Guide to power
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- 1 Introduction
- 2 Power Sources
- 2.1 Supermatter Engine
- 2.2 Singularity/Tesla Engine
- 2.3 Solar Arrays
- 2.4 Gas Turbine Generator
- 2.5 Portable Generators
- 2.6 Power Cells
- 3 Power Distribution
- 4 Concepts
- 5 ENGINEERING WHY ARE WE LOSING POWER
Understanding the intricacies of the power dynamic in the station is key to keeping the station in order. Many, especially the HoP, believe that the Captain is the seat of power on the station. This is untrue as having the Captain wired into the station's power grid provides minimal power at best.
The real source of power comes from Engineering because without Station Engineers to set up the power sources at the beginning of a shift, the station would cease to function normally and devolve into a degenerative society with no more power than a uncivilized horde of lowly Assistants, who, it should be noted, also provide even less power when wired directly to the grid.
The supermatter is a giant pile of exotic material capable of emitting both ionizing radiation and (flammable) gasses. While the generation of these elements is normally rather low, the supermatter can be "activated" into releasing more by, well, most anything: even gasses can start the delamination process if they hold enough energy (heat, usually). You see where this is going? That's right, self-induced chain reactions. Your main job as an engineer will be to cool the supermatter down to prevent it from exploding (luckily a very easy job), while simultaneously exciting it to harvest radiation pulses. It's not an unforgiving engine, some would say it's even too stable to sabotage in a timely manner; read the Guide carefully and it will be hard to mess it up.
The singularity and tesla engines are the primary source of power of some station. By harnessing either the radiant energy produced by a locally-controlled cosmic Singularity (otherwise known as a man-made black hole), or straight-up capturing the electric arcs from a giant ball of lightning, an enormous amount of energy can be generated for the station.
The harvestable power emitted by a singularity takes the form of ionizing radiation pulses. These can interact with the misterious substance called "plasma" so as to generate electricity. The more plasma available, and the stronger and more frequent the pulses, the more power is generated. The net power output can be measured directly by using a multitool on the collector's wire, checking the first SMES unit connected for available power, or by looking it up on a power monitoring console (though the latter will give skewed results if other power sources such as solars are connected).
This giant ball of incandescent energy regurarly regurgitates power in the form of electric arcs. These arcs can be partially captured by tesla generators, and will generally flow along the most conductive/least resisting path. Metal structures are prime target for its strikes, and grounding rods are the safest there is, drawing arcs to themselves and subsequently dissipating them into the whole station. The latter are regularly used to direct lighting through tesla generators, and are best deployed between the engine and anything you hold dear.
The solar arrays act as a secondary power source. They are composed of 60 panels per array and there are 4 arrays on the station. Each panel can produce 1.5 kW of power for a total of 90 kW per array.
The solar arrays only produce power when directly facing the local star. (The star is off-screen from the station and cannot be located by the player directly.) A solar tracking module can be wired into the solar array circuitry and, with the help of a solar power console, the solar panels can be made to automatically track the local star, which maximizes the power generation for each panel. However, as the station revolves around the star (which, again, is unseen by the player), the solar arrays often land in the shadow of the station which negatively affects solar power generation at the affected arrays. This effectively gives the solar arrays a solar day-night cycle, where it generates power during the day cycle and does not generate power during the night cycle. Because of the solar cycle, a given array will be able to generate power about 50% (estimated but unconfirmed) of the time, which can be translated to an average 45 kW per unit time, rather than the full 90 kW.
The solar panels themselves can be, and often are, broken by debris floating in space. Each broken panel reduces the total power generation of the array.
The solar arrays can typically power the entire station on their own, once the arrays are wired properly.
|Maximum||Average||per panel||per array||per array|
|1500 W (1.5 kW)||90000 W (90 kW)||45000 W (45 kW)|
Connecting Solars to the Grid
There are two main schools of thought when wiring the solar arrays:
- use the Solar SMESs to distribute power into the grid
- wire the solar array directly into the power grid
Distributing via SMESs
Distributing solar power through the SMESs is the generally preferred method of wiring the solars, mainly because it provides a steady power output and requires no extra wiring. One benefit of the pre-laid wiring to the SMES is that during a night cycle of the solar array the Engineer does not need insulated gloves to wire the solar array.
