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The Elkano challenge (all versions accepted!)

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11 minutes ago, Popestar said:

If a Kerb has to be on it, then I'll have to craft something with the external command seat!

Perfectly acceptable. Here was my core design (though it underwent some modifications). There are actually two command seats inside: One for the driver and one for the navigator. Later, I modified it to have command seats in the side pods as well. There were some other...unfortunate incidents...that this rover helped fix.







Also note that cores are allowed, it's just that it also needs a kerbal on board.

Edited by Claw
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@Claw, that's a neat rover design.  I managed to make a rover which is almost indestructible, used it for a circumnavigation of Dres.  Although being nearly indestructible, extremely hard hits would occasionally eject a Kerbal out of the lawn-chair seats.  That's a fantastic idea, putting the seat inside a girder section.  Now I'll need to try that out!  Also, great to see you back!

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@rkarmark, Howdy again!  Just finished a water circumnavigation of Kerbin.  

Here's my approximate route:


Boat Design:


Here's a shot of the boat I used.  It uses MK3 size fuselage parts.  The command module holds 3 Kerbals.  Has one Wheelsy engine for thrust.  It tops out at about 62m/s after burning off fuel.  I wish I had put two Wheelsy engines on it.  It at least was very stable at 4X warp.  Kinda looks like a pig, at least to me.


Here's the cargo bay.  Pretty basic drill and converter setup.  There's a reaction wheel in there, but it wasn't enough to get it right-side up if I tipped over on land- so I had to be really careful on land.  There's also a probe core and 4 RTGs.


Mission Logs:

  • Y39 d169 - Start at KSC.
  • Y39 d170 - 7.9S / 129.3W - First fuel stop west of KSC.
  • Y39 d171 - 17.4S / 159.3E - Second fuel stop, near the pass to get to the northern hemisphere.
  • Y39 d172 - 14.4N / 119.7E - Third stop, on a small island.
  • Y39 d173 - 46.5N / 89.1E - Stop at beginning of the land bridge.
  • Y39 d174 - 47.6N / 69.2E - Reach the end of the land bridge.  Whew.
  • Y39 d175 - 22.0N / 17.5E - Refuel on a small cape.
  • Y39 d177 - 3.8S / 40.2W - Last refuel stop before crossing Booster Bay
  • Y39 d178 - 0.0S / 74.6W - Back at KSC.

Supporting Screenshots:


The pig in action, just left KSC.  Eventually the speed picks up to a little over 60m/s, but I wish I'd put two engines on.


First fuel stop.  The solar panels are enough to power the ISRU and single drill, I also have 4RTGs.


The location of a small island I stopped at.


The start of the land crossing.  The boat looks like it would be unstable on land, but actually it's really unstable.  I was able to do 30m/s on really flat terrain, but F5 (quick save) was my friend on the land crossing.  


There was a tree at the end of the land crossing.  Actually, a few km back I found a tree in the water!  It was in shallow water, the top of the tree was about 1m under the surface.  I forgot to take a screenshot of that.


If anyone wants to to a water circumnavigation of Kerbin, here's the location of the land bridge you'll need to cross.  It's off to the northeast of KSC, the blue and red markers are the East and West ends.  I believe the original rules for a water circumnavigation allowed you to reach one end of the bridge, and then backtrack all the way around the planet to the other end of the land bridge, to accommodate boat designs that absolutely could not cross land.  However, if you are able to cross the land bridge, that is much quicker.


Back at KSC.





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1 hour ago, 18Watt said:

@Claw, that's a neat rover design.  I managed to make a rover which is almost indestructible, used it for a circumnavigation of Dres. 


Thanks! I'd be interested in seeing your design as well!


I also had a few instances of kerbals running into unpleasant experiences (i.e. turning into spaghetti) if the rover hit the ground too hard. Took some tweaking to find the right height for the seats, but turned out to be a great design in the end. :)

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1 hour ago, Claw said:


Thanks! I'd be interested in seeing your design as well!

Here’s a link to my Dres circumnavigation, it has photos showing the rover.

(If the link doesn’t work, it’s in this forum, about 2 or 3 weeks ago..)

It’s a pretty tough rover, I used structural panels, which like the girders are pretty bulletproof.  During testing, I noticed that if I ran directly into a brick wall at 40m/s+, sometimes the Kerbal(s) would be ejected.  Not fatal, but as I’m sure you know, it can be frustrating watching a Kerbal rag-doll down a slope on say Gilly.   By the time the Kerbal stops, they might be a few km away from wherever the rover landed.

The medium reaction wheel is overkill for most moons- it is powerful enough to flip the buggy upright on Kerbin.


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@Popestar, I’d like to point out that while you need at least one Kerbal aboard for this challenge, you can also have probe cores on the rover or boat.  And there’s a good reason you should have at least one probe core-

We used to be able to mark our route by placing flags every so often.   However, now that the Kerbal inventory system is in place, Kerbals no longer have an infinite supply of flags.   So, an alternate way of marking your route is to place KerbNet markers.  To do that, you need at least one probe core that can access KerbNet.  Note- not all probe cores offer the same access to KerbNet.

