A Spark of Genius (or Madness…you choose)

Tonight while quietly sitting on the couch I had a great idea about using another PC in my ‘virtual ship’ setup… This second PC would be a surrogate for Canterbury when I arrived at a location and deployed the RHIB. This would mean that the surrogate would take on the identity of Canterbury while I used the TACOPS PC to simulate the RHIB (or any other support vehicle). All of this would mean that I could leave Canterbury on other adventures, yet she would remain persistent in my virtual world.

The RHIB comes alongside Canterbury after a small excursion in Dubrovnik Harbour

From the Arctic to the Med’; Adventures of HMNZS Canterbury

After the recent PC re-shuffle, and the major ManCave redevelopment, Canterbury has been busy sailing the Northern seas. She has been as far North as North Cape, and Murmansk in Russia, and now has made the trek South to the Mediterranean where she is enjoying much nicer weather.
I thought I’d post some screenshots of the trip so far.

F421 on an ‘Arctic Patrol’

Canterbury steams past the outlying ‘Stacks’ off St Kilda

Canterbury is on her way North into the Arctic Ocean.. After yet another PC Upgrade and shuffle-around F421 is now running on a nice new PC, and is heading North from Scotland, into the Arctic Sea via Norway. I’m enjoying having ‘my’ ship up and running again, and having it on the big screen in the ManCave has been especially cool…

It’s an addiction!

Since getting interested in Bridge Command, I have started messing with it…. it ships with a basic scenery of Santa Catalina Island, which looks ok, but really needed some textures to make it look better… a quick edit with some photo imagery, and it looks lots better.

Here we are steaming along the Northern side of San Clemente Island (which is just South of Santa Catalina). My textures don’t quite fit, so need a little more fettling to make the shoreline perfect. For a quick edit it looks quite good, and adds to the immersion nicely. Next, I’d like to try building a scenery from scratch, maybe Lyttelton Harbour, or Maybe Auckland?

Great Ship Simulator

During some googling around looking for some radar display images I stumbled on to the “Bridge Command” website, and found a neat ship sim. The biggest surprise was that this sim has an external Radar display, Multiple-PC display, and the ability to talk to a Chart plotter via NMEA data. And whats more; it’s free, open source!

Small test setup, with the main program running on my laptop, a second view running fullscreen radar on a second laptop, and finally the “Instructor Map” running on a small windows tablet.

Changing the Guard

In (yet another) PC shuffle, Canterbury has been returned to port, and has been replaced on patrol by Wellington.  The reason for this is predominantly one of economics;  Canterbury runs on a full-on gaming PC, whereas Wellington is running on a reasonably low-spec laptop, which uses a whole lot less power.
Wellington will now be my main ‘Patrolling’ frigate, with Canterbury being brought out more for specific missions.

Wellington, F69 takes up station off the Hawke Bay coast for upcoming TACOPS test missions.

Wellington’s first ‘mission’ is to take part in the TACOPS test and development project. 

A weekend of Development and Testing

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.

First stop;  Kaikoura

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!)

Some pretty cool cloud-scapes and colours as the sun set

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.

Tactical Commanders view, Tactical Situation on Google Earth, Weather brief via Windy.com and a camera view from the host aircraft.

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!

Canterbury on station off White Island



It *was* dark…. but the ‘TAC-CDR’ made a low-pass on arrival in the AO

Spring Time Means Spring Cleaning

A quiet, Spring weekend and I finally got had the time to have a bit of a clean-out in the ManCave.  I got some old, redundant PC’s out of the way, moved CAMALUS (my main server) into it’s proper place in the PC ‘stack’, and even vacuumed the carpet!

Woah!  I can see the carpet!

Anyone who has visited lately will know what a complete state the place was.  It is now quite pleasant walking in… rather than having to watch your step so as not to step on or fall over something!
One down-side of my tidying was that one of my ‘Ship Drone’ PC’s departed for Computer heaven….   leaving my fleet one-down.  To alleviate this I dug out yet-another-old-laptop and got FS running on that too…

3 Laptops, 3 different missions;  Frigate (escort), Liberty Ship (Transport) and Control Tower (basically just watching)

So now, with the great PC reshuffle I have more players in my multiplayer adventures than ever before!  I even re-tasked my old “gaming” machine running as a 707 Tanker…..  

A kick in the RHIB’s?

A quick and dirty conversion of some 3D models, then a rough and ready merge with Hama’s speedboat….

Speed Trials……  quite a *lot* of speed!
And thank’s to Hama’s great FDE it is maneuverable as well!

I have 3 usable visual models to work with, the one in the screenshots is the most like those I have seen in RNZN photos.  I need to research more, and add some paint to the basic models, then maybe a virtual cockpit and some animations.