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Does anyone use or want to use custom Instrument panels?

Discussion about creating 2d and 3d cockpits.

Does anyone use or want to use custom Instrument panels?

Postby openflight » Thu Jun 11, 2020 12:55 am

Again, as I read at the various instrument panels of fighter jets, Mirage 2000, F-16, and view in cockpit videos, one thing strikes me: the placement and design of the instruments could have been done better to help me fly the aircraft.

I am probably going to proceed with my custom designs for jet trainers and aircraft. The question is, does anyone else see the need for is in Flight Gear and will they find it useful? Will it detract from realism, and actually interfere with learning to fly real aircraft?

I am not a real life pilot, but I have developed software, and user interfaces, and I do know what is easier to read, for me at least.


Some of this was discussed in the thread here:

viewtopic.php?f=34&t=21552&hilit=instruments
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Re: Does anyone use or want to use custom Instrument panels?

Postby PINTO » Thu Jun 11, 2020 1:08 am

Personally I would rather it be true to life. Even if its less than ideal, this is a simulator and I enjoy simulating how it was in reality.
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Re: Does anyone use or want to use custom Instrument panels?

Postby openflight » Thu Jun 11, 2020 1:12 am

Aircraft cockpits are becoming more and more automated, and the use of display screens instead of 'steam gauges' lands the design of flight instruments directly in the path of user interface design.

There is some evidence that the current set of glass panels leave something to be desired in usability and readability. I personally dislike them.

Fighter cockpits are no better. I see a whole range of instruments, all white on black, all with confusing movements of needles (altimeter misreading has caused at least one crash or is suspected of it) that hark back to the days of ships and steam engines.

The old way seemed to be to place a large marked card with a needle pointer. Fine for a barometer at home. Good for a car travelling at 60 kmh. In a busy cockpit with many people shooting at you I am not sure that this is the best thing. For a pilot who is tired, or injured, I can only speculate.

My work will mainly be about my simulator flying and how I see instruments, possibly this could be related to real life, but that is the nature of research.

To quote the software standards for UI (BTW has anyone got any links to reference material I could look at?)

Visibility of system status. Users should always be informed of system operations with easy to understand and highly visible status displayed on the screen within a reasonable amount of time.

Match between system and the real world. Designers should endeavor to mirror the language and concepts users would find in the real world based on who their target users are. Presenting information in logical order and piggybacking on user’s expectations derived from their real-world experiences will reduce cognitive strain and make systems easier to use.

User control and freedom. Offer users a digital space where backward steps are possible, including undoing and redoing previous actions.

Consistency and standards. Interface designers should ensure that both the graphic elements and terminology are maintained across similar platforms. For example, an icon that represents one category or concept should not represent a different concept when used on a different screen.

Error prevention. Whenever possible, design systems so that potential errors are kept to a minimum. Users do not like being called upon to detect and remedy problems, which may on occasion be beyond their level of expertise. Eliminating or flagging actions that may result in errors are two possible means of achieving error prevention.

Recognition rather than recall. Minimize cognitive load by maintaining task-relevant information within the display while users explore the interface. Human attention is limited and we are only capable of maintaining around five items in our short-term memory at one time. Due to the limitations of short-term memory, designers should ensure users can simply employ recognition instead of recalling information across parts of the dialogue. Recognizing something is always easier than recall because recognition involves perceiving cues that help us reach into our vast memory and allowing relevant information to surface. For example, we often find the format of multiple choice questions easier than short answer questions on a test because it only requires us to recognize the answer rather than recall it from our memory.
Flexibility and efficiency of use. With increased use comes the demand for less interactions that allow faster navigation. This can be achieved by using abbreviations, function keys, hidden commands and macro facilities. Users should be able to customize or tailor the interface to suit their needs so that frequent actions can be achieved through more convenient means.

Aesthetic and minimalist design. Keep clutter to a minimum. All unnecessary information competes for the user's limited attentional resources, which could inhibit user’s memory retrieval of relevant information. Therefore, the display must be reduced to only the necessary components for the current tasks, whilst providing clearly visible and unambiguous means of navigating to other content.

Help users recognize, diagnose and recover from errors. Designers should assume users are unable to understand technical terminology, therefore, error messages should almost always be expressed in plain language to ensure nothing gets lost in translation.

Help and documentation. Ideally, we want users to navigate the system without having to resort to documentation. However, depending on the type of solution, documentation may be necessary. When users require help, ensure it is easily located, specific to the task at hand and worded in a way that will guide them through the necessary steps towards a solution to the issue they are facing.


https://www.interaction-design.org/lite ... s-of-thumb
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Re: Does anyone use or want to use custom Instrument panels?

Postby openflight » Thu Jun 11, 2020 1:18 am

PINTO wrote in Thu Jun 11, 2020 1:08 am:Personally I would rather it be true to life. Even if its less than ideal, this is a simulator and I enjoy simulating how it was in reality.


Yes I would also like to experience what the actual pilots go through. However as a research project this looks like it might work, not to mention helping me fly better, but it is an interesting point : realism/usability.

Had a look at the amazing Mig-21 you are developing - really nice work, not sure if the Mig 21 had an HUD is it a later version with avionics upgrades?
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Re: Does anyone use or want to use custom Instrument panels?

Postby openflight » Thu Jun 11, 2020 1:26 am

I want to continue this as a research project - "Improving aircraft instrument panels - some concepts".
Would like feedback on this forum, under another thread. Hope you all can help.

Suggestions ?
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Re: Does anyone use or want to use custom Instrument panels?

Postby PINTO » Thu Jun 11, 2020 3:05 am

Thanks! My MiG-21 doesn't have a HUD, just a gunsight with fixed and moving retical. Later variants devoped in the 90's (and later) had HUDs, I hope to start work on the LanceR someday to have a glass cockpit.
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Re: Does anyone use or want to use custom Instrument panels?

Postby Hooray » Fri Jun 12, 2020 7:11 pm

it would be pretty straightforward to create a Canvas based 2D cockpit by adding instruments dynamically -that way, you could re-arrange instruments as needed, i..e in a drag & drop fashion - analogous to an IFR trainer
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Re: Does anyone use or want to use custom Instrument panels?

Postby openflight » Mon Jun 15, 2020 1:12 am

That is a great option, but a custom interface to each plane is not good real or virtual, in my opinion. Good for experimentation, hopefully it will influence real life.
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