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Exploring The System - A design tutorial campaign 0.90 Final


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From your earlier post:

Good questions, asked politely, deserve good answers. Whether I'm able to give good answers is a different matter ^^. I hope such as I do give do actually help. Added to all that, you're having to work in a foreign language AND get through my typographical errors - how could I refuse to respond to the best of my abilities. Google gives me this: "Ich war vier Jahre lang Deutsch im Gymnasium unterrichtet. Jeder Fehler zu lernen, ist ganz mein." (I would have put 'seit vier Jahre', but that's probably proof that I didn't learn much!)

Of course you can give good answers. I understand (nearly) everything, otherwise I just type the word I don't understand in Google Translator. For translating single words it's great, but the sentence by Google shows that it doesn't put out good sentences. I think what you were trying to say was "Ich habe vier Jahre Deutsch im Gymnasium gelernt." What you said (what GT said, to be correct) was I was taught four years german in gymnasium (i honestly don't know if there is an english word for that). With that 'seit vier Jahre' it sounds like you are in school / learning german since four years. Or did you mean you learned german for four years? There's a difference between that, right? Since means you're still learning it and for is when you learned it in the past. Our english teacher told us this like 10 times and said every time that graduates make that mistake every year and we have to watch out for it.

Oh, and one thing that is interesting, over the past year, my english error quotient (number of mistakes divided by the number of words) has gotten better than my german error quotient. Maybe it's just my english teacher being nice to me (my grades increased) and my german teacher showing me her hate (my grades decreased :D) but I don't think so. However, I always get bad grades at german exams.. And good ones at english. They are far more easy compared to the german exams.

I don't have TIME to play KSP for more than one reason at a time! I might try a challenge every now and again but otherwise sandbox is "messing around". In as much as there's any direction there it's different types of spaceplane that don't meet my (career) SSTO rocket intentions. Understanding the tech-tree (and trying not to laugh or spit at it) is what I'm doing in KSP at the moment.

You don't have time to play KSP? That's sad. Do you need to do that much for school and other stuff? I also got a lot to do for school but currently, it's vacation. So, no need to worry about school! Even on normal school days I've got about 2-3 hours left to do something on my computer or else. But sometimes I don't want to, so I just watch YouTube videos or - how I do now - write on the forums. Are you still in school or have you already graduated?

Oh - and I'm still playing with Bargain Rockets because it's funny.

I just had a quick look at the trailer of Bargain Rockets and it looks pretty funny. However I think i will now start writing my Mission Report thread thing. All that new mods just distract me from what I want to do on my save game and sometimes I just delete my sandbox save full of hours of work and later I regret it. (regret heißt bereuen, richtig? <-- nobody will understand that, I guarantee it).

Please do write some stories, mission reports and/or tutorials of your own - too many people make and watch bad videos, I think (there are some very good ones as well, of course), but writing then reading take a lot more time and effort. For some people that means a lot more is passed on, but it depends on learning style of course. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words but sometimes (the lesson of) a thousand words will be remembered longer.

Why is that thing cursive after copy-pasting? Nevermind.

Yeah, I think I'll just gonna hop back into KSP, take some pictures of the KSS, and then post a thread about it. Maybe I'll call it "Jebediah's Adventures".. or "The Kerbal Motion Mission Logbook"... I'm usually extremely uncreative, but this seems to go out well.

Thanks for the pictures of your station. What's that huge monopropellant tank for? We all tend to think that since we'll be docking a lot we'll need lots of RCS fuel but once you practice a bit you find it's ROCKET fuel you need. The good thing is you can easily add that, of course, because you have all those open docking ports at the moment. My space-station design should be familiar - pretty much everything in Chapters 7 and 8 is what I'm using to go anywhere/everywhere. There are some differences in my current 'standard' station - it has even more docking ports; 2 landers, 2 lander drones, 2 scooters, 2 'visitor' (usually Crew Shuttles) and 4 fuel/others - but the basics are the same. The purpose is still to be a centre of operations for a planet or moon, providing refuelling capability, 'home' for station, tractor and lander crew, transit accommodation for other mission crews. Given that I'm working in careeer mode now the lab and scientific equipment also has (or will have) a purpose, so they tend to be 2 more (lab) people around than I had before.

