Deep space probe exploration

Prior to Odyssey, there was a trick for getting a general idea of what a cosmic signature was without going to all the trouble of scanning it down, by exploiting a property of deep space probes. Although Odyssey removed deep space probes, the trick does actually – more or less – still work.

Cosmic signatures fall into different “bands” of signal strength, depending on what they contain. Certain sites are easier to find then others – assuming your probes are placed equally well, they’ll get a stronger hit on those sites. The thing about deep space probes was that because their scan strength was so low, it didn’t really matter where you put them – you’d get a similarily weak hit on any signature no matter where the probe was, and you could then look up a table to translate that weak signal strength into a decent idea of what the signature was.

If the system is relatively small, however, you can replicate this effect by placing a single combat probe, well away from the body of the system, you can recreate this effect even without DSPs. Simply place a signal combat probe as far away from all the planets as possible while still covering 4AU around them all. Move all the other probes well out of the way, as shown here:
Deep space probe positions

Note that the results form into bands: 0.9, 0.6, 0.4 and 0.2. These bands correspond to the bands in the DSP grid – the numbers won’t be the same (they’ll depend on how good your scan skills and scanning ship are), but whatever they are, you can map them to the DSP scan strength.
Probe results
In this case, this is a C5 wormhole system. You can map these as follows:

Combat probe strength DSP strength Explanation
0.9 0.20 These are the biggest and easiest signatures to identify – and, indeed, these are the H296 static plus a K162.
0.4 0.10 At 0.4, these are about half the size of the 0.9 signatures. 0.9 from combats was about 0.2 from DSPs, so these will map to the 0.1 DSP signatures. Indeed, they are both frontier gas sites.
0.2 0.05 Half the size again – so this maps to 0.05 on a DSP. And, indeed, that’s a data site.
0.6 0.13 I cheated on this one skipping it until now – but I knew that I could start with the big ones and then halve them to figure out which ones are the other common sizes. This falls in between the 0.20 signatures and the 0.10 signatures – making it a 0.13 signature.

By looking for the bands and applying some logic based on the DSP grids you can easily map the bands you get from combat scan probes to the former DSP results. Once you’re familiar with your ship, your skills, and the type of system you’re scanning in, you don’t even need the grid anymore and can just rely on the feel of it.


Fitting a scanning covops

As a pure scanning ship, the Helios is currently the best of the covert ops ships. With the new scanning modules, mid slots are very much at a premium and the Helios has the equal most with the Buzzard. Both require a co-processor (assuming Covert Ops IV). The Helios beats the Buzzard, however, because of the Buzzard’s extreme powergrid limitations – to fit on all those 1pg-consuming modules after your microwarpdrive you’re going to need a micro auxiliary power core. That ties up the buzzard’s second lowslot, leaving no room for nanofibers.

Assuming you want to fit a point or scram, as you should, and a microwarpdrive, as you must – you’ll have two mid slots for scanning modules in the Anathema and the Cheetah, whereas the Helios and Buzzard get three each.

Instinctively, the most useful is the Scan Rangefinding Array. It provides a nice 10% increase to your scan strength with tech 2, or 5% with the tech 1 version. However, before you fit a second one remember that they run into stacking penalties with your Gravity Capacitor Upgrade rigs. Not only that, but if you use a sisters or tech 2 probe launcher*, their bonuses are stacking penalised with it as well. What this means is that on a covert ops with a faction probe launcher and two scanning rigs, your first Scan Rangefinding Array II only increases your scan strength by 2.8%. It’d probably take more effort to drag the second rangefinding array into place than it’ll ever save you in scanning.

Next up is the Scan Pinpointing Array. A tech 2 version provides a 20% reduction in scan deviation, and the tech 1 version a 10% reduction. Those are useful bonuses, and they don’t stack with anything else. If you’ve looking for a scanning module to double up on, this is the one to go for.

Lastly is the Scan Acquisition Array. Here, the tech 2 version reduces scan time by 20% and the tech 1 by 10%. When you’re scanning down all the signatures in a system, you’ll probably spend more time repositioning your probes rather than actually waiting for a scan to complete, meaning that for system scanning you’d probably be better off using a pinpointing array. The primary use of a scan acquisition array is in combat scanning. When combat scanning, you’ve generally got the target sufficiently localised using your directional scanner that it only requires a single scan to actually hit the target, and the sooner you can get the scan completed the less time passes before you can get a bubbler warping on to their location. It still isn’t a big bonus – the scan time really isn’t that long, and given the choice between one of this and a second pinpointing, a second pinpointing is probably the better choice.

