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Why can't you control runway signs from AFCAD?

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Please excuse my ignorance here but my experience with altering airports is measured only in a few hours. Let me preface this with explaining the type of sim pilot I am. I'm the type that views an airport merely as a starting point to get up into the sky and enjoy the view so I've been neglectful at paying real attention to detail on the default airports that are sprinkled all over my Phoenix scenery. I found out quickly that many users spend lots of time at airports and they get very irritated at runways not lining up perfectly with the underlying photo textures and autogen showing up on their taxiways. Now that I go back and look I understand completely and have started a full-fledge campaign to make adjustments.I downloaded AFCAD 2.21 and figured out quickly how to tweak runways, taxiways, parking spots, etc. In most cases the fixes to my scenery only involved selecting all objects and moving them a tiny bit to align better with the photo texture. Most moves were very small. I was extremely pleased with the results when viewing from above and very proud of myself for learning a new skill quickly. However, my bubble burst when I came down to ground level and found that bunches of objects such as runway signs, some airport buildings, windsocks, etc. were not controlled in AFCAD and had not moved. Often they ended up in the middle of runways or taxiways. So here's the question:First, why isn't AFCAD able to see and manipulate these objects? Clearly from testing they reside inside the airport .bgl file. Secondly, how does one manipulate or move them easily without a lot of messy decompiling and editing of XML? Third, why can't you exclude just the signs that are badly misplaced? I've been able to exclude all of them but not individually.Thanks,Art

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Hi Art,>First, why isn't AFCAD able to see and manipulate these>objects? Clearly from testing they reside inside the airport>.bgl file.I guess this is because they are not linked with a specific Airport command. So they are not placed within the Airport command, like runways, aprons, etc. The signs are placed in the BGL file with just their lat/lon values. It should be possible to search for signs that fall without your airport, but unfortunately AFCAD does not do so at the moment.> Secondly, how does one manipulate or move them>easily without a lot of messy decompiling and editing of XML? You can't I think. You will have to do some decompiling. I think the easiest is to decompile the BGL, copy the signs of your airport to a new XML file. Move them there and recompile. That should give you a new BGL file with the correct signs. After that all you have to do is to exclude the default ones.You could also move them in the decompiled XML file directly of course, but that would mean that you are going to modify default files and that will only give trouble if you want to distribute them.>Third, why can't you exclude just the signs that are badly>misplaced? I've been able to exclude all of them but not>individually.This one I can not answer. I think it is just how MS has implemented them, although it is indeed not very easy.

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Hello,If you get a screenshot of the AFACD window you can use it as a background image for SBuilder. Then you can add exclusions for existing taxiways signs and place your own with SBuilder.Regards, Luis

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Thanks Luis. I came up with a novel approach to this actually and once I have tested it enough I'll distribute the little app I wrote. Since the process of aligning an airport for photoreal scenery has generally only involved offsetting the whole thing to a different location, generally all one needs to do is offset all the taxiway signs that same amount. Some of the airports I worked on had 30 or so signs so hand editing those lats and longs in the XML file was a dreadful thought. Pain in the butt to try to figure out how much to add or subract from latitude or longitude expressed in degrees and minutes. One doesn't normally think of things in those terms.So anyway, my little program reads an XML file that the user has decompiled from the FS scenery area that has the airport and taxi sign info in it and finds all the entries for those signs. It also must have the XML file generated when you're done making all the manipulations to the airport in AFCAD. You then supply a N/S and E/W offset in meters that you want applied to all signs and the program rewrites the AFCAD XML file for you with an exclude statement for all the signs to remove them from their previous locations and then adds in all the new sign entries with the lat and long values recomputed with the desired offsets. I've tested it a few times and it seems to work well. What don't get moved though are things like windsocks which I can't find entries for in the main FS .bgl file. If they're there, they're listed as library objects which are cryptic to find because you only have the GUID to go by. On one airport I simply had to exclude the windsocks because they ended up in the middle of taxiways after relocating the airport.MS also likes to put little rows of gray non-descript hangars at airports and they're are notoriously misplaced with what's actually there. Would be wonderful to be able to move them around. For now I'm just excluding them. Art

