UA Mystery thread 4 - The Canonn

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Welcome to the new Unknown Artifact (or artefact) thread!

The old one reached an event horizon where the forums would no longer cope with it, so we have a lovely new thread for you with plenty of room.

The first thread is here - and the second is here, and the third here

There's another thread on it here -

There is also wiki - and a whole website at

Now over to Arcanonn who will be your host...

yes it's spelled canonn here, as a nod to Arcanonn who started this...
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UA RESEARCH NOTES...Courtesy of RedWizzard



Since 1.4 was released UAs can be found in systems that are between approximately 135 and 150 Ly of Merope. There is a list of confirmed systems in the Canonn Scientific Data Archive: 1.4 UA Spawn Systems. In these systems a single UA will appear as salvage in most Strong Signal Sources. Usually a SSS will appear within a few minutes of arrival in the system but it has been known to take up to about 30 minutes. Our recommendation is that if you don’t find a UA (in a system that is the correct distance from Merope) within 10 minutes then try another system.
Prior to 1.4, salvage (aka “free-floating”) UAs could be found in systems near (or in) the Pleiades nebula, though they were much rarer than they are now. It would regularly take eight hours or longer to find a single UA. These salvage UAs were only confirmed in 1.3 but may have also existed in 1.2. Exactly which systems they appear in was difficult to determine due to their rarity. In both 1.2 and 1.3 UAs could also be found in heavily armed convoys found in SSS in systems in the bubble. These convoys were easily identified by the distinctive local comms chatter broadcast by the Type-9 carrying the UA. No UA carrying convoy has yet been sighted in 1.4.


  • The first thing you may notice is that they scan your ship. This happens as soon as you close to within 1000m of the UA (which may happen as soon as you drop into the SSS).
  • The UA will orient itself so the that the spherical/bulbous end points towards Merope system (and Merope star when inside the system). A UA that is bumped will reorient itself. There have been a small number of cases where a UA has been seen not oriented toward Merope; it is unknown whether this is significant behaviour or a bug.
  • UAs broadcast a complex audio signal. Part of the signal has been decoded. It is a highly stylised Morse code transmission consisting of blocks of 6 letters. When each pair of letters is taken as coordinates and each block is interpreted as a triangle the resulting diagram is a primitive drawing of the just scanned (i.e. your) ship.
  • When scooped you’ll notice that UAs are toxic cargo and cause damage to the internal components of your ship. If not mitigated they will corrode the cargo hatch to the point where it fails and then fall out. This damage increases if multiple UAs are carried.
  • UAs are illegal throughout the bubble but can be sold at black markets. As of 1.4 the price appears to be fixed at 150,000 Cr.

Generally a single UA is quite easy to care for, but you will have to be careful carrying more than a couple. The primary concern is the internal systems damage. Here are some tips to handle this:

  • First and foremost keep an eye on your cargo hatch. If it fails in normal space you can usually recover any cargo that falls out, provided you notice. However if it fails in supercruise then you are out of luck.
  • Carry one or more Auto Field-Maintenance Units. You need to keep your cargo hatch above 75-80% to prevent malfunctions.
  • Carry some additional (less valuable) cargo so that if your cargo hatch does fail you won’t necessarily lose the UA.
  • Have a lot of modules. The more modules in your ship, the more the damage will be spread out and the less your cargo hatch will suffer.
  • If you’re travelling long distance, jump quickly. From the time you arrive in a system you have 30 seconds until the first damage occurs. If you can scoop fuel (if necessary), find your next destination, and get to the jump countdown before the damage triggers, then you will avoid all damage in that system and get a new 30 second window in the next system. UAs have successfully been taken to Sagittarius A* this way.
  • If you’re carrying 3 or more UAs, you need to be lucky. More than two UAs hitting the cargo hatch simultaneously can cause it to malfunction even if it was at 100%.

  • Existence of the UAs was foreshadowed in the trailer for 1.2: the point-of-view character was allegedly transporting one to Leonard Nimoy Station in LHS 3006 (though note there were no signs of module degradation as would be expected if a UA was actually on board).
  • Arcanonn (whose name “The Canonn” is derived from) started a thread about the various mysteries and hints that appeared around 1.2. The thread quickly focused on the UA. Michael Brookes asked if we had “listened to it”.
  • After much searching we managed to find UAs being carried by large, heavily armed convoys found in Strong Signal Sources in various systems. The Type-9 carrying the UA in these convoys broadcast unusual chat messages about the UA.
  • The first UA was recovered from such a convoy in Timocani and we immediately noticed it’s odd appearance, the distortion and particle cloud effects, it’s unique audio, and the damage it does to internal systems (apparently identical to toxic waste canisters). Through most of 1.2 and 1.3 UAs were recovered from these convoys at a rate of about 1 per week or two.
  • Much effort was spent trying to figure out if there was any sort of message to be found in the audio. Eventually (after 1.3 was released) it was confirmed that one of the audio components was Morse code for the name of the nearest celestial body.
  • Towards the end of 1.3 an XBox player found a UA floating as salvage in a SSS in HR 1185 (which is near the Pleiades nebula). It quickly became apparently that these “free-floating” UAs were much easier to find than the convoys. UAs were being recovered at a rate of one every day or so.
  • The 1.4 beta revealed new behaviour which has been since confirmed in 1.4 proper: UAs in space now orient themselves to point towards Merope. If they are nudged they will quickly turn to realign themselves. They also scan ships that approach within 1000m.
  • Near the end of the beta it was discovered that systems near Aries Dark Region GW-W d1-52 produce free-floating UAs at a much higher rate than previous seen. Typically a SSS containing a UA will be found in that system within minutes of arrival. This also occurs in 1.4 proper.
  • A couple of Galnet articles announced the creation of a Federal research programme under Professor Ishmael Palin to investigate the UAs, and then the termination of said programme only days later. Apparently the Federation knows something about these things and isn’t interested in sharing. The Empire and the Alliance have both been suspiciously silent.
  • In 1.4 we discovered that the Morse code broadcast by the UA had changed. Instead of a celestial body name it was a series of semi-random letters. The signals are coordinates defining 2D triangles that make up a crude line drawing of the ship that the UA just scanned.
  • The systems known to spawn free-floating UAs have been found to form a shell around Merope, between 135 and 150 Ly from that system.
  • Galnet reported technical difficulties plaguing first the Warkushanui system and then 49 Arietis as well. The articles suggest the UAs may be the cause though this is currently unconfirmed.
  • Galnet reported that Professor Palin has restarted his research program independently of the Federation at Christian Dock in the Nganji system.

