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No-emission Kerbin Circumnavigation Challenge


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Thanks to a bunch of hippies from Green Springs and their goons at the so-called Environmental Security Agency (or, as we like to call it, the Economical Screw-up Agency), we now have to limit our Kerbin circumnavigation challenges to have ZERO overall emissions. In other words, whenever we circumnavigate the planet, we have to do it in an electric vehicle. Fortunately, thanks to our folks at Kerbal Motion LLC, we now have the means to do so. It may be slow, but it is possible.

 

In other words, the challenge is to go one full equator's length of Kerbin WITHOUT any gas-powered engines - which means ABSOLUTELY NO:

  • Jet engines
  • Rockets
  • Gas-powered turboshaft engines (like the R121 or the R7000)
    • Electric motors are okay.

 

Here are some other rules for this challenge.

  • Leaderboard placement will be awarded based on TOTAL MISSION TIME ELAPSED
  • (As you may have already guessed) vehicle must be all-electric.
    • Which means are solar panels and/or RTGs are highly recommended.
  • Having liquid fuel and/or oxidizer is okay ONLY for weight and balancing purposes.
    • This can come in real handy if you need to move your CoM forward or backward.
  • Fuel cells are not permitted, since we're trying to conserve gas thanks to those pot-smoking bureaucrats at the ESA.
    • Even if I did allow fuel cells, they won't be enough to push your vehicle through the whole length of the trip.
  • Stock and/or DLC parts only.
    • Autopilot/navigation/gauge mods okay.
      • Generally, no mods outside of DLCs that come with additional parts
    • EXCEPTION: mods that come with balloon or dirigible-related parts are permitted, but those craft go in a separate division. 
      • If you want to allow a specific mod that conforms to the other rules, let me know and I'll take a look at it before deciding if it shall be allowed.
  • Your vehicle must come back IN ONE PIECE.
    • Not that you should need an extra fuel tank for an all-electric vehicle.
  • Surface vehicles are okay, but they'll get placed in a separate division. 
    • Mostly because you'll take longer to go around the planet.
    • On the bright side, if you have to stop to recharge, you can pause and take a break IRL.
      • Just keep in mind that any and all recharge breaks in which the MET clock is running count for your finishing time.
  • Crew capacity is optional.  
  • Divisions are as follows:
    • Trekker Division - vehicles that can't fly, but travels on land and/or water to complete the journey.
    • Earhart Division - aircraft like planes, helicopters, and gyroplanes.
      • You'll get an Earhart Division: First Class medal if you successfully fly Kerbin's equator WITHOUT STOPPING.
    • Heisenberg Division - balloons, blimps, zeppelins, et cetera.
      • I don't know much about the balloon/airship mods, but the reason they're a separate division is because they can stay airborne without needing to land or stop. This may provide an unfair advantage over the aircraft, since they'll have to come down and recharge for God-knows-how-long before taking off again.
    • Sun Soaker Division - any craft that can successfully cruise at 175 m/s. 
      • More details later. 
  • Pictures and/or video required for entry to be valid. Be sure to include:
    • Your craft in action.
    • Start/finish times.
    • (Optional) the craft in the hangar.

 

If you're having trouble getting your rotors to work, please consult this thread below. @Echo__3 and @18Watt really helped me out when I started to use the Breaking Ground DLC.

  • Sure, I originally asked about a motor that's prohibited on this challenge. Nevertheless, the same principles still apply - and I got the electric-rotor plane to work successfully.

 

As promised, here's an explanation as to why the Sun Soaker Division has a speed requirement:

Spoiler

For craft with solar panels, it is highly recommended that you stay with the sun for as long as possible to maximize charge time. It is also recommended that you go WEST since the sunlight is going in that direction on the surface. If you REALLY want to stretch our your sun-soaking time, you should go AT THE SAME SPEED AS THE SUNLIGHT.

  • In other words, you would have your craft travel west at the calculated velocity below (depending on your planet)

9byzk0y.png

 

If you can safely fly at any of those speeds (on those planets, of course), then effectively you can stay airborne FOREVER. That's why Sun Soakers are a separate division from the other aircraft and the balloons.

 

And last but not least, here's my entry. Can't wait to see what you all come up with.

