Kevin's LPC Guide to EVE Planetary Interaction (PI)

Introduction

This is version 1.1 of this Guide, updated on 10/13/2011.

I previously mentioned that I’m spending some time playing Eve.  One of VERY MANY things you can train up to do in the game is whats called PI – technically Planetary Interaction, but I think of it as Planetary Industry.  This activity has changed a lot in the recent release (summer of 2011?) and I didn’t find a lot of current information on the web.  This guide is based on about 60 hours of work building up dozens of planets and was accomplished only with the support of members of the corporation I’m in within the game.  The guide is designed to provide practical advice to someone familiar with Eve, but new to PI.

PI involves investment of ISK for a steady return, but also requires some attention.  I’m way too new to be accurate on this, but I’m guessing breakeven in ISK will take a month or so using low-sec planets, with profit thereafter.  Like most things, the more attention you pay it, the faster the rewards.  How much attention?  After you have your PI set up, just a few minutes per planet per day should be fine.  I have my planets setup to run for 2 days, but generally reset that counter daily. Also, like most things Eve, the riskier your environment (the lower the security level), the greater the reward.  Since you can manage the daily operations of your PI systems from anywhere and only have to visit the planet to collect your final products, I highly suggest working in low-sec, ideally in 0.1-0.2 space.  If your not comfortable with that, start in high-sec (>0.5), but either just do it for the experience, or plan on it taking a lot longer to pay off.  (Of note, a friend tells me that if done right, several 100M ISK a month can be earned doing PI.  I’m looking forward to experiencing that!)

The hints and suggestions provided in this guide should allow you to create very flexible Launch Pad Centric (LPC) designs.  LPC systems optimize the usage of all resources with zero waste so long as your Launch Pad (aka: your Space Ports) do not fill up.  For instance, even if your extractor program expires, your factories will continue to run consuming any excess materials available.  Likewise, you can adjust your PI infrastructure one component at a time without having to worry about re-balancing everything.  This is very handy when upgrading your Command Center and adding additional factories or extractor heads.  But this is getting ahead of ourselves, so lets get started with the basics.

Material Diagram

PI is a game of balance.  For discussion purposes, lets say you want to make Rocket Fuel to sell.  Start by looking at an excellent reference that shows how all the materials work together – the famous Eve Material Diagram.  Please don’t freak when you open this, its huge. I suggest you save a local copy, your going to spend some time in it.  For now, just use Ctrl-F (Find) and search for “Rocket Fuel”.  You should see something like this:

 

The full document will explain all of the legend, but for now notice that two items are required to build Rocket Fuel:  Ionic Solutions, and Suspended Plasma.  Also notice that both items have a black S under them.  That’s key.  It means that you can obtain both materials from a somewhat rare storm planet.   You want everything you need on one planet so that you don’t have to haul materials between them – especially true if you are doing this in low-sec (or are REALLY brave and doing it in null-sec).  So, being practical for now, go find a Storm class planet.  Because they are somewhat rare, you may need to look in several systems before you find one.  On the other hand, I’ve seen systems with (3) storm planets in them, so this shouldn’t be too hard.  Just create an “all” tab in your overview, load the default “all” setting into it, and look for Storm planets as you fly around in your neighborhood.  Find one?  Good.  Now warp to it.  If your in null or low sec, you might want to do this is a cloakable ship and cloak it now.

Scanning Planets

Go to your overview, and right-click on the planet, then select “View in planet mode’.  You should see something like:

Time to play a bit.  Click on Scan and you will see the (5) resources available.  Each and every planet has (5) resources, but they vary in availability (the length of the bars – mostly determined by the security level the planetary system has), and in type (determined by planet type).  Again, the Material Diagram is the easiest way to sort those out.  For this exercise, we know we want Ionic Solutions and Suspended Plasma – both of which you see listed on the Storm planet.  We will come back to this, but for now, left click on Ionic Solutions and give it about 5-10 seconds.  You should see something like this:

Of primary notice here is the colored regions going from dark blue to white.  We see some red areas, those are known as “hot spots”.  The amount of material available in those regions is much higher than in others.

