Surface and Orbit Authority

Idea: Hotbar scheme

After Incident 20890622-1, there were a number of recommendations, including:

  • Engineers should ensure that documented pre-flight steps place the ship in a flight-safe configuration.
  • Engineers should ensure that documented post-flight steps return any uncommon flight configurations to a default that is appropriate for the pre-flight steps.

I’ve come up with a scheme for my hotbars that helps make this possible, so I wanted to share it.

I’m using hotbar 1 for common in-flight things (running drills/tools, turning headlights on/off, etc), and I’ve reserved hotbars 2 and 3 for launch and landing, respectively. This is a change from how I used to do it, where a single hotbar was used for both, by running through the numbers in reverse for landing, and using “toggle X on/off” actions. This was far too error prone, and had issues with things like toggling all thrusters, if some other action had turned on/off a subset of thrusters. (eg. after turning off reverse thrusters for coasting, “toggle all thrusters on/off” doesn’t behave well if you forget to turn those reverse thrusters back on.)

By using 2 hotbars, I can use “turn X on” and “turn X off” actions instead of toggles. This removes one source of errors.

My hotbars look something like this:

Hotbar 2 (launch)

  1. Turn reactors ON
  2. Set batteries to AUTO
  3. Turn gyros ON
  4. Turn ALL thrusters ON
  5. Turn H2 tanks stockpile to OFF (otherwise thrusters can’t use H2 from them!)
  6. Connector UNLOCK
  7. Landing gear UNLOCK
  8. Unused
  9. Unused

Hotbar 3 (land)

  1. View from landing camera
  2. Connector LOCK
  3. Landing gear toggle auto-lock
  4. Landing gear LOCK
  5. Turn H2 tanks stockpile to ON
  6. Turn ALL thrusters OFF
  7. Turn gyros OFF
  8. Toggle batteries recharge (there is no on/off for this, sadly)
  9. Turn reactors OFF

The camera and toggle auto-lock take up extra spots on the landing hotbar that are free on the launch hotbar, which doesn’t leave any space for more things, if needed. (eg. H2/O2 generator) If that’s needed, then the “definitely absolutely ALWAYS do these” actions could be delegated to a timer block. Some things like batteries and reactor you may want to skip when landing, if you’ve landed somewhere that you’re not receiving power, but turning gyros and thrusters off, and setting H2 tanks to stockpile, you probably want to always do.

Anyway, this is what’s been working really well for me lately, so I wanted to share it.

1 Like

I really like this.

I’d ended up doing a very similar thing with my own craft, with bar 1 for free flight and mission equipment, and bar 2 for docking/etc. However, I’ve never been quite that organized about button sequencing (I tend to group by theme, which often means my takeoff sequence is 1-2-9-8-7-6-5, for example).

I’m pro this idea, and will probably rework my buttons accordingly.

You’ve made me realize that most of my designs have distinct flight phases. Even basic roundabouts have at least a pre-flight phase, a free flight phase, and a post-flight phase. Having the hotbars embody procedure for each phase makes sense, as does treating free flight as a special case (since every craft has it) and putting it in 1 rather than in order with the other phases.

Is there a good way to document this? LCD panels embedded in the craft, maybe?

The built in cockpit LCDs would be a reasonable place to document this, I think. Just as free text, or scrolling via Auto LCDs 2 even.