Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Exploration guide part 1

hi guys ..this guide is getting to big so i am breaking it down into sections, here is the first one :) enjoy

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Welcome to my attempt to guide the brave and suicidal into lowsec exploration. I feel I have done enough of this now to have a decent idea what I am talking about. Also having read a lot of the information currently available, I feel a lot of it is out dated which makes it very hard to get a idea where to start now day’s.
This guide is designed to help set you on the road, it will not hold your hand.
If you follow this guide and find it interesting you may have a career in lowsec or null sec exploration ahead or maybe as a prober for a null sec alliance or pirate corp and will have many of the skills needed to move to a Wormhole corp.

First off, what is “exploration”?
It is entering a system and finding cosmic signature’s that cannot be found using the onboard directional scanner by using probes, then completing a PVE task or series of tasks. These come in 5 different flavours, and oddly 6 types ; they are :-

Radar – these are hacking site’s that require a code breaker to complete. They will normally have small NPC resistance and several cans with loot that can only be opened with a code breaker module. The loot from these sites varies greatly but they can be VERY profitable.

Magnetometric –These are archaeology sites, similar to radar site there are several “cans” to open, normally derelict ships or wreaks that can only be opened with a salvager or a analyzer module. Again these sights will normally have a small NPC presence and some ships are trapped. These sites can be profitable though normally less so than radar sites

Ladar – these are gas cloud sites, mainly for harvesting fullerides, they can be very profitable if you have the skills and the modules to harvest them which can be expensive to buy to begin with. These sites are rare in hi sec (and lowsec imo) and the amount of time spent harvesting at one will make you a target. I I would leave these sites to those deep in friendly null or W space.

Gravometric- these are private asteroid belts, normally containing or above the grade you can find in the area (for example in a hi sec grav site will normally have low sec only ore’s) in highsec these can give a indy corp a field day, in lowsec exploiting them is harder as most pirates will actively try to find mining barges HOWEVER, I have seen low sec alliances lock down a system with their PVP corps while the indy corps stripped and entire field in 20 mins, this took a lot of man power and capital ships but it can be done. To begin with if you choose to mine these I would do so in a cruiser fitted to mine, stay cheap and be careful.

Unknown – The last of our signature types, this one can mean 1 of 2 things, the kicker is you wont know until you have almost found it. It will either be a combat site, which can have very light to extremely heavy NPC resistance, however will pay good bounties and at many sites drop faction loot or BPC’s, or a wormhole which is essentially a hidden jumpgate to W space. If your reading this guide you probably arn’t ready for W space yet…trust me. The combat sites also come in 2 flavours DED complex’s that are rated depending on difficulty and deadspace, which is unpredictable but will often spawn the top grade loot. I would advise if your going to run these sites you stick to DED complex’s to begin and I would keep under DED 5 rating which will require a well tanked battle cruiser and good skills to solo

What do you need to get started?
Well there is 2 schools of thought on that, the first is to use 1 all purpose ship for scanning and running the sites, however this is not very effective in my opinion as no ships have both scanning bonus’s and decent combat ability, the closest you will get is either a exploration tech 3 ship or maybe a pilgrim, both of which are quite expensive. The second school of thought is to have two ships using one as a dedicated scanner and a second ship to run the sites, in my experience, combat sites are best run in a cheap battle cruiser (however these will often attract pirate’s to hunt you), grav sites in a retriever, you can use better mining barges but you are a juicy target and people will actively look for mining barges (so stay aligned), for the mag and radar sites a cruiser is normally sufficient. I personally find drone boats very effective for running these sites as it lets you fill more slots with site specific equipment, like salvagers and code breakers.
For a scanning ship, you can either use a T1 probe ship like a heron, or magnate ( look to see which ships offer bonus’s to things like scan strength and probe flight times) or if you have the skills (and if you don’t, train them) use a covert ops frigate. These get VERY good bonus’s to scanning and the ability to use a covert ops cloak is a HUGE help.

