Trapper Tim's Guide to CLS 2

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Trapper Tim's Guide to CLS 2

Post by Timsup2nothin » Wed, 13. Mar 13, 03:19

This is a guide to using CLS, specifically CLS 2. There are lots of guides. Lots of good guides. There are even illustrated guides and video guides. So why another guide?

Because 'how do I use CLS?' is really two questions, and most guides only answer one of them. The first question could really be 'how do I take a freighter, add CLS software, and make it work?' That question is pretty well answered in most guides, at a basic level.

But the second question; 'so what is it good for?' isn't covered nearly as well in the existing guides. And without the context of what it's good for the deeper aspects of the CLS controls don't get much coverage either.

So this guide will try to explore both sides of the question. I'll start with an application for CLS (answering the second question), then change colors and go through the nuts and bolts of setting up the freighters involved (answering the first question). The idea is that when you have the ultimate objective in mind it will be easier to follow the step by steps of the set up.


So, first the simplest possible application. Everyone who has ever set out to play a 'trader game' find out pretty quickly that hauling e-cells is always easy. Pretty much anywhere in the universe you can find an SPP that has clogged itself up with cells and will sell for 12, and it's never hard to find a buyer. Of course if you make the run a few times you find out four things.

1) Shuttling e-cells is not the most profitable thing you can do with your time.
2) Some scheming Teladi with a monster super-freighter always comes along eventually and sucks up all the cells in the SPP.
3) When the e-cells are flowing the factories run out of other stuff and stop buying your e-cells.
4) Making the same runs over and over is a lot more like work than play.

So we set up a sector trader to 'support the local economy', he eventually 'pays for himself', and we go our way, responding to his occasional distress calls when he has bought something he can't get rid of. BUT...CLS can accomplish the same 'support the economy' goal, making far better profits, and never bother you again.

Here's how.

Take a freighter with CLS software and Nav command. Don't give it fight command software, or any guns. Just put on shields, and if you are in a pretty safe area it doesn't need much of those. Make sure the freighter is docked, because you can't hire a pilot if the ship is floating in space.

Go to the command console. Choose 'trade', then 'start external commodity logistics'. Funny that, because you immediately see another highlighted 'start external commodity logistics'. The first one entered you into the screens where you instruct your pilot. The second one will actually get him going, but we aren't ready to do that yet.

We are going to the most commonly used configuration tool by clicking on 'waypoints'. That's all we are going to need for this application.

You have three choices. Again, for this application we only need one; 'add station'. Click on add station and give our pilot a place to buy e-cells, tell him to 'buy', give him a price to buy at, we'll use 13 (he will pay lower if they are cheaper when he gets there, CLS software doesn't override the station's selling price), and tell him how many to get (except for some special applications we will get into later 'maximum cargospace' is the answer).

Then use 'add station to give him three likely places to sell the product, setting a good profitable price like 18, and hit 'start'.

Off he goes. He will produce profit. Those three factories will never stop producing due to running out of e-cells, though they might run out of other stuff. That SPP will never be removed by the GD algorithm because our guy will be visiting regularly and keeping it from being stuffed full.

Okay, now for improving our basic freighter. If you watch this guy you will find out some things about how CLS works. He is going to go on 'standby' a lot. In fact he is going to go on standby EVERY time he makes a transaction, at least briefly. He is looking for what to do next. When he sells a load of e-cells he goes on standby and starts looking at his waypoint list, starting with the next waypoint.

That next waypoint might very well be another customer where we told him to sell. He is smart enough that if he doesn't have any cells he will skip that. He will continue to skip, and at the end of his list he will loop back to the beginning, checking for a waypoint that he can actually do something with. He will stay 'on standby' until he finds a waypoint that he can actually use. In this case he eventually comes to the waypoint where we told him to buy, and since he has space in the cargo bay he takes a look at their price. If it meets the price limit we gave him he sets off. If the price at the SPP is too high he goes for another lap through the waypoint list.

So what we find is that our guy is spending a lot of time hanging out at stations in our expensive freighter. He sits around waiting for the SPP to produce enough cells that they will sell for 13 before he sets out, and then some other trader buys the cells before he gets there. So when he arrives he doesn't buy, he just lounges around waiting for the price to reach 13 AGAIN. Then the same thing happens on the other end. He won't set out until there is a buyer willing to pay 18, but when he gets there they might have already had a delivery.

This is where distance between the SPP and the buyers becomes a factor. A buy at 13 sell at 18 loop will be okay if we are working in one sector, or working with an SPP near a gate (The Wall) and three fabs near the other side of that gate. But if there is a significant flight time involved, like if you want to use an SPP in The Wall to keep some fabs you consider critical down in CBSE operating, it will be terribly inefficient.

So let's tune this guy up. Here's how.

First off, if we go back to his list of waypoints we find that 'add station' and 'add ship' have disappeared from our choices. He's an apprentice, and four is his limit so the options are gone. We need to use 'cut or remove station' then choose 'remove' to give ourselves some operating room. Take off his fourth waypoint.

Now we are going to eliminate the waiting time at one end of his route.

