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A PROPOSAL FOR A NEW FLIGHT SIMULATOR - home built!@

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A PROPOSAL FOR A NEW FLIGHT SIMULATOR - home built!@

Postby bugman » Mon Sep 28, 2015 11:39 am

A long time ago in a millennium far, far away....

FLIGHT GEAR

Proposal I:
A NEW IDEA

It is the era of proprietary flight simulators. One day, a 16 year old US schoolboy named David Murr had an idea which would change the world of flight simulation forever. He proposed on the rec.aviation.simulators newsgroup an idea for a new flight simulator called FLIGHT GEAR, suggesting a number of people to help in the task, one of whom went on to become the project director and maintainer. David's revolutionary words were:

From: dam...@freenet.vcu.edu
Subject: A PROPOSAL FOR A NEW FLIGHT SIMULATOR - home built!@
Date: 1996/04/09
Message-ID: <4ke0q3$ltb@freenet.vcu.edu>
X-Deja-AN: 146717374
distribution: world
organization: Central Virginia's Free-Net
newsgroups: rec.aviation.simulators

FLIGHT GEAR
- a proposal for a new flight simulator -
----
by David Murr (dm...@pen.k12.va.us)

--------------------------------------------------------------------

I. An introduction to the project

An idea entered my head on Monday, April 8, 1996. "'Why wait
around for some large company to make what WE want? Why not do it
ourselves'". Think about it -- there's certainly not a lack creativty,
ingenuity, or desire among our tight-knit group of about 1 000.

What have we been posting to newsgroups for months, even
years? Wish lists. We forward them to webmasters at Microsoft, Sierra,
SubLogic, whomever, only to have the e-mails dumped in the "recycling
bin".

Let's examine what we have out there -- what has been
done already with what huge corporations like Microsoft have given
us.

1) We have dissected the file structure of nearly EVERYTHING to some
extent with MS Flight Simulator 5.x.
2) Maurizio Gavoli (please excuse my spelling) and someone else whose
name escapes me at the moment have created two excellent aircraft
for MSFS5 - without the need of any add-on programs!
3) Chuck Dome, who "reverse-engineered" the .AIRcraft files and came
up with AIRMOD, an excellent utility used to modify flight and
color characteristics of default (and the two Simula FlightWare planes)
aircraft for FS5. Thanks, Chuck for a utility that certainly tided
us over until the release of Flight Shop.
4) Curt Olson's Real-Wx, which allows the user to download real, current
weather for a multitude of US and Canadian cities and automatically
import that data directly into FS5!
5) The creators of FSASM, SCASM, BGLCOMP, BGLGEN, Airport, and countless
other scenery creation utilities that have undone the .bgl files
and made the format publicly available, besides giving us excellent
tools to make our own, even photo-realitic, scenery!

... and countless other, excellent contributions by generous simmers!
(Sorry guys, I don't have the space or time to list you all, but you
know who you are!)

What does this have to do with Flight Gear, you ask? Well, I'm
sitting here, wondering, "With all this creativeness, WHY wouldn't be
possible to make our own simulator?". It only makes sense - it's the
next logical progression. Isn't it?

So, now that you know where I'm coming from, let's get to
some of the specifics of the program.

II. Overview of main features and specs

Here is a condensed list of things we DEFINATELY need in this program:

* Interactive, "smart" ATC that SPEAKS when there is a sound card present
* ATP-level or better graphics
* Acceptable frame rate on a 486SX/25
* Possible minimum setup: 2/386DX/20 with 4 megs of RAM, 512K VRAM,
12MB of harddrive space?, etc.
* Compatible with MSFS5 default (maybe FSFS?) aircraft files and textures
* Compatible with MSFS5 scenery files
* Compatible with MSFS5 panel files
* Additional, proprietory format for a/c, scenery, and panels to be
implemented in v2.0.

NOTE: is there any copyright violations in making our sim
compatible with MSFS5? Code violations. Rings a bell
with SubLogic - or was this just over flight dynamics
code?

* Accurate, flyable flight models
* Accurate, but non-processor intensive graphics (good frame rate)
* Simple on-board radar system with GPS "moving map" display
* Default planes include Cessna SkyLane RG, Beechcraft Bonanza, a
hot air balloon, Boeing 777, maybe a float plane?
* Written in C and assembly for controlled, robust, fast code for
optimum performance
* RUNS UNDER DOS 5.0 OR ABOVE! NO CD's AND **NO** WINDOWS 95! YAY!
* FREE! Flight Gear MUST be FREEWARE and easily accessible via the
Internet, AOL, Prodigy, CompuServe, Wow!, etc.
* Tech support by e-mail.

Anything you'd like to add? Please let me know -- my e-mail address is:
dm...@pen.k12.va.us. Oh, BTW, supplemental info will be available at:
http://users.aol.com/fsnews/flightgear/.

III. So, who's gonna put this thing together?

Good question. Here is a list of people I *HOPE* to get on our team.
Keep in mind that I haven't contacted any of them yet, so...

