Saturday, 27 February 2016

The next session

It has been a couple of weeks since I last posted, which is a little disappointing to say the least. Personal stuff has got in the way of things and the drug called Tramadol is not very nice even if it does do the trick and dull pain. I have gradually pulled myself back to reality and taking something which has less severe side-effects, so I am kinda back.


Total Distance Covered817.0
Total Number of Jumps30
Total Number of Systems explored29

Progress has been a little slower as I have explored many of the systems I have jumped into. Interestingly, one of these systems which is quite a way from the bubble, had been fully explored; so others have been in the vicinity and returned.

I think in a previous post I mentioned that the star field Synuefai was a little boring and many of the systems just had ice planets, but having now moved into Swoiwns star field, there seems to be more to look at. I think this more coincidental rather than a quirk of the Stellar Forge. So in this post, I have a lot more pictures that I think are worthy of posting. Some of these you feel to be a bit mundane, and as they say beauty is in the eye of beholder.

This Hi-Res picture is a simple water world, but what impressed me was the phong  effect made by the solitary sun in this system. The further I move to the lower part of the spiral arm, the less dense the star field when facing open space. This can be seen in the picture by the lack of stars in the background.

A metallic world with an atmosphere and silicate vapour geysers. The description says that the composition has 0.9% ice and it looks like that ice is in a single ice pack. On previous bodies where there has been these type of geysers, the colour has been yellow-greenish areas rather than the red, but I suspect that volcanism is still ongoing.

A wonderful water world with a massive ice cap.

Whilst still in the Synuefai star field I came across a system that was perhaps one of the most interesting ones so far. There was much more than the usual lumps of rock floating around in space. The above water world was one of these, but one planet I just had to land on was very close to one of the suns in a binary system.

A very hot planet.

It would appear that the materials used to allow ships to get very close to suns to be able to scoop fuel, are also used on the SRV, or it would not survive on this kind of body. The surface temperature was said to be 1,068 Kelvin !!!

I spent a little while here exploring and see what was available with regards to materials. This body was 100% metallic, so was well worth a look-see. It didn't produce much in as much as rare materials and most of it was iron, which I guess is hardly surprising.

The semi major axis was 0.01 Au and the body had a radius of only 505 km so pretty small and could probably be considered as being a very large asteroid. 100% metallic bodies are not very rare, but having said that, they are quite uncommon.

Still inside the Synuefai star field, wonderful planets worthy of exploration.

My first stop in the Swoiwns star field produced this body. Lovely atmosphere effects. If this is what planets can form further out, the trip will be most fascinating.

I guess this could be Mars like if one could compare it to anything in our Solar System. It is one of these bodies that makes exploration more profitable as it is a candidate for terraforming; although a few thousand Ly out from the bubble, I don't suspect it will happen in our lifetime!

Lots of weather here.

Unusual - will be worth exploring when we can land on planets with an atmosphere in the future.

And finally.... a small dwarf sun with perhaps the largest set of rings I have seen so far. I was tempted to get a screen shot from inside the rings, but that has been done many times before and perhaps would not have conveyed the size of the rings surrounding this sun.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Here we go again!

Had a bit of a break catching up in the forums, lots of phone calls with personal stuff, but looking forwards to rebooting this exploration project.

In case you didn't see the update to the last post, which I didn't re-share, (I don't like spamming folks with unnecessary updates), here is the link. Also, I have published the route that I originally took in a table showing some basic data. Link to original route.

The two following pictures are of my progress at this current point. It is more of a reference for myself, but as you can see, I am not the most experienced pilot in the galaxy! Being a casual player means that if I do log on, I may only spend an hour online. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

My new route from the bubble, is a little different from the original, This time I am travelling towards the mid to lower part of the arm of the spiral in which we live; thus taking in some of the Synuefai field of systems. This field has had a lot more systems previously discovered and seems to confirm one comment in the forums that many folks travel along the bottom of the spiral arm.

A Couple of Tips.

One tip that will help you, and perhaps something that you already know, is turning off modules that are not necessary. AFM, Docking Computer, Shield Boosters, etc. This has the effect of reducing your fuel consumption whilst travelling around in cruise and scanning the planets. I have reduced my fuel/hour by 0.4, which may not sound much, but over a long time is quite considerable.

