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Peter Lürkens

Poll: Future CumulusX! functions

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Real life gliding season is not long from being over in Europe, so its time for considering extension of gliding simulation.

This is a list of ideas for future releases of CumulusX!. What do you think of it, what do you like most? Or dou you have other suggestions?


# Priority Type Description Explanation
1 0 Function Wave Simulation High reaching wave lift in mountain areas, rotors
2 0 Function Slope thermals additional slope lift with sun irradiation
3 0 Function Intelligent tow plane tow plane searching thermals and avoiding CFIT
4 0 Function Controllable tow plane Allow user control for tow-plane bank left/right
5 0 Function Any tow plane Allow towing with any AI or multiplayer plane
6 0 Function Life clouds control over cloud variations, visual life cycle of clouds, drifting
7 0 Function Pitch correction Realize nose up behavior when entering / nose down when leaving thermals
8 0 Function Turbulence Realize turbulence behavior in lee-side and in thermals
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Best regards,

Peter

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Yes to #1, I'd like to experience wave lift through CumulusX!

Yes also to #3 & #4, I'd like to see a simpler way of controlling the tow plane without having to AltTab out all the time.

Definitly Yes to #6, If it can be simulated more to real life behaviours, that would be great.

Scott

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Wave Simulation!! Yes, yes, yes!

Slope thermals, interesting....

All the best and thanks for Cumulus!

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Controlable tow plane and cloud life cycles woud be great.

Thanks already a great product

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What about automating slightly the distance between thermals based on height.

Is there anyway of autoloading the cumulusx parameters for each saved mission file

Thanks Mike

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Hi Peter,

I'll put hand on your priority list and partly comment my decisions:

#    Priority    Comment / Explanation
1    6    Sure a great feature but quite seldom in real life. Honestly, how often do you fly using wave lift in comparison to thermal or normal ridge lift?
2    3    Where would get terrain info from? Sim_Probe or Slope-Databases? In both cases much more realistic than now -> Great.
3    7    For me it’s minor priority because I usually shoot myself up with slew mode to 1000-1500ft AGL as multiplayer mode messes up when too many tow planes are flying
4    8    It would be enough for me to make the tow plane fly some kind of patterns (without getting too near to ground or even crash into some hills around
5    9    No(!) priority for me. I don’t mind getting towed by the Maule M7 all time.
6    1    It would be great if one could decide if it is worth to head for a cloud - Therefore it's necessary to see if a cloud develops or if it’s in a dying stage. 
7    4    If you could add different lift/sink effect for right and left wings too, it would be easier to "feel" where the centre of the thermal is. 
8    5    Nice way to add some realism. Nothing more.
9    2    I’d love to have the clouds look far more realistic than now. It’s too easy to see the borders of those clouds, too.
..and I have some further questions:
#    Question
1    Where would get terrain info from? Sim_Probe or Slope-Databases?

Back to #7 - detailed description of what I meant with my comment:

Following experiance is simplyfied - I know that but necessary to explain my experiances while RC-soaring and as real-life saoring passenger (regretfully not as pilot). If you measure the lift inside a thermal while flying right through the centre you would usually first measure sink, then slight lift getting stronger as you move towards the centre of the thermal. Right at center you have maximum of lift. As you increase distince to the centre again, the lift rate decreases again untill you find roughly same sink as in the beginiing of our tour through the thermal.

If you fly a tangential route with your left wing inside the sink area surrounding a thermal, left wing drops (as it is exposed to sink) and your plane is forced to bank left. In this stage you can simply add left rudder and increase bank and you'll enter the thermal.

If you fly on an intersecting route through the thermal, your inner wing is exposed to stronger lift then the outter, which results in a banking force again. This time the plane tries to bank up with the wing that points to the centre.

With this information it would be much easier to centre in a thermal lift then now.

Again another simplification - this time while having fun at ridges:

As you increase your distance to a working ridge, you get less lift. As you usually fly parallel to the ridge, it's your lee-side wing (the one that's closer to the ridge) that gets more lift, resulting in a banking moment (away from ridge) again. The steeper the ridge the stronger is the difference of lift between both wing tips.

Hope you see my point. If not, just let me know for I'll explain it in a PM or e-mail in german... or simply give me a call.

Dirk.

