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How to add an simple placard to an existing panel?

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How to add an simple placard to an existing panel?

Postby Willy » Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:46 pm

Hi all,

since this is my very first post, I'd like to introduce myself briefly. I am (real world) glider pilot located at Germany. I am in the business for quite some time (since I was 14) but I never spend any time into flight simulation or FlightGear, so I am a newbie in this area. My primary interest in FG is using it together with my student pilots for on-the-ground procedure trainings of powered sailplanes, similar to the ASK21-MI.

I was rather happy to find the kind of ship I am looking for on the download site. However, I realized that it has neither controls nor instruments for the engine, so I decided to have a look at how to improve aircrafts. Following the good advice at Howto:Make an aircraft I planed to start simple and to evolve later. Let's see how far I can get on my wishlist before ending up totally frustrated :wink:

  1. placard "Starter"
  2. starter button (re-used rather than modeled myself)
  3. power lever
  4. propeller brake lever
  5. engine control instrument

All of the above can be seen at the lower part of the instrument panel shown here

So eventually here comes my question: How do I add a thing that does exactly nothing like a placard to an existing panel? :o

I do have a placard ready as PNG. Do I have to convert this into an .ac file or can I reference the PNG itself in one of the aircraft's XML files? What would be the approproiate XML path for that?

I would love to share my experience and contribute a tutorial later compiled from this thread maybe, but for that I have to find a start for such a simple thing...

Thanks inadvance for your advice!

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Re: How to add an simple placard to an existing panel?

Postby legoboyvdlp » Tue Jun 12, 2018 3:31 pm

There is a better ASK21 available at github :)
If you use that at a starting point, it will save you duplicating work!
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Re: How to add an simple placard to an existing panel?

Postby D-ECHO » Tue Jun 12, 2018 3:33 pm

Hi Willy!
Great to have someone like you here!
Shortly introducing myself, I am also a real world glider pilot (student) and currently developing (besides others) the ASK21mi.
The model you found was probably the "ask21mi" by Helijah. However, there is another one done by Gilberto, Viktor and me. It is a work in progress and therefor not available on the official repository, but on our github: If you want to try, go to that page, press "Clone or Download" on the right and "Download ZIP", then extract it as "ASK21" into your aircraft folder. I'd love to hear your opinion on this and maybe you can get involved as well.
For easy communication, I'd suggest using Discord (see viewtopic.php?f=10&t=31449&p=330800&hilit=discord#p330800) or you can write via the forum, for sure
[EDIT] Yeah, lego you were faster ;) Thanks!
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Re: How to add an simple placard to an existing panel?

Postby wlbragg » Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:37 pm

Hi Willy! The entry barrier to modeling for FlightGear can be substantial at first, but well worth it if you enjoy these thing. D-ECHO is the facto glider modeler here. I think if your wanting to add "real life" features to any of the aircraft he has worked on he would be more than happy to help you get started.

Kansas(2-27-15)/Ohio/Midwest scenery development.
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Re: How to add an simple placard to an existing panel?

Postby Willy » Sat Jun 16, 2018 12:22 pm

Hi all,

thanks a lot for all the nice words and good advice. Indeed the ASK 21 MI presented here is a quite elaborate model - chapaeu! 8) I played around with it for some time now, and it's definetly the kind of ship I am looking for, so I would love to contribute to it.

Coming back to my initial question and my idea to learn more about how to make aircrafts and maybe to write a little tutorial about how to start as simple: Do you have some advice or links to articles about how to add a simple placard (e.g. PNG graphics) to a model? For instance there are two swiches on this ASK 21 MI's instrument panel that are not labled at all, and the canopy jettison handle is not labled as required ---- when it comes to the next technical inspection that will critized for sure :wink:

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Re: How to add an simple placard to an existing panel?

Postby Thorsten » Sat Jun 16, 2018 5:00 pm

If the panel is textured - search for the texture PNG, copy your graphics into it at the right spot.

If the panel is untextured - uv-map and texture it first (if you do not know what it means, google the tutorial of the 3d modeling application of your choice), then add your graphics to the right spot.

If you want to do a quick hack, create a surface in the right place, texture it with your graphics and add it to the model.

Generally, these are 3d modeling skills not specific to FG, so there's tons of videos, tutorials and howtos out in the internet (and adding one more to the FG wiki is maybe not the best use of your time...)
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Re: How to add an simple placard to an existing panel?

Postby ludomotico » Sun Jun 17, 2018 3:14 pm

Modelling a placard is not specific to FlightGear. FlightGear understands several 3D file formats, but nearly all FlightGear models are in AC3D format (.ac files). There are a couple of tools you can use, from the original AC3D to Blender with an "export to AC" plugin. Blender is an awesome (but complex) free modelling application and there are tons of tutorials about how to use it. Check this one (for example): and model a placard instead of a barrel. Measures in your model must follow the metric system: 1 unit = 1 meter.

If you are new to blender, creating a simple placard may take several days. Once you are used to blender's GUI, modelling will be mush faster. Modelling a new object is probably the most difficult part, but there are plenty of tutorials to help you. The amount of detail is up to you: from a textured rectangle to a metal placard with a rounded edge and some screws.

Once your placard is modelled, you must add it to an aircraft in FlightGear. Loading an object in FlightGear is easier than modelling it, but a bit tricky and completely specific to FligthGear. Open the .XML of the aircraft, look for the relevant section (search for other models, such as the yoke or an instrument), and add a reference to you .AC. The reference is something like "Load this .AC file 0.25m to the right and 0.3cm above the reference point of the aircraft". Since the reference point was arbitrary defined by the first modeller of the aircraft, it may be a bit difficult to find. Try setting the object on top on another instrument, and then move it.
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