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I am such noob compared to many in the community, recently passing my 5th consecutive anniversary in this hobby. Despite starting out with a goal and a specific plan, 5 years later, I have not accomplished that goal. Perhaps worse than that, the strong energy of joyful naivety, of beginner’s mind, has greatly weakened.

 

For 3 or so of my 5 years, I kept records of all time spent related to the hobby and goal. The single largest use of my time, ostensibly in pursuit of my goal, was in scenery building. Scenery building was an accidental but necessary skill, or so I believed, to accomplish my goal. My time developing the Lemoore scenery (and other scenery projects) taught me, no matter what talent or skill I could manifest, that scenery design is not my first love in this hobby. The technical aspects of modeling and textures are beyond the time and motivation limits with which I work daily. I am more of an engineer than a designer and more of a geographer than a texture artist. First and foremost, I identify as “pilot”.

 

There is almost more change in the flightsim software marketplace in the last 3 months than the whole last decade. My scenery projects are showing their age and I am feeling the fatigue from not accomplishing my original goal. The net result is the projects need to be updated/ported/converted to the next generation of sims and I am not the developer to do it. Hell, I am not even a developer.

 

All my existing scenery projects have been terminated and no new projects are in planning, design or progress. The scenery development skills I have acquired will still be handy depending on the needs of my continued training. But, to repeat, I am “pilot” first.

 

Here is the specific status of the various projects in question:
1) Mississippi Ranges (FSX/P3D) — uploaded to MAIW
2) KNRS (FSX) — a streamlined version has been uploaded to MAIW
3) KNLC (FSX) — a streamlined version has been uploaded to MAIW
4) KNMM — pulled from download and retired because of intellectual property considerations
5) KNTU — pulled from download and retired because of intellectual property considerations.

 

All the downloads, WIP posts, etc. concerning these projects have been deleted from this website.

 

I am very appreciative that some folks in the community have initiated discussions to continue the longevity of a couple of these projects. We will keep you informed as things might develop.

 

I’ve come to know many scenery designers thru this process. To a person, all of them took my noob-ish questions with grace and warmth, allowing me to learn, very quickly, my own limitations. Some very well-known designers found out I was working on a given project and volunteered information critical to accuracy.

 

Community members of all kinds, former and current US Navy personnel, many specialists in arcane sim technology, and just plain nice people contributed to these projects. It was a very humbling and important experience for me as someone new to the hobby.

 

To everyone who took an interest, in whatever capacity, you have my thanks and irreducible gratitude.

charley1

Salut to a happy, peaceful and prosperous new year for you.

UPDATED 20/11/2016 F/A-18E

Here are several sets of checklists designed for FSX. We created these checklists as part of our ground school for each of the aircraft. The planes are:

VRSimulations F/A-18E Rhino (SuperBug) Normal procedures with AR receiver

DCattaneo T-45C Goshawk v1.1

LotusSim Aero L-39C Albatros (formatted for printout at A5 size)

Tim Conrad’s Douglas A-1H

Iris Raytheon T-6A Texan II

Combat Pilot Raytheon/Beech T-6B Texan II

Iris Pilatus PC-21 (includes reference speeds and control settings)

Razbam Convair F/A-201 Kestrel (including cold/dark start)

Will add more as we do more.

Enjoy.

T-34C Forces Aériennes Royales MarocT-34C Forces Aériennes Royales Maroc

A long, eventful summer is over. Lots of changes at our house, many not so happy, have provided opportunities to re-prioritize and re-focus.

Moving the computers and flightsim lab into a bigger room facilitated bringing the ‘pit into the house out of the shop.

newpitroom1Best overall alignment of all the moving parts

Although the state of construction is pretty much where we left off in 2013,  design decisions about the front panel are better defined now. Build/use concurrency will be the norm  for sure.

newpitroom2Advanced sensor system in place

UPDATE: I believe we have gotten all the links active again. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if something isn’t working as it should.

Arrghh…looks like OneDrive has changed all the links on the download content from this website.

My most shocked and contrite apologies that I did not notice sooner.

Please bear with me for a few days while I straighten this file host created confusion.

Thanks

Putting together a combinations of add-ons, softwares, and procedures to perform and evaluate the seemingly oxymoronic idea of solo formation practice. Using FSRecorder, TacPack TPS, and Tacview as a system seems to be useful.

Best to watch on YouTube at 720p resolution.

Extending and refining the ideas in a previous post, below is a link to a package of 20 Lua snippets that are to used with DCattaneo’s T-45C model.

The code snippets perform a variety of switch functions in the VC of the model. Included with the package is a document that includes how we have programmed our kit using the Lua snippets.

