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Panels

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Panels

Postby FokkerCharlie » Mon Jun 25, 2007 10:04 am

Hello!

I've been trying out FlightGear for the first time over the last few days, and I have to say I'm impressed.

I was particularly pleased to see that there is a Fokker 50 model available for download, which I was keen to try. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to come with a panel! I would like to give something back to the open source community, so would like to ask if there's an idiot's guide to making a panel like this?

I'm not a programmer, but have done some in the past. For what it's worth, I'm a F-50 pilot, so would rather enjoy setting this up.

Of course, if there's someone else working on this, then I'll back off!

I've also noticed that the A320 has no panel, and doesn't look like an A320, either!

Many thanks in advance for your advice.

FC
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Re: Panels

Postby Groucho » Mon Jun 25, 2007 2:28 pm

FokkerCharlie wrote:Hello!

I've been trying out FlightGear for the first time over the last few days, and I have to say I'm impressed.

I was particularly pleased to see that there is a Fokker 50 model available for download, which I was keen to try. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to come with a panel! I would like to give something back to the open source community, so would like to ask if there's an idiot's guide to making a panel like this?


The F50 indeed has (like the F100) a panel- a 2D panel which you can access eg. from the menu by toggling 2D/3D menu.

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Postby ajm » Mon Jun 25, 2007 3:45 pm

It's great to have more people with real-life experience of aircraft to help out... unfortunately there isn't really any complete guide to making instruments and panels for FG at the moment, but I'm certain you can help anyway.

One of the reasons there isn't a guide is that there are actually quite a few different approaches to cockpit modelling that different modellers use, and a wide range of software can be used, not just one application.

I might have to get round to doing a tutorial of some kind on this soon though because it's often asked about.

For me, the most important thing is to have lots of good photos to work from; I like to have a few good ones showing a complete section of the cockpit or panel plus one high-res photo for each of the instruments.

Recently, I've been just retouching photos for my instrument faces (removing needles etc, using the gimp's clone tool) - I'm finding this approach works really well if you have half decent photos and for me is quicker than having draw the whole instrument by hand (in inkscape, or some other drawing package).

Some examples;
All laboriously hand-drawn instrument faces:
http://www.adeptopensource.co.uk/person ... y-view.jpg

The photo based approach:
http://www.adeptopensource.co.uk/person ... 070612.jpg

Note that each instrument face is a separate photo, and quite high-res - any blurriness showing in that screenshot is from being "zoomed out" a long way.

In addition to the instruments, "someone" will need to model the interior of the cockpit (to provide somewhere for these new instruments to sit!) since the Fokker 50 model has no interior at all. That shouldn't be too hard, especially if there are lots of good cockpit photos available and ideally a few key measurements to help with scale.

In short; good photos are the no1 requirement to begin with...

Cheers,

AJ
(PS, some nice sound recordings would be a very useful help too; obviously in a working cockpit voices and radio noise etc are a bit of a problem... but we're quite short of authentic sounds really, most planes just use a default set.)
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Postby FokkerCharlie » Mon Jun 25, 2007 10:01 pm

OK

Photos-wise, have you seen airliners.net? Eg here:
http://www.airliners.net/search/photo.s ... 50+cockpit
They are good-quality shots in general, and would be useful, I suggest for an overview of the interior. I'll see what I can do with measurements, and will work on sounds. I don't have much in the way of recording equipment, but we'll see.

By the way, the F-50 and F-100 panels both look like C172s to me!! With the horizon toppled for some reason.

As an aside, with the 2D panels, when I look around using the POV hat, it's very difficult, if not impossible, to get the panel back in view. Is there any way to reset the view to this end?

Thanks for your help so far.

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Postby HeliFlyer » Tue Jun 26, 2007 12:35 am

Hi,
from my point of view these 2D panels are really obsolete - and you are right, this *is* a Cessna 2D panel. A 3D panel for the Fokker would make this a/c more valuable (and some "makeup" for the 3D-model, too).

