Apr 21 2017

Operations Summary – Week of 4/17/17

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Genesis/KerBalloon Collaboration Success

We are all very happy to report that today’s mission was an overall success for both the Genesis and KerBalloon programs. Although we are still awaiting the safe arrival of the balloon payload so we can’t celebrate completely just yet, today’s mission was still a great accomplishment. Genesis not only was able to deploy the KerBalloon, but also carry out an observation contract as Jeb piloted the Civvie back to KSC. Operationally there were no problems encountered and everything went off as planned. There was a small issue Jeb had to deal with from the Civvie which he dubbed “runaway trim”, where the trim wheel would slip and roll up, pitching the nose violently. He’s already informed the HAB crew to have a look at it, they suspect a loose element in the system will need to be refurbished or replaced – no one expects this to be a serious issue. Overall though his first flight with a payload attached to the Civvie he says was very manageable and after Val discovered that even pumping a little fuel to the rear can greatly assist with landing, Jeb tried it with the same results.

We expect the recovery crews to return very early tomorrow around 1st sunset. If they manage to drive close enough to KSC to be in the relatively gentle surrounding hills we will allow them to cover the final distance in darkness.

Looking ahead, we already have another upper-atmosphere research contract in the works for the same region that was flown to today, so if that is signed off on we are expecting to repeat this operation sometime early next month.

Progeny Mk3 Set to Fly Again

Teams investigating the fin issue that made the last launch go awry have had all the data they could ask for to work with after we managed to recover the second-stage booster for analysis. After much study and a bit of banging heads against the wall they have concluded the issue lies within the timing system that was hastily thrown together to manage the fuses that trigger the det-cord. Thankfully it is a simple fix that won’t necessitate a costly redesign in terms of both money and time. The new Mk1-B boosters arrived today on schedule and the VAB has already begun processing one of them to place atop the currently-completed booster stack and the science team is finishing up the payload for delivery to the VAB next week. The current launch time is set for 4/28 @ 15:30 UTC and you can view details of the rocket on its vessel page on our Operations Tracker.

Civvie Turns Profit, C7 Begins Civvie Mass-Manufacture

This week for the first time the Civvie turned a profit for us and C7 Aerospace Division with the signing of some new contracts. While the Genesis Program itself is still in the red thanks to the recent development of the Deuce, the future is looking bright for the program overall as once the Deuce enters service it will be able to offer up even more income opportunities beyond what the Civvie is capable of. The program’s growth will also allow us to phase out heavy reliance on other companies like maritime and airship operations, keeping more support services in-house and expenses down on missions.

With the start of work on the Deuce, C7 has finished up its new factory in Kravass City which will produce as many as 4 Civvies per month starting in May. There is already a pre-order list over 300 names long, so it will take a while to meet demand at the current pace but once C7 gets this factory running smoothly they plan to scale up quickly. The completed aircraft will be shipped to the nearby Kravass General Airport where kerbs will receive their flight instruction from our own Jeb and Val. The initial group consists of hand-picked top airship captains who will then become the first cadre of full-time flight instructors. By the time the first Civvie rolls off the production line in May, it will also have a newly-designed suite of cockpit instruments and our own production model will receive an upgrade.

Science/R&D Labs Begin Work on New Instruments

With the successful deployment of the Atmospheric Fluid Spectro-Variometer instrument last week, Head of R&D Wernher has already focused his laser-grade attention on the next project, which of several proposals he selected to be a negative gravioli detector. A device to measure this particle will allow us to precisely determine the effect of gravitational fields around Kerbin and other bodies in the system. He and his team of crack engineers have already locked themselves up in their labs. They expect a testable prototype sometime in June or July.

Meanwhile Lead Scientist Cheranne is looking to improve some of the instruments that we already have. Both the barometer and thermometer devices currently in use are not vacuum-rated and she will work with the scientists to develop casings that can allow these instruments to function in space. Why send a barometer to space, you ask? Great question! The answer is that while we strongly suspect most of the moons and some of the planets out there don’t have an atmosphere, how can we know for sure unless we measure the presence of a vacuum? Furthermore, she wants to improve the Atmospheric Fluid Spectro-Variometer so it can take samples even in the rarefied upper atmosphere.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database was posted here. It contains now a total count of 468 asteroids. Poor seeing this past week kept the number of findings lower than usual, all were found via archived data that is constantly being processed. No new impact alerts have been issued.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

The Mun moves off the sun as it sets following an annular eclipse. The Tracking Station and R&D buildings can be seen in the foreground

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 4/8/17

Buckle up people, this is going to be a long one. I’m completely moved over to KSP v1.2.2 and it’s been… well it hasn’t been great but I can at least see that it will be getting better eventually. The road to get there though is still a long one and it’s been a bit more of a struggle than I anticipated, which is why it’s been over two weeks to get one week of KSA ops completed. Okay, v1.2.2 isn’t the only reason, I digress.

