I did not have a lot of time to work on things last night. Too busy having friends over stuff like that (Yes I know, an MMO player with a life outside the game - rare indeed).
One of the reasons I like EvE's industrial system is that unlike a lot of crafting systems in MMOs, it does not assume that crafters need to be kept entertained while their stuff is manufactured. In fact with certain skills it's entirely possible to do all your crafting while mining away. Or during certain missions. Or managing a war-dec. There is also the fact that unlike other systems, the stuff you learn in the "early levels" is still applicable in the "end-game" levels. For example, I still regularly make Isk of the first BPO I ever bought. Ammo, it'll never go out of style.
In most other MMOs, once you learn a crafting recipe at level 10 you never again use the crafting recipe of level 1. Those early crafting recipes are just stepping stones. In EvE, with it's constant influx of newbies or pilots forming a frigate gang for a fast patrol, etc etc, there will always be a use for Tech 1 ammo. Of all stripes.
Mind you in a certain way this does make for a bit of a barrier to entry into the manufacturing world of eve. You're wondering "what does he mean?". There is no barrier to industry in eve in the "large" sense of the word. The rankest newbie and litteraly make enough isk in a half hour and get into manufacturing things out of the minerals he mines. Read on to see what I mean:
First get your rookie killing stuff. Dock up in your rookie ship, pop out the mining laser and the civilian gun. Get out of your ship (right click - leave ship). Trash your current ship (the one you're not in). Undock and redock as soon as you can. Because you are in a pod, and you're docking in a station that does not have a ship, you get a new free newbie ship. Swap out the mining laser for the gun you saved from your previous ship. You now have a 2 gun newbie ship. head to the nearest 0.8 system with lots o belts and go ratting. When you're cargo hold is full head back to the station. If you're in your faction's area the rats should drop quite a bit that's "usable", keep the stuff you plan on using for your upgraded ship. Sell the rest ruthlessly. Between the bounties and the loot sales, you should have enough isk to move forward. If you got lucky and got a copper tag, even better, these use to be pretty useless, but because of the mechanics of Faction Warfare, they are now worth quite a bit.
You should now have enough isk for your next step - your first and probably 2nd frigate. While you've been ratting you should hopefully have been paying attention to what skills you'll need for your plans for this(these) frigate(s). You should get: 1 combat frigate and 1 mining frigate. Your combat frigate is your isk maker. Your mining frigate is to allow you to get ore without having to buy it off the market and do some nice relaxing mining. So buy your frigates, equip them with modules you can use, train for modules you'd like to use. Take note of the ammo type you like for the guns you've equipped your combat frigate with. At this stage, forget about guns for your mining frigate. It will be mining in 0.9+ systems. Now it's time to find a home. Look for a system that's got a station, either in a 0.8 or a 0.7 system. Make sure that some 0.6-0.8 and also some 0.9-10.0 systems are nearby. Make sure this station has a base 50% yeald on it's refining. Make sure that there are some manufacturing slots on the industry tab of this station. This will be your home for a while as you learn the intricacies of industry. Move your ships there.
Now to prepare for your next step: Being able to independently supply your own ammo. The first thing you learn once you're out of your Rookie ships is that ammo costs. Not a lot, but it's an expense. Your initial choice is going to be to buy some off the market. In high sec you're blessed with an active market and ammo is readily available. But to make sure you're never without ammo it would be nice if you could make your own. Note that even with creating an industrial character the ammo has a good chance of being more expensive than what you can buy off the market. But it's independence we're going for here, not cost effectiveness (that comes later).
So you've looked at your combat ship, and chosen a likely ammo to use with it. Now what you do is you look at your local market and find the BPO for said ammo. Fastest way to do this is to use the search feature of the market and type in the ammo's name. When you hit return at least two of the options that show up will be the ammo and it's blueprint. Since you can't sell copies on the market, you know that it will be the original. Another clue to this is the fact that it's on sale for 364 days (since the max a player can put stuff up for is 90 days, this means it's an NPC selling it. There may be one or two available for under NPC prices or 1000 times the NPC price. The first are people who accidentaly bought one and are selling the spare they don't need at under market price. The other are scammers trying to catch you out. Be a chum and free up that sales slot on the guy who did his "oops", ignore the scammer.
