Engineers The Buckyballer's guide to Engineering


[size=+2]The Buckyballer's guide to Engineering[/size]
Now also with advice for Elite Racers

This guide aims to explain the concepts of engineer modifications when applied to racing. It will help your ship fly faster and jump further. Engineer modifications for modules other than those typically used in racing are not discussed in this guide.

Buckyball races usually involve starting at a particular starport, jumping to one or more other starports or bases and finishing at a designated dock. As such they favour lightweight ships with the best frame shift drive and fuel scoop. Buckyballing as a verb has entered the game's lexicon to describe travelling quickly from one point to another. Racers often fit high rated thrusters and power distributor to give them extra speed when docking and launching. Weapons and armour are almost never fitted to racing ships, and shields are generally considered optional.

Elite Racers are more focused on speed in normal space, almost never using the frame shift drive at all. To get the best speed from your ship simply requires keeping its mass low, so there is very little difference between the recommendations for the two types of race.

Fair warning: there is some science. You can ignore it and skip straight to the recommendations. The science is taken mainly from discussions on this forum. Except where specifically stated that the research was my own, I do not claim to have discovered or invented any of the information presented here.

For more Buckyballing advice please visit the Buckyball Flight Academy.

[size=+1]Update 3.0[/size]
Engineering had a significant overhaul in update 3.0.

Specific changes between the original engineering implementation that of update 3.0 will be highlighted for the benefit of people familiar with the old method of engineering and/or who previously read this guide.

[size=+1]Grade progression and experimental effects[/size]
Under the old system your initial engineer roll conferred a bonus to one or more stats with a range of values determined by the grade of the modification. In most cases a roll would also apply penalties. A random number of secondary effects would then be applied, potentially moving the results outside the nominal limits of possible values.

A so-called "god roll" was the result of positive effects being pushed higher and negative effects being pushed lower then the advertised range of possibilities.

In the new system you must start by applying a grade 1 modification, then applying one or more grade 2 rolls. With each roll the positive attributes of the modification are guaranteed to increase. The negative effects are fixed per grade and will never increase unless you apply a higher grade modification, which you can only do after raising the current grade high enough.

Furthermore, secondary effects have been abolished. Instead most modules can receive experimental effects of your choosing. These effects apply fixed percentage boosts to specific stats.

Experimental effects are particularly interesting for racing because we can now choose to apply predictable benefits, most notably the Stripped Down effect which reduces module mass.

Experimental effects cannot be applied to unmodified modules. In some cases this guide will recommend applying a modification with no relevant benefits simply as a container for a useful experimental effect!

[size=+1]Should I convert my module?[/size]
In most cases, yes. Unless you were extremely lucky and got a "god roll" in the old system, you will receive a net benefit under the new system. This is because the range of positive effects is generally higher and the penalties are fixed per grade.

Furthermore, outside of the material cost there is no downside to continuing to reroll until the positive effects are maximised. The negatives will only increase when replacing the mod with a higher grade.

[size=+1]Essential modules[/size]
[size=+1]Frame Shift Drive[/size]
If you modify one module, make it this one. [size=-2]Elite Racers: not this one.[/size]

[size=+1]The science[/size]
The four stats relevant to FSD jump range are:
  • Optimised mass: You jump further the more your total mass is less than this.
  • Max fuel per jump: The more fuel you can spend on the jump, the further you go.
  • Fuel power and Multiplier are hidden stats which affect the calculations.
All drives of the same class have the same fuel power. All drives of the same rating have the same multiplier.


ClassFuel power
22.00
32.15
42.30
52.45
62.60
72.75

RatingMultiplier
A0.0120
B0.0100
C0.0080
D0.0010
E0.0011
[/td]

The formula to calculate the range that a given loadout can achieve is as follows:

(optimised mass / total mass) * (fuel cost / multiplier)[color=#cb7e07](1 / fuel power)[/color]

The total mass parameter is the total mass of the ship including hull, modules, cargo and fuel. The fuel cost parameter is the amount of fuel that will be expended for the jump. Since we are concerned with the maximum range, we can interpret the fuel cost as the max fuel per jump of the drive, ie we will use as much fuel as we are allowed.

From this we can see that: optimised mass is by far the most important stat. For a constant ship mass, eg a fully laden ship, the range is directly proportional to the optimised mass. Furthermore, increasing the total mass to be shifted increases the fuel cost and decreases the range.

Larger increases to the drive's optimised mass are traded against a corresponding increase in mass of the drive itself. However, comparing the optimised mass and module mass stats shows that the benefit imparted by the optimised mass increase far outweighs the impact of the module mass increase.

DriveOptimised massMass
A7270080
A6180040
A5105020
A452510
A31505
A2902.5

[/td]
[/td]
[/tr]
Example:
Consider a Diamondback Explorer with a A2 power plant, D4 thrusters, A5 frame shift drive, D3 life support, D3 power distributor, D3 sensors and C4 fuel tank. The total mass of the ship when fully fueled is 307.3T. Given that an A5 FSD has optimised mass 1050T and max fuel per jump 5T, the ship's laden range is thus:

(optimised mass / total mass) * (fuel cost / multiplier)(1 / fuel power)
= (1050 / 307.3) * (5 / 0.012)(1 / 2.45)
= 3.4169 * 416.6667 0.4082
= 3.4169 * 11.7301
= 40.0806

The range displayed in outfitting is 40.08Ly.

With an Increased FSD Range modification increasing optimised mass by 43% and the module's mass by 40% the new optimised mass is 1501.5T and the new mass is 28T (up from 20T). The new laden range is:

(optimised mass / total mass) * (fuel cost / multiplier)(1 / fuel power)
= (1501.5 / 315.3) * (5 / 0.012)(1 / 2.45)
= 4.7621 * 416.6667 0.4082
= 4.7621 * 11.7301
= 55.8602

Or 55.86Ly. Up by 39.37% which is close to the 43% optimised mass multiplier on the modification.
TL;DR
A good rule of thumb is that an n% increase in optimal mass gives close to an n% increase in jump range.

