Thursday, December 23, 2010

How To: The Directional Scanner

One of the most important tools of survival in a wormhole is the directional scanner or d-scan. For the uninitiated, the d-scan is that tab next to the probe scan that lets you see other ships. In wormhole space where there is no local, the d-scan becomes the main tool pod pilots will use to determine if trouble is on the horizon. Therefore, knowing the strengths and limitations of such a tool is vitally important if one wishes to keep his ship intact.

However, this is not always the case. Most pilots I come across just hit the button every so often, not realizing what they are doing or how to d-scan properly. I will be outlining how to use the d-scan, as well as advanced tips and tricks to become even more proficient.

The directional scanner is located on your overview in the set of five buttons just to the left of the HP/Capacitor hub. It is the button that looks like a radar and is located in the center of the 5 buttons. If you don't see it, you may have them hidden. Click the arrow pointing to the left just under the left side of the HP bars. Clicking the arrow again will hide the buttons to clean up your overview if you so desire.

Chances are when you click this button you will be on your System Scanner tab, as it is the tab that has your ship's on-board scanner as well as the interface needed for using a probe launcher if you have probes. Next to this tab is the Directional Scan, click on it. It will bring up a rather drab window with only four options: a checkbox for Use Active Overview Settings, a Range box for imputing range in km, an angle slider, and of course, the scan button.

Working backwards, the Scan button is the button you press to initiate scan. Previously, pilots used to be able to “spam” this button and get results every time they pressed the button. However, CCP in their infinite “wisdom” decided to fix this (why this and not so many other broken things is beyond me) by instituting a “Scanner Recalibration Time” of literally 1 sec. Yeah, I know, sweeping change. The scan results you get will be based on the three options and where your camera is pointed.

First setting is the Angle Slider. For most wormhole operations, the angle slider will be set to 360 degrees. This allows a scan in all directions up to the range specified. By sliding the slider, you can set the scan to be 360, 180, 90, 60, 30, 15, and 5 degrees. Each set of scan results below 360 degrees requires the camera to be positioned in the direction you want to scan. This is very important. It is the camera through which you view the game, not the direction your ship is facing. Think of the camera is the directional scanner itself. Point it at the object or direction you wish to scan. A 180 degree scan when you are looking at the front of your ship will scan everything 180 degrees behind you. A 5 degree scan will be a thin needle in space, used to scan something very precise.

The second setting is the range. For most wormhole operations, you are going to want to scan at max range. Max range for a D-scan is 14.35 AU. However, the range box lists ranges in km, not AU. In order to set your scanner for max range just put a bunch of 9's in the box and it will automatically set itself for 2,147,483,647 km. This is max range in km, approximately 14.35 AU.

The third setting and perhaps the most vital is the checkbox for use active overview settings. This is where having a properly set up overview will do wonders for your scanning. In one of the last patches CCP allowed a check box for probes on overview, so the D-scan can now pick them up without having to do a general scan. If the box is unchecked, the D-scan will do a general scan that picks up everything, and I mean everything. Star, moons, planets, POS modules, ships, probes, wrecks, cargo containers, everything. Prior to the patch it was the only way we could check for probes, unless you hacked your overview. If its checked, it will scan and only show results based on objects that will appear on your overview.

Nowadays, pretty much all of my scanning is done with a check in the current overview settings box. Only when I'm POS hunting do I uncheck and switch to general. The main thing I will usually be scanning for is ships, so the majority of the time I have it on what I call my Clear tab or Ships tab. This tab on my overview only shows me ships so I can spam the scan button and not have to sift through line after line of POS information to see if there might be a ship lurking nearby.

Setting it up is easy. On your overview click on the arrow to bring up the menu and click on “Open overview settings”. Under the Filter tab click on the Types tab. These are all the objects you can click on to have appear on your overview. Under Asteroids make sure none are selected. Same for Celestial. Under charge make sure you have all of them selected, especially probes! Under Deployable check Moble Warp Disruptor. Under Drones select none. Although I would recommend selecting fighters only. Under Entity select all except the following: Large Collidable Ship, Large Collidable Structure, and Spawn Container. Under NPC's select all. Under Planetary Interaction select none. Under Ship be sure to select all! And finally, be sure to have nothing selected under Sovereignty Structures, Station, and Structure. Although its up to you if you want Sovereignty Structures. Again, the idea is to have a tab that only shows ships, preferably the enemy.

After you've got all those checked, click on the “States” tab next to the “Filter” tab. Be sure to check all except Pilot is in your alliance, pilot is in your corporation, and pilot is in your fleet. Now click on the arrow again and select “Save Current Type Selection as....” and name in something like Clear or Ships or whatever. Now assign those settings to a tab on your overview. Congratulations, you now have a ship scanning tab! You will also find it helpful in combat, although you might want to create a similar tab that includes drones.

