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  1. (A.K.A. BILL AND JEB'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE) TL;DR: TODAY I LEARNED THAT "CHECK YO' STAGIN'" APPLIES TO DOCKING PORTS. I am new to Kerbal Space Program and going through career mode. After the crew of my second Mun landing returned to Kerbin with 1,859.6 science on board, I decided to get ... ambitious greedy. I started by unlocking Very Heavy Rocketry, its associated fueling needs, the long-awaited NERV, and Composites. Initially I just wanted to use the NERV as any upper stage, since it was so efficient. But there was a contract for mining ore, and I already wanted to land, so why not try to make a refueling lander? It turned out to be a lot heavier than expected, so I went with 3x engine symmetry (2 would have been enough power but 3 made better symmetry and I was used to high munar TWR from my first two landings), and packed a bunch of the baby airplane fuel cylinders next to the engines since they have the best fuel-to-weight ratio of all the liquid tanks—which also gave me a place to mount landing gear that could actually reach the ground, and a better place to mount drills than some very sneaky girders. Then, since I had the power, I upgraded the converter since the small one's ore-to-fuel ratio is garbage. I didn't have the Gigantor solar panels unlocked yet, but looking at the energy requirements I decided to use the last of my science to do so. I wanted to do a bunch of contracts. I had several around the Mun, for which I needed a rover and a satellite, and I wanted to mount them both on the nose. Hmm. I decided to put clamp-o-trons on the rover and nose, then put the satellite in the middle. I added RCS to the rover so I could, in theory, detach in spaceflight, launch the satellite, and then reattach to the lander. I've never docked anything before, but how hard can it be? (Backup plan: carry the satellite down, drop the rover, launch satellite after takeoff.) [edit: TinyPic is dead; long live Flickr. Original link for insanity posterity: http://i68.tinypic.com/2pqqj3a.jpg ] Speaking of docking, on this mission I plan to try it for the first time again—ship to ship this time. My middle stage should make Mun orbit, and if the lander refinery works as well as hoped, I can potentially come back up, dock, donate a little fuel (I put modest L+O tankage on the nuke with this hope—contents donated to the middle stage, of course—plus I could refine more ore after docking), then transfer crews, land again, collect science and fuel again, and did I mention both crews still need a Mun landing under their belt? Now all I had to do was figure out how the heck to lift all this junk. Fortunately I had just unlocked the Mammoth. Even so, I still needed to attach some Kickbacks to give me what I consider decent launchpad thrust. For the middle stage, a Skipper might be adequate to the task, but I thought, "Hey, the Rhino gets better ISP anyway, right? And it will keep my burns short. Let's try this sucker out." Plus it let me keep my rocket fatter; this thing is much taller than any rocket I've made before. Looking at what I'd done in the VAB—what I'd done to the VAB?—I named it the Abomination. The fairing covered 45% of the rocket. It's over 100 tons heavier than my previously biggest rocket, which was almost 100 tons heavier than my previously biggest rocket. And it's not too far shy of double the cost, though a lot of this is tied up in stuff meant to be recovered. [ http://i66.tinypic.com/2m7vkg1.jpg ] I had just accepted a contract to test the aerospace decoupler at 51-55km while going 1110-1890m/s, which put some constraints on my flight profile, but it actually worked pretty well with a reasonable gravity turn. It took me a couple of tries to get it right, but I don't feel too guilty about reverting for that sort of thing. They aren't terrible fins—or at least they looked the part. The Rhino performed beautifully, too. It started up well in the upper atmosphere, so I'm sure it was at least as efficient as any other upper stage could have been, and the extra power let me carry more fuel that the main lifter would have otherwise been using (at less effiency). The downside is that if the Mammoth was allowed to use that fuel I was confident of recovery; this way, I didn't even try for this mission, though I may if I find myself with a similar lower stage in the future. On the last Mun landing, I caught a Minmus intercept completely by accident while planning the trip home, but didn't have the fuel to do it. Not this time, my crew thinks. Not this time. As it turns out, the main difficulty of reattaching the rover—other than that I'm terrible at docking—was that it really wasn't designed with docking in mind. First, the lines of sight were very bad, and second, I didn't realize I'd offset the docking port so that a little bit of it was blocked by a girder. The magnetism seems to be holding it in place for now, so hopefully that will hold up until I land. If it falls off upon landing that will just save me the trouble. [ http://i66.tinypic.com/2hrhm6t.jpg ] The satellite was then on its merry way after reaching the correct altitude to turn on its engine to fulfill a contract. I was careful of where the main ship was, after having read many horror stories about inattentive launch collisions! It has tons of delta-V, which is good because it needs to fulfill two orbital requirements; it may have enough to spare to do something useful. Even if it doesn't, three contracts on one small satellite that at worst will be a half-decent Mun relay antenna isn't bad. The orbiter (the