Turning steam engines automatic on, if needed

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ssilk
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Turning steam engines automatic on, if needed

Post by ssilk »

There where some discussions about how to use the accumulators and solar cell to spare coal, because the steam engines turned off. In 0.5. this feature where removed.

I found a way to emulate this.
Clipboard01.jpg
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Explanation:
The trick is the placing of the accumulator! You need to place the accu in two networks - you see how I hover it with the mouse.
It is in the main circuit and in this small circuit with 3 poles on the right.

This accu keeps the small net "on-line". It is not much power needed: The thing on the top is the controller. There are about 10 woods cycling round and round. In the chest are always between 4-5 woods.

The control-accu covers only this inserter and the three lamps with energy!

So this is how it works: In the night, all accus get unloaded. But the control accu unloads much faster, because he is in two networks. See the info on the right: The accu begins to unload and is about 80% empty. All others only about 95%. The sense of the lamps is, that they need more energy and so they unload the control-accu a even little bit faster.
When the accu is empty, the control inserter stops. But the others are working on. The slow output inserter puts all wood out of the chest and the big switch on the left is turned on: All coal is put on the belt! The fast belts are needed here, because the way down to the steam engines is otherwise too far and I don't wanted to rebuild everything. This is also the usage for the other coal belts down, I put an inserter directly before the kettles to avoid situations, where the engines don't restart themselves and for that as much coal as possible is needed. I tried it this way, but see down!

When all steam engines have full power, the accus are about 20% full. The discharging is stopped.

Pro:
Works really great! I reduced the coal needed from about 1000 every day down to 50 or so...
Not too complicated to build

Cons:
No cons found, this is a really cool idea. :)

It's a little bit tricky to tune this right: As mentioned you have the lamps but also the number of wood and you can program, when the smart inserters should begin to work (You have minimum 4 woods in the chests here. This means, that you can either say "work when < 4 wood" or you can lower this. Then, because the normal inserter moves a wood per second, you have 4 seconds before it begins to work. In this case this is very much time and not needed.

I found no way to spare the second smart inserter, cause when you try it with only one, you have to set him so, that the poles are automatically connected.

Tip: Too long till the coal gets down to the kettles! I recommend to replace the kettle-inserters with smart inserters and switch them on with this controller, this would be an immediate reaction.
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Re: Turning steam engines automatic on, if needed

Post by n9103 »

I don't really understand the point of this, since solar is the first power source used, and steam engines don't make more power than is being used, meaning they don't use more fuel than they need.

That aside, nice NOT gate. ;)

Also, unless I missed something, this still works in .5.1 (didn't play .5.0, but didn't see this in the bugfix notes)
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Re: Turning steam engines automatic on, if needed

Post by rk84 »

n9103 wrote:I don't really understand the point of this, since solar is the first power source used, and steam engines don't make more power than is being used, meaning they don't use more fuel than they need.

That aside, nice NOT gate. ;)

Also, unless I missed something, this still works in .5.1 (didn't play .5.0, but didn't see this in the bugfix notes)
solars can not store extra power during day, if engines keep accus full during night.
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Re: Turning steam engines automatic on, if needed

Post by tonberrytoby »

Looks nice. I will try testing this myself.

Maybe you should put the smart coal inserters directly at the furnace. That would save on the belts and coal.

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Re: Turning steam engines automatic on, if needed

Post by MF- »

I found a con for you:
It does not consider actual state of the main cap array -> creeper attacks (I need to trigger coal power only during those)
It works merely as a timer, I guess.

And a question:
How does it not self-feedback? (The coal power should charge the control cap and stop itself...)
Or perhaps it does self-feedback, keeping the water temperature at minimum? That would be nice.

I wonder about efficiency. I would expect lukewarm water to be pretty inefficient in the engines.

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Re: Turning steam engines automatic on, if needed

Post by ssilk »

n9103 wrote:I don't really understand the point of this, since solar is the first power source used, and steam engines don't make more power than is being used, meaning they don't use more fuel than they need.
The point is, that the stored power of the accus is not used during night, because the steam engines will work instead of the solar plants since v0.5. Factorio tries to keep the accus as much loaded as possible, until the power is really needed. This results in the factory above in the situation, that at the end of the night only 10% of the accu-power was used.

With this controller above the steam engines work only, AFTER the most accu-power is used, but not empty yet. This spares very much coal, I think over 200%.

