Howto:Animate helicopters

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Animating helicopters that use YASim can look hard and complex, but the animations are actually very standard and this howto will guide you through the steps. If you are not familiar with FlightGear's animation system, please read Howto:Animate models first.

Properties used

The properties used are all from the /rotors/ node in the global Property Tree. Descriptions of their actions:

  • /rotors/{name}/blade[%d]/position-deg: The position of this blade (where 0 is facing forward relative to the helicopter).
  • /rotors/{name}/blade[%d]/incidence-deg: The incidence of this blade with respect to collective and cyclic.
  • /rotors/{name}/cone%d-deg: The coning angle of each section of the blade with respect to the former (these properties are named cone-deg, cone1-deg, etc., up to cone4-deg).
  • /rotors/{name}/roll-deg: The roll angle of the rotor disc.
  • /rotors/{name}/row-deg: The pitch (!) angle of the rotor disc.

(Note that these properties take on weird values after a rotor strike/crash.)

In general, one will have to animate each blade for each rotor separately, i.e. one XML per file, due to the different properties used; however they can share the same 3D model and will have a lot in common. In fact, we will use a script to automate creation of this, but first we need to discuss the basic elements of the animations.