toadicus

[1.1.3] AntennaRange 1.11.4 - Enforce and Encourage Antenna Diversity

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Interesting, what's your idea forward with that feature? Short range communications?

OK -- now that it has been said, it has to happen.

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Interesting, what's your idea forward with that feature? Short range communications?
I can see that being neat to have. "Transmit one, store one" is a common technique to improve science yields, and being able to do that with surface samples without having to get back into the pod will be convenient.

First a couple notes on why EVA transmission is currently an exploit:

  • Right now the electric charge for an EVA pack is magically conjured from the æther, not pulled from a command pod.
  • Right now the default EVA battery size is pretty big, and the default EVA transmission cost is pretty small.
  • Put together, this means you can use your Kerbals as completely free science transmitters.

The feature is here now primarily to widen the test base (up from "just me") to catch problems. If you're interested in testing it, use it. If you're interested in playing a fun and balanced game, don't. :)

OK, here's a little more exploration on the topic, now that I'm not caught between pushing all my updates out on release day and actually sleeping like the old man that I am. ;)

In general I like the idea of an EVA transmitter, primarily for crew reports and potentially also for an occasional instrument being carried via KAS. It adds flexibility, and properly balanced it should add a meaningful choice to a player's arsenal of choices when it comes to phoning home. If you land on the edge of the right crater on Mun you can get three or four biomes in a single pack of fuel; transmitting reports back could be a fun way to avoid having to go back to refill your magical fuel pack between steps (at the cost of not getting much / any science for the surface samples). It has other uses for smaller moons; now that Gilly has biomes, an EVA Kerbal could theoretically explore the whole thing! ;)

But, balancing it right now is a real problem. Since I'm not currently modeling ElectricCharge use all the way down the relay chain, there has to be a reason that you wouldn't want to get out of your ship, grab all of your science, and transmit it for next-to-nothing from your EVA Kerbal. So, I could make the EVA transmitter really inefficient: I could give it a ludicrously high power input, or a really slow data rate, or some combination of the two. But, that's not fun at all. No one wants to sit there for 5 minutes while your Kerbal phones home six saved Gravioli experiments. It's also not very realistic; a short range radio on an EVA suit would have a comparatively low power draw versus a shipboard transmitter (perhaps not that much lower; after all even Voyager is basically whispering back to us, but that's not my problem right now).

Interplay with life support mods that require ElectricCharge for EVA Kerbals to survive is also not trivial. TACLS fills Kerbals up with 91.8 ElectricCharge, which as I read it should be enough to last six hours. IFILS gives them about 1 ElectricCharge, if I'm reading the code right, and that's also enough to last six hours. These very different ideas on what one "ElectricCharge" really stands for makes it pretty impossible for me to present a general case. Let's say I want to balance the EVA radios to get about 6 transmissions on a full EVA battery, and I also want it to be a little less efficient than the on-ship monopole. The monopole costs 5 EC/MiT, so we'll have the EVA radio cost 6 EC/MiT. An EVA report is about 8 MiTs; 6 reports × 8 MiTs × 6 EC/MiT = 288 EC.

So, this is already a problem. If I add that much battery, TAC's EVA batteries will support the Kerbal for over three days. IFI will have enough charge to support the Kerbal for a very long time, indeed.

Now, how much is this actually a problem? It's tough to say. EVA Kerbals don't have any way of replenishing their stores that can't also restore their electric charge. Most ships can freely generate infinite charge given time, so ElectricCharge is almost certainly not the limiting factor in how long an EVA Kerbal can survive. But, TaranisElsu and Stavell both think it's relevant enough to model, so I'd like to avoid stepping on their toes where I can.

So, in general, I feel like the right way to balance this is to model charge use down the relay chain. Then I can make transmitting from the suit basically free; I can rate it way down for IFI and make it a little bigger with TAC and pick some arbitrary number of my own when neither of them are present. It'll still work out OK because you're still paying to send it from your nearby craft, so transmission will ultimately be valued by the quality of your connections all the way home and the amount of charge your various relays can generate.

The problem with that is KSP doesn't make that easy. The good news is that jamespicone has written a BackgroundProcessing mod that could be a good solution. The bad news there is that would mean a complete rewrite of the transmission code to make it more robust, more tolerant of outages, and applicable to the BackgroundProcessing model.