Getting old sucks

I’m suffering from a bout of tendonitis at the moment in my mouse hand. I felt it coming and I ignored it and now I’m paying the price. All that clickclickclickclickclick scrollscrollscrollscrollscrollscroll for hours on end has taken its toll and the tendon leading to my pointer finger cries out in pain if I use it in the slightest wrong way now. So, I just need to force myself to take more breaks. I had an issue earlier this year with carpal tunnel in my mouse hand – I could make a thumbs up, tuck my thumb into my fist and angle it downwards and it felt like the tendon in my thumb wanted to escape from beneath my skin. But rest and changing how I use my hand has healed it, so same here, changing the way I click & scroll, now using my middle finger more and keeping my pointer finger straighter more often. And yes, more breaks. Well I have a few months of magazine subscriptions to catch up on. And if you’re wondering I’m 34 going on 35 so yea I’m bellyaching a bit much here.

Back to v1.2.2

Okay so after taking a few days off completely from the computer I came back and dove into getting v1.2.2 setup and ready to rock and roll. Overall performance-wise things are roughly the same as in v1.1.3 although the default physics tick is shorter so I see the yellow clock pretty much all the time even when I uninstall all my graphics mods. But I feel no lag at all in my control inputs and the game barely stutters so I will leave it set to 0.4s as opposed to the 0.6s I was using under v1.1.3. Also loading my huge save of asteroids doesn’t work as well as it did under v1.1.3 and I had to create a batch file that uninstalls all but the mods I need for asteroids and now things are snappy again. Not a huge deal. There have been problems though. Oh yes, there have been problems. In several instances I’ve spent hours tracking down issues. I made detailed notes about them but to be honest I really don’t want to bore anyone with the details now that I’m writing about it so I’ll briefly cover some of the issues:

  • FAR developer build was voxelizing propeller spinners, which was creating a huge amount of drag. Thankfully ferram is actively working on things and had that problem fixed in a few days.
  • Wheels still suck, or its just the v1.2.2 terrain issues, but whatever the case getting the Civvie Production to takeoff on the grass was almost impossible in v1.1.3 and now it’s pretty much completely impossible. As soon as the tail wheel comes up the plane wants to swerve sideways. So now I’ve been using flying starts. I taxi out to the turf runway, use VesselMover to move the plane back a ways, mark the spot in Hyperedit’s ship dropper and then drop the airplane from about 600m up, enough for me to recover just above the ground and then fly low and slow over the runway to “takeoff”, where I begin to record telemetry data. Landing, ironically, is a lot better now tho. Here’s an example of an actual landing that didn’t flip out but came close, although sadly it still happens.
  • v1.2.2 allows you to add the mass of kerbals to the command part by specifying their weight in the physics.cfg file, but the game doesn’t show this mass change in the editor, only in flight. However Kerbal Engineer Redux does show the mass change depending on how many kerbals you have crewing the part – but it also adds this mass to every part you place. This was a confusing bug I had to track down, especially because the bug didn’t add the actual extra mass when loaded to the launchpad, which made things even more confusing.
  • An even more annoying but was an NRE causing the game to fail to finish loading at the very end of the load sequence. I swear I was able to reproduce it with the B9 HX parts installed and even narrowed it down to a single part but when I did more testing adding mods back in and going down to stock the reproduceability went away and now I’ve just come to accept its a thing that happens, although very rarely now. No idea how it was happening so constantly before. [addendum 4/20 – this issue has not appeared since. But if it comes back I’ll know to look at the B9 HX parts first]
  • The worst was when I noticed my command modules weighing more than they were defined in the part.cfg file. After paring down my mods I got the info window that shows up when you go to select parts to show the proper mass and I thought I had things narrowed down but then I noticed that the part itself when placed in the editor still showed the wrong mass! So I had to almost go back to square one but finally found the EVA Parachutes & Ejection Seats mod was the culprit, adding chutes for every seat regardless of whether a kerbal is sitting in it. And the stock info window doesn’t show this mass change unless you have UpgradesGUI installed.
  • I can’t use VesselMover to position aircraft as easily as I did in v1.1.3 to set them up to take photos from the onboard cameras because it no longer respects the AirPark when it is activated and still moves the aircraft up and down. The new altitude adjustment ability is waaaay too slow to be of any real use also. So it took me a lot of experimenting and had to stop for the day twice (otherwise my fist would have gone through my monitor) before I finally came up with a new system using VesselMover and HyperEdit. It’s still not ideal but it works. Most of the time.
  • I also can’t use VesselMover as well as in v1.1.3 to calculate overland distances by enabling the vessel move, starting a Persistent Trail and then just slewing the craft along and letting the trail calculate the distance as I go. Now it updates the trail very infrequently and usually only when I place the aircraft so I have to draw out straight lines only. Once I finally have an updated Kerbalmaps plugin though for my Flight Tracker I can use a Leaflet extension to let me draw lines to calculate distances on that.
  • Oh yea, and this after finally getting the Civvie into the air and attempting to fly a mission >:\

Anyways, point is things have been rough but as I’m getting past each hurdle less and less seem to stand in my way. Hopefully it will be back to smooth sailing over the next week or so. Please? Because going back to v1.1.3 looks like it will be more of a pain in the ass than I imagined there too. Apparently it can’t load any of my saves anymore? These saves are still in the 1.1.3 folder and I have no idea how they could have been corrupted. What the fuck ever. Onwards!

