Sunday, 30 December 2012

Day 196 : Space Noob P.I.

You have no idea how tempting it was to photoshop my characters head onto a picture of Magnum PI. I couldn't because this post isn't about me becoming a Space Detective and also because I'd have spent the whole time photoshopping perms and mustaches onto my character portrait and cackling like an imbecile. This post is instead about the much duller subject of Planetary Interaction. It is even less interesting than the fact that I don't have Adobe Photoshop and that photoshop has become a verb. I wonder if it is in the dictionary.

My quest for a regular source of income that mining supplements in an emergency rather than the other way around continues. The regular income is intended to get me being blown up more. It is intended to remove the time between losses rather than the negative impact of losses. The negative impact I want to retain, otherwise the fights won't feel as intense. This means the income doesn't have to be high. I'll be in cruisers with the odd BC at maximum. High sec Planetary Interaction is one such source. It requires minimal effort once set up and yet could yield a few cruisers a week if done right. Planned right it might also assist some basic T2 industry.

I finally got around to investigating PI last week. I had my alt trained up with the following skills which took a couple of days.

Command Center Upgrades III ( I was on II when I started and things got tricky)
Remote Sensing III
Planetology III
Interplanetary Consolidation III

(Update from Rhavas at who suggests getting Advanced Planetology to III at minimum, so do that if you have the time)

I put aside around 6 million. Experiments (or good mistakes) made this a little higher but I had just managed to sell my Christmas gift implants before the market crashed meaning I was a little flush at the time. I think I spent around 10 million. I made this money back but I can't tell you the exact rate as I funnelled some of the products into other purposes and made some more mistakes. After a week you should be generating around a million per planet per day (as long as it isn't just a factory planet but more on that later).

You'll also need to be able to haul a minimum of 1000m3

This allowed me to run three simple planets, none of them particularly efficient but enough to see what the whole thing was about. Whatever I read about PI it didn't seem clear to me what it actually was. Everything seemed to be a confusing mess of maps with circles on them, mentioning stuff while assuming I knew the basic concept. Assuming basic concepts are understood is a real failing in EVE.

DISCLAIMER : This is hi-sec PI. I haven't investigated low or null where resources are richer but taxes vary wildly. I may have made mistakes. This may be a better guide


PI makes stuff.


PI is a method of producing some of the items you see in the market that don't have a corresponding blueprint available and are still on the material component list of other blueprints. An example is Robotics. Look it up in the market. Now look up the blueprint for a Gallente Fuel Block. There is more than one PI produced component on there in addition to Robotics. Some PI produced items are easier to produce than others, there is a tier system that ranks them all. I'll get to this later.


Ah you mean that illusive basic concept? PI is a mini game. The nature of the game is I/O. Input/Output. You build a mine (aka Extractor) that produces raw material at a certain rate. This rate differs over time requiring your input at regular periods in order to restart the process before production drops off to nothing. The raw materials are consumed at a certain rate by factories and must be buffered in order that a fresh mine doesn't send stuff to a factory that can't accept it because it is at its processing limit. Excess is wasted without this buffer. The output of these factories can be combined in a different type of factory to produce more complex things at a certain rate. Your job is to design a system (aka Colony) where the rate of production from the factories is maximised by altering the extraction rate of the mines and by having enough factories. The number of things you can build is limited by the power and cpu supplied to the colony which is effectively your Command Center Upgrades skill. Clever designs can increase what you can fit into your colony. In areas other than hi sec you might have to balance the flow between buildings as output outstrips the ability to move it to the next stage. Variance in the location and concentration of raw materials on a planet provides the random element that ensures that there is no guaranteed layout but core concepts ensure some similarity.


A variable amount of time to grasp the concept, then set up your planets. Mine took me around four hours to do both but I've since tweaked the setups.  After that you'll need to regularly check up on each planet at an interval chosen by you. I've yet to determine the respawn mechanism for the raw materials but it looks like once per day, with a couple of minutes per planet should be fine. Eventually you'll have to collect the output which involves flying to the planet. Depending on the system you set up on a planet you might not have to fly to it for weeks at a time. So basically a single chunk of playing time and then some very small jobs every now and again.