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A significant challenge I have with my soaring missions is the different CumulusX settings between different users. A custom mission action that locks *all* CumulusX! settings to the defaults would be useful. On that basis having a fresh look at the defaults might be helpful (e.g. we may need a higher default thermal density). After that I'm happy to see CumulusX continue to evolve a richer and better environment with any other vertical air movement where it makes sense.

You can see my concerns are much more to do with getting a level playing field for missions and multiplayer than with the core CumulusX features which are already excellent, although total kudos to Peter for the continued enhancement. My vote on that score, maybe, would be the cloud model and life-cycle.

cheers - Ian

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p.s. I should comment relative to Dirk's post:

As you increase your distance to a working ridge, you get less lift. As you usually fly parallel to the ridge, it's your lee-side wing (the one that's closer to the ridge) that gets more lift, resulting in a banking moment (away from ridge) again. The steeper the ridge the stronger is the difference of lift between both wing tips.

sim_probe would probably need to address this issue if needed but as a ridge-pilot with over half my total 1200 hours flying the Appalacian ridges I don't think the effect is significant relative to other factors. Firstly as a pilot you much more notice the crab angle (yaw) as you fly down the ridge, giving the impression you are always flying slightly away from the ridge, and this swamps any wing-up/wing-down effect you describe. But mainly in real life the turbulence is so strong anywhere near the ridge that there is no way you could feel one wing vs. the other. If you slow down to reduce the pain then you are much higher above the ridge with a high crab angle, and if you get down to the ridge at 100+ knots (as per FSX generally) you are bouncing around so much you're more concerned about not putting your head through the canopy than a differential between the lift beneath each wing. In FSX so far we've only modelled *very* little turbulence in the simulated ridge soaring we do, and it's probably most pilots wouldn't be comfortable with the 'real-life' ratio of lift to turbulence.

cheers - Ian

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p.s. I should comment relative to Dirk's post:

sim_probe would probably need to address this issue if needed but as a ridge-pilot with over half my total 1200 hours flying the Appalacian ridges I don't think the effect is significant relative to other factors. Firstly as a pilot you much more notice the crab angle (yaw) as you fly down the ridge, giving the impression you are always flying slightly away from the ridge, and this swamps any wing-up/wing-down effect you describe. But mainly in real life the turbulence is so strong anywhere near the ridge that there is no way you could feel one wing vs. the other. If you slow down to reduce the pain then you are much higher above the ridge with a high crab angle, and if you get down to the ridge at 100+ knots (as per FSX generally) you are bouncing around so much you're more concerned about not putting your head through the canopy than a differential between the lift beneath each wing. In FSX so far we've only modelled *very* little turbulence in the simulated ridge soaring we do, and it's probably most pilots wouldn't be comfortable with the 'real-life' ratio of lift to turbulence.

cheers - Ian

Hi Ian,

thank you very much for clearing this up for me. As I've written above, my only experience as "PIC" (ridge soaring and thermal gliding) comes from RC world.

Peter, with this new information, I think you can cancel that point in my priority list.

:cheers2: Dirk.

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Only just became aware of this thread when Ian posted a link yesterday on flightsimulator x missions.com and basically I am in agreement with Dirk and Ian, that is:

Quote Dirk:

"6 It would be great if one could decide if it is worth to head for a cloud - Therefore it's necessary to see if a cloud develops or if it's in a dying stage.

7 If you could add different lift/sink effect for right and left wings too, it would be easier to "feel" where the centre of the thermal is.

9 I'd love to have the clouds look far more realistic than now. It's too easy to see the borders of those clouds, too."

To me seeing the clouds look more realistic if it can be done, would be my top priority and make the whole Cumulus X experience even better than it is now.

Quote Ian (and Mic B also mentioned this) "A custom mission action that locks *all* CumulusX! settings " - this would be really good as in the competitions you really do need to know that it is a level playing field. (except it may be good to keep the 'unblue" option)

Cumulus X is a fantastic product Peter and much appreciated so I guess these enhancements are for the future.

Jeff

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Hi Jeff,

tks for the compliment. The cloud life cycle thing will have me to change entirely the way clouds are being displayed, but it's certainly worth to spend effort here.

A really difficult thing is making the clouds itself look better. One has to know that the native cloud rendering system in FSX is completely different from the scenery rendering. It is not accessible to for rendering own 3D-objects. Therefor I found it already extremely difficult to achieve a cloud that is at least a bit similar to the built-in cloud sets. Anyway, if somebody has achieved to make a more realistic cloud, I'm prepared to give advice how to install it instead of the current Cx! clouds.