Now with that box checked, your d-scan will show only ships, including those of your fleet (there is no way for the d-scan to differentiate between ships of your fleet and ships of the enemy). This is really helpful in wormhole operations since you no longer have to sift through several POS structures to find the ships you are looking for. A quick scan, a quick glance and you are done.

When running ops, you want to keep an eye on the D-scan with settings 360 at max range. Because there is no local, it will be the only way you know trouble is on the horizon unless your op is extremely well scouted. But when else should you be d-scanning?

I do a lot of d-scanning as soon as I jump into a new wormhole. Once I jump in I do several things before I move and lose my jump cloak. First is check overview to see if there are a bunch of people waiting for me. If that's clear, I then bookmark and bring up my D-scan. With the clear tab still selected I perform a 360 scan, looking for ships nearby. I will then deselect the box and do a general scan. Now, before I even moved and lost my jump cloak, I have several bits of information. I know if there is anyone waiting for me, I know if there are any ships nearby, and I know if there are any POS within 14.35 AU. I also have a bookmark for me to jump back to in case during my exploration it gets a bit hostile.

Usually my next step from there varies. If there are hostiles, I try to find them. If the system is bigger then 14.35 AU, I warp around to cover the system to see whats around before even launching probes. I also look around for the POS. If the system is unoccupied, simply drop probes and get on with your business. If I see a POS on D-scan, then I try to find it. The easy way to do it is warp around until you hit it on 360 max scan. When you do, look at the list, especially at the bottom. See all the planets? Those are the planets you have to check. Reduce the slider to 5 degrees. Hold the ALT button. See the box that appears around your ship? Use that as a focusing lens. Place that box over the circle where the planet is then hit scan. You will perform a 5 degree scan that should only get that planet and moons. Check the results to see if you hit the POS. Continue doing this til you narrow down which planet they are nearby.

Now warp to the planet some arbitrary distance (never warp to 0 in hostile space!). Bring up your solar system map and zoom in on your current position. You can quickly see how may moons the planet has and the distance to each. Look at the furthest moon and note the distance. In your D-scan window, set that distance to slightly more then the distance of the farthest moon. Now close your map. If you have a moons tab (just like a clear tab but under Celestial you will have moons selected) select it then click on a moon. Once it is selected, a box will appear in space as to where that moon is located. Line up the box that represents the moon and your ship's ALT box and perform a 5 degree scan, just as you did the planets. As soon as the POS appears on the results, check to be sure only one moon is included in the results. Sometimes you will line up two moons perfectly. If two moons (or more) are listed with the POS results, you can either guess and warp or note the distance and reset the scanner distance for someplace in between. If the POS disappears, its on the further moon. If its still on the results, then its the closer moon. Congratulations! You have quickly located the enemy POS!

I will usually at that point try to find a place that is at least 15 AU out from any hostiles to then launch probes. That way I don't appear on their d-scans.

You can also use the d-scan to locate enemy ships running anoms. It used to be harder to do as you had to do some 3D guesswork to narrowly scan down each anom, but with the new changes its easier then ever. If they are running radar, mag, grav or ladar you won't be able to scan them down using just d-scan. Those require probes of some kind, either combat to scan the ships or core to scan down the site. However, you can use the d-scan in combination with the ships on board scanner to find and warp to them, without ever deploying a probe!

If you see several ships on d-scan you suspect are running anoms, first locate the planet they are closest to. Anoms generally appear within 4 AU of a planet, so use this to your advantage. Set your d-scan range for 750,000,000 km (which is roughly 5 AU) and perform 360 scans on each planet you suspect they are near. Once you've found them, switch to the System Scanner tab and hit analyze. Your ships on board scanner will then find all the anoms nearby. If there is only one, its a pretty good bet they are there. If there is more then one, you have to do a bit more work. Bookmark the anom results. Now, set your ship scanner for roughly 15 or 30 degrees. Align your ship to each bookmark, swing your camera directly behind your ship and hit scan. Repeat until you've found them.

Not so hard is it?

With this information you should be all set to practice. If you already live in a wormhole, try d-scanning your neighbor's POS. Keep practicing until you can do it quickly. For those of you who do not, simply go to low sec in a fast aligning frigate or covert ops and practice by d-scanning other people's ships. The more you practice, the faster you will get at using the scanner and the more proficient pilot you will become.

Looking for some graphs and more explanation?  Check out Grismar's Guide!