Finally, marking your route (with flags or KerbNet markers) isn’t required, it’s just handy for keeping track of where you’ve been.

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20 hours ago, 18Watt said:

Here’s a link to my Dres circumnavigation, it has photos showing the rover.

I like the open design.  Your delivery rocket also looks pretty interesting, especially with the rover sitting on top. :D


...Gilly ragdoll...the memories!


I found on my rover, I ended up disabling the reaction wheel most of the time. I really only kept it on board in case of a crash/flip. Then I would turn it on so I could get back upright. The only place it didn't really work out was on Eevee. I had to beef up the whole design specifically for that mission. 


I like that we ended up with similar capabilities and overall size, but different looks for our rovers. Kinda cool to see another similar design!

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Well, I'm super excited right now.  I recently completed a circumnavigation of Kerbin, by water.  I was tinkering with a boat design tonight, and ended up with one that performed way beyond my wildest expectations.

Doing a marine circumnavigation of Kerbin isn't ridiculously hard, because you never need to cross open water stretches greater than a few hundred km.  Circumnavigatin Laythe on the other hand is tough- there's a stretch of water about 700km you need to cross.  Ideally you need a boat that can do 725km without refueling, unless you want to try docking at sea to refuel- possible, but I'd rather not.

So, when building boats, I always have Laythe in mind.  Here's my design goals:

  • Range of 725km or more.
  • Top speed of 70m/s or more.  With 4X physics warp..
  • Must be able to handle 4X physics warp.

I am currently running a boat on Kerbin, which is able to:

  • Range of 2300km+, easily
  • Top speed of 75m/s+ when light, 54m/s when full of fuel.
  • Handles 4X physics warp at up to 73m/s.

One thing I've been wondering if is possible, is if I can do a water circumnavigation of Kerbin (or Laythe) without refueling.  2300km is not enough range for either planet, but it's getting close!

Edit- I'll post screenshots soon.  This thing is a monster!  I've already passed two of my normal refuel spots, and still have about a half tank of gas left!

Edit #2- I left KSC, going westbound.  Made it to the land bridge, without stopping to refuel!  Took just under 2 Kerbin days- yes I sailed through the night, which I do not recommend.  Not enough fuel to complete the circumnavigation, but I have ISRU and drill on board.  I'll only need one fuel stop for the whole marine circumnavigation.  If I can get the beast across the land bridge, that is.


Edited by 18Watt
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day one down. many many more to go. ill just keep updating this post. after driving to the north pole from ksc i wanted to build a rover with better suspension. i had good success with using hinges to make control arms. when i was building for this challenge i knew i would need to do a few water crossings with it so i stuck a couple small props on top. upon testing i found they would get me upwards of 80m/s on land all on their own, and do it using a LOT less power! so i ditched the powered wheels in favor of medium landing gear which could take much more abuse. with some fine tuning of the landing gear's suspension settings and the hinge settings i got a rover that will comfortably cruise at 80m/s across kerbins terrain and soak up bumps and jumps with ease. with added rudder for steering (steering at that speed with the wheels is too sensitive) and ailerons so it wont nose over on jumps, it ends up looking like a plane without wings, but i assure you it wont fly in its current configuration. it will descend at around 10m/s. heres the first few minutes of the trip. setting off, planting the flag: 

this is the route ill be taking:


day 1:





day 2:


got around to my first water crossing, which is i think the longest at around 57km. at 14.3m/s it should take just over an hour. luckily its mostly hands off, just small corrections every now and then. 







day.....idk...something. theyre getting a bit blurred now. you can see the mission time.


got all the water crossings done. i discovered i could back the power on the motors down to 5-10% so its just stupid efficient now. i found with sas on its pretty much hands off, it stays level enough off jumps that i dont worry about the landings. i just correct the heading occasionally. its easy to forget im doing nearly 200mph!



over half way!




almost jumped clean over this ridge! managed to set it down just at the top. kinda hard to tell from the picture i guess, but that water is a couple hundred meters DOWN the mountain.



Edited by Icky
hid screenshots in spoilers
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I just completed a second water circumnavigation of Kerbin, just because.  Actually, I made my original boat a lot better, and wanted to see how it fared.

The new boat had a lot or range- I did the whole circumnavigation stopping only once for fuel.  I departed KSC heading west, taking the normal water route.  I reached the east side of the land bridge, and crossed the land bridge, before making my first fuel stop.  The ISRU and single drill took about 2 days to fill the tanks.  The entire circumnavigation took 6 days, including the two days of ISRU refueling at the land bridge.



Here's the new boat.  The center section is basically identical to the boat I used a few weeks ago for a Kerbin sea circumnavigation.  I added 'pontoon' fuel tanks, which greatly increased the range.


