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Docking tips, tricks, and tutorials?

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Im not SUPER fond of docking, sadly. I tried the tutorial, but it says i need to do all this "rotating your orbit to match your target" stuff before i can learn to dock. I've tried docking my two ships, but they won't come together. ;.; Ive also tried all the docking parts in the game, and none of them work for me. Any answers for this?

Thanks! :D

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There are many things to learn in the game ... and docking may be the last one ... and may be the hardest. Before you can dock, you absolutely need to be able to rendezvous. And before you can rendezvous, you need to be able to easily "generate" close approaches (less than 2.2 km) between ships. If you are in orbit and you can get them to zoom past each other reliably, then all you need to do is stop one of them while it's zooming past the other. Once it's come to a stop close by, you point it at the other one and give it a little thrust. When it drifts off-line, maybe you stop it, point again, and thrust again. There are more elegant ways, but that works.

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ya docking is one of the more challenging thins to learn, and was one of the last things i learned.  lots of little skills need to be practiced.

matching inclination, creating and performing an intercept burn,  matching speed of the target at closest approach, "push and stop" to get yourself closer to the target,   aligning the docking ports, rcs translation,  and learning the navball to keep your prograde over the target indicator.

one trick i used alot early on is to smake sure both ships have SAS thats capable of auto holding to the target indicator. it makes alligning ports significant lly easier.

matching inclinations is pretty easy to pick up,  burning either normal or anti normal just before an ascending or descending node, and finishing the burn just as your at it.

intercept burns get easier with practice.  you get yourself into a spot where within the next orbit youll have to adjust or ap or pe to intercept. make a node and adjust your ap or pe where itll meet the targets orbit line and then slide the node (instead of clicking a direction to add, click the center circle and drag). this will help you find out when to do the burn.

after you get that burn done, you can adjust yourself to get even closer by creating a node about 1/6ths of an orbit away from your closest approach. use it to try and line up your AN/DN with the intercept location, and VERY carefully adjust your prograde or retro.  this can help you get that closest approach down to a few hundred m,  or even right next to your target after some practice.

to match speeds you need to make sure your navball is set to target mode, and to burn retrograde until your speed says 0m/s in relation to your target.

he next step is to aim yourself at your target and burn a bit sending you towards it, when you get to your new closest approach, match speeds, re point and do it again until your really close..

at this point you gotta aim your docking ports at eachother, right click on one and select control from here. right click on your targets port and select as target. switch vehicles and do the same.  this is where my first tip comes into play, because it makes it WAY easier if you can just tell both ships to aim at eachother, instead of having to constantly make sure they are still aligned.  

I keep my rcs off until this stage, and only use them for translation for docking.  use H to go forward and then IJKL to move your prograde marker on the navball up down left right.  move your prograde marker directly ontop or your target, where you are aiming.

keep your speed around .5 m/s.  turn off rcs and sas in the last few meters and let the magnetic pull of the ports finish the job

Edited by DD_bwest
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An important thing to do when docking anything is to turn on fine control using caps lock. It auto-balances RCS so you don't need to worry too much about port placement relative to the center of mass. You'll also need to have SAS turned on for this to work best.

Another trick that I find useful is orienting the craft correctly before attempting translation. It doesn't matter where your vehicles are relative to each other, the first thing to do when docking (at least for my method, which I have found to be incredibly easy compared to other methods) is to point the docking port on your vessel in the direction that it will be pointing when docked. If the port you're trying to dock to is pointing away from the planet, for example, then your vessel's port needs to be pointing towards the planet. The rest of the docking can then be done almost entirely with translation and no rotation at all; simply translate your vehicle until the docking ports are facing each other, and then translate forward to dock.

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I while back I put together this illustrated docking tutorial, which you may find useful.

However, this comment,

On 11/6/2016 at 9:29 AM, Kerbal the Kerbal said:

I've tried docking my two ships, but they won't come together. ;.; Ive also tried all the docking parts in the game, and none of them work for me.

...kinda makes me wonder whether it's possible that you're not using the parts correctly, or have some other sort of design problem.  Could you describe exactly what you mean when you say "won't come together"?  And can you post a screenshot of a docking attempt?  (i.e. with your two ships close together and the docking ports about to connect, such that both docking ports are visible in the shot)

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:prograde: on Target, literally. That, in a nutshell, will get you docked, Snark's guide is spot on and a great tool if you don't want to learn it painstakingly by yourself.

Two sets of 4 RCS blocks provide very translation (Movement) and attitude (Rotation) control. Be sure to hit Caps Lock and have blue indicators bottom left or you're likely wasting fuel.

Docking ports only dock to the same size. Normal > Normal Jrs > Jr, Sr > Sr, but NOT SR > Normal.

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One tip that I'm not sure got mentioned: turn off Roll, Pitch, and Yaw control for the RCS ports. This allows you to have both SAS and RCS running at the same time, with the pilot (you) controlling the RCS translation, and the SAS system using only the reaction wheels to keep the ship pointed at your target.

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Yes docking. For some reason, I docked on my first try. Don't know why. (No rhyme intended) Docking can be relatively easy if you just be patient and take your time.

First rendezvous. You want to be close to your target. To do this you have to kind of burn towards them.. Add a maneuver node and pull the retrograde and prograde markers so you intersect your target's orbit. Then use the "Add orbit" feature on the maneuver node until you have the closest encounter you can get, then play around with the maneuver node until you get it under 2km, ideally under 1km. If you don't on the first one, do a course correction on your way to the rendezvous to get it closer.

Now once you get to your closest point, click on the velocity counter on the navball until it says "Target". Then burn retrograde until that velocity is close to zero. Then point at your target and burn. Then once you get close, burn retrograde again. Rinse and repeat until you are very close to your target. Then you want to right click on your docking port and click "Control from here". Then set the docking port on your target that you would like to dock as target. Then turn on RCS and use H and N, forwards and backwards and IJKL keys, up and down and side to side to align yourself. There is a mod that can help you with this.

Once you are aligned properly, just point at your target and hit H. Remember use the IJKL keys to make sure your prograde marker is aligned with your target marker when doing this.

And if you have done this correctly, you should have docked! Hope this helped.


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When you're close to the other ship, you can also try switching to locked camera view to better perceive what direction to translate. Remember to select your docking port and click "control from here".

Edited by Arni01
Fixed typo
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