Posts by crispy136

    Will USGS tiles allow us to share the converted ttc files?

    Had a quick look on the USGS site and all it says is that it is provided free of charge. They also talk about sharing but this seems geared more towards sharing data with them, rather than sharing data from them.

    They also state :-

    "It is critical that our information be protected from uninvited disclosure or intentional corruption, and that our systems are secured against external attack to the maximum extent possible. This memorandum established guidance that will help assure that our contractors perform in a manner consistent with DOI's security needs and mandates.

    IT security must be incorporated into all phases of program planning and execution, from budgeting to close-out. The cognizant Program Manager or IT System Owner has primary responsibility to assure that contractors are aware of and comply with the DOI IT Security Program."

    If IPACS sourced their map and elevation data from USGS, then they may already have the answer to your question.

    Did a bit of testing to see if download image levels have any benefit in FS2. While level 20 took longer than level 19, the resulting level 15 images showed no improvement. So all level 20 does is eat up your HDD space, increase your download times and take longer to produce the ttc files. The area used was New Orleans as I figured a populated area in the USA would have the best chance of having higher level imagery. I'll compare the other levels after the AeroScenery update.

    Image download level - 19

    Map level 15

    Images downloaded - 1122

    MB downloaded - 4.4mb

    Total HDD space used - 278mb

    Image download level - 20

    Map level 15

    Images downloaded - 4290

    MB downloaded - 16.7mb

    Total HDD space used - 869mb

    19 vs 20 - zoomed out

    19 vs 20 - zoomed in

    To build on what we have now it would definitely need to be a kind of "easy mode" that lets the user enter the minimum altitude for the squares they've selected. Behind the scenes it would use all the same options and folder structure, just doing some logic to decide which options to set for each grid square.

    Hi Nick, Have been thinking about "easy mode" and how that might work. In order to do that it I tried to come up with a best practice standard that we could then base easy mode on. The attached PDF covers information an average user will need to know to effectively use AeroScenery even in Easy mode. Such things as basic Aerofly grid info, some scenery design examples, and how the users might use that information to use AeroScenery without an easy mode. Lastly it delves into what action an easy mode might require from both a user's perspective and from a programmer's perspective. Spoiler alert - It gets easier for the user and harder for the programmer, but not much harder. By just removing the "Automation Required" column in the easy mode section, we already have a high level user's support guide for AeroScenery. A supporting tutorial could eventually provide a step by step guide for scenery creation. As much of the document relates to Aerofly rather than AeroScenery, it could easily be relevant to how we use FSET now.

    I have made some assumptions as to which map grid tiles to use as well as what image download level is appropriate for each GeoConvert level. I did this based on my own experiences and from comments from other users on the forums, but it might not be the best mix. Users would create scenery for large areas (GeoConvert levels 9 & 11), airport circuit areas or low level VFR areas (level 12 & 13) and close airport proximity areas or high detail VFR areas (level 14 & 15). An easy mode should steer users away from common mistakes that result in GeoConvert producing rubbish or nothing. Even the more experienced might prefer the easy mode but an "expert mode" would allow them to decide how they wish to combine image quality, map grid size and GeoConvert levels. Expert mode is basically AeroScenery as it stands now.

    When thinking about the easy mode I tried to use logic that could be applied to AeroScenery without making too much work for you. As AeroScenery development progresses the scenery design logic in the attached document would need to be tested and tweaked to ensure it all works. Masks would probably be turned off for easy mode and optional for expert mode. If we get the scenery design logic right, masks won't matter for easy mode users anyway. More experienced scenery creators will want to modify stitch images to add transparencies which require masks enabled.

    In easy mode users would only need to select the map Grid level, the desired map grid, quality level and hit start. I am not sure if the various "Actions" should be available in easy mode or not. You'll need to zoom in a bit to see the information in the PDF clearly.

    Edit - new spreadsheet created to correct some scale issues as I had forgotten about level 10. WIll add some expected download sizes once I have done some testing with the next version of AeroScenery.