Shortly after leaving KSC, I'm already making 55m/s at 4X time warp.  I normally try to avoid part clipping, but I really wanted to use the big turbofan engine instead of 3 Wheelsy engines.  I had to add the 3 extra air intakes because at 4X time warp the engine was getting starved of air.  Not sure why that was only happening at 4X time warp, but it was.  Oh well, if anything it adds to the realism, because the intake of my big engine is clipped inside a fuel tank.


Reached the land bridge in just under 2 days.  Still have enough fuel to cross the land bridge.  I sailed through the night, which is risky at 60m/s and 4X time warp, it's hard to see where you're going at night!  I then tried to continue across the land bridge during night, but gave up on that very quickly.


Crossing the land bridge (waited till daylight..).  With this giant boat, 36m/s is terrifyingly fast.  Any time all 4 wheels got airborne, even briefly, was a recipe for explosions.  No jumping this big boat, gotta keep it on the ground at all times.


Crossing one of the lakes in the land bridge, I hit 90m/s!  Although this screenshot shows 2X warp, I was also able to use 4X warp at 90m/s.  Average speed on the whole trip was probably around 55m/s, that seemed to give me a good combination of speed and range.  Here I was just playing around, because I was planning on refueling shortly anyway.


West end of land bridge, just refueled.  Refueling with ISRU + 1 drill took about 2 days plus 2 hours.


Home stretch, headed back to KSC.  The whole trip took just a tad over 6 days.  I have the barometer and thermometer up because the boat's efficiency decreased a bit after crossing the land bridge, and I was trying to figure out why.  Still haven't figured that out, but I was thinking air density- the air temp is much cooler up north by the land bridge.  Which should have increased the performance and efficiency of the jet engine.  Still scratching my head.



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Paging @rkarmark or @Claw, or anyone else who would like to comment.  I am requesting a ruling on a vehicle I used to circumnavigate Gilly.  It's a pogo-stick.  Technically, a nuclear powered pogo-stick.

The vehicle I used:


Here's the vehicle.   It's a lawn chair strapped to a hydraulic cylinder, with batteries, a small reaction wheel, small probe core, and solar panels.  Oh, and a couple of RTG as backup power, and also so I could call it a nuclear pogo stick.  There's a rubber pad at the base, to help it grip the ground.  


How it works is you point it in the general direction you want to go (as above).  Then (the next photo) you extend the piston.  This propels you in the direction you are pointed (somewhat).


Step 3: Profit!  Retract the piston, ready to deploy the next time you touch the ground.  At 5.6m/s, the next photo is an example of what I considered a really good speed.  Occasionally, with a really lucky piston extension, I saw speeds between 6.0 and 7.5m/s, but ~5.0 m/s was usually the average.


The triangle-shaped thing below the Kerbal is a structural panel, to protect the Kerbal and components.  Although I rarely saw speeds over 7.0m/s, that's fast enough to knock a Kerbal out of the lawn chair, and also to destroy a battery or reaction wheel.  Stopping this thing means just coasting to a stop.  On Gilly, even at 5m/s it sometimes took several km to get stopped.

The third rule of this challenge is keep your vehicle on the surface, with brief jumps allowed.  This vehicle only moves by jumping.  Here's my case for allowing this vehicle:

  • It is 100% stock, I am not using any mods of any sort.  I do have the BG and MH expansion packs, but no mods.
  • The vehicle does not use any thrust-producing parts, nor lift-producing parts.
  • It does not exploit any physics cheats or bugs.  The concept would work well in the real-world.
  • Using ANY vehicle on Gilly will result in a significant amount of time airborne.  
  • Although it propels itself by hopping, it is not capable of reaching orbital speeds, ~7.5m/s was the best I ever saw.
  • There is no way to change your direction or velocity while airborne.  As others have noted, altitude is not your friend on Gilly, if you get too high you can find yourself going backwards.  I found my best performance was when I kept the pogo-stick as low to the ground as possible.

I'm interested in anyone's comments as to wether this violates the rules of the challenge or not.  Regardless, it was a fun circumnavigation!  My teenage son laughed hysterically when he saw it in action.

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@rkarmark, here's another circumnavigation, this time of Gilly.  I'm not sure if the vehicle qualifies, see my earlier post regarding using a pogo-stick to go around Gilly.

The nuclear pogo-stick:


This is also described in my previous post.  It's a lawn chair strapped to a hydraulic cylinder.  Additional components are batteries, solar panels, RTGs, and a small reaction wheel.  There is a rubber pad at the bottom so it grips the ground better.  Also, there is a small probe-core so that I could access KerbNet to mark my route.  To protect the Kerbal and vessel components, I added a small triangular section of structural panel to the bottom front.


It works by pointing it in the general direction you want to go.  When the end of the hydraulic cylinder is contacting the ground, you extend the piston.  While airborne, you retract the piston, getting ready for the next extension when you hit the ground again.  I was usually able to achieve speeds of 5m/s, occasionally I got lucky and hit 7m/s.  That doesn't sound like much, but it's actually pretty good for Gilly.  

