Thursday, April 9, 2015

F-35 Project version 3.00

Here are some preview pictures of the new version of the F-35 for Prepar3D v2.5.
This new version will be an improvement of the previous freeware package.
Some of the main features will be:
- Focus on F-35B model
- Higher detail external model with better textures...
- Updated virtual cockpit, with higher definition textures and improved modeling
- Support for TFLIR, DAS, ASR modes (tbc)
- Improved fidelity of pilot interface
- Improved flight model (according to the latest publicly available information)

...project resources and technical constraints are limiting the scope of the project to the F-35B (STOVL) only. There is some chance I will include the F-35A (CTOL), too... while at the moment the -C (CATOBAR) version is ruled out (more details to follow).
My scope is to keep the project FREE, but the development costs have been relatively high so far... so I may need to ask for a small admission fee for this one.

The development platform will be PREPAR3D 2.5 - this does not mean that it will be surely totally uncompatible with FSX (except P3Dv2-specific features, of course), but rather than FSX compatibility is not a priority. If I will have the chance to easily support FSX I will, but do not count on it.

Also, this means that the work on MB.339 and Eurofighter Typhoon is "on hold". I still wish to do both, but I do not have the time to do everything and this looks by far the most promising (and less time consuming) project.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Prepar3D v2 special features....

Ok... I am starting to really love P3Dv2 improvements over FSX: here is a picture of a draft DAS system on the first portal, the ground radar on the second and Tacpack-controlled TFLIR on the fourth one.... P3D allows you to implement render-to-texture images in XML panels in a very easy way... and there is A LOT one can do with this, especially for MFDs like the one on the F-35. Now... hold your horses... there are some bad news:
 - To fully exploit this system, you probably need to be a full-time programmer...and I am not. So I'll stick to some basic functionality.
 - You cannot actually drive the view orientation of render-to-texture cameras straight from your XML code ( could have had EOTS to track aerial targets around your plane...)
 - There is an impact on the frame rate (albeit not as great as I feared)
 - There are rendering issues in the 2D panel (you see in the pictures that some graphic overlays are missing)... 3D works fine.
 - Apparently there are some bugs (ground radar sometimes failes to initialize)
 - Memory consumption is higher...and P3Dv2 may be more prone to CTD.

I am considering Pros and Cons of this technology...but in the end it is a definite improvement over FSX.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Rethinking my plans for the future

I am seriously rethinking my plans for the future, and I would like to start sharing my thoughts.
It is unfortunately evident that I do not have the time to develop a completely new product in 2015. Let me say that most of you have no idea of the amount of work needed to create a new aicraft, especially if you are looking to achieve a good quality level.

On the other hand, while FSX:SE brought new life to FSX, it is also clear to me that Prepar3D v2.5 development kit offers a much advanced platform for me to develop in, especially if in conjuction with Tacpack for P3Dv2.

Also, I am not completely satisfied with the quality of my previous projects - I would like to do higher quality stuff.

The scope of IndiaFoxtEcho project is, and has always been from the beginning, to create interesting military-oriented and possibly freeware add-ons for Flight Simulator X to fill some of the gaps in the scene...I had a lot of fun and learned A LOT about each and every aicraft I have designed - and I am really grateful to all the people that contributed to my designs.

So, what's next? Well, first thing I will release some minor updates to the existing projects (another small one for the T-45, the S-3B AI tanker, etc.).
Then... well... I am seriously considering to close the IndiaFoxtEcho project, at least in its current form, and support only Prepar3Dv2 + Tacpack on smaller, more focused projects.
The MB.339 and Eurofighter Typhoon projects are hereby "ON HOLD".
The new project being evaluated is a Prepar3Dv2 only, high-detail, F-35B project.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Aermacchi MB.326 version 1.10 release

Time for the first update to the Aermacchi MB.326. No big changes but several small fixes to some minor defects that were part of the original 1.00 build.

Changes as follows:

9th March 2015
- Added pilot visor animation (secondary exit SHIFT+E then 2)
- Fixed multiple issues with G version weight and balance configuration
- Fixed multiple issues with G version Tacpack configuration
- Fixed bug showing interanl gun effects on G version
- Fixed bug preventing LIGHT TEST switch to work in FSX
- Fixed bug that made landing gear lever Mouse Area non working in FSX
- Fixed bug preventing FUEL PUMP switch to work in FSX
- Added support for MATRA M-155 rocket pod in Tacpack
- Fixed checklist and reference speed html files

As usual, download is on the side bar.
For the moment this and the F-14D update will only be hosted on this blog because, for some reason, uploading to Avsim and Flightsim is painfully slow from my home in these days...