Also, this reduces the amount of heat so your ship is running cooler. The advantage of this is when fuel scooping, as you will be able to scoop faster at lower at lower heat levels.

Normally when scooping at 130/s my heat was around 65%, so a reduction of 5% makes it a lot safer. If you prefer to scoop at high temperatures, then this will allow you to scoop faster and make full use of fuel scoop.


I have made a little progress to my first way point, so this is the current data for 2 sessions. Much faster travelling as on this route, many more systems have been previously discovered.

Total Distance Covered752.8
Total Number of Jumps26
Total Number of Systems explored5

The Synuefai field is not what I would call exciting, So not may pictures from this session.

Massive ring system surrounding a gas giant

high metal content content world with an atmosphere.Very pretty.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Day 4

My last view of the first way point. Two suns and a Gas Giant. This looks pretty dark, but the picture was actually taken on the bright side of the planet. The description of this body makes interesting reading.

"Gas giant with ammonia based life. This is primarily a hydrogen and helium based atmospheric gas giant, but a little below the surface cloud layers, life exists based in the ammonia cloud layer. The chemistry of the region is far from equilibrium, with a surprising excess of oxygen and many carbon bases compounds giving it some vivid colours. As with many gaseous living systems, it is underpinned by vast quantities of free floating radioplankton - tiny carbon based algae, each retaining a small quantity of liquid ammonia, extracting their energy from the intense radiation flux."

Despite what the description says, the colours are not that vivid, but an interesting body to say the least. A nice view to remember this first way point.


Now I am wondering what to do. I landed on a planet where I thought I cold get some more Polonium. This planet only had about 1.5G, but seemed to be all fingers and thumbs when landing. I think I had my throttle pretty much full up, and was concentrating on the ground radar to locate a suitable landing spot when the ship tripped up and almost did a complete somersault. Now I am in 2 minds of what to do. The hull is not a module that can be repaired by the usual methods, so I am now considering jumping back to get a full repair and coming back out again.

After a lot of thinking, I have decided to head back to civilisation and makes some repairs. Sadly, there is no way that I can repair the hull in any way, (apart from at a station), so rather than go any further on and loose everything I have gained so far, I'll go back, and then return back to here and carry on.

It will be a bit precarious, so watch this space !!

Quick Update

I made it back to civilisation, but only just. Managed to get interdicted by an NPC. It was a weird one. The ship tracked past me 3 times going between 2 planets, then it settled near my rear. I swept around and tried to keep it to my front, that was when I knew what was going to happen...

I submitted, put 4 pips into the engines and kept boosting away. He took my shields down 1 ring, but they soon recharged and I was back into cruise. Docked at the station, repaired and sold my exploration data. The highest bonus for a single planet was 24k and I think I made around 1.5m in the end, so not too shabby.

Interesting whilst docked at the station and checking some stats, I discovered that while standing still, I was speeding!!!!!!

Speeding while docked.
Now I just need to pop back to where I was. Valuable lessons learnt!

For a point of reference. My current exploration stats:

Day 3 - Fuel concerns add to change of route.

Days 3 and 4

Bit of a delay for posting this, but I have been busy both writing my first short story, and catching up on a bit of the X-Files Series 2. I usually get to have a session online most days, but sometimes a short break can be beneficial.


I am still in the Wredguia field of systems, but slowly working my way across it. There seems to be quite a few class T suns in this field which can make things a little awkward sometimes. My current system is one of those and the next jump is another T sun. After discovering all the bodies in the system, I have used up more fuel than I had wished. The original plan was to get away from the bubble as fast as possible, but not missing out on opportunities to make some exciting discoveries, so the routing algorithm was set to "Fastest Routes". So, as next star star system also has a T star and although the next following that has a scoop-able sun, it would leave me with I think about 25% to 35% of fuel left in the tank. So time for a little rethink.

Changing the routing algorithm to "Economical Routes" has allowed me to keep the original way point, but include an M class star on the next jump, so I can breathe a sigh of relief. Having just started out, I have no wish to call out the Fuel Rats at this stage! No worries though, this is what exploration is all about.

Total Distance Covered 236.4
Total Number of Jumps 9
Total Number of Systems Explored 6

Looking at the figures, it looks as if I haven't explored much, but in reality I have probably discovered more planetary bodies in the last 6 systems that have been explored, than all previous systems put together. I remember that of of these systems had just under 50 bodies that had not been discovered previously, so it was worth putting the time in.