Use 'add station' and give him the same SPP he is supposed to buy cells from. But this time instead of a 'buy' or 'sell' command use 'fly to station'. Now he has a waypoint that will not be skipped. But we lost one of our customers. No problem. Choose the 'buy' waypoint at the SPP and click 'cut or remove station', and choose cut. Now our waypoint list has 'insert station' as a choice under each waypoint on the list. Click the 'insert waypoint' under the 'fly to station' waypoint.

Because both waypoints use the same station, they get combined. Now we can add our third customer waypoint back in and send him on his way. When he makes a sale he will again skip through his waypoint list, but when he gets to the SPP waypoint he WILL fly to station rather than waiting. He still might have to wait to make the buy, but at least he won't wait twice.

BUT...if he flys out with a load of cells, and someone beats him to the sale so he can't sell when he gets there, he will turn around and fly back to the SPP with a full load already on. Not good. It might be okay if his target customers are in a sector that is horribly under served by the NPC energy haulers, but even then it's going to go bad too often.

So we need a price adjustment. Get back in the waypoint list and click on the 'buy' waypoint at our SPP. You get to EDIT, without having to choose the station. It gives you a list of products the station trades, so choose 'energy cells'. We still want him to 'buy', but change his price to 12. Then edit his selling waypoints and change his price to 16.

Since he is alredy sitting at the SPP waiting for his price he has a much better chance at the deal, so a little extra wait for the price of 12 won't limit him much. And since he will take off as soon as one of his buyers hits average price he has a good chance of beating the NPC traders to the sale. He only makes four credits per e-cell instead of five, but the gain in volume will more than make up for it.

And yes, knowing what we know now we should have just set him up this way in the first place. But if we had then this guide, like most other guides, would not have had any context for showing how the editing functions work.


So that takes care of the simple application. You can substitute any ware. Set up whatever pricing you think will work best. Adjust the pricing to get the best combination of profit per unit and volume transported...if you want to adjust it, or you can just fire off CLS ships one after another and forget about them. You will make profit either way.

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Post by Timsup2nothin » Wed, 13. Mar 13, 03:19

This is where I apologize for the giant wall of text, and thank all the people who came before me for their guides, from which I learned all of what I know either directly or indirectly.
Last edited by Timsup2nothin on Wed, 13. Mar 13, 03:42, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Timsup2nothin » Wed, 13. Mar 13, 03:27

So that takes care of the simple application. You can substitute any ware. Set up whatever pricing you think will work best. Adjust the pricing to get the best combination of profit per unit and volume transported...if you want to adjust it, or you can just fire off CLS ships one after another and forget about them. You will make profit either way.

But if you have a whole gang of CLS ships flying around it never fails that some of them you set up really well, either by craft or luck, while others...not so much. You are stuck in a slow TP making that long transit for a taxi mission, and figure you have time to make some adjustments. But how do you know which ones need adjusting the most?

Here's how. Two ways actually.

I usually rename all my CLS ships, by replacing 'your' with CLS, cleverly enough. So if I set my ship list to sort by name instead of location all the CLS guys show up in a block. I become immediately suspicious if they have 'on standby' under their status. If I'm on a short transit I might take a look and use rename to add an x after the CLS for any that are on standby. After a few short transits on different occassions even I will notice that some of my guys have no x at all, while others seem to catch an x every time I check and are now looking like an adult theater that even I would be afraid to visit. Clearly they could use some guidance.

But maybe it's just a coincidence. Bad luck that every time they take a brief break the boss just happens to check on them. I've had days like that. So if you are a good boss you will check the facts before you jump on this guy. And you could actually skip the whole 'adding x' system and go straight to solid data on a case by case basis if you want as well.

Go to the command console, trade, and start external commodity logistics to get back into giving instructions to your pilot. Do NOT hit 'start external commodity logistics' the second time. Your guy is already running, and giving him a start command while he is already running can confuse him, possibly leading to consequences best avoided.

Under configuration you will find 'trader settings', click on that. You will find some options that we will be using later, but you will also find information we will be using now. Specificlly 'Duration of employment' and 'flight time'. If our guy is on a 'good' route he will have a fair portion of his employment in flight time. If he has very little flight time compared to duration of employment there might well be some room for improvement. If his flight time is clearly need to do something, even if it is start over.

The flight time check is solid data and more reliable than the x check. It is harder to do on a substantial fleet. I use both. The x check (mostly) keeps me from having to go into the controls for guys who are doing okay. Personally, if a guy has collected a whole bunch of x's but when I check his flight time it looks really good, I fire him because I figure he is cursed with bad luck and will eventually run into a Xenon and get my freighter shot out from under him. But that's just me.


So I've found some routes that definitely need improving. What to do? First off, you want to look at the waypoint list and see if the route is bad because you picked the wrong ware in the wrong place at the wrong time...or if you just plain got caught with your brain on auto-pilot while your mouse did the thinking.

Yes, if you give a CLS ship a 'buy' waypoint picking up e-cells at an SPP and three 'sell' waypoints delivering ore to customers he will not move. Trust me, I've done it. In cases like that you just fix it and move on, perhaps with some gnashing of teeth over wasted opportunities or perhaps with a philosophical shrug.

It's easier to be philosophical if you just picked the wrong ware. Sometimes it takes a while for the universe to make a solid truth obvious. Some goods, in some places, are just so heavily overproduced that if you have your CLS guy buy them he is seldom going to be able to get rid of them. Other goods are so scarce that he will hardly ever get to buy any. There are a couple ways to solve these types of problems.

