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Engineering LASERs (!non-combat!) working as pointers/range-finders

Discussion in 'Suggestions and Feedback' started by Zephram, Sep 15, 2014.

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This last post in this thread was made more than 31 days old.
  1. Zephram

    Zephram Apprentice Engineer

    This is a suggestion of a new block producing simple laser dot illumination. This idea can be expanded further for another uses such as measurement or rangefinder.

    Motivation: To be able to analyze position of the ship or its part. Making precise drilling, welding, grinding, connecting, landing, (and weapons targeting) easier.

    Current situation: Manually controlled weapon launchers (Gatling guns and missiles) do this* as side effect. It helps targeting. But it is overkill to install expensive and bulky gun just for targeting.
    * - I think it works this way from the videos. I have not used weapons in SE yet.

    Suggestion: Make a 1x1x1 block or placeable artifact-like equivalent of interior light. This would work as light (laser source) without beam visible** producing dot at the first surface it hits. As we already use green (532 nm?) and red (632.8 nm?) lasers for weapons targeting/target searching, this "engineering laser" could be blue or yellow (447 nm or 589 nm respectively) to stress its non-combat use. And it should not be tunable to other colors by players.

    Function: Imagine bigger small ship with connector on its front side, but not extended. So it is not visible from cockpit and you have to estimate its position. If there is laser-pointer block just beside connector, targeting will be much easier even from 1st person cockpit view, without switch to 3rd person, multiple view rotating, adjusting, etc. No switching of cameras needed for such simple task as connecting the ship. If there are two laser pointers on the both sides of connector then it is even better and it would look good. Cross (Von Neumann neighborhood) formed from 4 points would be even better, complete Moore neighborhood with eightpoint square would be probably overkill.
    ** - I wonder why targeting lasers of automatic turrets produce visible beams like high-power laser pointer in atmosphere. It is nice, sure. But there is no dispersive medium in space, beams should be invisible in vacuum!

    More functions: You can have a grid of multiple drills (or grinders) and put laser-pointers only in its four corners to target operation. It can help you with landing (in 3rd person view or with camera). Also precise alignment of large scale structures (e.g. when building cooperatively) is possible.

    Problems: Range. ... Until what range should the laser dot (collision of the beam with obstacles) be calculated? To what range should it be rendered? Should it behave realistically if it travels through debris field of floating ore and small components (interrupting the beam and displaying the dot on the individual stones as they pass by)?
    In reality in vacuum, the range is almost unlimited! Strict range limitation for laser dots is unphysical§. Imagine pointing gravity-powered straight-line-traveling kinetic missile*** device with laser-pointers on sides (cross configuration) onto enemy base several (tens of) kilometers away. With remote controlled spy drone next to that base looking for the dots - deadly combo! Should the dots be detectable by the enemy automatically? Should some laser absorbing materials exists? Should "fake dots" blocks exists?
    Would it not be too computationally difficult with every player creating multiple laser dots? (And some experiments like pointer on rotor to test angular velocity limit and break speed of light, multiple erratic "disco" pointers with thrusters rotating uncontrollably.) What about light pollution and "too many lasers" problems - custom colors would make things even worse.
    *** - Because this will be weaponized by the players (as every invention and device).
    § - And Realism => Gameplay :) (that means implies)

    Actually I might have an idea for some of the problems. It is diffraction (due to aperture even in vacuum). Laser light will form Airy disc ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airy_disk ) for the larger distances (L > r^2/lambda , where L is distance, r is diameter of the aperture and lambda is wavelength). So at higher range you will have a larger spot, then a disc and then the intensity would be too low to observe§§. This also resolves targeting far objects, because if you point laser pointer at faraway base or ship it will be completely illuminated (or at least large, very noticeable disc formed) and enemy warned. Even further, light will not be noticeable as the illumination decreases quadratically with distance.
    §§ - I think the best current (earthbound) lasers can make a disc several km in radius on the Moon, not smaller. (see second picture here https://what-if.xkcd.com/13/ )

    I have other ideas for this, but I will expand them in the next post.
  2. Zephram

    Zephram Apprentice Engineer

    Reserved (for aggregating comments by others in this thread).
  3. Andon

    Andon Senior Engineer

    I like it. I think a form of this could be made by bastardizing a weapon but I'm not sure how much can be done in that regard yet.
  4. Zephram

    Zephram Apprentice Engineer

    Expanded ideas: Engineering laser can be used as rangefinder. With some built-in sensor it is possible to achieve cm accuracy even today. So accuracy within +-small block is reasonable. This information (range* switchable in meters/small cubes/large cubes) can be broadcast like beacon does and displayed on HUD. Beside simple range finding when approaching asteroid or base or ship, this can be enormously well used when building some model with precise scale. If you want to build lets say (a copy of) of USS-Enterprise D, you know you need 642.5 meters of space. Counting cubes is tedious and prone to error. With laser rangefinder you will place two blocks at exact positions delimiting future construct. You can measure lengths from the wall (with laser pointer attached) in every interior room during positioning the blocks.
    I know that beacon can be used for this, but it is large and too shiny and measures absolute distance. One step to the side and you are off. Laser pointer measures both linear distance and "keeps you parallel"**.
    * - If the range is above certain threshold, "Inf" will be displayed.
    ** - Maybe laser-rangefinders could be available for sloped blocks too?

