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SBuilderX image season

Discussion in 'Terrain Design General' started by Tjitah, 13 Oct 2017.

  1. Tjitah

    Tjitah

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    Hi there, I finally figured out how to use SBuilderX and produced an image (bgl) of an airfield and surrounding area in South Africa for use in FSX.

    However, most of the terrain is a rather ugly reddish brown colour, which is probably correct for the middle of our dry (winter) season. But this looks just terrible in FSX as it doesn't blend well with the background, even the default FSX winter textures. That same part of the world is much greener in the summer (our rainy season) and I feel an image of that time of the year will work much better in FSX.

    My problem is that SBuilderX always grabs the reddish-brown image and never an image from our greener summer season. Is there a way in SBuilderX to determine what time of the year it grabs its image from? As far as I can see, only "Google_api3_Satellite" and "VirtualEarthSatellite" generate any images, but they're all reddish brown. I have played around in Google Earth and by changing the date settings, one can find images which are beautiful and green, but I can't seem to generate them in SBuilderX?
     
  2. rhumbaflappy

    rhumbaflappy Moderator Staff Member Resource contributor

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    SBuilderX gets it's tiles from Google Maps. Google Earth is a different source.
     
  3. Tjitah

    Tjitah

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    OK thanks, but surely even Google maps needs to update periodically, or do they decide on one map (for example winter of 2011) and keep that forever and that is the only one that will ever be available through SBuilderX. I guess my question is really how do I get a map of the summer period for the area I'm interested in, instead of the winter period which it keeps on generating for the past month or two?
     
  4. GaryGB

    GaryGB

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    Hello:

    Bear in mind that any Google aerial imagery you access via online tile servers using SBuilderX is intended for use only on your own computer, and should not be distributed to others in a manner freely accessible to the public.:alert:


    Assuming you want actual 'real world' aerial imagery that shows your area of interest at the time of year you wish to have displayed every time you fly, you may need to purchase a license for use of commercial aerial imagery from a local or international aerial imagery source.

    Provided the aerial imagery is Geo-referenced and in the correct projection, it can either be processed via SBuilderX using the Add Map From Disk option, or directly through use of FSX or P3Dv1.4x SDK with a manually created INF file.


    Assuming you instead want to learn how to create FSX custom photo-real aerial imagery that has more than (1) Season as well as a Night (aka "Light Map" or "*_LM") version of your main Day texture taken usually in Spring, Summer, or Fall in the Northern Hemisphere, you will need to study how to use a graphics application to edit COPIES of your existing chosen Daytime aerial imagery.


    Although Dick is probably the person here at FS Developer who is most familiar with what aerial imagery tile servers exist, and how to access them, you may note that he has not mentioned in this thread whether there is still a likelihood that one can access older Google imagery by using SBuilderX tile server DLLs from prior release dates.


    Based on what I have seen with tiles going missing with white tiles showing rather than aerial images when tile server DLLs no longer point to current URLs for image tiles (thus needing a new version to be released by Dick), you may- or may not- be able to successfully use those older tile server DLLs to access older GoogleServer aerial imagery. :scratchch


    If you wish to try that option, back up a copy of your current updated 'Google Satellite' "GoogleServer.DLL" into a ZIP archive within the same [SBuilderX install path]\Tiles sub-folder it is presently located in, then try out older "GoogleServer" DLLs from prior dates instead of the most current DLL. :idea:

    Note that those older tile server DLLs are located on PTSIM in a thread, and on Dicks download website.


    BTW: If you wish to learn more about using a graphics application to derive Night and Seasonal versions of your sharpest existing aerial imagery, search Google for those subjects.

    You may wish to search especially for a "Metrix" plugin for PhotoShop and a few other graphics applications that may reduce some of the required work-load.

    Hope this helps ! :)

    GaryGB
     
    Last edited: 15 Oct 2017
  5. Tjitah

    Tjitah

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    Hi there GaryGB, man that is a most useful reply, thank you so much. I'm only in the beginning stages of scenery design and it is definitely just for myself. My results are laughable at best and i wouldn't even think about sharing it at this stage.

