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    Mining drones in 2019

    Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by beeez, Jan 3, 2019.

    1. beeez

      Jul 5, 2017
      ~~ intro ~~

      Hi, just looking to revisit this in a new thread as I've looked at the last six months or so of forum activity and haven't seen it discussed much. Most of the posts on this topic are quite old now, and I had some specific questions about mining drones that might have different answers now that the power and weapons updates are have officially been released.

      I'm breaking it up into sections after writing for a bit, because it seems this is going to be long. The goal of my wordiness is mainly to be thorough so that hopefully somebody can pinpoint where I'm going wrong. I figure the more info I give, the more likely somebody who knows what they're doing will spot my problem.

      I hate when people say something minimal like "it's broken" and then expect anybody else to know how to fix the problem. ;)

      If I'm able to sum up all this rambling into concise questions, I'll make a section for them at the bottom. I'll probably have more questions if I'm getting good feedback and/or if I'm able to get past the "please don't just sit there" frustration.

      After I get one craft working then maybe I can move on to a group. If I can get a group working then maybe I'll need to worry about cargo ferries or good inventory management on a systemic level.

      For now though, I just need to get one drone to point itself at an asteroid and fire its salvage beams.

      ~~ initial effort and end goal ~~

      I tried for the last couple of days unsuccessfully to get any drones to mine. At first I was building more or less "finished product" drones. The plan is to have a stacking dock system on a carrier/freighter that will allow deployment en masse, so the goal design will be craft that are one block thick.

      (I am not including this info for carrier or miner craft advice. Maybe in another thread. This paragraph is just to depict the mother ship for drone/fleet functionality purposes. If something about this craft is breaking my fleet control, that's relevant to me now.) The end design for the carrier itself will probably be a square waffle array of mining beams with most interior space spent on cargo - minus a minimal cockpit with a teleporter and enough empty space that I don't get stuck exiting the core. I'll also have what minimal circuitry I need for managing docking rails and also most likely a mining efficiency chamber, plus enough thrust to move reasonably when fully laden and docked. Each of the four sides of this stick-shaped miner will have a stripe of rails along its length that will carry these wafer drones. Basically it's a tube that will have drones stacked along its exterior walls. The drones will be standing on end with their flat dimension parallel to the carrier's long axis, to maximize the number of drones I can carry at one time.

      My first drone attempt had an array of 8 mining units spanning the whole length of the craft. Next to that on one side were the ship core and bobby AI in front, with salvage computer, storage, reactor, a mining efficiency chamber, and thrust packed together in the two rows. A docking module took the last slot in the center row. Then on each side of these three core rows I put another stripe of cargo blocks, just to keep it symmetrical in case adding weight via mining might throw off AI behavior for center of mass reasons. So from left to right I had five rows of eight blocks: cargo, salvage beam, core/system/dock, AI/system, cargo.

      I have an essentially empty tube ship as a mother ship in a fleet as a placeholder for the freighter I will eventually use. It's just got some rails down the sides with pickup points near the end of each rail and a shoot out block at the end, plus some logic for manually changing rail directions. After setting the drone as a member of the fleet I docked it to a rail.

      My deployment consists of pressing a button on the mother ship to flip the rails to point outward. The drone slides forward, its docker passes through the pickup on its way to the last rail, and after the last rail it gets shot out. I figure doing it like this should set the drone's return point so that when it's time to scale this operation up I can just build and dock the drones without needing to manually manage their return points as well.

      ~~ difficulties and attempted fixes ~~

      I deployed my drone as listed above, making sure the fleet was set to idle. I issued the mining order near an asteroid, and nothing happened. The miner kept drifting in space.

      I gave move orders, and that worked fine. Return to carrier worked fine, as long as I remembered to flip the rails around first to avoid immediate re-deployment. Mining orders were met with immediate inanimacy. No flight, no navigation, no nothing.

      After struggling a bit I came to the forum to read and found that mining drones have some likes and dislikes. I'm basically here now trying to figure out how particular and how flexible those are.

      I read that mining drones like when their arrays are lined up with the core, but I also read that they behave funny when a mining array is entirely in line in front of or behind the core.

      I tried redesigning my miner with the core at the front of the salvage beam stripe, then again with the salvage beam stacked in front of the core. I tried building an irregularly shaped mining array that still centered around the core but with its "front" block directly adjacent to the core to one side.

      I had read that some systems (e.g. linked weapons) can break AI, so I tried building without the reactor chamber, in case that's one of the complexities that drones dislike.

      I tried building with storage slaved to the salvage computer or without slaving it. With cargo container blocks and without.

      I tried building with bobby AI and without - and I tried different settings of AI thinking that maybe the "choose target" setting might work of I had the asteroid targeted in my mother ship's nav, or maybe there was some difference between the "ship" setting and the "fleet" setting.

      I read that some cores just won't cooperate as miners, so I tried deleting drones and starting over with a new core. By the end of today's attempts I was making drones with one each of: core, salvage beam, salvage computer, storage, thruster, reactor.