Maybe I'll try to rework this, cause - as said - the "switch" is an ugly construction and switching directly the inserters of the kettles would be much more responsible.
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Re: Turning steam engines automatic on, if needed

Post by ssilk »

MF- wrote:I found a con for you:
It does not consider actual state of the main cap array -> creeper attacks (I need to trigger coal power only during those)
It works merely as a timer, I guess.
:) I cannot really tell. I think you are not really wrong, but I think yes, it works even with the extra power needed with the creepers, because I saw, when the creepers killed with the lasers, I need more energy than the hole factory together. And I felt, that the switch turned on earlier. I would explain this with "because the accu sits in both networks, it is faster unloaded, when the lasers fire". But I really can't tell by sure, because I'm not sitting there and stop the time when the night begins.
How does it not self-feedback? (The coal power should charge the control cap and stop itself...)
Or perhaps it does self-feedback, keeping the water temperature at minimum? That would be nice.
At the begin of the night, the water temp is at 100 degrees, cause all kettles are filled. In the moment, when the solar cells cannot deliver the energy for the network, the steam engines begin to work. The rest-fuel in the kettles are fired and then the power from the accus drops really fast down. This is the moment when the controller switches on. It takes about 20 secs, until all kettles are refilled and water is at 100 degrees again. This is enough time, to unload the accus-banks down to 20%.

Even in this situation (when the steam engines runs) the control accu is *not* reloaded (It takes some time. Much more time than the other accus). But the small control network is powered from the accu and this is enough to bring the inserter back working fast enough, that the "switch" closes. I think this works, because the accu has a lower priority than the things behind the accu.

The accu loads and gives the energy immediately forward to the control network... during day you see also, that the accu always loads, even if it is fully loaded. This means, that the accu works in this case as a transformer! This means, that this element can be used for some quite complicated stuff, cause the accu seems not to forward endless power like the normal network. I think, this could be used for example to limit the power consumption of some production-streets down to a sustainable level.
I wonder about efficiency. I would expect lukewarm water to be pretty inefficient in the engines.
I would say with a real steam engine this would be really inefficient. Yes. But here: There is no lukewarm water. Either it's hot or cold. Either steam engines are completly off, because the power of the solar energy is more than enough to feed all or they are on, because of night. Otherwise this switch to spare coal wouldn't really make sense. This switch is only to bring the network to the point to use the power of the over 300 accus. And it spares - as already said - 200% coal, minimum.

The main problem is, that it gets some time to warm up the hole steam-engine stuff. That energy isn't wasted as far as I can say (input power of the coal equivalen to output power - again for real coal power plants it would be really wasted). From the moment, when the "switch" turns on, to the moment until all kettles are fully powered it takes about 20 secs. But otherwise you would waste coal, when it is not needed. Ehem. What I didn't show is, that the remaining coal is removed after there is no more power needed. Maybe this is the reason why there is no feedback, cause in this phase after night the network needs very much power and the "rest of the coal on the belts" are enough to deliver this. I didn't show this, cause I think, this is too much afford and direct inserting into the kettles is much more efficient.

BTW: I tried to make a control-network of the control network, but this doesn't work, because accus in the small control network aren't loaded. I think this is because it lacks the direct connection to a basic energy source and an accu is in this case a secondary source.
As a result from this discussion I'll try to rebuild the hole power generation, so that the kettles are filled directly. I would also like to see what happens, if I put such an "buffer accu" between my network and the accu-banks or other stuff...

Many ideas... :)
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Re: Turning steam engines automatic on, if needed

Post by MF- »

Yes, they limit the power that goes through + decrease priority of the devices coupled to the main network via a cap.
Any idea which device might I consider putting behind a cap coupler?
EDIT: If I was willing to run separate wiring for lighting, I think I might be able to spare substantial power in lighting.

Yes, a cap won't charge another cap.

BTW: They are called "boilers" in the english translation.

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Re: Turning steam engines automatic on, if needed

Post by tonberrytoby »

I just implemented this for my factory.
http://minus.com/lbkka3f4wvpb0X
I used a substation for the separate network. The relay cap gets discharged slightly faster then the normal caps, because it drives the inserter along with the other stuff.

You can adjust the leftover charge in the main caps when the device switches by adding more coupling caps or by adding lamps.