Getting to Gilly:


I mounted the pogo-stick to a rocket I normally use to deliver two relay satellites.  I just removed one satellite.  I also ended up launching a second rocket, which still had two relay sats, because it turned out I didn't have any relay sats around Gilly- and I needed them so I could use KerbNet.


Reaching orbit, with way more dv than I need for Eve.  I normally use this rocket to get satellites to Dres or Jool.  I didn't need to bring a Kerbal, because I already had a crew of 4 on the surface of Gilly.


My arrival at Eve, not pretty but it worked.  The larger white orbit line is a second ship I brought, with two extra relay sats for Gilly, to support the mission. 


This was the easiest off-world vehicle deployment I've ever had.  I landed near the ship with the Kerbals, and just laid the delivery vehicle on it's side.  I decoupled the pogo-stick, and it dropped softly to the surface.  Easy!


The Journey:


Benjamin Kerbal dropping down to get aboard the pogo-stick.


Couple of funny things about the next photo.  First, I managed to reach 7.3m/s!!  Again, that may not seem fast, but it's actually blazing fast for the surface of Gilly.  Also, note that the game is not optimistic about my chances of surviving the circumnavigation- won't let me quick save because it thinks I'm 'about to crash.'  Ha!  I showed them!


Two markers down, and a bunch left to go.


I stopped and got off the pogo-stick here because I was going west-bound and actually outrunning the sun, had to stop and wait for the sun to catch up.  The rubber grip-pad at the bottom did seem to help significantly.  I recommend trying them.


Back where I started.  Getting the pogo-stick close to the ship was tricky.  Once you get something moving on Gilly, it tends to keep moving for a really long time.


Here's my route, marked with KerbNet markers.  I stuck generally to the equator, +/- 10 degrees or so.


That was pretty fun.  I'm now trying to decide which body to circumnavigate next.  So far, I've done Kerbin, Laythe, Dres, and now Gilly.  Maybe I should knock out Mun and Minmus next.

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@rkarmark, here's another Elcano complete, Mun.  I launched two rovers at once, on a ship that needed to go to Dres.  On the way, I stopped at Mun for a circumnavigation, and then Minmus for a circumnavigation.  Then I sent the delivery vehicle to Dres, for an unrelated mission.  I'm using the same rover I used for my Dres circumnavigation a month or so ago.  

Mun was much more difficult than I anticipated.  There's enough gravity to get a rover up to speed quickly.  But not enough to keep the rover on the ground.  My rover is pretty tough, but extreme jumps, with altitudes over 500m above the surface, proved more than my rover could take.  With the new inventory system, I had a limited supply of repair kits, so I had to be careful- at least when I started running low on repair kits.

Before doing more circumnavigations I'll be tweaking my rover design.  Circumnavigating Mun exposed a few weak points.  I'm trying to figure out how to survive really crazy jumps.  The wheels are one weakness, they can only take so much.  Another problem is Kerbals getting knocked out of their seats.  I'm trying to avoid putting any sort of thrusters on the rover.

Getting There:


Here's the delivery vehicle with two rovers, one for Mun and one for Minmus.  The vehicle is for an unrelated contract to put 6,000 units of ore in Dres orbit.  So after delivering rovers to Mun and Minmus, the ship will be heading to Dres.


Landed on Mun, I decouple one rover.  It just plops onto the surface.  I'll need to refuel my ship too, I'm almost out of gas!


Matfel and Gwenhat ready to circumnavigate Mun.  The storage bins in the back of the rover are chock-full of repair kits.   But I probably won't need them. :rolleyes: 


Mission Shots:


The rover survived this jump, but damaged a wheel.  These wheels take two repair kits for each repair.  I used a lot of wheel repair kits pretty quick, before deciding to drive more cautiously.


To prevent damaging wheels, I tried landing on the roof from absurdly high jumps.  That caused other problems, I gave up on that technique quickly.


Whoops.  This jump resulted in a lot of damage- I had to restore from a previous quick save.


Gwenhat, the engineer, inspecting yet another wheel repair.  We gotta be more careful.


Zoomed out to try to find an easy route.  Sometimes I just gave up, and went right through craters.  Carefully!


More Mission Shots:


About 40-50m/s was a pretty good speed in some areas.  At crater rims I often had to slow to 15m/s or less, to keep wheel damage to a minimum.


This was about the top speed of the rover.  It could get going a little faster downhill.  It was neat seeing Kerbin come above the horizon.


A perfect example of a crater rim to go slow over.  I'm stopped here to place a KerbNet marker, but I would have slowed to ~10m/s going over this one anyway.


Back where I started.  Took almost 6 days, but a lot of that was spent waiting for the sun to catch up, I don't like driving at night.


My route, roughly equatorial with markers placed about every 30 degrees longitude.  I kept within a few degrees of the equator, with minor deviations to avoid nasty terrain.


The crew left one rover on Mun, boarded the big ship, and now on their way to Minmus.  We still have one rover left to complete that one.



