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

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Note to Mick Mellen at Google Earth Blog

Hi there . . .

Thanks for great blog. I liked the piece on the GExplorer from Paul van Dinther.

I have been using the Flight Simulator since it was first introduced,
and I fly the plane every day still.  I went out and bought one of the
joysticks that GE supports (Logitech Attack 3) and tried to use it but
the buttons did not seem to be mapped sensibly so I re-wrote the
joystick .ini file using the keyboard .ini file to get some of the extra
key assignment code.

My joystick is now mapped as follows:

I use the original code to handle joystick movement (back and forward,
side to side) and to handle the throttle.

I have four keys on the top, and I use the side keys to move the rudder in 20% increments. The centre key returns the rudder to centre, and the top key just pauses the action so I can answer the phone. On the small plane I do not usually use the rudder but on the jet there is much more need of rudder as one can't turn much by just banking.

I have two buttons on the left side of the base and I use them to
increase the flaps by 20% and decrease the flaps by 20%.

There are two buttons at the rear of the base and I have mapped them to the left and right brakes. On the small plane one can steer on the ground with the brakes, and even turn around on a runway and take off again. The brakes do not seem to slow the jet much and I often overshoot a runway even though I am safely down.

There are two buttons on the right side of the base and I have used
those to control attitude but I rarely use them in flight.

I have mapped the trigger key to change the view. In normal flight we look out over the nose and we see the instrument display. When I pull the trigger the instrument display disappears and the view angle changes to downwards and slightly forward. I usually fly the small plane, and with full flaps and half throttle, flying at about 500 feet, and with the trigger depressed it seems like I am an eagle soaring over familiar landscapes. The effect is just magical. At that airspeed I can still maneuver and climb slightly, but it is slow enough that the earth beneath me does not blur.

The Flight Simulator is just an amazing piece of coding. I have found the small plane to be the most responsive, and I can take off and land reliably. To land, one must approach the runway at a shallow angle (probably 2 or 3 degrees) although I often land by coming in very slow with full flaps, chopping the speed and letting the aircraft settle. On the other hand, for variety I sometimes land at full throttle and no flaps, just to see if I can do it.

There are some very nice runways that are good and flat in Google Earth - some are not flat due to anomalies in the rendering of elevations. I often land in Halifax and at nearby Shearwater Air Force base.

Diego Garcia US Air Force base in the Indian Ocean is a great one to practice on as it is so long, and is rendered as level. Mirabel airport north of Montreal is a lovely one to practice touch-and-go on as it has two long runways at right angles. Unfortunately the imagery is of different seasons and brighnesses.

I flew (as passenger) into many small airports on Baffin Island so I enjoy flying the Google plane around some of those small towns. The small plane seems to be centred on the crosshairs in the display, so one can fly around mountain peaks and canyon sides and almost "brush the walls with your wings" but never crash so long as the crosshairs stay off the mountain. I fly like this around Grise Fiord, NU, which has lovely mountains all around the airstrip. I have never bothered to fly in the Grand Canyon but I expect that one could fly the same away along the canyon walls.

I do not know how Google Earth handles the identification of a joystick, but I would guess that perhaps Windows queries the joystick and gets a string in return, and it compares that string with known .ini files. That's my guess. If there is no match and windows tells GE that there is a joystick, then perhaps it uses the generic .ini file. I would guess that if you don't have a natively supported joystick one could copy the text into the generic.ini file and it might work.

At any rate, here's the .ini file that I re-wrote to suit my Logitech Attack 3 joystick. Note that on my joystick the buttons and axes number from zero. The file would have to be tweaked for other joysticks with different button configurations.

----- file Logitech_Attack3.ini starts on next line ------------
controllers_supported = [
  Controller('*Logitech*Attack*3*', 11, 11, 3, 3)

button_press = [
  B0   set(VAngle, -0.35)

  B1   set(DR,  0)

  B1   set(dDR,  0)

  B2   toggle(TotalFreeze)

  B3   set(dDR,  -0.8)
  B4   set(dDR,  +0.8)

  B5   add(DF, -0.2, 0, 1)
  B6   add(DF,  0.2, 0, 1)

  B7   set(DB_0, 1)
  B8   set(DB_1, 1)


button_release = [

  B0   set(VAngle, 0)

  B3   set(dDR, 0)
  B4   set(dDR, 0)

  B7   set(DB_0, 0)
  B8   set(DB_1, 0)

axes = [
  A0      set(DA, 1.0, 0.0)
  A1      set(DE, 1.0, 0.0)
  A2      set(DP_0, -0.5, 0.5)

povs = [
--------------- file ends on previous line ---------

The joystick files are in a folder in the Google Earth program folder. On my machine the folder is here:

C:\Program Files\Google\Google Earth\client\res\flightsim\controller

and I replace the contents of the ini file with the code above. Sometimes Google Earth resets these ini files to default without warning, so I always keep a spare copy of the ini file elsewhere and ready to copy back into that folder.

I hope that you find this interesting. Thanks for great GE blog.

Just ask if I can add anything more . . .   Alan

Sunday, September 18, 2011

marking runways

I have found that the easiest way to find your runways is to mark them with the usual yellow (or blue) pushpin, but in the properties section I choose the altitude as 100 metres, relative to the ground, and extended to ground.

This way, when you are flying in for a landing the yellow pin is up in the air on a yellow column, where you can see it as you line up for a landing.