While the maximum power generation of a given solar array is 90 kW, it is advised to set SMES inputs to slightly lower level to account for solar panels that might break during the course of the shift. For example, setting the SMES input levels to 85.5 kW may not collect all 90 kW produced by the array, but allows for the SMES to charge even when up to three panels get broken on the array. Otherwise, should the Engineer set SMES input levels to 90 kW and should a single panel get hit by space debris and break, the array will always produce less than 90 kW, so the SMES with a required 90 kW input will not charge.
The output on the SMES should be at most 50% of the input level due to the revolution of the station around the local star (percentage estimated but unconfirmed). Since the solar has to collect enough energy in the day cycle of the array to output for both day and night, it's usually good to round down a little more. Additionally, if the solar is initially wired during its day cycle, it typically won't be able to collect enough to keep it charged for the first night cycle, resulting in a little bit of lag in the output of the solars. For example, if the input is set to 85500 W (85.5 kW), the output shouldn't be bigger than 42750 W (42.75 kW). Typically, 40 kW is a good round number for long-term power output.
If more power storage is desired, say in the initial stage of the set-up, the engineer may want to reduce or even eliminate power output for the first few solar cycles, before setting the long-term power output.
Once all four Solar SMESs are adequately charged and outputting long-term power, they will provide a very dependable power output with almost no oversight needed. In our example, the station would receive 160 kW (4 arrays x 40 kW SMES output) from solars, which is usually more than enough to sustain the station on its own without the engine. This system is also modular, so that even if only three out of four Solar SMESs are used, the total power output is reduced accordingly but still completely steady.
That being said, if unchecked, power sinks can drain the solar SMESs, which if depleted would need to go through a solar cycle again before being able to provide steady, adequate power to the station.
The biggest failure of the Solar SMES system is more often the fault of the Engineer, not the power sink. A rookie Engineer usually sets input levels and output levels too high or too low to meaningfully sustain the station, and/or fails to re-set the SMESs to a more adequate output level after initially charging the SMES.
Pros: Steady power supply, no additional wiring necessary, stores power, modular, does not require insulated gloves.
Cons: Lag due to first night cycle and initial SMES charging, prone to being set up improperly, some power loss to correct for potentially broken panels, can be drained by power sinks.
Wiring to the Grid
Wiring the solar arrays directly to the grid is often used as a more straight-forward approach to hooking up the solars, which benefits the Engineer by bypassing the intricacies of the SMES and generating a generally larger power output but at the expense of a less steady, less modular electrical source. This is often helpful in the emergency circumstance when the singlo is loose or otherwise not available, effectively making the solar arrays the primary power source.
To achieve this, the Engineer usually just wires together the cable leading from the array directly to the cable leading out from the solar maintenance room. Typically, insulated gloves are a necessity since the Engineer will need to tap the solar power lines into the main power grid. However, as easy as that sounds, rookie Engineers tend to mangle the wiring so much that the array power lines never make it to the grid.
Once all the arrays are wired, and because of the day-night cycle, on average, about two solar arrays worth of power will be generated at any given time, equating to about 180 kW of power. However, the exact number will fluctuate depending on how much light reaches individual panels. Additionally, if not all of the solars are wired to the grid, the output will be drastically lower and may cause brown outs in the station.
On the plus side, wiring the solars directly to the grid prevents wiring sabotage since anyone cutting the wires also needs insulated gloves. Also, power sinks pose little risk as the solar power is immediate and not distributed from an SMES.
Pros: Straight-forward explanation, avoids setting SMES, deters sabotage, acts as primary power source, not prone to power sinks.
Cons: Minor fluctuations in power if fully implemented, severe fluctuations if incompletely implemented, requires insulated gloves, often incorrectly wired.
Dual-Wiring: The Best of Both Worlds
There is another, less used option that utilizes the benefits from both wiring ideologies while mitigating the risk: dual-wire the solar arrays both to the Solar SMESs and directly into the grid at the same time.