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@rkarmark, here's my Minmus submission.  Minmus was much easier than I expected, and went fairly quickly.  For anyone thinking of doing an Elcano run, I highly suggest starting with Minmus.  Minmus has been much easier than the other circumnavigations I've completed (Kerbin, Laythe, Dres, Gilly, and Mun)

Getting There:


This is the same ship from my Mun Elcano run, see the above post.  I still have one rover left for Minmus.  Here we go!


Mission Shots:


Starting out.  I'm doing a polar route this time.  Started at the equator at 40W, so I'll be going up the 40W meridian, and on the other side I'll be heading south on the 140E meridian, for a roughly circular route crossing both poles.  Going 52m/s is pretty bold considering I'm just starting out, but I'm on the flats.


Turns out I was able to go 50m/s+ even when not on the flats!  Minmus is easy!  I got lulled into a false sense of security though.  Because there are places on Minmus where you need to slow down.  Way down.


Approaching the North Pole of Minmus, the sky looked pretty to me.  Still doing 50m/s+.  That speed is going to bite me pretty soon..


At the North Pole.  From here, I need to go south.  Which is good, that's the only way to go.  But which south?  Well, I came up on the 40W meridian, so my goal is to drive south on the 140E meridian.


More Screenshots:


I'm stopped here to place a KerbNet marker, which I did every 45 degrees of latitude.  The whole time I've been going 50-55m/s with no problems.  


Uh Oh!  That looks like a big cliff ahead, I should slow down.  Unfortunately, you can't slow a rover down when it's 300m above the surface.  I think this one is going to end badly.


Yep, I really wish I hadn't been going so fast.  It shows the rover ~500m above the surface, but the floor of the flats is actually over 1,000m below me at this  point.


That did not go well.  In this photo, you can see I have wheel damage.  Also, some important pieces of my rover broke off and were destroyed.  Those two things floating in the distance are Matfel and Gwenhat, rag-dolling away.  They survived, but the rover was severely damaged, I ended up having to revert to a previous save.


Crossing the same cliff, attempt #2.  Notice that I'm going MUCH slower this time.


And still more Screenshots:


Looks like I'm driving straight down.  The nav-ball says it's only a 45 degree slope though.  Still, kinda scary.


I encountered this at the South Pole.  It's a hole to another dimension!  Doesn't look safe to drive into.  But, I quick-saved and drove into it anyway.  The entire rover was destroyed instantly.  After reverting, I gave that tear in the fabric of the universe a wide berth, and continued on.


Whenever I go over a jump, the theme to The Dukes of Hazard plays in my head.  "Just two good ole boys..."  Does that happen to anyone else?


Back where I started.  I'll leave the rover on Minmus, but the delivery ship needs to go to Dres.


Here's the route I took.  Starting at the equator, I went north up the 40W meridian.  Reaching the North Pole, I went south down the 140E meridian to the South Pole, then back up the 40W meridian to the equator and starting point.



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My next circumnavigation is going to be Moho.  Not sure how the rover will hold up, but just getting to Moho is very difficult.  I assumed that my go-to ship that can reach Dres or Jool would work fine for Moho.  Nope.

I launched a small armada, a big lander with the rover and two relay-satellite delivery rockets.  To save fuel, I had all 3 ships get a boost at Eve.  Even doing the Eve boost all three ships barely made it to Moho orbit- and they spent years trying to do it.  The two relay rockets did eventually reach Moho with enough fuel to achieve orbit- each rocket has two relay sats, so I now have 4 relay sats at Moho.

My big lander barely had enough fuel to achieve orbit.  It's now out of gas (but in orbit), can't get to the surface.  So I had to bring another ship to rescue the original lander.

The rescue ship is another long-range mining ship.  I had one parked at Gilly already.  I did everything I could think of to save fuel between Gilly and Moho.  Eventually I got the rescue ship to Moho, and landed.  I'm pretty good at making efficient, precision landings.  I touched down on Moho with ~160m/s of fuel left.  Even with the big mining ship, that's about enough fuel to grill two chickens, maybe.

Now, I have to fill the rescue ships tanks, go rendezvous with the ship with the rover, and probably land them both again.  Was hoping to be halfway around Moho by now, but my goodness getting to Moho with enough fuel to land is challenging!

I have noticed my solar panels seem to be working extremely well on Moho.  The rover also has RTGs, but I think a couple of solar panels would have been plenty on Moho.

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On 2/5/2021 at 11:58 AM, 18Watt said:

Paging @rkarmark or @Claw, or anyone else who would like to comment.  I am requesting a ruling on a vehicle I used to circumnavigate Gilly.  It's a pogo-stick.  Technically, a nuclear powered pogo-stick.


I'm interested in anyone's comments as to wether this violates the rules of the challenge or not.  Regardless, it was a fun circumnavigation!  My teenage son laughed hysterically when he saw it in action.


