Directional scanning

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The directional scanner is a built-in device that comes with all ships and can detect most objects in space at long range. This article describes the configuration and use of the d-scan.



The directional-scanner ("d-scanner") is an extremely powerful searching tool, especially for PvP, in all sectors of space. A d-scan can cover an area with a range of up to about 14 AU (appx. 2 x109 km), and at an angle from 5° to 360°.

In solo PVP the d-scanner can be used to locate opponents. In fleets it is common for intel reports to be made by pasting the scanner results into an online parser. These can give a Fleet Commander intelligence on enemy fleet compositions to help decide whether an engagement is worth pursuing. Directional scanning is also widely used in mining and exploring to give early warning of hostile ships and/or combat probes. Good scanning can provide the vital seconds needed to escape an incoming attack.

The directional scanner can find celestial objects such as:

The scanner has a number of limitations:

  • requires a good overview setup to be useful.
  • will never give you the warp coordinates for an object - all it can do is tell you that an object is there.
  • does not work on cloaked ships such as Covert Ops and Black Ops, or on "immune to scanning" ships such as Combat Recons. Nor can it tell you about docked players.

Basic Layout

The directional scanner can be only be accessed in space. You open it by pressing Alt+D. Or, you can open it by clicking the "radar" button, above the autopilot button but below the cargohold button on the left-hand side of your HUD, and when the window with the three scanners opens, choose the directional scanner.

Open the directional scanner from the scanners pop-up.

The scanner has three main controls: a filter selecter, a range slider, and an angle slider. A Map button is at the top right, a large SCAN button initiates and refreshes the scan, and a display section lists the items that the scanner has found. These are briefly described here and covered in detail in the following sections.

Qs Dscan14-360.jpg
  • Filter selecter: a drop down menu that chooses a filter for the scanner results. The scanner finds everything that it can, but only displays the items indicated by the filter.
  • Range slider and range input box: sets the distance that the scanner can see. The slider offers a set of widely used values: from .1 to 14.3 AU, with 14.3 being the farthest available distance.
  • Angle slider: at its maximum, 360°, the scanner finds everything in a sphere centered on your ship. By reducing the angle you can narrow the search to a cone that points out from the nose of your ship.
  • Map: a window that shows the local solar system with your ship's d-scan area presented in red.
  • Scan results: a list of items found by the scanner. Choosing different filters from the drop-down menu will change what is shown in this list.

Pressing the big, square SCAN button will initiate a scan. In addition, because frequent re-scanning is necessary in certain situations, EVE includes a "d-scan spamming" hot key. This hotkey has no default setting, but it is named "Refresh Directional Scan", and you can find it in the "Combat" section under the "Shortcuts" tab in the game preferences window. (Press ESC to open this window.) The Refresh Directional Scan key will open the d-scan window if it is not already open, and refreshes the scan if it is.

Once you have performed a scan, changing the scanner's filter will immediately update the results list to match the new filter. However, this uses the data from the previous scan, and so may be inaccurate, and to update the list, just press SCAN again. Changing either the range or angle will cause a fresh scan to be run automatically, using the new settings.


Map with d-scanner set to maximum range and angle.

Pressing the circular button at the top right of the directional scanner window opens a map of the local solar system. Your ship will be accompanied by a red area showing the extent of the d-scan at its current settings. The d-scan map window can be resized and moved, and the same map window is used by the probe scanner. Dragging inside the map with the mouse will rotate your view of the system, but this will not change where the scanner is pointing.

Use the radial menu inside the Map to aim the scanner.

You can easily aim the directional scanner by left-clicking on an object in the Map. This will bring up the Radial Menu, and when you select the "scanner" icon at the bottom of that menu, the scanner will move to point at the object. Doing this will not affect the orientation or movement of your ship; just the scanner will move. (You can change the way dragging and aiming works: see Angle and Camera for details.)

At the top left of the map are a set of icons that access various preference settings.
D-scan map icons
  • The object filter icon opens a list of boxes that can be checked/unchecked to show or hide various objects in the solar system. This can be useful if you are, for example, only interested in asteroid belts.
  • The focus ship icon doesn't seem to do anything at the moment.
  • The camera icon turns the red scan area display on and off. It also lets you lock the map to the orientation of your ship. (See Angle and Camera for details.)


The range control includes a text box, a units label button and a slider. The slider is the most frequently used method of changing the range.
Qs Dscan5-60.jpg
It has a maximum distance of approximately 14.355 AUs (Astronomical Units), or approximately 22 billion kilometers.

It slides to ranges of 14.3, 10, 5, 1 and 0.1 AUs. These settings are often sufficient; but if you wish, you can type a specific scan range into the box for any distance up to the maxium. If you click on the AU label button, it will change to KM and adjust the value of the range accordingly.