The following fits each assume you’ve got Covert Ops trained to IV. If you’ve got covops trained to V, you may be able to do without the co-processor if you use a meta warp disruptor. User choice. You can alter the scanning modules to suit your needs – all the fitting requirements are the same.

[Helios, Odyssey]
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Nanomechanical CPU Enhancer I

Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I
Scan Rangefinding Array II
Scan Pinpointing Array II
Scan Pinpointing Array II
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I

Sisters Expanded Probe Launcher, Sisters Core Scanner Probe
Covert Ops Cloaking Device II

Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I
Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I

Warrior II x1
[Buzzard, Odyssey]
Micro Auxiliary Power Core I
Co-Processor II

Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I
Scan Rangefinding Array II
Scan Pinpointing Array II
Scan Pinpointing Array II
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I

Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
Sisters Expanded Probe Launcher, Sisters Core Scanner Probe
125mm Gatling AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S

Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I
Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I
[Cheetah, Odyssey]
Micro Auxiliary Power Core I
Co-Processor II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II

Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I
Scan Rangefinding Array II
Scan Pinpointing Array II
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I

Sisters Expanded Probe Launcher, Sisters Core Scanner Probe
Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
125mm Gatling AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S

Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I
Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I
[Anathema, Odyssey]
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II

Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I
Scan Rangefinding Array II
Scan Pinpointing Array II
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I

Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
Sisters Expanded Probe Launcher, Sisters Core Scanner Probe
125mm Gatling AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S

Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I
Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I

* Tech 2 probe launchers also provide a scan strength bonus, but of only 5%. This also gets stacking penalised with your rigs and rangefinding modules. However, because of the way that stacking penalties are applied, a tech 2 rangefinding will get a lighter stacking penalty than the probe launcher will, meaning that it is still making a useful bonus. A tech 1 rangefinding gets the same bonus as the tech 1 probe launcher, so one or the other is going to get penalised into oblivion.


In wormhole space, patience is a good way of finding ganks. Just having the holes, the sites, and then sitting around in an inhabited system with a scram-fit bomber or two will get you kills. PI runners, haulers, ventures… and sometimes something a little special. One time, I was prowling around in our chain in a stealth bomber when I saw two industrials on dscan. Guessing from dscan which hole they were heading too, I warped to it… and just missed them. Darn. However, I am a patient man, and they had a nice highsec wormhole one jump away from their home. If I hung around, there’d be more industrials.

First: the setup. I got into their system and burnt a bounce spot at jump range from their wormhole, and meanwhile, brought an alt up and did the same on the other side in another bomber. Being at a bounce, and one not aligned to anything in particular, I was safe enough from surprise decloakings. Tactically, my bombers on either side could see any incoming transports in plenty of time for the other to get into range, and both were equipped with not just a long point but also a scram to deal with any warp core stabilisers. In position, I started catching up on my blog reading and waited for targets to show up.

It took about an hour – but what turned up in my net turned out to be well worth the wait. An Orca warped from their pos and sat on the wormhole. The wormhole was a pristine c5-c5 connection, so an Orca would not threaten it. Meanwhile, the Orca was just… sitting there. I was now cloaked up a few kilometers off it. My alt was cloaked up next to the other side. The Orca, meanwhile, was just sitting there, not aligned, not jumping, just sitting there. Huh. I called in a couple of pilots to help kill it – one got a little distracted by a cloaky Loki and chased it instead, but Alastair came along in a Thorax.

As soon as Alastair jumped through, I decloaked my bomber and we took him down. I guess he was afk or something – he didn’t align, didn’t jump, didn’t call in backup. Just died. Not that it would have mattered – my stealth bombers could each decloak and have it scrammed well before it could align, and jumping wouldn’t help, as both sides were covered. So chalk one up for patience. Well, ok. Chalk up his pod too.

[Nemesis, WH Gank]
Ballistic Control System II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II

Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I
Phased Weapon Navigation Array Generation Extron
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
Warp Disruptor II

Prototype 'Arbalest' Torpedo Launcher, Caldari Navy Inferno Torpedo
Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
Prototype 'Arbalest' Torpedo Launcher, Caldari Navy Inferno Torpedo
Core Probe Launcher I, Sisters Core Scanner Probe
Prototype 'Arbalest' Torpedo Launcher, Caldari Navy Inferno Torpedo

Small Processor Overclocking Unit I
Small Warhead Calefaction Catalyst I

Strange things that happen in local

After getting my dreadnought stuck in some random hole (deliberately, except that we failed at violencing the Thanatos I’d jumped it in there after), I was stuck scanning down that system day after day looking for a good exit. One day, I noticed a bunch of ships, sitting in space around the outer planet. Naturally, I brought in my main in to shoot them. Turns out, they were all sitting, abandoned, at safe spots, at moons, and one just near the planet. Weird. So I blew them all up. Jumping my main back into the highsec I’d used to get in, I found the guy who’d left them all there in local.

