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tonywob

Mapping Airports/Scenery as a community

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Hi Simmers

 

I'm putting out an idea here to see if it's something people would be interested in doing and participating in. Basically, it's a way we can build up better scenery as a community of flight simmers (and other simulators which will use the data). The idea would work like this:

 

1) Each week (or time period) we all vote on an area around an airport (or it could be just an interesting area) which isn't well-mapped on OSM. Generally this means quite a large part of the US, Canada, Australia, NZ and also many parts of the UK, Spain, etc.. I'm not sure how we could nominate which airports, but we can think up this.

 

2) Each participant takes a small area to map. If it's just fields and woodlands then the area can be larger, for towns, it's best to have a small area. That person then traces the woodland, farmland, buildings and other features (I'll write a guide on what to map and how). This could takes anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours per person (based on experience editing OSM).

 

The effect of this editing is the following:

 

1) Next time Andras or LR regenerate their mesh scenery, the improvements made will appear in the simulator. Mapping roads, rivers, streams etc really helps improve the mesh.

 

2) World2XPlane will also use the data, and I'm sure I can make the area available for download once we've done (or via Simheaven). World2XPlane will make use of the fields, woodland, buildings, streams etc. There are plenty of examples on my website to see the results of this.

 

3) I'm sure in future Outerra and other simulators will also make use of data in OSM. FSX/P3D do somewhat with OpenVFR and other products.

 

4) We all get to discover interesting places and learn a bit each time we map it.

 

Something like this in OpenStreetMap (OSM) is called a mapping party and they are very effective (Google them if you want to see past examples). It's possible to map quite large areas quickly, but also once an area is no longer empty in OSM it seems to have the effect of getting local mappers joining in who no longer see an empty map but some data.

 

If people are interested and have any idea about the logistics behind this then please add your comments or "thumbs-up"

 

Tony

 

 

 

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Great idea.  Do we have that many simmers who are proficient with these tools?  I'm just barely able to edit in WED.

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Do we have that many simmers who are proficient with these tools?

 

It's actually pretty easy. Basically you can edit straight in the web browser for beginners, or for more advanced users, there is JOSM. It's much easier to use than WED, and is simply a case of drawing shapes (tracing) things and then saying what they are, e.g. house, field, farm, etc..

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i will definately be up for this, maybe post this in the org aswell ? probably bigger traction there. Teamspeak while editing might be fun too ;)

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Sounds like a great idea! As an optional add-on, if there happens to be some missing airports/helipads/seabases in the area in question those who are comfortable in WED could coordinate getting these put into the gateway as well.

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I'm up for it Tony. Already did my home town but lots more to do. Actually as I am not that far from Manchester and Manchester Airport is getting close to release that may be one to start on for the UK users.

 

cheers

Peter

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Good idea. Personally my only worry is that I don't have much time to devote to it at the moment but will do what I can.

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I know nothing about how to do what you're talking about, but if it is easy for a novice to learn, then I'd be willing to help out. Even though I am currently not using X-Plane, I plan on getting it as soon as money permits. The lack of good scenery options (like we see in FSX) has put me off X-Plane so far, but I am more than willing to help the community effort to fix the problem. That is, unless a copy of X-Plane is needed, in which case I would need to delay my entry into the program. 

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Actually as I am not that far from Manchester and Manchester Airport is getting close to release that may be one to start on for the UK users.

 

Agreed,would love to see this area done as it's pretty barren at the moment and an awful lot of work for one person. But I think it would be joining the queue of other areas that need some love, especially in the US.

 

 

 


Great idea, only prob would be getting everyone to agree on the area .

 

Yes, this is certainly going to be hard. I believe we should start in the US, and then rotate countries for each one. e.g. US, then UK, then AUS, etc...

 

 

 


Are there any tutorials on using JOSM?  I'm not familiar with that process.

 

You can have a look at the tutorials on my website, but they presume you already have an idea about OSM. I'd suggest to start with the in-browser editor at OpenStreetMap.org to add a few buildings or woodland in some area. It's very easy to do, and once you get the idea of how it works (which shouldn't take you longer than 30 minutes), you can think of using the more advanced JOSM. I think the best solution is to have a simple PDF/guide that people can follow so they know what works and we are all following the same basic guidelines. Also, it's very important we don't mess up other data already there which other mappers not related to simming have added.

 

 

 


That is, unless a copy of X-Plane is needed, in which case I would need to delay my entry into the program. 

 

No, not at all. You only need X-Plane if you want to see the changes immediately, otherwise you can join in like everyone else and eventually the changes you've made will filter their way into some product and even your satnav if you have one.