    I'm actually a real-life pilot trying to revive a PPL which lapsed 10 years ago. I'm flying from a small dirt strip in South Africa which is not in FSX at all. I like to practice flying circuits, navigation and other maneuvers around the airfield in FSX (and P3D), so that I'm more polished when flying the real aircraft. By just putting an image of the airfield and surrounding areas in FSX, I have greatly enhanced my experience in FSX. While the image looks terrible (reddish-brown colour and blurry low resolution), it is so great to be able to see actual landmarks and the airstrip and I can now reference everything around the area where I fly in the real world.

    I just wished that I could do something about that horrible red-brown colour. It is not even close to the actual colours in real life, I don't know how Google maps create their images but the area I fly in (in winter) is more sandy-brown/dead grass with blotches of dark green (eg Savannah), than that red-brown. In summer, it is bright green. I was hoping that by changing a date somewhere in the (SBuilderX) setting that I could generate an image from the summer period with a more green landscape. But it seems the process is way more involved than I imagined and I guess my options are to try your suggestions or live with the horrible images that I'm currently getting.

    I have thought about taking a plane and flying over the airfield, taking my own photographs, but then I will have no idea how to accurately place, size or orient the images so that they appear in the correct position in FSX
     
    Last edited: 15 Oct 2017
  6. GaryGB

    GaryGB

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    Hi Titjah:

    If you share some Geographic coordinates for your airstrip location, and tell us how large of an extent surrounding that airstrip you wish to enhance with custom photo-real aerial imagery, perhaps additional suggestions and help might be forthcoming. ;)

    You are not alone in your efforts to enhance scenery in areas that have potentially a lesser quantity of GIS resources available compared to other locations in the world, but with some help one might be able to make good progress on projects for your part of the globe. :)


    https://www.google.com/search?source=hp&q=site:http://www.fsdeveloper.com+GaryGB+Bailey+Green&oq=site:http://www.fsdeveloper.com+GaryGB+Bailey+Green&gs_l=psy-ab.3...17470.28482.0.28914.26.26.0.0.0.0.302.2301.19j5j0j1.25.0....0...1.1.64.psy-ab..1.5.865...0j0i131k1j0i131i46k1j46i131k1.0.Wyykdi-Ls8o


    BTW: I also discovered flight simulation and scenery enhancement as an additional means for flight planning and rehearsal of take-offs and landings in non-airport "bush" locations with an amphibious aircraft for a number of years while flying IRL with a colleague (...and an exuberant Labrador Retriever, who compelled all our landings to be as 'smooth' as possible). :cool:

    GaryGB
     
    Last edited: 15 Oct 2017
  7. Tjitah

    Tjitah

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    Hi GaryGB, that's hilarious about your Labrador "tempering" your landings, sure hope it appreciates the special treatment :D. At the moment I just have to put up with a by-the-numbers flight instructor who wants me to land with the nose way higher than I'm comfortable with, but I'm starting to get the hang of it.

    The airfield in question is Panorama, south of Johannesburg. It doesn't have an ICAO code and doesn't exist in any flight sim. The coordinates are 26.3253° S, 28.0675° E. Ideally I would like to include about 2km to the east and north and 5km to the south and west. We very seldom venture more than 2 km to the north and east due to residential areas. Most of the leisure and training flying is done to the south and west.

    Thank you so much for the links. I've been trying for a few months now to get into the basics of scenery development, but it feels like climbing an impossible mountain. Every time I think I've made one step forward, I slide two steps back. The guides all seem outdated or too random, software and links referred to are not available anymore or outdated. Methods described don't work, or at least not for the area I'm interested in. I'm battling just to get out of the starting blocks.
     
  8. GaryGB

    GaryGB

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    Hi Titjah:

    Panorama should be a fun project location for you to develop. ;)

    https://www.google.com/search?sourc...k1j33i160k1j0i8i13i30k1j33i21k1.0._qhQJNwb25E


    Have you created an entry for it in the FSX airport pick-list yet, or are you initially using a saved flight as a "Start Location" for flights there ?

    You can use Airport Design Editor (aka "ADE") or the payware AFX / Airport Studio utilities from Flight1 to do that, if you have not already done so.