First off, you can always start over. Just go into the waypoints list and hit 'delete all waypoints' and start from scratch. If you choose this 'nuclear option' there is something you need to know.

EMPTY THE SHIP! If you hit 'start' on a CLS full of goods the pilot will, in fact, ignore those goods. Forever. If he is full use some other command set to get him somewhere and unload the goods. Use a MORT and freight transfer them. If they are cheap and you are in a mood just eject them into space. Whatever. Just get them off the ship.

Since this holds true no matter how you intend to fix the problem it is a good rule of thumb that if you have more than one ship to fix start by fixing one that is stuck on empty rather than one that is stuck on full. I just mark the names of the ones I want to fix and check whenever I have some free time until I catch them empty, unless the problem is really heinous, in which case I usually use a nav command to send them somewhere to conveniently shed their load and fix them when they call me.

But maybe the route is basically working, it could just use some improvement.

A lot of routes can be fixed just by changing the price points. I thought I was going to make a fortune in Soya Husks, buying low and selling high. Turns out there are soyeries everywhere you look and my guy has been sitting on a pile of soya husks smoking cigarettes for half a day. Buy at minimum and sell at average instead.

Others need a serious look at the waypoints and their other resources. Earlier I mentioned a route hauling energy cells from The Wall down to CBSE. I will tell you from experience that if you do not do something to provide ore, and cahoonas, this guy is going to have time to raise a family at the power plant because his customers will be off line and not consuming e-cells most of the time. This can be fixed by adding a couple more freighters to supply the other resources, or he can be redirected towards supplying customers that will actually use the energy cells.

Last, but certainly not least, on a route that has been working, though maybe not all that well, our pilot will eventually accumulate enough flight time to get promoted. This gives us the option to add more waypoints. In some cases this is pointless, in some it is helpful, and in some it is crucial. Case in point our guy hauling e-cells to CBSE, assuming we are also dealing with the other needed resources. This guy can be made about three times more effective when he gets his first promotion.

Here's how.

Go into his waypoints list. If you did the previous exercise it will be two 'sell' waypoints, then a 'fly to' and a 'buy' at an SPP, then another 'sell' waypoint. If you did it right in the first place it will probably have the SPP waypoint first on the list. Since the list is actually a loop it makes no difference either way.

Choose 'add station', then pick the other SPP in the same sector and give him a second source to buy from with the same price and cargo space. Now we do NOT want him flying back and forth without reason, so use 'remove or cut waypoint', choose 'cut' and then insert it after the existing buy point. Use add station to give him a fourth potential customer.

Now he will fly to his primary source and sit there until either SPP will sell for his price. He will either make the buy at the primary or make the short flight to the secondary if it meets his price first. Either way once loaded he will look for a buyer. If there are no ready buyers he might fly the load from the secondary source over to the primary source and sit there waiting because of the fly to command. You will find that giving him a second source to buy from makes him work MUCH better. The fourth customer helps too, but the extra source is the big gain.


In fact it is such a big gain that for this particular case it would have been worth going up to the trading station in Herron's Nebula and getting a better than apprentice pilot to start with. Some people would say that it is ALWAYS worth going to get the better pilot to start with. I don't.

Some routes are just four stop routes, period. You want some fab to keep producing. It needs silicon. There's a silicon mine in the next sector...but there's only the one. There's only one other fab in the sector that uses silicon. This calls for a three stop route. It won't be very efficient, but it will keep the target fab supplied, which was the objective. Use an apprentice.

Now someone somewhere is perched on their throne of CLS savvy saying "get a good pilot, give him some 'buy' points for food and some more for e-cells and he can supply everything they need". Good luck with that. You end up with a freighter full of silicon, the fabs sitting below the buy price so your guy doesn't unload it, and they are out of e-cells, or food, so they aren't using it up to raise their price. Since he's full he isn't going to go to those spiffy buy points, and he has settled down with the silicon mine owners daughter making the next generation of silicon miners.

Lesson of my experience...the VAST majority of people who 'had so many problems with CLS they just gave up' tried to get CLS pilots to trade multiple wares. I have done it successfully and we'll get to those applications, but sometimes three apprentices can do a whole lot more for you than one logistician.

The other thing to know about those available 'advanced pilots' is that they do not progress any faster than an apprentice pilot. It takes two hours of flight time for an apprentice to become a courier, then two more hours of flight time for the courier to become a supplier. If you hire a pilot who is already a courier it will take him four hours of flight time to become a supplier...exactly the same.

This is particularly hilarious when someone does it and then puts the pilot on a 'training route' where they just fly around accumulating flight time without making any profit in an effort to 'make a logistician as quickly as possible'. It takes exactly the same flight time to turn an apprentice into a logistician as it takes to turn a courier into a logistician, the only difference is that with the apprentice you didn't pay him for the first two hours.

So if you choose to use any of the widely recommended 'training systems' it is actually totally counter-productive to hire 'experienced pilots'.


So we have a bunch of CLS simpletons running about hauling this and that. A key thing to note is that even these simpletons are indeed 'keeping the economy going'. They should in fact be making you a lot more than ST/UTs would be making you in the process because they should be operating on much higher profit per unit margins than ST/UTs generally do. And they really are 'fire and forget'. You can improve their performance if you want to, but they will never send you the little beep and plead ignorance as to how their cargo hold filled up with junk they can't sell.

