Advanced Complex Construction
Nodes and Tunnels:
First it's good to understand how the tunnels are formed. if you know how they're placed, you can bend them to your will.
The tunnels are formed between nodes on each of the stations. This are easy enough to find, they are small metallic dome shapes, with a blue light in the middle, usually arranged in a triangle around a stem. Sometimes they are in other locations, or may only have 1 or 2 nodes (Particulary on Fabs and Forges). Obviously it helps to know where the nodes are on a station, if you can't see them on the transparent projection of the station, it might be worth placing it down, and then reloading when you've worked it out.
When the Complex Construction Kit is placed down, it'll find the 2 nodes nearest one another on each of the stations, and create a large Tunnel Piece, sticking out the same direction as the node. This first tunnel piece will stick through other stations if you allow it. Once it's added both these tunnel pieces, it'll then "fill the gap" by adding extra tunnel pieces of various sizes and angles to connect the stations.
This means to get the cleanest, shortest tunnel pieces, you'll want to:
A) Ensure the nodes on each station line up as closely as possible
B) Ensure the 2 nodes are at least 2 and a half tunnel pieces away from one another.
Placing the Station and Hanger:
Firstly it helps to know what the stations look like, and where their nodes are. It might help to place them down now, and then reload once you have some idea how they'll look. It also helps to know that in V1.201 the Hangars are bugged, and will always face due North, and are prone to jumping about.
The first station you put down ideally should have a nice horizontal 3-point arrangement.
Next target your hub station, and press F3 for outside view. Press 5 on the key pad a couple of times to orientate the view so you're looking due North (Use the sector map or starscape to help determine which way is North). Next, press 8 on the key pad til the view is tilted bird-eye. Finally, you may use + and - on the key pad to zoom in and out.
Now, go to the freight screen and begin to deploy your next station. Using the sector map, move it so it exactly super imposes your existing station (don't forget to use Insert to adjust the verticle position. Zoom in, jiggle it about a bit and identify the nodes on both stations, and then rotate the new station so the node line up. Zoom back out, and then move the new station to a safe distance (both horizontally and verticly), remember the magic number is two and a half tunnel pieces. This is hard to judge, as a rule of thumb, a long tunnel piece is roughly 2/3rd the width of your station (assuming it's a fairly round station like a Bofu Lab or Soyery). Rinse and repeat for all your stations, I'd advise you place them down before you place the tunnel complex.
Finally, place down your tunnel complexes. Remember, the Hangar needs to face due north, so hopefully you left a node clean in the North, simply position the Hangar complex at a safe distance, rotate it to due North, and hopefully it won't go glitchy on you. (If it does, destroying the hangar will not destroy all attached stations, so you can rerig it if you mess up).
If you're having trouble with sprawling complexes and the hub is shifting about instead of staying put, you might want to consider using smaller complexes.
To run a full XL size SPP, requires:
5 Crystal fabs
2 Large Food Factories
2 Large Farms
1 or 2 Large Silicon Mines
All that to power your fabs. And what do you get? - A sprawling messy complex, and you've spent 60 million on just the infrastructure, no fabs or products (besides surplus energy). It is cleaner, and more efficient in the short term to use small specialised complexes that just produce their own food (Food is the biggest single resource value wise), and end product. And then use a fast freighter to import the energy. Later on, you could created a specialised Solar Plant complex that produces just energy, which the freighters from the smaller specialist fabs can collect energy from.
After a bit of studying the factories and their outputs. Basiclly using the following numbers, you should be able to plan your complexes to achieve 100% efficiency, producing just enough food and energy, to feed your factories, and output pure profit.
So, for instance, an L size BoGas plant, produces just enough BoGas, to run an L size BoFu Lab (5 -> 5), or 5 Crystal Fab M's, will run 1 XL size solar plant (2 x 5 -> 10). Food is used at the same way, so an M size Cahoona Bakery, can feed 2 Chip Plants (2 -> 1 + 1), or 1 Crystal Fab M (2 -> 2)
Energy usage Per minute:
XL: N/A - Theoreticlly 150
Energy Out put Per Minute:
S: N/A - Theoreticlly 138
All stations use the same amount of energy, which is basiclly 15 units per size, per minute. (A Quantum tube fab for instance may use 600 energy per cycle, but it's cycle is 40 minutes (600 / 40 = 15)). This means you can plan ahead of time what size power stations you'll need.
So, using this knowledge, it's not hard to plan ahead.
You might notice I require silicon, but have no Silicon mine. Mines are the black sheep of the equation, their exact energy requirements are derived from both the size of the factory, and the yield of the asteroid you place it on, which I havn't quite determined the pattern. Regardless, asteroids are promblematic at every level, they're hard to fit into the complex layout, produce awkward amounts of materials, and use varying amounts of energy.
I prefer to build my mines as seperate stations, with an energy buyer loading it, and a smaller freighter shuttling the ore/silicon to my complex from my mine/local market. Or, in more creative setups, have a sector trader distributing the ore/silicon/energy to the appropriate facilities