The monopropellant tank is for refueling and - yeeees - docking. I didn't practice docking much, but I've done it twice and it worked out pretty well so I just hope I can do it again when constructing my station. But there is one thing that really bothers me. When I flied ... flought ... flight? (dear english god, help me :D) my station core with the launcher up to LKO, it wobbled. And it didn't wobble just a little bittle (just a little bittle bittle, tziiiiiiing xD), it wobbled that much that I needed to try again 4 times, and it only worked then because I decoupled my boosters (not SRBs, Rockomax Skipper-powered-boosters) a bit early with about 25% fuel left and then.. it still wobbled, but I could control it with 12 RCS thrusters and an ASAS module. Do you know what causes this? or do I just need MOAR STRUTS?

Oh, and about that Tractor rocket thing from your tutorial. Do you use it to tow your rockets from one planet orbit to another, or do you only use it for adjusting your current orbit?

Oh, and thanks for the recommendation in your signature :-) Whimsically, I keep thinking of doing 'Basic Rocket Design - Explained simply with pictures' to match it. That might be next, to be honest, before the career stuff.

No problem! Your tutorial is really helpful so why not? :) And do that rocket design thing. Looking at this tutorial, you are great at writing these!

Volcanix

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What I meant to say is that "I was taught German for 4 years in school. Any failure to learn is mine" (the teacher taught, but I did not learn).

I'll leave the English lessons to your teacher. My school days were long, long ago.

I have time to play KSP but what I'm spending that time on is mostly the current career mode game, I don't have time to do much in sandbox as well. Remember that I said I'd typically spend about 3 hours on building and testing a single vehicle design so although I'll probably spend 3 hours a day on KSP that's one ship. Another day I might just use existing designs and run through several missions/contracts and on other days I'll just be reading and writing. So when I'm planning and developing stuff it's only once or twice a week that I'll just mess around.

During each docking, if it's a good one you'll be using 2 - 5 units. Even before you've practiced a lot you probably won't use more than about 10 - 20. That means that the big, heavy monopropellant tank you have can provide RCS-fuel refills for ~38 ships. In practice most ships will be coming up, visiting and going back to the surface so they don't need any more monopropellant. It's only the ships that are going off to dock with something else, or going on a mission and needing to re-dock with the space-station that need topping-up. That tank, big and HEAVY, therefore has enough for about 38 onward missions to, say Minmus/Minmus. Do you think you will be doing that many? Do you think you have enough liquid-fuel and oxidiser in that little tank to power 38 (return) lunar missions? You might just have that station as a docking-practice platform of course but look at the tiny amount of RCS-fuel I put on my stations - 2 x 150 cylinders per 2,880 liquid fuel orange tube - and that's assuming the fuel modules will be using RCS to dock and de-orbit themselves! The thing I'm hinting at here is that you hardly ever need as much monopropellant as you think you do and if you really want to take that HEAVY!! tank up to orbit you should expect to match it with huge amounts of rocket fuel.

It's impossible to really say why your ship wobbled during launch without seeing any pictures of it on its launch vehicle. I can guess at several things though. First, you haven't read, or taken notice of, what I said right at the start of the station core construction details, "The PPD-12 cupola module offers a great view but is a pig to launch! The usual impulse it to stick it on top of your station (or other vehicle), facing forward." Since you have a cupola at one end, I'm assuming you still went ahead and launched it at the top of your rocket, facing forward ^^. Right behind that BIG, HEAVY, HIGH-DRAG part would be the BIG hitch-hiker's container (ok), then the BIG, HEAVY RCS-tank. All that BIG, HEAVY, HIGH-DRAG section sits on top of a little fuel-tank, hubmax and docking port. See any problem in the making here? The station itself is fine structurally, but how did you connect it to the launch vehicle? If it was just at the docking-port I'd guess that was where the ship bent and wobbled. You really need to put struts (probably from the bottom of the Rocomax converter) across joints like that. Check the pictures of Long Tom or Cartographer Heavy at launch (click to go to imgur, click again to see full size, magnify if you need to) - they are strutted for the same reason, most of the others aren't because they're light/short payloads and the rest are using large docking ports, which are more stable.

My stations can more or less look after their own orbits but the tractor light is used for bigger corrections if they are needed - it's LV-N engines are more efficient. The main job of the tractor light is to tow stations, fuel modules and, especially, landers around within a planet's system - LKO to Mun/Minmus, Duna to Ike, etc. - and back to the station. It also does gross plane-changes for the landers, which otherwise might not have sufficient fuel to reach a landing-site far from the equatorial plane. It will then stand-by to rendezvous with them when they re-orbit and take them back to the station once more, plane-changing again as required. Again, this is all making use of its LV-Ns' vacuum fuel-efficiency (high ISP). The tractor medium's job is to haul the same stuff on interplanetary missions; such as getting a station to Moho in the first place.

