Come on, come on and turn on the ignition"
-- (Ignition, tobyMac)
As many pilots will tell you, "unlocking" the ability to overheat your modules by training for Thermodynamics is probably the best bang for your buck you can get in terms of the training time. I agree - overheating often makes or breaks a fight.
Now, how to use it? Simple, one can either:
A) Right click on the module (or group of guns/launchers) you want to overheat and toggle heat on
B) Click the little green border on the top of the module (or group of guns/launchers) you want to overheat
C) Bind overheating to a hotkey and using that
Of course, one can simply overheat the entire rack, but often this is detrimental - you normally only want to overheat a few modules at a time as the fight progresses. By overheating more modules, you generate more heat which spills over to adjacent modules (found in the fitting window), eventually causing them to burn out - even passive modules.
Now, as for when to overheat and when not to overheat, I have a few rules:
#1 - Always, always overheat anything useful in a frigate fight straight off the bat.
Why? Frigate fights often last less than one minute which is generally when modules tend to burn out.
#2 - When warping in to tackle something, have your Warp Scrambler/Disruptor pre-heated AS WELL AS your propulsion mod.
Why? Quite often, you land just outside your tackle range and you have to burn into tackle range.
#3 - When attempting to gank someone and get out before his gang lands, overheat offensive modules and get ready to run.
Pretty self explanatory, you need to do the maximum amount of damage in the least amount of time.
#4 - When attempting to break an active tank, overheat any energy neutralizers you have rather than the guns.
Why? Most of the time, an active tanked ship is capable of tanking another ship of the same ship class as long as it has capacitor. By overheating the neutralizers, you are able to disrupt their capacitor. Once you see their tank starting to drop, stop heating your neutralizers and start heating your guns.
There are other things to consider with overheating. For example, the way you fit your modules makes a noticeable different to how long you can overheat your modules.
Complicating this matter however is module hp. Each module can absorb a different amount of heat damage. Typically in my experience, passive modules can absorb more heat damage than active modules.
So, as an example I played around with my standard AC Shield Hurricane fit in EFT to show the differences in heat management by playing around with module placement.
AC Hurricane with Optimal Module Placement:
AC Hurricane with Non-Optimal Module Placement:
So, what's the difference? Well, with the optimal module setup, you can overheat the MWD for an extra 5 seconds, whilst at the same time overheat the Warp Disruptor for an extra 10 seconds - that's two extra cycles. The guns can be overheated for another cycle as well.
Well, that might not seem like much to you, but there are fights where every advantage counts! For example, today my Hawk popped with the Dramiel in half structure - not bad when he had to call in his friend in an Ishkur to assist!
The results are even more dramatic with active armor tanks - you can overheat the Hardeners for ages, but the actual Armor Repairers burn out fast so optimal placement is a godsend.
Next time we visit the seedy underbelly of New Eden and delve into the world of narcotics.
P.S. I haven't forgotten about trying to show examples of manual piloting, however there are fairly few videos out there that really show it off. I suggest watching Drake 3.0 by Endless Subversion if you're interested in this, as it contains a large amount of manual kiting/piloting as he flies a 100MN AB Tengu against large gangs.