    Aerofly Scenery Standard.pdf

    I find that Aerofly FS2 flight simulator gives me the most realistic experience even though it lacks some features available in other flightsims. This is mainly due to the photo realistic scenery included as standard and available for purchase, and the stellar performance on more modest computers like mine. In additional to Aerofly I also have use both FSX and Prpar3d. I like the performance improvement of P3d over FSX, but I have so much content for FSX that P3d isn't even installed any more. But every time I go back to FS2 from FSX, the syrupy smooth frame rates and large areas of photo realistic scenery are like a flight sim junkies dream. This is surely the future of flightsim!

    Work is underway to allow users to create high quality content themselves using AeroScenery and share it (thanks Bing maps) with other users. Utilities like Fscloudport are available now to allow users to create runways, airport and surrounding buildings and static aircraft. Developers of this type of enhancement are my hero's. AeroScenery will greatly reduce the complexity of photo realistic scenery that the more skilled users can already create. Fscloudport has a good selection of basic buildings, and with a little creativity users are able to create complex structures, like the curved multi arm Domestic terminal in Brisbane Australia. While the result is not as good as custom designed scenery available for purchase in this and other sims, from the air still manages to looks realistic enough. I never sit at the gate looking at the great details of the buildings in front of me. I am more interested in the aircraft itself, getting it up in the air, how the airport area looks from the air as I depart and then approach for landing, and how that detail impacts my system performance.

    While the just released Florida scenery is a visually impressive feast, there are a vast number of happy simmers out there available to use AeroScenery and Fscloudport tools to also create scenery worthy of Aerofly FS2. All without IPACS lifting a finger.

    Being freed from scenery design would allow IPACS to concentrate on adding features that bring more realism to FS2. Things like live weather, AI aircraft, ATC etc, all of which are delivered standard in a flightsim coming up to 12 years old. And FSX is pretty ancient by computer software standards.

    This slight change in focus to enhancement rather than scenery could make Aerofly more popular (selling more copies to balance the lack of scenery sales). Providing enhancements that flow through to Fscoudport, like more static aircraft types and more region specific paint jobs, creates even better free scenery content, enticing even more users to Aerofly. Even with the maximum detail wacked into Fscloudport, there is no performance penalty in Aerofly. A credit to both Aerofly and Fscloudport.

    Lastly all users love free stuff that enhances the flightsim experience. The more free stuff (like scenery created by other users), the more people will want to migrate to Aerofly. Simmers love flying over their home turf so projects like scenery being created for Australia and various other parts of the world not covered by existing scenery, might also entice users of other simmers to make the transition to Aerofly. The more people who migrate to Aerofly the better for IPACS. Sales of FSX enhancements also prove simmers are willing to pay for enhancements. I'd definitely cough up a modest fee for an ATC, AI aircraft or live weather enhancement for Aerofly. Florida is on the other side of the world, in a country I have never visited. ATC, moving aircraft and weather are all around everyone everywhere.

    This is not a criticism of IPACS, anything you have developed to date or your plans for the future. I love Aerofly and thanks for developing it and providing additional aircraft and plenty of scenery free to existing users. But a slight change in focus could attract more simmers, and make the Aerofly experience better for everyone, not just frequent travellers to Florida.

    "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change." Charles Darwin

    There is no penalty for using base imagery at better resolutions than the GeoConvert tiles we convert it into, other than the huge file size and download time.

    I am not sure this is correct. Wouldn't it be easier for FS2 to display a large level 9 tile on its own, rather than it is for it to display the the multitude of level 9, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 tiles it has to pop in and out depending on your distance from the tile. Deciding when to use a level 12 tile in pace of a level 11 tile and so on must have some impact on performance. A level 15 tile area and level 9 tile area look much the same from FL350 so there is no benefit for areas where you don't come down low. The actual altitude at which the a level 15 tile area looks like a level 9 tile area is much lower than FL350. Also once IPACS create additional enhancements such as ATC, AI aircraft and live weather, scenery performance would become more important. Sigh, well I can dream can't I.

    Hi Nick

    I think the comment that there is a relationship between FS2 levels and image detail level downloaded is right on the money. There's a clue in the TMC readme where it states level 14 is roughly 1 m pixel.