No. It takes a basic investment to build your colony, and later to install upgrades. There are export taxes when removing produced stuff from a planet and then later import taxes if you move that to a planet that needs off world input (eg Planet A and Planet B produce stuff that you combine in a factory on Planet C)


Once set up it is a passive income stream with little effort can be kept up to date using very small segments of time. It won't make you rich in Hi Sec. Imagine 5 minutes over breakfast per day. Had I known that the barrier to several million a day was a 1000m3 hauler and 2 or 3 days skills I'd have done it from day one, seeding one planet at a time to pay for the next. If I ever have a third alt this will be it's first task. Lets say you have the basic skills above on all three characters on your account. It should be able to generate around 3 million a day, 9 million per account per day. With more planets and a second account it starts to look like PLEX money even in hi-sec although clicking around lots of planets every day is going to become highly monotonous and you'll have to research the market well. I am considering it given that I have a high boredom threshold (see earlier ability to mine). Normal mortals would be a drooling mess within days.

It is a very mild amount of fun at the start. Learning the concepts, planning of the set up of the colony and the greed of seeing loot accumulate for doing nothing. Not that much fun after that really, just simple logistics.

It can make you self sufficient in materials for more advanced industry cutting out some travel time and buy order costs.


Ok. This is a rough guide to setting up in hi sec. It won't earn much but hopefully should give some basic information on getting up to speed with PI. I learnt a couple of things while writing it so be careful that I haven't gone completely wrong somewhere.

1. The Products

Pick a product that you want to produce. You might want to produce it to sell or as the component for further industry. The product you pick will ultimately be composed of  raw materials whose source will be one or more types of planet. Certain raw materials are found on certain types of planet. For example gaseous material like Noble Gas will need a Gas planet in your set up somewhere.

Products vary in their complexity. Firstly there is the raw output of  your Extractors. These are "Raw Materials". It takes 3000 of these to produce 20 of the next type of material. These are "Processed Materials" and it takes 40 of two types of these to produce 5 of the next type of product. These are "Refined Commodities" and it takes 10 of two or three types of these to produce 3 of the next type of product. These are "Specialised Commodities" and Robotics is an example of them. There is another tier of products that I haven't investigated where the tiered nature of production isn't as clear. See the following link for the raw data :

My aim was Robotics which is made out of Mechanical Parts and Consumer Electronics.
Mechanical Parts are made out of Reactive Metals and Precious Metals (fuck knows why, maybe its like watches or something) which are in turn made from the Raw Materials "Base Metals" and "Noble Metals"
Consumer Electronics are made out of Toxic Metals and Chiral Structures which are in turn made out of the Raw Materials "Heavy Metals" and "Non CS Structures"

(Update from Rhavas at : try one product per planet in concert with Advanced Planetology for efficiency)

The Raw Materials govern your choice of Planet. This next paragraph is an example of how complex things can get when attempting to describe PI step by step. Read it and then ignore it until you get to the section on Extractors.

All four of my necessary Raw Materials could be found on Plasma planets but there wasn't one nearby and I doubted that with my skills I'd have the power to run four extractors and the necessary factories. I think I could run less extractors and have them extract one material at a time and change that by the day (time consuming and needs cost weighting). Unfortunately I'd have to be lucky with the distribution of the raw materials on the planet and have the willpower to determine the placings correctly and then to micro manage the colony by changing the extracted raw material every now and again. It is easier to plan for, and allowed by the skills above, two types of Raw Material on each of two planets and combining these on a third. Single planet production of tier 3 "Specialised Commodities" is best left for higher skills and planets outside hi-sec which have higher deposits.

The types of planet where Raw Materials can be found are summarised here

2. The Command Center

This is where we get into the interface. The Command Center is bought from the market and transported to the planet by you. All the command center does is provide power and CPU to the colony which allow you to install other structures, much as you would fit modules to a ship. As far as I can tell the Command Center doesn't have to be linked into the rest of the colony to power it so we could place it anywhere and have it provide power and processing. However it has some minimal storage and export facilities that you might need later so its handy to position it as the focal point of the colony.