TL;DR: Balancing EVA radios is important to gameplay. I only see one good option, and it's not an easy one, which means it will take time to get done.

Thoughts?

Edited by toadicus
Added exploit explanation.

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The rules for broadcasting science already beg for some rework. "Jeb, we want you to EVA over to the thermometer. Write down what it says, but don't tell us. Carry your notebook back home."

If you're concerned about exploits, perhaps a kerbal on EVA can only transmit crew reports, or science that can be transmitted at 100%. Then the effect is pretty much "I don't need to return to the capsule to transmit my EVA reports."

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I don't see the exploitability as being the end of the world really. I mean it's certainly no worse than the infinite Get Out and Push! Once you're past the earliest bits of the tech tree electricity's pretty much free, and with the new mechanics when you're still in the earliest bits of the tech tree you probably can't EVA the Kerbal out anyway!

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If you're concerned about exploits, perhaps a kerbal on EVA can only transmit crew reports, or science that can be transmitted at 100%. Then the effect is pretty much "I don't need to return to the capsule to transmit my EVA reports."

That makes a lot of sense.

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perhaps make the EVA transmit cut into quality a little bit as well. I mean were getting into the "telephone" game at that point :P

Jeb: Ok im here.

Bob: what do you see?

Jeb: Well, its small. its round, its light, and it smells sweet.

Bob: ok i will let HQ know, Bill did you catch that? Transmit home will ya?

Bill: BoomBus to HQ, Jeb reached the spot, by the things that look like hills but steeper on Eve, he said he found some light chocolate marbles.

HQ: ok, we will pas this on to the science guys. *yelling in the background*(HAY GUYS, BILL SAID JEB SAID EVE IS MADE OF DIET CHOCOLATE)

Edited by Trollsama

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For balancing reasons I'd say you make some good points, electric charge requirements 'down the line' combined with a very short range on the EVA transmitter could allow you to drastically reduce the power usage required. For example, here on earth you can use a basic professional walky-talky up to about 5-10 kilometres away if the signal is amplified by a transmitter. I imagine that without an atmosphere there'd be a lot more interference on Mun, so you could decrease that usable range to 2-3 kilometers, and still get the minimal electric charge usage for transmission.

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What about simply taking the electric charge only when a craft is in physics load range? running out further than 2k and coming back with a kerbal is not a convenient thing so I don't think people are going to feel inclined to run out that far just for the free-ish electricity.

As for how much EC to give a kerbal one idea is that transmitting from within physics load range could cost the kerbal next to nothing (while its certainly costing their craft something) and beyond physics load range the cost ramps up. Also to avoid conflict with life support mods couldn't you just name the resource something different like "Transmitter Charge" like how kerbals use "EVA Fuel" instead of "MonoProp" in their jetpacks?

Edited by passinglurker

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How about having the EVA transmitters operate on batteries of such long life and small size that they do not need to be modeled in the game. Even Kerbal batteries would probably last well beyond a normal EVA.

As far as EVA transmissions as Science Reports it depends on the data amount. The audio reporting of an analog temperate reading would be possible but sending encoded video would exceed the bandwidth. Any EVA 'first Kerbal' reports would be low points at best. The real advantage to EVA communications would be in repair situations where instructions were being passed from mission control or EVA status were being monitored by mission control and freeing the Kerbalnaut to concentrate on other task. Transmission ability (having a suit equipped with radios and being in contact range -the main point of this mod) would add somehow to the success of the task/mission. That is not part of this mod however which is why this is a difficult aspect to qualify in the game.

I would suggest giving a short range EVA transmission ability that does not need to model electrical usage. If you could add a benefit to being in range (directional pointer back to the ship, less RCS fuel usage, +1 point to all Science Reports...etc) and a penalty to being out of range (no ability to save game, cannot repair items...etc) it would really qualify the need for having EVA transmission added.

Edited by jpkerman

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Pardon me, just marking this thread so I can find it later.

Ok, in all seriousness, this is a great mod. for the last few patch versions, I have used Remote Tech, and well, .. yeah, time to move on to other challenges. But I did not want to totally lose the "antenna" game play completely. This mod is a perfect "middle".

