I've been avoiding mining as an occupation but my current obsession with making the acquaintance of a growing list of engineers has pushed me into it and after many hours batting ideas to and fro with the help of the ship's cat, I settled on the goal of a Python mining vessel.
I'd been "running errands" in my Krait for the Eurybia Blue Mafia for a couple of weeks and had accumulated most of the funds for the initial buy but was looking at a long grind to get my preferred fittings and fixtures. So I considered other options.
Since engineering my Krait, my Cobra and Vulture have become pretty much redundant. I checked their sale price and was delighted to find it was more than enough to complete project Python. The feeling of regret at parting with two old friends was quickly replaced with the anticipation of my first mining trip.
I settled on lasers supplemented by abrasion blasters and if I get into trouble, hope that my engineered the thrusters would give me the legs to get away. A bit of research pointed me to a group of painite hotspots in the rings of gas giant four jumps away and my new Python, now named Raven, began her maiden flight. However, mining, I soon discovered, is a whole new skill set and not without pitfalls (no pun intended) most of which I encountered on my first run.
First rookie mistake, not understanding collector limpet management. When the guy said, "Don't forget to fill up on limpets before you head out," I took him literally..duh! Within minutes, I'm scrabbling to jettison limpets in order to make room for refined products. Next on the list, programming a little selectivity into the process. Ok, figured that one out. After that, work out a system that means I don't waste prospectors on asteroids I've already depleted.
An hour or so later with forty something tons of painite and a smattering of other valuable minerals in the hold, I reckoned I'd got the basics down. I shut the cargo bay door, retract the hardpoints, locked the nav to the nearest station, four pips to the engines and boost out for the mass lock threshold.
I was still smiling smugly when I hit a....something....like an invisible brick wall. I swear there was nothing there. Nothing on the scanner, nothing through the cockpit but I came to a sudden and very abrupt dead stop, shields down and hull at 40%. Not good. Really, not good. A hold full of goodies, who knows what damage to systems and no shields First things first, get moving. No point in being a sitting duck (or Raven in this case). Next, see if the shields will come back up and get to supercruiseas fast as possible.
Well, we weathered that mystery but still had a tense 180ls flight before I reach safety and of course I get some pirate on the comms giving me fair warning that what's mine is about to become his. And I thought mining was going to be boring. Old Earth Raven's were known for their love of aerobatics and with her level 5 dirty drives my Raven turned out to be no different. The guy just couldn't pin me down.
Later, safely back in dock, an old hand at the mining game explained the mystery of the invisible brick wall. Apparently, a weird quirk in the tech can cause a limpet that's been left behind to develop some kind of super speed in its eagerness to get back with what ever it's carrying. Then it just drops out right in front of the ship and bam! On top of this, there's some kind freaky energy to mass conversion, that I didn't quite follow, which adds tons of fun to the whole experience.
"Don't forget to kill the limpets before you leave," he said, and this time I feel it's solid advice.
Addendum: It's been a couple of days and I've had some good runs. A couple netted over 100 million each. I've had a few run ins with pirates but nothing serious. Mining might not be my forever more career but I'm liking it a lot. A couple more days like today and a may upgrade to my first Anaconda!