Command Centers are cheap, the cost comes after you position the center and then "upgrade" it which increases the amount of power it provides. The extent to which you can upgrade it is dependant upon your Command Center Upgrades skill.

Firstly scan a suitable planet. It's handy to set up a planet only Overview tab for speed when scanning the planets in system. You'll need the Customs Office around it later on but I dealt with that via bookmarks. You can scan planets in other systems at a distance governed by your Remote Sensing skill.

Right click the planet in the Overview, on screen, on the System info window, or whatever esoteric way you have of looking at planet entries. Select "View in Planet Mode". On the left of the screen you'll see the Viewing Planet Menus. The default mode is "Build" which just lists all the possible things you can build on the planet. You don't need them yet. Click "Scan".

You should be looking at a list of all the Raw Materials available on the planet. The component Raw Materials of your chosen final product should be on it. The graphs to the right of the name indicate the relative amount of deposits. Click on the lowest of your desired Raw Materials

The planet may not have changed in appearance since the default set up is to colour code the full range of deposit density. In hi sec this means that some of your desired deposits will be so low density that you'll have difficulty making out the colour range. The colours can be altered by the slider above the names of the Raw Materials. You should have a mess about with this right now and try the following

1. Increase the colour range of the high value deposits : move the right triangle to the left
2. Increase the colour range of the low value deposits : move the left triangle to the right
3. Alter the range of the scale : the whole set of colours is a slider and can be moved along the scale.

By now you'll have realised that you can get more accurate scans by compressing the slider and making the colour gradations a more precise indicator of deposit concentration.

You are looking for two things

1. The best deposit of the rarest of your desired Raw Materials.
2. A deposit of your other Raw Material(s) near to the first type of deposit.

UPDATE:  from Chirality Tisteloin ‏@ChiralityT

"@SpaceNoob1 look at other player's structures while surveying. PI is pretty pvp. Note compression isk/m^3 for higher tier commodities"

You can right click the planet and select "Show/Hide other characters networks". This will display other command centers you can click on to see if others are extracting nearby. I find the things very difficult to see.

How nearby the other deposits are is hard to describe, eventually the distance will eat available power when you start to link things up and I haven't found a useful metric to judge this visually. Let me know if you find one but until then know that the radius of planets differs so an arbitrary fraction of screen space on one planet will be more distance than the same amount of screen space on another planet. With Gas planets being so large this will come back to haunt you later on. As a rule of thumb zoom the planet so that you can see all of it on screen with as little space as possible around the edges. Try and make sure that your Raw Material deposits are no further than a third of the planet from each other. On Gas planets you might want to reduce this further. Of course you can get into the math based on the radius of the planet (the distance from the center to the edge when looking at it flat on) and the power and CPU required per km of link but for your first planet stick with "nearby". More on links later.

Once you have a set of deposits you like then place the command center near one of them. To do this you just fly to the planet, view it, select COMMAND CENTERS from the Build menu, click the entry that appears under that and then click on your desired location on the planet.

To make this permanent you'll need to click the Submit button that appears. This will appear when you make any major changes to a colony. If you've made a mistake you can click Cancel and not waste any money. You'll be clicking the Submit (or the Cancel) whenever you build or alter production.

You can "upgrade" a Command Center to make it provide more power and processing. Click on your newly placed command center and you'll see all the information on it. The button on the far bottom left of this window is the upgrade button. Click it and you'll see how far you can upgrade the center. It will cost money to do so and require a Submit. Don't do this until you get stopped from doing something you want to by running out of power or CPU capacity. While you are there looking at the upgrades check out the other buttons as they'll be used later. Don't worry about them though.

3. The Extractor - where the raw comes from

The next thing you want to build is an Extractor. This is more like the office at the top of a mine than the mine itself. All the mining is done by Extractor Head Units. You can make 10 of these per Extractor and spread them out all around the Extractor itself. Each Unit uses power so you'll start with 3 or 4 per Extractor and maybe increase this later when you upgrade the command center.

