And now, an EVE term definition for the newer EVE players. You vets can move on to the next post.
When you are traveling through unknown low-sec or null-sec space, and you can see there are a number of people in system with you in Local, it almost never pays to warp directly from gate to gate. Gate-camps are too frequent and too effective these days. Warp directly to a gate in null, and chances are good you'll find that gate bubbled. Even a cloaky or a frigate (or both) might have a hard time slipping through the net if the campers know what they're doing.
Sometimes, you can avoid gate-camps by warping to a nearby celestial such as a planet, customs office, or asteroid belt, and from there, to the gate. From there, at the very least, you can use a directional scanner to see what is waiting for you at the gate. But what if the gate is a constellation or regional gate, which are often well away from celestials?
That's where cap dumping comes in handy. Cap dumping is the act of -- particularly in a traveling frigate -- reducing the amount of capacitor your ship has. Reduce your cap enough and you can warp directly toward the gate without actually reaching the gate. You'll warp close to the gate but you won't leave yourself enough cap to make it all the way. The tricky part of cap dumping is to know how much you have to dump in order to warp close enough to the gate to scan it. There are a lot of ways to go about it.
Some of them are covered (somewhat poorly) in this EVE is Easy video. If the process below is confusing, you might find it easier to follow them in video form.
The goal of cap dumping is to have enough cap that you can get into warp close to an outbound gate but not enough to reach it. The farther you try to warp, the more cap will be consumed. Unfortunately, the game will never tell you how much your current cap is good for in terms of warp distance. But it will tell you if you don't have sufficient cap to reach your destination. So, when cap dumping, your goal will be to continuously reduce your capacitor while activating and reactivating the "warp to" button until the game informs you that you won't reach your intended destination.
The easiest way to start to reduce your cap is to off-line and then immediately on-line a module. This takes 95% capacitor to start the process, and will reduce your cap to 25% or so in one move. However, your cap will quickly regenerate from there. Your next move should be to immediately activate all of your cap-using active modules, particularly self-reppers or propulsion modules. MicroWarpdrives work best for this. If your ship is cap-unstable, you can just continuously run your MWD or self-repper until your cap is greatly reduced.
But what if you need to do more to reduce your cap?
Activate your MWD and start moving directly away from your intended gate. As your cap is reduced by the MWD, try warping to the gate. Watch for the notification saying that you don't have enough cap to reach the gate. If you don't see it, then immediately hit Control-Space to stop your ship and cancel the warp. Since you started this maneuver pointing away from your destination gate at great speed, your ship will not have time to come around to your warp heading. Your MWD will also keep cycling, and your attempt to warp will also reduce your cap. You can repeat this process using the most distant (from you) celestials in the system to reduce your cap in large chunks. Just point away from a distant celestial on MWD, try to warp to it, and immediately cancel the warp.
But it's nearly as simple to repeat the steps above: point your ship away from your intended gate, make sure your MWD is cycling, and at the beginning of each cycle, attempt to warp to your destination gate again. If you do not see the warning message saying you have insufficient cap, then stop your ship and repeat the maneuver. Eventually if you're quick enough, you will dump enough cap to warp close to the gate.
Once you're within directional scan range (14.3 AU or so), you can scan the gate and see if it is indeed camped. Remember to uncheck the box which will cause the directional scanner to use your Overview settings. You want the most information possible about what's waiting at the gate. Watch, in particular, for "Warp Disruption Probes" and the four types of dictors and heavy dictors: Sabre, Flycatcher, Heretic, Eris, Phobos, Devoter, Broadsword, and Onyx. In addition, look for "Mobile Warp Disruptors". The presence of any of these ships or items means that your destination gate is held against you...
But thanks to smart cap dumping, at least you didn't warp directly into the trap.
Occasionally on Sundays, I will be defining a common EVE term for those who might not have heard it. If you have a suggestion for such a term, please drop it into the comments.