FlightGear Newsletter August 2014
FlightGear 3.2 delayed
Normally we would have a release by now. Unfortunately we encountered a serious bug in the effect system, leading to an unstable or - in some configurations - even completely unusable simulator. This leaves us no other option than postponing the release until the bug is fixed. At this moment we cannot give a firm estimated time of arrival, but we expect to have the bug fixed later this month. We apologize for testing your patience; we think it is worth it though!
Feedback required: DDS textures in FlightGear
We are looking for feedback about possibly adopting DDS textures in FlightGear:
- dds is a compressed format, hence the download size of the FG base package may be decreased
- compressed dds can be directly used by many graphics cards, reducing also GPU memory consumption
- dds stores all texture resolution levels, i.e. no lower resolution levels have to be generated when the texture is used, hence it loads much faster into memory
- the resolution levels ('mipmaps') can be customized, allowing for some interesting effects at no performance cost
Practically all commercial simulations use dds for these reasons.
However, the dds compression algorithm is patented, which means that it is not readily available for OpenSource graphics drivers used by Linux distributions. Dependent on the specific hardware, this may or may not be a problem (modern graphics cards typically do not need the driver to process dds, for older graphics cards there are non-patented workarounds available which decompress the dds on the software level). The development team is concerned about making the Flightgear experience pleasant for all users, hence we would like to gather feedback how many users would be affected by a change in practice.
If there are no problems reported, FG will change defaults to textures in dds format with the 3.4 release, and then phase out the use of png textures. Continue reading at DDS Textures in FlightGear...
FGCamera 1.0 Released
FGCamera v1.0 is available to download. Features of the current version:
- 4 camera types:
- Virtual cockpit,
- Aircraft (look-at),
- Aircraft (look-from),
- World (look-from);
- Arbitrary number of preset views;
- Smooth/discrete transition between the views of the same camera type.
- Graphical user interface to create and manage camera views, as illustrated on the images below.
Read more at the updated FGCamera wiki article.
Yongphulla Domestic Airport - VQ10
High mountains, deep valleys, strong winds and sometimes the rain looks something like snow. You are at the Bhutanese Yongphula Domestic Airport (VQ10) at an altitude of 2573 metres. After Paro, this airport has been improved. Besides the Terminal and Apron, shared models and other little things have now been added. TerraSync has it all! Have a nice flight in the Kingdom of Bhutan.
In the hangar
Beechcraft B1900D template
- full rivets, panel lines and stencils details in vector format
- ambient occlusion layer
- dirt layer
Some B1900d liveries made with this template are available to download in the database
A big milestone has been achieved in the ongoing development of the EF2000, which I (Algernon) has been managing since its branching from the main Eurofighter Typhoon project some years back: finally, after a lot of fiddling, a completely computerised Flight Control System (FCS) has been implemented which can simulate its real-life counterpart, with fully autonomous surface control and with an autopilot-based processor interpreting pilot input and commanding the system to fly its maximum performance envelope to obey, but not exceed, safety or design limits. While a lot of these features are not yet implemented, we have established a working practice for the core system which allows extra elements to be introduced simply and effectively. I have heard it said that FG is incapable of simulating such systems, and I hope here we have proved otherwise, and, a bit self-indulgently, that maybe this will be the first truly fly-by-wire aircraft in FlightGear! (I am of course prepared to stand corrected there...)
Particular thanks for this objective go to StuartC, who designed the basis of the FDM, and Tomaskom, whose help in fields where I am not much of a master (like mathematics) has been invaluable. Many updates are planned for the EF2000, including a whole new custom paintjob with many liveries, and it is hoped a final, V2.0 release may be available in the later part of the year. You can also get hold of a pre-release copy if you visit the FGUK Forum and register your interest, for testing purposes - your feedback will be appreciated. Pre-releases will probably not be available until at least September 2014.
Other points being addressed in the V2.0 release of the Eurofighter Typhoon 2000 are:
- New modular Nasal approach and many new scripts. Upgraded to Eno audio management.
- New UV map for N-SCOT, leading to sexy new textures and liveries and hopefully a paintkit too
- Improvements to helmet-mounted display and HUD for improved navigation, target acquisition and weapons management
- Disintegration, explosion, real damage and real maintenance
- External lighting redesigned
- Experimental and deprecated code bumph removed
Piper Archer CX
A new aircraft is now available for testing: the semi-fictional Piper Archer CX single-engine trainer aircraft. While based mostly on the real life Piper Archer TX and LX, it features an analog cockpit such as seen in the Piper Archer II/III. It's completely Rembrandt-ready and features a highly detailed interior and exterior, along with a realistic electrical system. If you'd like, download the beta build and test it; report any inaccuracies to the forum thread dedicated to it. Note that the aircraft uses a highly-detailed model and is not suitable for lower-end hardware. It's being actively developed by ZLSA, and the exterior will be textured as soon as most modeling/simulation inaccuracies have been resolved.
Currently, all exterior control surfaces are modeled and animated; details can be added once I find decent reference images of the Piper Archer TX/LX. The interior features detailed 3d instruments, all modeled to fit the cockpit, and the realistic electrical system uses Rembrandt-compatible lights. If you find any inaccuracies or flaws, do not hesitate to report it on the forum thread; I highly appreciate any criticism as it will help improve the final product.
If there are enough requests, the creation of a TX/LX glass cockpit version will be considered.
FG logo proposal by Cossack90
Cossack90 proudly presents a proposal for a new FlightGear logo. I hope you like it, comments are welcomed at the forum.