Rhino) is another story. By my calculations at the time, it did have enough to get into my preferred capture orbit but it's tighter than I thought back in the VAB when I was doing gross estimation instead of precise engineering. I hoped I would be able to get into my subsequent planned lower orbit. (To make a rendezvous with the mining ship easier—the refueling might be more than a novelty now.) Alternatively I could have just bailed out and tried for Kerbin immediately after the capture, but I wanted to stick to the mission plan. Apparently, magnetism gets weaker during time warp. I wanted to orient my vessel in a certain direction to ensure the orbiter didn't get in the way of the lander's maneuver. I knew that the maneuver node could sometimes move around a bit on you, but I was totally unprepared for one that meandered across a 45° swath of the navball! I can't help but imagine the loosely attached rover had something to do with it, but even so, that was ridiculous. Every time I thought I was close, it dashed back in the direction I came from, sort of like the way SAS autocorrects. Speaking of misbehaving maneuver nodes, apparently the satellite was small enough, and the antenna big enough, that the engine was significantly offset from the center of mass. At least, that was the hypothesis I formed as the thing bucked like a bronco for the nearly two minute burn despite the fact that I was only packing a Spark. Or perhaps too much of the weight was in the back? I will keep this in mind for more important future missions. The rover, in the meantime, had gotten loose again. Fortunately I cought it before it had gone more than a couple meters. I was becoming concerned. I wondered how it would behave under deceleration. At least, I reasoned, it would be only compressive forces, not pulling the clamps apart, but it's off center—that's the whole problem. But although the clamps are off center, the center of mass (as I eyeballed it) looked like it should be right over the center of the rocket, so maybe it would be fine. I had plenty of monopropellant, even without being able to transfer any from the ship. As long as it waits until landing—or perhaps even the final approach—to wobble off the ship, I'm golden. But, a pessimistic voice whispered, if it's not docked then you can't undock it. what if it sticks through the landing and doesn't want to go? Will the monopropellant be enough to push it loose? Almost certainly yes, I thought. I was glad I thought of the possibility, but I was sure it was not a true concern. After another repetition of the rover escape and a couple more times it seemed to be threatening to, I think I've figured out the behavior. Whenever "normal activity" is suspended, either from time warp or from leaving the area (to adjust my satellite's orbit) the half-on, half-off docking port starts to freak out. Possibly the game is trying to make it fit correctly, but running into a conflict with the girder that's in the way. It wasn't a problem when it was built that way but it looks like detaching it was a one-way trip, at least for this particular rover. There seem to be one of two "resting states": one where the clamps are together but offset as in the picture above, and one where the clamps are perfectly aligned but being held apart by the girder. If I leave the area when it's in the first position the rover wants to go to the second position, but if I leave the area when it's in the second position then it wants to lose the connection and drift away. Anyway, I lined up the target on the ground, giving it a little lead for rotation and overshooting a bit on purpose because I usually end up short of the planned line. In this case I had to stick to the plan more than usual once I got close to the finish line because if I turned the ship too fast the rover would definitely lose its connection, and I didn't want to do that too far from the actual landing zone. [ http://i65.tinypic.com/vz9652.jpg ] After what is by far the most fuel-wasteful deorbit I have ever done (possibly partially because of the unusually steep orbit I'm coming down from), I was slowly decelerating into the landing zone, and I noticed I was drifting a little bit. As said before, any sudden course corrections would cause the rover to get squirrely, which is a complication I didn't need, so I quickly switched to it at a couple dozen meters up, mashed the RCS, and just let it fall to the ground, where it bounced very nicely without exploding even a little. I eased myself down in the most cowardly possible way, RCS blasting, secure in the knowledge that as long as I made it to the ground intact I would be taking off with full tanks. [ http://i65.tinypic.com/289kfi9.jpg ] I'd like to say Jebediah had a fine old time roaming around the countryside on the rover, but it turns out Bill neglected to install any seats. Not that that little detail would stop Jeb, but unfortunately his crewmates managed it. OKTO sighed a little sigh and dutifully went off alone in search of temperature readings, and maybe love. [ http://i64.tinypic.com/zufbwh.jpg ] Well, like many would-be lovers, OKTO forgot which way was forward and went 20 kilometers in the wrong direction. But the detour didn't cost much more time than it took for the mining and refining to finish completely. Then I just burned for orbit, trying to get one that was easy to match to the orbiter (I went polar because of the landing zone, so rotation was a factor.) Getting into AN obit wasn't so bad; getting into a MATCHING orbit was a little more of a chore. But that, I think, is a mission report for another day. TO BE CONTINUED...