Now, since reading about the New Eden Conservation Society, I’ve been very concerned about protecting the Eve environment and ecosystem. And then this happened…

[ 2013.05.06 23:52:26 ] EVE System > Channel changed to Local : Ajanen
[ 2013.05.06 23:52:50 ] Jivlain Pollard > so, uh, what was that all about?
[ 2013.05.06 23:53:12 ] Space Citizen One > all what?
[ 2013.05.06 23:53:44 ] Jivlain Pollard > someone left a bunch of noobships just littering space in a nearby system
[ 2013.05.06 23:53:59 ] Jivlain Pollard > they never consider the environmental implications of such behaviour.
[ 2013.05.06 23:54:30 ] Jivlain Pollard > clearly we need someone to compell environmental impact statements and other such common-sense measures
[ 2013.05.06 23:54:53 ] Space Citizen One > damn and i thought u wanna help me 😀
[ 2013.05.06 23:55:25 ] Ted Mobster > Damn those criminals
[ 2013.05.06 23:55:58 ] Jivlain Pollard > ah, Ted!
[ 2013.05.06 23:56:06 ] Jivlain Pollard > just the man I’m looking to speak too
[ 2013.05.06 23:56:17 ] Jivlain Pollard > have you completed impact statement form C6?
[ 2013.05.06 23:56:20 ] Ted Mobster > I didn’t do it, nobody saw me do it, you can’t prove anything.
[ 2013.05.06 23:57:13 ] Ted Mobster > Besides, that’d probably be form C5.
[ 2013.05.06 23:57:20 ] Ted Mobster > I mean, I have no idea what you’re talking about.
[ 2013.05.06 23:58:06 ] Jivlain Pollard > look now, you can’t leave that much tritanium just hanging out in safe spots near planet 11
[ 2013.05.06 23:58:25 ] Jivlain Pollard > I know it’s on the outer edge of the system but that tritanium is seriously unstable and could have injured someone.
[ 2013.05.06 23:58:43 ] Ted Mobster > Hey man, don’t make a space federal case out of it.
[ 2013.05.06 23:59:10 ] Space Citizen One > well i can only state again. if anyone wanna help me out a bit plz get [Some nice things] from me. might be a bit expensive but i would really appreciate the help
[ 2013.05.06 23:59:21 ] Ted Mobster > I mean, I reserve the right to an attorney.
[ 2013.05.06 23:59:22 ] Jivlain Pollard > look, I have to follow procedure here
[ 2013.05.07 00:00:28 ] Jivlain Pollard > oh, lawyering up are we?
[ 2013.05.07 00:00:37 ] Jivlain Pollard > we have ways of making you talk.
[ 2013.05.07 00:00:49 ] Jivlain Pollard > and completing form C6.
[ 2013.05.07 00:01:45 ] Ted Mobster > I get a phone call
[ 2013.05.07 00:02:11 ] Jivlain Pollard > mmmm, but there is a CSPA charge associated with it.
[ 2013.05.07 00:03:01 ] Ted Mobster > You’ll have to collect it from the POS.
[ 2013.05.07 00:03:24 ] Jivlain Pollard > I’m afraid it is payable upfront
[ 2013.05.07 00:03:50 ] Ted Mobster > So… It’s a space standoff.
[ 2013.05.07 00:04:00 ] Jivlain Pollard > though if you put down a deposit, we can arrange a payment plan
[ 2013.05.07 00:04:08 ] Jivlain Pollard > that will require form D13 though.
[ 2013.05.07 00:04:34 ] Ted Mobster > This is like that trip to space angola all over again!
[ 2013.05.07 00:04:44 ] Ted Mobster > This is an outrage. I am a spaceman.
[ 2013.05.07 00:06:02 ] Jivlain Pollard > we can’t just go bending the rules on behalf of everyone who says they come from geelong, or st ive’s, or space.
[ 2013.05.07 00:06:13 ] Jivlain Pollard > it’s the same system for everyone you know.
[ 2013.05.07 00:08:35 ] Ted Mobster > Expect a formal complaint from the space embassy!
[ 2013.05.07 00:09:34 ] Jivlain Pollard > naturally we carefully consider, and then ignore, all such complaints.
[ 2013.05.07 00:10:17 ] Jivlain Pollard > also, those wishing to claim an excemption as foreign nationals will have to complete form F2.
[ 2013.05.07 00:12:30 ] Ted Mobster > Name, rank and space serial number is all you’re getting out of me.
[ 2013.05.07 00:21:39 ] Jivlain Pollard > yes, but you’ll need to provide them on form F2.
[ 2013.05.07 00:22:28 ] Jivlain Pollard > which you can get at your local space planning council office.
[ 2013.05.07 00:23:08 ] Ted Mobster > The space planning council is a joke. You know it, and I know it.
[ 2013.05.07 00:27:14 ] Jivlain Pollard > not really, all forms are clearly categorised in the basement for your convenience
[ 2013.05.07 00:27:39 ] Ted Mobster > Sure, in a locked filing cabinet no doubt.
[ 2013.05.07 00:28:15 ] Jivlain Pollard > the panther is quite friendly, to be fair
[ 2013.05.07 00:30:25 ] Thrack Mazuk > ?
[ 2013.05.07 00:31:47 ] Jivlain Pollard > we have here an environmental vandal who refuses to fill out form C6, form D13 or form F2, even though they are freely available in a locked filing cabinet guarded by a panther in the basement of the local space planning council office.
[ 2013.05.07 00:33:10 ] Ted Mobster > The stairs are gone.
[ 2013.05.07 00:33:42 ] Ted Mobster > And I’m sure you’ll find the sign says, “Beware of the leopard.”
[ 2013.05.07 00:36:02 ] Space Citizen One > Maxx Ibanez o/ just telling u that i am currently at my tv. so u dont have to bother
[ 2013.05.07 00:36:20 ] Jivlain Pollard > complaints about the accuracy of warning signs can usually be made with form W1, except it is currently being chewed by the aforementioned panther.

