The most useful tool in obtaining or avoiding fights in low security space is intelligence. The two most important tools in your intelligence toolbox are the local channel and the directional scanner. The use of local to gather intelligence has been covered in a previous guide. This guide will focus on the use of the directional scanner.
It should be noted that proper and purposive use of the directional scanner is heavily influenced by overview settings. It will be presumed for the purposes of this guide that the reader has set up his overview in a proper manner and will, at the very least, have both ships and combat scanner probes on their overview.
The Directional Scanner: A “Basic” Guide
The directional scanner allows the user to obtain information as to what objects are in local space around the user’s ship. The directional scanner has three interactive parts – range, angle and a choice as to whether or not to use active overview settings.
Use of the directional scanner is easy to master, but complicated to explain. M-E-A recommends regular use and practice with the directional scanner until such time as practitioners have a proper understanding of what objects will be included in their scan depending upon range, angle and camera view.
The directional scanner operates on a “cone of scanning” basis emanating from your ship. Dependent upon the angle chosen by the user, the cone widens and eventually becomes (at 360 degrees) a sphere around your ship.
The length and extent of the cone is dependent upon the range and angle set by the user. The projected direction of the scan is dependent upon the direction in which the user’s camera is pointing (not the direction in which your ship is facing). The objects which will be picked up by the scan depends upon the user’s active overview settings (tab dependant) or, in the event that the user chooses to uncheck the “use active overview settings” box, all objects.
It is important to note that without understanding how the direction of your scan is dictated, your scanning will be fruitless. As stated above, direction is controlled directly by your onboard camera showing the third person view of your ship. At 360 degrees, the scanner emanates from and returns information to your ship in every direction around your ship. At 180 degrees, the scanner emanates from and returns information to your ship to and from every point in the direction to which the user’s camera is pointing (well beyond the edges of your 3rd party screen). Take note that as the angle of a scan is narrowed, the precise direction in which the scanners camera is pointing becomes more and more important to the extent that when scanning at a 5 degree angle, it is necessary to zoom out substantially and use your ship as a crosshair to accurately scan particular areas of space.
Some examples provided for the purposes of illustration:
A scan in which the angle of the scanner is set to 360 degrees and range is set to 1000 km will provide a list of objects within 1000km of the user’s ship, regardless of direction of the objects and regardless of the direction of the user’s onboard camera.
A scan in which the angle of the scanner is set to 30 degrees and range is set at maximum will provide a list of objects within 14.3 AU of the user’s ship, within 30 degrees of the centre point shown on the camera of the scanner, in the direction of view of the user’s camera.
A scan in which the angle of scanner is set to 5 degrees, whilst the user’s camera is centered over and pointing at a celestial object (such as an asteroid belt) will provide a list of objects located at or very close to that celestial, depending upon the user’s distance from that celestial.
As stated above, M-E-A recommends regular use and practice with the direction scanner. Once understood, the directional scanner becomes an invaluable tool in locating ships to engage or spotting ships or dangers to avoid.
Using the D-scanner to Avoid Fights
Firstly, ensure that your overview is set up to show all ships and both combat scanner and ordinary probes. Once this is done, ensure that your directional scanner is open at all times and that scans are regularly run.
For the overly paranoid, in low security space, if you are not the only person in local, you may presume that other persons in local are likely to attempt to kill you. If a potentially hostile ship appears on scan, you should, if you are intent on avoiding any and / or all confrontation, take immediate evasive action to avoid a fight such as warping your ship to a safespot, leaving the system in question or docking up.
However, it should be noted that even if your ship is located at a safespot, it may be found using combat scanner probes. It is therefore important, even if you are safed up, to maintain a regular scan at maximum range in order to ascertain whether or not you are being actively hunted. If you spot combat scanner probes on scan (again, check your overview settings), it is advisable to keep warping (continuously) between a variety of safes to avoid being probed out. Depending on the number of safespots available to you and or your ship type, it may be advisable to either leave the system or dock up.
