FlightGear Newsletter March 2021

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March 2021

We would like to emphasize that the monthly newsletter cannot live without the contributions of FlightGear users and developers. Everyone with a wiki account (free to register) is welcome to contribute to the newsletter. If you know about any FlightGear related news or projects such as for example updated scenery or aircraft, please do feel invited to add such news to the newsletter.

Development news

Note  FG is currently undergoing a lot of huge changes. More importantly: moving to the OpenGL core profile, WS 3.0, osm2city buildings, photoscenery and Compositor shadows&lights.[1] It is likely the non-shader code path (fixed-function pipeline) will also go away in the next twelve months (~ early/mid 2022). We tried to communicate this: 2020.3 is the last release that will work on really old hardware: 'next' and future releases will need a more modern machine with an OpenGL 4 / DX12 class GPU.[2] 'next' is work-in-progress: likely 12 or 18 months before it becomes a release. In that time the minimum system requirements, performance baseline and basically everything else are going to change (and keep changing). Of course we'll try to make it work on as wide a range of hardware as possible, but right now we don't know, and it would be incorrect to speculate or promise anything. (Eg, we cannot say 'an Intel 4000 will work but an Intel 3000 won't - we have no idea!)

If next works for someone, that is great, but if you want stability, stable FPS and comaptability with older hardware, there is an easy answer: use 2020.3. That's what we recommend for everyone who wants to fly and enjoy flying. [3]

2020.3.8 preparations - OSM2City worldbuild release

2020.3.8 LTS is almost ready for release. The current plan for 2020.3.8 LTS is to do an experimental 1st rollout of OSM2City buildings, roads and other objects for the entire world. Objects that are in the Open Street Map (OSM) database will be present. Automatic generation of areas without objects is disabled for this release.

There is a soft release available via sourceforge, but the release has not been announced on the website/download page.

See upcoming change log for full details - included are improvements to Europe agriculture appearance, update to random scenery objects such as farm or industrial buildings and silos, California regional definitions improvements (now active), and updated water depth data (bathymetry).

OSM2City 1st rollout

  • This is an experimental 1st rollout. There will be more rollouts. Expect to download everything again :).
  • OSM2City provides 3d models of buildings and roads as well as objects like pylons, as well as some auto-generated scenery details like boats. OSM2City is based on Open Street Map (OSM) data.
  • FlightGear 2020.3.7+ is needed to download and unzip OSM2City objects. FlightGear 2020.3.6 and earlier will not download OSM2City data.

Troubleshooting

  • Remember to remove any custom scenery folders you have that contains object folders for buildings, roads, pylons to see the updated OSM2City objects on TerraSync! Old folders can be removed from where you added them - e.g. the Addons > Scenery folders section in the qt-launcher , or a command-line folders list. If FlightGear sees a folder of a certain type in custom scenery at a specific location it will use that, and it will not load TerraSync objects of that type from the folder for that location. If you have a custom scenery with subfolders for Terrain as well as object folders like buildings, roads or pylons, you can delete these object folders and FlightGear will then load the updated TerraSync object folders.
  • A limitation of the experimental rollout in 2020.3.7 is that FlightGear will not load OSM2City objects as part of the first scenery load on the first visit to an airport. You will see terrain and scenery as normal without OSM2City buildings. To force a 2nd scenery load go to in-sim GUI menu > Debug menu > Reload Scenery.

Performance

  • Performance will improve drastically in future rollouts. Please don't buy new hardware yet based on early rollouts (Before buying new hardware, it's a good idea to wait until /after/ the future LTS that contains WS3.0. This is because FlightGear's rendering and bottlenecks, will be changing so much in future - with WS 3.0, upcoming rendering features the compositor enables, future OSM2City, move to a higher version of OpenGL, and so on. It's best to wait as new hardware is also steadily getting faster, and hardware prices will also be expected to drop after the situation with the global pandemic eases.).
  • The limiting factor is the CPU, not the GPU in most systems. There is no need to lower graphics settings, or buy faster GPUs, if FPS is low in areas with a lot of OSM2City buildings and objects.
  • OSM2City has objects in new and old formats. The old format is CPU limited. The new format is fast. Objects in old format: Roads, Pylons, random scenery objects, and large buildings. Objects in new format: Smaller buildings, and randomly generated buildings.
  • If FPS is low try switching off pylons, random scenery objects, and roads until FPS is acceptable. Try flying with buildings only. Flying away from city centers of large cities means most buildings in view are smaller buildings in the new format, and will be fast.
  • If FPS is low try reducing the distance objects are loaded. This can be done by using smaller values for LoD:Rough in View menu > Adjust LOD ranges
  • Flightgear has an alternative random buildings feature. This is fast. It randomly creates buildings in the new OSM2City format. Random building density can be turned up in the property browser : Try setting /sim/rendering/building-density to 1-10 .