I have now reached my first way point, so a minor milestone. The total distance travelled so far is 1083 Ly, It hasn't taken as long as I first thought it would bearing in mind I have discovered a number of systems in the process. One thing that is worth mentioning here, is that a couple of jumps from reaching that way point, I came across a system that had been discovered. It had around 40 bodies and each and every body had a name tagged alongside it. It is good to see that another explorer has had the same idea as me on this route and spent some time checking out all the bodies and not just a few.

Most of these systems have been normal, I use the word normal in as much as the system have 1 sun, with a number of planets orbiting that sun. But on occasions, as I am sure you too have discovered, there are a few systems that don't fit this normality.

This is one such system. I had a bit of a surprise when I came out of super-cruise, I was slap bang in between 2 suns that were in close proximity.

This is actually quite a lovely system as you can see here:

This is another one of those Jovian or class 1 gas giants. The descriptions says that the colouration comes from clouds in the upper atmosphere of ammonia, water vapour, hydrogen sulphide, phosphine and sulphur. Sounds quite a toxic mixture.

This is not what I would call a huge giant, it has a mass of around 255 earth masses, For me, this is another pretty planet, and is well worth a picture.

A couple more snapshots of of this short travelling session. Perhaps not as outstanding as other pictures that I have seen on the web, but these I like, and as mentioned before, I do like the some of the more mundane places.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Day 1 and 2... Leaving the comforts of home

Day 1

Total Distance Covered 414.9
Total Number of Jumps 14
Total Number of Systems Explored 11

Not a huge amount of travelling in my first session. To be honest, I have working out how best to log my findings and fiddling the the bog. As this was partially covered in the previous post, I wont add too much more here.

I did discover what I thought was a bug though and reported it here. After the replies though I am now a bit confused as to whether there is a problem or not. It would seem that there is a known problem regarding this, however, as pointed out, some people seem to explore a few planets in a system and not others, making long distance jaunts between the bodies and missing out the shorter jaunts, which I find a little odd. It was this that has prompted me to take some basic notes on what has already been discovered so that I can cross check when I return.

Day 2

Total Distance Covered 432
Total Number of Jumps 15
Total Number of Systems Explored 11

During this second day of travelling, I have found my first system which has not been discovered yet. This is a bit of surprise to me as I would have thought that less than 1k Ly out most systems would have been visited by now, and even if the whole system had not been discovered, the sun had.

Although I am not very far away from the bubble, just a total of 840 odd Ly out, the view of the Galaxy core is now becoming noticeably different, as you can see below.

The core taken from around 850ly out

I have finished crossing the COL 285 field of systems and now entered the Wredguia. I came across this dwarf star that had a really massive set of rings surrounding it. Perhaps one of the largest ring systems around a sun that I have seen so far.

This following picture shows a Gas Giant, that for some reason, I found quite peaceful to look at. I think I was drawn to it by the colours. Although a pretty much nondescript set of greys, it still looks very good. So this has been added to one of special sights on this trip.

More pretty planets with stunning colour combinations.

A system with many more suns than planets.
And finally... One of the brightest stars I have come across so far. It was so bright, it lit up my keyboard and most probably made me look quite pale. I didn't get too close to take a picture, as it was beginning to become a bit of a strain on the eyes. Perhaps I should had put on some sunglasses!

Planning a Route

From what I have seen in the forums, a number of folks have struck a route pretty much straight across the core of the galaxy. For me though, I have decided to take the more leisurely route clockwise along the arm of the spiral in which we live. I may also zigzag up and down a little a try to find a path which contains undiscovered systems. You can see the route I thinking of below.

Thank goodness, we don't need to take our own provisions, or the ship would need to be something like a capital ship!

I am also thinking about backtracking along the outer spiral once I can jump across to it, and see what lies in the outer rim. Scary stuff!

To keep a log of where I have visited, I intend to tabulate the systems with some basic information, (as you can now see below). I am not sure about exploring each system I jump to early on, unless it has not been discovered before, but I will keep a note of what I have scanned. As this trip will take quite a long time, I don't want to waste too much time discovering systems that are close by, that I can do outside this trip quite easily.