    I have been doing a bit of testing to understand how the scenery works in FS2. I did this by simply using FS2 with scenery I had created and observing the results of the different methods I had used. I also needed to work out how the tiles work with each other to better understand why my scenery choices worked or didn't and where best to use more detail. Knowing this also helps understand why GeoConvert does what it does. For instance you thought you did everything right, downloaded the highest res imagery, but the scenery looks rubbish in FS2 or Geoconvert simply didn't produce tiles.

    So I think that the download image quality, GeoConvert level used and targeting detail where it is needed are the holy trinity of scenery design for FS2.

    A quick for instance. I had been using Bing maps in FSET and noticed that higher quality downloads sometimes weren't resulting in higher quality when viewed in FS2. I had already created level 14 scenery for a small airport not far from home using Bing map data downloaded at 0.5m pixel quality. So I downloaded the exact same area from Google but at .25m pixel as Google data seems to have higher detail (but pesky watermarks). I then used the same TMC to create my level 14 tiles from the Google imagery as used for Bing data.

    I located an area that contained a house with a oval pool which was easy to find and small enough to show up any quality differences. To my surprise, the 0.25 m pixel Google data gave the same slightly pixelated view of the pool as the 0.5 m pixel Bing data. I then ran the Google data through GeoConvert at level 15. When I looked at the pool again the pixelation was gone and a much more detailed pool had appeared.

    My conclusion is that downloading 0.25m pixel resolution data and then using on a level 14 tile is a total waste time. More bandwidth, more CPU resources, longer processing time were all used for no benefit on a level 14 tile. Perhaps AeroScenery could assist users from making this mistake either by preventing certain combinations or just a popup advising the combination used will not give any benefit. So I think there is some benefit in providing some protection in your program to prevent users from taking actions which would give no benefit or at least some advice. Perhaps the guide could be integrated into the AeroScenery Help button. It might also help reduce support questions and user frustration. eg the guide could advise that they should use 4 m pixel quality on levels 9 and 11 in large areas, but use .25 m pixel and level 14 in small areas around airport or areas of low VFR flying. In some areas you only are doing high level flying, so detailed imagery is wasted in FS2.

    I am reasonably sure I have a handle on how the tile levels, tile sizes, and tile draw distance and viewing altitude all work together to create visually stunning scenery in FS2 with the least possible CPU and GPU load. I though I might document how I thought this all works for the more technically minded users out there as it does aid scenery design. If my assumptions are correct, then in my opinion the scenery rendering method use by IPACS is just plain smart. No wonder it makes FSX performance look like very old technology (which it is).

    Creating the scenery that gives the best visual result for the least possible effort will also have a flow on effect in FS2, as that scenery will use the least possible GPU and CPU resources. This then leaves plenty of resource surplus available for allow users to run future developments such as ATC and AI aircraft. Also if you plan distributing scenery to other users some sort of standard will provide consistent results amongst users, minimise file sizes and maximise scenery quality. The last thing you want to happen is someone to download 0.149 m pixel quality to create level 9 to 15 scenery for the whole country, then blame AeroScenery for poor system performance.

    Sorry its a bit long winded, as is often the case with my posts, but I wanted to cover the whole picture.

    I was doing some testing on some scenery tiles I had created and wanted to get my head around how the tiles work together. So I decided to find out the distance you are when a tile appears for a particular GeoConvert level.

    Listed below are the approximate distances a tile will appear at:-

    . A level 11 - 40nm

    . A level 12 - 20nm

    . A level 13 - 8nm

    . A level 14 - 6nm

    . A level 15 - 1nm

    So a level 11 tiles becomes visible at 40nm away as you fly towards it, and it disappears as you move more than 40nm away. This draw distance does not appear to be affected by altitude or speed.

    Now the bug. If you load your aircraft say 50nm away from your level 11 tile, it comes into sight at 40nm. However if you load your aircraft at 90nm away from the tile, the tile will only appear at about 10nm. instead of it usual 40nm. This test was done in the F15 at about 30,000ft and max thrust, but I did a few tests at 300 and 800 knots and found speed wasn't issue.

    I also tried it with a level 13 tile which normally appears at 10nm. Starting at 40 nm away the tile appeared normally at 10nm. I then tried 50nm and the tile also appeared normally. However when I exited FS2 and went back in, the tile appeared at only 4nm when starting from about 50nm.

