Monday, August 20, 2018

F-35 Lightning II update to version 3.52


Here is yet another update to the payware F-35, which will bring the release version to 3.52.
I am taking the chance to clarify a couple of things:

- Customers of "older" versions of the F-35 (meaning V1.X and V2.X, now freeware) are not entitled to the free upgrade to version 3.50. Only customers who have purchased version 3.X will get the update. So please do not ask distributors for the download links.

- AFAIK all the distributors have updated their links to version 3.50. If you still have difficulties in downloading the new installers from them, please let me know by dropping an email to

- Version 3.50 is the new "FULL INSTALL" baseline. Further updates, like this one, will be deployed through this blog and will require manual installation. So, please do not ask to distributors for version 3.51 or 3.52.

That being said, here is what is new in this release:

Version 3.52 - 20/08/2018
- Minor refinements to flight model
- Added MAP modes also in extended and full-screen portal modes for TSD1, TSD2 and TSD3 (courtesy of Roberto Leonardo)

- Added missing code for automatic anti-skid engagement
- Fixed graphic glitch in A-A target symbology
- Added possibility to enter negative values for VV in AP mode
- Miscellaneous code fix
- Better alignment of TSD symbology (but still far off in some cases)
- Added optional "Simplified" MFD:
  This is a simpler MFD that will occupy less memory and may generate a (minimal) increase in performance.
  To install this, open the file and drag and drop the F-35_MFD folder in your F-35A\Panel folder.
  You may want to backup the F-35_MFD folder first.
  This will eliminate some pages (WPNA, WPNS, CHCKLST, TSD2, TSD3 and PHM) and restrict the functionality of Others.

You can download the update by clicking HERE or from the side bar.

PS - I also noticed that, for a mistake, version 1.13 of the Eurofighter did not include the intended code for the antiskid...the mistake was rectified, so you may want to download the update again.

How to Convert your aircraft 3DStudio model from FSX/P3D to XPlane11

It took me a while to undestand how the StepToSky XPlane11 plug-in for 3DStudio Max worked… I had tried to convert some of my models in the past, but could not get the animations to play or they looked wrong. Then, some days ago, I decided to try again and finally understood some of the basic concepts I was missing...and the S-211 is now flying in XPlane 11 too.

So I decided to write a small "guide/memo" to help other designers that may want to convert some of their models to XP11 but were baffled by the lack of documentation on the plug-in and how to use it.

This guide assumes that:
- You know how to develop a 3D model for FSX/P3D
- You have the model ready in 3D Studio Max
- You have correctly installed the Step2Sky Plug-in
- You want to convert your model to X-Plane 11
- You know how to use X-Plane 11 Plane Maker (and you have already prepared a flight model for the aircraft)

You can download the document HERE.


You may also want to check the channel JRollon Planes - this guy is amazing and shows you how to build a 3D model from scratch for XP11 in 3D Studio (warning: he uses an older version of the plugin with slightly different interface)

Friday, August 17, 2018

Eurofighter Typhoon Upgrade to version 1.13

Here is a (very) small update to the Eurofighter Typhoon - mostly meant to address a bug with the MODE 4 code (which is used as the Tacpack team identification) that made it impossible for users to enter the code and change teams. This patch will work with version 1.10, 1.11 and 1.12... and will bring them all to version 1.13.
I took the chance to introduce other very minor improvements, such as the possibility to use Indicated Air Speed in place of Equivalent Air Speed in the avionics. Here is the list of changes:

- Fixed a bug that prevented proper functionality of the MODE4 code (and consequently Tacpack team selection)
- Fixed minor accuracy bug in waypoint management and pre-planned target data entry (although the error was really small)
- Added code for wheel brakes anti-skid
- Added options to configurator:
  - Use IAS instead of EAS (this could be preferred by some users - note that the autopilot system uses IAS)
  - Open/close the canopy
  - Extend/retract the crew access ladder

Download the update HERE or from the side bar.

Monday, August 13, 2018

FSX-P3D-XP11-AFS2-DCS - in search for best practices for model multiplatform development.

In the past few weeks I have spent some time experimenting with DCS and XP11, along with Aerofly FS2 (for which I had already posted some screenshots of the S-211). Trying to convert my planes for these platforms showed the restrictions you need to take in account if you wanted to convert an FSX/P3D model to other platforms...and it is MUCH easier if you plan ahead and build your models in a certain way. Note that, after all these years, FSX/P3D SDK is, in many ways, still the most flexible in terms of modeling.