  2. Good afternoon all, Im coming across and issue with docking. I am unable to dock 2 clamp-o-tron together. they are both the same size. I recently added KJR due to the mass and shape of my station and this will be the third time docking since adding the mod. no issues either previous time. Is there a bug that appears with this mod some times? Do the ports need to be "top to top" and ive just been really lucky with hitting it each time?(station has a total of 6 attachments, this will be 7). by top to top i mean (using nav ball as an example) North to north?. Here is a screen shot for proof of size and lack of magnetism. Should i roll my ship? is my build causing issue? any advice would be great! thanks.
  3. Launch Clamp How-To (Tutorial) I'll probably add detail later, but I wanted to at least get this started. Launch Clamps are one of the more tricky things to make, second only to landing gear/legs, but not nearly as hard. However, you do have to get a lot of the details right. Positions and orientations of transforms matter a lot, and nothing will work right if you get some of the details wrong. An excellent starting point is the FASA Launch tower tutorial by @frizzank, and in fact that's where I learned to make them. At the time that I made the launch clamps for SpaceY, I followed that pretty closely and ended up moving things around in Unity to make it work. Today I rearranged it in Blender so that nothing has to be done in Unity afterward. So this is a "How-To" using my "new method", from Blender. There are probably other ways of doing this, and in some minor ways it differs from the FASA setup, slightly. However just like the FASA tutorial, let's look at the CFG setup first, then what you need to make in Blender afterward. MODULE { name = LaunchClamp // Module name. DO NOT CHANGE. trf_towerPivot_name = Cap // Rotation transform that the tower connects to. trf_towerStretch_name = Tower // Transform that gets stretched to make the tower. trf_anchor_name = Base // Transform that connects to the ground. trf_animationRoot_name = SYclamp1new // Transform that contains the animation // and all animated parts, at some level. anim_decouple_name = clamp // Name of the retraction animation itself. } This is pretty straightforward. The "Cap" is the top of the tower, the part that connects to the clamp itself. The "Tower" is a transform that contains all of the stretchy tower meshes. The "Base" is what sits on the ground, and it will need to contain a collider. The Base's collider acts like a foot and keeps the clamp from twisting, however the clamp's "attachment" to the planet is actually at the Cap's origin, or close to it. Yes, it's a hovering object, technically. So first, in Blender, create four (4) empty transforms. You can hit Shift-A and select "add empty" for each one. Then give them these names: Cap, Base, Tower, Clamp The "Clamp" transform is really just a place to group your animated and non-animated meshes for the clamp itself. Now we'll talk about each one, and what goes in it. Each mesh object you make needs to be a child of one of these transforms (though like I said, "Clamp" is just for organizational use in this case). In Blender, I'm assuming you're working in the default orientation with +Z going up. I do the export as an animated FBX, to import into Unity. Let's start at the bottom and work up: (After importing, the Cap, Base, and Tower transforms will need to have a rotation of 0,0,0 or something "close" to it, either with floating point rounding errors, or some "360" or "-360" values. The "X=90" rotations below are for Blender, so that it gets rotated properly during import to Unity). Base This transform's position must stay at 0,0,0, and it needs a rotation of X=90. As children of it, you will need two mesh objects: One for the base artwork itself, most of which will extend into the ground, but with the visible "foot" of the tower included. Usually this mesh should be designed to have several meters worth that extends into the launch pad, so that if you build a large rocket, and the clamp is placed outside of the pad, the length still reaches the ground outside of the launchpad. Extending down to -6m is probably sufficient. A simple mesh collider that corresponds to only the part of the base/foot that should be above the surface of the launch pad. You can add this later in Unity as a box collider or something if you want, but I use a custom mesh collider here. If you try to make this collider too tall, and encompass the part of the Base that is meant to extend under the launch pad, then the entire thing will "jump" upward to make