But of course there is more. A lot more.
Last edited by Timsup2nothin on Thu, 14. Mar 13, 04:26, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Timsup2nothin » Wed, 13. Mar 13, 03:36

Intermediate application: I have an insatiable appetite for spiffkin missiles. I lack the rep and/or the credits to set up a spiffkin missile complex. Can CLS help me? Of course it can. But first we need to know more about the missile du jour, and how badly you really want them.

We're going to pick one set of circumstances to use as an example. We will say that these spiffkin missiles have a limited number of fabs popping them out, and they are seldom seen on docks even though a lot of docks would stock them if they had them. We are also going to assume that you are perfectly happy paying average price for them when you see them on a dock, and you've even been known to buy a couple at nearly max price when you happened to see them at a factory.

So let's collect all the spiffkin missiles in existence and lock up all future production.

Here's how.

First, we need a place to put the spiffkin bounty we are about to harvest. A large storage container is called for. A super freighter, or maybe a TL. Park that somewhere, preferably with a handy gate. If you are parking it somewhere floating in space your gathering agent is going to need a transporter device. If you are parking it somewhere floating in space keep in mind that in the near future it is going to be holding all the precious spiffkin missiles in existence, so it would be good to take some precautions about it not getting blown up. Similarly, if you are using a super freighter and parking it at a station the trading station in Red Light is on the 'not recommended list'.

Now, we need our gatherer. He is a logistician pilot in a good fast ship that can hold some fair amount of our product of choice. The first key here is that it has to be able to handle the right size cargo. If your particular 'spiffkin missile' is gauss cannons don't send a disco hauler, or a TP, obviously.

Now, with the information we already covered you COULD just click around the universe and tell this guy to buy from every spiffkin selling dock there is, and the fabs as well. That would, of course, be mind bogglingly tedious. But you can automate this process.

Under 'Configure external commodity logistics', in fact right beneath the 'waypoints' option that we have come to know and love, is 'generate waypoints', which we are going to love even more. Click that. We are going to love this so much that we are about to do something we will regret later. Those who are prone to angry outbursts please read ahead. Those who think going through something quick and easy an extra time won't hurt just keep on keepin' on.

You will have to enter a starting sector and a jump range. To get them all pick somewhere in the middle of the universe and some absurd number like 100. Or a thousand. Or a million. There comes a point where it just doesn't matter and we're well past it, but if that spiffkin jones is gnawing at you pick a number that makes you feel better.

You choose the kind of waypoint you want, in this case 'buy'. You choose the ware you want; you need the type 'missiles' and the specific 'spiffkins'. You choose how much you want to pay, and since we want them from the docks we go with 'average price', and we choose our friend maximum cargo space.

Now look at the waypoint list. It is conveniently populated with every place you could ever buy a spiffkin. Hit 'add ship', go to the sector your holding tank is parked in and pick it off the list, choose 'unload', 'missiles', 'spiffkin', max cargospace...and think about what happens if you press start.

Your guy is going to set off on the spiffkin trail, probably never to return, and certainly not soon. Time for a jump drive. And with a jump drive comes the question of jump fuel.

Now, we've all seen an idiot ST/UT pilot run out of jump fuel and head for the nearest SPP, which happens to be right on the other side of this handy Xenon sector. If you've mucked about with this sort of CLS operation before you've no doubt found your collecting agent, out of jump fuel, and flying back from BFE while spiffkins accumulate throughout the universe and get bought up by your rivals. I have the cure for all that. It's called never let a CLS pilot try to think for himself.

First, we need a 'fuel tank'. We cannot trust this bonehead to buy jump fuel from an SPP. He might not like the price. They might not have any. He WILL in either of these cases just jump off to BFE like he doesn't have a care in the world. So park a freighter at an SPP in the same sector as the holding tank. Give it CLS software and order a 'fly to station' and a 'buy', price 15 and max cargo space. The freightr needs to be big enough that our jumper doesn't use up all the fuel faster than the SPP gets the price back down to 15. From a practical standpoint I usually use a Mercury and this has never been a problem, but if you are a nervous nelly use a BIG freighter. Once set up give your guy the 'add ship', choose the fuel tank, and 'reload jump fuel'.

Now the technicalities.

You need to select 'Jump drive settings'. Probably don't need to be told that 'yes' is a significant thing to have next to 'use jump drive'. Might need some help with 'minimum jump' and 'jump fuel' though.

The bigger the minimum jump the more our guy will fly instead of jump. We want this rube to cover the entire universe, so we set that to zero. Some of our buys will be pretty far from the nearest gate. That's gonna slow him down more than enough. By the way, you did put the collection tank near a gate, right? And the fuel tank is in an SPP near a gate also, not buried down in the depths of the biggest available sector, right?

Now, jump fuel. Here's where we want a balance, and we already screwed it up. If our guy goes out and tries to gather up ALL the spiffkins in one trip he is going to jump all over the universe and run out of fuel. Jump here, pick up two at this dock, jump there, pick up one, jump there, pick up three. If he has any kind of cargo bay he is eventually going to be flying instead of jumping. So DELETE ALL WAYPOINTS (those who chose to read ahead, this is the ahead). The process was easy enough using that generate waypoints command, right? So even as we watch maybe fifty waypoints go glimmering we aren't all that upset. Now imagine if you had entered each one individually.

