You need to feed Salvaged Tech modules to your Blueprint Reader to get basic construction blueprints. As you pull more out of the reader, other new ones will appear, so keep feeding it. To start, you will need at least prints for a circular room and a door. My preferred base plan includes a clover-shaped collection of circular rooms, so I begin by placing a circular room and a door. You will need a LOT of Pure Ferrite for this (and Carbon to fuel the Mining Beam) so this will take a bit of time.
After the room is built, you will be prompted to build a Construction Terminal; I place mine just to the side of the door, so the door always stays 'open'. You then have to find an Overseer to act as foreman, and thankfully you can just teleport to the station where he is located and ask him to join you. When you return, he will greet you, give you a new blueprint and ask you to build a Science Terminal. Each specialty terminal must be built in its own room, so I add another Circular Room just behind the first one, accessed via a corridor attached to the first room.
You will need to build the Science Terminal and recruit a technician to man it, and afterward you will be given the blueprint for a Large Refiner, and your industrial career can begin! With the Large Refiner, load two of its three hoppers with the Gold and Silver you harvest from the asteroids, and the third is loaded with any metal in order to generate Chromatic Metal. If you just use Copper, you get 5X the input, and for Indium, you get 30X. Once you get to a system which has Indium, a full hopper of it (250) can produce 7500 Chromatic Metal. Later on, when you get the Medium Refiner, there is effectively no limit to how much of any material you can produce. [Note: This no longer seems to be the case; the Large Refiner can (for now) do the jobs of any other refiner. If you put just two materials in the bins, it will function the same way as the Medium Refiner. This could disappear on a subsequent patch, however.] See here for more refiner tips.
The base must be built in sequence, with plans for additions following completion of some materials quests and recruitment of more ‘helpers’. The sequence is Overseer -> Scientist -> Warrior -> Farmer -> Exocraft. Blueprints will come from each of the ‘helpers’ you recruit and are also ‘rationed’ by the Base Computer on a timed basis. Several events require you to wait for a period of (real) time before anything else in that sequence can happen. Note that the time is clock time, and it doesn’t depend on the game even being on. If you don’t want to wait around, you can pause (or turn off) the game, or just pick another set of tasks. IMPORTANT NOTE: In your ‘Pause’; (P) menu, you will see your task/quest list, and the particular one you are interested in following must be highlighted in order to allow the events there to occur. Also note that after completing a request or switching tasks, it can take a little time for new prompts to occur. The game also has a habit of switching task on you, so always remember to check the menu.
You don’t have to do all ’helper’ quests unless you want to, although you won’t get a full set of blueprints without finishing the Scientist and Overseer quests. I did the Farmer quests (getting materials) because I wanted to farm, and I ignored the Warrior quests until later, because all he wanted to do is fight Sentinels - and it you try that too early on, you can get killed… After you have accomplished all of a given helper’s tasks, they will have small tasks of their own, related to their specialty, which they can issue at up to one per day. If you accomplish these, you will be rewarded with random rewards, some of which can actually be worth quite a lot of money.
Note that the Blueprint Reader puts a bunch of ‘junk’ (at least to me) blueprints which must be ‘purchased’ before more useful ones show up. When getting blueprints from the reader, it is important to know that it is ‘sneaky’; there are several lists invisibly embedded in the master list, and you need to take blueprints from the section you want. For example, the base construction list will revel new choices as those blueprints are taken, but not if some other list (decorations) is taken instead, so you can’t avoid some (expensive) construction options if you want the complete list. The last useful one on a land base is the Exocraft Summoning Terminal. which allows you to summon any Exocraft on any planet where you set one up. This terminal is permanent and can’t be recovered or salvaged once it is put up, but on a planet with a lot of resources it is worth it.
With the patch “Abyss”, you can build an underwater base and craft a submersible Exocraft. The underwater scenery is probably the most spectacular and well-realized that I have ever seen in a video game, and it is worth setting up underwater just to experience it (although the story line is so far very skimpy). This story line begins when you receive a transmission while in space, directing you to a watery planet and a sunken Starship. After a number of ‘seek and find’ quests, you will acquire Exosuit upgrades and plans for the Nautilon and its upgrades, which can take you farther and faster. I was always a bit frustrated because travel on or over the water in the Nautilon was painfully slow, although you may be able to speed some sections by switching crafts. Note that if you have built the Nautilon and have the Exocraft Summoning Unit on a planet, you can summon it anywhere in the water. For example, I can take my Nomad out over the water to an interesting spot, summon the Nautilon, jump into it and explore underwater, even if there is no underwater base on that planet. Just keep in mind that you can’t call a land-based Exocraft unless it can appear on dry land.