OK – non-obvious item #1:  That color bar from blue to white?  Its slideable to allow you to scale the amounts.  My moving the bar left and right, you can adjust the sensitivity of the scan.  Here is the image after moving it to the left:

I just played with the slider until I had the small white spots.  Those would be the best spots on the current view to extract Ionic Solutions.  You can grab the planet and rotate it, which you really should do in order to make sure there are not better spots on the other side.  If you are going to extract a single item, you might as well do it on the best place on the planet.  You are only allowed one facility per planet, so go for the best spot!  However…

If you are going to extract two or more items, you are going to spend a lot of time in the scan view of the planet, and scanning and viewing other similar planets.  What you are looking for is a planet that has the hottest spots CLOSE TOGETHER that you can find.  This is where showing the “Info” on a planet can be useful.  One item in the Info is the planet size.  They are all scaled to look the same on the planetary view, but planets vary form under 2000 KM (small Plasma) to over 47000 KM (moderate Gas) in size.  If you are collecting 2 or more resources, you don’t want to have to move them far!  Bottom line:  given equally dense hot spots, a smaller planet is more likely to have them close together than a larger planet.  Notice I said “more likely”, its a numbers game – you might find a HUGE planet with the 2 (or 4) items your looking for with overlapping hot spots.  Not likely mind you, but its mathematically possible.

OK – that’s most of what you need to know to find a good planet.  Lets move on.

Skills

As with everything Eve, there are skills required to doing PI:

Command Center Upgrades – determines how big a PI environment you can have.  Good news, everything is upgradable now, so you can start playing with PI at level 1 to get the mechanics down, and upgrade your infrastructure later as your skills increase.  If your going to do PI for real, you will want to get this skill to at least level IV.  Higher skills allow you to upgrade (for ISK of course) your Command Center to produce more power and CPU.  For most situations power is the limitation.

Non-Obvious item #2:  Command centers do not need to be connected to the rest of your planetary infrastructure.  Why not?  I’ve no idea besides ease of game play.  Ideally, when you place your Command Center, you want to put it close to where your going to build your infrastructure, but that’s only because whenever you later look at the planet, it will center the initial view on your command center.  Thus is nice if you can see the rest of your structures without having to rotate the planet searching.  Also, with the exception of extractor heads (talked about later), you can’t move structures once placed.  Unless your really good at this, you will waste some ISK destroying and replacing structures to get a layout you like.  Command centers are the ONLY item you need to bring to the planet with you, the rest are just paid for when your building (you select them and their cost is checked against your wallet balance and purchased when you “submit” your changes).  Good news, Command Centers are cheap, about 80K ISK.  Bad news, they are big, at 1000 M3.  All that said, I tend to connect my Command Centers to enable the ability to launch small cargo containers into space.  With a Launch Pad, you will typically use the more secure export method to the planets Customs Office, but its nice to have option to launch and it looks cool!

If you are purely focusing on PI for your character (reasonable if you only have, say, 20 minutes a day to play with a few hours on weekends), there is a specialty ship for you: the Primae.  Looks like people are buying it for 1M ISK and selling for 10M ISK – which means you should shop.  I found them selling for ~4.5M ISK in Jita, and for only ~3M ISK in Heimatar.  If your doing other things, like mining, I’d suggest a ship like the Hoarder or your race’s equivalent.  The Hoarder takes some moderate skill to fly (the Primae takes none), but its available for sale at around 800K ISK, and is a lot more flexible.  My hoarder is equipped with (3) Warp Core Stabilizers, (1) Nanofiber Internal Structure, and a Cloaking device making it reasonably safe to travel around in low-sec, at least from gate pirates (they got into my hull once, but that was my fault).  With 5K M3 of cargo space, I can set up multiple planets and have a reasonable size cargo bay for hauling goods.  This points out that PI isn’t for a brand new player;  I wouldn’t suggest starting the effort until you routinely have a wallet with, oh, 10-20M ISK in it.  Honestly, you should be there in a month or two of seriously playing if you join a good corporation and do some group activities.  If I had 100M ISK to blow on a ship, I’d probably be flying a Prowler…  OK, back to skills:

Interplanetary Consolidation – Simply the number of planets you can PI.  You can do (1) without this skill, (2-6) with it (from level I to V of the skill).  I’d suggest at least level II which would allow you to manage (3) planets.  Once setup, it doesn’t take much longer to manage (3) than it does (1).  The skill is also fairly expensive at ~450,000 ISK, so you might as well leverage it.