Download here.

If you have questions or comments, you know how to catch me.

Enjoy.

Here are a couple of annotated screen caps that (very) succinctly (almost too succinctly) illustrate the process of programming Thrustmaster MFDs for Dino’s T-45C v2.8.

LINDA is not required for the actual programming, it was used only for enumerating the LVARs in the MFD gauges. You will need FSUIPC to do the programming, however.

T-45MFD1Decoding the gauge programming

T-45MFD2Writing and programming the code

Here is a link to the lua file from the screenshot: T45-MFD1-13

UPDATE: Here is a tool that allows you to manipulate the USB registry and devices directly. With this tool, you can disconnect all the duplicated devices and identify which registry keys need to be edited for power management.  Here it is: USBTool

Most users of FSX will likely find all of this information superfluous. They will migrate from Windows 7/MS-FSX to Windows 10/FSX-SE or to entirely different simulation platform(s). No need for you to comment that it doesn’t apply to you.

If you are in the scenario where Windows 8.1 and FSX-MS is your combo, I would be very happy to trade advice with you.

As Tom Tsui says, regarding application of his experience, “Your mileage may vary.”

With that caveat, here is a brief overview of the issues with running the Microsoft version of FSX on Windows 8.1, presented in the order they were encountered.

ADMIN RIGHTS

Getting FSX to run without admin rights on Windows 8.1 was not very different than on Windows 7. Installing into a custom folder location with appropriate security rights is the most important step. Many add-ons require admin rights to install, so the installs must be done under an admin user account. In a few cases (Milviz data, TacPack, changes to exe.xml/dll.xml), certain files have to be copied from the admin user’s appdata into the regular user account’s appdata files.

You must turn UAC off however. FSX is not UAC aware and will crash if the operating system attempts to use the UAC mechanism. Many legacy addons are also not UAC aware.

USB DEVICE PROBLEM

Windows 8 and 8.1 have a power saving feature that could possibly save electricity but produces much gray hair if you are using certain kinds of USB hardware. USB devices designated as “passive” are not detected properly because Windows 8.1 is constantly trying to turn them off if not in use. This seems to be related to the joystick drop out problem so many FSX users have reported in Windows 8.

The solution is to turn the power management features off for the specific USB devices. Unfortunately this must be done in the registry. Reference this article: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/2900614/en-us. The big deal is actually figuring out which devices are the issue in the system registry. Powered USB hubs can also be a complicating factor in this problem.

FSX_Win81_USBThanks for making the setting so obvious and easy to use

Thrustmaster Cougar MFDs fall into this “passive” category and presented the greatest example of this challenge for our system.

COMPATIBILITY MODES

Windows 7 had some useful application compatibility modes that would allow legacy apps (that’s you, FSX) to run seamlessly in the modern security environment. Windows 8.1 (and Windows 10) compatibility modes are even better, being able to analyze the program code and recommend a compatibility mode. Deliberate testing of FSX and associated apps on our new system without compatibility analysis/mode revealed a LOT of random crashes. FSX would crash when weather was injected by OpusFSI, for example (but not every time).

Under the properties of any .EXE file, there is a compatibility tab where the operating system can analyze the code and recommend an application execution mode. The list for this new computer looks like this:

FSX — Windows Vista SP2
OpusFSI– Windows 7
TrackIR — Windows 7

Note that all .dll and .exe that are spawned by FSX, will also run under the Windows Vista SP2 compatibility mode, thus reducing the need to check them individually.

FSX_Win81_CompatOne of the best and most under used features of Windows

FSX.CFG TWEAKS

Here are the only fsx.cfg tweaks used for this install of FSX:

[GRAPHICS]
HIGHMEMFIX=1
[Display]
WideViewAspect=True
[Main]
FIBER_FRAME_TIME_FRACTION=0.4
DISABLEPRELOAD=1

BUILTIN SOUND CARD

While troubleshooting a particularly vexing performance issue involving KSEA, Orbx PNW, and Orbx FTX Global, it became apparent that turning the sound off in FSX could increase FPS by up to 30%. Simply hitting “Q” and toggling the sound on/off made dramatic differences in FPS. The builtin sound card uses CPU cycles to process/output the sound files.

With an addon sound card, this processing is offloaded to the card instead of using the CPU, thus more instruction cycles are available for visual render processing. The gaming community as a whole seems to have a good grip on this issue, so an addon sound card is in our future.

HEPT

The same vexing performance issue led to a potential problem related to the HEPT timer. Gamers using ASUS motherboards seem to report HEPT as a source of graphics stuttering. Not exactly a deal killer on our new system, but turned off anyway because it is not needed.