Changing the range will immediately update the scan results list, and also the red representaion of the scan area on the scanner's map.

Angle and Camera

See also: Camera
Qs Dscan5-60map.jpg

The angle slider sets the scan angle to one of 5, 15, 30, 60, 90, 180 or 360 degrees. Together, the angle and range define a cone shaped scan area that originates at the nose of your ship.

The scanner orients to your ship's camera view of the system. So, to point the scanner in a particular direction, click and drag in space (not in the scanner map).
Use the radial menu inside the Map to aim the scanner.
If you have the scanner map open, you can see the scanner move around as you drag your mouse. (At 360°, of course, the "cone" is a sphere, and while it may move, you won't see anything happen.)

The easiest way to aim the scanner is by left-clicking on an object in the Map and using the Radial Menu. When you select the "scanner" icon at the bottom of that menu, the scanner will move to point at the object.

Locking the Map to the Camera

If you check the "align with camera" box in the menu that drops down from the "camera" icon on the Map window, the d-scan cone on the map will lock to your camera in space. The difference is this:

With the option not checked (this is the default) moving the camera in space will point the scanner, but changing the view in the map window will not

  • the Map view can be rotated to show the scan cone,
  • moving the camera in space will move the scan cone in the map window.
Use the right-click menu to align or warp your ship.

With this option checked dragging with the mouse in the map window will move the camera AND point the scanner, both in the map and in space

  • the Map will always show the view from directly behind your ship,
  • the red scan cone will always look like a circular cross-section,
  • it can be disconcerting to see your space view move around when you drag in the map window.

The fastest way to point the scanner at an object is to click on the object's icon in the map window and use the drop-down radial menu. So, generally speaking, checking or unchecking this option is mostly a matter of preference. Note that you can also use the right-click menu in the map to align or warp to an object.

Using Brackets

Because camera manipulation is involved, you may find it helpful to enable Overview brackets to help you see things in space. With brackets enabled, you can align the camera by moving the target celestial's icon toward your ship's indicator. This was a useful technique prior to the introduction of the map, and some pilots may prefer it.

Check the Overview Guide to see how to enable brackets. You can press Alt+Z to turn all brackets on and off.

D-Scan Filter And Scan Results

With the filter set to "All", anything that can be picked up by the scanner will be displayed, potentially creating a lot of clutter and making it hard to find the desired objects. A variety of other settings can be used to focus attention on a smaller number or more specific category of objects.

Qs DscanOView.jpg

A widely used setting is "Active Overview Filters", the first entry on the menu. This option sets the d-scan filter to match the currently active tab in your Overview window. Be aware, though, that the d-scanner does not work exactly like the Overview does. D-scan, for example, does not use the states shown in the Overview tab. This means that the scanner cannot tell the difference between friendly ships and enemies. Nor will the scanner give you the range to any ships that it finds. Thus, you can know the type of a ship, but not its affiliation, and to pin down a ship you need to narrow your scan angle and scan in different directions until you find it.

It is highly recommended that you have your overview set up to the E-UNI standard shown in the Overview Guide. So if you have not set up your overview, you should do that ASAP. (You MUST do this if you are an E-UNI member.)

You can also use Overview Settings to create special filters for use in the d-scan. For example, a miner or explorer may want to set up a filter that looks only for combat ships and probes.

The scan results list simply shows everything that the scanner found, modified by your filter. Remember that the scanner will not find cloaked ships, certain ships that are immune to directional scanning (see Curse, for example), or ships that are docked. You can sort the results by clicking on the header of any column.

After a scan, it takes two seconds for the scanner to reset, after which you can initiate another scan.

Practical Applications and Situations

The d-scan is a tool whose fundamental function is to detect hostile targets before a PvP engagement happens - whether they are trying to find you, or you are looking for them. Because it is standard equipment in every ship, and because it requires no specialized training, the d-scan is most pilots' first call for intelligence.

Offensive Scanning

An important use of the directional scanner is to find potential PVP targets. Keep in mind that the scanner only returns ship names and types; never the pilot's name. (This is the reason why you should rename your ships as soon as you buy them. Your name also appears on the system chat list, and an enemy can match the name with the ship.) Nor will the d-scan provide you with the specific distance to a ship, or its coordinates.

The best way to show the use of the d-scan to locate ships is by example. Since every ship, even your capsule, has a d-scanner, you can do this exercise yourself ... and this is the best way to learn how it works. The next few images were created at High Sec Campus in Amygnon. This is a good place to practice scanning because there are almost always a bunch of ships in system.

Even if you mostly plan to mine or explore, it is worthwhile at least reading this section. Hostile ships WILL be looking for you, and this is how they do it. If you try it yourself, you will have a better feel for the process and more easily defeat it when it happens to you.