sure the entire collider is above the pad when it spawns. The bottom of the collider should be at a height of exactly zero (0). Keep in mind that 0,0,0 is the surface of the launch pad. The visible part of the base/foot needs to be above Z=0, and the rest of the base that's hidden inside the pad will be below Z=0. (Note: The Base, Tower, and Cap transforms will never be rotated relative to the launch pad. They do not rotate with your clamp's deployment orientation.) Tower This transform's origin position will be at the bottom of the cap's mesh, and the top of the tower's mesh, centered over the base, at 0,0,Z, where Z is a height that you will define. It has a rotation of X=90. This transform moves with the Clamp and Cap, but is scaled in height so that it can always reach the ground. You can add the visible mesh directly to this transform, probably, but I make a separate mesh object that is a child of it. The Z coordinate for the Tower transform should be above the origin by some number of meters, with enough height to create a tower mesh object from there toward the ground, extending below 0,0,0 a little bit. This mesh's top edge must terminate exactly at the Tower transform's origin. That is, the top edges must not be above or below the Z height of the Tower transform. This is very important, since the mesh is being stretched by scaling it from the Tower transform's origin coordinates, any errors with regard to the top of the mesh will be amplified when the launch clamps are used high off the pad, and will not line up with the Cap. The texture used by the Tower's mesh needs to be repeating along the Y-axis. As the mesh gets stretched, the texture does not get stretched, but rather "tiled" vertically. It's OK to have UVs that use different X positions for different things, but the entire Y-height of the texture needs to be a vertically repeating pattern. (Note: The Base, Tower, and Cap transforms will never be rotated relative to the launch pad. They do not rotate with your clamp's deployment orientation.) Cap This transform's origin needs to be at 0,0,Z (Rotation is X=90), centered over the Tower and Base, with Z at a height that you define. This height should correspond to the attachment point at the front of your clamp, for sanity, since this is where your clamp's head will pivot. The Cap will have two main things as children of it: A mesh object that acts as the "cap" to the Tower stretchy-mesh. It should look like it's a part of the same object, artwork-wise. The bottom of this mesh should match up with the origin of the Tower transform, and extend high enough that no matter which way the Clamp's head gets turned around (on any or all three axes) that there's never a gap or missing or hollow mesh visible. When you attach the launch clamps to a rocket or plane, by default the clamp's head is rotated to correspond to the part it's attaching to, even if that means the clamp sits sideways or upside-down. The Tower transform and its children. The Tower transform is a child of the Cap transform. (Note: The Base, Tower, and Cap transforms will never be rotated relative to the launch pad. They do not rotate with your clamp's deployment orientation.) Clamp This can contain all of the mesh objects and colliders needed for the actual clamp. All animated parts for the clamp retraction will be in here. The colliders that you will "grab" in the VAB will be here. This is the easiest part, since it functions just like a normal animated part in KSP. I usually orient the transform/meshes such that the clamp is oriented with the +Y direction toward the back of the clamp, and -Y in the direction toward the rocket. As far as I can tell it doesn't appear as though KSP cares as much about the positions and orientations of anything other than Cap, Tower, and Base, and therefore you can pretty much do what you want with the head/clamp components. This part of the clamp will function like a surface-attached part, with the Cap/Tower/Base hanging down from the clamp. Putting it together Export from Blender, import into Unity like you would for any other part. In Unity's assets, select the model, set it to Legacy animation (as usual), scale of "1", and name your animation to match the name you used in the part module for the CFG. Export as a MU as normal. Screenshots of the SpaceY launch clamp:
  4. Does anyone know a mod that has good looking launch towers (that is not FASA)? If not, can anyone make one? Thanks!
  5. Hi. I was wondering if anyone knew any mods (besides FASA) that added launch towers/clamps. Thanks!
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