You can still provide alternative cloud sets (as ASX does) but you don't have control on placement of individual clouds. The only way to control the native FSX sky appearance goes over the weather system, where you can specify integral properties like cloud type, coverage, precipitation, wind direction, and so on.

The locking feature is quite a viable one, there are several possibilities. It may be necessary, too, that the logger application can also read back the settings in order to discover tampering with the settings, not only defining the settings itself. However there will remain many other cheating possibilities because of the open structure of FSIM, which I do not detail here. Difficult to handle them all.

Cheers,

Peter

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Sounds good Peter - if you do implement some locking support lets cooperate and I'll modify sim_probe to check it for inclusion in the IGC log.

I'm thinking of separating sim_probe into two separate sim_connect executables - one will be a pure logger and the other will be the ridgelift module. Ridgelift would be pretty much the same as today (unless you've got suggestions) and the IGC logger would write additional 'L' records giving the available settings and include an encrypted checksum which can be checked to confirm the log file is unchanged.

For the different versions of sim_probe I've resisted changing the calculation of the actual ridgelift because for FSX I think it is more important everyone has the *same* than it is the lift is perfect (so long as it's ok ....)

Forcing the settings to fixed values is more useful for a single- or multi-player mission. Either a single function to set defaults or multiple actions to set each parameter - as far as I'm concerned I'm happy to adjust the *weather* in a mission (e.g. date, cloudbase) and have CumulusX intelligently respond to that via its default behaviour as it does today rather than set things like density and wind lean.

Ian

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I know I mentioned this somewhere before Peter, but I would truely like to see compatibilities between CumulusX! and CCS2004 if at all possible. But I think I remember you saying though, that there are compatibility issues and it isn't 100% accurate possibly. I just want to express my feelings on this once more for our community of FS2004 and FSX users. But please, by all means, don't go through any pains just to keep compatability. I don't want to see your product held back any by compatibility issues.

Keep up the great work! Oh, and another thing. If a new cloud model is achieved, and is more realistic and has a realistic life cycle, it will still need to stand out somewhat so as to have a person know that it is part of CumulusX! and not an FSX generation cloud. Is this even achievable? Though I remember seeing a cloud SDK in with FS2004 or FSX but never had a reason to check into it.

Scott

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Hi Scott,

I underdstand your position, but I think that the question of compatibility will become obsolete, sooner or later. While functionality of CumulusX! makes progress, CCS will stay what it is. At the end of the day the difference between the capabilites of the two will become that big, that FSX users will no longer be interested in multi-player sessions when the have to cut back their functions to that what CCS is supporting also.

Actually, as of now, Cx! goes already significantly beyond what CCS is providing, i.e. automatic thermal generation world wide, season and region dependent, exclusion of water bodies, streeting, and at the same time multiplayer compatibility without prerequisites. In addition, with the availability of slope data files, there is an improved thermal placement in mountain regions.

To be clear, I will leave the compatibility functions (which are script files and some differences in ridge lift) in the program, but I will not put effort in considerations how to make new functions somehow compatible with CCS, which, bascically, seems to be pretty pointless. Currently I think over if it is worthwhile to enhance the the thernal scripting with some of the new functionalities (being effective when CCS-compatibility is not checked), but I think that hardly anybody is using it at this time.

Today I made substantial progress in getting "life thermals" as proposed under #7. So thermals can now grow in the first phase, shrink in the last phase and shortly before disappearance becoming more transparent. Unfortunately, I don't no effective way how to make the transitions smooth, so the transitions happen in an instance now. The good news is that I could'nt notice a relevant loss in FPS by this. Another good dnews is, that I managed somehow to avoid the generation of a crash box, since I could fly through undamaged with activated crash detection.

It could be that animations are another possible solution, but documentation is so meagre, that I didn't have any success with that method so far. On the other hand, we know that the old animated birds for the thermal representation had killed the FPS, and that would be very likely to happen here, too.

Clouds are also no longer compressed vertically when thermal ceiling is low. Another interesting side effect is that the thermal clouds now have ground shadows. This is pretty helpful to find out the approximate position of the thermals, when a lo of FSX clouds (with no shadows) are around. Ther shadow is of the "aircraft"-type. which means it is a flat patch. In plain areas it looks quite decent, but in the grand canyon alsmot all the cloud shadows are floating halfway between the slopes and the sky, looking pretty weird. Anyway, you can turn off aircraft shadows.