Appearance

  • The appearance of OSM2City buildings and objects is placeholder. Contributions are welcome - see the scenery forum or the "fg-devel" mailing-list to help.
  • Currently there is limited change in appearance from one region to another.
  • Automatic generation of buildings and objects for areas without coverage in Open Street Map data is disabled for this rollout. Some custom sceneries like the Hawaii scenery may have detailed coverage for these areas.

Space and bandwidth

  • FlightGear will not download objects if they are not shown. To save bandwidth, or disk space, you can turn off objects that are less important to you.
  • Downloading OSM2City objects needs slightly more bandwidth than normal. More bandwidth is needed in areas with more objects. OSM2City is downloaded as compressed files, to reduce bandwidth.
  • OSM2City is more than 750GB uncompressed for the whole world in the current format. Future rollouts will need far less space and bandwidth. OSM2City is stored uncompressed on your hard drive. You won't need 750 GB of space as only areas that you visit will be downloaded by TerraSync, so don't worry too much about drive space.
  • Space saving tips: Pylons take up a lot of space uncompressed while being less noticeable. Try turning these off to save space. Roads also take up a lot of bandwidth and space. At a minimum you can run with just the buildings.


Innsbruck - OSM2City worldbuild in Flightgear 2020.3.8
Innsbruck - OSM2City worldbuild in Flightgear 2020.3.8

The road ahead

See Help Wanted.

There are a lot of big projects that are currently under way - see the January newsletter for details for some of these projects. A lot of work (but not all) is already on the next branch (i.e. nightly builds). There is a lot to check out if you are curious - power users can run multiple installs of FlightGear in parallel. To contribute to any aspect of these projects, get in touch via the "fg-devel" mailing list.

Nightly builds with some of the big changes are available at download.flightgear.org as usual. Nightly builds now include Appimages This is a link to a Wikipedia article for Linux.

Please report bugs and issues via the sourceforge tickets system if you come across any on the next branch, or LTS.

Initial stab at Data Distribution Services Support

Erik added the first stab at supporting CycloneDDS (Data Distribution Service) support in next: https://github.com/eclipse-cyclonedds/cyclonedds

Data Distribution Services are used in IoT applications and has a number of advantages over normal socket support:

  • Auto configuring within a LAN.
  • Auto connecting and disconnecting.
  • Platform and computer language agnostic:
    • Use the .idl files in FlightGear/src/networking/DDS to create the structures for your favorite language.
  • Instead to a one-on-one connection you get a one-to-many connection.

What does this mean?

You now can connect to FlightGear from Java and Python and get the same data as in C and C++

  • Use you Raspbery Pi to display some cockpit instruments.
  • Controlling the main system from a cell-phone[4]

Learn more at Data Distribution Services Support

World Scenery 3.0

StuartB has implemented the 1st iteration of roads, railways, canals, and rivers for WS3.0, FlightGear's next generation scenery. The (initial) water rendering effect has now also been attached to water surfaces. There are some issues around the edges of the water surfaces in this initial iteration.

Scott has created a new high resolution landclass raster for the area around Edinburgh (EGPH). This has been integrated into the latest example scenery around EGPH with roads and waterbodies by StuartB - download.

See the January newsletter for instructions how enable WS3 and view WS3 terrain. The new approach will currently allow control of ranges at which different details become visible - for example major roadways and big rivers can become visible from far away. This is currently set from the property browser under /sim/rendering/static-lod/ . The intention is to improve performance at high altitudes.

OSG 3.6 or 3.7 is needed to view WS 3.0. It needs a self-build of FG and is not available on Windows nightlies yet due to the OSG text issue .