[size=+1]The modification[/size]
For Buckyballing the recommendation is simple. You want the Increased FSD Range mod. Every time.

The higher the optimised mass (and in update 2.x the lower the mass) you roll, the better. In update 2.x look for a secondary effect boosting max fuel per jump. When comparing two mods, the one with higher optimised mass will usually be better. Check the formula in the spoiler section above to confirm.

For Elite Racers - or for any other race which does not require hyperspace jumping - the Faster FSD Boot Sequence should be applied instead. It is the only FSD mod which does not increase the mass of the FSD module itself. After applying a grade 1 Faster FSD Boot Sequence modification to a 2D drive you should apply the Stripped Down experimental for a net decrease in mass.

Experimental effect
Research by JonathanBurnage demonstrated that Mass Manager (+4% optimised mass) results in higher range for class 5 or higher drives, whereas Deep Charge (+10% max fuel per jump) is better for class 2, 3 and 4 drives.

The alternatives
Shielded FSD improves the integrity and heat management of the drive. Much more useful for combat ships.



[size=+1]Thrusters[/size]
Elite Racers: this is your top priority.

[size=+1]The science[/size]
Thrusters aren't hard to understand but they aren't particularly easy to explain.
Each ship has a base speed and base boost speed. These values are not displayed anywhere in the game, although they can be calculated and are reported on the online ship building websites. Fitting better quality thrusters increases your speed, as does reducing your mass. Your ship's final speed is derived from its base speed by a multiplier. As the name implies, the multiplier is simply a scaling factor applied to the base. It turns out that the same multiplier is applied to the cruise and boost speeds.

Each thruster has a minimal mass, a optimal mass and a maximal mass stat. You can't fit a thruster to a ship whose total mass is greater than the thruster's maximal mass, and you can't add modules to ships if doing so would push the ship over the maximal mass. If the ship's mass is at or below the thruster's minimal mass you will get the best performance. The optimal mass is somewhere in the middle.

Additionally, thrusters have minimal multiplier, optimal multiplier and maximal multiplier stats.
  • The minimal multiplier is the multiplier applied to the ship's base speed when its mass is at the maximal mass value of the thruster; the ship will not fly slower than base speed * minimal multiplier with that thruster fitted.
  • The optimal multiplier is the multiplier applied when the ship's mass is at the optimal mass value.
  • The maximal multiplier is the multiplier applied when the ship is at or below the minimal mass value; the ship will not fly faster than base speed * maximal multiplier.
All standard, ie not Enhanced Performance, thrusters have an optimal multiplier of 1.0 which means that regardless of thruster class or rating if your ship is at the optimal mass for its thrusters it will fly at its base speed.

All thrusters of the same rating have the same multipliers. Thrusters of higher class have higher mass values across the board.

RatingMinOptMax
A0.961.01.16
B0.931.01.13
C0.901.01.10
D0.861.01.06
E0.831.01.03
To make things more interesting, thrusters actually have three sets of mass and multiplier stats. There are individual values for top speed, acceleration and turn rate. However, standard thrusters have the same multipliers for each of the three sets and all thrusters of the same class have the same mass values for each set.

Things get interesting when we look at Enhanced Performance thrusters.

AccelerationSpeedTurn
MinOptMaxMinOptMaxMinOptMax
0.901.101.200.901.251.600.901.101.30

The outfitting UI only shows one set of multipliers, and it turns out that the numbers shown on the screen are the mean average of the three values for each multipliers. For example the maximal multiplier for Enhanced Performance thrusters is shown as 1.37, which is (1.2 + 1.6 + 1.3) / 3.

A derivation of the appropriate formula is shown in taleden's thread. The formula itself is:

minimal multiplier + (baseexponent) * (maximal multiplier - minimal multiplier))

Where

base = min(1.0, (maximal mass - mass) / (maximal mass - minimal mass))

and

exponent = ln((optimal multiplier - minimal multiplier) / (maximal multiplier - minimal multiplier)) / ln((maximal mass - optimal mass) / (maximal mass - minimal mass))

Or, on one (hard to read) line:

minimal multiplier + (min(1.0, (maximal mass - mass) / (maximal mass - minimal mass))[color=#cb7e07](ln((optimal multiplier - minimal multiplier) / (maximal multiplier - minimal multiplier) / ln((maximal mass - optimal mass) / (maximal mass - minimal mass)))[/color]) * (maximal multiplier - minimal multiplier))

When the engineer modification shows, for example, an increase of 20% in optimal multiplier that actually means that all nine multipliers are increased by 20%. Consequently your ship's final speed will be improved by approximately 20% regardless of where on the curve its mass falls.

Similarly, a decrease in optimal mass implies an identical decrease to all mass values. That makes it harder to keep your ship below the optimal mass value but as we are racing the effect will be more than adequately counteracted by the optimal multiplier increase.

In other words you might not reach as high on the curve but when the whole curve is raised the benefit is still worthwhile.

Example:
Suppose a Cobra Mk III (base speed 280, base boost speed 400) were fitted with an A2 power plant, A4 thrusters, A4 FSD, D3 life support, A3 power distributor, D3 sensors and C3 fuel tank. Its total mass would be 218.3T. The thruster's optimal mass is 420T, the maximal mass is 630T and the minimal mass is 210T.
Applying the formula we can see the ship's multiplier is:

0.96 + (min(1.0, (630 - 218.3) / (630 - 210))(ln((1.00 - 0.96) / (1.16 - 0.96)) / ln((630 - 420) / (630 - 210)))) * (1.16 - 0.96))
= 0.96 + (min(1.0, 411.7 / 420)(ln(0.04 / 0.2) / ln(210 / 420)) * 0.2)
= 0.96 + (min(1.0, 0.9802)(ln(0.2) / ln(0.5)) * 0.2)
= 0.96 + (0.9802(-1.6094 / -0.6931) * 0.2)
= 0.96 + (0.98022.3219 * 0.2)
= 0.96 + (0.9547 * 0.2)
= 0.96 + 0.1909
= 1.1509

So the ship's multiplier is 1.1509 for a speed of 323m/s boosting to 461m/s.

