Ship Scanning: Finding Something To Mine...

ScreenShot0903 Hunting for Credits

So, I finally gathered enough materials to start writing up what seems to be the more popular starting point with regard to scanning, ship-based scanning.  I'll come back later and talk about the other kinds of scanning, but I thought I'd start here, since this is likely where you'll begin your mining career.

[Text in brackets will be supplemental, out-of-character comments.]

As mentioned previously, every ship has a scanner and, if used correctly, every ship can scan for minable materials.  Some will be better at it than others, but every ship has the basic ability to scan for minables.

To start, once you're seated in the cockpit and at a location where minable materials could be found, you need to turn on your scanner.  [The default key-bind to toggle scanning mode is the Tab key; press the Tab key, again, to turn off the scanner.]

Once you've turned on your scanner, you should see something like this...

I captured this image from the pilot's seat in my Anvil Valkyrie, the HF Herja.

In case you're unfamiliar with it, the Valkyrie isn't typically considered to be a mining ship.  However, as I also use this drop ship to haul ROC vehicle miners around lunar and planetary landscapes, Herja also serves as a scouting and scanning ship to support the miners she carries in her cargo bay.

In fact, some of the better ships for scanning include the Banu Defender and the Anvil Super Hornet.

Remember that we previously talked about scanners having three modes...  Active pinging [Scanning Radar Pulse], active composition scanning [Reticle Target Scan], and passive sensor returns.  In the image depicted above, the boulder icon shown along the port-side horizon, at approximately the 11 o'clock position to the ship, just outside the scan ring, that boulder was detected by my ship's passive sensor return.  If I had been working as a scout for a Prospector or a MOLE, I would have been able to fly over to the boulder and scan it to determine its composition and determine whether one of the mining ships should consider cracking it.

And, I didn't have to do anything more than fly my ship low enough, slow enough, and close enough to that boulder for the sensor return to establish that it was minable.  The interesting thing is that your scanner will detect minables by passive sensor returns regardless of whether you've turned on your scanner.  The only time you really need to turn on your scanner is when you're performing active pinging or active composition scans.

Another interesting tidbit regarding the passive sensor returns is that their sensitivity and resolution varies by ship, meaning that some ships will see that boulder and give you an icon for it at greater distances than others.  For the HF Herja, the distance is approximately 1,500 meters.  Other ships may not detect that boulder until they are much closer to it.  So, don't depend on hard distances until you've done some testing with the sensors on your own ship.

Incidentally, my passive sensors also detect vehicle-minable rocks at approximately 500 meters, and hand-minable rocks at about 75 meters.  Again, take your own ship out to see what kind of sensitivity and resolution your ship's passive sensors have.

Now, in the image above, taken from the pilot's seat of a Consolidated Outland Nomad, you can see that I started an active ping.  You can tell this by the small, white ring at the center of my HUD, which indicates building power as it fills in a clock-wise fashion.  When you release the ping, the same ring discharges in a counter-clockwise fashion.

[The right mouse button is the default key-bind to activate a Scanner Radar Pulse, the scanner "ping;" hold the button down to charge the ping; release the button to release the ping.]

Note that the longer you hold down the button to charge the ping, the greater the amount of energy that's released when you ping.  The amount of energy determines the distance at which you might be able to detect minable materials.  The scanners on Herja can detect possible minable materials at up to 15 kilometers with a full charge.  However, the down-side to this full-charge ping is that so much energy is blasted out of the emitter, Herja's scanner usually doesn't see anything closer than 3,000 meters.  Instead, I  have to reduce the charge in order to see anything nearer the ship.

Unless they appear in large clusters (which does happen on occasion), vehicle-minable rocks will generally appear at less than 2,500 meters.  In order to scan at such a short distance, I generally have to scan with not more than a "half-ping."  In other words, I charge the ping to only half the circle before releasing it., as shown here...

When you scan with half-pings, your scanner emits only half the energy that it could use and, therefore, the range of the ping is less than if you used a full charge.

I would not say that there's a direct correlation between the ping charge and the ping distance.; without some extensive testing in your ship, using your scanners, you cannot know for certain what the effective scanning distance is for a given charge on the ping.  Without testing, you can only know that a reduced charge means a reduced effective distance on the scan, and your results may vary.  But, do go out and give it a try.  It's by experience that I learned what my settings are for my ship.

Notice that in the following image, I have what we informally refer to as a "hit box," the result depicted on my HUD, based on the return from my half-ping...

Notice that, in this image, because I know boulder icons will appear for me, on my Valkyrie scanner, within at least 1,500 meters (usually 2,500 meters), this hit box contains either a vehicle-minable or hand-minable rock.  In other words, since I don't have a boulder icon at 1,000 meters, it can't be a ship-minable resource.

Again, this is true for me, on my ship, using my known components.  While you may have similar results, only you can be sure what works for you, using your own equipment.

After some testing, you may find that you have similar results on your own ship.  You may also find that you have similar results when you fly someone else's ship, if they have a similar configuration.

You don't necessarily have to make detailed observations or write a scientific paper about your findings, but you may want to somehow keep track of the results using different ships for various mission types.

In this follow-up image, I've closed to within 500 meters, and the hit box has turned into a collection of gem icons.

The gem icon means that you have either a vehicle- or hand-minable resource.

Based upon first-hand experience, I can tell you that, in this case, I know those gems are vehicle-minable resources because I'm too far away from them for my Valkyrie's scanners to have been able to detect a hand-minable resource.

For Herja, I know her detection range for hand-minable materials is 300 meters or less.  Because I just passed within 500 meters, these can only be vehicle-minable rocks.

Now, in this next image, I was using HF Boring for the scanning...

