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Is there a simple method to determine the minimum size of Power Distributor that's required for a certain ship to boost?

I know you can fit just about any Power Distributor to any ship (up to the maximum size permitted for that ship). But if the capacitors in your PD are too small, then you won't be able to boost.

The problem is, I haven't seen any easy way to determine a minimum size without taking it out for a test flight. This makes the process of selecting a small distributor (e.g.: for a Planetary Explorer build) tedious and costly.

I know I could just check shipbuilding websites like Coriolis, but I'd really prefer to be able to do this independently. Are the necessary metrics readily available in-game? If so, what do I need to look for?

Note: I play on XB1, so any mods or other under-the-hood inspection methods are not valid solutions here.

  • I've got an odd feeling this might be one of those things that just doesn't make any sense and/or is semi-arbitrarily assigned for each ship model. I just checked Coriolis for three ships that have identical Hull Mass (Eagle, iEagle, Viper). The Eagle and iEagle are as similar as one would imagine. But, even though it has the same Hull Mass and uses the same stock 3E Thrusters, the Viper requires a minimum 1B or 2D PD while the Eagles can go down to 1D. – Iszi Feb 19 '18 at 19:07
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Each ship has a defined boost energy value - if your engine capacitor can store that much energy, you will be able to boost. No other equipment affects this.

The energy your engine capacitor can store can be seen when buying the power distributor or anytime in the outfitting screen. It can also be modified via engineers, so you may be able to buy a smaller power distributor, and then modify it to be able to hold enough power to boost.

I could not find a way to see how much energy a ship needs directly in game. You could find the approximate value experimentally - just go out there, use up your engine capacitor, and then see how much does it have to recharge for you to be able to boost again. So, for example, if an ASPX with a 4E PD needs 9 out of 10 capacitor bars to boost, it needs about 15 / 10 * 9 = 13.5 MJ to boost, where 15 is the engine capacitor capacity of a 4E PD as seen in outfitting.

In theory, ED could define the ship boost energy to be any amount at all. In practice, however, it highly correlates with the maximum PD class a ship can mount. Known values are listed below, along with the smallest (by mass) non-engineered Power Distributor that can boost each.

Max PD class    Boost energy    Smallest PD     
1               7               1D
2               8*              1D*
3               10              2D
4               13              3D
5               16              4D
6               19              5D
7               23              6D
8               27              5A

*The only known exception is the Adder, which has a boost energy of 9 and thus requires a minimum 2D Power Distributor.

Coriolis tells me your capacitor should hold more energy than the boost energy of the ship to be able to boost - exactly the amount will not work. So an ASPX with a capacitor of 13 MJ will not boost, but 13.01 MJ will. But I have not tested this myself.

| improve this answer | |
  • Added in a "Smallest PD" column to the table (and supplemental verbiage to the text) to round out this answer a bit better. In so doing, I found a bit of an oddity in the transition of "Max PD Class" from 7 to 8. It's the only step up in slot size that actually allows for step down in PD module size and the only case where anything other than D-class is actually the smallest usable module by mass. – Iszi Feb 26 '18 at 20:19

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