UIAUTOMATIONCORE

The most persistent, random, and annoying crashes of FSX on this new system seem to have been related to the infamous UIAutomationCore.dll phenomenon familiar to many Windows 7 users. We never had this problem with FSX in Windows 7 and always suspected that it was because of a specific addon software, not necessarily FSX.

With FSX on Windows 8.1, it felt like it was happening with certain addon aircraft more frequently than others, but the overall frequency, while apparently random, was relatively low….until we installed the VRS Superbug The Superbug was extremely reliable in producing this kind of crashing. We could never get thru the manual start sequence, not even once, without FSX crashing.

Conventional wisdom about the UIAutomationCore.dll issue is that it is only a solution if you are having crashes with the FSX in-game menus. This does not appear to be the only scenario in Windows 8.1. All of our very reliable crashes with the Superbug were generated by clicking switches in the VC.

Similar to the compatibility modes, Windows Error Reporting (WER) was available in Windows 7 but enhanced and expanded in Windows 8.1. Looking at the app crash logs in WER clearly pointed to UIAutomationCore.dll as the faulting module.

FSX_Win81_CrashHiding in plain sight

Subject to more thorough testing, placing UIAutomationCore.dll version 6.0.6001.18000 (Windows Vista 32 bit) in the same folder with FSX.EXE seems to have exorcised the crashes. Interesting to note that Windows 8.1 recommended Windows Vista compatibility mode for FSX.

2015-5-23_19-50-16-729Well worth all the trouble

Before getting to the results of our survey, it is very important to harsh out all the limitations in the data collection.

-The purpose of the survey was to assist me in deciding how to spend my time creating add-on sceneries for the community. We are in a transitional period for flight simulator development with many possible options for content generation.

-Overall, none of the questions were designed to be predictive in interpretation.

-The sample size is relatively small, about 30 people gave their time and thought to the answers. Given that my sceneries have been downloaded approximately 1000 times, a 3% sample size for a voluntary questionnaire is actually pretty good response.

-In no way were the results of this survey intended to represent the flight simulator community as a whole. It was published only on 3 weblinks, all closely affiliated with my personal flight sim activities. The most succinct way to state this is: the community (hopefully) represented in this survey is the community to which I feel most closely conjoined. Please apply this filter to any of my comments regarding flight simmers in general, or the unspecified “community”.

Question 1 hopefully quantifies an idea stated in a previous brain fart , namely that most flight simmers are using more than one simulator these days. Within the limits of the community that responded, easy to have predicted more skew toward DCS/P3D than to X-Plane as an alternate platform. This skew is repeated in other question responses as well. More interesting is DCS=P3D and it’s implications for the other elements measured by the survey.

Q1Question 1

Question 2 presented some pleasant surprises regarding online MP activity. Given how restrictive the ability to multiplayer in P3D is, most surprising was the high percentage of activity on this platform. The “Other” category had a lot (relatively speaking) of responses including many of the WWII and WWI combat flight Sims.

Q2Question 2

Question 3 was designed with the least amount of pre-conceived notion from me. It did not distinguish between MIL vs CIV flying or any other subtleties. Heartening to me to see 30% of my community say they use these resources. As I have mentioned in private conversations to many of my fellow flight simmers, real world military pilots are under ATC on every flight with most of their flight hours under civilian ATC.

Q3Question 3

Question 4 gets to the meat of the survey’s purpose. The most interesting elements here are DCS being the most widely used secondary platform and the low showing of FSX-SE as a primary.

q4Question 4

Question 5 is online equivalent of Question 4. This is the 3rd set of responses that highlight the P3D/DCS comparison. Note how in Question 4, 31% of folks reported P3D as their primary solo sim but only 14% reported it as their primary MP sim. DCS has a complementary presentation. In Question 4, no one reported DCS as their primary solo sim. In Question 5, DCS ranks very favorably as secondary MP sim platform. Lastly, Falcon BMS presents as a 3rd or 4th choice for solo sim but ranks very favorably as an MP sim.

q5Question 5

It should come as no big reveal that I will continue to develop sceneries for FSX for a long while to come. With the introduction of FSX-SE, FSX has at least 3-5 years left in it. If designed with some forethought, many of my FSX sceneries should go to P3D relatively easily. There may be features that do not translate or other limitations but the basic elements should convert well. For the USN MIL flight simmers, DCS may well be the next frontier. A lot depends on how much effort Eagle Simulations is willing to put in SDK or other “helper” applications.

A final note of appreciation and gratitude for all those who took the time to answer the survey questions. Thru messages and forum posts, I know that many of you are also folks who actively contributed to one or more of my scenery projects. Your support and interaction makes the process worthwhile.