Now suppose we apply a grade 5 Dirty Drive Tuning modification giving a 27% increase to optimal multiplier and a 14% decrease to optimal mass. The new minimal, optimal and maximal masses are 180.6T, 361.2T and 541.8T respectively and the minimal, optimal and maximal multipliers are 1.22, 1.27 and 1.47.

The formula is now:

1.2192 + ((min(1.0, (541.8 - 218.3) / (541.8 - 180.6))(ln(1.27 - 1.2192) / ln(1.4732 - 1.2192)) * (1.4732 - 1.2192))
= 1.2192 + (min(1.0, 323.5 / 361.2)(ln(0.0508 / 0.254) / ln(180.6 / 361.2)) * 0.254)
= 1.2192 + (min(1.0, 0.8956)(ln(0.2) / ln(0.5)) * 0.254)
= 1.2192 + (0.8956(-1.6094 - 0.6931) * 0.254)
= 1.2192 + (0.89562.3219 * 0.254)
= 1.2192 + (0.7742 * 0.254)
= 1.2192 + 0.1966
= 1.4158

The penalty to optimal mass means the ship is now only 79% between optimal and minimal. However the bonus to multipliers is more than enough to compensate.

The final multiplier is 1.4152 for a speed of 397m/s boosting to 567m/s.

Note that the modified speed of 397m/s is a 22.9% increase over the unmodified speed of 323m/s; not far off the 27% optimal multiplier bonus listed on the modification.
TL;DR
An n% increase in optimal multiplier can give up to an n% increase in cruise and boost speed.

[size=+1]The modification[/size]
Dirty Drive Tuning gives the best increase to optimal multiplier. It is the mod to choose for the absolute best speed increase. However it comes at a significant cost to thermal load and power draw. Additionally, if your ship is already fairly fast you may not get the best bang per buck from this mod. The station entrance is a small target at 500m/s; having a ship that's too fast to control safely is no real advantage.

The higher the optimal multiplier (and prior in update 2.x the lower the optimised mass) you roll, the better. If your loadout is well below the unmodified thruster's minimal mass you might even be able to ignore the optimised mass penalty altogether.

Experimental effect
My research indicates that in most cases Drag Drives (+4% minimal/optimal/maximal multiplier) will yield a higher maximal multiplier and hence more speed. Ships with Enhanced Performance Thrusters whose total mass is slightly above the thruster's minimal mass will get a better result from Drive Distributors (+10% minimal/optimal/maximal mass). Assuming Dirty Drive Tuning grade 5, the sweet spot is between 64T and 120T for class 3 thrusters, and between 45T and 76T for class 2 thrusters.

Note that ships at or below the thruster's minimal mass will always be faster with Drag Drives, as will all ships running regular thrusters.

The alternatives
Clean Drive Tuning offers a smaller increase to optimal multiplier with a slightly bigger increase in power draw and a decrease in thermal load. Clean drive tuning is a good choice for races which involve a lot of fuel scooping or for ships which have high base speeds.

Drive Strengthening improves integrity and reduces thermal load while increasing the module mass and decreasing optimal multiplier. Most of the time those are not advantages for racers.

For races which are heavily focused on hyperspace jumps you might consider the Stripped Down experimental effect to reduce the thruster mass and eke out a small jump range increase.



[size=+1]Power Distributor[/size]
[size=+1]The science[/size]
A power distributor stores energy for systems, engines and weapons. Each of those subsystems has separate stats for:
  • Capacity measured in MJ; the amount of energy which can be stored for distribution to the subsystem.
  • Recharge measured in MW (ie MJ per second); the rate at which the capacitor recharges, assuming four pips to the subsystem in question.
Each ship, regardless of fitted thrusters, has a hidden minimum boost energy value measured in MW. The stat is not shown anywhere but has been calculated and is available to the online ship building websites. The ship will only be able to boost if its power distributor has at least that amount of energy stored, regardless of pip allocation. That is why ships with smaller power distributors are unable to boost at all, and why any ship is unable to boost if its capacitor is drained.

Additionally there is a four second cooldown on boost. Even if enough energy is available you must wait before being able to boost again.

It follows, therefore, that a ship will be able to chain boosts if its power distributor can recharge enough energy in four seconds to reach a total energy charge not less than the ship's boost energy requirement.

You can boost again if:
energy - boost energy + (recharge rate * 4) >= boost energy
ie
energy + (recharge rate * 4) >= (2 * boost energy)

Note that when you press your boost button exactly one of three things will happen:
  • You will boost. Yay!
  • You will get the "insufficient charge in capacitor" error message.
  • Neither of the above.
If nothing happens it means the cooldown period has not elapsed yet. The insufficient charge message is only shown when the ship is otherwise ready to boost.

Engineer modifications are able to increase either the capacity or recharge rate of a distributor. The bigger the improvement the less time you will need to wait between boosting.

There are five engineer modifications which can be applied to power distributors. Two can be discounted for racing, the Systems Focused and Weapons Focused Power Distributor modifications. Engines Focused Power Distributor increases the engines capacity and recharge rates while reducing capacity and recharge rates for both systems and weapons. High Charge Capacity Power Distributor increases the total capacity for all subsystems while decreasing recharge rates. Charge Enhanced Power Distributor increases the recharge rates for all subsystems while decreasing the maximum capacity.

Before update 3.0 the Focused modification had a maximum grade of 3 whereas the general modifications have always been available at up to grade 5. The best capacity value was from High Charge Capacity grade 5 followed by Focused grade 3 and then Charge Enhanced grade 5. Conversely the best recharge rate is from Charge Enhanced grade 5 followed by Focused grade 3 and then High Charge Capacity grade 5.