Okay. Fresh start. Let's put the dump site first, then our refuel stop, then use 'generate waypoints' just like we did before, but this time instead of max cargo space on the buy use 'Manual input up to'. Then you want some amount that will make our guy come back and unload...and refuel. Let's say our spiffkin missiles have a volume of three and when a dock stocks them it can hold up to fifty six. If our guy hits a bad streak of luck he might buy just one at ten docks in a row, making ten jumps in the process. If we are giving him a Mercury and want to be absolutely safe we better use 10 for the up to command so he will come back, unload, and refuel often enough.

He is gonna burn fuel like there's no tomorrow. This is only good if you are REALLY a severe spiffkin addict.

From a more practical perspective, let's take a look at 'supply conditions' on our configuration menu. Click that and you find some options. We are interested in two of them. 'Minimum delivery amount'...there are two of them, one for picking up and one for dropping off, and they are set to 5% by default. So here is the trick. Our faithfull pilot wasn't going to make that ten jump circuit picking up one at each stop. If he can't pick up 5% of his cargo bay, which on a base model Mercury means 150 units of cargo he isn't gonna go AT ALL. He is NEVER gonna go get anything from docks, ever, unless this gets changed. So set it to zero. Or maybe one. If you set it to one he will make the jump for thirty cargo units. With our spiffkins having a volume of three he would make the jump to pick up ten. If you don't mind letting the single digit stocks get away you can save a lot of fuel.

I have run aground on the 'minimum drop off' as well. I wanted my guy to come back and refuel frequently, so I used a very small 'up to' number and gave him plenty of jump fuel. I found him parked at the refueling tank. He wouldn't go buy more because he had the 'up to' amount on board, but it was less than 5% of his cargo bay so he skipped the 'unload' and went straight to the refuel...and stopped. For this kind of job it's best to set that to zero as well.

In any event we need to use some combination of cargo space in the 'manual up to' command and ' jump fuel amount' in the jumpdrive settings that works. This is going to vary depending on ware volume and the amount usually found on docks. Bottom line you need him to accumulate enough to reach the limit of the 'up to' before he runs out of fuel. If docks routinely have one missile in stock govern accordingly.

Backstop might need to add unload and refuel waypoints interspersed through your waypoint list, particularly for tiny wares that are frequently stocked in ones and twos. For a more realistic example than the spiffkin missiles, I have a scabbard collecting microchips. I used 12 for the 'up to' since a chip fab selling at average price is stocking ten and if I get there a little late it might have eleven. Scabbard cargo bay is 600, less fifty for shields and 24 for the chips so I set jump fuel to 520. I inserted a dump and refuel after every waypoint that ended in zero (10, 20, 30...) so basically he never makes more than eight jumps even if they are one by one pick ups. He never runs out of fuel and he collects about a thousand chips per game day. Spends credits like water though.


Which brings us to an advanced application. The application isn't really advanced, it's the technique. It gives us an example of how to use commands in the configuration that make something unbearable fairly easy to set up.

We have our spiffkin missile collector running full blast. He has cleared all the docks, and sits on standby waiting like a hawk. If a spiffkin factory hits average price he pounces. If some weapons trader that has been carrying some spiffkins around finally lands at a dock and sells them, he pounces. But there just aren't ENOUGH. And look, the spiffkin fabs are always out of ore, or food, or energy, or whatever. Besides, these spiffkins aren't cheap and my guy is blowing through my credits like a strong wind. about if I supply all the resources to the spiffkin fabs to keep them running...and make some profit in the process?

Our gang of simpletons could have already solved this. Just need to make sure all the fabs appear somewhere on the waypoint lists of our guys that are hauling whatever. But if that was already happening we wouldn't have this problem. What we need here is a guy following the same route as our spiffkin buyer, but selling energy instead of buying spiffkins. Then another one selling ore, and another supplying the food.

Welllll...we have a waypoint list with all the spiffkin fabs on it. We could just create the waypoints one at a time. Tedious.

So, let's do something less tedious. Notice I do not claim that it isn't a little tedious. First, go to the spiffkin buyer, and choose 'data storage' 'save waypoints'. Call it something clever, like 'spiffkin fabs' or whatnot. Now set up an appropriate freighter and choose 'data storage' 'load waypoints'.

This freighter is now a duplicate of the other one, though probably bigger and slower. So, step one, remove the unload waypoint, and all the docks since they don't need resource support. Might want to save this again, since now it really is a list of spiffkin fabs. Once we set this one up to supply ore we'll want to use this list when we set one up for energy and save all that remocval business.

Now for the cool thing. Click on a waypoint. Choose edit. Note that it is already selected to the station and gives you choices for the appropriate wares, so you can change the 'buy spiffkins' to a 'sell ore'. You used 'generate waypoints' to pick out all the spiffkin fabs, where if you tried a 'generate waypoints' sell ore you would come up with a truly unmanageable list. Trust me. Or try it yourself. Whichever.