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Yes, I spent a couple of hours this morning reading over tutorials and manuals.  It is very confusing at first, and I still have a LOT of questions.  I worked on my little local airport in WED but I had trouble getting ground textures to look right, messing with square exclusion zones - the whole thing.

 

But looking over Overlay Editor, JOSM and W2XP has added some to the confusion, so I'm trying to figure out what to use and when to use it.  Forget Blender and Sketcher for the moment.

 

I'm tempted to start over from scratch, update OSM and then generate the Scenery Pack with W2XP, except that I need to do some runway work in WED to relocate a taxiway, add lines and all that stuff.  So do I fix the runways in WED first or last?  Do I update OSM first and then run W2XP on the updated OSM file?  Very confusing.  I haven't found any walk-through that takes you from a bare runway and explains how these individual tools interface and work together, which to use first, etc.  But I'll figure it out and then maybe I'll add a tutorial for the rest of us.  What's there is good, but it isn't broad enough for beginners to know what they need to know.

And PLEASE don't think that's a complaint, just an observation from a total newcomer to scenery editing.

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I'm tempted to start over from scratch, update OSM and then generate the Scenery Pack with W2XP, except that I need to do some runway work in WED to relocate a taxiway, add lines and all that stuff.  So do I fix the runways in WED first or last?

 

It doesn't really matter how or in what order you do it, but some things below to help any confusion:

 

- WED is generally used for doing just the airports, i.e. Adding runways, taxiways and buildings. In theory you could use it to map towns and villages, but it would be lots of work. People use this to create simple lego brick airports and upload them to the gateway for inclusion into X-Plane.

- W2XP/OSM is used for converting the surrounding town/countryside into X-Plane from data in OSM. All you need to do here is edit OSM and then at some point generate the scenery. The scenery generated won't contain any airports, these will be done separately by WED and don't come from OSM. Rivers, streams and coastline changes will go into the next HD Mesh and/or next update of X-Plane's main mesh scenery.

- OverlayEditor is another editor to allow viewing and editing scenery directly inside X-Plane. When I've made airports, I've used OverlayEditor as it gives a good 3D view of the scenery you're working on and lets you move things around, etc.. However OverlayEditor can't modify or edit runways and taxiways.

 

So, if you just want to add buildings, forests and roads around airports then you only need to edit OSM. If you want to modify actual airports then you need to only use WED. Of course you can do both, but they both don't depend on each other.

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I have a new internet connection in two or three weeks which will give me the extra I needed to contribute in this area.

Regards

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Thanks, Tony.  I think I had it mostly right.  What I'm having problems with is knowing how to outline the airport in WED to work on the tarmac and taxiways and where to quit WED and switch to W2XP.  Should hangers be set with JOSM/W2XP or should I include them in WED (probably)?  Wouldn't there be an overlap if they were shown in both, or is there sufficient exclusion in which WED takes preference when there are duplicated buildings?  I'm tempted to just set runways and taxiways and switch to JOSM/W2XP and put all the hangers and airport buildings in there.  But if I do that, I can't upload my airport to Gateway for XP to use because Gateway doesn't know about the buildings in W2XP.  So perhaps I should keep airport related buildings in WED?  But if I do that and then want to edit OSM, does that mean I should NOT mark those WED buildings in OSM to prevent duplication?  OK, but shouldn't OSM include those buildings placed in WED?

 

My home airport KEOS has some extended grass areas south of the runway, and some surrounding forests.  The default textures show a cross-hatch of streets within some of the airport grounds that don't exist.  What I need for those grassy areas is ... grass.  So in a preliminary version using WED, I had to create a huge taxiway of grass in order to overlay the unwanted textures.  Perhaps those grassy areas would better be displayed in OSM/W2XP?  Guess I'll have to try it.  Lots of dirt areas as well that should be shown as dirt.  Guess I'll just have to play with it.

 

As well as looking for some direction here, I guess what I'm also saying is that this scenery is not simple, and those of us who would take the extended time to learn how and when to use each of these tools will not be getting much flying time.  I'd like to complete some of my local airports but I have a long way to go.  I hope others have less trouble than I have.

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<quote>
So in a preliminary version using WED, I had to create a huge taxiway of grass in order to overlay the unwanted textures.  Perhaps those grassy areas would better be displayed in OSM/W2XP?
<unquote>
 
Was thinking maybe an exclusion zone in WED might be a better option.

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Should hangers be set with JOSM/W2XP or should I include them in WED (probably)?

 

No, you should almost certainly create all the detail for the airport (including buildings, trees, taxiways, etc) inside WED. These airports will be uploaded to the gateway and available to everyone (including those who don't use W2XP). Also, if you add buildings and woodland inside OSM to an airport, World2XPlane will ignore them to prevent conflicts with airport scenery. So anything you want to appear inside an airport (i.e. The entire perimeter), should be done in WED. Anything outside the airport perimeter can be done inside OSM. For example, if the perimeter of the airport doesn't include the woodland/forests and the south of the runway, then you should add these into OSM.

