Navigation 101

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Contents

Introduction

Space, the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the...well, not yet they aren't. Welcome to Navigation 101 and I am Major Ito Goro. Once you get through the following lecture, you should understand the basics of computer aided navigation and thus begin your voyages.

Navmem

Every starship these days have in their computers a section called the Navigation Memory or navmem for short. This is where the coordinates are kept within the computer so that you don't have to remember every little number, for even one digit off could mean the difference between getting to Earth or parking yourself somewhere within Romulan space.

You'll see something like this when you issue the navmem command:

Navigational Database --------------------------------------------------------
Bajor:                    -3853010535.0 -5193160.0 -968.73                    
Beerax IX:                -3849190205.0 -4440049.0 -226.5                     
Betazed:                  -3854494802.16 -1601224.01 -329.32                  
Cardassia:                -3852929839.0 -5823092.0 -762.0                     
ch'Havran:                -3846178488.0 2655360.6 -283.6                      
ch'Rihan:                 -3846178488.0 2657047.0 -280.6                      
Earth:                    -3850000002.0 -199989.0 201.0                       
Ferasa:                   -3864175997.0 -7424469.0 -491.3                     
Ferenginar:               -3847743501.9 -4567433.0 -161.92                    
Qo'noS:                   -3856405586.0 8871556.0 -9.7                        
Risa:                     -3854039887.0 446028.0 -306.4                       
Deep Space 9:             -3853010640.0 -5193300.0 -997.23                    
Eden:                     -3849190269.36 -4440023.95 -226.5                   
Milan:                    -3854039887.0 446028.0 -283.4                       
Spacedock:                -3850000002.0 -199989.0 202.75                      

It lists the known location names and their coordinates.

A more condensed version, listing just the destination names can be accessed with navlist:

Navigational Computer Database -----------------------------------------------
Bajor                     Ferenginar 
Beerax IX                 Qo'noS     
Betazed                   Risa       
Cardassia                 Deep Space 9
ch'Havran                 Eden        
ch'Rihan                  Milan       
Earth                     Spacedock  
Ferasa                    
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is convenient when you're trying to look for a specific name, but don't need the coordinates. We'll cover navlist in more detail shortly.

You can add locations into memory via two different methods. If you have a place you want to go to on your sensors, you can tell the computer to remember it with navmem <contact>. This is the simplest way, since the computer will just grab the information it needs from sensors.

The second method involves you having to provide the computer all the information it needs. It takes the form of navmem <X Y Z> in which you need to have the coordinates. So, say you need to add Earth to the navmem, it's not on sensors but you have it's coordinates. You'd enter:

navmem -3850000002.0 -199989.0 201.0

[Desktop Terminal: Enter the name to be tagged to coordinates: -3850000002.0 -199989.0 201.0]
[Type a line of input or `@abort' to abort the command.]
[Desktop Terminal: Coordinates -3850000002.0 -199989.0 201.0 added to navigational database as Earth]

As you can see, it asked for a name to which Earth was given.

The final option for navmem is a way to list your relative position from one or all of the contacts in the navmem. The basic version is navmem/rel which provides a display like this:

Relative Coordinates ---------------------------------------------------------
Entries             Yaw                 Pitch               Range
-------             ---                 -----               -----
Bajor               53.13               9.251               177.305868255989
Beerax IX           11.154              0.011               3893983.98196336
Betazed             112.449             0.01                3886611.33649364
Cardassia           277.311             0.021               634954.187530292
ch'Havran           48.961              0.004               10405756.8044232
ch'Rihan            48.967              0.004               10407028.8499411
Earth               58.913              0.012               5830702.98889097
Ferasa              191.301             0.003               11386101.7166257
Ferenginar          6.776               0.009               5304192.11221735
Qo'noS              103.57              0.004               14468788.2567141
Risa                100.343             0.007               5732483.76842972
Deep Space 9        228.378             88.328              <775.083860494199>
Eden                11.154              0.011               3893925.68342513
Milan               100.343             0.007               5732483.77124763
Spacedock           58.913              0.012               5830702.98925087
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

While using it on a single location with navmem/rel <entry> will only bring up the details for that entry.

Deleting Navmem Entries

Once in a while an entry will be no longer needed, entered incorrectly, or just no longer there. For that, you can use the navdel <entry> command. In the case of duplicate matches, like if you had Earth entered twice, it'll remove the first instance.

Autopilot

Now that I've bored everyone with discussing the navigational computer and how it can provide information, let's get to actually using it. The autopilot command is how you tell the computer to set the course. It has several options available to it, so we'll start with the most basic one.

For this example, let's say that you're within the Sol System, orbiting Earth and need to head to Mars. And to make things more interesting, let's say that your shuttle is brand new--it hasn't been fully configured, so it's computer doesn't know where Mars is yet. But don't despair, Mars is right there on your sensors. Now, you could just use what we've already covered and add Mars to the navigational computer-but let's say that the computer fails on doing that. So you'll cut the navcomp out of the loop completely and just set the autopilot directly with autopilot <contact> like so:

autopilot Mars

The autopilot will take the current bearing of Mars into account and turn the ship accordingly. Just add thrust and the computer will automatically slow the ship down once you near Mars. Nice, basic, straightforward.

Now let's take a different example, you're in Earth orbit and your Captain wants you to lay in a course for Starbase 327. 327 isn't on sensors, but it's location is in the navcomp so you'd use the second form of the autopilot command, autopilot mem <entry> like so:

autopilot mem Starbase 327

The computer will figure out the direct course between your current location and your destination, turn the ship on that heading, and once you near your destination, automatically slow you down to a stop at your destination.

The third form is to just turn the blasted thing off. Sometimes it'll slow you down when you don't want to slow down, or some other cases where taking the computer out of the loop is ideal. For that it's just autopilot off

A variation on the autopilot command is intercept <contact>. This command will turn your ship onto a course to line up with the contact, or at least where the contact is at the moment the command is issued. That is all it does...it will not slow down your ship, or continue to change course. This will be covered in more detail in the tactical classes.

Also, when in autopilot, the eta command will list how much time until you reach your destination, an useful piece of information for those who's Captain is in a hurry and wants to know if we're there yet.

Autopilot Dangers

You will find that 95-99% of the time, autopilot works fine without any supervision, though it is strongly recommended to never set the autopilot and walk away from the console. Autopilot does not respond to external influences on the ship. The things to watch for are:

1) ETA changes rapidly or grows--This can be a sign of the warp drive being over efficient, moving the ship faster than the computer reports. If the ship is moving significantly faster, you can overshoot your destination without it appearing on sensors, causing the ETA to get longer instead of shorter. Also wormholes can move the ship off course, without disrupting the warpfield.

2) Unexpected damage--Anomalies, nebulae, ion storms, etc. lie scattered all through space, most are marked but new ones appear all the time. Autopilot will continue to fly you through a dangerous region without notice.

3) Related to 1)--Unexpected changes in position. If you're heading from Earth to Andor, and you start to pass Earth again, might want to doublecheck your autopilot settings.

There are many more things that can cause problems, but the above 3 are the biggest ones. Ships are lost all the time to inattentive crews who count on the computer to get them from point A to point B, even on 'well travelled' routes because something new appeared without warning.

Conclusion

This covers the basics of automatic navigation. For those interested, be sure to take the Advanced Navigation course which will cover manual navigation options.

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