For the less paranoid, a few useful tricks may be used to ensure your safety even when in a busy system:
Prior to warping directly to a celestial which is within 14.3 AU of your ship, a quick scan of the celestial in question at a narrow angle will inform you as to whether or not any potential hostiles may be lying in wait.
Whilst in warp, a scan of the celestial to which you are warping will inform you as to any potential danger you may face upon landing at the celestial and may help you prepare for being attacked.
Whilst at a celestial or safespot, a shorter range scan (150 000 000 or 1 au) will inform you as to any ships that are nearby and / or warping to you.
Using the D-scanner to Find Fights
In order to establish whether a viable target is located in a system, proper use of the directional scanner is required. A solo capsuleer may, by means of a few quick scans, determine what type of targets are available in local space and pinpoint the location of any particular viable target.
One of the primary methods of finding fights in low security space is by using the directional scanner to narrow down the location of any ships in local space to a celestial object to which you can warp. Obviously, once you have narrowed down the location of any particular ship you will be able to warp to the celestial in question and launch your attack.
In order to locate a target’s position, first run a scan at 360 degrees and maximum range. If you notice that viable targets are within range, quickly narrow the angle of your scan to 180 degrees and run a second scan. If the target does not appear on the 180 degree scan (it may also be necessary to point your camera directly up or down, depending upon the location of the celestials in system), turn your onboard camera to face in the opposite direction and run a further 180 degree scan. If the target still appears on the scan, you may, by pointing the camera directly at clusters of celestials and narrowing your scan angle to 90, 60 and / or 30 degrees, determine at which celestial cluster the target is located.
Note that depending upon your distance from the celestials in question, some celestial clusters will be appear close together on your onboard camera. It is likely therefore that you will have to warp closer to such objects in order to perform a more accurate scan. It is usually useful at this point to warp to one of the celestial objects (or a scan safe located nearby) within your scan in order to further narrow down the targets location.
Continue running scans at ever lessening angles to determine which celestial object the target is located at. Once you have narrowed down a target to a particular celestial at 5 degrees, it is highly likely that the target is located at or at least, very near to such celestial. However, bear in mind that locating a target to 5 degrees often takes some time and that it is, on occasion, simply worth warping to one of the celestials located in a larger degree scan simply to save time and to lessen the likelihood that the target will notice you in system before you can launch your attack.
It is worth repeating that the maximum range of the directional scanner is 14.3 AU. Some systems are, in their length or breadth, larger than 14.3 AU and it is possible that a single 360 degree scan from the in-gate will not pick up all viable targets. Proper use of the onboard system map and overview to determine which celestials are within scanning range and, more importantly, which are not within range will allow you to make a decision as to whether or not multiple scans are necessary. See our note on Scanspots.
The D-scanner is also useful to determine what the target might be doing by changing your overview tab or by unchecking the “use active overview settings” box. For example – if you notice a large amount of mission wrecks surrounding the target ship, it is likely that the target is running missions. If you notice that the ship is located near a number of other ships and, by checking local, you determine that there are a number of members of a single corporation or alliance in local space, it may be determined that the target ship is a member of a fleet or gang.
In addition to the above, the D-scanner may also be used in conjunction with combat scanner probes, the onboard scanner (which differs from the directional scanner) or even normal scanner probes to determine and pinpoint the location of a target ship. Use of the directional scanner for such purposes usually requires a solid understanding of range, angle and the various locations at which a ship may be placed, but can, when properly used, rapidly decrease the time spent scanning targets down.
Proper use of the directional scanner is difficult to master, but is critical to both avoiding and obtaining fights within low security (and other) space. As stated above, practice makes perfect. M-E-A recommends that all pilots interested in travelling through low security space, whatever their ultimate purpose, be fully acquainted with the directional scanner and its proper, accurate use.