Flieger, grüß' mir die Sonne, grüß' mir die Sterne und grüß' mir den Mond. Dein Leben, das ist ein Schweben, durch die Ferne, die keiner bewohnt! - Hans Albers, F.P.1 antwortet nicht (Adaptation in the 80s: Extrabreit)

Friday, 7 August 2015

Too many crashes

My game session was very short, due to sucking up all news on Elite: Horizon. For my captain´s log here: All I achieved was to pack the White Goose to the brim with tourists and bring them into orbit and transfer them to the Scientia 2 along with the crew (which is now at experience level 2, thanks to their brief shore leave).

 - who needs pilots?

Then I sent the spaceplane on a rescue mission. After all this was done, a Kerbal night had passed and the Navitas at Minmus has already produced enough fuel to tank up the Tripol lander.

Of course, what sounds simple had a number of stumbling stones in the way:

The White Goose veers off and breaks apart during launch; I know the usual culprit and just added another strut to stabilize the outer part of the wings. Interesting enough, the strut structure at the lower wing side now resemble closely to that of a sceletal bird wing.

Once the rendez-vous is achieved, all but three tourists transfer, the latter ones just required LKO. Then I realised that this was in fact the case for only two of them, but only after I had already undocked and gone for the rescue mission. Thus, the White Goose went back to another rendez-vous with the Scientia 2, to rectify my tourist logistics. Thankfully the White Goose has plenty of unused fuel reserves, as the Scientia 2 is already tanked up.

Switching between vessels is sometimes a hazardous undertaking; the game also crashes two times during these rendez-vous exercises. Not only the game client, but also the spaceplanes are affected by crash-sickness; trying to land the White Goose again produces one explosion after the other.

 - already visible on the left outer side; something is very wrong with the wings

The spaceplane just veers off at high roll speeds. I can see the wings wobbling, but even with those three struts, the problem persists. This should not happen! I have already flown this plane several times and did not have problems! Somehow, after six tries, I manage to touchdown this buggy mess.

- veers off especially when trying to brake; again, I can see and suspect the wing parts don´t hold together

- close up of the problem; this thing has three struts below, and still! Strange enough, it had already worked fine, before

After this unpleasant and time consuming interlude, a Scientia 2 with its load full of tourists makes for Minmus. I had toyed to go first to Mun, but docking with the lander/rovers there would have required a polar orbit and there´s hardly a way I can get onwards to Minmus from a polar Mün orbit!

- electricity runs out; the vessel stays on course only thanks to the gimballed engines

After all these unpleasantries, I want to get back to the Tripol and finish exploring. And, yes, finally some nicer gameflow is established. The tanked up Tripol hangs a bit down from its suspended position, barely holds on. Undock is no problem, though. 

 - so long, and thanks for the fuel!

My first hop to the poles misses; the biome is smaller than I thought. One reload, then a crash (of the game client...), so I have to launch a third time. Finally, a touchdown and science experiments are done at the Pole. Then the last remaining biome, Lesser Flats, also get their visit.

 - still holds true; an excellently performing vessel

By this, the exploration of Minmus is finished. Bottle of champaign, please! Now I just have to wait until the Scientia 2 is arriving, then hand over two pods of data to their respective intended target ships before getting the last pod of data back to Kerbin.

Somewhat calmed, I check the mission control center. There are two new tourist contracts for LKO. Easy; and there is still this contract for a LKO equipment test which I had forgotten about. This is enough of profit to warrant another launch of the White Goose; the next time window for a maneuver of one of my active vessels is in 2 hours, anyways.

However, the White Goose again chooses to seriously misbehave. No idea what to do about this. Especially since this plane already did work fine for a few flights before. How is this possible? I launch several different configurations, but to no avail. In the meanwhile, there are five struts on the wings´ underside, but they do not prevent this behaviour. Frustrated, I have to log out. My ventures have by now eaten up two game sessions, and I haven´t progressed very far.

- go to hell, again (look at the outier wing and you see why)

As usual in such cases, the culprit will most probably sit behind the controls. A research in the forums found me a few helpful threads, in particular this hint:

"Too much weight per wheel ratio can cause it. Particularly if the weight is focused on your front wheel. What can make it worse is if your back and starts lifting up more so than your front, causing it to "wheelbarrow" over your front wheel. Basically your back end lifts up and drives your front wheel into the ground which causes unevenness. That last one is why some people have suggest putting canards up towards the nose."


"So when you start picking up speed you suddenly have very little contact force between the plane and the ground. Think if suddenly your car had 1/50th of the force of gravity to hold it to the road, it would suddenly veer off right? A tiny fraction of a movement left or right (Nothing can be perfect, even in this game) gets amplified at the speed, and you try to correct and then we have dead kerbals. Your plane has to be well balanced, have a better Angle of Attack, or better acceleration to reduce the time in which you can't quite fly but also can't quite "drive""


"Try to ensure a lifting balance between your front and back wheels. If the front or back generates excess lift, that reduces the sideways friction between the wheels and the ground; thus you see you start veering when you get up to speed. Also, at 100 m/s you should be able to lift off by pitching up (actually, if its a spaceplane then 50 m/s is preferable); if not, your rear wheels may not be close enough to your CoM, or you simply need more lift somewhere on your plane."

So, my White Goose might have an acute case of "wheelbarrow"; almost all the lift force comes from the wings in the aft part. I guess by changing only so little changes as adding back the "goose-beak" can make the whole thing go unbalanced in a decisive way. I should have already learned the lesson that a modified plane is a new plane!
Moreso, in light of these comments, the idea to roll and get speed on the runway as long as possible might actually a very risky, if stupid, idea. Even though it worked fine until now...

I will have to figure this out in my next sessions, I guess.

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