Remote Sensing – you need level I.  It appears that so long as you warp to the planet to do your scans, that’s about all you need. However, level III is required for Planetology.

Non-obvious item #3:  Scanning planets from a distance reduces the accuracy of the material scans, sometimes apparently to the point of them being useless.  I’ve only read this, and have since just warped to the planets to do my scans.

Planetology – Improves scan resolution.  Mine is currently at level 3, level 4 is required for Advanced Planetology (which is just an improvement over regular).  I seem to be getting along fine without it on my Alts.  A bit of Googling seems to confirm that both of these are fairly useless unless your doing High-Sec.  In Low-Sec, all you need to know is that a spot is hot for extractor head placement.  How hot doesn’t really matter so long as its fairly balanced between extractors.  The skills do not apparently directly affect your extraction yield in any meaningful way.

That’s it for skills.

Launch Pad Centric (LPC) design basics

The key to this guide is the before mentioned LPC design.  This can be achieved as soon as you have learned Command Center Upgrade and place (or upgrade too) a L2 Command Center.  At that point you have enough CPU capacity to install a Launch Pad (LP).  Using the LPC design methodology, that LP will be in the center of your complex.  EVERYTHING links to the LP – All Extractors, All Factories, even your Command Center if you have a bit of extra power left over to support that link.

We do this in order to take advantage of the 10,000 M3 of storage space within the LP.  If you are starting out without the Command Center skill, you can do something similar using a the 5,000 M3 Storage Facility and replace it with a LP later (simply install your launch pad, and use Expedited Transfer to move your Storage Facility contents to the LP before destroying your Storage Facility.  You really don’t want it once your LP is built.)

Ideally when you layout your planet, you will find a spot where your extractors can be placed close to each other and access different material hot spots.  In the middle of the extractors place your LP.  I try and have them as close as possible.  Link those extractors to the LP.  If you are build more advanced PIs, say with level III or greater Command Center Upgrade capability, you may need to upgrade the links to handle the volume of material.  Just do it, its relatively cheap power wise.  On a good 0.2 space hot space, with (4) extractor heads, I have needed to upgrade the links two times to handle the flow.  Its OK, no matter what you read about links… trust me its not a sin to use the link upgrade capability.

Once we have created the LP, and linked and routed (explained more late, I promise!) the Extractor output, you should build Factories next to, and linked to, the LP.  Now route the materials deposited at the LP to the Factories and route the Factory products back to the LP for export or further processing via Advanced Factories.

What?  You can’t find the materials to route?  Yeah, that’s the biggest downfall of this design.  It takes real time to setup.  Specifically:  Once you setup your Extractors and install their programs, make sure you Submit.  That will start them.  Wait until one extraction cycle is complete (30 minutes if your program is 2 days or less in length) and THEN route the products that will be delivered to your LP to the factories.  Submit again.  Likewise, if you have advance factories, you will need to come back after your basic factories have cycled once.  Yeah, its a pain, but its worth it, and all of this is “one time” work.  The good news is you can do this work from anywhere in the universe, docked or undocked.

Why is all this worth it?  Absolute product efficiency.  Everything produced by all components will either be used whenever needed, or will accumulate in your LP storage for later export and sale as excess.  (Oh, you will have excess – its virtually impossible to completely balance the output of multiple extractors.  Still, if you have multiple PIs setup, and wanted to use everything, you could ship the excess around for processing in those other PIs that might need it.).  If you manually tune, like I first did, trying to match extractor output to factory requirements to advanced factory requirements, you likely to overflow those factory receiving docks during the beginning of an extractor cycle, and starve the factories later in the cycle.  By using LPC designs, the early excess is stored at the LP and consumed later when there is a shortage.  Without LPC you are also likely to sub-optimize output.  For example, look at these two layouts, the first with the extractor feeding the factories directly, the second using LPC principles.