So you can edit the waypoints one at a time until the list is done. At the end of the list add a refuel stop at some convenient fuel tank. Then use generate waypoints with a fairly small range in a likely area (cough, Treasure Chest, cough) to give you half a dozen or so possible buy at cheap price possibilities.

And the jump drive settings here are easy. It will jump and make a buy. Then it will jump and make a sale. Then it will jump to the fuel tank. As long as the spiffkin fabs can swallow the whole load it will never make multiple jumps unless some NPC hauler beats it to the sale and it has to try again. Give it enough fuel just in case, but figure it won't get beaten over and over. Since the refuel stop comes after the sale and before the buy you can just use max cargo space for everything.

In fact, even when you set up an e-cell supplier he will NOT sell his jump fuel and will safely make the trip back. Here's the key point, as I've said before...EMPTY FREIGHTER. If you hit the 'start button' and there are e-cells on board your guy will get hopelessly, and I mean hopelessly, confused. He might make a sale and sell everything. He might make a sale, leave the e-cells that were on board when he started, and not realize he can use them for jump fuel. He might look at them, skip his 'refuel' waypoint because they are there, then still forget he can use them.

If he is empty when you hit start, and always hits his refuel waypoint with nothing on board to sell before he hits any buy waypoints you will never have a problem with him. Note, this requires some thinking about size of freighter. If you use a big freighter and the sale doesn't empty it down to the jump fuel he may get confused. I never use a freighter bigger than a base Mercury for hauling e-cells if they will have any little fabs on their list. Bigger freighters are okay for delivering to M fabs, and huge freighters can only be used to deliver to L fabs.


Even more advanced, the food delivery. Somewhere along the line I said that using one CLS to handle multiple wares was asking for trouble. Our spiffkin fabs are from multiple races, and they need a variety of food. While it seems obvious that we could just set up a rastar delivery wagon, and a cahoona wagon, etc., I want my entire spiffkin operation under 'one roof' and would like to use a single food hauler. Can I do that?

Sure. The key is that it has to always empty out before it goes for the next ware, no matter what.

So we start with our list of spiffkin fabs that we saved, loaded into an appropriate freighter. Then we edit them to cahnge the buys into the appropriate food sells. We will have to do some cutting and inserting, to get all the fabs sorted by race. Then we start adding buys for the appropriate food. They will also have to be cut and inserted at the appropriate place, immediately ahead of the sales.

And we are now facing the problem head on. What if our guy is full of cahoonas, none of the fabs that buy cahoonas are buying, and some poor Teladi spiffkin makers are starving. We need a storage vessel. If we are using a TL for dumping the spiffkins it will probably serve. Use an 'add ship' 'storage vessel' 'unload max cargo space' AFTER all the appropriate sales and before the next series of buys. Do this for each type of food.

But wait, now my spiffkin storage is going to fill up like a supermarket. So 'add ship' 'storage vessel' 'load max cargo space' BEFORE the buys. Put a refuel stop in between the unload of one food and the loading of the next.

So what this freighter does is load up jump fuel, then try to load a food, say cahoonas, from storage. If there aren't any in storage it will jump off and buy some, but if it loaded from storage it is already full so it won't. Then it will look for a chance to sell cahoonas, and if it finds one it will jump off and do that. It might have to jump and buy, then jump and sell. It might load from storage and then jump and sell. It might jump and make a buy, find no sales, and jump back to unload. Heck, it might load from storage, skip all the buys, find no sells and just dump the cahoonas back into storage. Whatever it does it will hit the next refuel (and ignore it if it didn't actually go anywhere) then move on to the next food.

It will settle into a cycle of picking up from storage and returning the same goods to storage, picking up the next and returning it, etc. until it gets a chance to make a sale, which it will jump and do. Then it will refuel and return to station. The next cycle it won't be able to load, so it will jump and make a buy. The storage vessel will hold exactly one full load of each type of food.


Notably, this can all be done with the Hub. It can serve as fuel tank, as long as you set up an energy hauler to keep it filled. It can store one full load of every type of food for the food hauler. It can store (or consume) the collected product.

So let's consider...instead of spiffkin missiles how about microchips? We have to pour in the credits at a fearsome clip, but there is profit in supplying energy, food, and silicon to every chip fab in the universe. From experience it offsets about 40% of the cost. Thousands of microchips takes many game days to accumulate...but how many game days are spent dragging astroids around to build a giant chip plex that still takes however long to make the thousands of chips?

As with all things X there is no right way or wrong way. Just pointing out that with CLS there is another way.


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Post by Timsup2nothin » Wed, 13. Mar 13, 03:40

So let's go back to a different intermediate application.

I have a factory. My CAG is an idiot and he only buys resources. I don't want to haul product off until he figures out how to do it himself, and I don't want to set up some pointless CLS 'training run' then switch over a good pilot. What can I do with CLS to keep my factory running?

In short, anything that needs to be done.

We all know that you can rely completely on NPC haulers if you are willing to give up enough profit. Set resource prices at one over average and sale price at one under and walk away. An experienced CAG lets you set a reasonable price for resources and a reasonable price for your product and takes care of business with one freighter, but if you try to make too much of a profit he will end up setting out for the buy, and getting beaten to it by an NPC hauler, setting out for a sale and having it happen again. If he spends too much time on trips that don't pan out your factory stops, so you limit how low a price he pays for resources and how high a price he tries to sell product for. Using a single freighter is great, but how much profit are you willing to leave on the table.

