bob instead of Bill since I thought it might be nice to reload experiments in space but it turns out that was much easier and more rewarding than I had thought. More on that in the next post though...

@Muetdhiver I wasn't too worried about Electrics before Ports since I knew I could do manned Minmus surface missions without Materials, and therefore should be able to do unmanned with Materials. So, worst case, I have to grind a bit more than expected but it "should" not be a dead end. Without EVA, Minmus gives about 315 science so I should be able to unlock docking ports later. I also know (see below) that I can go to the Mun and back with the current tech, so worst case, I go there to grind. But, as a small teaser, I do not plan to unlock the docking ports any time soon... I have other plans.

In the meantime, here's a short intermission. A quick Mun surface mission for no good reason at all.


EDIT: Added a short Minmus ComNet setup (and two sat contracts).


Edited by dvader
Added comnet setup
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The benefit of having Bob in Minmus orbit is that Val can go to more than one biome in a single launch. I had not planned to use Bob this much but he is much easier to work with than expected. He is a good boy.

Part 6.1: https://imgur.com/a/Dct0GeZ

Here's the science from 3.5 biomes using a single launch. (I had already visited Lowlands but got the EVA).


Next up was extracting Materials science from the same biomes using unmanned crafts. Bob helped out again by collecting the science in space and resetting the bays. A single launch that would have been single biome without Bob, could now reach 3 biomes (four if it had not got "landed" in space). I haven't returned the science since I don't need it just yet.

Post 6.2 https://imgur.com/a/6CA8On9


I'm trying my best not to use Bobs RCS since it is a limited supply. I'm getting better and better at navigating using the rocket only and didn't need RCS at all to reset the material bays.

Here's a small cliffhanger: I decided to let Bob choose the next tech nodes. He likes Aviation Parts (and General Construction). Maybe I should send him some food and fresh air after all...



A rather scary thing is that a nasty bug happened twice. After leaving Minmus, the "landed" status was stuck. The first time, it dissappeared at 10km but the second time I lost the craft after trying to solve it by switching to Bob and warping. It actually got stuck in Minmus orbit with surface velocity of 0.0m/s. Quitting and restarting didn't help.


I'm a bit worried it will happen again, and this time to a manned craft...

To be continued...


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Yes! I found them both! My bold plan payed off! Finding the Greenolith on Minmus gave me Landing which is useless but worth 90 science. But, finding the Greenolith on Mun gave me Advanced... landing? Awww.... Well, I guess it could have been worse. Actually, no. That was the worst option with a 1/11 probability.

Here's the Minmus Greenolith and a return of Bobs science to Kerbin.

Part 7.1 : https://imgur.com/a/9Nd8Ckw


But, I wasn't sure if I wanted to go for a Mun Greenolith; it seemed like an awful lot of clicking. So, I decided to go for a Mun science mission to get the 5 science I needed for the next-next step. I did get that "Landed in space" bug again but this time it crashed the program but not the craft.

Part 7.2 : https://imgur.com/a/ykq5ojT


But, before researching anything and reducing my chances of getting useful tech from a Greenolith, I decided to give the Mun a try. The Mun Greenolith was trickier but I used screenshots from a previous career game where I had explored and named all the anomalies. Whatever wasn't in the pictures, had to be the random greenolith. Oh, and it was 52 days of intense clicking and putting waypoints. Totally worth it.

Part 7.3 : https://imgur.com/a/qjXRE7M


That's it for now. Next up is finishing Minmus.

Edited by dvader
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Next was mopping up the last four biomes of Minmus. First, I tried to get as many as I could with a single launch but only got one.

Post 8.1: https://imgur.com/a/ylHXdEY

If I hadn't wasted fuel on the cash contract and the "left" instead of "right" orbit, maybe I could have gotten two but maybe not. So, instead I opted for a refuelling mission. But first, more cash. I still have some but want more of a buffer in case of mistakes like forgotten contract deadlines. I never get any Mun contracts where Bill is so let's do regular contracts. 

Post 8.2: https://imgur.com/a/v2MghxS

And now on with the Minmus biomes:

Post 8.3: https://imgur.com/a/E9tCGzQ


And we are done with Minmus! 9 biomes * 6 experiments = 54 surface experiments. 9 EVAs from biomes + 5 experiments = 14 from low space and 6 from high space.


So, what next. Well, Bob wants to go to the Mun. I think he's looking for something. (Also, Admin says we need more cash).

Post 8.4 https://imgur.com/a/JcNBsV0


I need about 420 science to finish. Some of the options are:

  1. Mining the Mun. There should be enough left but landing on the Mun is risky. I tend to get careless and crash...
  2. Eve + Gilly biomes. A craft with 8 goo canisters would give 395.5 science. So, maybe just one or two extra material bays.
  3. Let Bob decide...