For some reason, the longer I carry on any conversation, the odds that Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy references will burst obtrusively in approaches 1.

Killmails, plus one more with random bonus venture.

We few, we happy few

One of the downsides of being a smaller entity is that you sometimes don’t have the numbers to get stuff done. On the plus side, you “own” a share of everything you do – it’s typically the case that every single member of a fleet is critical to that fleet’s success. It’s a good feeling.

One night, I was scanning aimlessly down the chain. It was a boring chain, but it had been a night of boring chains and everyone else had logged off. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, and I was more or less just scanning out of inertia – it seemed like it would be more effort to jump back through the chain than just continue scanning.

As I jumped through a new wormhole, I checked d-scan. One Loki, two Tengus, and a force field. Checking our logger, we didn’t have any record of that POS in system. I cloaked up and set d-scan to a 180° radius. One Loki, two Tengus, and no force field. Interesting. I switched overview tabs, and that became one Loki, two Tengus, and a bunch of sleeper wrecks – a sight to warm the heart of any red-blooded wormholer.

I checked Mumble – a couple of people AFK, but none woke up. So I sent out a ping on our alerts system, dropped some combats outside d-scan range for later use, and set about finding them. Using d-scan, I tracked them down to about half-an-AU to the left of planet 5 (facing the sun), and slightly below the plane.

Two of our newer members responded to the alert. Not quite the numbers I’d been hoping for, but the rest of EU was asleep and it was a little too early for the Americans. This was going to be difficult, but at least we had help from the C4 magnetar, whose effects include a +68% bonus to damage.

Ambitious and I could both fly Guardians, and that left TheGreatBelow plus my alt – now tripleboxing scout/logi/damage – for DPS. As we jumped into the system connecting to them, they moved. Uh oh. But no worries – they reappeared, now about 3AU beyond P2 (looking from the wormhole, where my scout was now positioned ready to punt*), and new wrecks started appearing at this location. Good, good. We jumped in, and I vectored probes on their new location. They didn’t notice the probes, and our squad warp landed us within a few kilometers of all of them.

I advised Ambitious that he’d be responsible for flying both Guardians – that I was just going to be orbiting him. Meanwhile, we started targeting one of the Tengus. However, even with the magnetar effects, our somewhat anaemic DPS was insufficient to break the Tengu. I ordered us to switch DPS to the Loki on a count of three. That turned out to be a good call – as it turned out, the Tengus were each only carrying one shield transporter each whereas the Loki had two. As you can’t use a shield transporter on yourself, this meant that the Loki could only get 2 shield transporters aimed at it, compared to three that could be directed towards either Tengu.

