OK, lessons learned.
Parts in full condition appear to re-sell at original price.
There's on online tool at www.edshipyard.com
that let's you fine tune a desired layout for a ship, but that doesn't promise you that you can find the parts you want.
Weak signal sources are usually salvage sites or traps laid by pirates.
Strong signal sources can be groups of ships, battles between system authorities, traps laid by pirates, people under attack, that kind of thing.
Unknown signal sources are where quest encounters can happen, where chances to subvert missions can take place, random stuff is there. Also traps laid by pirates.
However much they promise it, Newtonian physics dont appear to be totally in play, for example, you slow down when you turn off your thrusters. That may be nav assist though, I should experiment with it off just to find out. Still, you have a top speed, which is a lie in space.
Each ship has a top speed and a boost speed. Power has to be directed to the engines over other systems in order to reach that top speed.
Maneuverability is governed by a factor inherent to a ship design and the performance of the thrusters.
The frameshift drive provides for the two forms of faster than light travel: super cruise and hyperspace. Super cruise is used locally within a system for navigating between planets and close stars, I've seen a few systems that have as many as three stars with their own planets and bodies but which counted as one hyperspace destination.
You can super cruise with or without a destination in mind. If don't have a destination targeted, you can exit safely when slow by pressing the button again, or dangerously when fast by pressing it twice and then take some hull damage.
If you have a destination targeted that is in system, you'll need to reach it, then slow down according to your readouts in order to get the safe exit message, then tap the button again. If your target is another system, you'll need to orient towards it and then tap the button to enter hyperspace.
Super cruise can be interrupted by a device called a frame shift drive interdictor. This device must be activated from immediately behind a target in super cruise, and a tug of war is then initiated. If you win, you get away, if you lose, you take some damage and are pulled into normal space with your attacker. If you throttle down instead, you submit to the interdiction and are not damaged when you enter real space. A similar tug of war takes place when you attempt an interdiction of your own.
Ship and object mass plays an important role in gameplay. Each ship type has a base mass listed in tons, all modules, weapons, cargo, and fuel is added on to this. Thrusters, the frame shift drive, and the shields, have performance based on mass of the ship. Each of these systems list an optimal mass and a maximum mass. If your ship is above the maximum mass, the system cannot perform. If it is between the optimal and maximal, the system will work but not at its best if it is equal to optimal, the system will work as advertised. If your ship is below the optimal mass, the system will perform beyond the manufacturers specifications. Thrusters will steer and maneuver better, fsd will jump farther, and shields will be stronger and recharge faster.
Modules and weapons generally come in classes and ratings, though some are fixed to one or two and some only come in one flavor.
The class of a module ranges from 1 to 4 and describes its size, with 1 being small and 4 being huge. Weapon hard points, systems, and internal compartments of ships all come in these varieties and the number of each is a major factor in determining what a ship can be designed to do.
A module also carries a rating from a to e or sometimes even g, which describes comparative quality, but in the specific area of design. So, an A rated powerplant might produce the most power of any in its class, but it may also be the heaviest and is certainly the most expensive.
The starting ship is the sidewinder, a small scout with some e rated hardware on loan, which means that if you buy new parts you don't get the cost if the old parts towards the new ones.
D rated hardware is almost always the lightest hardware in its class, is always fairly cheap, and has a small but valuable performance increase. I prefer d for most systems because I like to keep a low weight profile.
I have in the past used a part from a lower class because of its better weight rating. I used a class 3 power plant in a class 4 slot because at the price it only lacked half a megawatt and weighed a hell of a lot less.
Finally, nav beacons, asteroid belts, resource extraction sites, and conflict zones, are locations that you can go to in order to find pirates, bad guys, and otherwise collect bounty.