* Maurizio Gavioli and Chuck Dome - implementation of aircraft
* Curt Olson - STN and wx development, C aide
* ? - Panel Conversion
* Enno Borgsteede and the SCASM/FSASM development teams - scenery
* Mark Stotzer - project consultant/supervisor
* Mike Vidal - flight modeling

... and others. These people seem to be experts in the particular field
I have placed them in, so...

IV. Got any kind of release date yet?

Yeah, right. Next question! <g>

V. Miscellaneous

Got any input for this project? THEN PLEASE e-mail me at
dm...@pen.k12.va.us! Sorry to take up all this bandwidth, but
I felt this was something that most would be interested in.

Regards,
David Murr
Editor - FSNews
http://users.aol.com/fsnews/
--
_________ __
/ __/ __/ |/ /__ _ _____ | Editor - FSNews
/ _/_\ \/ -_) |/|/ (_-< | http://user.aol.com/fsnews/
/_/ /___/_/|_/\__/|__,__/___) | The leader in flight-sim news!


From this point on, the project quickly developed. Here is probably one of the first news articles on the new Flight Gear project:


And from that article, possibly the very first FlightGear screenshot:

    Image

And the Windows 95 icon:

    Image

These are just a few important historic events/documents of general interest that I have stumbled across while in the process of documenting the history of the FlightGear assets.

Regards,

Edward
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Re: A PROPOSAL FOR A NEW FLIGHT SIMULATOR - home built!@

Postby curt » Mon Sep 28, 2015 12:14 pm

Thanks for digging up the original flightgear screenshot Edward! In many ways, this is the screenshot that re-launched the FlightGear effort in it's current form. The original project goals laid out a plan to first write our own low level 2d and 3d graphics routines. This turned out to a be a huge effort and you can see that we were able to draw randomly colored lines on the screen as well as some vertical bars and a small bit of text. (I'm sure the original screenshot had to be in color.)

I was working at the University of Minnesota at the time, and had access to Sun and SGI graphical work stations which offered OpenGL for 3d graphics. OpenGl was just starting to become available on PC hardware with things like the 3dfx voodoo card. Somewhere at this point it occurred to me that a far better path would be to leverage an existing multi-platform 3d graphics system (like OpenGL) to build our flight simulator upon.

So I proceeded to rough together a basic scenery system, pasted on the larcsim flight model, and in a relatively short time was able to show actual flight over real 3d terrain. Good, realistic 3d terrain was something the other existing flight sims at the time were pretty far behind on ... and I think my work was enough of a breakthrough that it got a lot of people excited about the possibilities.

In some ways it was a quiet revolution from the original project direction which was stuck in writing 2d graphics libraries ... it wasn't a revolution of force or angry words, but simply one guy taking the time to do something better, then returning and saying "Hey guys, here is where I really think the project should be going ... anyone care to join me?" At the time it was too early to expect good results using OpenGl on a PC, but we trusted that computer power would catch up with the project in 2-3 years, and that generally worked out the way we expected. The thing that maybe I didn't expect at the start is that for every improvement in computer capability, we've found more things for FlightGear to do.

There are probably a few of the original goals we haven't quite hit yet, but most things we have successfully accomplished. In many areas we have gone far beyond what we could have imagined back at the start.

P.S. After a few years doing independent contracting for a small UAV company, I'm now back working at the University of Minnesota, now at the aerospace engineering department. I'm thrilled to be back and working at such a cool place, and with such good people. When I first started college (not so many years ago) I wanted to major in aerospace engineering, but because of some different factors, came out of college with a computer science degree. Now, not all that many years later, I have the opportunity to work at the aerospace department of the U of MN. Life has a way of coming back around in a full circle and doing thing you never would have expected!
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Re: A PROPOSAL FOR A NEW FLIGHT SIMULATOR - home built!@

Postby bugman » Mon Sep 28, 2015 2:28 pm



Those must be Curt's very first screenshots of a functional fgfs :) There's a lot of great stuff out there in the archives. I'm really hoping to find the archives of the original flight-gear@infoplane.com mailing list somewhere out there on the internet, as there will be tonnes of interesting info and files in there!

Regards,

Edward
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Re: A PROPOSAL FOR A NEW FLIGHT SIMULATOR - home built!@

Postby curt » Mon Sep 28, 2015 2:56 pm

For whatever it's worth, that 3d terrain screenshot is taken in the area of Globe, AZ where I went to high school. I missed my class reunion this fall but go Tigers!
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Re: A PROPOSAL FOR A NEW FLIGHT SIMULATOR - home built!@

Postby bugman » Mon Sep 28, 2015 3:38 pm

curt wrote in Mon Sep 28, 2015 2:56 pm:For whatever it's worth, that 3d terrain screenshot is taken in the area of Globe, AZ where I went to high school. I missed my class reunion this fall but go Tigers!