Peak twitter?

I didn’t think I had peaked all that much on twitter but when Tory Bruno retweeted me I expected at least a small bump in my follower count. Nope. I really don’t know what conclusions to draw from that given earlier retweets from popular space accounts have come with a nice jump to the follower count by the dozens in some cases. Oh well.

Line of Sight for Kerbalism

Since ditching RemoteTech for Kerbalism one of the things I’ve missed most is line of sight comms. Kerbalism gives you a connection as long as you can see Kerbin, which means if you’re on Kerbin you always have a signal. I don’t play like that so I had to come up with my own solution, which was a kOS script that draws a vector from the craft to the Tracking Station and I can follow the line to see if I’m clear of the horizon and/or obstacles.

Jool Retconned

As I mentioned in some earlier Desk Notes, Jool’s appearance has been changed as of v1.2.2 and I’ve since gone back and made all previous images of it update to the new look. I screwed up with twitter a little bit though, because I deleted the tweets from March before I downloaded the archive and so they weren’t there to edit when I went looking. But all other instances have either been updated or deleted.

Better batch scripts

I’ve gone and redone my batch scripts for loading the parts I need for specific vehicles and made it so that I can also unload those parts if I want to slim down my install a little bit. Unfortunately removing a vehicle may also remove shared assets that other vehicles use so I’m not sure how well I will be able to keep track of when this happens to remind myself to re-install the affected craft. If it gets messy, I will rethink things. Here’s an example:

@echo off
set /p decision= "A = Add | D = Delete | X = Cancel> "
if "%decision%" == "a" (
  robocopy "D:\Steam Games\steamapps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData - Build\SXT\Parts\Aviation\Engine\propEngines" "D:\Steam Games\SteamApps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\SXT\Parts\Aviation\Engine\propEngines" 550.cfg model.mu fueltTanks_cm.dds model002.dds 
  robocopy "D:\Steam Games\steamapps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData - Build\SXT\OldAssets\FuelTank\MK1FuselageStructural" "D:\Steam Games\steamapps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\SXT\OldAssets\FuelTank\MK1FuselageStructural" 
  robocopy "D:\Steam Games\steamapps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData - Build\HLAirships\Parts\Aero\ZepKit" "D:\Steam Games\SteamApps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\HLAirships\Parts\Aero\ZepKit"
  robocopy "D:\Steam Games\steamapps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData - Build\HLAirships\Parts\Aero\AirshipPod" "D:\Steam Games\SteamApps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\HLAirships\Parts\Aero\AirshipPod"
  robocopy "D:\Steam Games\steamapps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData - Build\RadialEngineMountsPPI\doubleRadialEngineMount" "D:\Steam Games\SteamApps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\RadialEngineMountsPPI\doubleRadialEngineMount"
) else (
  if "%decision%" == "d" (
    del "D:\Steam Games\steamapps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\SXT\Parts\Aviation\Engine\propEngines\550.cfg"
    del "D:\Steam Games\steamapps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\SXT\Parts\Aviation\Engine\propEngines\model.mu"
    del "D:\Steam Games\steamapps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\SXT\Parts\Aviation\Engine\propEngines\fueltTanks_cm.dds"
    del "D:\Steam Games\steamapps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\SXT\Parts\Aviation\Engine\propEngines\model002.dds"
    rmdir /s /q "D:\Steam Games\SteamApps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\SXT\OldAssets\FuelTank\MK1FuselageStructural"
    rmdir /s /q "D:\Steam Games\SteamApps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\SXT\Parts\Aviation\OldAssets\Command\mk1InlineCockpit"
    rmdir /s /q "D:\Steam Games\SteamApps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\HLAirships\Parts\Aero\ZepKit"
    rmdir /s /q "D:\Steam Games\SteamApps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\HLAirships\Parts\Aero\AirshipPod"
    rmdir /s /q "D:\Steam Games\SteamApps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\RadialEngineMountsPPI\doubleRadialEngineMount"

Really you can enter anything but “a” or “d” and it will cancel, but whatever it just looks cooler like that.

Another image editing example

Because I like to remind you all that nothing is what it seems, here is a look at one of the photos taken from the Civvie on its last flight:



The funky prop shadow was removed by stopping the engine, and the trees were from a completely different photo attempt taken at a slightly different pitch and bank angle so I had to merge them together carefully, but I just hated that bare slope.

Crap I can’t believe I wrote all this. My hand hurts, I need a break. Time to go outside and check out Jool… errr, I mean Jupiter at opposition!