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The short answer to your question is that AFCAD2.21 is freeware and Lee Swordy (the developer) chose not to include the facilities you want. Section 4 of the AFCAD2.21 help file clearly explains what AFCAD can do. Section 5 states what Lee Swordy hoped to do in later releases. However, he hasn't developed AFCAD further, no doubt for his own perfectly good reasons. If you're not happy with AFCAD you could develop your own application with the facilities you want. Alternatively, you could do what many of us do. Read the SDK, write your own XML, then compile it with BGLCOMP.EXE. The following .XML example creates a runway sign. You can add more signs by adding a comment line (optional) and a for each extra sign.<?xml version="1.0"?>EDITNote that { and } in line beginning label= must be replaced by the corresponding square brackets

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I hope you didn't construe any animosity towards the AFCAD program or Lee Swordy. I have the utmost respect for any freeware developer and their product and would never think about second-guessing what features they do or do not include. I have my own freeware utility available for creating autogen so I understand the issue completely. All I was asking for was whether I had the most up to date version and if there were technical reasons why the signs weren't part of the package. I actually did all the things you suggested and now have a much more in depth knowledge of the XML used for airports. Now if I could just figure out where FS hid the generic airport buildings and windsocks it places at the airports. Would be nice to tweak their locations as well instead of just removing them globally. Art

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Hi Art,>Now if I could just figure out where FS hid the>generic airport buildings and windsocks it places at the>airports. Would be nice to tweak their locations as well>instead of just removing them globally. I think most of these objects are contained in the OB*.BGL files, although some of them are also contained in the AP*.BGL files. But these objects are not linked to a specific airport, they are just placed at certain coordinates. So to see if they belong to your airport you would have to see if the coordinate fall within your airport area.

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Art:I believe buildings and other objects can be found in the main scenery folder, regional folders. For instance, South America would be: FS9/Scenery/Same/Scenery/OB9Same0.bgl. This is where I have found hangars, generic terminals and other objects.

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Ah, the OB prefix. That's one I didn't look into. Kept trying to decompile the various files and all but the "AP"'s came up as not being able to be decompiled. Of course I was going through the alphabet and burned out before I got to the "O"'s.Thanks, that'll be valuable help. Just what does "OB" stand for? Objects?Art

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Yes, good guess OB is objects :).I think the AP and OB are indeed the only ones that you can compile into XML file. Most of the other files are mesh scenery files and can be compiled into ASM code only.

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>Why can't you control runway signs from AFCAD?Because Microsoft did not make all of them the same way.Only about 1/2 of the taxiway signs are in the XML code for specific airports - may of the larger / older airports still have taxiway signs in the older code in the utilities files.There also appear to be two versions of XML coding for taxiway signs. At some airports a very small exclusion rectangle will cause a single sign to disappear - at others every sign in the code AFTER the excluded sign will disappear.Due to the varying manner in which MS coded the signs, many of us will either (1) place a slightly larger sign over the top of the original, or (2) exclude all the signs for the airport and replace them. The second is much harder just because of the number of signs.Library Objects - with specific GUID codes as defined in the FS2004 BGLComp SDK can be in the APnnnnn.bgl files - though they are not tied to a specific airport - only to a latitude / longitude position.They can also be in the OB*.bgl files.Library objects are complex shapes like control towers, ILS antennas, NDB and VOR antennas, Fire trucks, etc.I have not seen Generic Builidngs in APnnnnn.bgl files - these make up the T-Hangers, other hangers, most terminals, etc.

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Reggie thanks. Apparently the airports in the Phoenix area came late in the game and the runway signs are all in XML and there's a ton of them. When I said generic buildings I really just meant building objects because I've never seen the boring gray textures that most of these have in the textures available for the generic buildings. I haven't looked yet but after Arno's post, I'm pretty certain the buildings I'm looking for are in the OB*.bgl files.Art

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SceneGenX has stock default airport/object directory and import function, which is supposed to search the OBs for objects within user set radius of airport ref point and import them. you have to build the directory by browsing and scanning the default AP/OB/NV files.scott s..

