The only source of money in the game is from ports and your ship’s computer is designed with many tools to make squeezing money from ports as easy as possible. Since every event with the exception of using the ship’s computer and landing or launching from planets takes turns, selling planet resources to a port is far more profitable then trading resources between two different ports.
The easiest way of doing his best to use the computer’s ability to find trading port pairs:
The color codes are fairly meaningless, they only designate the type of ports, not how close or how valuable for how resilient the trading system is. The only useful information here is how much profit the ports will make you and relatively how far away the ports are. If you have 1000 cargo holds, and the profit from two ports is 104, then you will earn 104,000 credits for every four turns that spent going between the two ports. Before traveling to a location, you need to determine how long it will be possible to trade between those two ports. For example, looking at ports in sectors 115 and 117:
First notice that whichever items the port has a largest quantity of is the item it sells. Ports can and will change the item they sell based on these numbers. Second look at the organic and equipment fields of both ports. Since the smallest number between the four is 1913164, a ship using 1000 holds will be able to trade between these two ports a total of 1913 times, an extremely lucrative trade. As the quantities available decrease, the profitability of this trade will slowly decrease as well. The stock value of Ore is 20, Organics 30, and Equipment 40 and the costs will slowly approach these numbers as quantities either available for sale or available for purchase approach zero.
To trade at these two ports, you must first get there. The computer has an autopilot function which makes is extremely easy. Simply pick one of the ports sector numbers and type:
As long as your ship is equipped with a danger scanner, it becomes impossible to accidentally run into any deadly sectors which may contain black holes, enemy fighters, or mines. If for example the danger scanner picks up a fleet of Xannor fighters in sector 70 on your way to sector 115, you can either choose to attack them or stop beforehand, lock the sector out with another computer function:
… and then tell the computer to continue on autopilot to sector 115. Black holes are randomly placed every time the game is entered, so another alternative to avoid traveling the long way around is to quit and reenter the game.
When you get to sector 115, you can tell your ship to automatically trade between the two ports 20 times using up 80 turns by first docking with the port (P) in sector 115 and purchasing trade goods for whatever price they offer, and then running the following command:
Note: The repeat function is bugged. Repeating a command between 1 to 10 times works correctly, but any higher value defaults to the maximum repeated value of 20. Pressing control-R will reuse a repeated command, and holding down control-X will cause the game to break out of any script or repeated command as soon as possible.
A much more profitable event (as far as the game turns are concerned) is to sell resources that the planet produces directly to a port in the same sector. Instead of moving between two sectors (which uses two turns) and docking at two different ports (which uses two more turns) trading from a planet to a port only one turn per cycle and does not require the purchase of any goods.
Check the Tools Appendix and the F8-F11 key mappings for more examples.
Note: Xannor are very dangerous to new players! Either re-purchase 100% cloak from Earth at the end of the day or else camp out over a planet with as many ground forces as you can purchase or find. The mercenary base is an excellent camping spot since it typically has an immense number of ground forces and does not move unless it is destroyed. If mercenary fighters appeared in the sector with you, you can simply (W)arp out with a random number of terms lost.