But back to your question:

JOYSTICK:
If not already done, you should assign something like that to one of your joystick buttons (in "YourJoystick.XML" file):

(This is from my Saitek X45 as an example)
<button n="7">
<desc>Reset View</desc>
<binding>
<command>nasal</command>
<script>view.resetView()</script>
</binding>
</button>


MOUSE:
Another possiblity is using the mouse. If you are in the "look-around-view" (by clicking the right mouse button) just click the left mouse button and you are back to the straight forward view and the 2D-panel is displayed.

KEYBOARD:
SHIFT + "8" (num key)


Regards
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Postby ajm » Tue Jun 26, 2007 8:05 am

Indeed Airliners.net is very useful for modellers, but if you want to use photos to create instruments there are two major problems. One is that almost none of the photos are high res enough; for example; http://www.airliners.net/open.file?id=0 ... 743&size=L

is a great photo and very useful; but just not sharp enough to use for the actual instruments unless you want to hand draw them with that as a reference. For the bocian cockpit, each of the instrument faces is based on a 1024x1024 photo of that particular instrument, and that's really helpful when it comes to getting rid of needles etc (though you can work with slightly lower resolution than that and have tolerable results).

The second, even more critical issue is copyright... we have to be very careful to respect the photographer's copyright, and mostly that means that the only "safe" photos to use are those which we have express permission to use as we wish.

Cheers,

AJ
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Postby pauljs75 » Wed Jun 27, 2007 12:22 am

Hate to drop in a post offtopic like this, but anyone hear of [url]tinyurl.com[/url]. Just thought I'd give a heads up, since the mile long link breaks the page formatting. :shock:
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Postby FokkerCharlie » Fri Jun 29, 2007 1:54 pm

Hello, again!

I've been collecting some photos and things from the Fokker's flight deck. Quite a bit trickier than I thought it would be- particularly with the lumpy weather we've been having here over the last couple of weeks.

Anyway, I've got some photos of instruments, and if anyone wants a look, I've put them here:

http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/charlesnet/f ... erview.zip
http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/charlesnet/f ... ginsts.zip
http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/charlesnet/f ... tinsts.zip
http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/charlesnet/f ... ements.ods

The overview file contains a couple of photos of the flight deck with labels where the instruments should go- they can be cross-referenced with the measurements (let me know if you need a different format) spreadsheet, and then to the picture files in the flight and engine instrument archives.

I've had a play with taking needles off and things, but before I really get stuck into that, I'd like to know what the next stage is- I need to know what we're aiming for in terms of the process. There's also a bit of glare on a few of the phots of (glass-fronted) dials, which isn't easy to get rid of.

The Fokker has EFIS, so the main AI and ND (attitude indicator and nav display) are displayed via CRT- I've included pics of these; although they're not usable in their current form, give us a clue how to work that bit out!

Sounds are proving a problem. The only recording device I have available at the moment is my mobile phone. I haven't got anything usable yet, but I'll have a see what I can do.

Regarding 3-D models, is there a bespoke program that I need to use for that? I've been having a play with sketchup, but I don't really suppose that's any good for flightgear.

Many thanks in advance for your input.

Charlie
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Postby FokkerCharlie » Fri Jun 29, 2007 1:59 pm

Sorry!

Incorrect link- should be

http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/charlesnet/f ... einsts.zip

Files are big... sorry!
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Postby ajm » Fri Jun 29, 2007 3:07 pm

There's some great information there, and plenty of useable photos, too.

As to the next step... for a 3d cockpit (and for me, there's no other type worth using :-) ), one needs to create the model using any modelling software that can produce AC3D (.ac) files.

That's not actually strictly true, as some other formats can be used, but .ac is the "standard" model format for FG.

Personally, I use AC3D itself; it's not free or open source unfortunately, but it is cross-platform, pretty cheap and very easy to use.

Blender is much more capable, free and open source, but has a user interface that you either learn to love or detest with a passion (I fall into the latter camp!).

Now, learning to make 3d models isn't exactly a quick and easy process, but it's a lot of fun and very satisfying once you've "got the hang" of it, and you don't need to be skilled or artistic to produce something worth using.

I found it very instructional to look at existing cockpit and instrument models in ac3d, to see how they're put together; to begin with, I just copied existing instruments that were a close match to what I wanted and modified them a bit to suit. Don't reinvent the wheel if it's not necessary ;-)

Are you interested in learning to do the 3d modelling yourself, or would you prefer someone else to work on that part? It'd be quite a treat to work on a project where data is as forthcoming as here, but unfortunately I've already got a very full schedule of projects and I'm a slow worker...

