The critical question is: Where do you find artifacts?
Here's where I've found a few, with both rotacol co-ords and distances from the 0, 0, 0 rotacol point ('zero'):
|Sector||Co-ords||Distance from zero|
So I'd be inclined to say 85-110k from zero. We do really need to get better data, so if you find this guide useful, then why not help make it better by mailing me the co-ords of any arti's you find? (preferably co-ords as well as distance, as it's possible the distribution isn't over a uniform sphere).
The semi-transparent red sphere is the search area, and the green sphere's and cylinders are the search pattern.
The first of the three images is both the search pattern and the search area. The second is the area of space that is filled by both the search pattern and the search area. (i.e. the actual area that is searched). The third picture shows the part of the search area that is not covered by the search pattern.
All these pics where done using POV-Ray.
Unless stated otherwise the radar range is 35k.
The 'Cube' search pattern, has several variations, all focused on the height of the cube. The smallest one I've seen has corners at +/-35 units, the largest (that I've heard of) at +/-55.
This is way too small, you don't get very far into the 'sweet spot', and that close to the center of the map you'll continually be dodging roids etc...
Better, you go outside the search area at the corners a little, but thats not a problem, and you can compensate by starting your turn to the next rotacol point when your 5k or so from the reaching your current one. You do however still miss quite a lot of space on the faces of the cube.
A lot better, but you still miss out fairly large areas of space on the faces on the cube. I've rotated the cube a bit here so you can see the missing bits a bit better:
I could go on up to 60k or 70k, but the larger you make the cube, the more space at the edges and corners of the cube is wasted on 'unproductive' space.
The principle is to fly three circles, one at 80-100k from zero, one at a smaller radius and 'above' zero, and another at the same radius as the second and at the same distance from zero, but 'below' zero.
I think this idea was first proposed by Mikal93402 in this post.
In this one the central radius is 85k, the upper and lower circles are at +/-55k, with a radius of 60k:
Other suggested numbers that I've seen are (some are for 40k radars):
|middle radius,||'upper' and 'lower' radius,||'upper' and 'lower' 'height'|
After trying out the cube once and abandoning it, and then flying randomly in circles (which works Ok, see below). I sat down to write some software to map a spiral to the surface of a sphere to try to make as good a search pattern as possible.
As you can see it covers the search area quite nicely, but it's 36 points, and takes hours to fly!
This version is actually slightly buggy, and i need to fiddle with it a bit. (i think i can reduce the number of points to 32).
Update: I've got it down to 27 points and fixed the problems. I'll try it out tommorow, and report here how it goes.
Well here it is:
and here are the points:
x y z distance from prev. point 0.0, 100.0, 0.0 19.4, 92.2, 33.6 39581 -26.9, 84.3, 46.5 48678 -64.4, 76.5, 0.0 60299 -36.3, 68.7, -63.0 69369 39.7, 60.8, -68.7 76653 84.8, 53.0, -0.0 82590 44.6, 45.2, 77.3 87444 -46.4, 37.3, 80.3 91382 -95.5, 29.5, 0.0 94515 -48.8, 21.7, -84.5 96920 49.5, 13.8, -85.8 98650 99.8, 6.0, -0.0 99739 50.0, -1.8, 86.6 100208 -49.8, -9.7, 86.2 100065 -98.5, -17.5, 0.0 99307 -48.4, -25.3, -83.8 97922 47.2, -33.2, -81.7 95881 91.2, -41.0, -0.0 93143 43.6, -48.8, 75.6 89645 -41.2, -56.7, 71.4 85295 -76.4, -64.5, 0.0 79959 -34.5, -72.3, -59.8 73432 29.9, -80.2, -51.8 65383 47.5, -88.0, -0.0 55239 14.3, -95.8, 24.7 42149 0.0, -100.0, 0.0 28867 Total Distance : 2052327.1 mins at V 410 : 83
Xin has published a nice article which includes lots more maths than this one does. Here's a rendering of his pattern, (which is for a 40k range radar):
Even with a 40k radar bits are still missed out, but it looks to be way better than the cube pattern. (and is much faster to fly then my spiral).
Flying in circles is pretty easy when you get the hang of it - set your rotacol to 0,0,0 (or select the central Jumpgate, once you know which one it is!), then fly away from it until you are 100k (or 90k, or 85k, or whatever) away from it. Then rotate your ship until the green and blue direction arrow in the hud is pointing directly above you (or below you, or to your left, or right). Get the yellow target direction cross hairs directly in the middle top of your screen and start to accelerate.
As you move you'll notice your distance to the central point going slowly up, you'll also notice the yellow target direction cross hairs start to move. At first it will move slowly, and then faster and faster away until it hits the extreme left or right of the screen.
Now slowly pull your ships nose up and you should also see the yellow target direction cross hairs move back to the center of the screen, overcompensate slightly to allow for drift, and check your distance to the central point.
Keep on doing this and you will end up somewhere near where you started.
It's quite easy to drift slowly outwards, so it's a good idea (once you've got the hang of flying like this) to overcompensate and turn inwards slightly too much - you'll soon be further out again anyway.
Note that it's quite hard (well i find it hard) to keep the circles flat (in one plane) so i tend to end up flying in random ish spirals. (at least i think i do, if i get bored enough i plan to write down my co-ords every 3 mins or so when flying circles and plot them, just to see what path i actually take).
So what search pattern should you use?
Personally i think it all depends on the number of other searching pilots in the sector. If your on your own or if there are a small number of pilots then fly one of the spirals. If there are many other pilots flying search patterns try to guess what pattern they are using and search the 'gaps' that they are leaving. If there are many pilots then fly in random ish circles.
Even if your not cooperating with them, the more pilots then better. As they collect the arti's more will re-spawn. If there are loads of pilots searching your best strategy may be to sit in one place and let the arti's come to you!
TOW's are of course, much better at this game, a 35k radar searches a 179594.4 km^3 volume or space, and a 40k radar searches 268082.6km^3 volume, thats roughly a third more space!