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Peter Lürkens

Cumulus cloud for built thermals

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I downloaded it and will try it tomarrow, I can't wait! Man, I could've used it today!

Thanks Peter!

sf4JC

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I had a GREAT time with your new cloud to thermal scenery and found it more challenging for me to stay in the thermal. It was a WONDERFUL feeling to use the virtual cockpit for it's purpose, to have you engulfed in it's surroundings as in real life (wish I could spend the money for that headset that allows one to move the screenview with head movement instead of using the hat switch, now that would be an even more incredible feeling).

I used real-world weather and the cloud color worked great, so then I just had to figure out which clouds had the thermals under them. Later on I tried it and the weather was somewhat cloudy and I couldn't find any thermals. But then I thought, it was probably due to the fact that the sun wasn't getting through the cloud cover or what there was of it anyway. I just assumed that cloud cover is maybe another variable in how and where thermals are produced, but without too many thermal flights flown in varying conditions I cannot say for sure.

sf4JC

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I'm glad that you enjoy it. I need a break now, it was a *&%! of a struggle to get the drawing order right. Eventually I fixed it out I think, so more varieties are easier now.

Did you try both versions? Which do you prefer?

Cheers,

Peter

Ups, didn't suppose that to be inappropriate language.

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Hi Peter,

I looked for a short while at your cumulus files and I think they are a great improvement to FSX thermal fliying. It's a big step to getting closer to real-life soaring. Even though I still can see where the thermals are, but arriving in a thermal I now am on my own in seeking the right circle to get optimum lift. Only the thermal cloud above me and no more help from green radials to keep me in the thermal. It's more challenging like that.

I think I like the cloud2z.bgl better, because when I'm flying close under the base of the clouds and there is a default cloud between the thermal cloud and the airplane, I can't see the thermal cloud, which is more realistic.

Three suggestions for improvement, if I may:

- maybe a little more tweaking to color and shape of the thermal cloud to get it closer to the default clouds, but not to much. The pilot must still be able to see the difference between a default cloud and a thermal one.

- Is it possible to position the base of the thermal-clouds at the same level as the default ones (I think not, but it would be great).

- Under the thermal clouds, at ground level, I can see four white retangles, made by several of white dots (one at every corner of the thermal object?). Did you build them in for developing and testing purpose and forgot to take them out before publicing your bgl's?

Bert

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I got to fly with both options today using real-world weather again. The other day I thought I couldn't tell the difference between the thermal clouds and the original cloud color, but today I could. I have to say though, I think I like using the Cloud2t.BGL better than the other. The Cloud2z.BGL just looked out of place for me.

Most of the time I don't stay in a thermal long enough to reach a thermals ceiling, so with that said, are the thermal clouds located at the highest point of a thermal? I've always seen the schematic thermal ceiling showing higher than the clouds in the area, and today I noticed that the thermal clouds were about the same level as the lowest cloud layer. Does anybody know how FSX comes up with a thermals ceiling, especially in real-world weather?

sf4JC

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First off let me thank Peter for the clouds. Much better than little birds that I in fact never saw (probably a resolution issue) and the ugly green bands that don't locate the thermal very well anyway. Tried out the new clouds with the Dallas/Ft Worth MegasceneryX and was much impressed. In reference to cloud layers I found that if you hang in there through the floor of the cloud (a clear violation of FAA regs) you just keep on going up. I finally broke off at about 12k when the lift was getting a little iffy which should be normal when reaching to top of the cloud created by the thermal.

It would seem that more research is needed however. I think that whoever set the thermal strengths and heights in FSX must have been getting his advice from someone here in the southwest where, during the summer, we regularly see boomers of 1100 fpm to better than 12K. But that's not the case in most of the world.

I got to fly with both options today using real-world weather again. The other day I thought I couldn't tell the difference between the thermal clouds and the original cloud color, but today I could. I have to say though, I think I like using the Cloud2t.BGL better than the other. The Cloud2z.BGL just looked out of place for me.

Most of the time I don't stay in a thermal long enough to reach a thermals ceiling, so with that said, are the thermal clouds located at the highest point of a thermal? I've always seen the schematic thermal ceiling showing higher than the clouds in the area, and today I noticed that the thermal clouds were about the same level as the lowest cloud layer. Does anybody know how FSX comes up with a thermals ceiling, especially in real-world weather?

sf4JC

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Hi folks,

nice to hear that it seems to work. Yes, there can be some more colour tweaking, but its success will be limited at the end of the say. FSX default cloud rendering is done with a special code, not used for general 3D objects as are my clouds. The current colour should make a good match during most of the day. In the evening the thermal clouds will get noticeable darker than the default ones.

The cloud ceiling scales with the height of the thermals, as the green bands do. The four small rectangles are a workaround, at this time, to tweak the scaling of the cloud such, that it covers only the part of the thermals, that is lift. There is an automatic scaling of the thermal model, which apparently looks at the maximum extension of the model from the origin of the graphics coordinate system. The four little recangles are sort of helper objects to define an enlarged bounding box for the cloud model. If someone knows a better trick I will try it.

The strength and the height of the built-in thermals are defined in ThermalDescription.xml, based on the landclass code. Its easy (but tedious) to rework it. After all, there is no regional discrimination. It could have been easy to use the lowest cumulus layer of the current weather, but by some miracolous reason MS didn't. The workaround could be to use modified ThermalDescritpions.xml, matching the current weather, but I assume you have to restart FSX to become effective.

Eventually, the default thermals could be completely replaced by a sort of CCS-program, planting built-in-like thermals with appropriate altitude, but before this I need a crash course in C# or C++, or we try to trigger Eric. Still, lift profiling, or leaning, will not be possible.

Cheers,

Funky

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Hi Peter,

Thanks for the explanation. One week later since my first post about your clouds, I still use them and I like them even more. The experience of trying to stay under them and climbing is much more realistic then following the green bands.

Bert

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Hi - this sounds like a great advance for soaring in FSX - I'd love to see some screenshots please!

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Hi friends,

I gave it a new try with a slightly darker tint of the cloud texture. Maybe that it fits better among the default clouds. An isolated picture is below,

Peter

2007-8-23_21-43-0-140.jpg

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Hi friends,

I gave it a new try with a slightly darker tint of the cloud texture. Maybe that it fits better among the default clouds. An isolated picture is below,

Peter

2007-8-23_21-43-0-140.jpg

That looks great! I'll try this out tonight. Do you have any objections to me making other FSX soaring fans aware of this?

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No, I don't have objections. I have updated the archive and the new one can be distributed freely.

In the meantime I have replaced the texture with a new creation and now it looks so, among the default clouds:

2007-8-25_22-35-25-109.jpg

regards,

Peter

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Looks GREAT as always! Thanks for your hard work in making FSX so much more enjoyable. I know! I know! FSX was already enjoyable, but with SOARING, FSX is a whole new ball game for me. But I am still waiting and hoping for someone to come out with a good slope soaring addition for FSX outside of the Missions menu to REALLY make FSX SOAR!

Oh, and also, did I catch that right, the download above has the latest changes in it?

sf4JC

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Yes, the link above contains the latest version.

You may refer to my homepage as well, meanwhile I spent it an update and anchored the fsxcloud there. Still the fs2004 stuff is available there and another small but cool fsx goodie.

After some experiments with simconnect I have decided to wait for the next servicepack, probably in October.

In the meantime I could consider to give the Cumulus!-Tool an fsx/simconnect implementation. If I'm not wrong it could be possible to tailor thermals according to the overall wx-conditions, rather than having thermals totally uncorrelated with the rest of the weather.

best regards,

Peter

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