 

For dirt and grass areas, World2Plane won't help you here (It could do, but isn't configured to do so).  If you are seeing roads that aren't there in real-life, then almost certainly you should edit OSM and remove/fix them (But make sure you are 100% certain they aren't there). Otherwise, as jasonX suggested, add an exclusion zone inside WED to block network items (roads, railways, etc). Try and keep everything related to the airport inside WED so that all the changes you do go straight to the gateway. General scenery outside of the airport should all be done inside OSM/W2XP.

 

Any more questions then let me know :smile:

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Thank you, Tony.  What I think I'm seeing in areas within and adjacent to the airport are XP-generated areas of city block roads as apparently XP's data shows those areas as within it's city-defined boundaries.  I didn't consider trying a road-exclusion, so I'll try that.  There are extended areas of dirt within and adjacent to the airport that should show as dirt, and grass areas well beyond the airport itself to the south.  I'll play with the exclusion zones and see what the default is with roads excluded.  These are not sharply defined roads, but blurry texture roads that have no real world counterpart.

 

Thanks for clearing up the airport building question.  I'll enter the buildings in both WED and OSM and let the computer figure out which to display.  I just wish the default "lib" library had a better selection.  Is that something they are working on?  Sounds as if I need two versions, one to upload to Gateway, and one detailed to reality.

 

And my apologies if this is an inapproprite thread in which to ask these questions.  I thought my questions might be of interest to others just starting into scenery building.

 

Thanks again, Tony!

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I'll enter the buildings in both WED and OSM and let the computer figure out which to display.  I just wish the default "lib" library had a better selection.  Is that something they are working on?

 

This is exactly what many people do. They'll use lego bricks to create a basic airport, and then create a custom detailed airport to upload somewhere. You'd be surprised how much can be achieved with just the default buildings, but if you know the airfield for real then it can become quite limiting. But it's much better than having no buildings at all. I'm currently working on my 4th airfield which is proving difficult because I'm trying to map buildings which I didn't take photographs for, so it's a guess work of patching together different textures so it looks almost realistic.

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These last two posts are what I was wondering about myself. I've been working on KMKE for the past 6 months now through WED, and using the Chi. photoscenery (which goes all the way north to MKE) as the layer underneath. Not as clear as say, Google Earth, but enough to provide exact locations to place the proper sized buildings upon. And I've gone sometimes 2 miles in each direction from the airport to include much of the surrounding business parks and neighborhoods. This is my home airport, which I actually work at everyday in real life, so I pretty much am going overboard trying to include everything.

 

So with that in mind, I guess its better to just offer it up outside of the Gateway since I'm using more than just the basic objects that is acceptable for inclusion in the Gateway airports....Correct???

 

And, when uploading a "finished" (its really never finished is it?) airport, is it customary to include all the object libraries used, provide links to them, or just say what libraries are needed and everyone gets them on their own? This is my first time even considering putting my stuff out there, but I have to say it looks awesome.

Thanks for any input.

 

Tom

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nd I've gone sometimes 2 miles in each direction from the airport to include much of the surrounding business parks and neighborhoods

 

You certainly should upload it, I'd really love to see this as I'm sure many others would. I'm not sure what LR consider the cut-off point for what's included in a gateway airport package, but since you've used more than the default objects you couldn't upload it to the gateway. If you use OSM, you could probably do this far quicker and populate the entire area around (Especially over the course of 6 months). I spent some time populating my former town and airport in OSM and now the entire district, surrounding towns, farmland are all done. It took around 30mins to and hour each day, but the results are fantastic and have improved the scenery 100% (So much so, that flying low and slow in an R22 helicopter at 60-70kts is a joy).

 

I'd suggest you upload the airport for others on the file library here and on the xplane.org. I'm sure many people would be very grateful, especially since you know the area very well. Generally people just list the required libraries, e.g. R2, FF, RU, etc..

 

I understand the "it's never finished" approach. I went really overboard with the few GA airports I've created. I actually visited each place in person and took hundreds of photographs and then modelled each building, fence, etc.. using as much detail as possible and making it match the photos to the best I can. The entire experience for me is not only the flying, but also the startup, taxi, departure, approach and landing. The more realistic it looks, the better it feels. With my current WIP airfield, I'm modelling the entire nearby industrial estate as it really is prominent on the approach, it's quite a bit of work, but each building I create ends up going back into the library for World2XPlane. It's great watching videos of the real approaches and seeing just how close and recognisable it is.

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