Note the above has (12) factories being fed with an extractor with (6) heads.  The (12) factories were required to absorb the peak output of the extractor, with a bit of excess routed to the LP, and later manually routed to a few idle factories.  Link congestion was a problem and taught me to have a link between the extractor and the spaceport.  Note the factories are 2 deep and route their products back to the extractor for transfer to the spaceport.  Most of the inner links are 90%-100% busy.

Here is the same facility redesigned using LPC principles:

See that I now have (10) factories providing enough power to support (9!) heads.  In fact, this was so effective it depleted the hot spot by the time I captured this.  This shift from factories to heads was obvious when using LPC since shortly after the cycle peak period, many of the factories were idle.  With LPC, I simply removed the extra factories and was done.  No re-balancing of output, no routes to check.  Likewise the addition of extra heads required no other work since everything was centralized through the LP.  The link between the Extractor and the LP is 100% utilized, the other links are only 30-60% utilized. FYI, it only took a few moments to swing the extractor heads to another nearby hot spot.  No worries about factory capacity since I know things will catch up:

More on Materials

Lets back up a bit and explore that Eve Material Diagram some more.  As you can see, it shows a progression of manufacturing.

Raw Materials (at the bottom like the Ionic Solutions and Suspended Plasma we are using in this example) are collected by an Extractor with Extractor Heads.  Extractors produce the greatest volume of any building.  An extractor will produce thousands of units of raw material per cycle in low-sec, even with a single head.  A Factory will consume 3000 units per 30 minute cycle to produce 20 units of Processed Material.  An Advanced Factory will consume 40 units each of two different types of Factory output to produce 5 units of Refined Commondity.  Likewise, two or three refined commodities are required to produce one Specialized Commodity, and two or three Specialized commodities are required to produce a Advanced Commodity.  All of this should be pretty obvious when looking at that material diagram.

Finally, enough background info!  Lets start producing Rocket Fuel!

Preparing for your first PI

Hopefully you have found a Storm planet you like.  For this guide, I’ll presume its something in low-sec, so that you have some good hot spots fairly close (say within 1000km of each other).  Lets inventory what we will need:

(2) close hot spots – one each of Ionic Solution and Suspended Plasma

(2) Extractors to gather the metals

(2) Basic factories to convert the metals into Precious Metals and Reactive Metals

(1) Advanced factory to convert the basic factories output to Mechanical Parts

(1) Launch Pad

To do this, you are going to need a minimum Command Center Upgrade skill of level II in order to have a Command Center with enough power to support all of the above.

We need a couple of other things setup:

Links simply connect extractors, factories, and spaceports together.  Think of them as single train railways.  Short links cost less power to operate (enough difference that trying to wrap around your planet will kill you, but not so much that being a factory diameter off in placement will make a difference.  A lot of PI guides I found on the web literally harp on keeping your link distances short to conserve power.  I’m not sure, perhaps they ate more power pre-Incarna than they do now, but honestly, I never found the length to be much of a problem.  A bit more on that in the Cost Section later in this guide.  Links are simply created by using the Links icon and selecting Create New.

Extractor Heads – attach to Extractors.  You can have from 1 to 10 per extractor.  Each requires significant power to use.  Don’t go nuts, remember that factories can only use 3000 units/30 minutes.  No sense in producing 20,000 units if you only have one factory unless you plan on letting your programs expire and slowly consuming the excess stored in your LP.

Routes – Automatically transfer products across links to their next destination.  Must be manually setup.  Created by going to the Products window, selecting a product, clicking Create Route (once), then selecting a destination, and then clicking Create Route a second time.

OK, lets build that Rocket Fuel PI!