Aside, in the near future I will probably start releasing P3Dv2-only updates for some projects... more news soon.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Gumman F-14D release 2.40

Here is a further update to the F-14D Super Tomcat... several minor improvements mostly in the cockpit. I am still not terribly happy on the whole package... but this should be an improvement over the previous releases in any case. Aside please note that this has been primarily developed in Prepar3D v2.4 and v2.5... it is fully compatible with FSX, but, for example, the glass scratch effect does render differently (and does not look that good in FSX IMHO)...but you can remove it at will.
By the way, please have a look at the readme file and in the "optional_features" folder - there you will find instructions on how to enable/disable some features - including the scratch effect and the working mirrors (which only work in P3Dv2).
March 8th, 2015
- Added animated compressor to external model
- Pilot and RIO figures disappear from visual model if their weight is set to zero in the load manager
- Crew helmet visors are down by default (animated with the main canopy)
- New ASI/Machmeter model
- New Altimeter model
- New RMI indicator
- Improved gauges background graphics
- Improved gauges digits display
- Improved accuracy of some gauges
- Improved minor details in the cockpit
- Redone backlighting in the VC
- Fixed ADF frequency display
- Fixed clock animation
- Improved throttle lever animation (now with notches for A/B and STOP postion...Control+Shift+F1 to move to STOP)
- Added canopy glass scrathes (may be a little overdone in FSX... see below if you wish to remove them)
- OPTIONAL FEATURE: Possibility to add working mirrors in P3Dv2
- OPTIONAL FEATURE: Possibility to remove glass scratches
- OPTIONAL FEATURE: Possibility to remove ALL the reflections in the cockpit

For the moment the file will only be available on this blog - just to make sure everything works as intended. Download link is on the side bar as usual.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Plans for the future and answers to some FAQs


The release of the Aermacchi MB.326 has been a great success so far. We have exceeded 2000 downloads in just few days, and I believe it is a great result (especially if you consider that this plane is surely not as popular as a Tomcat!). The perceived quality level seems very good, too.
So, people are starting to ask me what are my plans for the future... and here is what it is on my mind at the moment.

F-14D Update - First thing being worked on in an update to the F-14D. Several minor fixes / improvements, nothing too big. This could be out in a couple of weeks.

S-3B Update - Same thing for the S-3... I have plans to fix some minor defects in the current release. And hopefully I will find the time to release the AI Tanker model.

F-35ABC Update - Now, this would be, in my intentions, a bigger update which would bring the simulated version closer to the real deal thanks to the information released to the public in the meantime. This may well be a two-step update.

New projects being worked on:

Aermacchi MB.339: This would be a logical extension of the MB.326... but I've been working so much on the 326 that I'd need a break.

Eurofighter Typhoon: On hold... I do not have time to work on this at the moment. I'll keep you posted.

And now some FAQs:

Q - Are you interested in making an Hawkeye? And a F-16 Fighting Falcon? Or why not a Sepecat Jaguar/AMX/enter your favourite aircraft here)?

A - I have carefully evaluated several proposals, and my current projects will keep me busy for at least a full year. Sorry. Then... my two cents: the Viper is the elephant in the flight simulation room. We badly need a good one for FSX/P3D, but I do not have time for this.

Q - Why aren't you working on models for DCS / XPlane / FlightGear or other simulators?

A - Because I do not have the time.

Q - ...So could I export your models and use into another simulator?

A - NO. While the models are my creations, they are sometimes based on professional meshes (under paid-for licence...this is one of the ways in which I spend the money you donate) or contributions from other authors. Exporting/reverse engineering the models by a third party would be a licence and copyright infringement.

Q - Then... why do not you do this for a living?

A - Because it is just a hobby... and I am a relatively well paid professional engineer. If I had to quit my job for flight simulations that would mean a significant cut for my incomes.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Aermacchi MB.326 version 1.00

After more than one year of work, here is the Aermacchi MB.326 version 1.00 release. This is a very special model for me, as I had the unique chance to fly on the only MB.326 in flight conditions in Europe - that was my first (and hopefully not last) ride in a military jet... and needless to say it was awesome, and I completely fell in love with this aicraft.
First thing I'd like to thank Alessandro Barbarini who created the fantastic external textures I am sure you will enjoy. They look awesome, and raised the quality bar significantly.
Also, I'd like to thank Roy Holmes, for a very realistic flight model, and Mario Motta for his modules, which bring payload configuration capabilities and VACMI support, and flight testing (Mario has hundreds of flying hours in the real Macchino). Also, a big thank you to Serge Luzin who provided a great sound package, based on real world recordings (in cockpit sounds come straight from the recordings of my own flight).

The model supports BOTH Sim Skunk Works vACMI and Vertical Reality Simulation Tacpack weapon packages. By default, it is set to support vACMI - please see the documentation on how to enable Tacpack of you use the latter.

I had no time to squash all the bugs, and I am sure more will pop-up after a the release... still it should be OK as is for the vast majority of the users.
It is a "control+e" model, meaning it is not meant to provide a 100% exact simulation of the real aicraft... but you should be able to start it "cold and dark" and use it as a basic military trainer. Actually our target was to create a realistic and complete freeware rendition of this fantastic light jet... we are happy with the result, and we hope you will be too.

Have fun!
...and yes, the download link is in the side bar, as usual!