A look at Diamondback Explorer heat emissions and signature detection

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As suggested in the original thread I started regarding NPCs running cold in some cases, I am posting the results of a few tests I conducted to investigate the heat emissions and signature detection of the Diamondback Explorer.
The first half of this post is directly copied and pasted from the results post in that thread, with some minor additions and changes made. The second half contains the results of the second test performed and that I had planned on doing today, it is a pure detection test where I attempted to make the Diamondback run as cold as possible while adjusting distance to my wingman to find the range which resulted in a resolved contact. Wingman in this context is simply a way of referring to my good friend, the wing was disbanded before testing began to ensure sensors would not be affected by wing mechanics; thereby skewing the results.

First off:
All shield tests were performed with a 4A Power Plant and 3A Life Support. First step performed was cruising out to outside station masslock, after that I shut off all modules except for the shield generator and life support. Waiting for about a minute or two seems to stabilize temperature. Having recorded internal temperature with shield generator and life support on I turned life support off and waited until I had 22 minutes of oxygen remaining to be sure internal temperature had stabilized; then I recorded the internal temperature reading for shields on and life support off. Ambient temperature of the 4A Power Plant sits at 7% for when life support is on and 5% for when it is off.

Note: I will be calling this heat efficiency. The lower the number, the lower the internal temperature; the better the efficiency.

Class 3 Shield Generator, Grade A-E.
Shield GeneratorLife Support OnLife Support Off

  • 3A-3B generate an additional 5% heat.
  • 3C-3D generate an additional 4% heat.
  • 3E generates an additional 2% or 1% heat depending on whether Life Support is on or off; there may be a finer number at work eg. 1.75 that rounds up.
Clustered Column chart of the table above for easier visual readability.

Class 4 Shield Generator, Grade A,C and E. (Tests performed on these three based on 3A-E results)
Shield GeneratorLife Support OnLife Support Off

  • 4A generates an additional 5% and 7% heat depending on whether Life Support is turned on or off respectively.
  • 4C generates an additional 4% heat.
  • 4E generates an additional 3% heat.
Clustered Column chart of the table above for easier visual readability.

Out of curiosity, I wanted to see what the ambient Power Plant temperature was at two extremes, A grade and E grade, for classes 2-4 which can be used on the Diamondback Explorer. I'm unsure of these numbers, they seem off to me and I may have made mistakes recording the temperatures by not waiting long enough. I get this feeling because the 2E Power Plant ambient temperature feels off, it makes sense in its own size class, but compared to class 3 and 4 it seems unreasonably high. This may also be caused by using an A-grade Size 3 life support module, more power is needed to run it while it is on, so temperatures are higher. Honestly I'm not sure what to make of it.

Power Plant Ambient Temperature Levels
Power PlantLife Support OnLife Support Off

Clustered Column chart of the table above for easier visual readability.

Regarding the deviating heat levels of the Size 2 Power Plant, user goemon has an explanation that sounds likely.
Quoted from the original thread:
[...]i think i spot something from the last table with life support of. the power the powerplant needs to run by itself, which is not listed, but mentioned somewhere, does play a role in heat production. than 2E will make sense. the powerplant itself does not need much lesser power than a 2a, but heat efficiency is lower.[...]

Hopefully I will not have embarrassed myself by posting inaccurate data, but there is always that risk.
When I get a moment later this evening I will be hooking my wingman to run some tests on detection with various internal temperatures and Silent Running switched off; with shields turned on.

Beginning of second part.

Trials have been completed to the best of our abilities and knowledge.
Ships used with relevant modules listed:

Diamondback Explorer (Myself)

  1. 4A Power Plant
  2. 4A Thrusters
  3. 3A Shield Generator
  4. 3A Sensors
Vulture (Wingman)
  1. 4D Sensors

  • No further modules listed as the aim was to investigate the heat emission and signal detection of the Diamondback Explorer specifically. Though we did perform a test of the Diamondback's ability to detect the Vulture.

We first formed a wing to enter the same instance near a Coriolis station, there I disbanded the wing to avoid sensors still showing the wingman at low temperatures; that would normally result in an unresolved contact. After confirming the methods to be used I lined up in front of the Vulture and established a trial distance of 1000 m. At this point I started shutting down individual systems with my wingman instructed to call out when I disappeared from sensors. When I became an unresolved contact on his scope I slowly closed distance until my signal was detected and resolved into an identified contact. This process was repeated until the range to target became close enough that not even Silent Running had an effect, and my ship was automatically resolved by sensors due to proximity.

My signal was first lost at 20% internal heat at 1000 m, but I have only included the next datapoint because it was at this range that I could first be detected due to sensors resolving the signal.