Now, keep in mind that the scanners on the HF Boring are dedicated mining scanners.  So, they behave a little bit differently than those of a non-mining ship.

For instance, once you're within a given range, the icons, boulders or gems, will change to show the minable rock with an orange outline, like this...

You'll also note that, once you're within range, the symbology on your HUD will change to show the rotating pip.  This rotating pip means that you can now perform a composition scan on the rock to see whether it's worth your time to crack it and pick anything up.

Before we talk about composition scans, though, let's talk about the powers of focus on your scanning ping...

If you were paying attention to the symbology on any of my previous images, you may have noticed a number with an x, inside an arrowed tag, at the 9 o'clock position of the scan ring.  This represents the scan focus, or what some people refer to as the "magnification" of the ping.  This is not quite the same thing as the magnification you would find on a pair of binoculars or a telescope, as focusing your scanner simply adjusts the angle across which the ping energy is spread.  If you happen to eke any additional range out of your pings, it's minor and entirely incidental.  The point of the adjustment is to limit the field of view of the scanner so that it can better detect and tell you more detail about what's sitting in front of you, so long as it's within the angle and range of the ping.

Think of focus like increasing the resolution of an image...  While the image may look fine on your screen at 72 dots per inch, if you printed it out or tried to zoom in on it, you wouldn't be able to make much use of it; there would be very little useful information in it.  By increasing the resolution of the image, you're able to identify more detail and possibly see more of the useful things you were looking for.  Similarly, if you increase the focus of your scan, limiting the width of the energy emitted, your scanner has the ability to show greater detail on the items within the scanner's field of view.

By default, your scanner will open with a focus of 1x.  It'll look something like this...

At 2x focus, your scanner will look like this...

Notice how the size of the dotted ring is decreasing.

Here's what 4x focus looks like...

Did you see the subtle shift between 2x and 4x?

The solid ring on your HUD represents the field of view from the face of your scanner forward, into the field of view you have from the pilot's seat.  Everything outside the solid ring represents what you can't see behind you.  So, at 1x, the scanner is sending out energy in a 360-degree arc along the ship's horizontal plane.  2x focus reduces the angle of scan from 360 to approximately 270-degrees wide (about 135-degrees left and right of the ship's centerline).  This is not a precise measurement, as it can vary by ship and scanner; this is a rough example.

When you increase the focus to 4x, you limit the field of view to approximately the extents of the 180-degree arc in front of you; the scanner doesn't send any ping energy behind you.  A great many pilots prefer to scan at 4x or higher because it limits the scan arc to only what is visible from the pilot's seat.

From 4x, as you continue to increase the focus, you continue to limit the width of the scanning ping.  The array of focus multipliers doubles at each step, all the way up to 128x.  Here's what that looks like...

Keep in mind that if you increase focus to 128x, you will be able to ping only those things that are directly in front of your scanner's emitter, along the forward centerline of the ship's horizontal plane.

While 128x may be useful for some tasks, it's highly unlikely you'll be able to make use of 128x while mining.


Okay, I hope you now have a better understanding of the ping process.  If some things are still a bit confusing, take your ship out, turn on the scanner, and let loose some pings; it's more intuitive than you might think.


Now...  Active composition scanning...

Assuming that you want to know what's in that juicy-looking rock that you found, you'll have to scan for composition.  For this part of the discussion, we are assuming you're using standard ship scanners to perform this function; the scanners incorporated into the mining heads on Prospectors, MOLEs, and ROCs can perform a certain amount of composition scanning in a more passive manner.  We'll talk about that at a later time.

At the moment, let's take a look at normal ship scanners...

On your scanner's control console, there's a button next to the ping button that's used to activate the composition scan.

Before you can scan for composition, you must be close enough to the rock for the circling pip to appear, like this...

As soon as you have the pip circling the center of the reticle, you can activate the composition scan...

[By default, hold down the left mouse button to scan for composition.]

As your scanner begins to collect information about the rock, you'll see a progress bar begin filling across the top of your HUD, like this...

Notice that as you continue to hold down the composition scan button, information is slowly filled in on your HUD regarding the important details needed to successfully crack the rock and extract the valuable materials inside it.  Here, we see that the scanner first identifies the total mass of the rock; that mass represents total storage units worth of material contained in that rock.

Keep holding down the composition scan button...

Notice how the scanner continues to fill in the details...

When the composition scan is complete, you will be presented with the information regarding the best settings for cracking the rock on the left side of the reticle, and the contents of the rock based upon the relative value (which has been pre-programmed into your scanner) on the right side of the reticle.

In this case, the rock contains 1.14 percent Bexalite, and 4.61 percent Hephaestanite.  The second number for each of the minerals presented indicates how the mineral is spread throughout the rock.  *CORRECTION:  The second number represents the percentage of minerals worth recovering, after inert materials have been excluded.  If you add them up, the column of second numbers should total 100%.  We'll cover this in more detail at a later time.  But, if you can do some simple math, you can see that if this rock contains only 1.14 and 4.61 percent worth of valuable materials, the remaining 94.25 percent of the rock is worthless, containing what we refer to as inert material (dirt).

Right now, we're just talking about scanning, but these numbers will become especially important when we start talking about fracturing and extracting materials.  Especially when we start talking about the economics of mining various rocks, total value of a rock, total value of a haul of ore, and whether it's worth your time to try collecting ore that may appear worthwhile until you do just a tiny bit of math.

In the meantime, we've covered all the basics...  basics...  of scanning.

There will be more on scanning, especially when we tackle scanning from mining vehicles, while using hand-mining tools, and most of all, when we dive into the deep end of operating a mining turret aboard a mining ship.

Until next time, stay safe and good hunting!

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