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Ah, that's one tool I haven't played with yet. My initial search of the OB*.bgl files was a bit frustrating. Too many entries to go through manually.Art

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Hello,I am a relative newbie to AVSIM forums (been a lurker for a while), but I thought I'd decide to chime in on this subject, since I ran into the same exact problem. My name is Steven Rosenow, aka Bell206freak, developer of the Mount St. Helens Scenery Package, the Mount Rainier Photoreal Scenery Package, as well as the author of several Bell JetRanger repaints and a texture replacement kit for the default Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Tacoma, Washington (I am now currently working on replacing the default object with a gMax created object that has every detail of the Narrows Bridge itself.)I digress...I am currently working on an overhaul project that will completely revamp a default airstrip in Flight Simulator 2004. The airport is Sanderson Field (ICAO code KSHN), and I ran into this problem shortly after I had installed Megascenery Pacific Northwest.When I had installed MegaPNW, I discovered that over 90% of Sanderson, located in Shelton, Washington was out of alignment and the abandoned runway (the north/south runway) was not only misaligned, but it was also off true position by well over three hundred feet. The rest of the airport was off true position by close to two hundred feet in places.That was back when Megascenery Pacific Northwest was first released (I was one of the first to order it, and received it a week after it was released).I spent nearly three solid months of tweaking the AFCAD file to get it to be exactly the way it should be, complete with abandoned military parking ramps and Port of Shelton access roads (Sanderson opened as Mason County Airport in 1927, and during WWI was a Naval Air Station, and was later deeded to the City of Shelton in 1957) . Fortunately for me, I didn't only have visual reference from satellite imagery or online photos. I live only a mile away from Sanderson, so I have virtually unabated access to it.After I reshaped the AFCAD, I noticed that the buildings were in the same spot, including the taxiway signs (one of which was now over six hundred feet away from a repositioned taxiway). It was then I set out to relocate them, but ran into difficulty in trying to find them by just decompiling the XML.Two things you need to learn if you want to tweak with default files. I have pretty much mastered this, and even managed to completely relocate a default airport to its true position over 70 miles away (Familiar with 80WA, the enormous hole in default terrain known as SFS Airpark? Well, yeah, Microsoft misplaced it by 70 miles!)One of those things is that the default airport building objects rely in one file. These can be found in the ob9XXXXX.bgl files, such as ob9namw0, ob9namw1, ob9namw2, and so on.Trying to find them by slew mode and luck can be tricky. The best way I found to locate them is to decompile the BGL file using NewBGLAnalyze, and import the source code into SceneGenX Scenery Generator. There's a more detailed process you need to follow, but I am covering that in a tutorial I am releasing within a few days.The second is that the APXXXXXX.bgl files contain the taxiway signs, in addition to the default AFCAD. From my experience, it can be easy to decompile a default APXXXXXX.bgl file, but it's twice as difficult to get it to recompile (I have also rewritten the bglcomp.xsd file to allow for more leniency).For the most part, the program you want to manipulate the default buildings (or totally delete and replace them as I did with Sanderson) is SceneGenX Scenery Generator. AFCAD is best to manipulate the AFCAD.If you want to learn more about how I totally overhauled Sanderson Field, keep an eye on the downloads section, as I am releasing a tutorial on how I managed to edit and manipulate the default BGL files to suit my project.

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Thanks for all the info. I've been coming to much the same conclusions based on my own research and observations. My only problem is finding the time in a busy life to implement solutions. I think I'd steer away from actually editing and recompiling the APXXXXX.bgl file since it raises too many potential problems of installation and synchronization if we all did that. I instead added an exclude statement in my AFCAD XML file that removed all the taxiway signs and then copied in all the lines from the AP*.BGL file offset by whatever amount I needed. Once I figure out those other objects I'll use the same method for them. In a later extension I'll create some graphical means of relocating all of them. Art

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I'm sure you are not doing this - but I cannot emphasize enough to not recompile the APnnnnn.bgl files.Aside from the high probability of corruption - there is no need.If you make changes to an individual airport (and most APnnnnn.blg files hold over 100 airports) - compile that airport data into a separate .BGL file.Placing that file in the SceneryGenericScenery folder - as recommended in the BGLComp SDK - and FS will take what it needs from the base files, what changes you have made in the addon file - and still allow end clients to customize the parking with an AFCAD file.Do a search on the AVSIM file library for files by Jim Vile - he has a better explaination and some excellent examples of this in action with his Active ILS and Active Approaches.