Internal TemperatureDistance (Meters)

Clustered Bar Diagram of the table above for easier visual readability.
View attachment 68707

As you can see in the above table and diagram there are several data points for distance with the same internal temperature percentage, this is because we found that shutting off several modules that produce relatively little heat and draw relatively low quantities of power, produce a lower percentage of internal heat that is so low that it does not register on the left hand internal temperature gauge. I suspect there is some rounding up in place and that the actual numbers may have been e.g. 19.7% heat. These numbers were simply rounded up to fit the gauge on the left of the HUD.

I should note that Life Support was switched off shortly before thrusters were deactivated, but I forgot to record at which point.

At the solid white bar, I had to resort to turning my Thrusters off, the point of this exercise was to go as low as possible and remain undetectable while maintaining defences and mobility. The next bar; the strikethrough filled one, is the point at which I had to turn off my shields. At the closest range where I could be detected in this state, which is somewhere around 285-300 m, Activating Silent Running had no effect; I still resolved on the Vulture's 4D sensors due to proximity.

After these tests we decided to see how my 3A sensors would fare against the Vulture attempting a similar maneuver. We repeated the same methodology here, with me trying to detect his ship and adjusting distance appropriately. The results were discouraging to say the least.

Internal TemperatureDistance (Meters)

Clustered Bar Diagram of the table above for easier visual readability.
View attachment 68711

From the numbers above we can see that the Vulture at 24% internal temperature, with most of its internals turned off and shields online; was detectable at a distance of 2170 m. Further reducing internal temperature by shutting down more modules to gain 15% internal temperature resulted in the Vulture being detectable at 500 m. With all modules disabled and a heat level of 5% the vulture still would not drop below 500 m.

Some conclusions I personally draw from these experiments are:

  • Sensors matter, not only their increased range, but higher grade sensors have an increased ability to detect cold ships.
  • The Diamondback Explorer has extremely good heat dissipation that does not result in a noteworthy emission. Shutting off multiple modules to reduce internal heat leads to fractions of a percent dropping off, but these fractions translate into potentially hundreds of meters.

I also have some recommendations for future investigation into heat emissions and detection, drawn directly from thoughts I had during these trials.

  1. Measuring heat on a ship that normally runs hotter than a Diamondback I would say is recommended. I hypothesize that the Diamondbacks have heat properties that result in such low percentages of change that they sometimes get rounded up and don't show on the gauge. A ship that runs at a higher operating temperature would result in a clearer result as any change to temperature would give a greater percentage increase or decrease.
  2. Using standardized loadouts is probably preferred to keep things uniform for comparison.
  3. A grade sensors will probably provide the best "worst case scenario" data for detection. Whereas D grade sensors seem most common and would provide an average along with C grade.

In closing, I would like to thanks user goemon in the original thread for suggesting testing the full range of class 3 shields, A through E, where I had planned to just test A and E. Testing all five classes revealed what appears like three distinct categories of heat emissions. High, medium and low emissions; A and B, C and D, and E respectively.
I would also like to thank my wingman and friend for having patience with my strange ideas.

And thank you reader, for reading this far; let's do more testing in the future, this was fun.
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Interesting data. Thanks for sharing. Would have been interesting to have the Vulture also try a 4A sensor. Not sure any conclusion can be made with respect to higher end sensors being more temp sensitive as the conditions were different: your ship with the 3A vs. the other with the 4D.
Interesting data. Thanks for sharing. Would have been interesting to have the Vulture also try a 4A sensor. Not sure any conclusion can be made with respect to higher end sensors being more temp sensitive as the conditions were different: your ship with the 3A vs. the other with the 4D.
Absolutely, higher grade sensors being more sensitive to signatures is pure speculation on my part based on the observations during the test, a good idea would be to outfit two Diamondback Explorers or two Vultures with identical specifications and repeat the trial; noting any changes or deviations. Thanks for the criticism!
Thx...all this confirms why I prefer the DBX over the Asp, when it comes to smuggling.

My DBX is fully A specced (except sensors & lifesupport), 36t cargo, 32.99LY range, boost speed at around 340.
I always keep shields up on approach, but switch weapons, A0 shield booster, and FSD off.
Like this, heat is at around 19-20%, and while quietly sliding towards the mailslot on FAOff, I use a heatsink or 2 when the cops become solid contacts.
And so I enter station at 2% heat, cockpit frozen, but WITH shields still up.

That last bit is important, imo...always ready if I need to boost through the slot, to avoid further scanning, should it occur.
The shields will be needed, in case I hit the backside of the station (the DBX is heavy).

All in all, an excellent smuggling ship!
Look like in the ED future, the humanity have lost all their intelligence, and only have IR and thermal detection systems, the radar EMP, dopplers, AESA, PESA are unknown for them!

Hate the things that FD do for "gameplay" reasons
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