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Upgraded flight dynamics

If modeling flight dynamics in FSX was simply a matter of entering the specs of the real aircraft, I would have been finished years ago. But it’s not, at least not when you are dealing with turbojets, delta wings, and supersonic flight.

The FDE in 4.1b2 was the best so far, but I was not really happy with the afterburner and how the aircraft behaved at high Mach. I have received comments on this in the forum and in emails, and I have to agree that performance on afterburner is not very impressive. Rate of climb is also way off the mark – especially at high speed, indicating that the wave drag table is not properly set.

So, I have been working hard on this all week and am happy to say that the FDE now seems to be “on the numbers” in almost all aspects. Climb rate, sink rate, acceleration, everything seems to more or less match the performance data I have.

The new FDE will be included in the third and final beta which will be released in a couple of days, but if you are impatient you can download the upgraded FDE separately and replace the existing one in 4.1b2. Just put the downloaded .air file in the Draken 4.1b2 aircraft folder, then edit aircraft.cfg to point to the new file:
sim = j35bm_fsx_55

Please note that this FDE will NOT work in any other version – it is specifically paired with the aircraft.cfg file in 4.1b2!

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Issues with 4.1b2

Here is a short list of reported issues in 4.1b2/4.1b2.1 so far:

  • Turn/bank control for Autopilot is broken in the VC
  • Brake chute sometimes deployed when the aircraft loads
  • Textures missing in the Barbro/Anita navaids scenery
  • Texture mapping error on right side of cockpit (ext)
  • Speed brakes are not animated

There was also a problem with the com radio which was patched in b2.1.

I also found that the Barbro/Anita navaids are sometimes not showing up in Plan-G, the excellent flight planning program that I have been using for years. I have no idea if this is a problem with the scenery or if it is a conflict in my installation. The navaids show up and work as they should inside FSX. Any users of Plan-G, please let me know if it works for you.

Please continue to post your bug reports in the forum, they are invaluable to me!

/Tom

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Wing condensation fx

Designing effects in Flight Simulator requires a stable psyche and a sense of humor. Not only is this one of the least documented parts of MSFS, it is illogical to the point of weirdness. Nevertheless, I decided to do something about the “wing vapor” effect which I have never been satisfied with.

Spent a day on this and came up with a new effect which is actually three separate ones, triggered successively depending on G force. When and how condensation forms on the wing also depends on dew point – which is not possible to extract from FSX unless you use SimConnect, so I cheat and use outside temperature.

The new effect is not compatible with the current beta, but will be part of a patch or maybe a third beta (oh yes, there may well be one before the final release).

2014-10-19-014
2014-10-19-013

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Support forum

OK, so we finally have a support forum again. :)

To be able to post in the forum, you first need to register from the Login page. After providing a username and a valid email address you will receive an email with a verification link. You will have to click on that link to receive your password.

Please read the updated House Rules as well as the stickies in the forums before posting.

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4.1b2 radios fix

The com radio in 4.1b2 contained a bug which prevented the preset buttons from updating the com frequency. A quickfix can be downloaded here.

Replace the file “..\Airplanes\Saab_35_41b2\panel\j35bm.cab” in your installation with this updated version and reload the aircraft. The com radios will now react to both the preset buttons and the dials, as well as ATC commanded frequency changes.

The full beta download has been updated and now includes this fix.

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Draken 4.1 beta 2

41_cockpit
The second beta version is now finally available on the Downloads page. :)

This is a preview version of the full version 4.1 which will be released about a month from now. The beta installer includes only one livery and, as in previous betas, an ugly “banner” is floating above the exterior model. Apart from that it is more or less what you will see in the final release.

The changes made between this and the previous beta were numerous and radical, so much that I considered incrementing the version number to 4.2. The FDE (flight model) is completely new, and many of the functions have been rewritten from scratch. But as 4.1 is still unreleased I decided not to “skip a generation” – so 4.1b2 it is.

I will post a full list of changes as soon as possible. The Flight Manual has been updated and covers all the new features and visble changes, so you can always start there. But many of the changes are “under the hood”, so you will only experience them as better performance and functionality.

The beta naturally comes with a few bugs and “cosmetic” issues that I am still working on. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions regarding this release, please use the contact form.

Cheers /Tom

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Options panel

Couldn’t resist another teaser:

Just added a panel to make it easier to enable/disable some resource-heavy features and debugging tools. The options panel will be shown automatically the first time you load the aircraft. After that it can be accessed from the Views menu.

options

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Turbulent days

The new stick and throttle are in place on my desk, and I am finally back on track – although with some turbulence (read on).

warthog

While fine-tuning the FDE this week I experienced a new problem: when flying in altitude or attitude hold mode, the aircraft would suddenly become unstable and then bank hard to either the left or right. To regain control I had to turn off the autopilot. My first thought was that this was related to a conflict between the wing leveler in the FSX autopilot and the custom autopilot functions in Draken, but I soon found out that the phenomenon also appeared in fully manual flight, i.e. with both the FSX autopilot as well as the custom functions completely disabled.

After some digging on the Internet it dawned on me that it was probably a matter of the new FDE in Draken overreacting to the rather rough “turbulence” simulation in FSX. Stock aircraft seem not to be affected, but high-performance addons (such as Draken) can be much more sensitive. The problem is not autopilot-related, but with wing leveler enabled the effect will be more prominent as the plane may be in a hard roll before you have time to react and override the autopilot.

The solution was to simply disable turbulence completely in FSX and use the weather function in FSUIPC instead, which is a lot better. I sincerely recommend this.

Today and tomorrow working on model optimization, trying to reduce polys and texture load as much as I am able. Also adding a new “options” panel for enabling/disabling some visual elements, sounds and fx. Then on to writing documentation for the latest additions and changes, and finally compiling the installer package for 4.1b2.

Stay tuned /Tom

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Stick around

My old Thrustmaster HOTAS Cougar gave up a few weeks ago, which means that I have not been able to finalize the FDE as I could not afford a new controller. The Cougar has seen some repair work and modding over the years and has generally been a good companion, but now it was spitting pieces of aluminum and the pots were all worn out. Today I finally bit the bullet and ordered a Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog. Not that I can afford it (I can’t), but I’m not going back to cheap plastic sticks.

Maybe as a result of being temporarily stick-less, I decided to add the control stick to the VC. Not the easiest thing to model, but I believe I got pretty close (see screenshots). At the moment the stick contains way too many polys (in the thousands), but I will try to simplify it before release. The trigger cover is animated, the buttons and switches are not. The stick can be hidden if you (like me) think that it is distracting and obscures the instrument panel. But you asked for the stick, and you got it. ;)

stick_work

Once the Warthog is on my desk I will tie things up and release 4.1.

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About the delay

My apologies for not posting for a while but I have had a lot on my plate lately, such as putting my house on the market while looking for a new one. So the Draken project as well as the blog has been on the back burner for a few weeks. I hope you understand.

Actually, the main reason that this project has been moving at a snail’s pace for the last year or two is that I have been restricted for contractual reasons as to how much time and effort I can devote to it. As of this week, I do not have these limitations anymore and can actually work full time on the Draken project for a few months. :) So hopefully there will be some progress and eventually something you can download.

I am very much in love with the latest version of Draken and impatient to share it, but I really need to kill a few remaining bugs first. So please be patient and you will be rewarded…

And while we’re at it, thank you all for your encouraging comments and emails. I am truly humbled by the constant support I recieve in spite of my failure to meet my somewhat overly optimistic deadlines. Thank you for being patient.

/Tom