    So it seems to be a combination of distance from the tile, the draw distance of the tile in question, and whether you have used the scenery in the current session.

    I did read in another thread (which I can't find now) that users were reporting that the latest update had introduced a bug that was causing tiles to pop in later than they had in the past. Not sure if this is new or has been around for a while, but my findings might indicate the scenario that is causing this issue for some users.

    Note: these test were done on a single tile of level 11or 13 tile I had created using the wiki scenery process, and loaded in an area with no default imaging other than fuzzy global.

    When geoconvert runs with Masks Off, the Level 9 tile doesn't generate, Levels 11 and 12 have gaps. Does anyone have this problem?

    Missing tiles with masks off is systematic of scenery areas being generated not aligning with FS2 grids. When this happens GeoConvert just skips tiles that would only be partially textured. Turning masks on instructs GeoConvert to generate these partially textured tiles and a matching mask tile which I assume allows FS2 to correctly render these types of tiles.

    Similar thing happens if your source images have transparencies. With masks off any tile that would have included an area with a transparency is skipped by GeoConvert. With masks on everything is generated, but this does create more tiles for FS2 to read. According to another thread, mask tiles can cause other issues.

    There is some work being done with aligning AeroScenery selections with FS2 tile grids more closely.

    This problem also exists when generating scenery using the older method using FSET.

    There may be a mistake in my grid calculation class... Chris what tool do you use to note the coordinates in FSET?

    It might be interesting to see how qwerty42 calculates its grid in its small Excel utility:…rid-calculator-for-excel/

    I use qwerty42's Excel utility to give me the coordinates for FSET. It matches the grid coordinates used in FSET with the tile size in FS2, depending on the level you are creating. It then is a simple process to flip backwards and forwards between Excel and FSET until you get the right grid layout to match adjoining areas you have already created. Any time I do an extract I take a screen shot of the FSET screen. I can then review this screenshot when doing my next area so I can calculate a lat long for the starting point for the Excel utility. Creating adjoining scenery areas is a lot easier this way and ensures that the areas you are selecting in FSET match those used by FS2 grid tiles. I also use a web page utility created by Spit40 (I think) that then takes the information from FSET and creates the output to past into the TMC file GeoConvert uses. Getting the computer to calculate these two conversions makes the likelihood a mistake much less likely, and speeds up the process. Using this process I almost never get scenery issues in FS2 using the FSET scenery process. This process is repeated to create detailed imagery around airports, again using the Excel utility with a different FS2 level setting. If you were doing tiles for levels 12 and 13 in FS2 then you would set the Excel utility to level 12 and that would ensure that any level 12 & 13 imagery created by FSET matches the tile sizes for level 12 ands 13 in FS2.

    Thanks Greg,

    Yep, it was a steep learning curve to run all the steps with all the correct values and get a decent result in FS2. The tutorials don't contain all the info you need, so I had to troll the forums to get enough information to be proficient. Luckily IPACS forum members love sharing.

    There is a tool being developed that will allow you to easily download your own photorealistic scenery yourself. It is not ready for release yet but will be a quick and easy way to get the images on your computer and up and running in FS2. You'll be able to select what areas you want and what quality of images you require for individual areas. The only limitation is the amount of hard disk space you have. So no point in creating high resolution images of Wop Wop if you are only going to sail over them at 35,000 feet, lower resolution images will do. My happy medium between scenery size and scenery quality was to have lower imagery in areas without an airport, then add progressively more detailed imagery as you get closer to an airport. So in an area where you would normally be getting closer to the ground, the imagery quality is increased. This seems to work well in FS2.

    There are 2 sets of photorealistic map data you can use. One from Google Maps and another from Microsoft's Bing maps. Which looks better often depends on what area you are downloading. Unfortunately Google's map data comes with a "copyright Google 2018" watermark in all the images, and these are faintly visible in FS2. Bing maps doesn't currently have a watermark.

    Its not clear from the legal fluff on both Google and Microsoft's map sites whether you can distribute scenery you have created from their source maps for FS2, although Microsoft seems to indicate it OK if its not for profit. Its just not clear in relation to FS2.