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<snip>

IMO, saying "this bug isn't worse than that bug" isn't a good reason to call it a "feature." :) Also, in my experience ElectricCharge on long range probes is one of the biggest problems, and it'll be even more apparent now that all the bodies have biomes. When you have to sit on time warp for several seconds to get a transmission to complete because your generation isn't big enough, you're could wind up missing out on the next biome. Too, suggesting that modeling the ElectricCharge in a meaningful way is unimportant goes directly against Squad's design (since literally nothing else in the entire game uses as much ElectricCharge as science transmissions; totally unrealistic, but an apparently-intentional decision on Squad's part).

<snip>

That'd be more valid if you couldn't just relay the EVA transmissions directly. We didn't hear Neil Armstrong's words as repeated by Buzz Aldrin as repeated by Michael Collins. ;)

<snip>

Whenever I get back to working on AR2, modeling ambient interference is in the plan. :)

<snip>

Spending in physics range has occurred to me and it may be a reasonable compromise. It'd still either involve a lot of revision to the transmission path or involve a rather "hacky" way of spending the charge... not sure if I can justify it outside of the rewrite. I've also thought about using a fake resource to stop conflicts with life support mods... I don't love it but it might wind up being the most reasonable. I'm still mulling it all over.

<snip>

Welcome aboard; I'm glad you like it! That "perfect middle" is what I'm shooting for. :)

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@toadicus

I see this EVA transmit feature as something that complicate things a good deal (all the balance problems you mentioned) for not a really an important game mechanic. I presumed that the original premise of the mod was to keep things simple.

Might I ask for a switch off button?

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@toadicus

I see this EVA transmit feature as something that complicate things a good deal (all the balance problems you mentioned) for not a really an important game mechanic. I presumed that the original premise of the mod was to keep things simple.

Might I ask for a switch off button?

You may! The awesome thing (if I may say so) about the way I'm doing this is there's currently almost no new code to support it. To remove the new transmitter from EVA Kerbals, just open AntennaRange.cfg and delete or comment out these lines:

EVA_MODULE
{
name = ModuleLimitedDataTransmitter

nominalRange = 5000
maxPowerFactor = 8
maxDataFactor = 4

packetInterval = 0.5
packetSize = 2
packetResourceCost = .1

requiredResource = ElectricCharge
}

EVA_RESOURCE
{
name = ElectricCharge
amount = 100
maxAmount = 100
}

@EVA_RESOURCE[ElectricCharge]:AFTER[AntennaRange]:NEEDS[TacLifeSupport]
{
!name = DELETE
}

If you'd rather not change my files and are comfortable adding a ModuleManager patch or two, put these lines in any .cfg file within GameData.

@EVAMODULE[ModuleLimitedDataTransmitter]:FOR[AntennaRange]
{
!name = DELETE
}

@EVA_RESOURCE[ElectricCharge]:FOR[AntennaRange]
{
!name = DELETE
}

That will stop the module and resource from being added to the EVA part and the functionality and corresponding temptation will go away. :)

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hello all

a question @toadicus

are there any remote chances that AR will get the visual representation of connectivity (lines) like RT has?

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@dtoxic

Once upon a time I messed around with drawing some lines. They did work, but I'm pretty sure they also super-crashed KSP all the time. I'm also not convinced that they add anything material in terms of communicating state to the player... but I'm happy to be convinced, so if you think they do, feel free to do so. :)

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@dtoxic

Once upon a time I messed around with drawing some lines. They did work, but I'm pretty sure they also super-crashed KSP all the time. I'm also not convinced that they add anything material in terms of communicating state to the player... but I'm happy to be convinced, so if you think they do, feel free to do so. :)

well i just thought it would be nice to have a visual "guide" to witch satellite is connected to what etc...

like is said would be nice but if it impacts the performance of AR then... no lines i guess :)

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I'm serious when I say I'd like to know why you (and others; OWKSP?) think connectivity lines would be useful. In the current implementation I can't come up with a strong justification for them beyond "some people think they are cool", which isn't zero incentive for me to spend development time, but it's not a very strong one. If it does have a genuine use, I'd love to know. :)

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I'm serious when I say I'd like to know why you (and others; OWKSP?) think connectivity lines would be useful. In the current implementation I can't come up with a strong justification for them beyond "some people think they are cool", which isn't zero incentive for me to spend development time, but it's not a very strong one. If it does have a genuine use, I'd love to know. :)

well i can only speak for my self...so here goes

first i haven't used AR that much so forgive me if i got something wrong....