That'd be a rather good area for terrain testing! Erik's link back to the internet archive contains something interesting: downloadable binaries of FlightGear version 0.07 :)

Regards,

Edward
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Re: A PROPOSAL FOR A NEW FLIGHT SIMULATOR - home built!@

Postby legoboyvdlp » Mon Sep 28, 2015 3:41 pm

Hmmm -- if it includes FGDATA, would it not be fun to try? :D
It would probably not work for Windows 7 :)
947 kilobytes?
:shock:
And now we are in GB!
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Re: A PROPOSAL FOR A NEW FLIGHT SIMULATOR - home built!@

Postby bugman » Mon Sep 28, 2015 3:47 pm

It will be a challenge to run these FG 0.07 binaries! On Linux, this will be a rather big obstacle:

Code: Select all
[edward@localhost flightgear-0.07]$ readelf -a fg0  | grep ld-linux
      [Requesting program interpreter: /lib/ld-linux.so.1]


The Windows binaries will probably have worse issues.

Regards,

Edward
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Re: A PROPOSAL FOR A NEW FLIGHT SIMULATOR - home built!@

Postby erik » Mon Sep 28, 2015 8:18 pm

I'm really hoping to find the archives of the original flight-gear@infoplane.com mailing list somewhere out there on the internet, as there will be tonnes of interesting info and files in there!


mailing list:
http://ftp.igh.cnrs.fr/pub/flightgear/www/old-stuff/

other stuff:
http://ftp.igh.cnrs.fr/pub/flightgear/www/
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Re: A PROPOSAL FOR A NEW FLIGHT SIMULATOR - home built!@

Postby wlbragg » Mon Sep 28, 2015 8:37 pm

The Windows binaries will probably have worse issues.

Dosbox?
Kansas(2-27-15)/Ohio/Midwest scenery development.
KEQA (2-27-15), 3AU, KRCP Airport Layout
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Re: A PROPOSAL FOR A NEW FLIGHT SIMULATOR - home built!@

Postby legoboyvdlp » Mon Sep 28, 2015 9:00 pm

Yeah, doesn't work with Win 7-- wants cwygin.dll or something....
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Re: A PROPOSAL FOR A NEW FLIGHT SIMULATOR - home built!@

Postby openflight » Tue Sep 29, 2015 6:05 am

Will give it a try with WINE
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Re: A PROPOSAL FOR A NEW FLIGHT SIMULATOR - home built!@

Postby Hooray » Tue Sep 29, 2015 7:08 am

dosbox/WINE are unlikely to work - your best bet is probably actual virtualization using VMWare/VirtualBox and an actual version of the OS in question (e.g. Windows 95).
VirtualBox does support OpenGL pass-through, so you can expect this to work fairly well - given that you are emulating 15+ year old software basically on a "supercomputer" (given what hardware was common-place then)
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Re: A PROPOSAL FOR A NEW FLIGHT SIMULATOR - home built!@

Postby bugman » Tue Sep 29, 2015 8:07 am



I already have those backed up. They are the monthly flight-gear@infoplane.com mailing list mbox files from May 1996 to Dec 1996. But I'm looking for the period of FlightGear history from 1997 to 2001 when many of the key FG decisions were made. This is unfortunately currently lost and a complete black hole :( I'm hoping Curt finds something on his old server, but the archives might still be on a mirror somewhere out there on the internet.

Hooray wrote in Tue Sep 29, 2015 7:08 am:dosbox/WINE are unlikely to work - your best bet is probably actual virtualization using VMWare/VirtualBox and an actual version of the OS in question (e.g. Windows 95).
VirtualBox does support OpenGL pass-through, so you can expect this to work fairly well - given that you are emulating 15+ year old software basically on a "supercomputer" (given what hardware was common-place then)


Awesome :) I just started up FlightGear 0.07 on Windows 95b running in VirtualBox, and incredibly it works!!! I however have a frame rate of 2 to 3 frames a second, and it's not very flyable :( I think that it should be possible to set this up in dosbox with a high frame rate, but that is guaranteed to be a challenge. Wine will be even more of a effort. I challenge someone to come up with a FG 0.07 screenshot for the What/Where did you fly today? - Part 2 thread ;)

Regards,

Edward
Last edited by bugman on Tue Sep 29, 2015 8:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A PROPOSAL FOR A NEW FLIGHT SIMULATOR - home built!@

Postby Hooray » Tue Sep 29, 2015 10:17 am

2/3 fps would seem to suggest that hardware acceleration is not working correctly.
The usual troubleshooting process should apply here as well, in other words:
First, make sure that other OpenGL software is working correctly before trying FG.
I was able to run things like Doom95 under VirtualBox with >= 60 fps - so the early FG code should work pretty well.

Almost certainly, you will need to install some OpenGL drivers for the GL-passthrough to become available to the guest. If in doubt, check the VirtualBox docs: https://www.virtualbox.org/manual/ch04. ... tadd-video
The docs say, that the guest additions only work under Win2k (or later).

Once you fire up uTorrent, you can download virtual appliances for pretty much any OS.
Please don't send support requests by PM, instead post your questions on the forum so that all users can contribute and benefit
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