Under the new system the Focused modifications now go up to have grade 5. The best capacity value is from Focused followed by High Charge Capacity and then Charge Enhanced. The best recharge rate is from Charge Enhanced followed by Focused and then High Charge Capacity.
[size=+1]The modification[/size]
In terms of increasing the number of consecutive boosts which your ship can achieve, Engine Focused offers the best bang for buck by increasing both capacity and recharge rate.

There are no real downsides to the modification for racers. All other subsystems have their capacity and recharge rate reduced. We don't care about those.

Experimental effect
Stripped Down reduces the mass of the module and therefore benefits the ship's speed and jump range.

The alternatives
Ships with a large power distributor may actually benefit more from Charge Enhanced Power Distributor if their recharge rate is not quite sufficient to chain boosts. The Super Conduits (+4% recharge rate, -4% capacity) experimental effect will further enhance recharge rate.

Avoid High Charge Capacity Power Distributor and the Cluster Capacitors (+8% capacity, -2% recharge rate) experimental effect. If your recharge rate alone were enough to let you keep boosting you wouldn't need a modification at all, so a small increase in capacity is at best only likely to give you one extra boost.

Combat pilots are generally recommended to choose Charge Enhanced which is efficient at maintaining sufficient charge across all subsystems for a large distributor.

Depending on the size of their distributor, miners might benefit from Weapon Focused to deplete all resources of a single asteroid as quickly as possible.

The Flow Control (-10% power draw) and Double Braced (+15% integrity) experimental effects might be useful for builds which are tight on power or run very hot.

TL;DR
Get Engined Focused unless you have a Python, in which case ask yourself why you are racing with a Python.



[size=+1]Misc. Lightweight[/size]
Introduced in update 2.2, the Misc. Lightweight group of modifications can be applied to several modules notably including Life Support and Sensors. Although each module has a unique named modification, the effects are the same and in some cases the required materials is the same as well. The modification gives a significant mass reduction at the cost of integrity and as such should be considered essential for any racer.

Life Support and Sensors are mandatory for all ships and their class size, and hence their mass, are fixed. Lightening them therefore provides an obvious benefit.

As an example, a stock D rated sensor suite on the Anaconda weighs in at a hefty 64T. With engineering that can be reduced below 16T.

The mass cost of Heat Sink Launchers can also be significantly reduced, making them more attractive for races which require extensive fuel scooping, and if a race takes you into hostile territory you may also consider fitting lightweight Chaff Launcher, Electronic Countermeasure or Point Defence system.



[size=+1]Other modules[/size]
[size=+1]Power Plant[/size]
If you have applied modifications to other modules you may need quite a lot of power. Dirty drive tuned Enhanced Performance thrusters can use more power than the rest of your modules combined. Increasing the power output of your power plant may allow you to fit a smaller class power plant and hence reduce your ship's total mass.

Note that A rated power plants have the best thermal efficiency. Reducing mass by fitting a D rated plant may be a false economy on races which require lots of scooping.

[size=+1]The modification[/size]
Overcharged Power Plant has no mass penalty at grade 1 and can increase your power output by 35% at grade 5. The mod is well worth it if it means you can fit a lower class power plant and still power your modules.

[size=+1]Experimental effect[/size]
Even if you do not need the extra power, for instance on an Elite Racers ship, a grade 1 Overcharged Power Plant modification allows you to apply the Stripped Down experimental effect for a net reduction in ship mass and hence an increase in both speed and jump range.

The alternatives
Both Low Emissions Power Plant and Armoured Power Plant increase mass for no real racing benefit.



[size=+1]Shield Generator[/size]
Although racers often don't fit shields, races do sometimes take place in dangerous areas, and part of the fun of Elite Racers events is the number of collisions between competitors. If you do choose to fit a shield there are modifications which you can apply.

[size=+1]The modification[/size]
Enhanced, Low Power Shields is a no-brainer, reducing power draw and mass.

[size=+1]Experimental effect[/size]
Stripped Down for a further mass reduction with no downside.

The alternatives
Kinetic Resistant Shields and Thermal Resistant Shields increase resistance to the named damage type at a cost of decreased resistance to the other. Reinforced Shields increases damage resistance while increasing power draw and extending the length of time it takes to recharge the shield.

The Fast Charge (+15% regen rate), Multi-Weave (bonus to resistances), Lo-Draw (-20% power and distributor draw) and Hi-Cap (+4% optimal strength) experimental effects are all worth considering in place of Stripped Down if you are more interested in shield protection than mass reduction.



[size=+1]Armour[/size]
At first glance engineering a racing ship's armour seems unlikely to be worthwhile. If there's one thing Buckyballers do well, however, it's find niche uses.

[size=+1]The modification[/size]
Heavy Duty Armour increases resistance across the board and is essentially free because the notional side-effect - an increase in module mass - doesn't apply to lightweight alloys.

Most importantly it provides a bonus to hull hitpoints, which is especially useful if you have a tendency to crash into things like other ships or stations. Try not to do that.

Experimental effect
Deep Plating confers a further hull boost at a cost of decreased resistance across the board. However we don't care about those and the effect comes with no mass penalty.

The alternatives
Lightweight Armour reduces the mass of ship armour at a cost of reduced damage resistance. However it does not apply to lightweight alloys. You cannot use it to get a free mass reduction on a racing ship. It would potentially be useful on short range races involving landing on planetary surfaces, as boosting straight into the ground is very efficient for approaching surface bases. Fitting a bulkhead upgrade to facilitate safe(r) divebombing could be useful if you are able to do it without compromising range or cruise speed too badly.

Blast Resistant Armour (explosive), Kinetic Resistant Armour and Thermal Resistant Armour increase resistance to the named damage type at a cost of decreased resistance to the other two. These mods may be useful for racing in an area of space where you are likely to be attacked. For each damage type there is an experimental effect which boost resistance to that type while decreasing hull hitpoints. Layered Plating for explosive, Angled Plating for kinetic and Reflective Plating for thermal.

Note that kinetic damage strictly refers to projectile weaponry such as multicannon. Kinetic Resistant Armour will not reduce collision damage.