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10 hours ago, Muetdhiver said:

I would really like to see a eve and gilly mission. Plus its way more fun than mun farming madness :confused:

Some material bays discarded with the aerobraking would work neatly Indeed.

I highly agree.

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On 7/8/2018 at 5:22 AM, Muetdhiver said:

I would really like to see a eve and gilly mission. Plus its way more fun than mun farming madness :confused:

It seems like Bob has almost made up his mind on where to go. I wish he could just tell us... But, in the meantime, the science department has been working on a transfer window planner that seem to work alright.

The math behind it is simple. Calculate the time it takes to go from Kerbin orbit to Eve orbit. Then calculate the orbital period for Eve and estimate how many degrees Eve moves in the time it takes to go from Ap at Kerbin to Pe at Eve (assuming circular planetary orbits). Print on paper and hold in front of the monitor (Warning: Crappy picture):


The central line should line up with the major axis of your ship and the solid lines show how much "behind" the planet should be. The thinner dotted lines mark the SoI so as long as you're within the dotted region, you should at least hit the target SoI. You can hardly see the dotted lines around Eve since it is only about 0.05 degrees. If my calculations are correct, Eve is about twice as hard to hit as Duna but Jool is about as 20x easier (2 deg vs 0.13 for Duna). The SoI Deg column below shows how "big" the SoI is in degrees.


Sandbox testing also shows that as long as you target a Kerbal on EVA when close to the ship, they can stray as far as they like (millions of meters) and still be targeted. They dissappear from the ship screen at about 100km but the navball still shows the direction and relative speed. So, it should be safe to let the EVA kerbal drift from the ship while time warping for very long times. Just don't loose the target lock... Interplanetary rescue in Caveman would be very hard indeed.

So, not much actual game play lately (I blame both the summer and the Impact the Mun weekly challenge) but some lessons learnt.


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  • 1 month later...

Vacations are finally over and we are back in business. I've spent a couple of days trying to figure out how to continue and I think I'm ready.

I've spent some time trying to improve my planetary interception tactics in a sandbox and let's just say @Muetdhiver makes it look much easier than it is. There are many risks of uncontrollable costs like entering the SoI in a reverse orbit or with a very high Pe. Depending on a worst vs best case scenario, a Jool trip could cost anything between 6k and 9k dV depending on how lucky the Jool/Kerbin intercepts are. I can probably reduce the risk of a worst case intercept by using some tools like my Transfer Window Paper at launch and by estimating the interception accuracy when close (Using v_ship / v_body = d_ship / d_body where v is the velocity and d is the physical on screen distance from the ship/body to the interception point).

By the way, I can't do any aerobraking since I hope there will still be a live passenger on the ladder after this.

So, where was I. Right:



Valentina: Hi, Bob? Can you hear me? I built this antenna you told me to build so now we can talk. Did you go anywhere for vacations? Oh, orbit around the moon. Sounds exotic. Have you had time to finish those blueprints you talked about or have you been busy sunbathing and relaxing?

Bob: Ha ha. Very funny. Yes, the blueprints are finished. Sending them over now.


Val: What is that??? There is no way we can build anything like that. It is huge!!! It wouldn't fit in the VAB, the launchpad is too weak and you know there's icky sticky stuff on all the buttons above thirty on the parts labeling machine. Oh, it is modular. That is actually really clever. But, the finance department will never allow it. It would require a few years worth of funds.

Bob: Don't worry. Just call Dave at finance and tell him I might have found the Christmas party pictures but if he supports this I might lose them again.

Val: OK, I just talked to Dave and he agreed to help with anything as soon as I mentioned the Christmas party. He even gave me permission to use Jeb for money making missions if needed. The engineering department has started working on launch vehicles with mixed results. The fuel tanks are close to our technical limits but it should be doable.




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Heading to Jool first? Gutsy. I like it. Duna and/or Eve would be easier to get to, but Eve is hard and the science returns you can (in principle) get from the Jool system far outstrip anything you can get from a similar visit to Duna/Ike. Wonder how you're going to handle the orbit-perturbing effects of Tylo and Laythe flybys, though. Those two can easily kick you into Jool or out of the system entirely.

Edited by IncongruousGoat
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Since I hope to carry a passenger all the way, I want to minimize the number of burns (since I have to pick the guy up for every maneuver).

Plan A does not include any of the closer planets at all. But, during testing I realised there are too many uncertainties so I need a plan B, C and probably D as well. If the intercept is far out, I skip the inner planets, if the orbit is reversed I go to Tylo to re-reverse it, if I end up very close to Jool I just hope I don't hit Tylo/Vall, but if I do then I improvise.

In short I'll keep a close eye on my orbit and try to calculate the risk of an intercept whenever I get close to a body. But, there's really too many inaccuracies for any proper planning.

Eve + Gilly would of course be much easier (and enough science) but Bob insists we go to Jool. I don't know why.

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