Spoiler

W14EPm2.png

  • The Eve Drone 1.ii in the SPH.
    • Designed to fly around gathering scientific data around the surface of Eve.
      • Obviously, I can't send a jet due to the atmosphere not being suitable for our air intake engines.
      • Refueling a rocket plane with onboard ISRU without an engineer would take forever.
    • I had to replace the rear cone to allow fuel tanks to be attached later.
  • Once flight tests on Kerbin are completed, I can build a rocket that can take the successful prototype to Eve.
    • And I can thank Matt Lowne for the general guidelines on how to do that.
    • I will post the full version on KerbalX once the mission has proven successful. 

 

Lv4gUkH.png

  • Soon after sunrise at the KSC, I took off and turned around facing west. That way, I can maximize my time exposed to the sun and, by extension, my time getting a continuous source of solar energy.
    • Previous test runs have proven that I could not hit 175 m/s, so I had to stretch out my in-flight charge time as best I could.

 

g6zGuJ2.png

  • I turned on Big Ben at the 26-minute mark to see how long the plane could fly without needing manual correction.
    • Only pay attention to the MET clock in the upper-left corner. Big Ben was just for additional curiosity.
  • I had left to run errands IRL while I kept the plane running. 
    • When I got back, I was surprised to see the plane still flying well.
    • I was at 1,900 m ASL when I returned, so I flew back up to 5,500 m to resume (mostly) stable flight.
      • It may have risen up and down, but overall a 270-degree heading was maintained along with a 120 m/s airspeed.
  • To be honest with you all, I thought the plane would crash while I was out. Thank God it didn't.

 

zcR7r3y.png

  • Nice shot, isn't it?
  • Had to do corrections every now and then, as well as leave the plane running while I did other things (running, showering, eating, paying bills, texting friends, etc).
    • Since it has repeatedly proven itself stable for extended flights period, I decided to turn off Big Ben.

 

1XU2bxm.png

  • 158 km to go, and already the sun is coming down.
    • As explained by the net drain on the energy gauge.
      • No matter if I'm at full throttle or 1/3 throttle, I'd still fly at ~120 m/s. Might as well take the route that saves energy.
    • I switched the clock mode to UT in case someone happens to know when sunset is where this shot was taken.

 

XBbhWT3.png

  • This is it. 15 km to go, and the sun is barely over the horizon. 
  • Wow, I've been airborne NONSTOP for more than a day. 
  • I'm going to make it.

 

ha27jQe.png

  • Nice glow over the mountains.

 

uRyrHPQ.png

  • The drone coming to a complete stop at the KSC.
    • And just in time too, since it's dark here.
  • Mission accomplished.

 

@Mars-Bound Hokie: 1 day, 2 hours, 58 minutes, 13 seconds

Earhart Division: First Class

Edited by Mars-Bound Hokie
Mentioned that Lf+Ox is okay ONLY for CoM balancing purposes.
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This reminds me somewhat of the 100 EC range challenge, where it was demonstrated that you can fly basically forever on a single Z-100 battery.

As an aside, will we be allowed to use a turboshaft engine if no liquid fuel is consumed? My plan is to use one as a ram air turbine - have it passively spinning so its alternator will generate electricity.

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10 minutes ago, camacju said:

As an aside, will we be allowed to use a turboshaft engine if no liquid fuel is consumed? My plan is to use one as a ram air turbine - have it passively spinning so its alternator will generate electricity.

That is an interesting take on a perpetual motion machine!  If that works, I'd love to see it.  KSP has some interesting physics..

I know it's possible to go faster, but my current plane is cruising at 307 m/s, about Mach 0.82 I think.  I'm sure I'll lose a little speed when I need to go over mountains.

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9 hours ago, 18Watt said:

That is an interesting take on a perpetual motion machine!  If that works, I'd love to see it.  KSP has some interesting physics..

I know it's possible to go faster, but my current plane is cruising at 307 m/s, about Mach 0.82 I think.  I'm sure I'll lose a little speed when I need to go over mountains.

Personally I think altitude will be slightly more important than speed, mainly due to the relationship between air pressure, thrust and drag which i think adds another layer to this challenge over your average circumnavigation.
currently I'm getting 310m/s at about mach 0.95 after some tweaking of the rake of the propellors

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The turboshaft engine can be used to make a perpetual motion device.