The rule is really about not simply piloting a vehicle in such a way that you bypass much of the challenge/point of doing a terrestrial circumnavigation. With that said, it's hard to know exactly where the line is. Given that it's Gilly, regular contact with the ground, and the speeds you are showing...I would consider it a novel approach to the circumnavigation.

So, with the above in mind, I think that it's within the spirit. Also, I'm not sure this approach would be very practical on other bodies, (vs if there was an engine involved, and simply flying/gliding/hovering), so it doesn't seem overly abusive. Definitely cool to see new/novel approaches to a challenge that's been around this long. :)


Edited by Claw
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On 2/12/2021 at 10:13 AM, Claw said:

...I'm not sure this approach would be very practical on other bodies,...

Yes, I think 'practical' is the key word.  I haven't circumnavigated Bop or Pol yet, those are two places where the pogo-stick might work.  I do suspect I could make quicker progress with a wheeled rover on both Bop and Pol, I think it would make more sense to have wheels on those bodies.

The pogo-stick was really something I came up with for Gilly, on which rovers are frustrating (for me).  The only body I fear more (for circumnavigating) is Eve, I'm saving that one for last.  I'll probably do some pogo testing on Bop and Pol, but I'm sure a standard rover will work better on those.

I'm not even sure if the pogo-stick was 'practical' on Gilly, although for me personally it was more rewarding than trying to wrangle a rover around.  

BTW, I do consider thrusters acceptable for the Elcano Challenge (provided they're only used on the surface..), I just choose not to use them.  I know some players have had good results with downward-facing thrusters on low-gravity bodies like Gilly, but one of my personal goals is to do these without thrusters of any sort.  Except for marine ones on Laythe and Kerbin, of course.

Thanks for the input!  I'm about 3/4 around Moho right now, which has been much more challenging than I had thought.

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Moho circumnavigation complete!


That image about sums up my Moho circumnavigation.  I think the shot is only about 10km from where I started, already have a damaged wheel.  Moho was tough, both the long rocky drive, and also just getting to Moho.

Getting There:


The less said about getting to Moho the better.  I did not navigate efficiently.  Here I'm refueling the delivery vessel on Minmus, with the rover hanging off the side.  Minmus is my go-to refuel spot, I can get there in my sleep.  


I messed up badly burning to Moho, and ran out of fuel before reaching the surface.  The ship in the next photo is a second refueler I had to bring to Moho, to rescue the original ship with the rover.  This one was already parked at Gilly.  I was extremely careful about getting this one to Moho, and still landed with just 160m/s of fuel left in the tanks.  Almost had to send a third ship to rescue the first two.


Bringing some fuel up to the ship with the rover.


Ok, everyone is on the surface now.  The ship in the foreground is the rescue ship, in the background is the original delivery vessel, and the rover has plopped onto the surface.


Photos of the drive:


The only flat areas are inside big craters.  The equatorial route I took didn't have enough of them.


Here's a shot from the Midlands.  It was safe to travel at 25-30m/s for the most part in the Midlands.  However, even in the Midlands, there were peaks and valleys where it was safer to slow to less than 10m/s.  Good traction on Moho, so slowing down was workable.


Sannie, the engineer, stopping to replenish her supply of repair kits.  The two storage cabinets are full of repair kits.  Correction, they were full of repair kits.  Takes two repair kits for each wheel repair.


The Highlands:


Terrain that looks like this is pretty common, and unavoidable on a equatorial route.  Hitting a valley like this with any speed resulted in the buggy being sent straight up in the air.  The best way to cross them safely was just to go really slow.  I'd estimate about 1/4 to 1/3 of the equator is Highlands.  So it was slow going.


More Highlands ahead.  Yay.


Trying to navigate a slope in the Highlands.


The Finish!


Home stretch!  The lander(s) are parked in a big grey crater, which are actually pretty flat, and safe to go faster.  After a few days crawling through the Highlands, it was nice to put the pedal to the metal.


There's my landers about one km away.  Right where I left them.


Here's my route, basically equatorial, with markers placed every 30 degrees of longitude.  You can see my landers are in the middle of one of the big grey craters.  When choosing a route, it might be worth looking for a route that spends as much time in the grey craters as possible- they are the only places to really go fast.  There's a couple on the equator, but there is probably a better route.


Glad to be finished with Moho, it took longer than I thought it would.  I'm considering Duna and Ike next.

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Ike Circumnavigation Complete!

Here's the equatorial route I took around Ike.


Getting There:


I launched a delivery ship, carrying two rovers- one for Ike, and a second one for Duna.  I like to refuel at Minmus, so I try to launch from Kerbin into an inclination that matches Minmus'.  I can usually get within 1.0 degrees of Minmus, anything less than that is just icing on the cake.  This time I got really lucky, and launched straight into an inclination which exactly matched Minmus.  I hope that's a good sign for this mission.


The delivery vehicle in orbit of Kerbin.  Next stop is Minmus for refueling.  I also sent a rocket with two relay satellites out to Duna, to give myself better satellite coverage on the surface of Ike and Duna.


