FlightGear Expo Checklist
This article is intended to collect and sum up people's experience demonstrating FlightGear at expos and elsewhere, so as to provide a resource for others planning demos.
As well as simply things like "don't forget to pack the silver screen for the beamer" and "how to prepare multi-display-setups", it is also intended to include proposals on merchandising articles and what to bring for which type of exhibition.
There's also a Presentation Recipe, mainly elaborating about monitor layouts and how to arrange playback flights.
Presenting the latest innovations in FlightGear
There is probably not a single FlightGear contributor who is aware of all the ongoing FlightGear developments, not just on the devel list, but also on the forums. Which is exactly the point of the newsletter.
The good thing about the newsletters and the changelogs is that they are already intended to be published, so they can be easily turned into presentations or even handouts. Also, the newsletters usually contain lots of images and even youtube videos.
- Have (a) digital projectors(s), so our graphics look a bit more impressive than on a 17" TFT screen. This is particularly important if you have lots of people trying to see what's going on.
- Bring network and power cable, contact exhibition staff wether public network is available.
- Bring multiple sets of power cords so you'll be able to distribute the load over multiple sockets, if necessary. If you are networking computers together, be sure to pack a few more, making sure that the tabs are intact.
- Bringing a Unteruptible power supply is a good idea as it will help you endure momentary power outages should it occur.
- Bring table clothes to improve the apparent of your booth. As an alternative, get a banner printed to go around the front (maybe the sides of the table. If you are wrapping the banner around the sides of the table, make sure it does not need to be seen too make sense.
- Find someone to design posters and flyers, find someone to print these.
- Prepare nameplates for booth staff.
- Consider ordering a bunch of FlightGear T-shirts, to be worn by the booth members. This makes your members distinctive as "crew" for the visitors.
Handy tools/add-ons/ideas for setting up the booth
- Bring adaptors to connect real aviation headsets to our equipment - this might prove to become tricky, as the 'real' headset's microphone impedance won't match the usual PC-style stuff. See headset adaptor for an example. The web is littered with other examples.
- Gaffer/Duct tape is always useful. In particular, taping down power/network cables reduces the chance of someone tripping on them. It is safest to cover the cord totally rather than using short strips of tape to stop the cable from moving.
- Prepare and - if possible - test settings for multiplayer- and/or multiscreen-setups as well as VoIP-equipment _before_ heading for the show.
- Make sure you _really_ know how to disable screen-savers before you head for the show !!
- Make sure you'll have the required hardware for the show, start contacting possible supporters months, not only weeks before the show.
How to let your booth staff survive the show
- Check if you are allowed to bring your own water kettle to prepare tea.
- Bring your own mug and probably a plate, so you won't starve or dry up on the booth. Bring some snack bars with you in case you can't get away for meals.
- -> Make sure you have enough booth staff so running the show turns into an easy job for everyone. Don't do this solo, as you won't be able to leave the booth to go to the toilet for fear of someone messing with the systems!
Souvenirs - Merchandising
- Have the World Scenery available on DVD for sale.
- Have various versions of FlightGear (source, binaries, scenery, base package) for sale as well.
- It might be a good idea to have printed a few copies of some of the technical reports that have been presented for FlightGear and related or constituent parts. Don't present the papers more than pointing over to a stand with printouts for those interested in the technical details. This will give the necessary background info to the few advanced visitors to the booth and will not overstrain the others...
- Print lots of business cards with the FlightGear web-address. Place them in a holder prominently at your table(s) and hand them over to people that stop over at your booth.
- Check the power consumption of the computers you prepared to bring; see if it matches the expected power supplies - modern multi-CPU machines are rated at up to 1 kW!
- See if you can arrange a slide show on a separate system to show prominent detail while kiddies are busy crashing the sim.
Designing an interactive demonstration
To make the demo more interesting for the visitors (as opposed to the exhibitor!), you may want to create a simple interactive demonstration that the visitor can try.
Here are some pointers:
- Keep it short - a minute is about right. The means that you can let lots of people try it, and people can try again if they fail.
- Have an objective - landing at the airport, flying under the bridge. But...
- Don't make it too hard. If your target audience is FlightSimmers, then given them full control. If it is Joe Public, then roll and pitch control will be plenty. So that people have a positive experience, you want them to feel they have succeeded.
- If your simulation is going to be used by children, have a big whiteboard/pad with "Pilot List" on the top, and get everyone who succeeds on the simulator to write their name on the list. As well as providing a quick way to get children out of the seat once they finish, it also allows you to keep a rough track of the number of visitors.
- Use the tutorial system. By using the tutorial system and some Nasal, you can easily set FG up to run as a "kiosk", displaying instructions on the screen, resetting the simulation once complete, changing views...
- Use an old joystick. You may be used to mouse control, but for most people it is too sensitive and unusual. Children are rough on hardware, and will somehow manage to break your CH Products Yoke.
- Disable all the controls you don't want them to use. Otherwise the user _will_ press the wrong button and mess up your scenario.
- Maximize the A/V experience. Use a digital projector and/or multiple displays if possible. Bigger is better as it allows more people to watch from further away. Use pre-recorded audio to provide instructions (rather than TTS), and big speakers and subwoofers for lots of jet-noise (if appropriate). If space is tight use the biggest LCD monitors that you can borrow and slave one to a single projector.
- Use the locality to make the demo relevant. Landing an aircraft the user has just seen for real, at the location the demo is taking place is much more interesting than the C-172P at KSFO.
- Have a relevant aviation chart taped to the table, with the aircraft position marked in pen. Then you can point out to visitors where the simulation is taking place.
- Network, if possible. Two people flying in the MP environment while sitting side-by-side is much more interesting than flying separately. Setting up a MP server is worthwhile as you may be able to guarantee the network connectivity. You might also consider adding a custom terrasync server to minimise the likely hood of someone flying off the edge of the map. Otherwise pre-sync the tiles around the home airport.