    You may wish to use ICAO FAPO in the FSX airport database as it 'might' not yet be in use. :idea:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airports_in_South_Africa

    http://flightmonkey.com/Airports/P/Panorama_Airfield__Johannesburg_South__GT__ZA__ZA-0110.php


    In ex: ADE, you can add a "Start Location" at each end of the (dirt ?) RWY and not use a 'flat' paved RWY object, as Google Earth shows a 30 Meter Altitude difference from end-to-end.

    FYI: If you want to use AI Traffic, you would have to flatten all surfaces over which AI is used, and all such surfaces would need to be 'level' relative to the local terrain, as well as having all such connected surfaces at the same Altitude AMSL.


    In SBuilderX, try ArcGISImagery tile server, which is sharper and color balanced somewhat to a different time of year.

    This could be further enhanced in a graphics application globally and/or by editing 'selected' areas within the overall image.

    BTW: If you do not yet have the ArcGISImagery tile server installed, let me know.


    CAVEAT: Always keep a ZIP archive backup of original images, and edit only COPIES of those original images.


    Feel free to inquire further if you are interested in more tips for how to proceed with downloading and processing your aerial imagery via SBuilderX. :)

    GaryGB
     
    Last edited: 16 Oct 2017
  9. Tjitah

    Tjitah

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    Hi GaryGB, yes Panorama is a great little airfield. It is used by a mix of small aircraft such as microlights, a gyrocopter, Piper Cub, Tri-Pacer and Sling 2 (LSA), and we also get the occasional Harvard (T6 Texan) and Tiger Moth doing touch-n-goes. It is right in a general flying training area, so shortly after take off, you can start maneuvers and don't have to fly somewhere far away for that.

    At this stage, I have only saved a flight as the start location yes. I tried to create an airport with ADE but there was something that really annoyed me. Panorama has three runways that intersect each other, with 02/20 being the longest and widest and most commonly used. In real life, it is the one which stands out, but with ADE, the smaller intersecting runways overlay the main runway, so it looks like they are the most commonly used. For the life of me, I cannot get the main runway to lay "over" the two smaller runways when viewed in FSX, instead of "under" them. Any advice?

    I also cannot find any hangars or buildings in ADE that nearly resemble those at Panorama, so I guess the solution is to learn Gmax and Photoshop, both of which I have zero knowledge.

    I didn't know about AFX from Flight1, is it better, easier to use than ADE?

    As far as the ICAO code goes, your suggestion (FAPO) belonged to an airfield called "Pilgrims Rest" here in South Africa until recently. The airfield will most likely disappear and be re-developed at some point, but I believe it is still used by microlights. I'm just a bit cautious of using its old code and it may be safer to go with the code in your second link (ZA-0110), which also better represents Panorama's informal status and unlikely to be used by another "wannabe" like me ;).

    Thanks very much for the other hints on SBuilderX, I don't seem to have ArcGISImagery in my selection of tile servers, only some Google ones, Yahoo, OpenStreetMap and Virtual Earth. The majority of them don't even work. Only about 2 or 3 out of the 11 give any kind of image, with Google_api_Satellite seeming to give the best results. Yes please tell me how to get ArcGISImagery installed.

    Any help about how to "enhance" or "edit" such images will also be greatly appreciated, keeping in mind that I know very little about Photoshop, think I may have an old version (CS2) in a drawer somewhere, but never really used it.

    GaryGB I just want to thank you again for your help so far. I'm always amazed and very appreciative of people like you who give so freely of their time and knowledge!
     
    Last edited: 17 Oct 2017
  10. GaryGB

    GaryGB

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    Unless you will create AI Traffic at your custom airport, I advise not using a terrain flatten and any airport objects such as RWYs, Taxiways, Taxiway Links / Paths, Parking Spots, Aprons, etc.; but I do advise to 'Add' a "Start Location" at each end of all RWYs seen in custom photo-real aerial imagery.

    Regarding the FSX local ground surface 'shape', note that the FSX default local terrain mesh in:

    [FSX install path]\Scenery\0605\scenery\dem0605.bgl

    ...is only LOD-6, so I recommend downloading and installing a more accurate and realistic terrain mesh.


