Shield Generator

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The shield generator is a versatile and life-saving piece of equipment.

The shield generator is a heavy-duty machine in Engineering, used to shield the ship from external threats such as meteors, space carp, and drones. It is located in the Shield Generator Room on Deck 4, and is accessible by going down the stairs from Atmospherics. It is an extremely versatile piece of machinery to an expert, but can be very frustrating to figure out to a novice.

If you've been conscripted to set up the shield generator, click here to jump to a quick guide to setting them up.

Introduction to the Shield Generator

The shield generator is an old piece of equipment that generates shields around the ship itself. How well it will perform its job depends entirely on how well it's set up: if it's set up improperly, it may not be effective in preventing meteors from breaching the ship.

In addition to being old, the shield generator is also inefficient: it produces a lot of heat, and the more work it has to do, the more heat it produces. While this can be mitigated to a degree, overworking the shield generator will cause it to overheat, and if it overheats, it is designed to shut down to protect its internal components from damage. And with the ship being so far out into deep space that it cannot contact NanoTrasen, this is probably for the best - it's not like you can easily get another one.

The Shield Control Interface

The shield generator can be controlled by interacting with the primary core directly, or by the Shield Control program on a console or laptop. Inside, there are various options you can use to tune the shield generator to your liking, or as the situation demands. Bear in mind that modifying the shields will cause the shield generator's workload to increase, so care should be taken to only enable what is absolutely necessary, lest the shield generator overheat.

The interface for controlling the shields. The picture shown is from the generator itself.

The shield generator's control menu is divided into four major sections. They are, from top to bottom, system status, controls, logs, and modifications.

System Status and Annunciator Panel

The system status section tells you everything you may need to know about how the generator's running.

  • Generator is [...] - Displays whether the shield generator is running or not.
  • Shield integrity - Displays how much charge the shield generator has, in comparison to its total capacity.
  • Shield capacity - Same as above, but in a more technical fashion.
  • Mitigation - How well a shield cell will be able to handle different types of damage. You can think of this as its "armor" value, with any damage left over being passed to the affected shield segment.
    • EM - Electromagnetic pulses and disruptions.
    • PH - Physical damage, such as blunt force trauma and projectiles.
    • HE - Thermal damage, such as lasers.
    • MAX - The maximum percentage of damage the shield generator is capable of mitigating.
  • Upkeep energy use - How much power (of the total input) is required to sustain the shields at their current settings and current generator temperature.
  • Total energy use - How much power the shield generator is currently drawing, and what the power limit is set to. If the input limit is not set, it will show "(No Limit)" instead of a second number.
  • Field size - Total number of shield segments currently active, versus how many the generator can support.
  • Internal temperature - The interstage turbine temperature of the shield generator, or in layman's terms, how hot or cold it currently is. The bar's range is -20 to 120°C. [note 1]
  • Exhaust gas temperature - The temperature of the gas it is expelling from the generator; can be used to gauge how hard you're running the turbine. The bar's range is -20 to 140°C. [note 1]

In addition, there is also an annunciator panel in the interface, to allow you to take a quick glance at how everything's working. [note 1] There are a total of 8 annunciators:

ANNUNCIATORS
GENERATOR ONLINE GENERATOR OFFLINE GEN TEMP HIGH GEN OVERHEAT
SHIELD OFFLINE GEN TEMP LOW SHIELD OVERLOAD EXH TEMP HIGH
  • GENERATOR ONLINE - The shield generator is online. This does not necessarily mean the shields are online, however.
  • GENERATOR OFFLINE - The shield generator is offline.
  • GEN TEMP HIGH - The shield generator is above normal operating temperatures.
  • GEN OVERHEAT - The shield generator is overheating.
  • SHIELD OFFLINE - The shield generator is not producing any shield segments.
  • GEN TEMP LOW - The shield generator is below normal operating temperatures, and will require more power than normal to sustain its current workload.
  • SHIELD OVERLOAD - The shields have overloaded and shut down to regenerate faster.
  • EXH TEMP HIGH - The shield generator's exhaust air is above the temperature required to force an emergency shutdown.

Controls

The basic controls sit below the annunciator panel.

  • Turn On/Off - Allows you to turn the shield generator on and off safely. Turning the shields off using this button will require it to take 60 seconds to shut down the shields, and another 60 seconds before it's able to be turned back on again.
  • EMERGENCY SHUTDOWN - Shuts the shield generator and all shield segments off quickly, with some severe drawbacks: the generator will require ten minutes to cool down from discharging the shields so quickly, and if the integrity of the shields is greater than 50%, has a chance of creating an EMP pulse.
  • Set Field Range - Set the maximum radius for the shields.
  • Set Input Cap - Sets the maximum amount of power that the shield generator can draw. Note that the power draw is calculated in the heat generation code, so setting it to an absurdly high number (or disabling it entirely) may cause it to overheat.

Logging

The shield generator's logs are below the basic controls, and detail every bit of damage the shield generator receives, as well as every configuration change that occurs. The logs also show where each entry was triggered. This is useful if a contractor keeps messing with your shield setups.

Shield modifications

Below all the status information, the basic controls, and the logs, lie the buttons to make the shield generator work its magic effectively. Each shield modification changes how the shield works, at a cost: for every shield modification you turn on, you increase your upkeep power usage, and, even more importantly, you increase the amount of heat the shield generator puts out.