[size=+1]Misc. Shielded[/size]
Fuel scooping is often necessary in long races and is essential for Buckyballing in the colloquial sense; getting from A to B quickly. Scooping for long periods, or indeed for short periods if your heavily-modified ship has low integrity, causes heat buildup which soon damages modules and can eventually affect the hull. Losing cargo in a smuggling race because your cargo hatch overheated and malfunctioned is a frustrating experience.

The Misc. Shielded group of modifications can increase module integrity, slowing the buildup of heat when scooping and thus allowing longer scooping before having to move away, deploy a heat sink or repair. The Fuel Scoop itself particularly benefits from shielding, as do Auto Field-Maintenance Units. AFMUs have no mass so can be useful to repair mid-race.

Shielding comes at a cost of increased power draw. The modification may not be worthwhile if it requires upgrading to a heavier power plant to support it.
 
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Isn't engineering banned from Buckyball races? Or have you guys established a new class?

Anyway, nice overview, not just for buckyballers.
Just one thing - modding the lightweight alloys actually IS beneficial. Not range-wise. It weights 0 to begin with. But that's actually a good thing, because you can apply any mod that increases weight as a drawback and it will still weight 0 ;)
If you have a hull strong enough, you can then fly without shields and that IS beneficial when comes to speed and range.
 
interesting read!

i did a similar list for explorers, and we were discussing "Heavy Duty Armour" quite a bit - is it true, that it helps with crashing into things, e.g. does it mitigate damage from station or surface crashs? or is it true, that ramming/crashin damage bypasses armour?
 
Terrific piece of work furrycat!

Isn't engineering banned from Buckyball races? Or have you guys established a new class?
It's started creeping into the Unlimited class. I'm not 100% happy about that but, at least for Total Recall 2 (which does favour long jump range ships) I figured I'd have a regulation Hauler class for those interested in a level playing field and then an Unlimited class for everything else. Introducing a third (Unlimited but without mod's) class would just split the playing field too much while ruling out use of modified ships in the Unlimited class is a pain for those that have already modified their favourite ships. So hey ho, what the hell. Once we get module storage in 2.2 I may think seriously about ruling out engineer mod's tho.
 
Terrific piece of work furrycat!



It's started creeping into the Unlimited class. I'm not 100% happy about that but, at least for Total Recall 2 (which does favour long jump range ships) I figured I'd have a regulation Hauler class for those interested in a level playing field and then an Unlimited class for everything else. Introducing a third (Unlimited but without mod's) class would just split the playing field too much while ruling out use of modified ships in the Unlimited class is a pain for those that have already modified their favourite ships. So hey ho, what the hell. Once we get module storage in 2.2 I may think seriously about ruling out engineer mod's tho.
We won't get module storage in 2.2.

Other than that, yea, sad days for racing.
If mods are allowed, the rallye (where pilot's skill matters the most) would change into an F1 (where whoever has the most money and time to spend on the car prior to race, wins)

I haven't got the time to participate, lately and won't have in the near future, but I still enjoy your races as a spectator.
 
Excellent guide!

Isn't engineering banned from Buckyball races? Or have you guys established a new class?
The 'Unlimited' class in most races now allows mods while normally all of the Regulation ships have stock parts and no jumponium use.
In the A* Challenge there is an 'Unlimited' and a 'Classic' class.
It's really up to the race organizer though. :)
 
We won't get module storage in 2.2.
We ARE getting module storage in 2.2!

https://community.elitedangerous.com/gamescom/2016/day-three

Don’t Throw It Away

You now have access to module storage facilities via the outfitting services. You can store any type of module for free. However, port regulations require your ship to be functional at all times, so if you want to store a core module like the power plant, you must pay a mandatory charge that covers the fitting of a basic replacement module.

In addition, storage services are able to transport modules to any starport outfitter, allowing you to recover modules from any port that has this service. As with ship transfer, there’s a fee for module transportation based on distance and module cost.

Managing and maintaining a fleet has never been this slick.
Happy days! :D
 
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We ARE getting module storage in 2.2!

https://community.elitedangerous.com/gamescom/2016/day-three

Don’t Throw It Away

You now have access to module storage facilities via the outfitting services. You can store any type of module for free. However, port regulations require your ship to be functional at all times, so if you want to store a core module like the power plant, you must pay a mandatory charge that covers the fitting of a basic replacement module.

In addition, storage services are able to transport modules to any starport outfitter, allowing you to recover modules from any port that has this service. As with ship transfer, there’s a fee for module transportation based on distance and module cost.

Managing and maintaining a fleet has never been this slick.
Happy days! :D
Hmm, mere month ago Sandro was saying there is nothing particular in the near future, although they think about possibilities.
:|

Not that I'm unhappy, but...
Oh, well. Yay!
 
http://buckyballracing.org.uk/images/brc_banner_512.png
[SIZE=+2]The Buckyballer's guide to Engineering[/SIZE]
This guide aims to explain the concepts of engineer modifications when applied to racing. It will help your ship fly faster and jump further. Engineer modifications for modules other than those typically used in racing are not discussed in this guide.

Buckyball races usually involve starting at a particular starport, jumping to one or more other starports or bases and finishing at a designated dock. As such they favour lightweight ships with the best frame shift drive and fuel scoop. Buckyballing as a verb has entered the game's lexicon to describe travelling quickly from one point to another. Racers often fit high rated thrusters and power distributor to give them extra speed when docking and launching. Weapons and armour are almost never fitted to racing ships, and shields are generally considered optional.

Fair warning: there is some science. You can ignore it and skip straight to the recommendations. The science is taken mainly from discussions on this forum. I do not claim to have discovered or invented any of the information presented here.

For more Buckyballing advice please visit the Buckyball Flight Academy.

[SIZE=+1]Essential modules[/SIZE]
[SIZE=+1]Frame Shift Drive[/SIZE]
If you modify one module, make it this one.

