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ShadowDragon8685

What are the most important things you've learned about playing KSP to pass on?

Question

KSP is a great, fun game, but it has a difficulty curve like, well, a rocket. I figure there's some critical "lessons" to get yourself over to achieve competence. Here are the ones I've learned, so far.

1: MechJeb. I find KSP to be just about unplayable without it. I know that there are surely some purists who will disagree, but without an autopilot and MechJeb's VAB calculations, I'd likely still be considering myself lucky to so much as make Kerbin orbit, let alone be gearing up for my second shot at a Munar landing. I'd also likely have no idea of what to do without having seen MechJeb do things, but I've watched MechJeb in action enough to have an idea what on Kerbin it's doing and how to do it myself.

2: When in doubt, radialize! I've experienced nothing but bitter, hilarious disaster trying to build vertically, barely able to get ridiculous expanding stacks into Kerbin orbit. Instead, I figured out that I have to build outward; the same fuel tank+engine design, in a serial decoupler arrangement, is vastly less useful and powerful than two/three/four/six of the same fuel tank + engine design arranged radially around another of that same engine design.

3: SRBs, and how to use them. Specifically, SRBs are good for an initial bump to get your rocket engines up to speed and to let them carry some or all of the lowest-altitude work alone, with MechJeb on the limit to terminal velocity setting to save fuel, but it's not really worth it to use them for more than that. Radial liquid fuel engines are so much more useful, I'm pretty sure I could get a radial SSTO going.

4: The KW RockoMaverick engine, for when you don't yet have the Mainsail. This could work with the LV-T30 stock engine and I think it would still be superior, but KW Rocketry is what really sells it. Get a big old 2.5m Rockomax fuel tank stage going, however much is appropriate to the payload you intend to use, and stick one of those KW LFTA 2-1 conical 1.25-2.5 adapter-fuel tanks on the bottom, inverted. Stick on a tricoupler (or a quadcoupler, if you have it - those will definitely make it better,) and attach three KW Maverick D-1 engines. Gives you massively more thrust than the Rockomax Skipper (350*3 = 1050 thrust > 600 Thrust,) with better ISP at sea level and no worse ISP in vacuum and far more alternator output, not that that will matter on your ascent stage. It is heavier by 2 tons, true, but the far greater TWR means you'll ultimately save a lot in getting into orbit, and the RockoMaverick has been consistently lifting payloads into orbit for me that the Skipper can't. Not to mention it looks boss as heck, especially if you have six or twelve of them radially arranged around a central.. :cool:

5: Less is more when it comes to payload, more is more when it comes to engines. If engines are your payload, you're going to have some tricky balancing work to do, and your ascent stage will probably wind up being approximately the radius of the Death Star.

6: Navigation lights. I'm pretty sure they came from B9 Aerospace since they were manufactured by "Tetragon Projects." Use the red lights on the left side of the craft and the green on the right, and I like to put the white lights strictly down the "top" - that is, with the craft as a whole (that is, the first command part) not rotated, the white lights go straight down the middle when facing out of the VAB. This helps so much when you're in space and looking at your ship trying to work out which side is which. (Not to mention it makes your ship look boss as heck. :cool: )

7: Don't forget batteries and power generation! You don't want to SSTO a 45-ton payload and be about ready to embark on a Mun shot only to realize that your entire power supply is the tiny supply in the lander strapped to the top of your transfer stage!

That's what I've figured out, anyway. Some of it may be wrong, but it's what I've got and it's what's worked for me. If it's stupid, but it works consistantly, was it really stupid?

There is one thing I want to know, though...

Is there any practical point to installing fairings without FAR? I haven't got it installed and don't intend to. Fairings look boss as all heck and watching them pop in orbit is great, but without FAR, are they just adding mass and (paradoxically,) drag? Or do they actually shield the drag of their payload and replace it all with their own drag in stock, because that would probably justify the weight several times over on the ascent stage.

Edited by ShadowDragon8685
Lesson 7...

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1 hour ago, kithylin said:

Exactly what I said. The more antennas you put on a ship the better your reception range, and the range of the antennas. You can combine lots of small antennas and get better range than a single large one for example.

It takes a lot of smaller antennae to equal the next larger one though, and there's a penalty in part count, mass, and electrical requirements. I only do that if larger antenna is too big for the craft.

CommNet guide

Edited by sturmhauke

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2 hours ago, kithylin said:

Exactly what I said. The more antennas you put on a ship the better your reception range, and the range of the antennas. You can combine lots of small antennas and get better range than a single large one for example.