Extractors run for a set period of time. Longer periods mean a slower rate of extraction ( and therefore production) but mean you don't have to come back to look at it as often. I generally set the period of time to around 24 hours. The Extractor window will provide the average over time and the cycle rate of extraction (so you get enough out, fast enough to run the factories at the start).

Select EXTRACTOR CONTROL UNITS from the Build menu and then click near the edge of the first deposit you chose above.
Click on the placed Extractor and then click the "Survey for Deposits" button.
Select a Raw Material to mine from the icons in the top right of the resulting window. The planet should colour as if you were doing a scan. You can click back to the main Scan menu to alter this without dismissing  the window.
Click one of the circular buttons on the left of the Extractor window, under the title "Extractor Head Units"
A blue circle will have appeared on the planet. Move this around until it is in the densest area of Raw Materials.
Add a couple more and make sure they don't overlap, you'll get red warning indicators where they do. In some cases it might be profitable to overlap slightly so look at the figures change.
Alter the slider at the bottom of the window under "Extraction Area Size".

While you've been doing this you'll have noticed the graph and the "Program Output" (bottom right of the Extractor window) changing. This is the rate at which you'll mine during a set period of time governed by the
"Extraction area size". Changing the "Extraction area size" alters the full duration of your extraction. It also alters the size of the extractor heads so you might need to move them around a bit. You'll be juggling the number of heads and the extraction time with a low power colony so have a mess around and see how high you can get the figures. I tend to aim for multiples of 3000 per hour so I can judge what I am providing to a factory. 6000 per hour of each Raw Material would be ideal as a basic factory consumes this per hour but it might prove difficult to get that at the start, without further upgrades, depending on what you are extracting. Extraction rates vary overtime but the Extractor window displays the average as well as a graph indicating the varying rate.

4. Storage, Links and Routes over those Links.

All that stuff you are extracting has to go somewhere before it can be used. Once it is used the ouput of that factory has to go somewhere. That output may even go to another factory, the output of which also has to be stored. All this can happen with a single storage unit.

There are three different units that can provide storage. Command Centers can store 500m3. It isn't a lot so ignore it for now. Storage Facilities (see the Build menu) can store 12000m3. Launch pads can store 10000m3 and also export stuff. The Launchpad uses the same amount of power as a Storage Facility but a lot more CPU. The CPU amount may become an issue if your Extractor heads are far apart but the storage is likely enough for a hi-sec planet, so unless you have a need for multiple storage facilities (you won't on a hi sec planet) or you have a lot of distance between Raw Material deposits use a Launchpad for storage.

Use the Build menu to place a launchpad. Its under SPACEPORTS on the Build menu. Drop it between your two extractors.

You now need to provide a method of getting Raw Materials into the storage at the launchpad. This is done in two steps.

i) Linking. A link is a railroad between units in your colony. It eats up power and CPU depending on its length. To create one click PLANETARY LINKS in the build menu, select "Create Link", click on your Extractor and then (you should have a white line trailing the cursor by this point) click on the Launchpad. The two units are now linked. Complete this step for the other extractor.

ii) By itself the link does nothing. You must tell the factory to "route" its output to another unit. This routing will utilise the link. Click on the Extractor, then on the Products button, the second from the left along the bottom of the Extractor window. You should see your Raw Material with the words "Not Routed" in red. Click the Raw Material and then the resulting "Create Route" button at the bottom. Click on the Launchpad and then click the Create Route button again. You should see that the link now has an animation effect on one of the two lines making it up. Make sure you click the Submit button above the Build menu. Repeat for any other extractors.

Links have a capacity that, as far as I can tell, you just won't hit in hi-sec. If you do they can be upgraded to carry more but I've never had to do this.

5. Processing. The Factories

With Raw Materials now being extracted, routed to the Launchpad and stored there you now need to do something with them. You could just Export them (see below) but I've never run the math or done market research for how effective that is. Instead I use them to build something else.

Raw Materials are consumed at a rate of 6000m3 per hour by a Basic Industry Facility, ideally your extractors should be routing this (or more) into the Launchpad. Build a  Basic Industry Facility as close to the Launchpad as possible. They are under PROCESSORS on the Build menu. Build a Link between it and the Launchpad.