Initially, the Engineer would want to charge the SMESs enough to where they could give an adequate supply of power. Then, if the Engineer is skilled enough at wiring, both the SMES and the solar arrays can be wired to the grid at the same time. Since the station only draws about 150 kW, but the solars wired to grid produce 180 kW, there's a spare 30 kW to split between the Solar SMESs for recharging. Setting all four Solar SMESs to charge at 6 kW is feasible (reduced from 7.5 kW to account for broken solar panels). The output setting on the SMES can be any value so long as the station draws full power from the solars wired directly. This effectively makes the Solar SMESs a backup power source.
The drawbacks though are that the Solar SMES input levels should not be put higher than 6 kW since a Solar SMES located at an array going through the night cycle will attempt to draw power from a Solar SMES higher upstream in the #power queue, cannibalistically draining that SMES.
Also, the 2 conventional Backup SMESs can't be charged for the same reason of the power queue. However, since the 4 Solar SMESs act as backups, this trade-off is in favor of the dual-wiring of the solars.
The Solar SMESs will still be prone to power sinks, but since the solars are wired directly to the grid it doesn't matter much.
The drawback that all solars must be wired directly to the grid to prevent severe fluctuation. The same is not true of the SMES-side of this set-up. Each SMES acts like an independent backup, so any undesired SMESs don't have to be set, making the system semi-modular.
Pros: acts primary and backup power source, deters sabotage, resistant to power sinks, semi-modular, resistant to brownouts
Cons: severe fluctuations if incompletely implemented, requires insulated gloves, often incorrectly wired, requires initial charging and follow up on the SMESs before implementation
Gas Turbine Generator
The gas turbine generator is a tertiary power source that was recently installed in the incinerator. By utilizing the temperature differential between very hot air and very cold air, the turbine generator is able to create a nominal amount of electricity. The hot air is created by burning plasma and oxygen gas mixtures. The cold air is creating by passing air through cooling tubes located in space.
Although it's usually the last power source set up on the station, it's the only power source that can be accessed by Atmospherics. Also, they're the only ones who can turn on and mix the gas feed needed to sustain the generator without the use of gas canisters. The exact gas mixture for optimal power generation is unknown at this point, but some Engineers have reported values as high as 100 kW and in typical Engineer fashion forgot to write down their recipe. Be prepared to field questions from
overprotective proactive AIs who notice plasma in the mixtank.
Portable generators are failsafes when all other systems fail. They require fuel that is fed directly into the generator by hand. The type of fuel is dependent which type of generator is being used.
Portable generators can be upgraded using parts created by a protolathe.
|P.A.C.M.A.N. Portable Generator||Plasma|
|M.R.S.P.A.C.M.A.N. Portable Generator||Diamond|
|S.U.P.E.R.P.A.C.M.A.N. Portable Generator||Uranium|
One PACMAN generator is located in the SMES room, with plasma located in secure storage, and it is suggested to use it while setting up the singularity to prevent early release.
Power cells are used to power devices smaller than the station such as APCs and cyborgs. Constructed with a protolathe, typical power cells come in several different flavors, in increasing capacity: the default power cell, the high-capacity power cell, the super-capacity power cell, or the hyper-capacity power cell.
There are also atypical cells such as a potato cell and a slime core cell.
|Type||Capacity (W)||Typical Cells|
|High-Capacity Power Cell||15000|
|Super-Capacity Power Cell||20000|
|Hyper-Capacity Power Cell||30000||Atypical Cells|
|Slime Core Cell||10000|
To most people they're just wires that burn the shit out of you when you try to cut them without wearing insulated gloves. But really, the power grid is the electrical backbone of the station, powering everything from the emitters containing the singularity to the APC that controls the bathrooms in the locker room that you never go to. Also, it burns the shit out of you if you try to cut it without wearing insulated gloves.
A Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage (SMES) Cell is the spess version of a giant rechargeable battery. The standard set-up for an SMES involves:
1. a wiring input from a power source, such as Solars or the Singularity Engine, or from the power grid itself, in the case of the Backups SMESs, and
2. a wiring output to the local power grid, or to a closed system like the AI or mining stations
SMES have a modifiable storage capacity, dependent on the power cells installed in the SMES upon fabrication. All SMESs present at the beginning of a typical shift have a default capacity of 3.33 MW.
|per cell installed||per 5 cells installed|
|Slime Core/SMES Cell||TBD||TBD|
SMES input (charging) and output levels can be modified using capacitors. All SMESs present at the beginning of a typical shift have a basic capacitor with default i/o levels of 200 kW.
|Capacitor||Max Input Level||Max Output Level|
|Basic||200000 W (200 kW)||200000 W (200 kW)|
|Advanced||400000 W (400 kW)||400000 W (400 kW)|
|Super||600000 W (600 kW)||600000 W (600 kW)|
SMESs will only charge when the input power is equal or higher to the input levels specified on the SMES settings panel.
Likewise, SMESs will only output when the level of charge is above the output level specified on the SMES settings panel.
APCs, or Automated Power Controllers, are found in or, more likely, in maintenance just outside every room with power. They can be used to turn on or off the room equipment, lightning and environmental (a.k.a. ventilation) systems.
System power is the amount of power available to the station at any given time. Power is made available through charged SMESs outputting power and through immediate power from power sources wired directly to the grid.
(System Power) = (Total Output Power of SMESs) + (Power Sources Wired to the Grid)
To maintain a stable source of power for station equipment, the station power grid follows a power queue where an electrical component with higher rank on the queue has its power draw from the grid evaluated before an electrical component with a lower priority. APCs are typically the lowest priority since they only draw power, while the power sources on the station are the highest priority since they only produce power.
|1||All Power Sources|
|2||Power Sink||You wish I told you|
|3||Solar SMES #1||Starboard Forward Solar Access|
|4||Solar SMES #2||Port Forward Solar Access|
|5||Solar SMES #3||Starboard Aft Solar Access|
|6||Solar SMES #4||Port Aft Solar Access|
|7||Singlo SMES #1||SMES Room|
|8||Singlo SMES #2||SMES Room|
|9||Singlo SMES #3||SMES Room|
|??||Gas Turbine SMES||Incinerator Access (Gas Turbine Power Room)|
|10||Backups SMES #1||Electrical Maintenance|
|11||Backups SMES #2||Electrical Maintenance|
|12||Station APC Queue||Isolated SMESs|
|N/A||Gravity SMES||Gravity Generator Chamber|
|N/A||AI SMES||AI Chamber|
|N/A||Mining Output SMES||Mining Outpost|
|N/A||North Mining Output SMES||North Mining Outpost|
|N/A||West Mining Output SMES||West Mining Outpost|
Power Output and the Power Queue
The most visible effect of the power queue is that if there is not enough output power available on the grid because a component with higher rank is requesting it, then a lower rank component will not charge. For example, if the Backup SMESs are set to input 200 kW each from the grid and the APCs draw 150 kW, but the grid only provides 250 kW total, then the second Backup SMES will not charge and around two out of three APCs will go unpowered as well.
SMES Charging and the Power Queue
Similarly, if a higher rank component has a high enough output level to handle the station's power draw, then the station will draw all of its power from the higher rank component instead of splitting the draw with a lower rank component. This phenomenon is seen often when the singlo is set up. An unaware Engineer will purposefully set all three Singlo SMESs to output at a very high value, say 100 kW, or 300 kW, thinking that this will be more than enough to power the station. While this is technically correct, it isn't advised since it slows down the time it takes until all SMESs are completely full.
An example is the best way to see this. The total power draw on the station is usually near 150 kW. This means the station will draw 100 kW from Singlo SMES #1, 50 kW from Singlo SMES #2, and 0 kW from Singlo SMES #3, resulting in different charging rates of the SMESs. Since SMESs have a capacity of 3,333,333 W (3.33 MW) and assuming an input level of 200 kW, it should take 33.3 cycles before all the SMESs are completely charged (9.99 MW total power stored).
