Data Samples! How do I get them? Where do I need to go for the type of samples I need? Is there some secret for the rare particle traces?
After reading this nifty little guide you probably have those questions answered.
First you need to know that each starcluster shares exactly the same layout. Every node* is exactly at the same place in each and every cluster. Now add to that the knowledge that each and every node* stays the same. A system node* will stay a system node* upon respawning and an anomaly node* will stay an anomaly node* either.
If you memorize that locations you can easily map out a travel path that will guide you along the dozen anomaly nodes, allowing you to harvest one of them every five seconds. Which makes that one of the best (if not the best) way to gather data samples in terms of amount per time involved (some people might find circling around in clusters 'dull' after a few hours).
The advanced options (aka round and round it goes - weeeeeeeeeh):
While the nice executive producer Mr Stahl already provided us with a basic spreadsheet in which clusters to find what type of data samples that list isn't 100% accurate (sorry Dan).
KDF vs FED clusters: While the kdf clusters are not so spread out than the fed ones they suffer from one minor and on major disadvantage.
The minor disadvantage is that besides one all of them have two tiers of data samples in their drop table so if you're going after a certain type of samples you always have quite a few of them you do not need. And the major disadvantage is that kdf clusters do not form a new instance when they reach 5 players like fed clusters do. My personal guess is that they need to reach 25 players (however I haven't seen that yet highest concurrent number of kdf players in a cluster was 21). You can imagine that it gets a little crowded in there.
One thing you need to take into account as well is that from the dozen anomaly nodes there are only a handful active at a time. Whenever one is harvested another one will pop up shortly afterwards. Don't get confused by that try to find some kind of circular route, after a couple rounds the nodes usualy pop up in front of you instead random all over the cluster. So there is one possible scenario where KDF actually would harvest faster than FED (I call it the CE gambit). If there is exactly the right amount (a dozen) players exactly at the right points in the cluster (the dozen anomaly nodes) harvesting only the node they are at. Then there comes another player and screws it all up. :p
So where to go exactly?
Mk II: Delta Volanis
Mk IV: Hromi Cluster
Mk VI: Afehirr Nebula
Mk VIII: Rolor Nebula and/or Betraka Nebula
Mk X: B'Tran Cluster
Mk XI: B'Tran Cluster (Vice Admiral) or Azlesa Expanse (Elite) (remember the major disadvantage from above)
All those cluster yield only the type of data samples listed. Every other cluster yields two tiers of data samples.
Where do I get the most rare particle traces?
Harvesting, harvesting & harvesting. A tad more than 10% of the won harvesting minigames will give you a rare particle trace.
Last part: Math.
For the record. I collected 100 nodes in each cluster. Out of that 1600 nodes I got 1594 energy, 1725 physical and 1627 technical samples, all within the expected parameters. In addition I collected 174 rare particle traces (ranging from 15 to 24 per trace). That is a bit more fluctuation but my sample size isn't really big enough. With 5 times the collected nodes that numbers should even out more, but I'm not THAT crazy.
* (node:= that shiny little thing called 'Cluster' Anomaly)