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Guest GeorgeDorkofikis

Commercial Add-ons hardware support. There is none!

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Greetings fellow pilots.I wanted to post something on the subject for quite a long time as I would love to know how others feel about this.Personally, I'm getting a bit frustrated on how the commercial panel developers ignore the home cockpit builders. Sure, a couple of years ago there were only a few builders around, but with the release of FSBUS, OpenCockpits etc, the number has drammatically increased.And will increase further.Those of us who do not 'see' Flight Simulator as a 'game' want to move forward at some point of time and stop using the mouse and keyboard and start using physical switches as much as possible.I'm one of them. I fly with MSFS since FS2 was released for PC. Version after version, the simulator got better and better, reaching very high levels of realism with FS2002 version.And with the release of advanced add-ons like the PIC767, it became so realistic that some 'no-brainers' even accused it as being used in 'evil' ways (you know the case)!With the release of FSBUS, Opencockpits etc, and basic electronics knowledge, everyone is now able to experience higher level of realism when flying with the simulator.On the other side commercial add-on panel developers try to push the realism even further by programming their own custom autopilots, electrical and pneumatic systems. The result is superb.But most of these developers ignore the home cockpit builders by removing the ability to control the simulator via external hardware.Currently only two (2) add-ons are known that are 100% compatible with FSBUS/Opencockpits hardware & software. And those are not the top edge. Neither PIC767 nor the new PMDG 737NG supports external hardware communication besides the use with the (now gone?) Aerosoft 747MCP.Why?As a programmer myself I don't think it is that hard to include a read/write routine to just read and update the default FS variables. Having done so, all panels would be usable with external hardware like FSBUS and Opencockpits.The main problem is not feeding the sophisticated panel with commands. This can be done with PIC767, PMDG737NG, PSS320 etc by using clumsy/slow key strokes. The major problem is the feedback from the panel itself. There is no way for the hardware to know what has changed and how much.The future?PMDG had announced an SDK that will allow 3d party developers to communicate with the panel (MCP only basically, no overhead). But from what I understand this SDK is basically addressed to the companies like Aerosoft or GoFlight who may want to add compatibility with the PMDG 737NG.But those companies SELL their products and they may be able to buy the SDK (it's not going to be released for free, and certainly is not going to be cheap!).But will there be a benefit for the freeware solutions? I don't know. I guess we'll have to wait and see.PIC767 V2 is in the development stage. If I recall correctly it will support external hardware like FSBUS via FSUIPC. I really hope so and looking forward to it.DreamFleet 737 v2. No mention if they are going to support anything like this. Even questions at their forum are simply ignored. So I can assume it will not.PSS. None of their panels/aircraft support external hardware and they have already announced that they will never do it as it's too much work to do! (?!)What can we do? Can we, the users, get all together on this one and apply some gentle 'pressure' on the developers to not to ignore us and include hardware support?What's your opinion on this?And to close, the reason I feel frustrated is because I had spend so much money and time to build my hardware just to find out that I can only use it with the default FS aircraft as (almost) noneof the good ones work with it!Fly safe...George DorkofikisAthens, Greecehttp://www.precisionmanuals.com/images/forum/betaimg.jpg

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I TOTALLY AGREE. I don't have a tremendously sophisticated hardware set up - it mostly consists of a PFC avionics panel and several stock GoFlight modules - but it irritates me to no end that many add-on aircraft don't keyboard control of the cockpit functions. I understand that they have to move beyond the bounds of FS2004's control assignments to provide better system emulation, but when they require me to use the mouse to control those functions, they have failed at least to a degree. I believe that many of us who buy this hardware are striving for a "no mouse/no keyboard" interface and they *must* provide at least keyboard control over the "deluxe" functions".A perfect example is the FS add-on airplane that I love the most - the Flight1 Meridian. You can't even raise the gear with the GoFlight LGT module's gear switch, even though "G" works fine on the keyboard. Another example is the FSD Navajo, which to my knowledge does not provide any keystroke access to the custom functions.Things are getting better slowly - e.g. RealityXP has made a very conscious effort to provide keyboard control for their avionics, and Pete Dowson has allowed us GoFlight owners to generate keystrokes from the GF hardware - but the add-on aircraft developers need to do a better job at this. They're already selling to a somewhat niche market - that I understand - but that niche market probably typically owns some add-on hardware such as the GoFlight panels since this hobby is more of a passion for some of us.Dave Blevinshttp://www.flightfactory-simulations.com/h...ster_banner.jpg