With CLS you can have an on the spot agent waiting for your chosen price. An agent at the SPP buying at 12. An agent at the cahoona bakery selling your cattle as soon as the price hits average, so one L cahoona bakery will consume ALL of the production from your L cattle ranch without any NPC traders getting in the way. Or set up half a dozen cahoona bakeries and have your agents hold out for five above average. Maybe more if the bakery is remote enough.

Traps. Traps are the key. A CLS freighter with a single waypoint, set to fly to the station and do the transaction and just stay there waiting. It waits for the price you want, then makes the transaction. A different freighter does the actual moving of the goods.

For example let's build an L size cattle ranch somewhere near Argon Prime. It needs energy. We'll set three traps on SPPs that aren't too far away, using a buy price of 12. Then set up a freighter to bring the energy cells to our ranch.

'Add Ship' 'first trap' load e-cells max cargo.
'Add Ship' 'next trap' load e-cells max cargo.
'Add ship' 'last trap' load e-cells max cargo.
'Add station' 'our ranch' unload e-cells max cargo.

Our guy will fill up our ranch with cells bought at 12. He will be running constantly until the ranch is full, especially if the traps are twice the size of the freighter. If it takes two trip to empty the first trap at least one of the others will be full, and the first trap will fill back up fairly quickly. In fact by the time he fills up our ranch he will probably have enough flight time to give him a couple more waypoints. You can then add a couple of your neighbors as sales points, selling at a good high price. He will always top off your ranch first, but no reason for him to sit around half full.

Now we need to get rid of the cattle. Same thing. Three traps on likely cahoona bakeries. A freighter to fill them and try to keep them full. If you have an L size cattle ranch and traps on three L size cahoona bakeries you only need to successfully supply one third of the product they use as long as they keep running. A little CLS assistance to keep them supplied with their other resources and haul away the cahoonas and keeping them running isn't such a problem.

NPC freighters will only start heading their way when their buy price hits one above average. By the time they arrive the price might be four above average, or it might be ten above average. If the cahoona bakery is in pirate space and you are shooting all the NPC cattle trucks it might be maximum. Whatever price you set your guy is right there waiting to make the sale. If your price gets him one sale out of three before the NPCs get there and you have three traps you are golden.

Note that this entire setup is done with apprentice pilots. Yes it takes more ships than the one CAG freighter, but it makes a TON more profit per unit.


The advanced factory management plan.

We found out that our energy guy can bring in more energy than our ranch is using. We know keeping our customers supplied to keep them running and using our product is an important part of the plan. Is there a way to use the excess energy we take in to keep them supplied? By the way, I want to do this with a single freighter.

For this example cattle ranches are a pain in the drain. Cahoona bakeries are terrible customers, because they need three resources to function. But a rimes fact...

So we build a wheat farm instead of a cattle ranch. Or a bogas plant. Or a bean farm. Or a flower farm. Pretty much anything of the bio persuasion BUT a cattle ranch.

First thing, you need to match your farm to the proposed customer. If it's an L factory you need an L farm. You are going to be their sole supplier of wheat and energy, so you have to match. You also need to be close, and if you don't want to use any traps you need a good sized SPP nearby as well.

Set up your Mercury Hauler (capacity 6000) freighter waypoints like this.

'Add station' 'your farm' unload e-cells max cargo
'Add station' 'your farm' load wheat up to 1600
'Add station' 'your farm' load e-cells up to 2400

Notice that this is actually just one waypoint. Note that a rimes fact will use 2400 e cells in the same time that it uses 1600 wheat.

'Add station' 'your customer' sell wheat price 35 max cargo
'Add station' 'your customer' sell e-cells price 17 max cargo
'Add station' 'your customer' sell wheat price 35 max cargo

Again, these combine. We have two waypoints. If the wheat price triggers him to make the trip he will likely find that both products meet the price when he gets there. If wheat isn't quite up to 35 and the e-cell price triggers him the duplicate wheat sell should be good by the time he gets there.

'Add station' 'your farm' unload e-cells max cargo
'Add station' 'your farm' unload wheat max cargo


'Add station' 'handy SPP' buy e-cells price 13 max cargo.

And that's four. Note that this has to be set last, because you can't add once you have four, even if it would in fact just add to the existing fourth waypoint. If you set this one first you won't be able to complete the more complicated waypoints in the fourth spot.

So what does this guy do? He sits at our farm loading and unloading. After he loads he checks the rimes fact to see if they are buying, if not he unloads. After he unloads he checks the SPP to see if they are offering a good enough price to justify going and buying. If they aren't he loads up and checks the rimes fact again.

The trick. When you set this up make one 'sacrifice sale' to the rimes fact. You want them to have energy and wheat running out at about the same time. Figure out what they are going to need sooner and sell them enough of that so they have two wheat for every three e-cells. This isn't really necessary as your guy will eventually establish this balance, but it gets things smoothed out a little quicker.