      I tried deleting and reforming the fleet. I tried relocating to a new star system, new sector, and new asteroid.

      I tried different orderings of: relocate (sector), issue fleet mining orders, physically deploy craft.

      This was done over a few days of trying so to some extent I've tried relogging as well, though not in a methodical manner.

      ~~ questions ~~

      I really like the idea of this 8 x 5 x 1 drone swarm. Is this a realistic working shape, strictly from a fleet control (not from an optimal design) perspective?

      Does it matter where the core is? Do drones like for their cores to be able to "see" from the front of the craft, or can it be buried within other blocks?

      How important is it for the core to be near center of mass? Will this cause failures or other bad-but-minor behaviors?

      What about the core in relation to the the line of fire? By this I mean when the craft points itself to shoot, does it matter if the core is in the middle of this cross-sectional front view? Or will the craft instead just aim from the core, and beams should be placed from the start with that in mind?

      Is it feasible to have just one mining array, or is perhaps the asymmetrical arrangement (one stripe of blocks off-center) causing trouble?

      What's proper master/slave setup? I previously assumed a good arrangement was:
      salvage cpu <- salvage modules
      salvage cpu <- storage block
      storage block <- cargo blocks

      What's the proper deployment order? Does it matter if orders are issued before decoupling?

      Is bobby AI necessary for a mining craft, or does that module only exist to control targeting behavior for turrets/fighters?

      At what point do I blueprint? Obviously if I get a working base model, then maybe again after any major changes that don't break everything? Do I keep the base blueprints and have version numbered blueprints as I go along, or is it fine to just make sure I've always got one working blueprint?

      If the "some cores won't salvage" rule applies still, will that count with blueprints as well? Will a working blueprint always give a working craft, or will I need to delete and recreate from prints until I get a craft with a "good" core?

      Does it matter that I'm trying this using creative mode inventory rather than actual, finite building blocks?

      I've seen talk in threads of people needing to reinstall or re-update to fix broken AI. Is something that drastic really necessary? Seems like anything broken ingame should be fixable ingame, or at most by "turning it off and back on again" via relogging or moving far enough to unload/load chunk data.

      Does it matter that I'm on Linux?

      Are some worlds "broken" in this regard / will spinning up a new galaxy potentially fix it?

      Are there other out-of-game factors that could impact whether mining AI will work?
      • Like Like x 1
    2. NeonSturm

      NeonSturm StormMaker

      Dec 31, 2013
      Once, I tried a ship with 4 turrets. They weren't working at all.
      It was some update/version which disabled turrets in dev versions.

      For myself, I prefer drones 3x3y and 8-10 z. You would need repeating box hangars or spaced out rails.
      For these, you can have at least wedged edge coating.
      I don't mind going up to 5x5y 12-15z.
      And either they work, or I just use my default miner. I try tomorrow.

      Good luck with your own attempt.
    3. MacThule

      Jan 31, 2015
      I'm going to be honest that I only read the first few paragraphs and skimmed the rest, and also that I stopped tinkering with mining drones until the universe update comes out. That said...

      I've made extensive use of them in the past, and did have working drones under a recent build. My only problem with them at last testing was that they (still) won't mine another sector unless you relog between each sector mined. I build them big and have them unload to outward-facing docking points.

      I use symmetrical cylinders with a central beam and beams around that as many as needed (usually radius 5 or 10). Waffles are fine, in my experience. I put linked storage on them and tie that into their docking for auto-unloading to my mining mother ship.

      Don't add any auxiliary systems or AI. They sometimes work, but sometimes seem to prevent mining. Start with the basics, test from there to see what works once you have a working barebones prototype.

      Unless there have been fixes, the best you can do at the moment though is to order them to mine out one sector of roids, then quit and re-log and order them to mine another sector. Otherwise they will not work; for some reason their navigation system doesn't reset after the first order, so even if the 2nd sector is right next door, they end up thinking it's.... "somewhere else" and either float aimlessly (the faraway sector has no roids) or they take off at top speed in a seemingly random direction to mine... "somewhere," sometimes far, far away.

      EDIT: There was a point a couple years ago where the devs did a "proof of concept" with them and had them working like gangbusters for a couple months, then broke them with other updates and haven't gotten to where they can be fixed for whatever reason.
      • Like Like x 1
    4. beeez

      Jul 5, 2017
      Thank you both! Good to know. I'll revisit mining drones after some more future updates.

      I haven't played since a bit before power 2.0 got out of dev, and iirc I had working miners back then. I figured maybe something had broken in the interim since it had been so long, but I'm glad to be able to move on to something else now.

      Time to toss the carrier and just make a big soda can waffle miner that can nuke entire asteroids.
    5. NeonSturm

      NeonSturm StormMaker

      Dec 31, 2013
      I have issues with them too and also don't want to continue right now.
      MacThule explains why =)

      If you want a big miner, Try to get one with a prolonged dounat-shape of 70m inner radius, 90-100 outer radius, 80 length.
      Then put mining beams facing inward.
      Make some botton point 300 length so you can place interior and most importantly add a camera at the end.
      This end might e elevated for a 3rd-person-view-similar lookout on the donout.