    I suggest a new higher resolution 30 Meter / LOD-10 resolution FreeMesh X Global package instead of the FS defauilt:

    https://www.avsim.com/forums/topic/467933-freemesh-x-global-10-release-announcement/


    IIUC, your local project area may be covered with some- or all- of these FreeMesh X Global terrain mesh file sets: :pushpin:

    Africa (2 Parts)

    If you prefer to only download a smaller local part of the entire Africa data set, I can show you how to do that via the original and main Torrent-based access method to FreeMesh X Global files using ex: "U-Torrent" (aka "micro-Torrent"); feel free to inquire further if that is your preference.


    Although there are many 3rd party freely downloadable FS scenery library object libraries that could be imported into ADE's GUI for use, if you wish to make 3D models, I recommend Sketchup version-8 for ease of use and access to vast numbers of free plugins to save work (and it's "fun" to use !) :idea:


    FYI: Sketchup version-8 (32-bit) is the last version allowed to be used for both freeware and commercial purposes without a license.

    The original version-8 package is the 'fastest' working build compared to newer "Make" or 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 and/or 64-bit versions, and can be downloaded here:

    http://www.oldversion.com/windows/google-sketchup-8-0-16846


    Sketchup version-8 also continues to have the largest quantity of (free) plugin Ruby scripts available to reduce one's work-load.


    BTW: AFAIK, that is the last issued and most current updated Sketchup version 8 released:

    http://sketchucation.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=49608


    NOTE: Sketchup version-8 can run on Windows-XP if desired, although some (optional) plugin Ruby scripts may use DLLs that require more recent Windows component functions, and some dialog GUIs may require newer versions of Internet Explorer.


    PS: When Google transferred Sketchup to Trimble, some server addresses changed for the Geo-location feature, and a simple fix must be implemented by the end user in order for that to function properly: :alert:

    https://help.sketchup.com/en/article/3000180


    CAVEAT: In May 2017, Trimble changed the Geo-location features and access rules for Sketchup; consequently type of features and access for Geo-location may vary by Sketchup version and currently applicable valid license.

    Feel free to ask me for help getting started if / when you start doing any 3D modeling with Sketchup. ;)


    Both of Flight1's AFX / Airport Studio products and ADE have unique features which I would not personally want to be without.

    However, although AFX makes it easy to create an airport, the ADE live error-checking, manually-launched "Fault Finder", extensive user manual, and available online reference documents may make learning how to create more complex airports somewhat easier for newcomers to FS development.

    http://www.flight1.com/products.asp?product=afxv1

    http://www.flight1.com/products.asp?product=apstv1

    http://www.fsdeveloper.com/forum/forums/airport-design-editor.95/


    AFAIK, all the above "airport" utilities require a separate 1-time license fee for commercial projects; (no fee for use with freeware or personal projects)


    IIRC, all versions of FS require 4-alphanumeric character ICAO codes in Airport Facilities Data (aka "AFD") parameter values.

    Perhaps Z110 might work ? :scratchch


    1.) Exit SBuilderX

    2.) Download ArcGISserver.zip from:

    http://www.fsdeveloper.com/forum/threads/national-geographic-map-tiles-for-sbuilderx.266246/


    3.) Extract [Download folder path]\arcgisserver.zip\ArcGisServer.dll into [SBuilderX install path]\Tiles sub-folder

    4.) Start SBuilderX

    5.) SBuilder Menu > Edit > Preferences > {Background Tab} > ArcGisImagery > click [OK]


    NOTE: Although manually entering the "Go To Position" coordinates and/or using SBuilder when 'connected' to a live FS flight session via FSUIPC can work to 'Center' the background image display at a 'start location', IMHO, it is preferable to also change the Geographic coordinates of that default "start location" in the SBuilder "initialization" file, as that helps SBuilder to 'manually' zoom / pan / scroll properly when working with displayed scenery content within its work-space.