Being an engineer I felt the need to put my findings in an Excel spreadsheet - with the main scope of drawing some conclusions on what are these best practices and I planned to share them publicly in a proper format and with extensive explaination...but I'll never have the time to do that so here is the spreadsheet - color coded of course:

Green means no issues 
Yellow means "caution - some limitations or annoyances!"
Red means "warning - major problems or very cumbersome procedure!
Blue means "very cool"

Note that this is not a comparison of the simulators or the engines - just some personal observations from the aicraft modeling perspective - so do not get upset if you thing your simulator of choice is being overly criticized.
Note also that there is no commonality of any kind in the flight modeling between these platforms - so, apart from getting data and test points, you will have to redo each flight model in any case.

Resulting best pratices for this analysis are as follows:
  • The preferred modeling software is 3D Studio MAX (surprise surprise)
  • DO NOT use multimaterial in 3DS Max. FSX/P3D and DCS are fine with multimaterials, but AFS2 and XP11 are not.
  • Use only SQUARE bitmaps if at all possible (actually only AFS2 does not support rectangular can easily make them "square" by resizing them but it is a loss of resources (or resolution if you downsize them). And anyway this is a good practice in general for videogames over multiple engines.
  • Make sure you do not have overlapping edges or vertices in the UVW coordinates. These will create artifacts in AFS2 (and to a lesser extent in XP11). This one too is a general good practice...but FSX and P3D tolerate it very well and there are no visual artifacts of sorts. 
  • All the objects with hierarchy links MUST be done with the same material (this is a limitation which applies ONLY to XP11, but it is annoying). This is pretty imporant. If you have multiple parts that need to move together or ar part of a hierarchy chain they must be done with the same material. 
  • Building analog instruments in 3D is preferred over dynamic textures. 3D animations of instruments and needles are supported in all of the platforms (and actually it is the way they are meant to be done in AFS2 in any case).
  • Virtual cockpit must match the external model closely. While in FSX/P3D the VC is a completely separate model, in the other sims it is not like that. XP11 can have a "cockpit" object, but it is limited to one normal texture and one dynamic texture. DCS has a sepaarate VC model, true, but it superimposed on the external model geometry (and then you need to hide the elements you do not want). AFS seems to embrace the "unique model" philosophy - no separate VC model (but you can hide stuff from the external model, such as pilot figures).
I am sorry I do not have the time right now to go into further details… but still I hope it is useful.
I urge FSX/P3D designers to have a close look a XP11 as the conversion (at least for GA planes) is much simpler than it looks at a glance, and you can have your planes Flying in XP11 in days.
One one about Aerofly FS2 - I still think it has a lot of potential… but it needs a graphical tool to help plane developers. Conversion of the model is easy...but you have to animate it manually by entering axis, rotations and translations manually in a text file. It is doable, and you get used to it, but a graphical tool or a conversion of the animations from the modeling tool would be much much better.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

F-35 Lightning II - update from v3.50 to v3.51

Following the release of F-35 version 3.50, a couple of minor bugs have been detected, so here is a small patch that should fix them. Also, lower resolution textures for canopy reflection and scratches textures are provide, for user that may want to trade some minor details for a lower video memory consumption.
The plan was to establish version 3.50 as baseline, and the build upon it with patches like this one.
Here is the list of changes.

from version 3.50 to version 3.51
Released on 05/08/2018

Version 3.51 - 05/08/2018
- Fixed major bug in CNI page which caused the keypad to be inoperative
- Fixed bug in CNI causing NAV frequency to stick to the TACAN channel once a Tacan channel was set
- Fixed wrong terrain color entry (for to to 1000ft altitude - light grey intead of green)
- Fixed bug in the control of the TSD3 page while in full screen
- Added optional low res textures to reduce video memory usage

FSX (unsupported)
- Fixed bug in CNI causing NAV frequency to stick to the TACAN channel once a Tacan channel was set
- Fixed wrong coordinates ADF mouse area in the CNI page

See the installation instruction in the README.txt file in the zip.
The update can be downloaded HERE or from the side bar.