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You are right.Before I started my project I looked for a good freeware product (F50 panel) and asked the builder (Espen) if he would customise gauges to my need and he replied that he would so only then I started building. Within the last year I had a few updates from the gauges but it took him quite long each time to give me something to work with. Now at this stage, this isn't all to bad for my cockpit because I am still not flying anyway. Not cuz of his gauges, but because I STILL don't have my FSbus interface !! Still waiting for the shipment of my order :( .It is sad to hear that we are ignored by the commercial builders indeed. The question is .. what can we do about this :-/

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Georges,You are right but I must disagree with one point. Microsoft will evr privilege the light user, which is in fact the goal of MSFS marketing strategy and the highest revenue for MS. The hardcore users are just a little bunch.The cockpit builders should encourage talented progammmers to look a bit in the future even with the eventuality, one day to ignore totally that "crowd" product called MSFS.I took a look recently on some videos made in custom cockpits, some of them made with the "stars" of our hobby. Sincerely, I was quite disappointed by the neverending and relative often stutters and coughs of MSFS. I am myself very often close to trew away my cockpit, because that crappy FS2004 is even with the best machine unable to "let" you on a stable smooth fluid simulation. There is always something, a sound load, an AI plane, a misconstructed 3D object, a background program, a weather change, a scenery load and I could enumerate thousands of reasons which will drop the Fps down and give you the bad impression that your are not using a program worthy to be called a "simulator" but just worthy to be called a game. And that's what is claimed by MS and all add-ons producers once you get in a serious discussions with them about cockpit building features.We have right now one serious program that we really can compare with some professional ones, that's PM Glass Cockpit and Co, and soon some good identical freewares able to do the same job.Enrico is also on a goog way as regards PM Systems. As far as I have understood, PMsystems will allows us to simulate every "systems" not find in the basic planes but find in PIC PMDG PSS but with no transparency. Once the program will be available we really wont need all those add-ons anymore. As we have reached the crucial point consisting in the separation of the instrumentations from the main simulator, we now must separate the outside view from the flight model as it is made in professional simulators. I did read somewhere that Flight Gear is already able to handle the flight model on one computer and the outside view on an other. That's encouraging. So would be (for me) the ideal simulator hardware configuration.Server: Flight model + engine soundsClient 1: Instruments ( eventually Client 1A - 1B for MCP FMS)Client 2: outside view and environment sounds ( and no more)Client 3: Systems and system output ( Eicas or Eicam an so on)+ System sounds (PMsounds)Client 4: ATC only with instructor console enventually.There would be no need of an high end computer, even for the outside view, because with a reduced duty without sounds, flight model, systems, Atc, Ai and so on, even MSFS would run as stable as a clock.Did you ever think that we are spending thousands of dollars, euros, yens around a 50 bucks program ?? Stupid, is'nt it ??With my best regards to allRoger

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I totally agree with you.I never really started building anything just because of this: i had some really wonderfull commercial panel and i couldn't use it!So what's the sense of building anything, if you then have to use it with some junk patched up generic airplane?Nonsense.I am with you.BRClaudioEdit:Roger, you speak about PM.They're sure something wonderfull, but way high on the price list.I'm not commenting, rather stating a fact.For the same money i'd buy the PM soft, i can buy some FDS panels, make the FSBUS interfaces, and buy the necessary hardware.If i buy PM, i then have to buy other PCs to let it work, and still have to buy the panels and make the interfaces.So from a monetary point of view, if you already own a commercial fs product, it would be easier to use it.A thought flashed in my mind...And what about if PM is selling so high, because it's paying developers not to include homecockpit facilities in their products?