Compositor

Test of the Compositor's lighting system on the next branch (Nightly builds) by FGUK. This is a test of lighting over multi-player, with overlapping light-sources from 2 helicopters. See the January newsletter for info about the Compositor lighting changes

Compositor lighting test on FlightGear next branch.

Rendering settings rework

Fernando is reworking rendering settings, adding Compositor related settings and utilising the setting profile system created by James. It will be possible to quickly choose graphics settings from named profiles (for example Minimal, Low, or Ultra). It will also be possible to choose 'custom' and change each setting as before - the exact performance bottlenecks change with things like hardware, craft, scenery in the flight path, and the altitude or speed of the flight.

The first iteration is on the next branch and nightly builds.



In the hangar

Updated aircraft

DHC-6 Twin Otter

Cockpit showing the March 2021 update features.

Simworld 2020 added a few features to the COM/NAV systems:[5]

  • A second ADF receiver
  • Pilot's RMI now listens to the 1st ADF reciever, Copilot's RMI listens to the 2nd ADF receiver.
  • We now have a KMA 20 audio panel, where you can control the audio output of the NAV/COM systems.
  • The COM radios now feature Spacebar PTT support.
  • Addition of a NAV1/GPS slave to the panel
  • The copilot's panel now has it's own CDI instruments for the NAV1 and NAV2 receivers.

The FGAddon hangar has been updated with revision 5629.

Development videos

EC145 sound development

EC145 / H145 sound development video. At 4k resolution. Note the rain on effect on glass. By MrChillStorm. See the forum thread for more information. .
EC145 / H145 headset sound reduction demonstration. At 4k resolution. By MrChillStorm. See here for the forum thread.


Scenery corner

Suggested flights

A new scenic suggested flight in the austrian Alps was posted.

Help wanted

Post LTS work

After the 2020.2 release, some work lies ahead to improve the LTS and to help us pave the way for adopting OSG 3.6 - any help would be greatly appreciated.

This may for example include:

Please get in touch via the developers mailing list to learn more. See Post FlightGear 2020.2 LTS changes and 2022.X Release Plan for more details.

World Scenery 3.0

The FlightGear project is in the process of exploring how Virtual Planet Builder can be adopted. For details, see: World Scenery 3.0 roadmap

Aerial (drone) photos for Terrain textures

Wanted: good top-down aerial photos to create textures from to use with the procedural Regional Texturing system. Drones This is a link to a Wikipedia article with cameras are ideal. People with access to drones are in a good position to take high-quality photographs.

A particular need as of 2020 is photos of agriculture (farm lands) from different parts of the world.

Good GPLv2 compatible photos suitable for textures are hard to find, and an easy way is for people to take photos of their region. Flightgear's procedural systems can do a lot with less art content, so photo contributions can strongly improve visuals.

See: How to: take photos of terrain for textures. For examples of final textures: see /data/Textures/Terrain. e.g. UK countryside.

You can get in touch via the Scenery forum or the flightgear-devel mailing list

Photos of trees for textures

Wanted: good quality photos of different trees and vegetation from various parts of the world. Flightgear's vegetation system can handle multiple layers of trees and bushes.

Strong shadows should be avoided. Each tree should be against a background of a different colour: sky (preferably) , clouds , or buildings. This allows the tree to be separated from the background in a photo-editor like GIMP.

See: How to: take photos of vegetation. For examples of final textures: see /data/Textures/Trees. e.g. Coniferous.

You can get in touch via the Scenery forum or the flightgear-devel mailing list.

Submissions of labels for craft

Wanted: Submissions of labels (tags) giving a rough description of aircraft - Metadata tags. A quick read of a craft's Wikipedia page will normally be enough to set labels. This info will be searchable from the launcher GUI. For example, filtering craft by propulsion like single-propeller or 4-engine jet craft, or by a manufacturer like Airbus or Grumman, or by speed like supersonic craft, or craft by era like WW2. A list of tags is here - more can be added if needed. To add tags to craft yourself, the tags are stored in the set-xml file.

A list of FGAddon craft needing tags is here. See this forum thread to submit tags. The flightgear-devel mailing list or the craft's maintainer can also be contacted.