Edited by Pecan
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Wait, 2-5 units of mono prop for an experienced player? That's nearly nothing. And 38 refills are a whole lot. But who knows. Maybe someday a ship will come from a wide interplanetary mission, and won't have enough mono prop to dock. Okay, moving a station isn't realistic, buuu.. I'm just gonna construct a new one. I've got enough time. :D

I connected the launch vehicle and the station with a couple of struts. Maybe the problem is, as you've said, that the top part is really heavy. Just gonna construct a new one, maybe I'll post it in a new thread, maybe not. I'm gonna edit this post then.

-EDIT-

After trying out a lot of stupid things in sandbox and then trying to rescue Jeb from the old station and noticing that I only build wobbling Lifters I decided to forget that save and make a new one. In the new one, I try to build the best (easy-to-steer and maybe cost-efficient) Lifters for LKO. Maybe we can make a challenge out of this, if you want to. I will lose, however, but I think it'll encourage me to rethink my designs. :)

Maybe we make two sections, one for cost-efficient rockets, and one for low-tech rockets? Or have you got other ideas? Wait, you didn't say you participate yet. :P

Edited by Volcanix
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Here is a trivial design tip that I've just added to the next version of the text (still reformatting for BB code):

When you are building a ship with a single ox-stat solar panel put it on the left (port) of the vehicle. At night solar panels don't work (doh!) and during the day the sun will be above you - a standard Easterly gravity turn leaves the left of ship facing up, so a panel there will get maximum exposure. Corollary: using a rotating sun-tracking one put it on the top or bottom instead, otherwise it'll end-up pointing edge-on to the sun. A silly little thing to think of, but possibly very important, given how critical electricity can be.

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Look in the challenges forum, there are many similar there.

Oh, yeah. Didn't think about that. But I'm sure it will take a lot of time for me to build something like that.. I'll see.

Here is a trivial design tip that I've just added to the next version of the text (still reformatting for BB code):

When you are building a ship with a single ox-stat solar panel put it on the left (port) of the vehicle. At night solar panels don't work (doh!) and during the day the sun will be above you - a standard Easterly gravity turn leaves the left of ship facing up, so a panel there will get maximum exposure. Corollary: using a rotating sun-tracking one put it on the top or bottom instead, otherwise it'll end-up pointing edge-on to the sun. A silly little thing to think of, but possibly very important, given how critical electricity can be.

That's a good tip. One of the things I often forget when launching a vehicle, like preparing the staging.. Especially on little rockets. I start the plane and the engine ignites in the same stage where the parachute deploys. "Jeb, I told you it wouldn't work!"​

EDIT

Just finished making that mission logbook thing. If you're interested, just look here, your suggestions always help me!

Edited by Volcanix
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I've finally finished reformatting my LibreOffice originals for BBCode and started updating the text in this thread. There are no major changes but if in doubt the PDF version will always be the most up to date.

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I've just put the effort into flying the Crew Shuttle SP (Chapter 7) properly. Instead of switching to rockets once I had a 75km apoapsis and 2,200m/s horizontal speed I just kept on climbing and throttling-back. Most of the time was spent at around 0.1KN thrust (!) and it flew all the way to space on jets, just needing a 40m/s push from the rocket to circularise.

I really did overdo the intake spamming, didn't I ^^.

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I've just put the effort into flying the Crew Shuttle SP (Chapter 7) properly. Instead of switching to rockets once I had a 75km apoapsis and 2,200m/s horizontal speed I just kept on climbing and throttling-back. Most of the time was spent at around 0.1KN thrust (!) and it flew all the way to space on jets, just needing a 40m/s push from the rocket to circularise.

I really did overdo the intake spamming, didn't I ^^.

Well, 12 intakes isn't that much, I think. It may seem a lot because the plane isn't really big, but look at

for example, they really need all those intakes. I THINK they use a lot of intakes because he's able to fly really high, but I may be wrong. I'm still trying to build a spaceplane that actually flies without flipping over :P Or is it just my bad piloting? Mh.
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Have you actually tried the designs here? Getting them to orbit and back will make sure you've got the technique right, so you know it's your 'planes and not your flying that causes the problems. Apart from that, make sure the CoL is just behind the CoM in the SPH before you put landing-gear on it (they are massless in flight but the SPH lies about it). You also need to think about the CoD (Centre of Drag, not that there is such a thing really) - most importantly air-intakes are high-drag parts; if you put them ahead of the CoM the whole plane will want to fly pointing backwards. More precisely; it'll flip, spin and crash - I found this especially true on re-entry as you hit thicker air at near-orbital speeds.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

KSP 0.25 -

I am re-testing the vehicles for KSP 0.25.