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Hi Roger.I don't see your argument! I'm not talking about MS. We all now how they work. And in fact, all the stock FS aircraft work with ALL the hardware! So, my complaint is not for Microsoft, but the rest commercial authors, and more specific, the commercial panel authors.As for the FS limitations, well, we learn to leave with those.What I'm saying here is that each major variable is just a few lines of code. Ok, in total the additional lines could reach 500, but that's nothing in programming.Regarding Project Magenta. I know Enrico personally. He's a very nice guy and a very good professional. I applause his work, but it's totally out of my reach. If the price line would be in the range of up to 100-120Euro tops for all instruments of one a/c type, I would seriously consider it, even though I would have to find more PCs first.As it is now, the price tag is way too high.Fly safe,George DorkofikisAthens, Greecehttp://www.precisionmanuals.com/images/forum/betaimg.jpg

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I think PIC 767 Ver. 2 will be the one!! I think they will be the first company that are going to listen to cockpit builders I mean the add-on is so good that people are making cockpits out of it and we have seen very good projects and this will keep growing!! I hope this is the case with PIC and that other companies will look to the value that Cockpit builders are!!Roberto

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that is very interesting what you say.would be nice indeed to get the flight model and sounds separate from the outside view.but isn't that possible already with Wideview ?

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so there is really no way to interface an fsbus panel whith the PSS a320?

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You can always use the keyboard commands, but that will only give you some limited control. There is no feedback from the panel as to what it had accepted and this is vital when using displays, like in an MCP.It's the same situation as I describe it for the PMDG 737NG.Regarding PMDG... Unfortunately, information from reliable sources say that a public SDK is not in their plans. There will be one but will cost more than a brand new PC super dooper PC with TFT monitor!!!That SDK will be addressed to the commercial ventors only (like CPFlight or GoFlight) for them to build support for their hardware.Again, the builders who use free solutions (like FSBUS or IOCards) will get nothing.I for one won't go spend another $500 on a new MCP. My FSBUS project already costed me a lot and I want to use it. Even if that means that I forget about flying sophisticated a/c like the PMDG or the PSS.Back to the good old conventional navigation. That's a lot of fun that we lately miss with all those gizmos and FMCs.Sure I like flying correctly simulated a/c, but if I can't use them with my hardware, what's the point?!Still disapointed... :(George DorkofikisAthens, Greecehttp://www.precisionmanuals.com/images/forum/betaimg.jpg

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I have found the FSUIPC variables for the PMDG 737/600. Currently I have all EFIS and MCP variables and some more. 95% are read-write but not all of them update the MCP display (for example you set an altitude of 9000 but the MCP still displays the old altitude - even though that it does capture and hold 9000!). This though won't be a problem to people who only use external hardware to display and control values (and basically I have a workaround in my mind but not enough time to test it).Of course if PMDG plans to SELL external support then it is easy for them to change the variables anytime they like, or even remove them out of FSUIPC scope, especially after I publish them.Should I start a new thread and put them there?John Spiliotopoulos/GreeceOAL667

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I am debated....I fear they could issue an update, and hide all the variables....That's why maybe it is not a good idea to publish them i fear :(I would like the situation to be different: what way would a home cockpit builder using their software hinder their commerce?Why EVERY commercial developer refuse to allow home cockpits to use their software?What's the reason behind?It would be a nice propaganda for them instead (whoever "them" means)!I could accept if some of them preferred not to include such a possibility, but all of them refusing at the same time!That is a point i never understand...

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Just post them here and it will be useful for everyone. Interesting.//Tuomas

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DisagreeThey will not change and they will not hide and there is no conpirance envolved against cockpit buildersThey all are COMMERTIALS--thats mean they will not bother to do some efforts for us as we are very tiny community--u can tripple the survey--so what u got? 150? Simple like thatEven more--they didnt lost a single costummer so far as we all are purchassing their software anywaySo we have to help ourself and adapt out hardware to their software somehowI bet no payware developer will support and care So publish that pleaseJoseph

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>They all are COMMERTIALS--thats mean they will not bother to>do some efforts for us as we are very tiny community--u can>tripple the survey--so what u got? 150? Yea, we are just a niche group when you look at the whole flight simulator hobby and the small add-on "industry" around it. Making a SDK and publishing such data is not worth it for them in commercial sense, and publishing such a SDK would just generate more questions to them that takes a lot of time to answer.It's not that they are against "us", they just dont benefit anything if they put effort in homecockpit stuff.Did you find those with FSInterrogate or what btw?//Tuomas

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>Did you find those with FSInterrogate or what btw?FSI is sufficient.