As far as my tabular log is concerned, I wont be publishing the exact route with all the information on what has been previously explored, or whether I have explored it, especially this close to the bubble. What I dont want to do is to give other players locations of un-discovered systems, where they can pop out, explore it, then return and get their names on the various planets.

However.... when I return from this expedition, and sell all of my data, I will publish the whole trip with locations, so all of the data will be available in the future.

My start point is Khrunov City in the Tikura system. This is belongs to Edmund Mohan who is the Alliance Prime Minister. I don't have any allegiance to any faction at the moment, but I might pledge myself to one of them for some power play when I return; assuming I get back at all!

System Name Major Sun Type Explored Distance Notes
COL 285 Sector NO-G C11-23 M 30.4 2 Suns Very close i.
Awarilo G 30.2
COL 285 Sector MA-R B20-1 M 29.7
HIP 74183 W 28.2 Interdicted – Evaded
COL 285 Sector PO-Q D5-48 T 29.1 Binary Star System
COL 285 Sector AJ-T B19-0 M 26.7 First gas Giant with water based life! ii.
COL 285 Sector AX-1 C10-10 T 30.2
COL 285 Sector UV-K C9-7 K 30.2

A few pictures from these systems. Nothing exceptionally stunning, well maybe the water world.

i. 2 Suns pretty close together! Couldn't decide which one to scoop

ii. My first Gas Giant that supports life!

A beautiful water world with great weather systems.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Preparation... Finally

Preparing for a really long trip to the other side of the galaxy really needs a little thought, as there wont be any stations out there to drop in do a quick repair or refuel. The bubble, as we call it is very tiny and in an ASP with a jumping distance of 30+ light years, it doesn't take long to get from one place to another.

Elite Dangerous makes the very valid boast of having over 100 million stars. Looking at this galaxy map it is quite believable. The blue circle is just a helper to show you where your effective cursor is located, and the bubble? well, its that little cluster of colours. So you can see there is a lot of exploration to be done and I have read somewhere, that only a couple of percent of the galaxy has been explored, despite the game having been out for quite a while now.

As mentioned earlier I will be using the ASP Scout for this trip. It is much larger than the Cobra and takes a little getting used to. One of its best assets is having large windows. When landing on a planet, the window which lies between your legs, although partially covered by the SRV interface, does allow you to peer down and look for a suitable area when hunting materials, especially when still in cruise mode before you drop into the glide. Hitting the right spot on a planet really does help the frustration factor when looking for certain materials.

My current load-out is not the best it could be, but combined with FSD injection, I feel the range is OK. The bi-weave shields are a little lighter than standard ones. Theoretically, I should remove them altogether, but I like to see the blue rings around the ship hologram, and gives me more confidence in the ship. I know it is psychological as there are no NPCs' outside the bubble, but its coming back to sell the data that I am little apprehensive about. If you loose your ship, you loose all your data and the whole trip would have been a waste of time. I could also remove the docking computer too, but I do like it and use it all the while. To be honest, the extra tenths of a light year increase when it is removed. makes no odds to me.

The screen shot below shows the load-out and available jump range. There are 2 slots not shown below. These are the docking computer and planetary suite. I am sure it can be improved upon. With regards to the hardpoints, there is just the slot being used, again to increase my confidence factor; an A 0 Shield Booster. I don't need any weapons as I wont be shooting anything; I can do that in the SRV if I really feel the urge.


Synthesis is the part that you can leave out altogether, or like me, you want to be prepared for some eventualities. You may have noticed the AFM in my load-out. I am not worried about speed, but the main concern was mass vs. repair capacity.

The question you need to ask yourself, what if things started going horribly wrong and you ran out of charges? This could be a nightmare situation, but thankfully synthesis comes into play here. You can create a number of charges if you have the materials. Surely a life saver!

But what else could we need to assist us in our trip? Well in my load-out I don't have any weapons increasing my mass un-necessarily so I dont need to think about ammunition. That is less to worry about. After much thought, I decided on the following:

  • AFM Refill
  • SRV Repair
  • SRV Refuel
  • SRV Ammo
  • FSD Injection

These would all be of the basic variety, however I thought it would be rather nice to have all flavours of the FSD Injection. This is where the planning and preparation really comes into play.

I had been collecting various materials for a while so I had enough for a few of these, but not all. Time to make a spreadsheet and fiddle with some numbers. Now this spreadsheet is quick and dirty, and I only threw in a few colours to tart it up a little, so this could be improved upon a lot.