Click on the new Basic Industry Facility and in the new window click the Schematics button. Choose the product you want to make out of your Raw Material and click Install. The factory now knows what it wants to consume and produce.

Click the Products button and use the entry you see to create a route back to the launchpad.

You now need to route stored Raw Material from the Launchpad into this new factory. The Launchpad might not have any storage yet but so there will be nothing we can click in the storage section in order to create a route. Instead we use the Routes button on the Launchpad window. It will have the incoming route from the Extractor listed. Click on the material and a new Create Route button will appear. Use this to create a route to the factory.

By this point you should have Raw Materials routed into the Launchpad then out to the Basic Industry Facility and the results of that routed back into the Launchpad. Repeat this for any other Raw Material you are extracting.

If you have enough power left you can combine the output of two Basic Industry Facilities in an Advanced Industry Facility. The technique is the same as building a Basic Industry Facility. Build it, link it, choose the output Schematic, route the output, use the Launchpad routes list to route the required materials (the output of two Basic Industry Facilities) into the Advanced Industry Facility.

6000m3 each of two types of Raw Material is combined in a Basic Industry Facility to produce 20 units of Processed Material per half hour, or 40 units per hour. 40 units per hour of two or more types is the required input for an Advanced Industry Facility so this is what you want to aim for.

6. Export

After a couple of hours you'll have some final product. You either want to sell this or combine it on a planet that has another setup of factories. I've not got the skills or the hi-sec resources to have a single planet producing the next tier of product but I did use a dedicated colony of factories to combine two tier 2 products into Tier 3 products (Robotics in my case). This involved Exporting from two planets and Importing to a third. Once I have more upgrade skills I may experiment with the extra factory on one of the production planets, cutting out the need for one of the Export/Import steps. I need to have a think about how efficient this is against the saving because export and import cost money. How much more I could make by extracting more instead?

There are two methods of exporting.

You can launch stuff into space from a Command Center. I've only experimented with this. It costs 50% more than exporting to the orbiting Customs Office in hi sec and then you have to fly to pick it up, presuming someone else doesn't get there first. Such launches appear in the Planetary Launches tab of the Journal.

Launching from a Launchpad is the better way to get stuff off planet, at least in hi-sec. To do this you have to be in space. Click on the Launchpad to get the control window up, and then click on the Launch button. All you have to do then is to drag what you want transported from one side of the resulting window to the other and then click the transfer button.

If you want to pick this up then fly to the planets Customs Office and right click it. Select Access Storage and then drag the items from it into your ships cargo bay. You can also cause the launchpad to transfer material from the planet to the Customs Office via the Customs Office window. If you do this then don't forget the second drag step of transferring the result to your cargo bay. I've done this several times and had to fly back to pick up stuff I left in the Customs Office.

The price of export is based on a set base value for the type of material you are exporting. These values are:

Advanced Commodities: 1,350,000.00 ISK
Specialized Commodities: 70,000.00 ISK
Refined Commodities: 9,000.00 ISK
Basic commodities: 500.00 ISK
Planet Resources: 5.00 ISK

These values per unit are altered by the local tax rate. For hi sec this is 10%. So, for example, it costs 900 ISK to export 1 unit of a Refined Commodity (10% of 9000 ISK).

If you have a multi planet system of production you'll have to factor both this cost and the subsequent import cost into your profit margins. I need to look at this myself to see if it is cheaper in hi sec to have the third tier factory on one of the tier 2 production colonies. I'd have done this already if it wasn't the holidays. I can only think so much when I'm off work.

7. Import

Importing is the reverse of Exporting.

It too costs money, 50% of the Export cost (see above)

Fly to a planet with material in your hold, Access Storage on the Customs Office, drag the materials across, and then click the transfer button. If the planets Launchpad has routes set up then these materials will be instantly in use.

8. Examples

Two Extractors, two Basic Industrial facilities and a single Advanced Industry Facility. Produces Coolant for export.