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An SDK is not even needed in most cases...some simple lines of code would do the job perfectly just by updating and reading the default MSFS variables! Then the access to those default variables via FSUIPC would do the job.But, no, they don't do that. Why? For reasons that someone from inside explained to me and I failed to understand, no matter how much I think about it.The reason given was "So that other companies can't use our a/c for their benefit". In plain words... Project Magenta has a lousy flight model and an even worse autopilot. They could use their displays, with the autopilot and flight model of the PMDG ?But, could they? Would they?And even if they could, WHY would someone pay $400 for some big displays when you can get them in the PMDG anyway for $50 ?!?!?!?!I may be getting a bit out of mind here, or saying stuff that should be kept secrets, but I feel so DISSAPOINTED, I have to share my thoughts!George DorkofikisAthens, Greecehttp://www.precisionmanuals.com/images/forum/betaimg.jpg

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Hi guysThere is not and will not be any support from commerial vendors for cockpit buildersAs well i bet that upcomming 767 PIC ver 2 will not support us eitherI reading their forum for few years and any begging about variables was not even responded--may be networked gauges for separate price and some key commands so dont dreamWe are on our own and we will have to do that by ourself and John already prooved thats possibleThere is a number of tallented guys on this forum with programming knowlege and if we would share our efforts we could extract those variables and be able to use our harware with PMDG at least ,so farGroup approach always winsJust my 2 centsBy the way, George , exsist a mod for PMDG and PM, u can find that on Magenta site Joseph

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Theoretically it is possible to use PM displays with PMDG autopilot...The only thing which won't be possibile, is the display of the waypoints in the ND, since there is no way to intercept and redirect the data flow from the FMC to the ND.

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Actualy they are using their own autopilot, fms,and glass cockpit with Pmdg So everything displayed

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Wrong!!Project Magenta is using the PM autopilot, fms, glass cockpit and only.If you want to use PMDG you can as a flightmodel only, also PIC, and also the default 737You can't use the Project Magenta with the PMDG A/P and systems. They are living to their own worlds.ThemisPS: PMDG thinks that the eyes of all the developers are pointing to their autopilot!! I have heard this rumor also...:))Themis KatakalosAthens/GreeceThey made a good A/P...Right....It's because PICv2 is in the corner..:))

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>Actualy they are using their own autopilot, fms,and glass>cockpit with Pmdg Then what they use the PMDG for?

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They using PMGD for visual model , airfile, overhead , throttles if needed,and another itms not available in in PM

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I've never understood the cry from developers that it's "Too much work" to include keyboard commands.If the mouse routines are already there it's a simple matter of establishing what keyboard keys to use, then merely mapping them to to already existing Mouse methods.I don't know a thing about panel/gauge programming but I would assume it goes something like this:...private void MouseCLick_FuelValve1_ON(){ //Do some funky Fuel stuff here...}......private void Key_Pressed(string inKey){ if(inKey == 'F1') { MouseClick_FuelValve1_ON(); } ... ...} Granted, this is HIGHLY over-simplified, but the logic is fairly easy to understand. It would take a junior developer about 3 days to fully interface the keyboard to a mouse-only panel....

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The problem is not data input, at least everything can be done with Key2Mouse utility program over the existing panels - a friend of mine uses 767PIC that way. Tedious maybe, but possible.The issue is how to get the data *out*? To display the values on the MCP number displays, MCP mode button leds, announciator and warning lights.. that is the hard problem where reverse-engineering the stuff is probably the only way. A Fancy FS2004 panel does not help much on the screen when you want to replicate it on your home cockpit.//Tuomas

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