Windows Package Maintainer

The core team needs help from Windows users able to maintain a good working Window build. This process already exists to support our Nightly and Release builds, but we are seeking additional help to keep it in good working order. The ability to compile FG from source and some Windows batch scripting is a required skill. If you are willing and able to take up this role, please reach out to James Turner (mailing list), or get in touch via the forum [6]

AI

The AI team makes FlightGear more realistic, colorful and lively every month. You can support the development of Interactive Traffic and contribute at the FlightGear AI subforum This is a link to the FlightGear forum..


Community news

FlightGear on YouTube

The official MATLAB channel has released a highlight on using the Simulink This is a link to a Wikipedia article models built using the Aerospace Blockset as external source for FlightGear. The Aerospace Blockset comes with the pre-built 'FlightGear Flight Simulator interface'. The version of FlightGear used is an older version, but newer versions should also work fine.

Using Simulink models built with the Aerospace Blockset and the FlightGear Flight Simulator interface, MATLAB official channel. This is an old version of FlightGear.


FlightGear on Facebook

Since early December 2010, FlightGear has an official Facebook page. If you have a Facebook account please feel free to join the page.

FlightGear on Instagram

In January 2018 the @flightgear_sim Instagram account was brought back to life. If you've got nice screenshots to be featured, feel free to contact the maintainer This is a link to the FlightGear forum..

FlightGear on FlightSim.com

FlightGear has also a sub-forum on flightsim.com - just like the commercial flight sims. It is an opportunity to showcase what FG can do, get people curious and answer any questions they may have with regard to the software or the project.

Multiplayer events

Contributing

Translators needed

En.gif The FlightGear Wiki still needs help for translating it into various languages. If you are interested in making the FlightGear Wiki multilingual, you can start by looking at Help:Translate.
Fr.gif Le wiki de FlightGear a toujours besoin d'aide pour être traduit en différentes langues. Si vous êtes intéressé par le rendre multilingue, commencez par lire Help:Traduire.
De.gif Das FlightGear Wiki benötigt immer noch Hilfe bei der Übersetzung in verschiedene Sprachen. Wenn Du Interesse daran hast, das FlightGear Wiki mehrsprachig zu machen, dann fang mit dem Help:Übersetzen an.
Nl.gif De FlightGear Wiki kan nog steed hulp gebruiken bij het vertalen van artikelen. Als je interesse hebt om de wiki meertalig te maken, raden we je aan om een kijkje te nemen bij Help:Vertalen.
Es.gif La wiki de FlightGear todavía necesita ayuda para traducirla a varios lenguajes. Si estás interesado en hacer la FlightGear wiki multilingüe, entonces comienza en Help:Traducir.
Cat.gif La wiki de FlightGear encara necessita ajuda per traduir-la a diverses llengües. Si esteu interessat en fer la wiki de FlightGear multilingüe, llavors comenceu a Help:Traduir.
Pt.gif A wiki de FlightGear ainda necessita de ajuda para traduzi-la em vários idiomas. Se estás interessado em tornar a wiki de FlightGear multi-lingual, por favor começa em Help:Traduzir.
Zh.gif FlightGear 百科仍然需要志愿者将其翻译为各种语言。如果你有兴趣让FlightGear百科支持更多语言, 你可以查看 Help:Translate.

FlightGear logos

If you want some graphic elements for your FlightGear-related site (such as a hangar or YouTube channel), please feel free to visit FlightGear logos for a repository of logos. And if you have some art skills, please don't hesitate to contribute with your own design creations.

Screenshots

The FlightGear project always needs screenshots, which show features that were added since the last release. These should be of good quality, especially in content and technical image properties. It is therefore recommended to use the best viable filter settings (anti-aliasing, texture sharpening, etc.). More info at Howto:Make nice screenshots.

Screenshot of the Month

If you want to participate in the screenshot contest, you can submit your candidate to the this subforum This is a link to the FlightGear forum.. Be sure to see the first post for participation rules. For purposes of convenience and organization, at the end of the month or after 20 entries have been submitted, a new forum topic will be started containing all shots in an easy-to-view layout. The voting will then take place there.

Thanks for reading FlightGear Newsletter March 2021!

References