say i have 3 satellites in orbit around Kerbin, for me it's much easier to determine if all satellites are connected to each other + ground station if there where lines, then to cycle trough them and looking at the toolbar icon and check if all are connected,

(maybe 2 are connected but the third might be out of range and there is no way to tell unless you go to that vessel and looking at the icon...right?) well in this case lines would help.

and yes the second reason they look cool :P

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Think alot of us like to see what a Antenna or Sat is connected too you do tell us but we can't see it and seeing it would help are little minds fill better and as always thanks for all the work you do.

EDIT- Thats a good Point dtoxic for us that like to set up a network the lines would help to check it.

EDIT- Like a green line or yellow don't need a red thats no line no connection.

Edited by Mecripp2

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So, basically you'd want it to show you if your constellation was successfully circumscribing Kerbin? Hmm. At this point, the lines wouldn't actually do that. Relays don't connect to each other in AR the way they do in RT; everything paths back to Kerbin as directly as it can. All three of your satellites would show a line going straight to the center of Kerbin, which would pretty certainly be a better path for any of them than relaying through each other. Then your other craft in higher orbits or outsystem would show lines back to one of those three satellites.

So, to show things the way you want them shown, I'd have to show not only "best connections" (which is easy; that's what the algorithm is searching for anyway), but also possible connections... but then how do we squelch all the ones you don't want to see? You (probably) don't want to see lines that show that the big dish you put in KSO can connect to basically every craft you have active. There are a few solutions to that, but most of them feel pretty arbitrary (we could filter by connection quality, distance, etc... but most of those wind up excluding primary connections for very distant transmitters).

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hmmmm well i was thinking that AR uses line of sight to a specific point on the planet? not the whole planet....so maybe that will not work out as intended then

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Like for me if, I try and send a probe to Jool that can be Red or yellow at times would be nice to maybe see the path it is taking back which should be the shorts if the line have a hit on performance maybe a on and off button.

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hmmmm well i was thinking that AR uses line of sight to a specific point on the planet? not the whole planet....so maybe that will not work out as intended then

AR does not require a connection to a specific point on Kerbin; anywhere on the idealized spherical surface will do. Past-me wrote a post about this back in times forgotten; I'll let him explain it:

I have intentionally not required a relay back to KSC specifically because, in my view, it's a rather baseless restriction. Back in the days of the first manned spaceflights, NASA was not dependent upon space-based infrastructure to talk to their pilots, but also had more than a 10 minute window to do so while they whizzed over Texas every hour or two. They used surface-based infrastructure to effect these early communications. The Apollo missions going all the way to the Moon also used surface-based infrastructure. IMO it's unreasonable to assume that the Kerbals do not have similar capacities even at the very start of a career save.

Were I to add such a limitation, I probably would actually not allow any artificial point on Kerbin to act as a relay. Instead, I'd require that an antenna be installed suitably close to KSC as "the KSC relay", and thus require the player to develop every single point of communications infrastructure -- even the "home base" antenna. But, IMO, that is not a fun or interesting requirement. Sending suborbital missions comprising an antenna on a parachute isn't challenging enough to be a fun task, and doesn't really contribute to the development of a meaningful skillset in terms of gameplay. If it's not well-founded in the "reality" of the game world, isn't fun, and isn't educational, it's just busywork for its own sake.

I welcome discussion on this topic. Maybe there is a right way to make building a short range communications network in the early game a good addition! I encourage you (and anyone else) to recommend and defend an implementation that meets at least two of the three criteria above: grounded in reality, fun, or educational. :)

Like for me if, I try and send a probe to Jool that can be Red or yellow at times would be nice to maybe see the path it is taking back which should be the shorts if the line have a hit on performance maybe a on and off button.

So this would be useful to keep track of probes that you're not watching right now?

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well then that explains it....

ill rest my case then because i cant come up with a solution that does not overcomplicated things :)

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Yes for me so maybe, I can see where, I can put a Sat to get a better connection but really all in all think people just like to see things and think it would draw more people to the mod.

EDIT- I'm not saying KSC to be the point that we have to Connect to, Kerbin is fine just like you have it.

Edited by Mecripp2

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