Directional Scanner guide
All this data is potentially out of date, and should be taken with a truckload of salt
The directional scanner is one of the most under-appreciated tools in EVE. It is extremely simple to operate and can be used from any ship without any skill training. However, at first glance it can seem quite hard to extract any useful information from it. This guide covers some of the techniques that can be used with it.
- Range is limited to 2,147,483,647 km, or about 14.35 AU.
- Angle is relative to the direction you point the camera, not the direction your ship is facing. If you select 180 degrees, for example, only objects in front of you are included in the scan. Smaller angles are scanned as cones.
- Use Active Overview Settings does exactly what it says. When it is active, only items that would appear on your overview are included in the scan results. It is worth noting that only the "Types" filter is applied to the scan results, while both "Types" and "States" is applied to the Overview.
- The Scan button can be used once per second.
Uses of the directional scanner
Spotting enemy scan probes
If an enemy is trying to probe you down, you will usually have only a brief opportunity to spot their probes before they get an exact hit on your position and warp to you. If you hit the scan button at least every 5 seconds, you have a good chance of spotting the probes, giving you time to warp away to another safe spot. Scan probes will only appear in the scan results if Use Active Overview Settings option is unchecked.
Finding people at celestial objects
Set the scanner to 360 degrees, maximum range, and warp to a point in range of as many planets/belts as possible (the sun is usually a good starting point). Progressively reduce the range, excluding half the celestials each time, until the target disappears from the results. Then increase range again, eliminating half the remaining celestials each time until the target reappears on the scan results. Keep on doing this until only 1 celestial is left - this is the one nearest the target. This is a form of binary search.
Finding people at safe spots
Most of the time it's quicker just to use scan probes to do this, but sometimes people choose to hide using ECCM, preventing you from warping directly to them.
First, if necessary, use scan probes to get within 14.35 AU of the target, so you can see them on the directional scanner. Scan in different directions on successively smaller angles until you get a hit within a small angle.
You now have a rough idea of the target's direction and a very good idea of their range. The next stage is to find a point directly behind the target and warp past the target to it. While in warp, create bookmarks as close to the target as possible. Go to the one closest to the target and repeat. Once you get within a few million km this gets much more accurate, as you can create bookmarks while your ship is still accelerating to full warp speed. Eventually, you'll end up on the same grid.
A more exhaustive guide is available here.