This is my revised guide to Supercruising the Easy (and safe) Way. There's been some changes to how Supercruise works, so my old guide is (yet again) outdated.
While it's by no means perfect and the most optimal way, it's a good place to start for those who have trouble with Supercruise.
It's a long read, so feel free to skip to the end for the ultrashort version.
Why a new guide?:
The introduction of Mm is what prompted me to remake this guide, as it totally messes up my mind.
Megametres Frontier? Seriously?!
Also, the ETA display now makes things simpler ;o)
Hope you find it informative and useful!
The keyword is: Patience. I repeat: Patience.
If you loose your cool and get impatient, you'll tend to accelerate to get the trip done quicker.
Impatience leads to acceleration.
Acceleration leads to speed.
Speed leads to overshooting your target.
Overshooting leads to anger.
Anger leads to impatience.
Don't give in to impatience!
"I knew a guy who gave into impatience once, and three years later he nearly died in a freak gardening accident!"
SuperCruise - Explanation and Guide:
I'll start off by giving you a detailed explanation of Supercruise, and a step-by-step description on how to cruise from A to B.
SuperCruise is default mapped to the "J" key, and that's what I'll use in this guide. You can change this in the Options Menu, under the item "Enable Frame Shift Drive".
Mapping keyboard for speed:
To make things a lot easier, I suggest that you map at least 3 keys:
50% speed, 75% speed, and 100% speed. I personally have 5 speed settings mapped to keys: 0%, 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%. I use my numeric keypad for this (0, 1, 2, 3, 5 respectively, with 4 and 6 mapped for 50% and 100% reverse (not used in Supercruise).
Preparing for Supercruise:
You start off by entering your Target Panel (the one on your left), and selecting your target.
The distance to your target is measured in km, Mm, Ls, or Ly - kilometers, Megametres (1 Mm= 1,000 km), Light seconds (roughly 300,000 km) and Light years, respectively. Crusing is only usable for relatively short distances, so you'll only want to cruise to targets whose distance is measured in km, Mm or ls.
Note: It is possible to Supercruise to other stars, but it'll take you several days, so use your Hyperdrive for that ;o)
Your compass (it's located at the upper left of your radar) will now point the direction to your target. There's a small blue blip on your compass. If it's "hollow", the target is behind you. Point your ship towards your target and activate Supercruise by pressing "J".
Why can't I initiate Supercruise?
Supercruise mode cannot be initiated if you're too close to a large body of mass, if you have your landing gear down, your cargo scoop deployed, or if your hardpoints are deployed.If you get an error saying that you're too close, move away from whatever it is you're too close to, and try again. If you're too close to a stellar object, there will be an escape vector for you to aim at, before supercruise is initiated. It'll be marked on your radar as a cyan-coloured "blip".
You'll also need to accelerate your ship to a minimum of 75% of your maximum speed.
It takes forever to charge the drive, what's up?
If you're close to smaller bodies of mass (ships, for example), the Supercruise charging time will be multiplied with a factor, depending on size and proximity of those masses. Usually it's between 6 and 12 times the normal charging time. This will also be mentioned when you initiate the Supercruise.
Your ship's temperature will increase while the drive is charging, so you risk ship damage if it gets too high.
I jumped to another star system!
If you have a star selected as your target, you'll go into Hyperspace, so don't select a star as your target ;o)
YAY! I'm in Supercruise, now what?
Now that you're underway, notice the Target Information Panel (TIP) in the lower left of your HUD.
The TIP shows the name of your target, current distance to target, and your current speed. Your speed is measured in "c", which is the speed of light.
1c = lightspeed, 10c is 10 times lightspeed, and so on.
1c = 1Ls per second, so if you travel at 15c, it will take you 3 seconds to travel a distance of 45Ls.
The "Desired" part of the TIP is what you need to aim for, to be able to disengage Supercruise safely. This means that to do that, you'll have to be within the desired distance, traveling at the desired speed or below. This is indicated by the two cyan-coloured markings on the TIP.
The "Alignment" marker on the TIP will light up in a cyan colour when your ship is pointed in the general direction of your target.
If any of these two criterias are not met, you'll have to make an "emergency drop" by pressing "J" twice. This will cause minor damage to your ship.
Now we're happily cruising along (remember to set your speed to 100%). You can maneuver your ship while in supercruise, and change the speed, but that's about it. Whatever settings you have for System/Weapons/Engines (normally mapped to the cursor keys) has no effect while cruising.
Your cruising speed will fluctuate while cruising. This is normal. Your speed will lower if you get close to large bodies of mass, or as you're getting closer to your target.
Now we need to get ready for braking - the 7 Second Rule!
Make sure your ship is pointing in the direction of your target (it doesn't have to be 100% exact), and then focus on the TIP, and be ready to make some speed changes!
Cruising along at 100%, keep an eye on your Estimated Time to Arrival (ETA) to your target.
When ETA reaches 7 seconds (shown as 0:07 on the ETA counter), slow down to 75%.
If you still have some distance to go, and your ETA fluctuates away from the 7 seconds mark, boost or slow down (100% or 50%) for a couple seconds at a time, to keep the ETA close to 7 seconds.
Do not fall for the temptation of going 100% for more than a couple seconds! Doing so will often lead to you overshooting your target! (This is where the patience bit is important ;o)
At a distance of 2Mm, be ready to press "J" to disengage Supercruise, and wait until your distance and speed are below the target values. Your TIP will tell you when it's safe to disengage.
If you overshoot your target, lower your speed to 50% and turn around. Boost to 75% if you feel the need, but again be patient or you'll end up overshooting again.
Note: If you're supercruising close to orbital bodies, you can get the "SLOW DOWN!" message. Disregard this and solely concentrate on keeping your ETA around the 7 second mark.
When your distance and speed are in the "desired" areas (as decribed above), a "SAFE DISENGAGE READY"-message will flash. Press "J" to exit Supercruise, and you'll be close to the station.
Voila! That's it!
Ultrashort version of this guide:
Map 3 keys with 50%, 75%, and 100% speed.
Go at 100% speed until ETA is 7 seconds.
At this point, lower your speed to 75%.
Fluctuate your speed between 50% and 100% if necessary to keep your ETA at around the 7 second mark.
At a distance of 2Mm, be ready to press "J" to disengage Supercruise.
Sometimes it takes a while after disengaging Supercruise until you actually leave Cruise Mode. I've had this happen to me several times (especially if I make an Emergency Drop). Just wait it out, you'll get control of your ship after about 15-25 seconds.
Tidbits and odd ends:
Your speed indicator has a small circle that will turn blue if your speed is set at about 75%.
That's it - hope you can use this!