Now that you have your BPO you need to know what to get to build your ammo. So you open your info window on your bpo and look under the bill of materials tab. This will tell you how much of each mineral you need to make a single run of this ammo. Note: a single run is 100 rounds except for laser crystals. So if you want to make 5000 rounds you'll need to make 50 runs. 5000 should give you a good reserve for lots of ratting and eventualy mission running. So you multiply each mineral quantity by 50 and that's how much of each mineral you need. Depending on your ammo, you'll probalby need Tritanium and Scordite and maybe even some other mineral in lesser quanity. There are many ways to get the necessary minerals. You can mine the right ores and refine them into minerals (with some losses and some taken in refining tax). You can reprocess existing spare modules (again with some losses). You can buy the minerals straight off the market. You could buy the ore straight off the market and refine that.
This mini guide will assume you're trying to get the entire process down pat. So you take your mining ship out and go to 0.9 system and mine some Veldspar and some Scordite. Named Veldpar and named Scordite are just like the un-named variety in what they produce, they just have higher concentrations of minerals per m3. So after a few trips to the belt you should have enough to refine of the ore you've been mining. Do so. If you don't have enough minerals, back to the roid mines you go. For the more "advanced" minerals you may need to go to riskier areas of space or simply rat and melt modules (check the info and attributes tab of any modules that drops - if it has a metalevel entry above 1 - sell or keep it don't melt it). Or you can try to ninja mine in lower security belts (don't go below 0.5 for now). In high sec space you should be able to get Tritanium, Pyerite, Mexallon, Isogen and a little bit of Nocxium depending on what area of space you're in. For the others you'll need to either buy them off the market or get them by melting loot. Once you have enough of each mineral you need to make the ammo, you get your minerals, your BPO and yourself to your station with the production line. Put all of this in your hangar. Right click the bpo and choose "manufacture". This will pop up a window where you'll have to choose which production line to use (hopefully one that's available "now"). Indicate the number of runs you want (50 in this case) and hit the manufacture button. it will show you a list of all minerals needed. If any are in red then you don't have sufficient of that mineral - back to the mines, ratting or the market you go. If they are all white, you will see an accept button and a cost to manufacture as well as the amount of time it will take to run your job. Hit accept and go do something for a while. More ratting, more mining and or the dishes - your choice. At some point after the necessary amount of time has passed, you can go back to that station and go to the industry window, hit the "jobs" tab, get the list and see if it's ready for delivery. If not, keep ratting and come back when it's ready (whatched pot and all). If so, select it. A delivery button pops up. Push it and a stack of freshly squeezed ammo shows up in your hangar. Ooooo, shiny. You also get your BPO back, so with more minerals you can make even more ammo.
Congradulations it will now be very hard for you to ever run out of ammo, since even if you loose everything else, so long as you have that BPO you can always get in a rookie ship and go mine enough minerals to repeat the process. Or kill things to get in a ship what will eventualy allow you to get your minerals faster.
Now for the bad news: It would have been faster and (for the value of the minerals involved) cheaper to simply buy the ammo off the market. You're going to go "but why?". And the reason is as follows: Notice when you got your ore and turned it into minerals? You lost some of the minerals to refining waste and the npc corp took a cut as a fee for letting you use their facilities. More advanced pilots have skills that can reduce both these losses to 0. Same deal for melting modules. Notice your Bill of Materials? Well unless you rolled a char with some Production Efficiency skill or unless you went to the contract market and picked up a researched BPO, the amount of materials necessary can be up to 35% more than a more advanced character would use. This means that even if you and a more experience manufacturer both buy your minerals off the market, you ammo will cost you 35% more to make than his will. So either you have to put it up much higher (it'll sell slower) or you will be makeing a much smaller profit.
The thing you're going to realize very quickly is that the EvE economy is VERY efficient. You aren't. With very occasional exceptions, you just aren't going to be competitive out of the box with guys who've been around for a while. Do not let this discourage you. There are other reasons to learn how to do this. The first is to understand how it works. Then there is future planning on what you want to be able to do. This will help guide you thru some of the skills you may want to aquire to be able to accomplish your goals. Also if you're outside a hub you can usualy mark up your prices quite a bit. To the point where even with your in-efficiency it's profitable for you. You can work on making part of the process efficient and use other pilots in the corp you're in who are efficient in other parts of the process. etc... etc... etc...
In a future blog I'll go into one of the reasons even PvP newbies should learn how to do this, especialy as it relates to surviving in 0.0 space.
I'll also see what I can do about adding pictures to this post when I'm acutaly with the game nearby.