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


ShadowDragon8685
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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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Massive rockets should use hot staging.

(For those of you that don't know, that's when you light the engine of the next stage before you decouple the first stage.)

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3 hours ago, Akagi said:

Massive rockets should use hot staging.

(For those of you that don't know, that's when you light the engine of the next stage before you decouple the first stage.)

You can light the rocket at the same time you decouple, which is what I generally do.  If you are finding your boosters are still exploding and crashing into your main rocket, you can use Separatrons to help push the spent tanks/engines away.

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I hot stage to blow parts that would cause clipping-related explosions off!

Just now, Scarecrow71 said:

You can light the rocket at the same time you decouple, which is what I generally do.  If you are finding your boosters are still exploding and crashing into your main rocket, you can use Separatrons to help push the spent tanks/engines away.

 

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1. Plan/design from the end of the mission backwards to the start. It'll save time when designing crafts and lots of unnecessary trial and error and/or launch reverts.

2. Work out a Delta-V budget for each mission phase using the Vis-Viva equations and/or a good Delta-V map, and then make sure you have a little more for each. (Just a little. Remember that adding mass to a later stage increases prior stage fuel requirements exponentially.)

3. Sometimes (definitely not always), it's more fun to engineer a solution after something goes wrong than to revert to launch and start over. (Probably not cheaper, though, lol.)

4. Plane/inclination changes are less expensive at higher altitudes, except for launching into the desired inclination to begin with or doing a mid-course correction, so plan the order of your orbital maneuvers accordingly to save Delta-V.

5. Don't be sad when the people around you don't care about this awesome game you found that lets you do the things you always dreamed of doing for a career but weren't able to. You're not alone and plenty of people here love it just as much if not more.

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On 1/28/2022 at 7:32 AM, Scarecrow71 said:

... If you are finding your boosters are still exploding and crashing into your main rocket, you can use Separatrons to help push the spent tanks/engines away.

sometimes you need more than one separatron per spent rocket section... just make sure you stage them correctly.... annoying when you hit the spacebar on the launch pad, and all the separatrons fire as well.

On 5/10/2021 at 8:21 PM, Jack Mcslay said:

...All I have installed is Kerbal Alarm Clock, it gets seriously unwieldy to manage dozens of ships only with the tracking station

In 1.12 there is a stock alarm clock. Alarm clock is an absolute must have for managing multiple concurrent missions.... Although I find the Stock alarm clock doesn't work correctly when you select the "add burn time" option, especially when your trying to set an alarm for maneuvers other than the 1st one.
But even if you are only flying 1 mission at a time, using the alarm clock to pause the game  close to the end of a long burn can save your inattentiveness from overshooting :D... doing a 1 hr burn with the Ion engine, I can go off and do something else and know the game will pause when there are 30 seconds of burn left.

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On 1/27/2014 at 8:44 PM, ShadowDragon8685 said:

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.

Definitely!  I have launched some loads that were unlaunchable until I installed fairings.

This is part of the Habitat ring of my space station.  You need to launch 3 of these to construct the habitat ring.  The fairing was essential in this instance.

AM-JKLWh6_NQ0bUQ4ztXPU8Q_NJ9lPNFCqSLcOVW

That makes a habitat ring that looks like this on my 1kk/k Space Hotel (this was constructed before the dock rotate option was available in stock...
AM-JKLXlevlRbeSlWSKRmMoLoeiZZKnLJxr5gVo4

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On 3/4/2022 at 9:52 AM, TanDeeJay said:
On 1/27/2014 at 8:44 AM, ShadowDragon8685 said:

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.

Definitely!  I have launched some loads that were unlaunchable until I installed fairings.

I'm sorry to sy that you are wrong since the question was made in 2014, at the time, without FAR, fairings would, like @ShadowDragon8685 supposed, just add mass and drag.

I guess you noticed the aero model got some adjustments since then.

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On 3/10/2022 at 9:58 AM, Spricigo said:

I'm sorry to sy that you are wrong since the question was made in 2014, at the time, without FAR, fairings would, like @ShadowDragon8685 supposed, just add mass and drag.

I guess you noticed the aero model got some adjustments since then.

LOL! you're quite right. Never noticed that :D 

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On 1/27/2022 at 1:32 PM, Scarecrow71 said:

You can light the rocket at the same time you decouple, which is what I generally do.  If you are finding your boosters are still exploding and crashing into your main rocket, you can use Separatrons to help push the spent tanks/engines away.

I like to mount the radial decouplers high, and slide the booster down with the translate gizmo. Make sure the bottom of the booster is below the bottom of the core, and place the struts low on the core. This pushes the top of the booster away so I rarely need separatrons. For extra push-away, use the angled nose cones angled out (less aero-looking" so the aero forces also help push the top of the booster away.

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To always learn and improve, and not to be scared to experiment. I started KSP by just putting stuff together, and I've learned so much, I have books and books I've filled with blueprints and planet locations and diameter and gravity, and soon, I will be going to college to be an astrophysicist. This game has a lot of power to demonstrate the wonders of the unknown, and whether you want to or not, you will learn.

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