For W-Space life there really are two sides to scanning down a system.
The first is the one more familar to us all and the one that CCP has put out a decent video on. That is finding a single signature and scanning it down to 100% to bookmark it and fly to it. That scanning seems simple enough and I am confident enough in my skills now to be able to do this for a single signature in a few minutes.
The other side of scanning and the one I have seen no good methods described, is the one where you fly into a system and want to find the unknown connections as quickly as possible (or grave site for raiding, or what ever you are trying to find.)
To simply transfer the skils from the first way and start with 8AU probes and work your way down taking a single site at a time does not seem best. Maybe it is but in my mind that invloves a lot of individual probe moving that takes time. I have also read about using a single probe to try to gain a "relative stength" of the signal and then start with the strongest. This too seem to take more record keeping then I care to use in situations where I am simply trying to find what exits the system has quickly.
So I will try to describe my method. My eventual goal is to develop a short guide (with pics) eventually to help in this area. Also as a note, this is almost exclusively based on my experience in Class 3 and below systems. It may or may not be at all effective in higher w-space if signal strengths are significantly lower in higher w-space.
To start I will define just 2 terms I will use. First is "overhead view" this is the view on the map where the "camera" is all the way above and is a "top down" look at the system. I use this for the X and Y placement of probes. (for record I use the 5 probe system in teh video now with a center "target" probe). The other term is "Probe Height" which I use as a reference to how far above or below the "Inner Planet Orbital Plane" the probe formation is.
So you warp into a system, Bookmark your way out (you did BM the way out didn't you), and drop the first probe(s) to see the number of signatures in the system. Lo and behold there are like 10-15 and you need to find the exits. How do you do it? Well I will describe how I do and see if anyone else can tell me if it makes sense.
First, drop a .25 probe at your entry spot. Scan and the ignore that signatures as the one you just came in on. Next launch 5 probes and at 1AU make sure the edge of the outter 4 probes just touch in the center at the "target probe". Now change to 2AU and you should have a very nice clover pattern.
Move the target probe to either the Sun or Planet 1 depending on how compact the inner system is. Scan. Ignore all signatures over 25% that are not unknowns. Now move the probe formations "height" so that the bottom of the probes is just touching the orbital plane. Scan and ignore again. If you get an unknown "hit", write down the Signature ID. I can not tell you the number of times I have "lost" the 25% strength on the next scan and forgotten the ID. Now move the height to all the way below the orbital plane so that the top is just touching the orbital plane. Scan and ignore. With decent probing skills you should be getting rid of the inner Ladar and Grav sites and possiblly be hitting the larger Unknowns (like high sec exits).
In addition to these "base" scans, if at any time I get a signle red dot "hit" I will move the formation and change to 1AU, WITHOUT MOVING ANY INDIVIDUAL PROBES IN THE FORMATION. This will get the sig type a lot of times. If I don't get an ID at 1AU but still have single or dual red dot, I will center the formation and go to .5AU, WITHOUT MOVING ANY INDIVIDUAL PROBES IN THE FORMATION. If at .5AU I still dont have an Sig Type, I note the sig ID and move on (I do not ignore it). The reasoning here is that it is probably a Mag or Radar site and I do not want to move the individual probes in the early stages of a search.
If the inner system is very packed, I will repeat this On, Above, Below to the top left, top right, bottom right and bottom left of the sun. Again just making sure that the probe formation is consistant. With any luck you will have found an unknown.
If you still don't know the way out, then lauch a 6th probe, deactivate the main formation, and determine where the remaining signatures are. I place the 6th probe at 8AU on teh sun and call that "inner system", from there I search every planet at 8AU that the "inner system" does not cover completely.
From there, I will either use the 2AU formation for any areas with multiple sigs, or I will start to use a more traditional "single sig" scanning method.
This is quick and obviously might be hard to "envision". If people think there is value in this "method" I will strive to make a more detailed guide and add screen shots.
I think this method has several advantages, but the biggest is that it eliminates the need to move individual probes within the formation, while allowing you to scan effectively at 2AU and 1AU, which are levels that most signatures will show an ID. With the 2AU probes and the On, Above, Below method you get decent coverage over the 4AU sphere where 95% of signatues will be.
All comments desired. Please feel free to add to this discussion, as this skill is vital to W-space and yet I have found almost no material on how to do it well.
Thanks and Fly Safe,
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