(This is but one example. There are a variety of offensive d-scan techniques, covering different tactical situations. D-Scan 102 provides an in-depth look at many of these.)

Qs 01dscanprac.jpg

So ... imagine that a hunter is looking for mining targets. The first thing that he or she does is to enter a system and look at the Overview to find a moon or planet with a number of nearby asteroid belts. In this case Amygnon VIII has three belts within d-scan range. So the hunter warps to the moon. The plan is to scan each of the asteroid belts looking for mining ships. Although the scanner will not give the range to a ship, it WiLL give the range to the asteroid belt, enabling the hunter to warp in farily close to the target.

Qs 03dscanprac.jpg

Notice that the icon for asteroid belt on the Overview is a pyramid of three dots. This same icon will be used in the d-scan map to show belts.

Next the hunter sets the scanner range to match that of the farthest asteroid belt (in this case 5 AU), and sets the angle to something that will blanket the belt (in this case 30°). Using the first menu at the top left of the Map, the hunter unchecks all the boxes except for Asteroid Belts. The next step is to zoom the Map in as close as possible.

Use the radial menu inside the Map to aim the scanner.

As you can see on the image to the right, only asteroid belts are now marked on the map (the icon for a belt is a cluster of 3 dots). The hunter selects one of these, and using the radial menu (left click on the belt icon and choose the scanner icon when it pops up) points the scanner; then the hunter initiates a scan.

Qs 05dscanprac.jpg

That first scan is empty (and not shown here). So the hunter clicks on the next belt icon, aims the scanner and takes another snapshot. This second scan shows three ships: a Skiff, a Miasmos and a Moa. Keep in mind that the scanner is finding ALL visible ships in its range, and since there some stations nearby, ships docking and undocking will show up in the scan. On the other hand, the Skiff is a mining vessel, and likely to be in the asteroid belt.

So the hunter warps to that belt. At this point, the Skiff shows up in the Overview at a distance of 123K and can be targeted.

Qs 06dscanprac.jpg

Let's assume that the Skiff pilot, a good Unista, has been keeping close watch and has noticed the hunter's ship as it was lurking by the moon making these scans. The Skiff would not know where the hunter was, but it would know what the hunter was. So even as the hunter is warping in, the Skiff has finished pulling in its drones and aligning for warp. And away it goes!

Qs 07dscanprac.jpg

No problem. The hunter now goes back to the map, selects the third asteroid belt and repeats the scanning process. There it finds a Procurer, surrounded by cargo containers and dead belt pirates. This belt is only 0.3 AU away, and the hunter warps in a mere 21 K from the Procurer.

Qs 08dscanprac.jpg

A short, one-sided fight occurs, and then the hunter grabs the loot and departs from the system.

The first time you do this, it seems clunky. Setting and scanning takes awhile. But after a few tries, it becomes second nature. You set up the d-scan filter before you even enter the system, and you know from experience what ranges and angles you need to use. In cases where you are looking for ships that can be found in fixed locations ... in asteroid belts, for example, or undocking from a particular station ... this method will find more targets faster than probe scanning will. (You still need probes, though, in, for example, situations where your target might be off the grid, or where the target is not located near an object that you can warp to. Remember that the d-scanner never gives you coordinates.)

Defensive Scanning

"Defense" refers to the need to scan for possibly hostile ships while mining or exploring. A better term for this might be "situational awareness" - the need to keep an eye on your environment whenever you are in dangerous territory.

Various articles in the UNIWiki discuss the tactics of survival while exploring or mining. For example:

  • From Surviving While Exploring: "While running the site, and particularly while in the minigame, keep your overview and Local visible, and keep running D-Scan."
  • Guide to Ice Mining: "...set your D-scan so it's open and accessible. You'll need this for multiple purposes."

You will want to read about the specifics of your own profession, but here are a few general comments about using the d-scan for situational awareness.

Spam Scan

Naturally, you will scan the system before you set up your operation. Once you are started, however, you should refresh the scan periodically. You can rescan by clicking on the large SCAN buttion, or you can set up the "Refresh Directional Scan" hotkey.
This hotkey is off by default, so you will have to set it up manually. Open the Game Preferences window (ESC), go to the "Shortcuts" tab, and then go to the "Combat" tab inside of Shortcuts. Find the "Refresh Directional Scan" hotkey and set it to the key of your choice. If you plan to be mining or exploring a lot, you are going to use the key often, so choose a key that's very easy to strike.

Your goal is to spot ships as soon as they come into range, decide whether they are potentially hostile, and then decide how to respond. There are no specific rules for doing this; you will need to develop a plan that is comfortable for you, but here are a few basic techniques.