[SIZE=+1]The science[/SIZE]
The four stats relevant to FSD jump range are:
  • Optimised mass: You jump further the more your total mass is less than this.
  • Max fuel per jump: The more fuel you can spend on the jump, the further you go.
  • Fuel power and Multiplier are hidden stats which affect the calculations.
All drives of the same class have the same fuel power. All drives of the same rating have the same multiplier.

ClassFuel power
22.00
32.15
42.30
52.45
62.60
72.75
RatingMultiplier
A0.0120
B0.0100
C0.0080
D0.0010
E0.0011

The formula to calculate the range that a given loadout can achieve is as follows:

(optimised mass / total mass) * (fuel cost / multiplier)(1 / fuel power)

The total mass parameter is the total mass of the ship including hull, modules, cargo and fuel. The fuel cost parameter is the amount of fuel that will be expended for the jump. Since we are concerned with the maximum range, we can interpret the fuel cost as the max fuel per jump of the drive, ie we will use as much fuel as we are allowed.

From this we can see that: optimised mass is by far the most important stat. For a constant ship mass, eg a fully laden ship, the range is directly proportional to the optimised mass. Furthermore, increasing the total mass to be shifted increases the fuel cost and decreases the range.

Larger increases to the drive's optimised mass are traded against a corresponding increase in mass of the drive itself. However, comparing the optimised mass and module mass stats shows that the benefit imparted by the optimised mass increase far outweighs the impact of the module mass increase.

DriveOptimised massMass
A7270080
A6180040
A5105020
A452510
A31505
A2902.5
Example:
Consider a Diamondback Explorer with a A2 power plant, D4 thrusters, A5 frame shift drive, D3 life support, D3 power distributor, D3 sensors and C4 fuel tank. The total mass of the ship when fully fueled is 345.3T. Given that an A5 FSD has optimised mass 1050T and max fuel per jump 5T, the ship's laden range is thus:

(optimised mass / total mass) * (fuel cost / multiplier)(1 / fuel power)
= (1050 / 345.3) * (5 / 0.012)(1 / 2.45)
= 3.0408 * 416.6667 0.4082
= 3.0408 * 11.7301
= 35.6688

The range displayed in outfitting is 35.67Ly.

With an Increased FSD Range modification increasing optimised mass by 43% and the module's mass by 40% the new optimised mass is 1501.5T and the new mass is 28T (up from 20T). The new laden range is:

(optimised mass / total mass) * (fuel cost / multiplier)(1 / fuel power)
= (1501.5 / 353.3) * (5 / 0.012)(1 / 2.45)
= 4.2499 * 416.6667 0.4082
= 4.2499 * 11.7301
= 49.8517

Or 49.85Ly. Up by 39.75% which is close to the 43% optimised mass multiplier on the modification.
TL;DR
A good rule of thumb is that an n% increase in optimal mass gives close to an n% increase in jump range.

[SIZE=+1]The modification[/SIZE]
Simple recommendation. You want the Increased FSD Range mod. Every time.

The higher the optimised mass and the lower the mass you roll, the better. Look for a secondary effect boosting max fuel per jump. When comparing two mods, the one with higher optimised mass will usually be better. Check the formula in the spoiler section above to confirm.

The alternatives
Faster FSD Boot Sequence decreases the time to power on the drive after it has been disabled. It's arguably useful for combat ships which need to manage their power usage carefully. Racers will have their drive powered at all times and thus not benefit from this mod.

Shielded FSD improves the integrity and heat management of the drive. Much more useful for combat ships.



[SIZE=+1]Thrusters[/SIZE]
[SIZE=+1]The science[/SIZE]
Thrusters aren't hard to understand but they aren't particularly easy to explain.
Each ship has a base speed and base boost speed. These values are not displayed anywhere in the game, although they can be calculated and are reported on the online ship building websites. Fitting better quality thrusters increases your speed, as does reducing your mass. Your ship's final speed is derived from its base speed by a multiplier. As the name implies, the multiplier is simply a scaling factor applied to the base. It turns out that the same multiplier is applied to the cruise and boost speeds.

Each thruster has a minimal mass, a optimal mass and a maximal mass stat. You can't fit a thruster to a ship whose total mass is greater than the thruster's maximal mass, and you can't add modules to ships if doing so would push the ship over the maximal mass. If the ship's mass is at or below the thruster's minimal mass you will get the best performance. The optimal mass is somewhere in the middle.

Additionally, thrusters have minimal multiplier, optimal multiplier and maximal multiplier stats.
  • The minimal multiplier is the multiplier applied to the ship's base speed when its mass is at the maximal mass value of the thruster; the ship will not fly slower than base speed * minimal multiplier with that thruster fitted.
  • The optimal multiplier is the multiplier applied when the ship's mass is at the optimal mass value.
  • The maximal multiplier is the multiplier applied when the ship is at or below the minimal mass value; the ship will not fly faster than base speed * maximal multiplier.
All standard, ie not Enhanced Performance, thrusters have an optimal multiplier of 1.0 which means that regardless of thruster class or rating if your ship is at the optimal mass for its thrusters it will fly at its base speed.

All thrusters of the same rating have the same multipliers. Thrusters of higher class have higher mass values across the board.

RatingMinOptMax
A0.961.01.16
B0.931.01.13
C0.901.01.10
D0.861.01.06
E0.831.01.03
To make things more interesting, thrusters actually have three sets of mass and multiplier stats. There are individual values for top speed, acceleration and turn rate. However, standard thrusters have the same multipliers for each of the three sets and all thrusters of the same class have the same mass values for each set.

Things get interesting when we look at Enhanced Performance thrusters.

AccelerationSpeedTurn
MinOptMaxMinOptMaxMinOptMax
0.901.101.200.901.251.600.901.101.30

The outfitting UI only shows one set of multipliers, and it turns out that the numbers shown on the screen are the mean average of the three values for each multipliers. For example the maximal multiplier for Enhanced Performance thrusters is shown as 1.37, which is (1.2 + 1.6 + 1.3) / 3.