Using smart inserter for the boilers, gives much faster reaction time.

In the graphs you can see that when the night ends there is usually coal or heat left inside the engines. The second part sounds like a bug. When the solar power drops, the leftover steam gets used, then the caps, then the engines turn on again. To prevent leftover steam, you need enough caps in your main battery to fully load your solar panels.
http://minus.com/lZB0ovUxOgVCo

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Re: Turning steam engines automatic on, if needed

Post by n9103 »

I see.. Well, I generally only build a few caps to account for turret loads until I'm well established, (usually just before I start rolling out the rails) and then I build enough that I can take the steam off the table completely.
I also don't bother building the inefficient (resource wise) advanced caps, so it's a pretty dang large field of caps and solar panels when that happens.

Wonder when we'll get actual logic gates?
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Re: Turning steam engines automatic on, if needed

Post by midnight109 »

n9103 wrote:I see.. Well, I generally only build a few caps to account for turret loads until I'm well established, (usually just before I start rolling out the rails) and then I build enough that I can take the steam off the table completely.
I also don't bother building the inefficient (resource wise) advanced caps, so it's a pretty dang large field of caps and solar panels when that happens.

Wonder when we'll get actual logic gates?
Advanced Caps? <.< I dont seem to have access to them in the game for some reason, just the small accumulator, running about 4 banks per solar panal bank works ok so far till i add laser <.< is the basic accum the only storage avail or is this advanced cap your talking about a nother version i dont have

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Re: Turning steam engines automatic on, if needed

Post by MF- »

midnight109 wrote: Advanced Caps? <.< I dont seem to have access to them in the game for some reason, just the small accumulator, running about 4 banks per solar panal bank works ok so far till i add laser <.< is the basic accum the only storage avail or is this advanced cap your talking about a nother version i dont have
The advanced one is not in the game, it's in a mod.

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Re: Turning steam engines automatic on, if needed

Post by n9103 »

Yea, sorry, I had forgotten that the Solar mod added in the Adv. Caps as well, and not just the 'realistic' solar panel process.
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Re: Turning steam engines automatic on, if needed

Post by Kaz92 »

Hey all :)

I find that the method you use above is very useful early game when you don't have large scale accumulator farms! I have a possible way of improving on your design, after realising you could control the operation of your steam engine banks through the use of electric pumps, as shown below.
PumpSwitching.jpeg
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In the top right, there is a pylon connected to the main power grid. This powers the fast inserter removing wooden crates from the smart chest. As soon as the power level drops, the number of wooden chests increases, causing the smart inserter for the single engine boiler to activate. The engine produces power, which then powers all the standard inserters to fuel the main bank. Most importantly, it powers the pumps that shut off the hot water supply to the steam engine bank! The engines are connected directly to the pumps.

Through repeated use, this method has very quick off/on time compared to regulating fuel supply. Hot water will sit in the pumps so as soon as they're powered... bam, engines at 100oC! :D

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Re: Turning steam engines automatic on, if needed

Post by ssilk »

https://forums.factorio.com/forum/vie ... f=8&t=3724

In my current factory I turn on the small pumps, to fill the hot water into the steam engines if needed, which are driven by a similar setup. :) The idea to unload the burner, if not needed, is cool.
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Re: Turning steam engines automatic on, if needed

Post by Kaz92 »

Yup, as soon as you receive solar power, the smart inserter will remove fuel from the boiler, so it will cut out sooner rather than later. (Hurrah for saving fuel!)

I didn't pick up from your screenshots that you use pumps like I have haha.

It would be neat to have relays connected to power networks to switch items on and off, though the challenge of solving problems this way is intriguing :roll:

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Re: Turning steam engines automatic on, if needed

Post by ssilk »

Small pumps: The small pump works like a valve. If unpowered, nothing can flow. If powered the flow can be only into one direction and it depends on the pressure, how much really flows. I think (not tested it) with full storage tanks it is no problem to power more than 20 steam engines (the theoretical maximum is about 28?). 28 steam engines are over 14 Megawatts! I think with 10-20 of such "emergency power units" it should be possible to come over really every kind of energy problem for 3 or more nights. The important thing is then only to have some kind of warning light, which shows you, that your emergency power is used and to see how full the tanks are.

Switches: I'm sure, this will come latest with v0.12. I guess the current substation will play a bigger rule then.
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