Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tomcat cockpit WIP pictures

Here are few pictures of the current cockpit model... still work in progress. But, as you can see, the front panel, stick, pedals, and the side consoles are done. The only things that need to be done so far are the canopy details and the side panels. Then, I will complete the functionality (what you see is only partially working). A rough estimate is 20 work hours - which means one or two week, depending on the weather and my mood :-)

And - sorry if it disappoints you - do NOT expect a RIO panel. I know it would be great, but: 1) I definitely have no time to do it. 2) It would make the cockpit model huge (and it is already pretty heavy) 3) Most of the functionalities would be gimped or lacking due to FSX limitations.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tomcat progress

A quick post to show you some progress of the Tomcat project. I think the external model is OK, finally. I've changed the burner effect again - the current one looks definitely much better and realistic and needs only some minor tweaking. By the way few repainters are working on alteranate/enhanced texture sets...so it is likely that the external model will look even better!

As for the VC, most of the front panel is done. It still needs a lot of work...but I think it is not bad. Some artistic licence here and there....but I think it looks reasonably realistic and useable.

Finally a satisfying burner effect - some minor tweaks are needed but looks ok!
This is the current status of the cockpit - the progress is slow but steady. It think it is approximately 50% complete.

Friday, March 20, 2009

T-45C comments and suggestions for future updates

Goshawk in flight (current version v1.25)

I am relatively happy with the overall quality of the Goshawk. I hope you all like it, too, and have fun flying it. Still, there are some things that are far from being perfect. While I am fully committed to deliver the Tomcat in a reasonable time (i.e.possibly before Easter) - I will try also to improve the Goshawk. At present, version 1.25 being the current release, I have the following points in my agenda:

- Slightly incorrect dimensions. The Goshawk is slightly longer and taller than it should be . Wingspan is correct. This is an annoying defect for me but it is not easy to fix. Current dimensional error is less than 30cm....so it is not really a big problem.
-AoA indexer lights are not completely visible for the pilot. It is usable, but I can surely improve its placement.
-The lower surface of the wing does not blend smoothly into the fuselage. Again, this is not much visible (or better, it is not noticeable if you don't know what the lower side of the wing should look like) but still...
- HUD transparency: while it is more or less as transparent as the Acceleration F/A-18, it is not clear enough for night operations. Again, not a big issue.
- Add models with baggage pod / training bomb racks. As the T-45C load configurations are few, it would be nice to add them.
Now, what I'd really like to have is a proper "carrier qualification" mission - with voices, awards and everything...but I've never designed a mission nor I have the time to do so. Also, a custom sound set would be great...but this is another thing I never did...
Well, if you do have other suggestions or constructive criticism, please leave a comment or email me.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

And now something completelty different...Freeflight for mobile phones: 260.000 downloads!

Freeflight is a J2ME midlet (i.e. an application for Java enabled mobile phones) I wrote for fun back in 2005. At the time I was a mechanical design engineer in the Motorola Design Center in Turin, Italy.

It started as a quick test I did to experiment the 3D capabilities of the then-new JSR-184 libraries. True 3D in mobile phones was a new thing some years ago.

Of course, the experiment grew to become a very simple "flight simulator" which I uploaded to http://www.getjar.com/ to make it available for download. Constraints were huge by modern standards (total application size had to be less than 250Kb) but it was fun.

I had almost forgot about that project....but from time to time I still get some emails about it. I've recently checked its getjar webpage and found it has reached more than 260.000 downloads! Here is the link:

Also, before that, I wrote a simple arcade game named Tomcat Dogfight:

Please understand that I cannot offer any kind of support whatsoever. I do not have the time for that, and besides I barely remember about them. Also, please note that, while the applications are given for free, downloading them application from the network may have connection cost (depending on your contract). Don't blame me, in case, as I do not earn anything from that. All those projects are freeware.
By the way, as consequence of the current economic downturn, Motorola has closed that site leaving a lot of my former colleagues without a job. A sad end to what was a wonderful place to work in. I had a great time and I wish the best to all of my friends in Turin.

Freeflight screenshot

Tomcat Dogfight screenshot

Monday, March 16, 2009

...and some shots of the Tomcat,too

Quick post to show you that I've also been working on the Tomcat...I'm doing what I can to release it before Easter - but I'm not sure I can make it...believe it or not, I also have a social life ;-)

This is how the cockpit is coming. As you can see there is a lot of work to be done...but the left side of the panel is done, and the MFD's are functional. By the way, in absence of photographic material, I'm hand-drawing all the textures.

Some improvements to the visual model and texture appearance (Mike Durao has added some detail to my fuselage texture - he is working on some repaints).

The spoilerons/wing sweep/control surface animations have been improved and are now much closer to the information I get from the NATOPS manual.