      With this, you can mine pretty much evrey standard-asteroid (64m radius max) on every server using defaults from all sides at once.
      And when you overshoot your target and don't break in time, the asteroid doesn't fly randomly in some direction, only your ship does. For this, prolong the bottom end by 500m or don'T elevate the end too high to be safe from that misstake.
    6. MrGrey1

      Feb 10, 2017
      The Great Yamato has working mining drones on it and is on the docks if you want a look at a working system, the logic is spaghetti though as it's a dual dock system with lots of unnecessary bits...
      I'm also building a dedicated carrier.
      Drones can be made to work.
      Like MacThule said, the main issue is the failure of the fleet mining order. The server and client have a desync issue of some sort. The server thinks your drones are not in the system showing on your client. Generally this means the drones do nothing when told to mine. Reloading the sector will fix this issue and the easiest way to do that is to log out for a short period of time so the server unloads the sector. 20 seconds is the default in the configs so take a 25 second break. /shrug.

      Best advice I have for building drones is to keep a short Z axis compared to at least one X, Y axis. ie A tall ship or a wide ship, not a long ship. Long ships had issues targeting the salvage beam last time I experimented.
      I have always had a Bobby on my drones without issues. I've found that an off centre core and salvage beam can work but the further off centre you go the less reliable it is. ie I have two starter ships on my carrier which are off centre and they both will mine with the other drones but they seem to derp out on their targeting more often.

      IMO there's no reason to give up on a carrier. They do work. Just requires a little patience and time to figure out the caveats.
      • Like Like x 1
    7. MacThule

      Jan 31, 2015
      Soda can is a pretty good description, sadly. For a small mining MS I'll outfit it with 4-8 (multiples of naturally occuring external docking points, because TBH I've only ever made one industrial carrier for mining that wasn't a test platform with a very minimal consideration for style), slim cylinders that are more like batons than soda cans, but on a heavy version the drones end up looking very much like tins. Though some detailing on the outer wrap can offset that a bit; it's an industrial tool anyway and most companies IRL that produce, say, mining equipment, aren't basing their designs on the aesthetics of the machine's lines. I know at least with air movers and dehumidifiers they pretty much just build the machine then slap a metal and plastic shell on it that makes it look "OK" while giving the unit a little protection.

      When fleet mining was actually working as intended for a brief period (few months) I built a proper, light industrial carrier; 2 defensive turrets for fending off rats, 3 point-defense turrets, docking for 4 drones, and it's own mining beam. Active mining with the mothership was faster than simply letting the drones mine, but doing both together was fantastic - I would order drones to mine a sector, and as soon as they got to work I'd shift over to the next sector and start active mining, usually finish before them and move to another sector, ordering them to finish my work when they cleared their own field and just moving on to an adjacent one. Decent prototype. Worked great, but sort of ugly. I don't think I ever even finished wedging it. It was nice being able to stop and chat with faction mates or go make a sammich and still have income being generated, but not have that be at the expense of being able to get right back to active mining at a much higher rate at any moment.

      Once you order them to mine a sector, they keep on it as long as you keep them in sight (loaded), and you can totally move around and mine adjacent sectors while they work.
      --- Updated post (merge), Jan 9, 2019, Original Post Date: Jan 9, 2019 ---
      This is a very accurate description of what seems to be happening. I'm surprised it continues to be an issue because it seems like something that should be easy to pin down, but hard to know what's really going on on the back end.

      Beautiful industrial carrier, BTW!
    8. Prome3us

      Jan 14, 2019
      Hi there, I'm fresh meat so don't know much about historical drone pains other than what I've read on the forums over the past week or two. I just started with a proof of concept mining carrier, using vertical deployment (belly drop pods, looks awesome!) and 2x2x9 miners / drones.

      I just finished my second one to test the common rail docking (no shipyard yet so hand built) but they deployed, they landed, they stack sequentially - oh the majesty. They even nibbled a bit from my local asteroid - so they can mine. Fast forward 12 hours later when I get back from work and now my pencil miners also dangle impotently in the face of an asteroid 100m away.

      Looking for help I landed here, what seems the only recent question on this topic, and it wasn't clear whether any solution was found.. I just wanted to chip in saying that re-logging, in my mothership, in the sector where i wanted to mine has indeed brought my pencils back to life, and seems to work perfectly well from there onward. Thanks a ton for the hints
      • Like Like x 1
    9. MacThule

      Jan 31, 2015
      Awesome work!

      I don't hear from a lot of people successfully engineering an industrial drone carrier who haven't played for a year already, so well-done.

      Proof of Concept is about the best we can get at the moment, but the devs have proven full functionality is possible as well, so we are hoping to see that restored once other major upgrades are finished.
      • Like Like x 1