There are a total of 11 shield generator modifications; 2 of which require the shield generator's safeties to be disabled. They are:

  • Hyperkinetic Projectiles - Blocks blunt-force trauma, bullets, and meteors.
  • Photonic Dispersion - Blocks laser weaponry and light.
  • Humanoid Lifeforms - Blocks humans (including Unathi, Tajara, et cetera) from crossing the shields.
  • Silicon Lifeforms - Blocks cyborgs, drones, and other silicons from crossing the shields.
  • Unknown Lifeforms - Blocks various living mobs not stated above, such as carp, from crossing the shields.
  • Atmospheric Containment - Prevents air from crossing the shields. Useful for dealing with a breach, less so if it covers a vent.
  • Hull Shielding - Makes the shield cover the hull, instead of projecting out in a circle.
  • Multi-Dimensional Field Warp - Makes the shield cover more than one deck.
  • Adaptive Field Harmonics - Allows the shields to more effectively counter different types of damage, at the cost of high power draw.
  • Diffuser Bypass - Counters the effect of shield diffusers, at the cost of high power draw. Requires the safeties to be disabled.
  • Field Overcharge - Makes the shields into essentially a giant death ray to anything that touches it. Requires the safeties to be disabled.

Heat and Mitigation

The shield generator is an old and inefficient piece of equipment - it chews up a lot of power, and pushes out a lot of heat. This must be carefully managed, else the shield generator will overheat and trigger an emergency shutdown - and if it shuts down due to overheating, it won't be able to come back online for ten minutes, and will hardly charge at all during those ten minutes.

If the shield generator begins to get hot, it will broadcast a warning message on the Engineering and Command channels. [note 2]

How Heat Generation Works

The shield generator is air-cooled. Each process() tick, the generator checks the ambient airmix temperature. This temperature becomes the turbine temperature. The shield generator then pulls in just shy of 2000 liters, or about 80% of one tile's worth, of air. That air then receives heat energy calculated from the shield generator's workload and total power draw, and then it is released back into the ambient air.

The workload, or the upkeep power requirement, is calculated far more heavily than the total power draw. Assuming that the shield generator has generated shields, the heat energy calculated from 1 megawatt of total power draw is about 17.5 kilowatts of energy. The heat energy calculated from 1 megawatt of upkeep power usage comes out to about 210 kilowatts of usage, or about 12 times as much heat energy.

Heat Mitigation Techniques

Now that you know how heat generation works, you can easily guess that the easiest way to mitigate the amount of heat the shield generator is pushing out is to simply reduce its workload. However, this isn't always practical: suppose you need to have Atmospheric Containment on while you tend to a breach. There are other ways to get rid of the heat in the room.

The first is to turn the power level up on the gas cooler connected to the vents in the shield generator's room. This will require more power, but will allow the gas cooler to more effectively cool the room. In addition, beside the gas cooler, there is an empty machine frame there to allow you to set up a second gas cooler and double the cooling capacity. It should be noted that after a certain point, lowering the temperature on the gas coolers won't have any beneficial effects on the turbine temperature.

Another technique you can try is to set the range on the vents inside the room to the "expanded" setting. This will double the vents' ability to move gas into and out of the cooling system, but will also double the power draw of the vents in the room.

Heat Mitigation in Excess

All that said, keeping the shield generator too cool does not come without its drawbacks: the shield generator has a nominal operating range of 10 to 90°C. Below 10°C, the lubricants inside the turbine begin to gum up and force the shield generator to have to work harder to maintain the shields. The colder the room gets, the more power the shield generator will need to sustain certain settings. This scales in a linear fashion until the room's temperature reaches about -202.4°C (70.8°K), at which point the shield generator will need four times the amount of power to sustain a certain configuration as it would need if the temperature was standard room temperature.

This is one of the reasons why setting the gas cooler to absolute zero isn't really all that good of an idea: after a certain point, the increased upkeep power requirements will outweigh the benefits of keeping the room colder. (This is, of course, assuming that you can even get the room cold enough to where the increased power requirement becomes a detriment in the first place; lowering the demand temperature isn't going to affect how well it'll cool if it's more than a few degrees away in the first place.)

A Quick and Dirty Guide to Setting Up the Shields

So, you've been conscripted to get the shields running, and you have no clue how to do that in the first place. Don't worry: despite all of the above about heat management, it's actually not too difficult. All you'll need is a way to get to the shield generator foyer, a way to get into the engineering substation, and a way to access the shield generator's controls. (And if you're in the shield generator foyer, you're literally a room away from the shield generator itself.)

  1. Ensure the bypass breaker for the Engineering substation is enabled.
  2. Turn on the gas cooler in the shield generator foyer, and set the demand temperature to 173°K. Turn the power level setting to 5.
  3. Open up the controls for the shield generator. Set the input cap to 3000 kW.
  4. Activate "Hull Shielding", "Multi-Dimensional Field Warp", and "Hyperkinetic Projectiles" in the mods.
  5. Turn on the shield generator.

That's all there really is to it. If you've followed these five steps, and didn't do anything extracurricular with the modifications, then you won't need to worry about the shield generator overheating. (These are the settings that were used to test the shield generator's overheat mechanic.)

Footnotes

  1. Due to an oversight, this feature is currently only accessible by interacting with the shield generator directly, and is not available with the Shield Control program. A hotfix is waiting to be merged.
  2. Due to an unknown issue, the Engineering channel frequently becomes unusable; when this occurs, the warning will only broadcast over the Command channel.