    Otherwise, the Geographic extent to which one is able to successfully 'manually' zoom / pan / scroll is limited when working with displayed scenery content within the SBuilderX work-space, and the requested area one attempts to visualize may not stay in view, as the work-space "background" keeps shifting back to a position closer to the default Geographic coordinates for a "central start location" specified within the SBuilder.Ini file. ;)


    To do this, one must edit the pertinent lines in the SBuilder.Ini file to set the center of the Map background at the Geographic center of your own project area rather than the default one in Portugal via: :idea:

    SBuilder Menu > Edit > Preferences > click [INI File] button < file opens in Windows NotePad >

    [Main]
    LonIniCenter= 28.069981 <-- Your project's central Longitude goes here
    LatIniCenter= -26.330155 <-- Your project's central Latitude goes here
    DecimalDegrees=True
    MeasuringMeters=True
    BGLFolder=C:\MyPrograms\SBuilderX314\Scenery <-- Your project's compiled BGL 'active' \Scenery folder path goes here
    OriginalTerrainCFG=False


    1.) When configuration of your SBuilderX project is completed via editing "SBuilder.ini" in Windows NotePad:

    a.) In Windows NotePad Menu > File > Save As... > "Save as type" field, set to "All Files (*.*)" (do not click OK yet)

    b.) In NotePad Menu > File > Save As... > "Save In" field, browse to [SBuilderX install path] folder; double-click to select it


    2.) Back in NotePad Menu > File > Save As... browse dialog, click "OK"

    a.) When prompted to over-write Sbuilder.ini, click "YES" to save your edits to that file.


    3.) Exit and re-start SBuilderX (...or the above changes will not yet take effect)



    BTW: If you instead prefer starting at an airport in FS, then linking SBuilderX to FS via:

    SBuilderX Menu > View > Show Aircraft

    ...
    be sure you have the latest FSUIPC DLL installed:

    http://forum.simflight.com/topic/80977-updated-modules/


    Let us know when you are ready to start working with a graphics application to 'enhance' COPIES of your aerial imagery downloaded via SBuilderX.


    Thanks for the kind words. :D

    I'm glad to be able to help; much of my knowledge was gained from others who took the time to post tutorials here and in other FS forums ! :teacher:

    GaryGB
     
    Last edited: 17 Oct 2017
  11. Tjitah

    Tjitah

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    Hey GaryGB, thanks once more for all the advice, this is invaluable info!

    I did try the FreeMesh but it gave me an extremely undulating surface at Panorama, almost like sand dunes. Can't remember if it was the higher resolution 30 Meter though, but I replaced it with PILOTs Global 2010 mesh, which was still a bit undulating but a lot better. In real life the surface there is quite level and there is little awareness of elevation changes on the runway. I eventually did put in a small terrain flatten as it felt more realistic to me than the bumps of the mesh. I guess as I improve, I can customise the mesh as well?

    I like your code Z110, think I will go with that.

    Will have a look at Sketchup, thank you very much. I know a lot of people use it nowadays, so there should be plenty guides and help. I actually started doing a few tutorials on Gmax some time ago, but it was slow-going and I probably will have to re-do. Hopefully the learning curve of Sketchup is shorter/easier.

    Well, let me get going with all the other things you suggested. In between I also have to train for my real-life PPL renewal. At least life is not boring and thanks to you, I now have a lot of "homework" ;)
     
  12. GaryGB

    GaryGB

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    Indeed, a CVX vector Airport Background (aka "AB") Flatten polygon can modify the local terrain mesh as needed, although if you are inclined to flatten only the RWYs, Taxiways and Aprons, they can be flattened to match the Airport Reference Point Altitude along with use of a single, large flatten of the entire airport area.

    Alternatively, one 'may' use RWY / Taxiway / Apron Links or 'paths' as "flattens" 'if desired; however, there some important "gotchas" about not always being able to use taxiway paths as 'flattens'. :idea:

    http://www.fsdeveloper.com/forum/showthread.php?p=542724#post542724


    Altitude at the Panorama "ICAO Z110" VOR on the FreeMeshX terrain mesh is 4973.7 Feet / 1515.984 Meters AMSL. :)


    Have fun with the "homework" and the PPL (both are only a matter of time well spent) ! :cool:

    GaryGB
     
    Last edited: 19 Oct 2017 at 14:20

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