Building your Command Center

First thing you need to do is buy a Storm Command Center.  Should cost something like 80K ISK.  Remember that you need to pick it up in a ship with 1000M3 of cargo space free.  So go it, and get back to your planet.  Turn your cloak on.  View the planet in planet mode.  Find the rough center of the area between your two hot spots.  Make sure you in Build Mode and Command Center is bolder.  Click Command Center and “Storm Command Center” should pop up:

Simply click the highlighted Storm Command Center and drop on your planet near where your LP will be.  Exactly placement doesn’t matter.  Congrats!  You have the first step done.  You can now close the planetary view (little red X), uncloak, and go dock if you like.  Everything else can be done from anywhere in the universe.  Of course, you don’t have to, you can continue if you wish from orbit but if your in low-sec, that is not a good idea.

Presuming you docked, you can now select “Science and Industry” for the icons on the far left of your screen, and select the “Planets” tab.  Doubling clicking on your planet name (or single clicking and clicking the “view planet” button) will bring you back into planet mode viewing – just like you were in orbit, but in the safety of your docking station.

First thing to do is to upgrade your Command Center are high as your skills will allow.  This will be the single more expensive thing you do.  The command center window for the finished level II PI system looks like this:

As you can see, it is pretty much maxed out of power, but has plenty of CPU left.  The buttons along the middle are pretty much self explanatory.  The round circle is Upgrade, which you hopefully just did.  The rocket is how you launch products.  This cost a small amount of ISK, and places your product in the Customs Office near your planet.  I’ve heard rumor some planets don’t have Custom Offices, which would be VERY BAD – since you couldn’t get anything off the planet except by using your Command Center small jet can capability.  If you’re wisely paranoid (at least in Eve), that’s probably a good thing to check before establishing your Command Center.  The Storage block just shows you what you have in storage – should be empty.  Note that a Command Center can store a small amount of material (500 M3), but that’s hardly worth fooling with.  A Storage Facility (previously called a Silo) can store 5000 M3, but consumes 700MW of power.  That’s the same power consumption that a Launchpad consumes.  Since we are building a LPC design, the choice is obvious.  The “i” (info) just shows you the CPU and Power output of the Command Center (and consumption for other buildings).  Links should be blank without any present as should Routes.  Obviously, the Red X destroys the building.  These symbols are pretty common across all the buildings you will place.

Building your Extractors

OK, now we need to place an Extractor.  This is something you need to get right.  Start by clicking Scan mode, highlighting the material you want to extract, and adjusting the scale until you have a white circle about the size of a large coin on your screen.  Now select Build.  Notice that the scan remains for reference.  Click “Extractor Control Units” and “Storm Extractor Control Unit” should appear as a sub-menu. When you click on Storm Extractor and move your mouse a bit to the right, you should see a very small dark circle surrounded by a very large white circle.  The large white circle is the range indicator for your Extractor heads.  Move the small circle towards your Command Center making sure the white circle overlaps your hot spot.  Extractor heads have a relatively HUGE range and can greatly shorten the length of your links if you use them correctly.  Here is an example on a small planet where the extractor radius is almost 1/2 that of the planet.  Compare it to the 2nd example from a slightly larger planet.  On a Gas giant the difference is remarkable.

Here is an old example from one of my planets that shows the placement well:

In the above example I have (3) extractor heads feeding the Extractor, (3) factories being fed from that extractor, and a link going to my Spaceport.   You can see the thin white large circle that represents the range of the heads and that its overlapping the hot spot when I placed my three heads.  Because my skill for this character was low, and the required resources far apart, I could not completely follow LPC – it is a guide, not a law!  Below is more what we should be shooting for and shows the final layout:

Once you place your extractor you need to select “submit” before you can do much else besides placing the other one and placing your LP.  Once you have submitted (and thereby spent the ISK), clicking on your new extractor facility should generate a popup similar to this one.  Non-obvious item (#5) – big difference between single clicking the Extractor, and double clicking which automatically drops you into survey mode (the first button below).