Producing just Oxygen using a crowd of Basic Industry Facilities. This was before Command Center Upgrades III and needs another Extractor to be fully efficient with 5 Basic Industry facilities. 

Another 2/2/1 setup but where I ran out of power to have enough extractor heads for fully efficient use. Again waiting for a third Command Center upgrade.

    I have another planet on an alt which just has factories to produce Robotics but it needs cleaning up after being created with a useless storage unit. Think of it as a launchpad surrounded by factories and no extractors.

9. Further work

All this is just the result of a basic investigation one afternoon. I need to have more of a think about what I am producing and where I am producing it to see if more complex setups yield more ISK value. See the eveonline wiki entry in the References below for the 3 product planet example for another kind of colony I need to investigate.

9. References (aka better and non noobish descriptions) (thanks to Thighzen in the comments and a couple of other people who mentioned it)

EVE Track of the Day

Still Life - The Horrors

PS. Thank Fuck that's over.


  1. Get Command Centre to 4. And Interplanetary to 4. If you choose the right product, running 5 planets in highsec can net you a decent passive income. Concentrate on P2 products - you'll get a lot more isk/m3, plus, if you refine to P2 on each planet, you don't have to pay the extra taxes involved in moving products from planet to planet.

  2. I've been muddling about with PI myself, and I'm making a good passive income (fiddle about once/day, haul once or twice a week type gig) off it, maybe 150-200M/month with five planets, CC upgrades at four. I actually concentrate on P1 products; I could probably do better with P2, but it seems to be more micro than I'm interested in, and I have a decent hauler. For what it's worth, I like the effort/reward calculus of P1 production better than higher level stuff.

  3. For further thought:

    1. Max all PI skills except remote scan which is never needed. It does not take long and gives you maximum flexibility (and profit) from the start.

    2. The magic number is 144,000 per day per extractor head. For simplicity, run your PI process on a 24 hour cycle with extractors running 23 hours to give you some flexibility. Forget hourly amounts, they are just confusing. A 24 hour cycle is much easier to schedule. Yes, you will have to log in every day and see you your lines or they will stop producing. However, on a 24 hour cycle, if you miss a day or a week just log in the next time you can at the scheduled time and start as normal. The next day you'll be back at full capacity easy peasy.

    3. Always start your planning bottom-up: 144,000 units P1 = 760 units P2 = 36 units P3 = 6 units P4 in most production lines. Scale as appropriate. Handle exceptions (there are a couple) as that, exceptions, and not the rule. The rule is the ratio above. Scale appropriately (and yes, I said that twice I think it's that important.)

    4. My lines are 288,000 units per day P1 leads to 1920 units P2 (2 facilities) leads to 72 units P3 (2 facilities.) If you go to a P4 product this will be one facility working at half capacity making 12 items.

    5. Your only limiting factor with your command center is CPU. Don't worry about power, you'll run out of CPU first.

    6. In hi-sec you will never be able to run a P4 facility at full production with only six planets (one character.) In wormholes the same limit applies. I can't say it does in low-sec and null - but I'd bet ISK it does. The reason you ask? You will run out of CPU on at least one planet trying to extract enough P1 material to run the P4 facility at capacity. You will never be able to do it on your own.

  4. Another great resource for planetary interaction is:

    It shows what you can make on each planet, and if given a system name it can tell you all the products you can make using the planets in that system. You can also use it to show you what planets have a particular resource you are looking for.

  5. I'm glad someone pointed out since it is my go-to PI website. If anyone is considering getting into PI as a serious income source I would also suggest moving into a C1 WH with a high sec static. This will allow you access to Null sec extractor rates with very little additional skills in terms of scanning. Just always remember the #1 rule of W-Space and move a permanent scanning toon in. WH PI only requires secondary characters to have the PI skills and a basic hauler trained up.

  6. PS: the command center doesn't need to be connected to or near anything. It is completely irrelevant except for the upgrading bit.
    Put it down wherever you want, upgrade it and never think about it again.
    PPS: The initial view, however, centers on the command center whenever you go into planetary view on one of your colonies.