10 hours ago, 18Watt said:

That is an interesting take on a perpetual motion machine!  If that works, I'd love to see it.  KSP has some interesting physics..

 

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Well, here's my entry.  3 hours 28 minutes.  I threw Jeb onboard, just because.

Starting out:

Spoiler

The plane in the hangar.  Two small rotors, each with 12 small ducted fan blades.  Counter-rotating.  Those wings are about 4 times as big as they need to be.

LsFVOLW.png

On the runway.  I have KerbNet pulled up so I can try to stay close to the equator.

qjcEJdU.png

Airborne, passing 200 m/s at the end of the runway.

NfjZDCT.png

Pretty soon we've reached 307 m/s.

h7wjaS7.png

With a little fiddling, I was able to maintain a little over 310 m/s.  The higher I went, the harder it was to maintain good speed.  So I'm going to need to stay as low as I can to go fast.

3O3Aj28.png

One hour into the flight, getting dark.  Flying low in the dark at mountains isn't going to work, I'll need to fly higher for safety, but I'll lose a lot of speed.

tn2JFli.png

Here's how far I got after 1 hour- the blue marker is my position after 1 hour.  A little over one quarter the way around Kerbin.

d3LIBYH.png

More screenshots:

Spoiler

After two hours, I'm over halfway around Kerbin.

aFCtX2s.png

Teal marker is the two-hour mark.  Bad screenshot, can't really tell where I am.

Tvi3v7U.png

Approaching the desert.  I'm trying to stay as low as I can, without deviating from the equator too far.

j5Zfip6.png

Three hours in.  Not too far left to go.

6ZYGxXW.png

After 3 hours, I'm well past the dessert airfield.  Looks like I'll be crossing the Mountains of Madness at night.  Rats.  That was just poor planning on my part.

8ZxcqhG.png

Finish:

Spoiler

Past the mountains, I can just see the lights of KSC in the distance.

ZPBkFAE.png

Getting lined up with the runway.

3Xgt50K.png

Landed.  3:27:07.  

em3svjX.png

Here's another shot in daylight.

weOV1Gr.png

Here's a shot with the cowling removed.  Jeb is in a lawn chair.  Power is provided by 12 RTGs.  Not sure if I needed that many, but it was enough to run two small rotors full-blast.  There's also a probe core in there, for KerbNet access.  Flight controls are two canard elevators in the front, and a rudder in the back.  The canard elevators also provide roll control.  I did put a small reaction wheel in there too, but probably didn't need it.

j1YM9Dx.png

 

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Currently working on a second run.  I've optimized my plane to maintain better speed at higher altitudes, for clearing various mountains.  A side benefit is it's getting better speed down low too.  Hoping to shave a minute or two off my time.

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On 10/3/2022 at 8:15 AM, camacju said:

This reminds me somewhat of the 100 EC range challenge

*Vietnam flashbacks* :lol: It was a fun challenge to be fair

Regarding this challenge: I know the challenge specifically requires electric propulsion, but hydrogen fuel cells are a thing and they produce basically no harmful emissions. Canonically, KSP's Liquid Fuel is closest to RP-1 Kerosene, but I think allowing fuel cells that use hydrogen (there might be mods for it) can give an interesting spin on the challenge

With that being said, here's my 100 EC circumnavigator that I built for 18Watt's challenge. Since it is all electric, it is eligible for this thread. Although, with flight time of 17 hours and 13 minutes, it will probably be the slowest submission in this thread :lol:

 

 

Edited by OJT
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After crashing my plane into mountains at night too many times to count, I've done something I seldom do, install a mod.  I'm using a mod called Pilot Assistant.  It's a pretty basic autopilot for airplanes.  

I played around with using servos to help keep pitch and roll steady, but never achieved satisfactory results.  Just need something to keep the wings level and the pitch fairly constant.

And yes, I did attempt to recover with a F9 after crashing.  Unfortunately, my planes did not F9 in the atmosphere correctly, so I need to do the run without relying on quick saves.

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Updated time:  3 hours 14 minutes.

After repeatedly crashing into mountains, I started using an autopilot mod.

Spoiler

I'm going west this time.  I could have timed it a little better, to be able to spend more time in daylight, but it worked.

LH72iqr.png

Making pretty good time here.

