Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Let's do a KSP update post. I haven't done one in a week or so.

I've now done six or seven trips to the Mun in variations of my standard lander from my last post. I'm pretty much running out of places to explore, though I'm finding the wiki slightly incorrect in all the biomes that it claims (for instance, I put a lander in the Twin Craters but the game indicated I was in the Midlands). Sooner or later, I'll go for some of the more esoteric, harder-to-land-on locations like the polar regions and the two canyons but I haven't done that yet.

I also entertained myself with a couple of really ridiculous lander-rovers...

...and those had some brief entertainment value, but even on Minmus, I found that you can't really drive from one biome to the next biome over in any kind of reasonable amount of time. That makes rovers in general entertaining for a few minutes but with no long-term playability that I've been able to find to date. KSP doesn't exactly have a button for "OK, Kerbals, you have six good wheels, plenty of sunshine, and good batteries. Drive until sundown. Call me when you get bored." ;-) So overall, I have to consider the Science I spent on the rover parts kind of wasted, unfortunately.

But from a sandboxy kind of aspect, I'm still having a ton of fun with KSP (as the goofy rover no doubt shows).

So with the local neighborhood more or less thoroughly scouted, I've now turned my attention to Eve (hee!) and Duna. To that end, I rebuilt my Mun mission lifter into something that could launch some long-range probes which I called the Pathfinder series. And I've had pretty good success with them! I successfully soft-landed three probes on Eve, including some rather spectacular aerobraking manuevers to bleed velocity and get into the orbits I wanted...

The first Pathfinder splashed down in an Eve ocean, the second landed on a flat at near sea level, and I was able to pretty precisely put the third on one of Eve's mountains. Still, not anything that I think I'm going to challenge myself with trying to put Kerbals on quite yet. Despite three successful hits, those transfer orbits to Eve are a freakin' nightmare. I again got that absurd sense of accomplishment from successfully doing something nasty-hard in this game. ;-)

Pathfinder 4 went to Duna...

...and I had a fun time designing my landing strategy there. After exhausting my final boost stage in getting a good Duna orbit, I then used my final upper probe stage engine to start a deorbit and descent to Duna. At that point, I treated the Duna landing as if I were landing on a planet with no atmosphere at all, using the final engine to bleed off horizontal surface speed as the probe descended. I ended up at a little under 3000m high and 100m/s of vertical velocity left at which point I cut the final engine loose, put out landing legs, and deployed three parachutes. The Duna atmosphere was just enough to let them put the probe down for a soft landing. It's definitely a strategy I can see working for a small lander at some point and I didn't have nearly the trouble with the Duna transfer orbit that I did with the Eve one.

Finally, my plan for "Kerbaled" planetary exploration centers on launching the missions from an orbital station, so I've started building one:

That's most of my main spinal structures, from bottom to top:
  • a service module with lots of batteries, monoprop tanks, and two 200-series liquid fuel tanks;
  • a science module with two large solar arrays;
  • a "Unity" six-way docking module which I festooned with lights for fun;
  • a "hitchhiker" crew cabin; and,
  • my more or less standard delivery vehicle which had just delivered that last piece.
At the top of this structure, I'm going to attach one more "Unity" module, a cupola, and a couple of larger liquid fuel tanks for refueling departing missions. Then I get to figure out how I'm going to extend trusses from the first "Unity" module. However, that will probably have to wait until I'm back from Iceland. I don't expect to have the leisure to put too much time into this over the weekend.

I did run into one aggravating mistake: while I was building and attaching that first science module, I didn't realize the largest size docking port was directional. And in a true show of Kerbal engineering, I didn't discover that I'd installed the docking port on top of the science module backward until I was trying to dock a Unity module to it over and over and wondering why it wouldn't connect. I ended up having to deorbit my first science module and lift a new one with the docking port facing the right way. Whoops! Definite live and learn on my part there. I'm now double-checking all my docking ports before they launch...

I begin to understand why some rocket scientist somewhere forgot to convert feet to meters... ;-)

All in all, I guess you'll gather I'm having a good time with this... Still two thumbs way up from me!


  1. Unity, Might that have something to do with a particular Sid Meier Game?

    1. Nah, it's the name of the mod installed on the actual ISS (for which mine SS is going to be the model).

  2. 'KSP doesn't exactly have a button for "OK, Kerbals, you have six good wheels, plenty of sunshine, and good batteries. Drive until sundown. Call me when you get bored."'

    MechJeb's rover mode is exactly this. I gathered from an earlier screenshot that you had MechJeb installed?

    1. Huh! And no, don't have MechJeb installed. I was making fun of it since it looked so over-cluttered. Wasn't my screenshot. ;-)

  3. I did the exact same thing with my first attempt at a space station.

  4. "I begin to understand why some rocket scientist somewhere forgot to convert feet to meters..."

    I still have to wonder why they were using two different unit systems to begin with.

    On the eve front can/will you try to put more emphasis on getting the launcher to the golden spot sooner rather than later?

    1. Where I want the launcher to be is a lonnnng term direction. 2016, maybe. But yeah, I'm going to bring it up again in a week.

    2. "I still have to wonder why they were using two different unit systems to begin with."

      The way I heard the story, it was a joint civilian/military project. In the US, at least for a long time, an amazing amount of engineering was still done using the imperial system. I'm not sure if that's still true, but my mechanical engineering friends in school continually bemoaned the problems where they were not given everything in the same unit system. In the meantime, the military uses the metric system. So, presumably, a design was passed from a team on one side to a team on the other side and someone didn't look at the units on it, because which units it *should* be in are usually pretty obvious from what you're trying to find, but only in the metric system.

    3. No matter how I slice it, I still can't figure out how one of the two teams wasn't saying "Wait, we're at the moon already???"

  5. The extensions to the 6-way unity module I built in to my space station design. http://i.imgur.com/L1gC2Eh.jpg

    It's not the best picture to show it off, the album I took them for was more to showcase my first SSTO spaceplane. but the idea is to use the small strut segments and angled segments to extend out from the station body while still maintaining a relatively high impact tolerance. The SAS modules help with stabilizing the whole thing when extra ships are attached.

    If nothing else, I have to offer this advice: There are far better ways to indulge your masochistic side than by building a SSTO with an in-line docking port.

  6. I learned a lot about getting around in Kerbal space from this guys tutorials:

    Incidentaly, he turns out to be a retired EvE player even..

  7. Well done Ripard, KSP is now downloading to my computer after an impulsive purchase :D


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