Obviously food fabs or mines or whatever can be managed in a similar but adapted way. We covered the basic CLS freighter. We covered collection of a particular ware, as well as distribution of wares. We covered using CLS for factory support. Along the way we detailed most of the key commands in the configuration menu and pointed out some of the pitfalls around jump fuel, which is the most frequent problem issue in using CLS. Introduced the concepts of fuel tanks, alternating wares using storage, and traps. I consider this a project that was worth the time, and hope it helps a lot of people. Happy trails.


Here are some other advanced examples, where CLS freighters are combined into large networks.

CLS monopoly network on all ice and water transport in Terran space

CLS monopoly network collecting all output of five Teladi weapon forges for free

CLS monopoly network adapted for cornering the e-cell trade
Last edited by Timsup2nothin on Thu, 14. Mar 13, 16:52, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by terryokc2 » Wed, 13. Mar 13, 04:28


Well done, sir....VERY well done. And as someone posted on here somewhere before, I think you've turned the CLS II software on it's head! (Applause)

And thank you, as well, for all of your hard work and taking some time out of your day to post this. (and all the other related posts you put in for CLS software). It got me started in a new humble merchant game with knowledge I never had the first time around. (that first game of mine is sitting at 27 days, I think) That, along with the experience from playing without the bonus pack and then with it added. :)

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Post by Condonis » Wed, 13. Mar 13, 06:52


from someone who already uses CLS a fair bit, you have taught me soooo much. You are Da Man! :D

Thanks heaps and keep 'em coming!
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Post by Timsup2nothin » Wed, 13. Mar 13, 07:54

Thanks. Glad to share.

On the 'keep 'em coming' front I think I've posted just about everything I know on the subject. But...if someone has something that seems like CLS might be applied I'll certainly try to work it through. Even if it's something that has a 'tried and true' approach sometimes coming at it completely from left field produces an unexpectedly good result.
Trapper Tim's Guide to CLS 2

On Her Majesty's Secret Service-Dead is Dead, and he is DEAD

Not a DiD, so I guess it's a DiDn't, the story of my first try at AP
Part One, in progress

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Post by psyclon » Wed, 13. Mar 13, 10:48

This guide is so good, i might reread it twice per day! In addition to being informative and excellently written, it is funny, which is a huge bonus in my opinion.

Tim, i am going to go out and buy a hat, so that i can truly say "Hat's off to you!".

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Post by Storm666 » Wed, 13. Mar 13, 23:03

Handy little guide for people :)

a couple of points you may want to check out-

when setting jump drives its bad practice to set min-jump to '0'. when set at zero he jumps to the nearest gate (which will probably be in the same sector), set it to one and save a pointless jump if his next destination is the same sector.

I have run aground on the 'minimum drop off' as well. I wanted my guy to come back and refuel frequently, so I used a very small 'up to' number and gave him plenty of jump fuel. I found him parked at the refueling tank. He wouldn't go buy more because he had the 'up to' amount on board, but it was less than 5% of his cargo bay so he skipped the 'unload' and went straight to the refuel...and stopped. For this kind of job it's best to set that to zero as well.
min cargo bay setting.... if set to 101% he will ignor this setting allowing your min/max/upto commands to take full control of the cargo bay.

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Post by Timsup2nothin » Thu, 14. Mar 13, 00:57

Storm666 wrote:Handy little guide for people :)

when setting jump drives its bad practice to set min-jump to '0'. when set at zero he jumps to the nearest gate (which will probably be in the same sector), set it to one and save a pointless jump if his next destination is the same sector.
They only jump if the gate they jump to is closer to their destination than they are. Admittedly sometimes it is not much closer so they are wasting the jump, but if they are at an SPP at the north end of Spaceweed Drift and heading for a station in the southern end of the sector it's a big gainer. I figure the in sector jumps don't use much fuel, and I've got fuel to burn so I let them burn it.
Trapper Tim's Guide to CLS 2

On Her Majesty's Secret Service-Dead is Dead, and he is DEAD

Not a DiD, so I guess it's a DiDn't, the story of my first try at AP
Part One, in progress

HEY! AP!! That's new!!!

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Post by Snafu_X3 » Thu, 14. Mar 13, 02:55

Tim, many many thanks for posting this; it's taught me a lot (& I consider myself to be a CLS2 expert!)

You may like to consider CLS1 as a 'push' agent, & add some notees on that..

Greatly appreciated & I think it should be nominated for stickie status - I wish I'd read it earlier!
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Post by terryokc2 » Thu, 14. Mar 13, 03:11

Snafu_X3 wrote:Tim, many many thanks for posting this; it's taught me a lot (& I consider myself to be a CLS2 expert!)

You may like to consider CLS1 as a 'push' agent, & add some notees on that..

Greatly appreciated & I think it should be nominated for stickie status - I wish I'd read it earlier!
I second that emotion!

Stickie status...Stickie status.... ;)

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Post by Shaevar » Thu, 14. Mar 13, 06:26

Excellent guide! I see there was a lot of effort into making it and it is much appreciated! :D

If i might make a suggestion though, I think your guide will benefit greatly from having somes..titles or headlines between the differents sections. It would make it easier to find a specific information once you go back to reading it. Sorry if it ain't clear, english is not my first language.

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Post by Zaitsev » Thu, 14. Mar 13, 07:19

I think I'm going to have to print this and keep it next to my computer. Outstanding work, Tim :thumb_up: :)
I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of how awesome I am :D

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