Surface and Orbit Authority

Cargo Containers Plus

Hi folks,

I’ve put together a suite of extended cargo containers, the “UCU+” or “UCU Plus” collection, based on Hull Breach’s Universal Cargo Unit system. These containers fill the same niche as UCUs: they provide a standard format for multimodal cargo storage and transport that is independent of the vehicle or building.

If you haven’t used UCUs, a quick introduction:

  • A UCU is a freestanding “ship” consisting of a group of cargo containers, a battery, a beacon, two connectors, and four landing gears. It’s shaped to act as a cargo capsule, and can either rest on its feet or be placed on top of a connector, feet-down, to connect all cargo containers to that connector.

  • UCUs include a beacon, which is automatically active within 500m when the UCU is not connected to anything. This allows UCUs to be located even if left floating nearby. The onboard power supply is sufficient to run the beacon for weeks at this range.

  • UCUs include a pair of artificial mass blocks, which allow it to settle gently onto the deck under artificial gravity. In a stock UCU, these blocks are controlled solely by buttons on the face of the container.

  • Each UCU has a set of buttons on the face of the UCU to control the UCU’s features: they allow the user to dock and un-dock the UCU, lock and unlock the landing gears, and activate or deactivate the artificial mass blocks.

A few folks on the server - including myself, @SurprisingEdge, @Woofski, and @David_s, have taken to using UCUs as a standard cargo unit in ship designs already.

The UCU+ blueprints build on this idea and address both things I see as defects in the original design, and add features I feel are missing:

  • A UCU+ container’s blocks are hidden from the terminal and toolbar menus by default, rather than cluttering up the menu.

  • A UCU+ container’s “utility” connector is hidden from the inventory screen by default, as it should never contain cargo and does not connect to any cargo facilities.

  • A UCU+'s connectors - both for cargo and for transport - have a much lower default strength. Fully-loaded “stock” UCUs have a bad habit of pulling against connectors hard enough to badly damage or even destroy their landing gears. This addresses that problem, at the cost of making them less able to center themselves on a cargo port if you misalign them.

  • A UCU+'s artificial mass blocks deactivate automatically whenever the UCU is connected by either connector or when its landing gears are locked, and cannot be activated by the buttons. Manual activation will be cancelled after around a second.

  • A UCU+‘s buttons are wired through the programmable block. The stock UCUs use block groups to control, for example, all legs at once, and these groups can merge with other UCUs’ groups if you dock multiple UCUs to the same ship. The game merges groups within a ship by name, across connectors. UCU+ buttons avoid this by using a script to control the features of the UCU, instead.

  • A UCU+'s buttons default to allowing anyone to press them, rather than allowing only the owner to press them, to make it easier to use UCUs in factions and across teams. (If you want security, it’s easy to change.)

  • A UCU+'s beacon automatically follows the name of the UCU itself. Renaming a UCU from the Info tab of its terminal will cause its beacon to broadcast the new name, as well, making it easier to label and locate specific UCUs.

  • Cargo UCU+s (as opposed to Hydrogen UCU+s) include LCD panels that display a cargo manifest and their current fill level, to allow users to rapidly review the contents cargo containers without having to open the inventory directly. This manifest is driven by MMaster’s Automatic LCDs 2 script.

I’ve created UCU+ versions of all four of Hull Breach’s original designs, as well as fixing a problem with the UCU-HS (Small Hydrogen) container that prevented the bottom connector from reaching the ground.

Please enjoy these blueprints and feel free to make use of them. I’m open to bug reports and feature requests, and I’ve been in touch with Hull Breach to backport some of these improvements to his original designs.

Excellent, really good work with these! :grin: