Oct 15 2014

Eight Month Update

This has been another busy month. I was playing hard for a while and managed to almost build up a 4-month lead time. Then I ended up burning myself out and had to take a break from the game, which was okay because I had a related project to work on anyways. The current game date is 1/17/15 so I’m almost back to a 3-month lead and need to pick up playing again this week. Although the mod updates have been really fast this time around I’m still going to wait at least another week before porting my entire game over to 0.25. So what were the highlights from this past month?

Tweet scheduler dropping

This was annoying. Gremln, the service I’m using to schedule my tweets, had two service outages this past month that caused some tweets to come out late or not at all. Thankfully it wasn’t during any missions so the tweets that did come late could have really been posted any time. I also managed to delete some of the more time-sensitive general tweets and reschedule them for appropriate times later on. I’m not happy having to keep a close on on things to make sure they get out, but looks like I need to just to be safe.

Some more twitter recognition

Another good month of cooperation from the B912 Foundation and Canadian Space Agency. Those accounts are just great, I’m so thankful they are willing to play along and retweet some of my tweets every now and then when I mention them. The first tweet to kick up a storm was my radio astronomy photo of a passing asteroid. I made this by imaging the rock at several angles in the game (since they don’t rotate themselves), then using Paint.NET to apply some noise filters. It wasn’t really that hard, and it looked good enough to momentarily fool a real radio astronomer, who I actually tried to have a dialog with but quickly found myself out of my league. I later emailed her to say thanks for playing along and explain what was going on 🙂 It should be noted that my second asteroid radio photo produced no fanfare at all by itself. Ah well.

So that was a scheduled tweet I was looking forwards to seeing go public. The other one that got some attention however was an opportunistic tweet I sent out when I saw a photo tweeted by ISS astronaut Reid Wiseman that looked almost exactly like one I had taken on a recent mission. Although Reid himself never responded (shucks) the CSA again was kind enough to acknowledge it. There was actually another tweet from ISS astronaut Alexander Gerst of a photo showing the thin blanket of atmosphere and remarking on its fragility – I actually have a photo like that too, with the same type of remark, but unfortunately it won’t be published until later this month. Still, I keep my eyes open for opportunities like these.

I’m now solidly past 400 followers on twitter. There’s been a lot of up/down around 410 lately but overall the trend continues to climb upwards.

Kerbol system simulated in Universe Sandbox

So this was the big project I was working on during my break from KSP. It turned out better than I had hoped. You can get the ubox file here in this thread. This gives me a ton of options for creating videos of planetary motion, asteroids, and interplanetary ship travel. In fact, I already created a test video of my Duna I mission using trajectory data from Mission Architect, and on the system-wide scale everything matches up perfectly. Obviously if you zoom way in you see the probe is nowhere near as close to Duna as it should be when it arrives, but zoomed out you can’t tell.

Because it’s a simulation program, when it came to putting asteroids into the system things became quite tedious. I first did a few tests with about 5-7 asteroids to make sure I could get them into the sim and their orbits would remain approximate. That proven, it was time to put them all in. All 460 of them. Thankfully the orbital parameters from the SFS file are in the same order as they are presented in UBox, but the SFS file gives its LAN in degrees of 0-360 whereas UBox takes a normalized value between -180 and 180, and MNA is in radians in the SFS so I had to convert to degrees and then once again normalize to -180-180 for UBox. Since an asteroid’s orbit data is only good at the exact time specified in the SFS (the EPH parameter) I had to walk the sim up to that point, input the asteroid orbit data, save, then walk up the sim to the next asteroid’s EPH, and repeat. Then, once all the asteroids where in I had to simulate each one up to the same point in time. Then I had to manually copy each asteroid into the same UBox file. Once I got the hang of things, I could input an asteroid ~2.5 minutes on average. It took about 1.5 minutes to simulate an asteroid up to a specific point in time, and ~10 seconds to copy over each asteroid into the same file. Doesn’t sound like a lot until you remember I’m doing all three of these steps for 460 asteroids!

Moving forward from here though will be much easier now that the existing ones are all in the simulation. And yes, it was worth it:


xZAhViW.jpg HGoZ3Gz.jpg

It looks amazing in motion too.

New KSP tweeters

Recently there have been some mission tweets coming from @KerbCosmos_Mc, @KasaSpaceOps and @KerbalSC. However as with previous accounts that have come along, none of them have been very consistent. Two haven’t tweeted since earlier this month. The one that’s tweeting most often I’m finding hard to follow because I’m not quite sure what is going on in their universe. There’s no back story or archives I can read up on, although when I asked about this they said it was something to work on. A lot of times after I get new followers I will start getting notifications of tweets from months past getting favorited as people go back and read through things. It will be nice if one or more of these accounts gets their affairs in order – one is still an egg even.

YouTube channel

Yea, it’s here, and it’s empty. For now. My first plans for it are to showcase videos recorded in Universe Sandbox. I currently (still) have no plans for anything like launch footage from the game. But stuff like that is becoming more and more of a possibility.

Ok, tired of typing. Onwards to November! (and OMG OMG my first blueprint is dropping at the end of the month finally)

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