One of my pet ‘peeves’ with the Arrow’s Flight Model was the way the elevator trim functioned. Full nose-up trim gave about 80-85KIAS, much too fast for approach. It has been something I have wanted to try and fix for some time. Tonight I had an epiphany as to how to tackle the problem, and after a couple of iterations of my modification I had a workable flight model.
Full nose-up trim now gives me around 62KIAS, and a nice forward trim at 140KIAS (it used to be neutral trim at full cruise speed).
You may even be able to see some nice new HD clouds in the photo; that’s part of a visual ‘update’ I am working on for FS9… more on that to come!
As I said in the last post; it is very nice to go out to the ManCave and just go flying. Tonight was a night for just that. I flew out to the training area from Wigram and just enjoyed flying around. The sim worked perfectly, the aircraft flew as expected, and even the weather cooperated!
I even dusted off my old helmet and played the ‘back in the day’ reminiscing game 😉
It was a nice feeling, last night, to be go out to the ManCave, flick the switch and go flying in the Arrow, with no worries about whether or not the PC would start. Though it was only a very short flight it was very satisfying!
The flight was a quick ‘reposition’ from Christchurch Intl to Wigram just on Dusk. Magical real-time weather, and lovely lighting, even from FS2004 which is now 17 years old!
Now that the sim is operating properly again I am planning to do some maintenance which I’ve been putting off. Both the Pitch and Roll potentiometers need replacing, and the instrument vacuum gauge needs some attention.
For a while the Arrow’s Sim PC has been giving trouble, mostly when trying to start it. Last week I was flying the sim home to Wigram from Whenuapai when it crashed a couple of times en-route. That was the motivation I needed to finally fix the problem! Tonight’s mission, therefore was to get the PC working properly, and finish my flight.
As I suspected the problem to be related to the graphics card, I had a wee rummage around in my spares stash to see what options I had without having to buy something…
After a little surgery, a new card and drivers installed and the sim is running sweetly again. I finished my flight with a lovely IFR approach into Christchurch just after the fog rolled in 🙂
Expect more ‘Arrow’ adventures in the near future.
For this week’s ‘Sim Work Night’ it was time to give the Arrow a little love. She has been sitting in the corner not doing very much for a while with a non-working pilot seat stopping anyone from going for a fly. So with power tools at the ready I embarked on a quick and dirty mod to the seat base to get her flyable again.
The base I used was from one of the seats rescued from the original 767 home cockpit at work. It was built from MDF, and had re-purposed car seat rails mounted to the bottom of the structure. I simply modified the fixing points of the old base to match the mounting points on my new ex-737 passenger seat frame, then fabricated a pair of aluminium brackets to secure the two parts together. Since the base uses car seat rails, they are not designed to attach to a flat floor I then made spacers and special over-sized washers to allow the rails to be secured to the floor of the sim. During the modification process I found that the years, and use that the base has had have not been kind, so I had to add screws and glue to strengthen the structure.
Securing the seat to the floor turned out to be a much tougher job than I had expected, with the spacing and alignment of the rails being super-critical to how the seat moves. After much sweat, possibly some bad language and much much more time than it should have taken, the seat is finally in place.
With everything in place I fired up the sim for the first time in ages and went for a quick test flight around Tauranga, where I’d obviously left it last time… The good news is that the seat height is about right, the bad news is that I am now back to the drawing board on the seat base. The rails are not working effectively, and the structure is still a bit wobbly, despite my strengthening efforts… So the next night I spent sketching up ideas for a much more solid base/rail assembly which will hopefully make for a far better seat setup!
After a bit of a revelation it occurred to me that for a very long time I have been trying to create a simulation environment in my sims which is almost exactly the same as DCS:World provides. I have been, for a long time, been trying to develop a multi-platform ‘combat’ simulation, using the tools with which I am very familiar. I found it very interesting that I opted to stay with my known and familiar environment, rather than taking a leap…. In this case I was very ingrained in the development of FS9 content, I was comfortable working in the environment, I could ‘talk’ to the simulation, I understood the way most things worked inside the sim. What I was really after was a complete combat simulation covering air land and sea warfare, with a Tactical Commander function. DCS:World has always been on my radar, I have ‘played’ around with it over the years, but never anything more than that. Recently though, with my interest in VR, I have been learning more and more about how DCS works, and how I can develop content for it, and make it into the sim I’ve always been looking for!
So. I am now ‘officially’ (as officially as I do…) I have stopped development of TACOPS and pretty much all of my projects around trying to morph FS9 into a combat sim….. My focus now is on development of content for DCS, focusing on NZ and the Cold War era. My 737 and Arrow sims will continue, running FS9 and FSX respectively, but wont be trying to be involved in any ‘combat’ mission.
It is very odd to look back and contemplate all the time and effort I have spent on a project which was merely trying to replicate something which was already around..
So now it’s onward and upward… I can concentrate on using the best software for each of my sims, rather than trying to make the one platform do everything I wanted.
