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DX10 and Draken

I only now realised that some people actually use the infamous “DX10 Preview” mode in FSX, which may explain some of the more mysterious bug reports I have received over the years. So I will try to sum up how this mode affects FSX in general, and Draken in particular, and then you can decide for yourself if you want to use it or not.

DX10 was never fully implemented in FSX, but a “technology preview” mode was thrown in to show what could be expected in future versions of MSFS. It has generally been recommended to keep this box unticked, as the results were erratic and could even crash the program. The user would typically see flickering texture maps, disappearing airport and aircraft lighting, etc.

Today there are third-party patches available that makes it possible to fly with DX10 mode enabled without too much trouble – although there are still some problems, mainly concerning lights and effects which function unpredictably or not at all.

I have been testing Draken in DX10 today and it works perfectly well except for the lights and smoke fx. These fx have now been updated to be DX10-compatible, and I will upload an update package ASAP. Some detail textures are also not working well with DX10, they will be replaced in the final release.

I do not support using Draken in DX10 Preview mode, but I will at least try my best to make it work as good as in DX9.

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Draken 4.1 beta 3

The third beta release is now available on the Download page.
It includes all previous patches as well as some additional fixes and changes:

  • Completely new wing vapor fx
  • Scaled down the afterburner flame fx
  • Added conditions to prevent “event loops” in some gauges
  • Fixed missing speed brakes animation
  • Fixed turn/bank control in autopilot
  • Fixed bugs in the com radios (again!)
  • Added missing scenery textures
  • Minor fixes to the exterior model and textures

As you may have noticed, you now have to be logged in to download beta versions and related patches. Registering is free and gives you full access to the forum.

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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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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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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

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New autopilot

The autopilot in the current version (4.0) was originally put together for the FS9 version and then adapted for FSX. It was built on top of the MSFS autopilot, but most of its functions were custom made with local variables. It has been known to be more than a little “quirky”, did not respond to key commands, and I have never been happy with it.

I have spent the last week building a new autopilot from scratch, using as much of the stock FSX autopilot as possible and adding only a minimum of local functions. The new autopilot is still close to the real thing, but it has better performance, is less buggy, and can be controlled completely through FSX key commands.

The aircraft can now be flown comfortably on autopilot up to at least 13000 meters, where it stays at about Mach 0.8 in altitude hold mode. No sudden disconnects, no freezes. I am quite happy. ;)

Getting closer to something I can release as beta 2.

Stay tuned /Tom

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Solved: Variable wet thrust

Finally managed to figure out how to allow manual activation of the afterburner within a certain throttle range, but still prevent it from being automatically activated. :)

The afterburner function in FSX was designed to be activated at a certain throttle setting, which is not how it works in Draken. You should be able to set full throttle without afterburner, then activate it with a key command. To cut off the afterburner you throttle back below ca. 95%. You should be able to regulate wet thrust slightly by moving the throttle within the 95–100 percent range on afterburner.

The afterburner_throttle_threshold value in Aircraft.cfg determines the throttle setting where afterburner is toggled in FSX. If you toggle the afterburner with a key command, the throttle will also be set to this value. Now, setting the threshold value to zero prevents throttle-induced activation, but it also means that the throttle will be cut when afterburner is deactivated. Setting the threshold value to >100% instead will apply full throttle whenever afterburner is toggled. Neither is what we want.

The solution was to set the threshold to zero, then add a gauge function which stores the throttle setting every update cycle, and returns the throttle to that value if the afterburner is toggled. It also adds its own cut-off function so you can regulate wet thrust within a set range. Voila!