    With the programming and ability to access measured distance as object property (SmallShip1.EngLaser3.Distance) and trigger actions based on this (or compute with this value) many applications follow! Such as intruder detection (suddenly distance decreases, opposite wall is not the nearest object, intruder is), integrity of the wall check (distance increases by one block -> there is one block destroyed at the observed spot), (distance increases to Inf -> there is a hole in the observed spot all the way out to the space).
    Ability to customize (program) your HUD would also gain from these informations.

    Of course, this brings many possibilities for automated drones, weapons, detection of movement direction and speed (not just TRUE/FALSE presence like sensor). For the servers where 3rd person view would be disabled*** mutiple ranges would be also very nice navigating aid.
    *** - This is ongoing suggestion elsewhere. I do not know if there is currently such possibility to disable 3rd person view.
  5. Dr. Krunch

    Dr. Krunch Apprentice Engineer

    I like it. It's always a pain trying to land/connect a ship, and this would help a lot. Plus, imagine the rush of adrenaline when you see a laser point on your base in MP.
  6. ExarGon

    ExarGon Trainee Engineer

    Also is simple to developpers program that. Since when you are pointing the laser, you wanna know the distance for that marked target. So it's only a matter of displaying the distance in the HUD.
    It can be implemented as tool and block.
  7. Wombats

    Wombats Junior Engineer

    It's been suggested before but it's still a very good idea and I've seen the need for it when I make my own manual weaponry.
  8. ExarGon

    ExarGon Trainee Engineer

    The regular weapons (at least the rocket launcher does that) already make a laser sight on target. And it's easily visible.
  9. Dr. Krunch

    Dr. Krunch Apprentice Engineer

    It's pretty expensive to make a rocket launcher just to get the laser sight. Plus, launchers are pretty bulky.
  10. aRottenKomquat

    aRottenKomquat Apprentice Engineer

    I like the rangefinder idea. Pair this with extendable docking arms to aid docking, put one on the bottom of your ship as an "altimeter" if you're skimming an asteroid, etc.
  11. Zephram

    Zephram Apprentice Engineer

    Yes. But I do not want to mount rocket launcher to my mining or lifting ships or just next to landing gear just to get a dot. Too big, too expensive, unnecessary. Also might look as aggressive configuration to other players.
    Do weapons project dots even when you are not in cockpit?
    Also note that primary function of this suggestion if non-combat use! Although it can not be avoided that some players would combine it with weapons.
  12. Lecic

    Lecic Apprentice Engineer

    I would like to see this in game. In the meantime, you can use a gatling gun or missile launcher for a dot effect.
  13. ExarGon

    ExarGon Trainee Engineer

    No no no, you misreaded me. I said only that the weapons already have a laser sight. What I was saying is to use the laser sight that the weapons already have. Not to use a weapon, the weapon don't even measure the distance...
  14. theetfireboy

    theetfireboy Trainee Engineer

    Yes I need this so bad
  15. Excursion

    Excursion Trainee Engineer

    This would be useful in determining distance, seems like a simple implementation too.
    Just take the laser feature from the weapon systems and place it on a block like the sensor.
  16. havok

    havok Apprentice Engineer

    this would be great, and i imagine simple to add after this next update
  17. Starmonger

    Starmonger Trainee Engineer

    Funny, I was going to suggest something like this...
    Only I called it laser pointers and that was it. Hum...

    I I like the idea.
  18. Spanners

    Spanners Trainee Engineer

    I like it +1

    It will be weaponised of course - but it'd really help lining up a ship for docking, or lining up connectors or long range conveyors (shooting materials long distances to save travelling).

    In my 'perfect world': We'd also have little spots that could be painted on blocks too - we'd have a note of exactly how the laser is intended to align.
  19. Maegil

    Maegil Senior Engineer

    With programming (if we can read the angle on a turret's rotors), this would leave us only a couple of square roots away from a predictor to lead fire on fast ships.
  20. Legofreak

    Legofreak Apprentice Engineer

    mmm yes... laser guided missiles... sounds nice
  21. TheSecretPerson

    TheSecretPerson Trainee Engineer

    I was thinking about adding a rangefinder into the game not too long ago, and you have a pretty good idea for this multipurpose laser/rangefinder. This would help when navigating to asteroids and other objects, so we can start slowing down at a better time, and manage our thruster energy more effectively.

    +1 from me.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 13, 2014
Thread Status:
This last post in this thread was made more than 31 days old.