This is Not an Official Site

This site has nothing to do with Google Earth except that I am a big fan of the program, and the Flight Simulator module in it.

All of the information provided below is just what I have been able to figure out from using the program.

Landing at Pond Inlet, NU

Landing at Pond Inlet, NU

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mapping the Joystick Buttons

Here's the diagram of my Logitech Attack-3 joystick.

I have re-mapped the buttons as follows:

There are four buttons on the top of the joystick, and I have made the centre one into a Pause button - it freezes the action.

Buttons 4 and 5 I use to control the rudder, using one to move it incrementally to the left and the other to the right. The rear top button (#2) is used to centre the rudder again. I don't use the rudder very much when flying the small plane as banking the plane gives me most of the turning capacity that I need. However, to make a tight banking turn to get back onto the glide path for a runway I sometimes use the rudder.

Buttons 6 and 7 on the base of the joystick I use to control the flaps. Button 7 will extend the flaps by 20% on each press, and Button 6 will reduce the flap setting by 20% on each press. The effect of the flaps when extended is to give the wing more lift at lower speeds, and flaps also tend to act as air brakes, slowing the plane at the same time. When I am touring  familiar areas at 1000 feet or so I often use full flaps and half throttle to slow the plane right down so that I can just drift along but still climb if necessary.

I use Buttons 8 and 9 on the base to control the brakes when taxiing. Holding the buttons down applies the brakes and releasing the buttons lets them off. They also work independently so you can use them to steer when landing, and at very slow speeds holding down one brake will allow you to spin the plane around - very useful when you want to take off back the way you landed.

I have found that the brakes do not work reliably or well on the fast jet plane, making it very difficult to stop the plane even on the longest runway.

I use Buttons 10 and 11 to control the altitude of the nose, moving it up or down in increments. These buttons are least convenient for me as I am right-handed and accessing the buttons requires my left hand to slide under my right. I tend not to bother much with them anyway.

The X and Y axis are the movement of the joystick column and I have not adjusted the settings for them. As one would expect, pulling back on the stick causes the plane to climb,  pushing forward makes the plane descend, and the side to side movements bank the plane. The throttle works very nicely, and I have not changed those settings either.

The very best part involves the trigger button. I have changed it so it controls the angle of the view. During regular flight the view is out over the front of the plane, as the pilot would normally see. When I pull the trigger in the view changes to looking almost straight down and a bit forward, and the heads-up display disappears. When this happens, it is as if I am an eagle, and I can soar over the terrain looking straight down. My muscle memory works just fine so I can effortlessly fly the plane with the joystick, rising and falling, drifting to left and right. It is especially cool when flying in mountainous terrain as one can just skirt the cliff edges and drop off the edges of mountains. Very, very  cool.

The code for re-mapping the buttons is in the next  post.

Using a Joystick with Flight Sim

The Google Earth Flight Simulator supports about ten different joysticks, including several of the most common ones. I use the Logitech Attack-3 which I purchased for about $30 at Future Shop, the Canadian arm of Best Buy.

You can find the list of supported joysticks in the Google Earth folder here:

There is another possible place to look for  controller .ini files and that is here:

You will have to look through your Google Earth program folders to find the location of the drivers. It seems like my system has the drivers in two places and I cannot determine which is the definitive location the program uses, so I put my modified driver file in both locations.

It seems that Google Earth queries each .ini file in turn looking for a text string that matches the string returned by the joystick on your USB port. When the strings match Flight Sim uses that driver, so if you have saved your .ini file under another name you will need to move it to another directory somewhere so Flight Sim only finds the new and modified driver. In my case, I deleted all of the other .ini files in the folder as I didn't need them anyway.