Cheers,

AJ
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Postby FokkerCharlie » Fri Jun 29, 2007 4:33 pm

Hi AJ

Thanks for your response. Regarding 3D modeling, I don't really have a budget to put into this, so have had a look at blender. And it looks pretty tough to learn.

If there's anyone who would like to do some cockpit modeling, then I would appreciate their help. Having said that, I could have a go at blender- will take a while, though!

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Postby ajm » Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:57 pm

I know I said I wasn't going to work on it, but I couldn't resist turning one of your photos into an instrument for you. Just another 30 or so left to do :-)

http://www.adeptopensource.co.uk/person ... enshot.jpg

I must admit I didn't spend more than a few minutes on the touching up of the photo to remove the needle, but it's still perfectly usable.

I like making instruments, but I can't really find the will to tackle the much simpler main panel structures to hang them on at the moment :-\

The flightgear IRC channel (#flightgear at irc.flightgear.org) is a good place to get advice on modelling, blender and FG in general; a lot of us find that "real time" communication makes collaboration or assistance much easier sometimes.

Regarding the amount of time... there are no project deadlines here, you're free to work at your own pace or even to give up completely! You'll find that though it all seems very complicated at first, after a while you get the picture and can implement your ideas quite quickly; FG is a fantastically flexible piece of software.
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Postby HeliFlyer » Fri Jun 29, 2007 11:24 pm

Hi Charlie,

this looks like a really nice FlightGear project but I am not an experienced 3D panel designer.
I myself learned Blender within the last year for my Northern Germany Scenery project and I know therefore how much effort it takes the first time to learn Blender.
I manged it at last though I am not very skilled, so it is also possible for you "with a little help from your friends" :-)

To speed up the project a cooperation with an experienced FG 3D-designer would be optimal, so I put this on the FG developers mailing list:
Hi,
as probably only a few experienced aircraft-/3D-designers regularly read
throught the official FG Forum I want to draw your attention to the very
interesting Fokker F50 3D instrument panel project of a real life Fokker
F50 pilot ("FokkerCharlie").
He seems to be really engaged, has already made a lot of nice
instrument/panel digital fotos (see link at the Forum) and wants to
learn Blender as he still is a totally n00b.
AJ already gave him some advice but cannot go into the work himself.

After my opinion a cooperation of an experienced FlightGear aircraft or
3D designer with this guy could result in an outstanding aircraft - the
big value is that he has access to the aircraft and the pilot's handbook
and has all the knowledge an aircraft designer normally does not have
(we know all the positive exceptions from this list :-) ). And beside
this, he should know how the real Fokker F50 should behave realistic in
a flightsim and therefore an improvement of the flightmodel could be done.
So sharing the workload between someone who already knows how to make an
working 3D panel and FokkerCharlie "with his hands on the aircraft" -
what could be better for a *very realistic* small airliner?

The link:
http://www.flightgear.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=345

Regards
Georg EDDW


All the best to your project,

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cockpit site

Postby Phrostie » Sat Jun 30, 2007 12:04 am

not sure if i should put this in it's own thread or here, but any way.

a friend sent me this link with a bunch of cockpit pics if anyone is interested in them.
http://www.codeonemagazine.com/test/archives/2007/articles/jan_07/cockpits/cockpits.html
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Postby Ampere » Sat Jun 30, 2007 4:20 am

ajm wrote:Indeed Airliners.net is very useful for modellers, but if you want to use photos to create instruments there are two major problems. One is that almost none of the photos are high res enough; for example;


First of all, there's a shorten link at the top of the page which you can copy and paste. Secondly, someone has complained about the screwed up page format already, and you have failed to do anything about it. Please edit your post!

ajm wrote:As to the next step... for a 3d cockpit (and for me, there's no other type worth using :-) ), one needs to create the model using any modelling software that can produce AC3D (.ac) files.


Not quite true either. As long as a method exists to convert a model to something that can be read by FlightGear, then using any software is fine.

What file formats can sketchup export to?
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