The fittings for these ships are dependant on what your flying and what site you are doing, in general with the scan ships they should all need a Probe launcher (sisters if you can afford it) and a cloak to keep you safe while scanning and at least 5 probes, And the ships you use for the radar and Mag sites will need either a analyzer or a code breaker. All ships other than the scan ship should fit a salvager.

The other thing that you will find handy although not essential is a Exploration jump clone, By that I mean a jump clone that you equip with implants like the “Prospector” set left in lowsec for the express purpose of finding and running sites.

How to find the sites.

This is the part that takes a little skill and a lot of practice.
Jump into your scan ship and undock, warp to the furthest plant from you at 100km and along the way bookmark the location to create a “safe spot” , then warp back to that safe spot. this will mean people cannot find you by accident. Launch 5 probes into space (core or sister core probes are the ones you need) go into the map view by opening the scanner (click the icon next to the navicom, >system scanner > map icon in the top right corner.

Make sure your ship is cloaked (you will need to move away from your probes a little) now minimize all the other crap on the screen accept the scanner panel, you will see your 5 probes on the panel but it will look like there is only 1 in space, this is because they are all on top of each other.
In the scan panel, hold ctrl and click on all 5 probes, giving you control of all 5 at once, now relase control and right click > set scan range to 32AU (maximum)
Got it?
Now zoom out so you can clearly see what you are doing in the solar system. And arrange the probes so four of them over lap a central probe..like this.
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Now hit scan in the scan panel.
It will take a few seconds ad the probes move and begin scanning, and then you will get the results back.
At the top of the list you will get the named sites you can find normally with the onboard scanner, you do not want these, below that will be the cosmic sig’s you want. They wont be named but will instead have a alpha numeric name like DG4-745 for example, and next to that will be the strength of the signal…it should look something like this

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Ok here comes the guessing game, of all those results you cant tell which site is which, so you have to scan down each one to about 30% to see what they are, so pick the first one you want to try reduce your probe size to 8 AU, moving the probes back into formation.
Don’t forget you need to line the probes up on all 3 axis, x,y AND z like this
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Once you get to about 30% signal strength you can see what sort of site you are looking at ..like this
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In this pic I was looking at a unknown, which is normally a wormhole but some times a combat site..in this instance not what I was looking for so you right click on the result and click “ignore result” and rinse and repeat on the next one.. until you narrow down one you want to 100% like this

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I have a radar site too 100%, it MUST be 100% to allow you a warp in, so i book mark the site, naming it radar 1 then the date (this is handy for organising bookmarks and allows you to easily find and delete sites that are old.

At this point you need to swap into the ship your using to run the sites, if your following my advice a cruiser. Personally I like arbitrators for this as they are cheap and the drones allow me good range. When you have your cruiser before you warp to the site if your in lowsec or null switch the scan panel over to the directional scanner at max range and do a 360 deg scan to make sure there are no ships lurking that can find and kill you, like this
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If it all looks safe warp to your book marked site, as you enter warp you will get a brief description of the site pop up, note it shows you the module you will need to complete the site on this pop up
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Once you land you will see a bunch of ..well cans basically to go hack or analyze, so go get started, keep checking your d scan for any ships that maybe incoming or looking for you ( and make sure you have probes on your overview)
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As you work your way though the cans you will sometimes cause spawns of enemy’s, some time with every can some time only some , some times none at all, on this site I had 1 spawn of a dozen frigates and 3 cruisers (although my CEO had joined me by this point in a caracal to learn how to do these sites)
Once you kill the spawns continue your looting and after your done return to base to drop off the swag.
The loot from the above site..

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Not including the salvage which someone else was grabbing, at a estimatethe loot was worth around 10 mill.
To give you a idea of speed for these the site took around 6 mins to find and about 8 mins to complete, you could probably cruise through these at 1 site every 20-30 mins. The hardest part is finding them.

I will follow up with fittings and strategies in the next part.
Fly well 07