At time of writing the exact formula for speed at an arbitrary given mass is not known. When your ship is between the optimal and minimal mass it will have a speed multiplier linearly interpolated between the optimal and maximal multiplier.

optimal multiplier + (((optimal mass - mass) / (optimal mass - minimal mass)) * (maximal multiplier - optimal multiplier))

Interpolation of speed between optimal and maximal mass is not linear; further research is ongoing to determine the precise formula. However, for the purposes of this guide that doesn't matter, for two reasons: when racing you will be aiming to keep your ship mass at or below the minimal mass at all times, and the results of the engineering modification are applied to all multipliers.

When the engineer modification shows, for example, an increase of 20% in optimal multiplier that actually means that all nine multipliers are increased by 20%. Consequently your ship's final speed will be improved by approximately 20% regardless of where on the curve its mass falls.

Similarly, a decrease in optimal mass implies an identical decrease to all mass values. That makes it harder to keep your ship below the optimal mass value but as we are racing the effect will be more than adequately counteracted by the optimal multiplier increase.

In other words you might not reach as high on the curve but when the whole curve is raised the benefit is still worthwhile.

Example:
Suppose a Cobra Mk III (base speed 280, base boost speed 400) were fitted with an A2 power plant, A4 thrusters, A4 FSD, D3 life support, A3 power distributor, D3 sensors and C3 fuel tank. Its total mass would be 218.3T.
Linearly interpolating the actual mass between the optimal mass 420T and the minimal mass 210T we see that 218.3T is:

(optimal mass - mass) / (optimal mass - minimal mass)
= (420 - 218.3) / (420 - 210)
= 201.7 / 210
= 0.9604

The ship's mass is approximately 96% between optimal and minimal. Applying that scaling factor to the multiplier we can determine a value between the optimal and maximal multipliers and hence the ship's speed.

optimal multiplier + (scale * (maximal multiplier - optimal multiplier))
= 1.00 + (0.9604 * (1.16 - 1.00))
= 1.00 + (0.9604 * 0.16)
= 1.00 + 0.1536

So the ship's multiplier is 1.1536 for a speed of 323m/s boosting to 461m/s.

Now suppose we apply a grade 5 Dirty Drive Tuning modification giving a 27% increase to optimal multiplier and a 14% decrease to optimal mass. The new minimal, optimal and maximal masses are 180.6T, 361.2T and 541.8T respectively and the minimal, optimal and maximal multipliers are 1.22, 1.27 and 1.47.

The scaling factor is now:

(optimal mass - mass) / (optimal mass - minimal mass)
= (361.2 - 218.3) / (361.2 - 180.6)
= 142.9 / 180.6
= 0.7912

The penalty to optimal mass means the ship is now only 79% between optimal and minimal. However the bonus to multipliers is more than enough to compensate.

optimal multiplier + (scale * (maximal multiplier - optimal multiplier))
= 1.27 + (0.7912 * (1.47 - 1.27))
= 1.27 + (0.7912 * 0.20)
= 1.27 + 0.1582

The final multiplier is 1.4282 for a speed of almost 400m/s boosting to 571m/s.

Note that the modified speed of 400m/s is a 23.8% increase over the unmodified speed of 323m/s; not far off the 27% optimal multiplier bonus listed on the modification.
TL;DR
An n% increase in optimal multiplier can give up to an n% increase in cruise and boost speed.

[SIZE=+1]The modification[/SIZE]
Dirty Drive Tuning gives the best increase to optimal multiplier. It is the mod to choose for the absolute best speed increase. However it comes at a significant cost to thermal load and power draw. Additionally, if your ship is already fairly fast you may not get the best bang per buck from this mod. The station entrance is a small target at 500m/s; having a ship that's too fast to control safely is no real advantage.

The higher the optimal multiplier and the lower the optimised mass you roll, the better. If your loadout is well below the unmodified thruster's minimal mass you might even be able to ignore the optimised mass penalty altogether.

The alternatives
Clean Drive Tuning offers a smaller increase to optimal multiplier (up to 18% at grade 5 compared to 29% for dirty drive tuning) with a slightly bigger increase in power draw and a decrease in thermal load. Clean drive tuning is a good choice for races which involve a lot of fuel scooping or for ships which have high base speeds.

Drive Strengthening improves integrity and reduces thermal load while increasing the module mass and decreasing optimal multiplier. Most of the time those are not advantages for racers.



[SIZE=+1]Power Distributor[/SIZE]
[SIZE=+1]The science[/SIZE]
A power distributor stores energy for systems, engines and weapons. Each of those subsystems has separate stats for:
  • Capacity measured in MJ; the amount of energy which can be stored for distribution to the subsystem.
  • Recharge measured in MW (ie MJ per second); the rate at which the capacitor recharges, assuming four pips to the subsystem in question.
Each ship, regardless of fitted thrusters, has a hidden minimum boost energy value measured in MW. The stat is not shown anywhere but has been calculated and is available to the online ship building websites. The ship will only be able to boost if its power distributor has at least that amount of energy stored, regardless of pip allocation. That is why ships with smaller power distributors are unable to boost at all, and why any ship is unable to boost if its capacitor is drained.

Additionally there is a four second cooldown on boost. Even if enough energy is available you must wait before being able to boost again.

It follows, therefore, that a ship will be able to chain boosts if its power distributor can recharge enough energy in four seconds to reach a total energy charge not less than the ship's boost energy requirement.

You can boost again if:
energy - boost energy + (recharge rate * 4) >= boost energy
ie
energy + (recharge rate * 4) >= (2 * boost energy)

Note that when you press your boost button exactly one of three things will happen:
  • You will boost. Yay!
  • You will get the "insufficient charge in capacitor" error message.
  • Neither of the above.
If nothing happens it means the cooldown period has not elapsed yet. The insufficient charge message is only shown when the ship is otherwise ready to boost.

Engineer modifications are able to increase either the capacity or recharge rate of a distributor. The bigger the improvement the less time you will need to wait between boosting.

