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Howto:Place 3D objects with the UFO

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Placing 3D objects inside Flightgear scenery using the UFO

A very useful tool for placing objects within the scenery, created by Melchior Franz, is available with Flightgear 0.9.10 and later. It is an addon to the UFO aircraft which allows a user to place a new (or old) 3D object at any arbitrary location in the scenery with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Selecting the ufo

The first thing you need is a 3d model file to place in the scenery; let's say we'll use a catii-iii.xml object. You must save it in a path where this UFO feature can find it. The UFO searches the objects in the Flightgear/data/Models/ directory. In this example, we create a subdirectory called Tabu and save our catii-iii.xml there.

Placing objects with UFO html m49fbed81.jpg


Now start Flightgear, and choose UFO as your aircraft.

Placing objects

Once Flightgear has been started, fly with the UFO to the place you want the model to be positioned.

Placing objects with UFO html 5fa8d7b1.jpg

Let's say we want to position the catii-iii.xml object at the end of a taxiway. We stop the UFO just above this intersection and press the space key, a Select Model window will open up where the contents of the Flightgear/data/Models/ directory will be shown. Select your model from this list, then close the window. The selected model path/name will be display in green text at the bottom left of the FlightGear screen.

Placing objects with UFO html m184fb381.jpg

Now you may point the mouse on the scenery ground and left-click again, the CAT II/III ground marking model will be positioned there. Of course, it does not have the correct orientation and it's partly covered by the surrounding terrain, but we can adjust that.

Placing objects with UFO html 12ee70a1.jpg

Rotating objects

Fly closer to the ground with the UFO, so that you can see it better.

Now press TAB (or Ctrl-I), and use the resulting sliders to adjust the latitude/longitude/elevation/heading of the model.

Placing objects with UFO html 439816e9.jpg

Exporting the result

Now that the model is correctly positioned, press the D key to dump the model position data to the terminal. A few lines will be printed on the console, providing the necessary orientation data. You will save those coordinates into a scenery objects file in the next step. If you don't do that, next time you run Flightgear it will know nothing about the new object.

Placing objects with UFO html m4cf0cbf7.jpg

In the terminal window, you get three sections printed out by the UFO with very detailed information about what's going on, we need the line at the end.

e000n50/e008n50/3089154.stg is the secenery object file where this object's coordinates have to be saved. The default place where to find e000n50 directory is inside Flightgear/data/Scenery/Objects/. You just open the 3089154.stg file with any text editor, add the following line and save it the file:

OBJECT_SHARED Models/Tabu/catii-iii.xml 8.57928135 50.03667992 105.9972 111.1

Now you have your object's position saved, and it will appear inside the scenery every time you start Flightgear.

Useful keys

  • Ufo positioning
    • [ ] ... decrease/increase maximum speed (This wil help yuo controlling the Ufo that can be too fast sometimes)
    • Home ... Hover Up (Increase ufo altitude)
    • End ... Hover down (Decrease ufo altitude)
  • Object management
    • mouse click ... Add model to scenery
    • backspace ... remove selected object(s)
    • Alt + mouse click .. Move selected object(s) to new place
    • Ctrl + cursor/arrow keys ... move selected object(s) away/nearer/left/right
    • m ... toggle marker for active (last selected) object
    • tab ... open/close cursor dialog
  • Selection
    • Ctrl + mouse click ... select nearest object
    • Shift + mouse click ... add new object to selection
    • Shift + Ctrl + mouse click ... add nearest object to selection
  • Model
    • space ... open/close model selection dialog
    • Ctrl + PgUp/PgDn ... cycle through model list
    • l ... load model file via file selector
  • Export data
    • d ... dump object data to terminal
    • e ... export object data
  • flight plan
    • n export flight plan