Double clicking initially on the Extractor, or now clicking on the first icon, Survey generates the following popup:

Setting the Extraction Area Size to (2) days and selecting (2) heads shows the following:

Once “Install Program” is selected and “submit” is done on the planetary view panel, collection has started!  You will see that I have (2) extractor head units selected (any two of the ten will do).  Those are the two units shown in the hot spot above.  You can adjust the number and location of your units anytime the program is NOT running.  Stopping is relatively harmless, but  you will lose that cycles output.  You’re setting this up for months, don’t sweat 30 minutes…  Oh, once in awhile, there will be a minute or so delay if you try and cycle the program too often.  Anyhow, when you select a new extractor head unit, a small circle will appear on your map with a line connecting it to your Extractor.  Simply grab the head and move it to where you want.  If you overlap heads, a red efficiency loss will show up next to the output of each of the effected heads.  Simply move the head a bit so that it doesn’t overlap.  When the program is stopped, you will be able to adjust the Extraction Area Size.  This is how you set how long your program will run.  Once the program stops, extraction ceases until you restart it.  This “extractor cycle” is the primary activity you will be doing to manage your PIs.  I have selected a (2) day run time for two reasons:  1)  I tend to play daily, but this gives me a bit of buffer if I play early one morning and not again until late the next day.  2) Each cycle for 2 day or shorter runs is 30 minutes.  That matches the cycle time of my basic factories, so most of the products will be only in the LP for a short period of time.  Pick something that works for you.  For example, if your only going to pay attention to your PI once a week (most of the time), max it out for a 2 week cycle time – but know that you will not produce as much as if you were cycling daily.  This is actually visually obvious in a way you need to be aware of:  As you increase your cycle time, the size of the area your extractor heads work over gets larger.  Thus a head layout that doesn’t overlap with a 1 day cycle may well with a 2 day cycle.  Bottom line:  set your extraction cycle time before you think your done with head placement.  Good news, just stop the program and adjust to fix any mistakes.  Only cost is the little bit of material extracted.

Speaking of extractor heads on the above image:  you will notice a number next to each selected head.  That is the relative output of that head.  You can watch that number change as you position the heads.  Obviously, you want it as large as possible.  Using the scan adjustment to make the white area about the size of your desired mining zone helps a lot with this.

So… we are now extracting.

Building your Launch Pad (Space Port)

If we try and build the Launch Pad now, it will fail since our facility does not have enough CPU Power yet.  Simply click on your Command Center and upgrade it to level III (three green bars like in the photo way above) to have enough CPU (and power) to build the rest of this example.

Now place your Launchpad next to your Extractor:

Add your other Extractor but only use a single Extraction head.  That is all the power you will be able to dedicate to heads.   Using the Planetary Links button (or the button on each building panel) to link it all together.

Building your Processors (Factories)

Now you need a basic factory to process.  When you go back to your planetary view, select build, and highlight processors you should see something like:

Only Barren and Temperate planets will have the High-Tech Production option shown above.  For other planets, like our storm, you will just see the Basic and Advanced lines:

For now we just want to select Storm Basic Industry and place (4) of them, and (1) advanced next to the LP.  Link all the factories back to the LP.  I like to link my Control Center to my Advance Factory… if you missed when placing it on the planet, that link is easy to follow back to your main setup.  As stated before, this also allows you to use the Command Center launch capability to launch product jet cans if you wish.

For the Ionic Solutions we are extracting, we want to refine Electrolytes, likewise for the Suspended Plasma, we want to refine Plasmoids .  Simply click on your placed basic factory, and select the first icon called Schematics.  A menu will appear, select the target product, and install it.  We need (2) factories making each, it doesn’t matter which ones you have do what since LPC draws everything from the LP.  After you select and install a product, you will be greeted with the “Products” menu and a red “Not Routed” message.  Click the product line, click “Create Route”, click on your LP, and click on “Create Route” again.  Now your products will be routed back to the LP.  Repeat for the (4) basic factories and for the (1) advanced.  Only difference for the advanced is that you select “Rocket Fuel” for the Schematic. Your factories are now set up and looking for material and should look something like this:

Now its time to take a 30 minute or so break, until each of the extractors have deposited their product at the LP.

<insert photo>

Once all (4) factories are being fed raw material, take another 30 minute break and come back and feed your Advanced Factory.