|Charge at n Cycles||Singlo Cell||Input Level||Draw||Charge Rate||17||23||34|
|SMES #1||200 kW||100 kW||100 kW||1.70 MW||2.30 MW||3.33 MW|
|SMES #2||200 kW||50 kW||150 kW||2.55 MW||3.33 MW||3.33 MW|
|SMES #3||200 kW||0 kW||200 kW||3.33 MW||3.33 MW||3.33 MW|
|Total||600 kW||150 kW||450 kW||7.58 MW||8.96 MW||9.99 MW|
A better way is to set output levels on Singlo SMESs #1 and #2 to a third of the total power draw of the station (here, 50 kW), while allowing the remainder (also, 50 kW) to draw from Singlo SMES #3, which would be set higher than that to account for power fluctuations. For the same case where the total draw was 150 kW, we would set SMES #1 and #2 to 50 kW and SMES #3 to something higher like 200 kW. This would have all three SMESs charged in 22.2 cycles -- 33% faster than the situation above.
|Charge at n Cycles||Singlo Cell||Input Level||Draw||Charge Rate||17||23|
|SMES #1||200 kW||50 kW||150 kW||2.55 MW||3.33 MW|
|SMES #2||200 kW||50 kW||150 kW||2.55 MW||3.33 MW|
|SMES #3||200 kW||50 kW||150 kW||2.55 MW||3.33 MW|
|Total||600 kW||150 kW||450 kW||7.65 MW||9.99 MW|
ENGINEERING WHY ARE WE LOSING POWER
Sooner or later, on every barely functional space station, the power will go out. This is where you - YES, YOU, YOU LAZY FUCK - come in and call out to recall that shuttle because you can fix it! Power can go out for many reasons. Your first port of call should be the Power Monitoring console in engineering, assuming it still exists. Then, ask yourself what's going on:
- Power goes out everywhere, in under 10 seconds or so? This is most likely a power sink. Power sinks have the odd quirk of still powering the area they are placed in, so your best bet is to get searching for somewhere where the lights are still on, or if it's in maint, where you don't have to crowbar the doors.
- Power goes out everywhere, but gradually, section by section? This means there's a problem in Engineering itself as the rest of the station is being topped up with charge. It'll be immediately obvious if the engine isn't on/has escaped. Your next port of call should be the SMES cells. Check they're outputting enough power to overcome the drain OR if no APCs are showing on the Power Monitoring computer, it means a wire has been cut either inside or immediately outside the Engineering area and is not being supplied to the rest of the station.
- Power is out across a small area? This is most commonly a broken wire, the easiest way to find it is with familiarity with the power-net and using that in conjunction with the power monitoring computer. If an area has had all wires sending power to it snipped, its APCs will no longer show on the power monitoring computer. For example, if Medbay as a whole has lost power and isn't showing any of its APCs on the power monitor. The wire cut is most likely in the maint tunnel behind Medbay. The more familiar you become with the power nets, the quicker you will be able to work out where the break is and be able to recognize common spots used.
- Power is out across 2 small rooms or in one room? This is most likely an APC that has been tampered with in some way. Either hacked by an AI/Saboteur, destroyed somehow or just had its cell ripped out. Again, if the APC doesn't show up on the Power Monitoring computer, it means it's been severed from the power net and wire either inside that room or very close to the APC has been cut.
- Power is intermittent across the station. Stuff turns off for a while, starts working, then goes off again? Your SMES aren't outputting enough power to keep the APCs charged. This happens most often when the output is just under the drain so therefore some APCs get enough power, while others don't.
- The smes'es cycle between getting power and not getting power for seemingly no reason Bug. admin help it. Can be fixed by admins by restarting the master controller.
- Power isn't actually out? Either someone is crying wolf or something else has happened to make it look like power went out, most likely an electrical storm.
Now that you know what's wrong with power, it's your job to fix it! If the singularity is about to be fucked, TURN OFF THE PA IMMEDIATELY (it may be worth asking the AI) and wire solars, if they aren't already wired. It might also be necessary to replace equipment. There is a PACMAN located in the SMES room and a spare SMES unit located in Electrical Maintenance, both of which no one ever remembers. You could also rebuild everything. The tools to build a new SMES are located in Tech Storage, and cargo can order new solar equipment and even a new goddamn PA! ...Assuming they haven't already done so and pointed it your way, that is.