Refueling at Minmus.  The rover in the foreground is one I previously used to circumnavigate Minmus.  The rovers I'm taking to Ike and Duna are nearly identical to that one.


Landed on Ike, with one rover deployed and ready to go.  The one still on the ship will go to Duna later.


The Drive:


Just starting out.  The last Elcano I did was Moho.  Ike is much easier than Moho.  I like Ike.  I brought a lot of repair kits, but I don't think I'm going to need them on Ike.


Neat!  I wasn't always able to drive at 50m/s, but for the most part I was able to keep the speed above 30m/s.  Ike is very forgiving, and not hard on wheels at all.


Oops.  There are actually a few places you need to be careful, I guess.


Stopping to look at a big red rock.  Hitting these at 50m/s isn't the best idea.


Back where I started.  I think I only damaged two wheels on the whole drive.  Time to take the other rover to Duna.


I have landed the second rover on Duna, but haven't started the drive around Duna yet.  I ended up landing on a spot on Duna which has a very slight slope.  It's almost perfectly flat, but not quite.  And my lander is sliding, maintaining a speed of ~0.1 to 0.2m/s.  I'm afraid to drive off, worried that it will start sliding faster, and tip over.  The rover is safely deployed on Duna.  I guess the worst case is if the lander tips over, I'll have to bring another ship to Duna to recover the crew.  Or maybe I'll try to reposition the lander.  



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Duna Circumnavigation Complete!

I took a polar route around Duna.  Starting at the equator, I went up the 80E meridian to the North Pole, then down the 100W meridian to the South Pole, then back up the 80E meridian to the equator.  I guess all celestial bodies (in KSP) are like this, but the terrain at the poles is extremely difficult.  When you get within 0.5 degrees of either pole, you also need to watch out for bizarre terrain glitches, which should be avoided.


Getting There:


See my previous entry, a circumnavigation of Ike.  The delivery ship had two rovers, one used on Ike, the other brought to the surface of Duna.

Here's the delivery ship, having just dropped the rover to the surface.  Although I looked hard for a flat spot to land, the ship is on a very shallow slope.  Unfortunately, the ship is actually sliding at 0.1-0.2m/s down the slope!  I was really concerned that it would end up gaining speed, and tipping over.


Here's a shot of the ship sliding.  Although the terrain of Duna is mostly gentle, there are very few (if any) places with no slope!  I find that odd, and a bit unrealistic, but it is what it is.


Photos from the circumnavigation:


Here's a shot of my go-to rover.  It seems to work fairly well.  It's pretty tough, but not indestructible.


Catching some air.


Stopping to fix a broken wheel.  The storage cabinets are full of repair kits, at least when I start out.


The terrain at the poles gets crazy.  This is the North Pole.  I knew it would not be a good idea to drive up that formation, but I did it anyway.  I highly recommend quick-saving before you get too close to the bizarre terrain formations.


This probably isn't the highest spot on Duna, but it's pretty high.  The game does a good job of simulating what the sky looks like at high altitude- light scattering from the atmosphere is reduced, and the sky turns closer to black.  I thought it was pretty cool.


Shortly after passing the South Pole.  Pretty.  The terrain is somewhat challenging though.


Oops, now I'm missing a light.  I had a bad tumbling event.  I didn't bring any spare lights, but I'm about 3/4 of the way done, so should be ok.


A few more shots:


Back at the start point.  The ship is still sliding downhill at 0.1-0.2m/s, but is still upright.


Left the one-eyed rover behind.  I deployed some surface experiments before I left.  Not sure why the seismic sensor is tipped over on it's side?


By the way, I'm still doing these circumnavigations 100% stock.

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Pol Circumnavigation Complete!

I took an equatorial route on Pol, using my standard rover.  I think the nuclear pogo-stick would have worked too, but the rover probably was the better choice.


Getting There:


Shortly after launch, I'm bringing two rovers- one for Pol, and the other for one of the other Jool moons.  I have so many ships around Jool that I'm not bringing any Kerbals on this launch.  I should be able to find a few Kerbals already at Jool to do the drive.


Refueling at Minmus.  Since I don't have any Kerbals on the ship, I'm hooked up to a surface miner, which does have an engineer on board.  The engineer greatly speeds up the mining process.  Plus, it's an extra drill.


Arriving at Jool, I'm getting pretty good at finding Tylo encounters on arrival.  I thought this was pretty cool, I'm approaching Tylo, and you can see Laythe against the Jool background.  The Tylo encounter will put me in orbit of Jool, with an AP very close to Pol's orbit- without burning any fuel.  


Passing Tylo.  Laythe is hard to see, but it is between Tylo and Jool, closer to Tylo.


The ship with the rovers is on the surface.  Here I'm bringing another ship down, to deliver two Kerbals for the drive (because I didn't bring any on the delivery ship..).  One problem with making accurate surface landings is accidentally landing on the target ship!  I actually had to burn off course a tad to avoid hitting the surface ship.