  • Know your ships. Industrials, and even combat ships that are significantly less powerful than yours, can be ignored.
    Show Info window for a potential hostile ship.
    You might want to set your Info Window to "Traits". That way if a ship you've never seen before shows up in the scanner, you can do a quick Show Info and immediately see its size and combat characteristics.
  • Spam to danger level. If you are in a wormhole, you probably want to be spamming the scan every few seconds or so ... every 8-10 seconds is often recommended. You do this because ANY ship that shows up is likely to be dangerous, and many will have expert pilots who can locate you very quickly. In a wormhole you may only have seconds to respond to an intrusion, so spam the scan and get every advantage that you can. In a level 0.9 system you may only want to scan every minute or so. Some people don't scan at all in high sec ... but the danger is still there ... high sec gankers are often slow and inexperienced, so you can get away with LESS scanning, but it is tempting fate to do NONE.
  • Align to exit. When you set up your operation, take the time to point your ship in the direction you want to warp should you need to run. This may not turn out to be helpful in terms of speed, but it gives you one less thing to think about if a hostile suddenly appears.
  • Move around. Particularly if you are mining, when you finish an asteroid, move to another belt and repeat. There are a variety of combat ships that your scanner simply cannot see, and there is no worse feeling that the sudden panic that you feel when a ship decloaks and tackles you. The longer you sit in one place, the more vulnerable you become.

How you respond to a potentially hostile contact depends on your ship's capabilities, your location, and your level of paranoia. If you are mining in an asteroid belt within a few AU of a station, for example, you may see a constant flow of combat ships passing through your scanner. It's the ship that persists on your scan for more than a few seconds that ought to concern you. A reasonable response might be to move to a more distant asteroid belt and watch to see if the same ship reappears. On the other hand, there are very few reasons to be passing through a wormhole, so any contact should be treated with deep suspicion.


While a good pilot can find you quickly using the d-scan, some hostiles rely primarily on combat probes. In any case, you should always use a d-scan filter that include probes.

  • While "core" scanner probes cannot locate ships, their presence may indicate an invisible ship. So you should include them in your filter.
  • It will generally take at least 4 "combat" probes at a distance of 2 AU or less to pinpoint your position. A good rule of thumb is to run the scan at 360° at a range of 5-10 AU. Probes outside that range are not close to finding you, and ships outside that range will probably take some time to get a fix on your position.

Probes themselves cannot hurt you; it is the ships that are controlling them that you have to worry about. Core scanner probes at a long distance may just be someone scanning for resources and probably should just be watched. Combat probes close to you should suggest a very high level of danger.


Remember that cloaked ships and certain "scan immune" ships will not appear on the directional scanner, so covert ops frigates, stealth bombers, recons and Tech 3 strategic cruisers (in some configurations) will be able to warp to you without being detected.

  • If an invisible ship is using probes, the probes will show up on your scan even though the ship will not. So if you see probes, but no ship, assume that an invisible ship is out there somewhere.
  • Depending on a pilot's skill, cloaked ships may become visible for a few seconds as they move away just after coming through a gate. If you see a brief contact that isn't there when you rescan, treat it seriously. (This is also a good argument for frequent rescanning, even in higher sec systems.)
  • Buying and equipping an invisible ship is usually an expensive proposition, and making piracy pay depends not on the ships killed, but the cargos. Many pilots will wait patiently for you to fill your cargo hold before they attack. On your part, you need to know the risk/reward situation. Maybe your ore hold is only half full, but if this is a dangerous system, it still may be time to warp to a base and empty it out. Maybe you haven't checked every artifact that you can see ... but what is the value of the stuff in your cargo hold? Know the risk; and head out when you have enough.
  • Pilots of invisibles tend to be careful and methodical. So, especially when mining, if you move frequently, causing them to need to restart their search, they may either decide that it's too much work, or they may move too fast and make a mistake. Try not to stay in the same place for very long.


If you are scouting for a fleet, you can pass your scan results to the FC through Mumble or chat. More complete results can also be sent using online parsers like Dashboard. A parser will organize and check the value of your scan results and set them up to be passed on to your FC.

Note: To move the entire results of a scan. Click one of the result items. Press Ctrl+A to select all items. Press Ctrl+C to copy all the results. Go to where you want to put the results and press Ctrl+V to paste them.

The d-scanner can also be used to check gates for gate camps without warping to the gate's grid. You will need to have an off-grid bookmark near the gate from which you can scan it.

In low or null-sec, directional scanning can be used to check for player owned starbases (POS) and other interesting structures near moons, bases or belts.


  • This EVE DevBlog entry explains the 2015 changes to the d-scan interface. (It also covers changes to probe scanning.)
  • Note that as of November 2015, all YouTube videos about D-Scanning are showing the old interface, and so are out of date. You can look for new videos by searching on "EVE directional scan".
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