So far the trainer aeroplane (chapter 2) appears unflyable - it's just too twitchy and getting more than 10 degrees or so from prograde makes it flip all over the place. Fun, if you like that sort of thing, since it has plenty of power to recover, but not exactly a good first 'plane.

The other vehicles in chapters 2 - 4 appear ok, although the resizing of the inline reaction wheel can make them look a bit odd.

Once I've tested chapters 5 - 8 I'll update the ships files and then correct the text. Trainer will obviously need to be completely replaced and it makes sense to update Crew Shuttle SP (chapter 7) with something prettier using the new "Spaceplane +" parts. Performance statistics, etc. are likely to need updating for all vehicles although the IRW and cupola changes are the only ones I see in the release notes.

Ok to chapter 7. I'll try to get those last two done tomorrow but I'm being sidetracked by playing with spaceplanes. They take so long to test!

As a general note everything seems to take a bit more fuel than before. Within the tolerance of the launch vehicles so far but I'm not sure about the lunar landers (chapter 5 - they're still on their round-trips so not completely tested yet but they seem ok).

Edited by Pecan
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Alright, everything except the spaceplanes is ok.

"Trainer" will be replaced with "Trainer C" (don't ask what happened to "B")

"Crew Shuttle SP" will be upgraded to "Crew Shuttle +"

If a miracle occurs I may even get those updated tomorrow, otherwise it'll be some time during the week. The text (PDF first) will take at least until next weekend.

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Downloadable craft files now updated. The only change to rockets is to replace any Inline Reaction Wheels with SAS units, as the IRW was resized. The Trainer aircraft and Crew Shuttle SP spaceplane have been replaced (with 'Trainer Mk1' and 'Crew Shuttle Mk2' respectively). You'll still have to wait until the weekend for any text about them though ^^.

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I want to say thanks for putting this together. I'm a complete newb when it comes to some of the things in KSP and this will help. Hopefully you'll get the PDF updated... switching screens can be a pain sometimes. :)

Thank you for your comments. The PDF is updated right now,

Text in this thread will have to wait because I'm rushing to work ...

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I'm experienced enough that I don't need your tutorial, but I am, err.... "closely examining" your vehicle designs. :D

Well that's the idea - here are some vehicles that, although not optimised, should help explain a) how to design rockets (and others), B) how little you need for most missions.

If it's any use to you at all then I'm happy :-) As I said to Volcanix some time ago (in this thread), it's not meant to be "This is THE way to do it", but "This is A way it can be done", and the chapter 7-8 designs are very much "Look, this is only ONE way I've done it".

Edited by Pecan
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You're very welcome, thank you for commenting.

(Crew Shuttle Mk2 getting a longer explanation in Saturday - only just noticed I missed half of it ^^).

Next should be 'World of SSTO' in collaboration with Wanderfound - single-stage launch vehicles as 'perfect' as we can make them. Possibly; we're still discussing exactly what we want to do.

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I've never built a successful SSTO, but then I spend my time in the basement of Career mode playing around and blowing up.

"B) how little you need for most missions" This was my big takeaway after I went through your tutorial originally. I still way over engineer and come back to your designs to remind me how simple and light really works.

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Thank you. Yes, less really is more in space-flight :-)

As I've said before most of the designs in this tutorial are not great in themselves (although I hope they're fairly good) as they are intended more to demonstrate design points than represent any sort of "authoritative" way of doing things. That said, I also quite often find myself still adding stuff "I think I want ..." and referring back.

However - *cough* "I've never built a successful SSTO" *cough* - the Mk1 Rocket in Chapter 2 is a 3-part SSTO; it doesn't get simpler. In career mode you can SSTO with start-tech; it doesn't get lower-tech. Coincidentally, I've just been testing that to see to what extent and in what combination SRBs help with that.

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I have only just found the very excellent "Kronal Vessel Viewer" mod, which lets me make 'exploded' pictures of the vehicles in the VAB/SPH like this:

BhCChlql.png

Please comment on how useful you think this, or other enhancements would be to the tutorial.

Edited by Pecan
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