The delivery ship, with one rover deployed.  The second ship (with the Kerbals) is on the left.  That smaller ship is just a miner, which takes ore to an orbiting refining vessel.


The Drive:


Just starting out.  The terrain is not horrible, but it was rare to get much faster than 20m/s.  There are a few places with annoying terrain glitches on Pol.  I did manage to complete the circumnavigation without using any wheel repair kits, which is a first for me.


Yep, they're having fun.


Another shot of Jool, with Laythe between the camera and Jool.  Pretty neat.


The accountants always tell the crews to be careful, because the solid-gold rovers are really expensive.  Bill can't figure out why that is, because here on Pol there's big chunks of solid-gold just laying around on the surface.


Catching some major air.  As high as the rover is, you'd think I'm going really fast.  Nope.  Just 13m/s is enough to launch you really high over some jumps.


Back at the starting point.  Before leaving, the crew needs to deploy some surface science experiments, and also refuel both ships.


Where to next?


Tylo.  I haven't really started the drive, but this one is going to take a long time.  Also, I discovered that I'm really bad at landing on Tylo.  Thank goodness for quick-saves, because my first three attempts at landing on Tylo ended really badly.  I started the descent with nearly full fuel, roughly 5,000m/s DV.  And it still took me four tries to actually get the ship on the surface in one piece.  But, I got it eventually.


I've already found a design flaw in the rover.  Originally, I had 4 RTGs and the two small solar panels.  That was way more than enough on Moho, and everywhere else I've been so far, so I cut the RTGs down to just 2.  On Tylo, the two solar panels don't do much, and the 2 RTGs aren't quite enough.  I'll make it work, but going with 4 RTGs would have been better.  Fuel Cell Arrays would work too, but I didn't want to lug LFOX around, and possibly run out halfway around Tylo.  Also, I suspect that two storage cabinets full of repair kits may not be sufficient on Tylo.  We will see..



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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm 3/4 of the way around Tylo.  Tylo is taking a long time.  For the most part, I'm making good speed, I can usually maintain 45-55m/s at 3X warp.  On long downhill stretches the rover will easily go past 100m/s.  Unfortunately at 3X warp anything over 70m/s is asking for explosions. 

I can handle downhill runs at 100m/s with no warp, but I'm making the drive go faster by keeping it below 70m/s and using 3X warp.  Tylo's terrain actually isn't too bad for the most part.  I've destroyed a few wheels, but that was actually due to hitting rocks at high speed and 3X warp.  I'm 3/4 of the way around Tylo and still have several repair kits on board, so I should be just fine.

Today Bill got ejected from the rover during a high-speed wipe-out.  Surprisingly, Bill and the rover were both fine, the rover ended up sliding to a stop upside-down from a speed of ~65m/s.  

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Tylo Circumnavigation Complete!


Wow, Tylo took a really long time to drive around.  I drove around the equator.  I'm not sure how many hours it took me, I spent over a week driving when I had time.  I'd guess I spent over 10 hours on the drive.

Getting There:


I launched a rocket with two rovers from KSC.  The first rover was used to drive around Pol, then I brought the second rover to Tylo.  Here's the vessel shortly after launch from KSC.  After refueling at Minmus it has plenty of DV to reach Jool.


Reaching Tylo from Pol was no problem.  Reaching the surface of Tylo was tough, I needed numerous attempts to make the landing work.  Even after bringing a second ship to Tylo to top-off the lander, I still had just barely enough fuel to land.  It wasn't a full 'suicide burn', but it ended up starting to resemble one.  I ran out of fuel on multiple attempts, and started the landing burn too late on other attempts.  


The Drive:


Just starting out.  After adjusting the suspension, I was able to safely travel at 50m/s, even at 3X warp.  


Actually, without using time warp, I was able to go 90m/s fairly safely.  Using 3X time warp, it was safer to limit speeds to 50-60m/s.


A gratuitous shot of high-speed.  Most of the drive was done at 40-50m/s and 3X warp.


I did damage a few wheels during the drive, but not as many as I thought I would.  Wheel damage was always due to hitting rocks at high speed, not from landing off of jumps.


I think this was about the highest terrain I hit close to the equator.


Bill got ejected from the buggy during a roll-over wipeout, ended up some distance from the rover.  The rover ended up sliding to a stop upside-down from about 60m/s.  No damage!  Bill got back in the rover and finished the drive.


There's a happy sight!  The pink marker about 85km away is the starting point.  Almost done!  


After getting back to the ship, the crew refueled and tried to get back to orbit of Tylo.  Unfortunately, when full of fuel and ore the ship was not able to lift off the surface.  I ended up burning about a quarter of the fuel away before lifting off.  I did have plenty of fuel to reach orbit, but then had to bring yet another refueling ship from Pol to have enough fuel to get to a moon I could land on.  All the support tankers were already in the Jool system, so at least I didn't need to bring support vessels all the way from Kerbin.  Tylo is not easy.

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