    Because of this and also as the scenery tool is being developed, I won't be releasing any photorealistic scenery I have extracted. However once the tool is available, and you can easily create the photo realistic scenery yourself, the airport building, runways and static planes I have created to enhance the airport areas can be easily downloaded from Fscloudport and installed in FS2. In fact you can download them now, but they look a bit odd in FS2 if you don't have the supporting photorealistic scenery.

    Hi Nick, I was wondering if there might need to be a link between the zoom level and the grid level size. In FSET this makes no difference to the outputted image other than the quality, but it uses a different method of extracting the data.

    One other random thought I had was perhaps there is an small inaccuracy in the information in the TFW file created by AeroScenery. The way I understand it the TFW files gives the coordinates of the top left point of the source image as it is represented on the planet. It then reports pixel step information to allow Geoconvert correctly map the rest of the image on the planet. The TMC file then comes along and gives GeoConvert top left and bottom right coordinates of the section to be extracted for the FS2 tile. If either the top left position or pixel step detail aren't accurate in the TFW file, then Geoconvert gets the wrong placement of the source image on the planet. It then extracts the section of the image it needs based on information in the TMC file. GeoConvert is then selecting the wrong section of the source image to create the FS2 tile. This would explain both the image overlap produced by the masks setting and the missing right hand section of the output image.

    Antoine pointed out that the pixel steps in the FSET extracts I produced didn't match (or even come close) to that used by AeroScenery (see my reply to Antoine above). Yet each of these pixel steps use in FSET allowed Geoconvert to correctly create data from the source image to the FS2 tile. Could this be the issue? Just a thought.

    Note that you have different pixel sizes in X and Y between FSET and Aeroscenery sources. The coordinates will vary depending on the settings in each tool, but the pixel size should be the same if both use the same raw image resolution

    Hi Antoine, I had to try a couple of extracts from FSET as the zoom level are differently described. I didn't understand the pixel size density and ignored it. All 3 produced a correctly imaged output file regardless of the input resolution, so this may not be an issue for the purposes of the comparison. The image resolutions available in FSET and AeroScenery don't match so any direct pixel comparison may not work.

    FSET has the following resolutions. There are more lower res level (higher numerically) but I never go higher than 3 or the image quality to too low to use.

    0 -> 0.5m/pix

    1 -> 1 m/pix

    2 -> 2 m/pix

    3 -> 4 m/pix

    AeroScenery has the following resolutions

    15 - 4.77 m/pix

    16 - 2.39 m/pix

    17 - 1.194 m/pix

    18 - 0.597 m/pix

    19 - 0.299 m/pix

    20 - 0.149

    I tried levels 3, 2 and 1 in FSET on the same level 13 grid area and got the following pixel steps:-

    . lvl 3 - [steps_per_pixel][7.15255737304688e-06 -5.36441802978516e-06]>

    . lvl 2 - [steps_per_pixel][2.86102294921875e-05 -2.14576721191406e-05]>

    . lvl 1 - [steps_per_pixel][1.43051147460938e-05 -1.07288360595703e-05]>

    I only run AeroScenery at one level for the same level 13 grid and got:-

    . lvl 17 - [steps_per_pixel][0.0000113993883132935 -0.0000100093409463844]>

    I find the airports from Fscloudport load in AeroScenery without a problem. I did notice that the first time I tried to activate this, that the airport flag was nearly off the side of the screen and not correctly placed. As soon as I moved the map around a bit, the airport flag jumped to the right spot. Since then they have reliably appeared in the correct locations. The further you zoom in the more accurate is the placement of the flag. Click on the flag to display the Fscloudport details.

    Thanks Antoine. Had missed that, but had been working on it for 3 hours, so my skills of observation had started to wane.

    When I finally extracted a 3 x 4 set of adjoining grids and loaded them into FS2 I found the tiles are not matching up. The reason would most likely be the missing textures on the right side of the tile. Tried files produced both with masks on and off with the same result. So appears to be a different but related issue to the one I described above. The screenshot below more obviously displays the problem just off the left wingtip. The plane was facing north so would fit with missing texture strip on the right