T-45C Goshawk version 1.25 released

U.S.Marine Corps livery by Russell R. Smith now inlcuded in the package along with other repaints.

Several improvements in the cockpit. Some improvements in the geometry and the textures make the cockpit appear closer to the original. Also, few minor bugs are fixed now.

I am releasing another Goshawk update right now. I know that some of you may be getting bored with all these updates... especially the ones with a slow internet connection. Still, please understand it is much more convenient for me to release a full version rather than a update: it is simply a better way to catch the bugs, support the users if necessary and basically keep track of what is happening to your files. File name is T45CFSXE.ZIP, release at Avsim.com and Flightsim.com.Hope you apprieciate the (small) improvements!

Visual model:
- Air intake geometry now blends into the fuselage more smoothly
- Added repaints by Russell R.Smith- Added configuration file for proper U.S.Navy font. As you may have noticed, the aircraft number in my Goshawk model is variable (i.e.the user can type his/her own number). However, the number will appear withstock fonts. Should you have the "Long BeachUSN" font type installed, delete the aircraft.cfg andrename the aircraft_properfont.cfg to aircraft.cfg.

Interior model:
- Revised some of the cockpit geometry (which looked slightly too "bulky")
- Desaturated / darkened / sharpened some textures.
- Fixed NAV1 KHz tuning bug (it was impossible to activate the KHz knob)- Added Autopilot heading course select (via the HUD keypad + / - buttons); I know this is not the way it is supposed to work...but at least the function is there.
- Fixed "CLIMB/DIVE" words in the ADI (were mirrored)- Reduced photoreal texture warp on right side console
- Minor optimizations
Flight model:
- Tuning to the gear contact points (provided by Richard Wisman). While the aircraft sits slightly higher than it should, now the problem of the nose "sinking" into the deck while landing on a carrier is almost gone.
- Minor tunings to yaw
Have fun!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Yet another Goshawk update...

The external model now features an improved blending between the air intakes and the fuselage. I've also included some additional repaints by Russell R. Smith.

Several changes in the cockpit: I've improved the colors, fixed some bugs and changed the geometry. Now it should be even closer to the real one.

I know...I know... I should be working on the Tomcat. Still, there were a couple of details in the Goshawk that were annoying... and I had to fix them. First, I've improved the fuselage geometry. The blending of the air intakes into the fuselage was not satisfactory...now it is better. I've also integrated some USN and USMC repaints by Russell R. Smith into the main installation. More severe changes were made to the cockpit: the front panel geometry is slightly modified and should be more accurate; the right side panel, which was a bit "stretched" has now more accurate proportions and part of the photoreal texture distortion was recovered by hand; the KHz knob of NAV1 now works correctly; all the internal textures have been desaturated and sharpened slightly for a more realistic look. The only thing that is missing, now, is a working A/P heading knob... I still cannot make it work properly....Anyway, I will release this update soon. For all the "Tomcatters" out there: do not worry - the Tomcat project is proceeding. I will post some pics of the cockpit soon.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Better burner effect....

Still not as good as I'd like, but definitely an improvement... Looks better in motion rather than in a still picture...

Monday, March 2, 2009

F-14D Outer model complete!

Finally I've found the time to complete the external model of the F-14D Tomcat. A preliminary flight model is also complete, and, using the Acceleration Hornet 2D HUD panel the whole thing is "playable". Early warning: it is a heavy-polygonal model. The complied .mdl is 10Mbytes (for comparison, Acceleration Hornet is about 4Mbytes, while my Goshawk is 4.7Mbytes). This is having a performance impact on my machine (by the way I've recently upgraded the video card and bought a X295). There is definitely some chance for optimization... Anyway, here are some pictures (comments welcome):

Full a/b climb... I'm not really happy about the current a/b effect, but they are OK for now... Should anyone have a proper effect to offer, please contact me.

Needless to say, the model has high-res photoreal textures, bump mapping, self shadowing and reflections. The default paint scheme will be the lo-vis bird of the "Tomcat Final Flight" event, VF-31 F-14D AJ107 (BuNo 164902), NAS Oceana, Sept. 2006 (with some minor artistic licence)

Of course, the model features full moving parts. The crew access ladder is animated (linked to "door_1" variable), the refuel probe can be extended ("door_2"), the nose can be tilted-up to show the Hughes APG-71 antenna ("door_4") and the wings can be "overswept" for onboard storage.

It is likely that I will make the current model available upon request for repainters or early testers in a week or so. Still some rules and restrictions will apply.

Hopefully the interior model will not take more than 3-4 weeks. My target is to provide the same quality level of the T-45C cockpit, but it is likely that the initial release will have limited functionality. And, before I get several emails complaining about the loadouts, yes I know that the Tomcat cannot land on a carrier with four 2000lbs JDAMs. Still, I think it looks cool... ;-)