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Research & Development

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As a Scientist, your primary job is to upgrade the learning matrix. What this essentially means is that you are expected to research technology to be able to produce better equipment, superior parts, and things that will make the rest of your crewmates' lives easier. While it may seem overwhelming at first, worry not; it is easily one of the simplest and most effective things you can learn.

Deconstruction and the Learning Matrix

The backbone of research is the learning matrix. Essentially, this is a computer network that organizes "levels" of technology as you make advancements in research. The only levels of technology you'll use go from 1 to 8 - the higher the level, the more stuff you can print from the protolathe and circuit imprinter (see below). To do pretty much anything in R&D, you must upgrade the learning matrix.

An example of the learning matrix. Note the different levels of technology.

Thankfully, this is pretty easy. In order to upgrade a level of technology, you deconstruct an item by placing it in the destructive analyzer. Using the console next to the deconstructive analyzer, press deconstruct to upgrade. (You can also eject items from the analyzer using the same console.)

Not every item on the Torch has a technology level - you can see what does have one and what doesn't by looking at it when you've equipped science goggles. It's also worth noting that you only advance one level at a time, and only if the tech level is equal to or greater than the current tech level that field is at. For example, a circuit board (PACMAN-type generator)'s level of Engineering technology is 3, so that means it can only upgrade the tech level if Engineering is at 3 or below. Many of the items you deconstruct will have more than one tech level.

To find objects that are useful for upgrading the matrix, simply take a look around your lab. Capacitors, pAIs, and micro-manipulators can all be used to start your matrix off right. It's also worth noting that you can deconstruct items you print from the protolathe or the circuit imprinter.

Also, sync the matrixes. You can do so on the main R&D lab console. This is so Robotics can print a variety of superior parts and circuits not just for mechs, but for prosthetics.

Fabricator Lab

Protolathe

The protolathe allows you to construct various tools, weapons, and parts. What are you are able to construct depends on the levels of the learning matrix, and indeed you can print things from the protolathe that allow you to upgrade the levels further. In order to make items, it requires materials such as steel, glass, plastic, aluminum, and other assorted materials that can be ordered from Supply or mined from a planet. (Note that you'll essentially never use plasteel for the protolathe.)

To use the protolathe, you use the same console used for the destructive analyzer, but instead click on protolathe construction menu. Here you will see a list of all available designs based on the current status of the learning matrix. Designs with a blue hyperlink on them mean you have enough materials in the Protolathe to create them, while ones not linked mean that you can design them but you currently do not have enough materials.

To create an item, click on one of the available designs and wait a few seconds for it to be produced from the protolathe. It'll appear over the protolathe, and the item is all yours.

Upgraded items

Several departments may want or need items from the protolathe to make their equipment work better. Following are some items certain departments may find useful, though it's always best to ask:

  • Medical will likely want Incision Management Systems (usually abbreviated as IMS), an advanced surgical tool. The Medical Technicians usually want hyposprays (essentially an automatic syringe) and stasis bags (keeps a patient in critical condition in cryostasis); print one for every medtech, if they want them.
  • Mining might want an advanced mining drill, a diamond mining drill, or a plasma cutter. If they want to upgrade their big drill, they'll need better power cells, four upgraded micro-lasers, and two upgraded matter bins.
  • The Janitor will want an advanced mop (mops faster and doesn't make tiles slippery) or a holographic sign projector (unlimited amount of wet floor signs). (Though it's worth noting that since the advanced mop doesn't make floors slippery, do they really need more signs?)

Also, Research (yeah, you) is going to want to print a rapid parts exchange device, as well as several upgraded matter bins, upgraded capacitors, and upgraded manipulators. What a rapid parts exchange device does is swap out the components of a machine (like a protolathe, or a vending machine) for the (hopefully) superior components inside the RPED itself. Using it is simple;

  1. Walk up to a machine.
  2. Open its maintenance panel with a screwdriver.
  3. Click on the machine with the hand holding the RPED highlighted.
  4. The parts will exchange one by one. Once you stop getting messages, stop clicking.

You can use the RPED on anything with components. Machines that are particularly relevant to you include the protolathe and the circuit imprinter, which need better manipulators and matter bins to work faster and store more materials.

Circuit Imprinter

The circuit printer fabricates, as the name implies, circuit boards. These can be installed in machine frames and consoles (which can be constructed) along with other parts to create machines or consoles designed for a specific purpose. Much like the protolathe, what you can print with the circuit imprinter depends on the level of the learning matrix. You can also deconstruct circuit boards in the destructive analyzer to gain levels.

Most of the designs in the circuit imprinter require only aluminum and plastic, though some require glass and steel. Almost all of them require sulfuric acid. Luckily, the fabricator lab has a beaker and a sulfuric acid dispenser on the wall right next to the circuit imprinter.

Using the imprinter is like using the protolathe; using the same central computer console, click on circuit construction menu. Similar to the protolathe, you will see a list of designs available.Click on a blue hyperlinked design to being fabricating it, and it will shortly be produced.

List of Destructible Items

Destructive Analyzer