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So far, I've only been able to decompile and recompile one default APXXXXXX.bgl file. It was AP914140.BGL, and it contained only a dozen or so airports in south Vancouver Island in Canada and about five or six in the extreme northwest corner of Washington State.I did that because it was necessary to do so, or else any AFCAD file wouldn't work with the edited airport. The airport in question was SFS Airpark (ICAO code 80WA), a default airport in Washington State that is quite famous in Flight Simulator for the terrain anomaly around it.Depending on what terrain mesh you are using, it can either be a floating runway or the entire airport within a 1,500-foot deep hole.The reason why I decompiled - and then recompiled the AP914140.bgl airport data file was for a number of reasons. One reason was that I relocated SFS Airpark. By default, Microsoft placed it a mile south of Lake Crescent. In reality, there is hardly any civilization near the lake, and no possibility of an airport there because of the tremendously steep and mountainous terrain the lake is surrounded by. Its current default location is approximately 70 statute miles west of where SFS Airpark is actually located, a small town called Port Hadlock just outside Port Townsend, Washington. In reality, SFS Airpark is located approximately three miles southeast of Jefferson County International (0S9) in Port Townsend. The second reason why this was necessary was due to the default start locations. When I relocated and saved the new SFS Airpark (including the start locations) as a separate AF2_80WA.bgl file, the relocated start positions would not work. In Map view or by creating or changing airport locations, I would always be redirected to the old location, even though I had relocated it.The third was to change the default surface type for the runway and add a few new features (this was done via the AFCAD-generated file). By default, it is a grass strip, but the actual surface is a turf runway with a gravel bed.In addition, I also relocated the AB terrain background polygon and flattening polygon for the airport found in files AB914140,BGL and FL914140.BGL by opening up the default files in SBuilder, and then relocating the aforementioned features and resaving them under the respective default filenames.I have extensively tested the finished result and it has had no ill effects on any other airports contained within the three files I modified.I haven't released the finished result yet because I am working on some major scenery overhauls for Washington State, including Sanderson Field, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and revamping my Mount St. Helens scenery project via adding new scenery objects and replacing existing ones.

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Hi Reggie,I'm apparently modifying an airport with older code: it has no taxiway signs in the APn.BGL. There are none in the relevent OBs as well. Where else might these puppies be?I'm attempting to be lazy: the airport needs all signs shifted minor amounts to accurately match runway/taxiway corrections I have made. It would be very easy to copy all the XML, pick off the signs coordinates and correct it in a new XML file, excluding the Magic Master Sign of course.Otherwise I need to recode all the signs and that's a bit of work.I realize if these signs have been coded with an "old" method, there may not be a BGL that will decompile to XML.Jon

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Which decompiler did you use?I always decompile with both BGLXML & NewBGLAnalyze - and compare the airport code side by side.Each finds some different things which the other does not find.I have not yet tested BGLXML 1.7 yet - having only previously used ver 1.5.

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Jim Vile and Holger have an interesting thread on the PAI forum - AFCAD section - about moving default aiports - about the distance you indicate.They've been able to do so with addon files only - not having to touch the default file.www.projectai.comForumsAfacad ForumYou'll have to search for posts by the user JVILE

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Hi Reggie,Bingo! I used BGLXML (not sure what version). NewBGLAnalyze found the signs that BGLXML did not.Thanks!Jon

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I still don't know why you guys are ignoring SceneGenX? It has a couple bugs, but it pulls in all the taxisigns. Just:Import bgl filescan fileselect airport(s) and objects within radius of airportGenerate XML from sgx file.As a side benefit, you get a plan view of the objects, sort of like AFCAD (though I agree AFCAD is better for editing specific elements, once everything is in the right place). OTOH, you can place a background bmp to guide placement.Or, build a directory of default airports by scanning AP, NV and OB files to the database, and select from the database.scott s..

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I will get there - just at my age the learning curve is always steep.ScenGenX holds the promise to be the product to do almost everything we want, for which we poorly use AFCAD right now.

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>Jim Vile and Holger have an interesting thread on the PAI>forum - AFCAD section - about moving default aiports - about>the distance you indicate.>>They've been able to do so with addon files only - not having>to touch the default file.>>www.projectai.com>>Forums>>Afacad Forum>>You'll have to search for posts by the user JVILETrue, and I did read that thread before I moved SFS Airpark, but my goal is to eliminate any existance of SFS Airpark as it was located by default, including the background AP terrain polygons and flattening polygons as well.No other airport within the modified BGLs were affected by the move, because before I modified, I tested every airport contained within the modified BGLs, and again tested them afier I moved SFS Airpark._Steve

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