CONGRATULATION!  You now have a fully functional LPC based PI setup producing Rocket Fuel.  Come back at least every 2 days, more often won’t hurt, and “stop program” “install program” on each of your extractors.  Those two steps force a resurvey and start everything over fresh.  Keep an eye on your hot spots and make sure they are not depleted – so long as your extractor heads are producing, your good.

When the amount of Rocket Fuel stored at the LP is approximately equal to your hauling capacity (1000 M3 in the Primae), undock and go visit the planet.  Using the LP menu that pops up when you click on your LP, select the space shuttle icon (Launch), add the Rocket fuel to the launch list, and have it sent up to the Customs Office near the planet.  You open the Customs Office much like any other container, and can transfer the contents to your ships cargo hold.  Note the Customs Office can hold 25,000 M3 of material and is not shared with anyone else.

Getting the most from a planet

Ah, one final note, and rather coming full circle:  When you study the Material Diagram you may notice that each planet type is capable of solely producing one Specialized Commodity.  For example, Robotics on the rare Plasma planets.  Presumably maximum profit would occur when creating the highest level product possible on the rarest planets.  I have found that level IV Command Center Upgrade lets me create a maximum of (4) extractors with the related factories and spaceports.  It does NOT allow me to create any 1st or 2nd level Advanced Factories.    Even with level IV, I can only manage a single extractor head per extractor.   Thus the first layout below, which is my preliminary Robotics planet constrained by power.  I presume I’ll have enough power when I get to Command Center Upgrade level V to add the advanced factories and perhaps a few more extractor heads.  Time will tell.

Examples

Included below are a few of my great, and not-so-great-but-do-what-I-need layouts:

My Robotics planet in progress, constrained by power: (4) Extractors, (4) Heads, (4) Basic Factories, (1) Spaceport.

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“The Stretch” – a small Barren planet used for Mech Part production.  (2) Extractors, (6) Heads, (6) Factories, (3) Advanced Factories, (1) Spaceport.  Note how much more can be done with only (2) Extractors vs. (4) in the previous example.  Do not try the “Stretch” on large planets!

Now… look whats happens when we LPC “The Stretch”…  I can reduce the number of basic factories from (6) to (4) and keep them busier more.  More importantly, I can increase the number of extractor heads from (6) to (10)!  That simply means more yield, pure and simple!

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Enriched Uranium: Similar to above.  Emphasizes using Head stretch to optimize.

Cost and other figures

PI Ship:

  • Primae cost ~4.5M ISK in Jita, ~3M ISK in Heimatar at the time this was written.
  • A Hoarder takes more skill, but runs about 800K ISK
  • (3) Warp Core Stabilizers – about 9,000 ISK each
  • Basic Nanofiber Internal Structure – cheap and a fairly common drop (as are WCSes).

Skills:

  • Remote Sensing to level I – need to find hot spots:  ~250,000 ISK + 8 minutes
  • Warp Drive Operations to level I – for fitting Warp Core Stabilizer for more safety in low-sec:  ~27,000 ISK + 8 minutes
  • Hull Upgrade to level I – for fitting a nanofiber structure unit (very optional): ~54,000 ISK in Rens
  • Command Center Upgrade (for all but the most trivial PI work): ~450,000 ISK + 34 minutes for level I, about 3 hours total for level II, and about 18 hours total for level III.  Beyond that on your own time!
  • Interplanetary Consolidation:  ~450,000 ISK.  Training time similar to Command Center Upgrades.  Optional, but highly recommended to level II or III.