So I was doing it right in the beginning lol, although I put more antennas on for symmetrical purposes.

 

Man. Thanks for the info.

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A few things I learned the hard way (which seems to be the way to really learn in this game):

  1. Know the dV you'll need to get to and back from wherever you're going. Don't just slap on a ton of fuel and assume it will be enough—so that you don't accidentally strand Bob on the Mun (again). Not that I've done that! Just stating this... for a friend.
  2. Learn how experiments work and what conditions they require to be successful, before you irrevocably launch them toward their destination... And strand Bob on the Mun again with failed experiments on a 20% grade crater slope.
  3. Landers can skate down the steep slope of a crater by using Roll, if you're very careful and very lucky.
  4. Accidents happen, so save often. Accidents take a lot longer to recover from if you don't save before trying something inherently dangerous. You know, like putting Kerbals into a spaceship.
  5. And last, learn to detect when a contract is crazy, absolute garbage and will have you spending far more time, effort, and money to accomplish than they are worth. Just let them sit there in your Available list until they time out.

That said, does anyone know a way to easily transfer fuel to a Mun-stranded lander? It has 400-odd dV already, and a shielded docking port on top. :P

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1 hour ago, Sitting Duck said:

That said, does anyone know a way to easily transfer fuel to a Mun-stranded lander? It has 400-odd dV already, and a shielded docking port on top. :P

Just send a new one. (easy)

Or build a kind of skycrane with a claw to grab the stranded one. (average)

Or build a skycrane with a docking port instead of a claw (harder)

Or build a huge rover with a ISRU and a claw to connect sideways to refuel your lander and make the rover the first step on Mun colonization. (can't say if harder than docking precisely from above, it depends on the rover I guess)

Once upon a time I had a silly rover like that.

p47IPa1.png

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46 minutes ago, Signo said:

Just send a new one. (easy)

Or build a kind of skycrane with a claw to grab the stranded one. (average)

Or build a skycrane with a docking port instead of a claw (harder)

Or build a huge rover with a ISRU and a claw to connect sideways to refuel your lander and make the rover the first step on Mun colonization. (can't say if harder than docking precisely from above, it depends on the rover I guess)

Once upon a time I had a silly rover like that.

Well first, thank you! Second, I love your avatar. That's hilarious!

Also I'd thought of the "harder" option, but I fear the re-fueler exhaust would just knock over the stranded lander. Landers seem to be pretty responsive to up-righting with a strong enough reaction wheel, but there's the whole hovering thing to do again.

I'd also made a couple of refueling rovers and tested them out on Kerbin to see if I could dock them together, and of course they work well in a controlled environment. :P (love the rover, btw)

I may just go with the "Leave it there as a sharp reminder" option, and move onward. I already almost didn't rescue Bob and Mifurt from the stranded lander, which was a LOT of work. Clearly I need to work on my calculation and landing skills... And on somehow not over-engineering and simultaneously under-fueling.

The over-engineered rescue lander was very nearly empty, and a bit "weathered" by the experience. Docked for just enough fuel to get home, sans Science points.

GtrD5bi.jpg

 

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@Sitting Duck I think you are the First to notice the avatar. Precision landings are not so easy w/o mods, that Is why I designed the rover at that time. You found your very kerbal solution anyway. 

:)

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10 hours ago, Sitting Duck said:

That said, does anyone know a way to easily transfer fuel to a Mun-stranded lander? It has 400-odd dV already, and a shielded docking port on top. :P

Kerbals on EVA have about 600m/s dv of their own, so lift off that lander at about a 45 degrees angle and burn until the fuel runs out, then just EVA the kerbal, activate the jet pack and keep thrusting forwards.

Look at the map screen about every 30 seconds just to make sure you are not messing up. Now just rendezvous a a rescue ship in orbit. Remember to collect all the science from the instruments with the kerbal, before leaving the lander

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15 hours ago, Blaarkies said:

Kerbals on EVA have about 600m/s dv of their own, so lift off that lander at about a 45 degrees angle and burn until the fuel runs out, then just EVA the kerbal, activate the jet pack and keep thrusting forwards.

Look at the map screen about every 30 seconds just to make sure you are not messing up. Now just rendezvous a a rescue ship in orbit. Remember to collect all the science from the instruments with the kerbal, before leaving the lander

Wow, I did not know that! Now I'm going to have to try it. Thanks!

And yeah, I totally forgot to save my science from the stranded lander (I already sent the rescue lander), but honestly I'm already maxed-out on the tech tree, anyway.

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