FjeFq7B.png

Position after 1 hour.

htMkdxy.png

I'm hitting speeds above 330 m/s at low altitudes.

rPLmizP.png

Second hour:

Spoiler

I'm well over halfway around Kerbin after 2 hours.

TUvSLKi.png

Speed isn't as good higher up to clear terrain, but still faster than my first attempt.

suyp0FM.png

Third hour:

Spoiler

Saw an eclipse, Mun passed between me and Kerbol.  Neat.

3I4Rpq5.png

335 m/s.

xtwEEqs.png

335 m/s is not quite supersonic, but it's close.  That's about Mach 0.95 near sea level.

Gw1A8Mv.png

Three hours into the flight, I'm almost back to KSC.

ASYwikW.png

Finish:

Spoiler

Approaching KSC.

uO2MdvR.png

I think I actually landed just before 3:13, but it took me a second or two to find the F1 key to take a screenshot.  Let's call it 3 hours 14 minutes..

XOsL2MX.png

Cowling removed to expose the inside stuff.  16 RTGs power two medium electric rotors.  8 Medium fan blades per rotor, counter-rotating.  Buried inside the clump of RTGs is small probe core, and a small reaction wheel.

SVdU0VQ.png

 

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After a small bit of research and some more tinkering it looks like the optimal way to get more speed is using the largest motors with the medium sized ducted fan.
bSpaV1D.png

As you can see I've used quite a few of them, as well as shrouding them in a fairing to reduce drag.
All in all this gives me 352m/s at sea level and 331m/s at 2500m

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7 minutes ago, Mars-Bound Hokie said:

This:

 

I know it was finished years ago, but there's a good first step to aim for.

Is there a challenge for basic circumnav without any funny business(Not elcano)?

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On 10/2/2022 at 10:06 PM, Mars-Bound Hokie said:

Having liquid fuel and/or oxidizer is okay ONLY for weight and balancing purposes.

Are ore tanks allowed for the same purpose?

On 10/2/2022 at 10:06 PM, Mars-Bound Hokie said:

ABSOLUTELY NO:

  • Jet engines
  • Rockets
  • Gas-powered turboshaft engines (like the R121 or the R7000)
    • Electric motors are okay.

What about ion engines? They run mainly on electricity, and the emitted xenon isn't harmful.

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8 minutes ago, Leganeski said:

Are ore tanks allowed for the same purpose?

Absolutely.

 

9 minutes ago, Leganeski said:

What about ion engines? They run mainly on electricity, and the emitted xenon isn't harmful.

I suppose so, but good luck going anywhere with their weak thrust.

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After the results of further tweaking, i'm eek even more speed out at sea level for the runs in between the various landmasses.
bLNlO6u.png
I'm currently using a part edited ion engine to provide for the energy generation requirements, I'd need around 100 rtg's to comfortably satisfy electric charge requirements. I did, however for the sake of fairness add roughly 8 tons of ballast to simulate the RTGs

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At what point is it better to stop using turbine blades and start using wings on your BG motors? If this is a speed-limited challenge I feel like that's the bigger concern. Throwing a big pile of BG motors or SAS wheels behind a stock prop might break 350 m/s. I mean, people have gotten to like 1400 using stock bearings (twice that with magic wings) so BG bearings have to be better, right?

 

Edited by Pds314
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10 hours ago, Pds314 said:

At what point is it better to stop using turbine blades and start using wings on your BG motors? If this is a speed-limited challenge I feel like that's the bigger concern. Throwing a big pile of BG motors or SAS wheels behind a stock prop might break 350 m/s. I mean, people have gotten to like 1400 using stock bearings (twice that with magic wings) so BG bearings have to be better, right?

 

I think it's more of a function of speed at altitude over anything else. If you can optimise an engine and aircraft to fly it's fastest at 4.5 to 5.5km you can avoid all the tedium of a more direct approach in regards to piloting.

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16 hours ago, Pds314 said:

so BG bearings have to be better, right?

Actually, no - the limiting factor is torque per mass, rather than top speed. Reaction wheels provide a lot more torque than the Breaking Ground rotors - with normal elevon props, the rotors can't even reach 300 meters per second. The lift to drag ratio is just too low.

One interesting compromise would be using reaction wheels to spin a Breaking Ground rotor and provide more torque this way, but I haven't quite worked out how the control scheme would work yet.

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