SO, New software plan – TA-4k Skyhawk will be running DCS:World. – Piper Arrow will be running FS9 and/or FSX – Boeing 737 will remain on FS9
After the developments in DCS over the past couple of months I have had a significant change in thinking on how I will operate my sims. Up till now I have been working on a single, standardized software install across all my sims, but with the recent DCS developments, and some recent experiences with Orbx scenery in our sims at work, I have had a major rethink on my plan.
With my recent experience in DCS I realized that work I had been doing on my ‘TACOPS’ application was basically trying to replicate what DCS has bulit in.
So. Big decision, but now my 3 main sims will be running *different* software as their primary platform:
The Skyhawk will be running DCS:World with the A-4 Community Mod installed as it’s primary Platform.
The Arrow will switch to FSX:SE with Orbx NZ:NI and NZ:SI scenery
The 737 will continue using FS9, with my mature scenery build.
The current F421/Termserver PC will switch over to running DCS:Combined Arms as a JTAC (Joint Terminal Air Controller) for the Skyhawk, while retaining FS9 and FSX to run alongside any of the other sims.
DCS:Combined Arms has been a bit of a revelation; I bought it for the JTAC role, but once I had it installed and running I discovered that I had unwittingly bought the Tank simulator which I have been looking for since the days of ‘Armored Fist’ from Novalogic.
Combined Arms allows you to control ground forces in the DCS Digital world, and to assume control of individual vehicles. This means that I can free-roam around the map in a Humvee, driving wherever I like, sight-seeing or designating targets for pilots in the mission.
This new philosophy means that each sim will be working to it’s own strengths, rather than focusing on interoperability. This does mean that I wont be trying to make the Arrow or 737 be anything other than what they are, and I wont be trying to turn FS9 into a pseudo-combat sim. The switch to DCS allows me to leverage of a true combat sim, with robust multiplayer, a complex mission scripting system, giving me the ability to build realistic missions for the Skyhawk, and with the former-F421 PC running DCS as well, the mission options are pretty wide ranging.
The Skyhawk will be running both VR and 2D, using the Community A-4 mod, and one of the DCS ‘Panel’ utilities to render a 2d panel on the lower screen in-cockpit.
The switch to DCS will finally allow me to have systems operating which have been merely a dream before now. A good example is the RWR display, which Icarus can render on a small monitor which I can mount behind the RWR display in the main panel.
After the development work on TACOPS over the past few weeks, it was time to put it all to the test. Nathan and I fired up all three sims, plus the Tactical-Commanders station, Canterbury and a Navy RHIB. The testing plan involved flying and sailing all the assets into the same location, and testing radar and ibnet ‘visual’ contacts on each. The location for the test was the Bay of Plenty, Tauranga and Whakatane for the aircraft, and White Island for the ships.
The first part of the mission; the locating of all assets, meant a quite long flight in the Arrow, which was at Wigram all the way North to Whakatane. The positioning flight began on Thursday evening in awful weather. At one point, battling a terrible North West gale I had a mere 70 Knots ground speed, so I opted to drop in to Kaikoura for the night and try again the following evening.
Friday night, the weather was marginally better, but only marginally, but with tanks topped of and charts in hand it was time to push North. The initial plan was to position the Arrow to Galatea, but given that the airfield has no lighting at all, and it was going to be near midnight by the time I got there, I opted to continue on to Whakatane, with not only lighting, but published instrument approaches (which would turn out to be quite a good thing!)
Now, with everything in place it was time for our test ‘mission’, so bright and early on Saturday we powered up all the sims and started our testing.
We identified a few missing aircraft models on a couple of the sims, which were quickly fixed, then we moved on to the ‘radar’ testing.
TACOPS provided the radar targets, which were showing successfully on Eric Marciano’s early, freeware radar gauge, but not on his later, and much more sophisticated gauges, nor were they showing on the 737’s Project Magenta Glass Cockpit display. ‘ibnet’ Multiplayer targets were showing on Eric’s later gauges, but only when airborne (which I imagine was by design). So with this knowledge The Skyhawk will be fitted with the older radar gauge for use against Maritime and Land based targets. The down-side is that the locked targets probably wont be showed on the HUD… but that is merely a theory at this point and will need some testing!
Andy visited the cave tonight to sample VR for the first time. He flew a variety of aircraft in FSX/Fly Inside before switching to DCS:World.
For a final giggle, being that he rolls his eyes when I talk about my various sims, I put him in a Kenworth in American Truck Simulator! Never shall he scorn me again! I suspect I’m in trouble when Andy goes home and tells his wife he’s buying a VR headset 🙂
While Andy was flying I fired up the Arrow for another flight around Korea. The weather was still pretty awful, so it ended up being an IFR return to Osan. It was nice flying over unfamiliar scenery, having to use charts and navaids to navigate.
After Andy left for the night I did a little VR flying; taking the Bell 206 from Christchurch over to Okains Bay on the Peninsula for a great night-flight. VR in FSX is amazing at night, with really vibrant lighting effects. The moon reflecting off the Pacific Ocean looked fantastic, and the moonlight bathing the cockpit as a really cool effect. I look forward to more helicopter flying in VR!