Friday, April 25, 2014

Probing guidelines

I decided to write a blog on probing guidelines.

Keep in mind that this is not a guide to probing in itself (there is a very good tutorial for this in the game) but more of a hints and tips section that allows you to probe more successful.
Of course probing skills are still the most important thing to get up if you want quicker results and there are some helpful implants. This blog is focused on wormholes.

Introduction to probing

Cosmic signatures are certain indications in EVE solar systems that there are locations in the system that you need to probe down.
The signatures always point to one of the following: Wormholes, Gas sites (formerly named ladar), Relic sites (formerly named radar), Data sites (formerly named magnetometric) or regular combat sites. In EVE there is a mechanic called probing which allows you to pinpoint those signatures and bookmark them.

Simply put, probing uses a technique called multilateration (a more advanced form of triangulation, techniques used in the real world to get an estimated location without using GPS) by using multiple probes in a 3D area that each check the distance to a certain signatures. The more results from probes in different directions around the signature, the more accurate the location. You might want to check the next chapter on prerequirements first if you are not already flying a probing ship or have the appropriate skills, below is an explanation of how probing works and a basic tutorial.

A real-life example of triangulation.
By default EVE already gives you a global idea of where each signature is located. This is a sphere in the star map that shows in what area the signature may be. If you launch your probes, drag them (from the edge of the scan area) to the maximum possible size and analyze the signatures, you will notice that the spheres within the probe range change into dots to give a more accurate representation of their location.
Sometimes they will change into a circle, this means that there is not enough data from the probes to correctly calculate the location (for example, the signature intersects with only two probes) so it must be somewhere along the line of the circle. Re-position your probes around the object or scan a bigger area to find the location. Sometimes you also get two dots for a signature, this means that because of lack of information the signature can be in two locations. Check the most far-away dot first, usually that one is closest by the actual location.

After getting the red dots for locations you can move into locations with more precision. Since we focus on wormholes, you usually want to find those first. Sort the scanner window by signal strength and focus on the signature with the best signal for now. Later I will explain more about signature strength and the useful information behind it. As soon as you select the signature in the scanner window you'll notice that the others disappear from the map for now. Move your mouse around and re-position the center of your probes to match the signature location as close as possible. Now lower your scan range to half (or less if you have good probing skills / bonuses). After you have done this, hit analyze again.
If you did everything right and did not go overboard on making the scan range smaller you should now see the same signature with a better strength. Keep repeating these steps till you are at 100% strength. At 25% strength you can see the signature type, so if you are looking for a wormhole and this is something else, you can simply ignore it. You'll notice that at 100% strength, a warp-to button appears in the signal column. As soon as it is 100% you can also decide to bookmark the location by simply right-clicking it and saving it to the bookmarks. Keep in mind that this bookmark is on average 10 km away from the signature so not very useful wormholes since you want to warp at zero.
Congratulations, you know how to probe now!
If this still is not clear I suggest trying the exploration tutorial.

Prerequirements to probing

To probe in EVE you will need at least the Astrometrics skill at level 1.
Higher probing skills will highly improve your performance. Other skills that are suggested are Astrometric Acquisition, Pinpointing and Rangefinding.
Next to that you will need a probe launcher. The simplest version is the Core Probe Launcher I, the suggested launcher is the Sisters Core Probe Launcher or the Core Probe Launcher II if you can fit it. You'll notice that there are also Expanded Core Probe Launchers. These are being used to fit combat probes which can be used to pinpoint ships in space in the same way as normal signatures. Highly useful for PVP or finding back your accidentally bumped carrier.
Expanded launchers and normal launchers have the same bonuses to probing so if you can fit it, I would suggest using an expanded launcher so you don't have to reload as often (they can hold a lot more normal probes). For scanning signatures, try to use normal probes instead of combat ones since they have a better resolution. Combat scanner probes can probe a larger area at once (64AU, where normal probes can only scan 32AU) which might be useful to check all signatures at once if you live in a big wormhole system.
Then you will need probes. There are the normal Core Scanner Probe I probes but I suggest using at least Sisters Core Scanner Probes. They aren't that expensive and give a nice boost to probing stats. If you are getting the hang of probing and have some ISK to spend, try to get a pair of RSS scanner probes. They have some nice bonuses but also a few downsides (very expensive, can only stay in space for a short time).
Then you do want a ship hull. Every race in EVE has ships that have bonuses to probing, and there are also a few alternative ships that have probing bonuses. The tech 2 racial ships have the bonus of being able to fit a Covert Ops Cloaking Device II which is highly useful for scouting wormholes.
Some good alternatives that got probing bonuses are the Astero (frigate, cloaky), Stratios (cruiser, cloaky) and Gnosis (battlecruiser, not cloaky) but they are expensive.
When fitting your ship, there are a few useful modules and rigs: Gravity Capacitor Upgrade rig: Improves scan probe strength, allows you to more easily pinpoint signatures without reducing the scan range
Scan Rangefinding Array midslot module: Same effect as the rig
Scan Pinpointing Array midslot module: Reduces scan deviation to give more precise information about locations, allowing you to skip more steps in scan range (32AU -> 8AU -> 2AU or even faster)
Scan Acquisition Array midslot module: Makes probes scan faster. The most useless one of them all although with maxed out skills and RSS probes it can make you super fast

Hints and tips

Wormholes have a signature strength that can vary per wormhole type. Incoming wormholes always have strength 10 (just like most gas sites) but outgoing ones can be different per system. An easy way to check this is to look up or other sites like this and click the wormhole name (for example, E175).

The signature strength has a direct relation with the signal strength that you see in the probing window, for example wormhole type E175 (destination C4) has a default strength of 5, this means that it will never show up with the strongest strength unless there are no other sites with strength 10.

Taking into account the signature strength allows you more easily to find a wormhole. I usually probe the strongest ones first because that's an easy way to check for incoming holes.
All signatures have ID's in wormholes. At downtime, all signatures get ID's that look alike (for example, XEY-, VEY-, HFY-, etc...).
If there is a signature ID that looks different (for example BCM-) then you know that this signature spawned after downtime. Thus it is more likely to be an incoming connection.
All wormholes have an unique color scheme based on where they come from and where they lead to. Use this chart to quickly determine the source/destination: 
All wormholes have an unique color scheme
Incoming wormholes (K162) have no information on their destination except the description. It can name highsec/lowsec/nullsec but also have one of these:
  • Lead into unknown parts of space C1-C3
  • Lead into dangerous unknown parts of space: C4-C5
  • Lead into deadly unknown parts of space: C6
Wormholes can be stable for either 16 or 24 hours (you can check this on as well. Most have 24.
Once a wormhole tells you that it is on the verge of collapse we call it EOL (end of life) and it has less then 4 hours remaining.
Wormholes have a maximum mass per jump, as a rule of thumb:
  • C1: (battle)cruiser size max, with microwarpdrives turned off
  • C2/C3/C4: battleships / orca max
  • C5/C6: capitals fit, supercaps don't
Wormholes have a max total mass (check-able on Usually:
  • C4: 2.000.000 kg
  • C5/C6: 3.000.000 kg
If they go over max mass, they collapse. The status is readable in info:
  • Not yet disrupted: 50%+
  • Reduced: 10-50%
  • Critical: <10%
Useful ships for collapsing critical holes are HICs. They can go out almost capsule-sized and come back being roughly 70.000+. This helps collapsing wormholes without getting stuck on the wrong side.

1 comment: