So, I thought I'd write a quick summary of how the Hull Repair Drones work on the Varanus, since I found very little information about this before buying it. I'll also talk about some aspects of this that I don't particularly care for.
When you use the deploy repair platform console, the platform appears. Any allied ships nearby will have two hull repair drones spawned on top of them, and the drones will follow those ships for an undetermined distance. Sometimes they will follow them indefinitely. Sometimes they will despawn, and sometimes they don't spawn at all, or only one will spawn per a given ship, or some combination of these among multiple vessels.
The platform is on a 30 second cooldown. The platforms themselves remain in place indefinitely unless destroyed. There is no drawback whatever to simply repeatedly spawning platforms every time the cooldown has expired, other than the obscene amount of clutter this produces over a protracted period.
The drones heal for a fair amount--together about as much as a hazard emitters I at moderate auxiliary power levels. That is, when they decide to heal. I have not yet deduced precisely how they make that decision. Sometimes they will clean up nicely, heal for an entire firefight, and fill every teammate's hull to 100% afterward. Sometimes they just fly around and take up whatever space remains on the screen which isn't already occupied by repair platforms.
Also, when a platform is deployed, allied objects in a small radius around it darken as though exposed to a masking field. But this is apparently only cosmetic, as npc enemies can still see all apparently affected objects. I do not know if it has any such effect in PVP. This is largely an afterthought, since the cooldown is so short, the "masking field", such as it is, would be largely superfluous even if it actually functioned.
Just put a single hangar on this vessel which can only be loaded with DRONES, and make the Hull Repair Drones work like every other drone. I say drones, because it might be a fun little bonus to swap them out for tachyon or siphon drones, which for storytelling purposes is not the same thing as a flight deck (i.e. fighters), for balance purposes do not do any direct damage, and for practical purposes would give you something to fall back on just in case you fail to cure whatever electronic equivalent to a psychological disorder currently afflicts the hull repair drones.
TLDR BONUS COMPLAINTS:
I'm NOT completely dissatisfied with how the drones work, WHEN they work. If the inconsistent behavior was fixed, that would only address part of my gripe. The bigger problem is that this is such a messy, amateurish way to handle drones. The repair platform is basically just a marker for the three dimensional equivalent to a ground-targeted AOE. It looks like something that was modded in by a third party, honestly. The drones never actually interact with the platform at all. I suspect that most people who read to this point are going to have a mental image of the drones being "launched" off of the platform, and I wouldn't blame them for imagining that. That would make sense. But the two have nothing to do with one another. In fact, if you just removed the platform entirely, and had the drone spawn radius just focus on the player's ship instead, it would look a lot more polished than it does, and it would help clear up some pretty goofy-looking clutter.
One other thing that's just a matter of storytelling and immersion...I said that it would make sense if the drones launched from the platform instead of just poofing into existence. What doesn't make sense about that is the fact that the drones are operating from a platform, which presumably has the purpose of maintaning drones, INSTEAD of from a ship large enough and advanced enough to deploy those platforms. It makes you wonder why they wouldn't just use the space taken up by platforms for more drones, and service them aboard ship. It seems silly enough to leave the defenseless drones behind. Let alone to leave a defenseless immobile thing behind. It doesn't help at all that it's clearly trying to hide itself but can't. And just the sheer number of these things that can pile up is a fairly repulsive immersion breaker in its own right.
Pretty sure that on the masking field it hides nearby allies from detection from opponents 9k or further out. And again as far as I've seen it is active as long as you remain near the platform. So you dump a turret right next to it.
Unless its been broken, you can't have an infinite number of platforms. You can drop them, but the oldest one despawns.
And you're right it isn't a fantastic heal. But it is a heal you can give to everyone. The platform is so that you can just sorta leave it there and anyone that needs drones can just go over and get some if they like. And then they could sit next to it sorta stealthy like and get healed up. Not saying people actually DO that. I do cause I know it works. Just saying.
You're correct to an extent about the number of platforms. I'm fairly certain they intended for you to spawn a maximum of -five-. That's the most you can spawn if you run out and test it. But I've seen this limit bug out from time to time in STF's. One lengthy game of ise in particular (someone derped a generator) looked like a debris field after it was over.
Is that 9km+ distance for PvP? Because it doesn't appear to work in PvE. Although that could have something to do with heightened npc sensors in elite STF's. I guess you could potentially use that to break off pursuit, but I'm really grasping at straws to play devil's advocate on that one. If you can put 9km between yourself and a cube, most of the time you can go ahead and make it 10km and be out of weapons range. And to further narrow down that fraction of situations, not only do you have time to make it to 9km away although you can't possibly make it 10km away, but you have such foresight as to have the platform waiting 9.1 kilometers away... like I said, the masking field isn't a big deal to me. They should remove it completely, or give it a noticeable effect. The way it is right now just adds to the 3rd party mod alpha feel to the thing.
And yes, as I said, I'm not completely dissatisfied with it, despite all the complaints. I'm fine with the amount that it heals, and I like that it heals everyone. But there are more polished ways of doing it than the way it works right now. Again, they could keep it -exactly- the way it works currently, only get rid of the platforms, and it would at least be an improvement to immersion.
I've observed it in pvp for that distance yes. Some NPC"s that will let you get away, sometimes it will not. Sometimes like you said if you get ten k away they are still chasing you. Drop the platform. There you go.
Then drop your Turret!!
But sure it does sorta look goofy when the drones just pop up around you.
Now if it was like half the size and twice the health of the bop pet of the bortas, and had a five minute CD, and shot repair beams to nearby ships as well as deployed drones from its own bay to follow you about, that would be HAWT. And useful. You betcha you'd think twice about where you were gonna drop THAT bad boy.
I almost don't want to say anything, but...my Varanus has this ability without the use of any consoles. Is this a bug? Or did they make a pointless, unnecessary downgrade of this wonderful ship?
As far as the repair drones, no one I've seen ever even tries to use them; I keep dropping platforms all over the place (which don't despawn until their timer expires...3 minutes, I think), and I try to drop them right in front of friendly ships, but people either seem to lack situational awareness, don't care, or hate having the little repair drones buzzing around their ship, I guess.
I bought mine as soon as it came out, so I guess it must have been grandfathered...I just read some old posts about things being 'consolized'.
This console thing is stupid, IMHO; all it does is make you sacrifice a useful console slot, for an item of usually-questionable usefulness, unless you want the ship to be a different-looking version of something already in the game.
It's not like these special gimmick abilities totally break the balance of the game (IMHO).