PI structure stats:

  • Command Center: about 81,000 ISK – only thing you need to buy at market to start, 500 M3 storage capacity – provides MW and tf for everything else
  • Extractor: 45,000 ISK, 3700 MW, 620 tf
  • Extractor Head:  Free, 550MW, 110 tf
  • Basic Factory: 75,000 ISK, 800 MW, 200 tf
  • Advanced Factory: 250,000 ISK, 700 MW, 500 tf
  • Storage Facility: 250,000 ISK, 700 MW, 500 tf, 5000 M3 storage capacity
  • Launch Pad (aka: Space Port): 900,000 ISK, 700 MW, 3600 tf, 10,000 M3
  • Links:  Free, MW and tf vary on length.
    • Shortest I’ve made:  11 MW, 20tf
    • Longest I’ve made: 527 MW, 806 tf after upgrading – note that even this extreme example (“the stretch”) consumed less power than a single extractor head.
  • Upgrading from L1 to L2 Control Center cost 580,000 ISK
  • Upgrading from L2 to L3 Control Center cost 930,000 additional ISK… and so on.

Capabilities by Command Center level

Level 1:  (1) Command Center, (1) Extractor with (2) heads, (2) basic factories.  Use Command center like Launchpad to follow LPC design.  Optionally install (1) Storage facilities instead of a 2nd head.  Skills required:  Remote Sensing level I.

Level 2:  (1) Command Center, (1) Extractor with (3) heads, (4) basic factories, plus a Launchpad!  Allows for regular LPC design to kick in.  Requires Command Center Upgrade level I to power.

Level 3:  Adds an Advanced Factory.  Minimum required to make 2nd level products.  Not a great place to stop, insufficient power to deploy enough heads to keep all factories busy. Requires Command Center Upgrade level II to power.

Level 4: (1) Command Center, (2) Extractor with (10) heads, (4) basic factories, (2) advanced factories, Launchpad, links from Extractors to LP upgraded as needed. Presume you are following LPC designs.  Otherwise (4) heads with 2100 MW to do with as you please.

Level 5:  Not there yet with my character, however expecting to be able to support (4) Extractors, (4) basic factories, (2) advanced factories, and a 2nd level advanced factory.

Using an Alt for PI

PI is a wonderful use for an otherwise mostly idle alt character (one of those other 2 your allowed per account).  The training to get started is trivial, to be useful is amazingly low, especially for the world of EVE.  Money is made mostly based on real time passing.  In fact, I’m not sure why EVERY character doesn’t do this for a steady stream of ISK.  But to each their own!

Here is the short form of what you need to do, presuming you are about to define an alt just for this purpose:

  • Pick a race, any race.  All start with the small skills now.  Create your character and immediately fly to Jita or Rens or some other close trading hub.  You can skip all the introductory quests.
  • Pause training on your primary character and transfer some serious ISK to your alt.  10M should due.
  • Buy a Primae.  Assemble it and hop in!
  • Buy the Remote Sensing Skill and train it
  • Suggest buying Warp Drive Operation and training it, but that is optional
  • Resume training on your Primary if you just want to dabble or…
  • Buy and train Command Center Upgrade
  • Optional but highly recommended:  Buy and train Interplanetary Consolidation
  • Buy your favorite planetary command center
  • Follow the guide above to scan planets, pick one, and establish your command center and extract a bit of material.
  • Resume training on your Primary when you have your skills to the level you desire
  • Flush out your PI infrastructure and then just go visit when you choose

Minimum training time to get started:  8 minutes!  To level III Command Center Upgrade and Interplanetary Consolidation – something under 1.5 days.  If this is the only real thing your alt will do, I suggest you remap your Intelligence to 21 and your Charisma to 27 – this will cut something like 25% off of your training time.

Misc. Notes

Command Centers, Storage Facilities, and Launch Pads can send things to each other using the manual “Expedited Transfer” command.  Typically only used when sending stuff to the Command Center for jet canning, or if converting from a Storage Facility simple PI to the standard LPC environment to save produced products before the Storage Facility is removed.

Visual inspection:  There is a lot of color coding happening on an active PI system.  The outer ring of every building shows its input buffer state:  a darker ring indicates a building without anything in its buffer.  Advanced factories will have that ring in two showing each buffer.  A bright partial or full ring should the relative fullness of these buffers.   The inner white ring reflects the current cycle process, with a blinking white indicating nothing is happening.

Short link to this guide:  http://www.kevinsthoughts.com/?p=435

That’s about it.  Hope you find this post useful.  I’ll update as new information becomes apparent to me.

Please do comment!

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