vyznev

The KSC Rocket Hover Race: Hover around the VAB on rocket thrust

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Posted (edited)

Thread of the Month - April 2020This is a spinoff from @Petabyte's Longest Hover challenge. Your task, should you choose to accept it, is simple but probably not easy:

  1. Launch a rocket from the launchpad. It must have no jet engines, parachutes or aero surfaces (wings, fins, elevons, propeller blades, etc.) of any kind.
  2. Hover around the VAB while keeping the bottom of your rocket below the roof level. Hitting the ground or the roof of any building is of course not allowed either.
  3. Land back on the launch pad.

As this is a race, entries will be ranked by time from launch to landing, but the real challenge is just making it around the VAB and back to the launchpad at all. Anyone who completes the challenge above will earn a place on the leaderboard, a cool badge and eternal fame and glory.*

(* Amount and duration of fame and glory may vary.)

 

Rules and clarifications:

  • All entries should be built with stock parts. DLCs are allowed. (I may add a separate category for modded entries if there's demand for it.)
  • As this is a piloting challenge, using any kind of autopilot-like mods (including Mechjeb autopilot or kOS scripts) is forbidden. Use of stock SAS is allowed. (Again, if people want to submit entries using kOS etc., I'll add a separate category for those.)
  • Purely cosmetic or informational mods are OK, as is anything else that doesn't significantly affect physics or piloting. I'll even allow FAR, since it shouldn't make much difference for this challenge. If in doubt, please note in your entry what mods you're using. 
  • Also, any physics cheats like reducing gravity are obviously also forbidden. So are ladder drives and other glitch exploits.
  • The challenge is to complete the course while hovering on rocket engines. Jet engines and any aero surfaces (wings, fins, elevons, propellers, etc.) are forbidden, as are parachutes. (Yes, that includes using the EVA parachutes on Kerbals.) All kinds of rocket engines are allowed, including RCS thrusters and SRBs. If it would work in a vacuum, it's OK.
  • Both crewed and uncrewed craft are allowed.
  • Staging is allowed (but shouldn't be required, if you're fast enough). However, crashing is not. Your craft should be able to take off again after landing, at least if refueled. Also, the VAB and the launchpad have to be still intact at the end of your flight. :D
  • As the challenge is to fly around the VAB and not over it, the bottom of your rocket should never rise above the level of the helipad on the roof of the VAB, which is 108 meters above ground level. In particular, as long as your indicated altitude above sea level never exceeds your launch altitude + 100 m, you should be good.
  • Also, as this is a flight challenge, your rocket should not touch the ground (or the roof of any buildings) except while on the central flat area of the launchpad. Bumping into walls is OK, I guess, but e.g. bouncing off the launchpad ramp is not.
  • To show that you've completed the challenge, post either a video of your flight or screenshots showing (at least) your craft 1) on the launchpad before launch, 2) hovering on the west side of the VAB, and 3) landed back on the launchpad. If you don't have video, also post a screenshot of the F3 popup at the end of the flight showing the highest altitude reached (which should be at most 100 meters above your indicated altitude at launch).

There's probably something else that I've forgotten. If you have any questions or notice any omissions, please let me know. This is my first challenge here, so it's probably not 100% perfect. Thanks! :) 

 

Categories:

As of April 10, 2020, this challenge now has two leaderboard categories: a general category, with the rules as specified above, and a new Ultra Low TWR category! To qualify for the Ultra Low TWR category, in addition to following the rules for the general category, your craft's TWR (thrust-to-weight ratio) must not exceed 1.1 at any time during your flight.

The easiest way to show your TWR during flight is to click the delta-v indicator button below the staging menu on the left side of the screen, which will expand the staging menu to show (among other things) the TWR of your current stage. You are also strongly recommended to record a video of your flight with the TWR display visible, in order of verify that your TWR stays under the limit at all times. (Alas, KSP does not show your peak TWR in the F3 popup window.)


Leaderboards:

General:

  1. @jshu0:16 with a fully automated craft using Breaking Ground robotic parts and a KAL controller! (link)
  2. @ralanboyle — 0:18 with four Cub engines and a Spark and extra landing legs (link; earlier runs: 0:49, 0:25, 0:20)
  3. @jimmymcgoochie — 0:19 using two upward and two horizontal Twitch engines (link; earlier runs: 1:05, 0:57, 0:22)
  4. @Petabyte — 0:36 with four Twitch engines (link)
  5. @sollarflare — 2:21 with a whole bunch of Twitch engines, almost qualifies for Ultra Low TWR (link)
  6. @DRAG0Nmon — 2:22 with four Twitch engines, piloted by Jebcal Kerman (link)
  7. @sturmhauke — 2:36 with an aerospike and Vernors for lateral control, piloted by Jeb in a command chair (link)

Ultra Low TWR (NEW!):

  1. @ralanboyle1:14 with one Spark, piloted by Herdock Kerman (link)
  2. @vyznev — 1:27 with a Spark and four Spiders, piloted by Val (link)

 

Honorary mentions:

  • @Klapaucius with "Sophocles", an SRB-only entry! While the 2 minute flight did not quite meet the letter of all the rules, the sheer kerbal awesomeness of this crazy flame-spewing contraption definitely deserves an honorary mention. :D
Edited by vyznev
jshu takes first place!

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 As per the challenge submission guidelines, here's my first attempt at completing this challenge myself. Spoiler: I didn't make it back, but I did manage to get about 3/4 of the way around before hitting the mission control building and crashing. :( In any case, despite the failure, I believe this attempt should be sufficient to demonstrate that, with careful piloting, the challenge should in fact be possible to complete:

 

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Can parachutes be used? They can be used to slow down the craft during hover.