There are five engineer modifications which can be applied to power distributors. Two can be discounted for racing, the Systems Focused and Weapons Focused Power Distributor modifications. Engines Focused Power Distributor increases the engines capacity and recharge rates while reducing capacity and recharge rates for both systems and weapons. High Charge Capacity Power Distributor increases the total capacity for all subsystems while decreasing recharge rates. Charge Enhanced Power Distributor increases the recharge rates for all subsystems while decreasing the maximum capacity. The focused modification has a maximum grade of 3 whereas the general modifications go up to grade 5.

The best capacity value is from High Charge Capacity grade 5 followed by Focused grade 3 and then Charge Enhanced grade 5. Conversely the best recharge rate is from Charge Enhanced grade 5 followed by Focused grade 3 and then High Charge Capacity grade 5.
[SIZE=+1]The modification[/SIZE]
In terms of increasing the number of consecutive boosts which your ship can achieve, Engine Focused offers the best bang for buck by increasing both capacity and recharge rate.

There are no real downsides to the modification for racers. All other subsystems have their capacity and recharge rate reduced. We don't care about those.

The alternatives
Ships with a large power distributor may actually benefit more from Charge Enhanced Power Distributor if their recharge rate is not quite sufficient to chain boosts.

Avoid High Charge Capacity Power Distributor. If your recharge rate alone were enough to let you keep boosting you wouldn't need a modification at all, so a small increase in capacity is at best only likely to give you one extra boost.

TL;DR
Get Engined Focused unless you have a Python, in which case ask yourself why you are racing with a Python.

[SIZE=+1]Other modules[/SIZE]
[SIZE=+1]Power Plant[/SIZE]
If you have applied modifications to other modules you may need quite a lot of power. Dirty drive tuned Enhanced Performance thrusters can use more power than the rest of your modules combined. Increasing the power output of your power plant may allow you to fit a smaller class power plant and hence reduce your ship's total mass.

Note that A rated power plants have the best thermal efficiency. Reducing mass by fitting a D rated plant may be a false economy on races which require lots of scooping.

[SIZE=+1]The modification[/SIZE]
Overcharged Power Plant can increase your power output by 35% at grade 5. The mod is well worth it if it means you can fit a lower class power plant and still power your modules.

The alternatives
Both Low Emissions Power Plant and Armoured Power Plant increase mass for no real racing benefit.



[SIZE=+1]Shield Generator[/SIZE]
Although racers often don't fit shields, races do sometimes take place in dangerous areas. If you do choose to fit a shield there are modifications which you can apply.

[SIZE=+1]The modification[/SIZE]
Enhanced, Low Power Shields is a no-brainer, reducing power draw and mass.

The alternatives
Kinetic Resistant Shields and Thermal Resistant Shields increase resistance to the named damage type at a cost of decreased resistance to the other. Reinforced Shields increases damage resistance while increasing power draw and extending the length of time it takes to recharge the shield.



[SIZE=+1]Armour[/SIZE]
Unlikely to be worthwhile. If there's one thing Buckyballers do well, however, it's find niche uses.

[SIZE=+1]The modification[/SIZE]
Blast Resistant Armour, Kinetic Resistant Armour and Thermal Resistant Armour increase resistance to the named damage type at a cost of decreased resistance to the other two. Heavy Duty Armour increases resistance across the board and is essentially free because the notional side-effect - an increase in module mass - doesn't apply to lightweight alloys.

These mods may be useful for racing in an area of space where you are likely to be attacked, or if you have a tendency to crash into things like other ships or stations. Try not to do that.

The alternatives
Lightweight Armour reduces the mass of ship armour at a cost of reduced damage resistance. However it does not apply to lightweight alloys. You cannot use it to get a free mass reduction on a racing ship. It would potentially be useful on short range races involving landing on planetary surfaces, as boosting straight into the ground is very efficient for approaching surface bases. Fitting a bulkhead upgrade to facilitate safe(r) divebombing could be useful if you are able to do it without compromising range or cruise speed too badly.

I do not race but this information is fantastic and a BIG thank you. I am always amazed that there are players that can fathom all of this data to produce information that serves many players very well. Excellent. Hey, I fly em not build em. :cool:

CMIV
 
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interesting read!

i did a similar list for explorers, and we were discussing "Heavy Duty Armour" quite a bit - is it true, that it helps with crashing into things, e.g. does it mitigate damage from station or surface crashs? or is it true, that ramming/crashin damage bypasses armour?
Do you have a link to that Goemon as I would be interested to read it? Cheers
 
TL;DR
Get Engined Focused unless you have a Python, in which case ask yourself why you are racing with a Python.

And just because of this, you made my day!!!!

This is an impressive amount of work in a single page. Keep it up!!!
 
[size=+1]Misc. Shielded[/size]
Fuel scooping is often necessary in long races and is essential for Buckyballing in the colloquial sense; getting from A to B quickly. Scooping for long periods, or indeed for short periods if your heavily-modified ship has low integrity, causes heat buildup which soon damages modules and can eventually affect the hull. Losing cargo in a smuggling race because your cargo hatch overheated and malfunctioned is a frustrating experience.

The Misc. Shielded group of modifications can increase module integrity, slowing the buildup of heat when scooping and thus allowing longer scooping before having to move away, deploy a heat sink or repair. The Fuel Scoop itself particularly benefits from shielding, as do Auto Field-Maintenance Units. AFMUs have no mass so can be useful to repair mid-race.

Shielding comes at a cost of increased power draw. The modification may not be worthwhile if it requires upgrading to a heavier power plant to support it.
[???]
That... doesn't make sense to me... I thought higher power draw = more heat?
Is there data to backup the claim that higher integrity slows heat buildup? (I thought it only makes the module last longer when taking heat damage.)

For fun, I put G4 Shielded on my scoop (very nice roll too), but my Courier still hit 85% filling the tank after 1 jump.
At best, the increased power draw doesn't seem to add enough heat to worry about. I certainly didn't notice "slower" heat buildup.
 
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