We were able to battle the Loki down and, without its reps, the Tengus both followed it in quick succession. They were cheaply fit – just as well, as we wouldn’t have broken them otherwise.

Battle Report

A little while later I noticed the local chat:

[ 2013.05.15 20:55:45 ] 3HAXAPb UA > may be we tell price?
[ 2013.05.15 20:57:12 ] 3HAXAPb UA > no one want isk?

Eh, I really don’t do ransoms anyway.

* “Punting” refers to using a covert ops sitting on grid with the fleet to scan down a target and having it use fleet warp to get everyone else to the target. The covert ops itself cancels the warp.
† For the purposes of this article, I am conveniently choosing to ignore the fact that we had more ships, as well as the fact that the three were all probably being triple-boxed by the one guy.

Odyssey scanning & exploration – initial impressions

Watching the Fanfest stream on probing was a bit worrying – they were implementing a nice feature like probe configurations, and then demonstrated it with that monstrosity of a useless probe configuration?
Spread formation

Fortunately, it turns out that that as only one of the two configurations available – if, rather unfortunately, the default. The other, “pinpoint”, is the more familiar 7-probe configuration (4 sides, center, up-down). Most means of losing probes seem to have been eliminated – if the probes have an expiry, it’s not shown any more, and they immediately return to your cargohold if you try to jump through a stargate or wormhole, or dock in a station. They will not return if you disconnect, but if they just stay there anyway, you can reconnect to them later. Basic probing can now be done single-handedly, as the previous shift and alt modifiers to manage all probes have instead been made the default.

Unfortunately, as currently implemented, group scanning efforts have been hit hard – not only have the text percentages for scan strength been removed, but so has the ability to copy the list of signatures (into a shared document, for example). Furthermore, you can’t sort the list by name, making it more difficult to find signatures that haven’t already been scanned by a corpmate. Hopefully these are more oversights than deliberate changes.

Right now, you can’t use the tracking camera to align to anomalies. So hunting currently involves pointing your camera manually – though that’s still an improvement over trying to convert 13AU into kilometers, on the fly and in a rush, in order to isolate a target to a site. Still, with any luck they’ll update the tracking camera. There are a other few things that could certainly use some iterating, but, hey, that’s what the forums are for.

One bonus, unannounced feature is tagging shortcuts. Finally! Hold down a keyboard shortcut, click a ship, and it will be tagged.

The Best Kind of Rorqual

We had a nullsec into Malpais, and had gone around for a little roam. Just a couple jumps out though, our scout saw a mining fleet – complete with Rorqual – out in space. In a site, not a belt – so they’d have to be scanned down. Naturally, being a wormhole corp, we have lots of scan alts. However, and rather predictably, as soon as the probes appeared on d-scan the Rorqual and its fleet relocated into a POS. Miners do tend to be very sensitive about probes when there are neutrals in system.

We bookmarked the site and instead decided to roam around another nullsec connection we had into Immensea – with decidedly mixed results. As we came back though, an interceptor pilot decided to pop out into the Malpais nullsec and check out that site, see if they’d come back. Astonishingly enough, they had, and he tackled the Rorqual. As soon as our DPS started landing, the pilot ejected – whether to save an expensive pod or out of fear that his corp might kick him for a silly loss, we don’t know.

After a lively discussion about whether we should kill it anyway, it turned out one of our fleet members had a Rorqual- and jump-capable pilot. He headed out, grabbed the Rorqual and logged off at a safe. A curiously expensive Crow turned up, and then exploded. An Atron landed and lit a cyno, and brought a Thanatos into the grav site. Initially we popped the cyno and started shooting the Thanatos. However, as we were taking down the thanny’s shield, an NC. Loki lit up a covert cyno near a gate and a few blackops battleships started jumped through, one or two at a time. Our fleet warped off to deal with these first, with one tackler staying behind to hold the Thanatos. However, they turned out to be bait – and soon something like 20 new blackops battleships joined them. Our fleet warped off, except for one, tackled by the Loki, and scattered to make safe spots around the system.

With the fleets now AUs apart, the smack talk started in local. They evidently thought we’d killed the Rorqual, and we kept mum about the fact that it was actually logged off in system. All that was left was to wait them to get bored and leave so we could extract our fleet (plus our new toy). We lit up a cyno to get the Rorqual to the wormhole – the cyno Loki was in system and I’m rather hoping he warped to it and got to watch our new Rorqual come through – and we then escorted it through the chain of wormholes back home.

And that’s the best kind of Rorqual. A free one. On the other hand, dead Rorquals are a very close second.

The prize