Flight Displays And The Aircraft Editor

  • I've not yet properly dived into aircraft creation but it's something I'd like to try soon.

    Every now and then I poke around in the DR400 3DS Max file and try to cross reference it to the TMD, then the Wiki in order to figure out the basics. I know more than I did and less than I want to :)

    One thing that there seems to be no documentation or example of is "digital / LCD" flight displays. Maybe it's the case that they are not possible with the current aircraft SDK. If that's not true:

    • How do you hook up a surface in the Max model to be a flight display?
    • Can they be resized?
    • Can the bezel and buttons be changed?
    • Can what's shown on the screen be changed (surely this would require code to be written)?

    I did take a look at the TMD of aircraft with flight displays, but I'm still confused.

    Second question: Jan ( Jet-Pack (IPACS)) teased us with some screenshots of a GUI aircraft editor a while ago. If this is due to be released "in a few months", I'd gladly wait for it. If not, text editor it is. Any chance of a vague intention of release date?

  • Hi,

    LCD displays and simple clocks, etc. can be done with the tmd and any custom aircraft. The DR400 has an LCD display for the COMs that is working, but that is just one of many examples where you can copy from.

    Usually we render these displays into the light map, you can just assign it in your model and then define the clear color in the tmd, after that the individual texts are rendered as defined in the tmd file.

    There are multiple variations of the rendering, e.g. you can render font or you can render from one texture (source) to another (target), so you could copy a rectangle from one texture to the other for switching between more fancy looking indicators (e.g. A320 autopilot panel).

    You can define the source and target size to your liking.

    More complex displays like in the airliners (glass cockpits) are rendered by our custom draw code, which is not public. We are still waiting for the first serious add-on producer to contact us about this manner. Once they do we will find a solution that works for both parties.

    The aircraft editor is my private project so far, which I won't release for free just like that. Either it becomes an official tool in the sdk (i.e. ipacs buys it from me) or I will sell it privately but it's not decided yet. Right now there are only a handful of potential users for this tool, so there is not that much pressure. And the editor doesn't fully replace the text editor, it is more of a visual representation, a debugging tool and a tool for graphical editing. I still program the tmds in my VS text editor and the aim is not to replace this text editor.

  • Thanks Jan. :thumbup: Yeah, I figured out simple LCD displays from the DR400, but it was the more complex displays that confused me.

    From what you said I assume it's therefore not possible to use the two complex flight displays of the King Air C90 in another project in a modular way?

    All wish list stuff, but a modular Garmin 530 or Garmin G1000 that can be dropped into any custom aircraft would be the ideal. I don't think anyone really wants to develop something custom, they'll just want the Garmin stuff you find in modern GA aircraft.

    Right now I think IPACS faces a "chicken and egg" issue with aircraft development. If the GUI tools and modular components (like the Garmins) aren't there it's a less attractive target for a third-party developer.

    Anyway, PM me if buying a license for your aircraft editor is a possibility in future :)

  • Anyway, PM me if buying a license for your aircraft editor is a possibility in future :)

    +1 on this one.



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  • Hi Nickhod

    Whilst you are looking at aircraft design may I suggest a TMD err toolkit, can't really think of another thing to call

    The TMD file seems to have lots of entries that are similar in structure but refer to different objects, systems etc, so perhaps a graphical interface to call standard code snipets might help get people started, as an example.

    I want to start the electrics system so a graphical tree like system could assist with questions that lead to the TMD outputs

    Details of system, voltage, loads, (piston or Jet) etc

    Do you want a battery switch...give position, type and direction

    Do you want generators or alternators..switch position, type, direction how many,

    load gauges..needle pivot point, direction, rotation angle, scale (0 to 30 volts example)

    etc etc with other systems, instruments until we have enough info to output the TMD entries

    Whilst this may not give us a final TMD file it will get things started, also control.tmd entries could be generated

    May this is just pie in the sky but there has to be a better way than ploughing through lines of code looking for similar stuff to copy across


  • Hi Steve,

    Such a tmd error toolkit, I call it debugger, already exists and is probably the most important part of my aircraft editor.

    Graphical editing is already possible for 3D stuff, e.g. controls.tmd, wing geometry, etc. Of course I have already thought about adding graphical editing of networks like fuel, electrics, even rigidbody connections. But it's not always possible to draw such a system in two dimensions or even three dimensions. Take the fuel pumps for example. They could be automatically controlled and the center tanks could be enabled when the flaps are up. Now how to you represent this input. Suddenly you switch from the fuel to the logic level. And you fuel pump might need electical power, not how do you show that connection, too. I thought about a multi-layer visualization, where there are transparent layers of the individual systems and cross connections would be in the x direction.

    But I'm not sure if that can be something that our brains can easily grasp and understand. It certainly would look amazing :D

    Given the complexity of our aircraft the graphical solution may not be feasible. A switch in the dynamics section has no position, a logic element and lots of other things don't have a 3D position. And there are so many cross connections, how would you ever lay everything flat on a 2D plane or position logically even in 3D space.

    Lately I've been working on generating simulated buttons and switches, just clicking on a switch, giving it a good name, selecting from a few options, then adding the results. BUT I don't think this will be of great use. In the end each switch does a different thing and you have to add this purpose manually. There is no one for all solution.

    So the text representation is still the best solution to this, as a programmer you are used to this linear one dimensional style with jumps going up and down.

    If done right, e.g. keeping stuff that belongs together also together as a block then you can still copy paste things very easily.