I have also removed one or two design flaws in the cloud model, so it looks slightly more consistent, but at the end the artwork is still the biggest issue, so for the next time you should not be concerned, that somebody could not distinguish between FSX and CumulusX! clouds.

Cheers,

Peter

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Thanks Peter! I guess I'll maybe give up on the idea of FS2004/FSX together in a multiplayer contest. Though, if the script.dat file could still be read by CCS2004, I'd be happy. But like you said, why would a person cut back on an already good product. It might even be cumbersum to "get back to the basics" of CCS2004. But there again, I know if there was still a following of FS2004 users, I would join in on a contest if it could be achieved. Though again too, it may not be good for FSX users to go back to just what CCS2004 offers, because of the realisticness of the CumulusX! engine.

Thanks again for your thoughts on the matter. I value them greatly.

Scott (sf4JC)

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Great to see so much discussion on future improvements! Can I just ask if Wave simulation is still on?

Regards, Pedro

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I was at a talk by Ingo Renner last night (3 times open class world champ, 19 times Australian champ, 33,000 hrs in a glider) and as he was discussing finding and centreing in thermals, I decided that I would change my priorities for Cumulusx improvements. Ok it would be nice if the Cumulusx clouds looked like normal cumulus however I think more important is this business of getting feedback through the wings of whether one wing has hit lift so that thermals core direction can be assessed. After all Cumulus x is all about simulating the real life experience of thermals and has already revolutionised soaring in FSX.

As I understand it, the thermal starts with weak lift near the edges and strong in the middle so as long as the relative position of the glider in relation to the thermal is known in the code, then if the port side of the glider is closest to the core of the thermal then the code could feed a one off starboard aileron command to the glider (independent of the joystick) thus creating a slight roll to the right. ie out of the thermal. The pilot would then know to oppose this roll and bank into the thermal.

What do you reckon? Would this be doable?

Jeff

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Good question! and, can I add if possible to estimate, How much would the estimated graphical performance loss be effected, if any? I myself would probably not see much loss if any since my tremendous graphics card update, though still low on the 2.2Gb core speed of the CPU. I just don't want anyone or many left in the dust if at all possible. This was probably not even worth mentioning, since you factor that in as best you can on performance.

Scott

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Spent the last two days, all day both days, ecstatically adding soaring capabilities to FSX-- your CumulusX plus Sim-probe, LaunchX, Aerotow and several of Wolfgang Piper's fantastic sailplanes.

Endured six hours of questioning Thursday during a deposition regarding someone else's patent infringement lawsuit, which is beside the point; but the plaintiff's California attorney turned out to be a glider pilot and bragged that he enjoyed soaring in the Alps. Not to be out done, I piped up and said that sounded like fun, I don't have anything to do this weekend, think I'll go try it--as if I was going to hop in a jet and zip across the pond. Yeah right, in my dreams.

But thanks to your artistry, Peter, I did just that without the travel hassles and expenses. And I dare say I had as much, and maybe more, fun sitting right here in front of my Mac.

But to get to the point, I'd love to have that capability to do some wave flights. Every time I see a lenticular I'm reminded that I've never had the experience, and while the simulated version doesn't replace the real thing I'm blown away by how good sims are these days, judging from 40+ years of real flying. If the phrase "suspension of disbelief" is familiar or translates adequately I can honestly say it's happened to me several times as evidenced by sweat armpits trying to get back to the airport after I rode a ridge too far downwind and by another physiological response about a foot lower after shooting my first successful carrier landing in Razbam's EA-6B. (I was a Prowler crewmember 30 years ago, but helping the pilot do it--even when whatever happened to him happened to me a split second later*--isn't the same as doing it yourself.)

Any and all of your other ideas sound wonderful, which doesn't do much to help you prioritize them I admit, but I would encourage you to see if you can find a fix for the clouds. I certainly agree that making thermal clouds look distinctive may help pilots find some lift, but for me the "tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds" and the "footless halls" are huge part of what makes flying more than just a way to keep your hands busy. I'm a huge fan of Real Environment Extreme for just that reason.

Sorry for the long diatribe. As someone said, if I'd had more time I'd have made it shorter.

In any event, thank you very much for Cumulus X and a whole lot of fun.

*The right front seat is a few inches lower and further aft)

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Wow! You work fast (and I read slowly)!

Just discovered the new release with the great new clouds.

Thank you thank you thank you!

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