And thanks for giving credit to me for my post, and extending it. :-)

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This is extremely frustrating.  A lot of people will rage with this.

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i saw the video...

im going to do it.

ksp crashed lol

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I did it in 2:36. I have a lot of visual mods, but my entry only uses stock parts (with the Restock skins).

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, sturmhauke said:

I did it in 2:36.

Awesome, congrats! That was way faster than I was expecting. Looks like the race is indeed on. :cool:

Nice use of the Vernor engines for steering. It looked like you were cutting it pretty close to the altitude limit there at 1:10 to 1:20, but I checked the numbers and it looks like you're OK. So onto the leaderboard you go. :)  

 

8 hours ago, Petabyte said:

Can parachutes be used? They can be used to slow down the craft during hover.

Sorry, forgot to mention those. Thanks for the reminder! But no, parachutes are not allowed. I guess they would be primarily useful for landing, but that's part of the challenge. ;) 

Edited by vyznev

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I'm confused on the max height. 100 meters is just above the launch pad.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Petabyte said:

I'm confused on the max height. 100 meters is just above the launch pad.

That's 100 meters plus the altitude shown before launch (which will be the altitude of the launch pad, plus the height of your command pod / chair / probe core above the launch pad).

That is to say, the bottom of your rocket (which will be sitting on the launch pad before you launch) should not rise more than 100 meters above its original altitude, since the top of the VAB helipad is about 100 meters higher than the center of the launch pad. But since we can't easily measure the altitude of the bottom of your rocket (unless you place your core part there, which could be kind of inconvenient), we'll just assume that your rocket stays more or less vertical and measure from whatever KSP treats as its reference point, which I believe will normally be whatever part you're controlling it from.

(I actually went and measured it by having Jeb climb up to the helipad, and the actual altitude difference between the launchpad and the VAB helipad seems to be about 102 meters. So you can have an extra 2 meters of margin if you absolutely need it. :wink: But 100 meters is a nice round number, so I'll keep it as the official limit.)

 

Also, I went and made some badges! (ping @sturmhauke) :)

nOEhauZ.png    BoXggFj.png     DtupymK.png    XwbDHRq.png

Feel free to pick your preferred size, or just download this 1000 by 1000 px image and rescale it. (Note that the caption below the sign is invisible on imgur, since it's black on black. View on a light background for best results.)

Edited by vyznev

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Do you need to have a pilot on the rocket? So far I've done a 1:11 with a little uncrewed rocket, but I reckon that if I can avoid crashing back onto the launchpad I can get under a minute. Going to try again in an unmodded KSP instance instead of the heavily modded (and consequently slooooow) version I did it in before.

Just to check- using SAS is allowed?

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2 minutes ago, jimmymcgoochie said:

Do you need to have a pilot on the rocket? So far I've done a 1:11 with a little uncrewed rocket, but I reckon that if I can avoid crashing back onto the launchpad I can get under a minute. Going to try again in an unmodded KSP instance instead of the heavily modded (and consequently slooooow) version I did it in before.

Just to check- using SAS is allowed?

No need for a pilot, and yes, SAS is allowed. (FWIW, my own attempt was uncrewed and used SAS.)

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Posted (edited)

Clean run in unmodded KSP 1.9, 1 minute 5 seconds. The reason I asked about SAS is because I rely almost entirely on holding radial out to keep the rocket pointing up and reasonably stable; it's not explicitly banned in the rules, so it isn't technically cheating :sticktongue:

 

14 parts, and 9 of those were to make landing legs because the real landing legs were heavier (did that matter? I have no idea). I reckon I can go sub-1 minute with a better landing, lost a lot of time at the end.

Edited by jimmymcgoochie
Video worked this time

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6 minutes ago, jimmymcgoochie said:

Clean run in unmodded KSP 1.9, 1 minute 5 seconds. The reason I asked about SAS is because I rely almost entirely on holding radial out to keep the rocket pointing up and reasonably stable; it's not explicitly banned in the rules, so it isn't technically cheating :sticktongue:

That's pretty clever! :) I've added you to the top of the leaderboard. Congratulations! :cool:

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Quick question- how do I put that badge on the bottom of my posts?

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7 minutes ago, jimmymcgoochie said:

Quick question- how do I put that badge on the bottom of my posts?

It's a little bit hidden, but basically click your username at the top right corner of the page, then select "Account Settings" from the menu, and then "Signature" of the left side of the settings page. (If you're on mobile and don't see your username on the top right, click the three-line "hamburger icon" instead, then "Account", then "Account Settings", then "Signature" on the new page just as usual.)

Or just follow this link: https://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/index.php?/settings/signature/

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0m57s- under a minute, but there's still a fair margin to go quicker with good piloting and/or MOAR THRUST!!!

 

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13 minutes ago, ralanboyle said:

Damn man, 

It's all about that landing. 

Somebody will probably beat it in 20 minutes.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, jimmymcgoochie said:

0m57s- under a minute, but there's still a fair margin to go quicker with good piloting and/or MOAR THRUST!!!

 

35 minutes ago, ralanboyle said:

49 seconds...

 

31 minutes ago, Petabyte said:

Sorry ralanboyle, 36 seconds.

Wow! I go away from the site for an hour and this happens. :o

Anyway, you're all on the leaderboard now. :) 

 

28 minutes ago, ralanboyle said:

It's all about that landing. 

Indeed. I wasn't expecting the landing to be the most difficult part of this challenge, but that's the way it looks to be going. To paraphrase Tom Petty, coming down indeed seems to be the hardest thing. :) 

Edited by vyznev

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