The UAs are the subject of the largest ever thread on the Frontier forums (yes, even bigger than the Open vs Solo flamewar), nearly 30,000 posts in three (and now four) threads:
The Threadnaut aka Megathread aka “I’m not f’n reading all of that”, Part III
The Threadnaut aka Megathread aka “I’m not f’n reading all of that”, Part II
The Threadnaut aka Megathread aka “I’m not f’n reading all of that”, Part I
The UA Wiki page has a lot of useful information, though it is not updated as diligently as it once was.
There is a Reddit for UA discussion:

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Right 4th thread the Fantastic Four.

This has discussed at length but perhaps a fresh perspective may help reveal something.

1. A free floating UA scans your ship when you approach within 1KM of it. From my previous observations of a jettisoned UA they immediately scan you as they are less than 1KM.
2. The UA is a VERY small object just a bit larger than a human being. I practically had it tapping against the cockpit viewscreen and could easily notice the size difference with the pilot (Asp Explorer)
5. The UA is unshielded or presents no obvious defensive system.
4. The UA seems to emit a variety of signals/sounds 1. a rumble, 2. a "positive" tone, 3. a "negative" tone, 4. the morse sound and. 5. a slimy zipper sound almost like an alien bud opening.
5. The UA glows at regular intervals while performing its function.

Couple of things here... everything about the UA seems binary.... The UA appears to either be lit up or dormant, it transmits what I would call a "positive" tone which I believe some call the howl, and a "negative tone the honk, and finally morse can be seen as a binary response dot vs dash much like a 1 vs 0.

After staring at the thing for about 30+ minutes this seems to be the programming:

0. Rumble.... Rumble.... (standby mode)
1. Positive or Negative signal (always alternating)
2. Light up (from back to forward filling in the gaps almost like a liquid gauge filling itself up)
3. Slimy zipper sound winding up
4. Morse transmission
5. Slimy zipper sound winding down
6. Lights out.

The program then repeats but with the opposite starting signal.

Everything about this looks to me like a radio powering up and then going offline and as I mentioned before makes me think that if an external stimulus is to solve or access the UA's next programming it may have to be done during the powered up state. I almost feel like a ham radio operator may be what is needed to get this case cracked. The other thing that seems important is the faint but definite "slimy zipper sound" throughout the transmission. The sound is there, faint almost too high of a frequency to make anything out of it but it is definitely there almost like an organic power source... Perhaps if there is a way to disrupt the signal or transmission mid sentence by messing with the power source the UA may go into some sort of self diagnostic mode and start spitting out different transmissions... ideally a log of activities since it became operational which could be traced back to the source.... who knows. One thing is for sure there is a lot of detail in this object and everything seems to indicate that any of it is no accident and shouldn't be treated as meaningless fluff.


One thing I forgot to mention about the UA was the background whirring/whizzing that is constant that seems to go with the cloud of zippying particles. That sound itself reminds me of the episode of Star Trek (The Original Series) when captain Kirk meets the race of sped up beings who lived way too fast to be perceptible by human senses except for one odd sound. In one scene Spock takes a regular conversation / event and starts speeding it up exponentially until it sounds almost like the whirring/whizzing background sound the UA makes.

The "slimy zipper sound(TM)" (I'll claim that term though it sounds gross)... honestly sounds like some sort of alien egg hatching, however what I noticed last night that I had never noticed before, is that when that happens it doesn't stop a high pitched whizz is still audible throughout the whole transmission and then it shuts down... If I was to visualize what that looks like I'd say almost like an alien flower (think Super Mario) opening and then closing....

The research.... continues
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Hi guys, can we list the latest areas the ua's are found in and how their found. We can make an up to date map.
It's pretty simple actually start from Merope and find a system 131-149LY from it and you got it... my experience though is the closer to human space the higher the chance of getting ANY kind of spawn.
Hello there, I'm adding these useful links as well:

The complete list of all the decoded signals for each ship:

The tool to draw the signals:

Red's 3D visual tool for visualizing UA locations in Space:

Just an example of our MORSE visual decoding method, using Sonic Visualizer:
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Errr, Gurrachaa Gateway has commodities market available. No outfitting or shipyard because it's a small outpost?

e: bah, wrong system.
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I'm about to enter the Aries Dark Region. Any tips on what I should do if I find a UA? I've got an unshielded, weaponless Asp.
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