Connection tool

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Overview

The connection tool screen can be reached or toggled with the F4 key, and is one of the most powerful features in the editor. It allows creating as many groups as you wish, for devices in three categories: Power, Life support and Weapons. You can exercise great control over how the ship handles these resources, and this can be incredibly useful in a sticky situation. When you select this mode you will see a semi-transparent view of your ship, with a number of devices fully drawn.


Interface

The Connection Tool UI has two text windows, two buttons and three 'binder tab' type pages. (temp names offered by author)

  • Group Windows
    • Selected Group Window: Small top text window showing the name of the currently selected group (NOTE: This window does not always update so you may have to switch tabs or click about sometimes until this is addressed)
    • Group List Window: Middle text window showing the names of the created groups in the current 'binder tab'
  • Group Buttons
    • Add Group button: Pressing this will add a new group to the current 'binder tab' you are working in.
    • Remove Group button: Pressing this will delete the group highlighted or selected from the current 'binder tab'
  • Group Binder Tabs:
    • Power (Lightning Bolt icon) Devices in power groups will only provide or draw power from within the group
    • Life support (Oxygen icon) Devices in this group share resources and are easier to track when grouped
    • Weapons (Mounted Gun icon) Weapons can be grouped and dedicated Ammunition Loaders can be assigned to them

Grouping

Notice that most of the ship is shadowed, and only the currently grouped items are fully rendered. Other devices will be shadowed in different colors to show how they are grouped, and they show small text labels to tell you what group they are a member of. If you are in the 'Power binder tab', this means those items will provide or draw power from only what you see fully drawn. You can click on devices to add them (they become fully rendered), or click them again to remove them from the group (they become transparent). If you click an item that is clear, and part of another group, it moves to your current group and is drawn fully in one click. Some ship layouts may require you to carefully rotate and zoom a number of ways to stop you from botching up your groups several times. Fuel tank placement has no function or bearing in grouping at this time.


Default Grouping

Here is a simple theoretical ship design we will change from one "Default group" setup, to customized groups as an example. Unless you do something, the editor will just pile it all into Default groups.

Ship: "Jumbled Up"

  • 8 Ion engines
  • 20 Thrusters
  • 4 Generators
  • 20 solar panels
  • 2 Small batteries
  • 1 Teleporter
  • 2 Small power cell
  • 2 Sensor arrays
  • 1 Small shield generator
  • 4 Small mounted guns
  • 1 Turret
  • 4 Ammunition loaders
  • 1 Cyber warfare suite
  • 1 Salvage unit
  • 1 Life support system
  • 4 Air vents
  • 1 Transponder
  • 6 Doors

Custom Grouping

Now the same ship with custom groups and how they might help you:

  • Create two Power groups: Essential and Critical
  • Create one Life Support group: Required
  • Create two Weapon groups: Cannon and Turret

Ship: "Sorted Out"

  • Power group: Essential:
    • 8 Ion engines
    • 20 Thrusters
    • 4 Generators
    • 10 Solar panels (10 of 20)
    • 1 Small shield generator
    • 2 Small batteries
    • 1 Small power cell (1 of 2)
    • 2 Sensor arrays
    • 4 Small mounted guns
    • 1 Turret
    • 1 Cyber warfare suite
    • 1 Salvage unit
  • Power group: Critical
    • 10 Solar panels (10 of 20)
    • 1 Small power cell (1 of 2)
    • 1 Life support system
    • 4 Air vents
    • 1 Teleporter
    • 6 Doors
    • 1 Transponder
  • Life Support group: Required
    • 1 Life support system
    • 4 Air vents
  • Weapon group: Cannon
    • 4 Small mounted guns
    • 2 Ammunition loaders (2 of 4)
  • Weapon group: Turret
    • 1 Turret
    • 2 Ammunition loaders (2 of 4)

Result What have we accomplished here? For starters, you can step onto this ship with Zero fuel, and have a life support system, working teleporter, all the doors working and still be able to use the transponder to call for help if it comes to that. Secondly, the other solar panels will help keep a thin shield up around the ship to at least ward off asteroids if you are staged in a bad spot. Your cockpit systems will work and your ion engines can limp along at somewhere around 25 m/s. All this with no fuel. Remember all separate groups are "on" all the time unless you switch them by room or singly using the Engineering Terminal.

Once you do fuel up, your generators will focus on charging up your batteries and nothing from the other group will slow them down. You might consider sliding the ship-wide shield output down pretty low when you first fuel a dry ship to speed up the charging process (batteries hold 14 million e each!). Remember that Power cells have no restriction on how fast they can accept or deliver power, so they make a great 'shock absorber' in the system for things like initiating warp - batteries are great for long term power but can only discharge at 100e/tick each.

Why didn't we create another Life support group? This was a small ship; in a larger ship you could have a second life support group called 'Backup' or the like, with a life support system, a cockpit area vent, a couple solar panels and place but not insert the oxygen module. If the main system was damaged, you just push the button to install the O2 and you're good. Because you have some O2 capacity in your space suit, this would allow you to go fix the other system and retreat to the cockpit when needed.

The weapon grouping will allow you to to press '1' at the helm to choose your guns, and the turret will not drain ammunition from them. Pressing '2' will let you take a look at how much ammo your turret gunner has left, though you cannot fire the turret as a pilot. If you have a missile group, you Can fire those from the helm.

Having your devices grouped like this is also useful when you look into the advanced tab of your ship stats at any of your terminals or the helm, you can see just how much storage you have and if your system is balanced. You should be able to generate a little more power than you can use when running flat out - this approach usually works because the battery discharge is slow and capacity is large - it would take a very long time under full power to actually drain your batteries. In the end, plan on trying it, testing it, and tuning it to work without any loss in performance.


Engineering Terminal

While all groups will be online all the time, the Engineering Terminal will allow you to control rooms or some components individually. Be careful who you give access to this tool as it allows "hot swapping" components around in a running ship - you can literally leave yourself adrift or suffocate everyone aboard if you start moving things around without care.

Additional Resources

It would be worth the time to read through this helpful Steam Guide as well: Your ship and you: understanding its electrical systems