Exploration material shopping list

As you can see, it really is pretty basic, but what it allows me to do, is to tweak the amount charges for each synthesis and the spreadsheet updates all the material counts and how much space it will take up. Those of you that have actually read down to here will notice that I still have 3 Polonium to find. This is one material that seems to be rarer than the very rare, It can only be found on planets that support certain conditions, that are in certain terrain types, and only in metallic meteors. All the materials collected have so far been inside the bubble, but I think there is a much better chance of getting Polonium when further out into the galaxy core. I seem to remember that the most boring part was finding Vanadium; after all the list says I need 68, and it is not that common.

Playing a few hours a day, getting this shopping list together has taken about a week, but I now feel very confident that I can replace what I use, but having a nice buffer to play with in the first case.

Perhaps this can be considered as being a little OTT, but for me, this is part of the immersion and I enjoy getting things right to the best of my ability. If you want to do something similar, then I fully recommend checking this out:

This spreadsheet generated by Erimus and his crew contains all you need to know about prospecting. The thread in the ED Forums is here:

So..... that is pretty much the preparation dealt with. All I need to do now is to start thinking about the route I want to take and planning some waypoints.

A very hot tiny rock!

Pre-Preparation - getting started on a new project.

Getting started in ED can be difficult, as credits can be hard to come. As most people new to the game I watched a lot of YouTube videos and read the ED forums picking up hints and tips. As my credits grew, I eventually ploughed my hard earnt cash into a Cobra Mk III upgrading it till it was A rated. This helped a lot with running missions as well as farming RES sites for bounties.

Cobra Mk III
I did try various other various ships, but was sadly disappointed in either how they handled or effects which in my experience didn't add to the game. For example the Diamond Back Scout shook a lot when gaining/dropping speed, and although I don't usually get motion sickness, I just didn't like the effect. Also, after the Cobra, it's agility was surprisingly poor, which I guess accounts for the fact that they were easy enough to pop when dog fighting NPCs'.

I eventually had enough cash to get an ASP Scout and after a little while had enough credits to put some decent gear on it. Once Horizons was released I was very impressed not just with the ship itself, but also the fact that it had enough slots for a decent cargo hold, exploration kit and a vehicle hangar for an SRV. Planet exploration is a fantastic addition to the game.

ASP Scout and SRV on planet rich metals.

Whilst using both my Cobra and ASP, I did a lot of POI hunting. It is not a fantastic way to get credits, but does allow you to practise landing, popping back up to super-cruise and landing again in a new area of the planet. I also spent quite a bit of time collecting various synthesis materials, whilst making a quick and dirty spreadsheet documenting what I found where. Although the materials seem at first to be random, there is structure and after a while a pattern really does begin to form.

I think that it was around this point that I started to think about exploration seriously and decided to take off in my Cobra and do a little travelling to see what I could find, as well as discovering what kind of cash I could create in the process. I did not want to travel too far outside the "bubble" but far enough to see if I could locate any planets that had not been discovered before, thus getting my name on the map. Surprisingly, I did!

What it looks like on the System Map
That little excursion got my Explorer Rank to Pathfinder, so a couple of more ranks, to get to Elite. Gaining ranks in exploration is performed by selling your data. The amount varies by body type, and the amount of credits gained determines your progression through the ranks. At first, as with all profession ranks, it is very easy at first, and gets progressively harder. My estimate of credits I need to earn to gain Elite in exploration is around 230,000,000 credits Oooooo.....

Terraformable High Metal Content World
Sometimes if you are lucky with your exploration, you can get up to 65k credits for performing a detailed surface scan of a terraformable water world. In one system I managed to discover a terraformable high metal content world which was worth 45k. When this happens and you perform scans on the whole system, it can sometimes be worth over 100k in total.

From this short exploration trip, the data sold was for over 400k. OK, it's not a huge amount, but when you are looking for materials for synthesis, you will need certain worlds for certain materials so performing a detailed surface scan, will give you access to the specific information that you need. So there are more uses for exploration, than simply selling the data.

For more information relating to the whole subject on Exploration including Ranks and rewards for discoveries, please have a look at Exploration on the Elite Dangerous Wiki

Now I need to prepare for a real excursion!