CAC8 v1.20 and the ferry system

Ed has now released the update to CAC8 (v1.20).  Thanks Ed. The update includes PR for the area around the Harmac Mill so for consistency the PR for the Duke Point ferry terminal is now part of CAC8. The current version of the ferry system dated June 25 2018 has been updated so it works with the new CAC8. The previous version will mess up the new CAC8. There are a couple of other fixes too; the older PR file for the Powell River mill is now removed. This should fix the overly dark water along the shoreline.

What this all amounts to is that I don’t consider CAC8 complete without the ferry system (unless you like the — how can I say it — ugly default ferries) and the ferry system is not complete without CAC8. This trend, for better or worse,  will continue with my next Orbx project.


Flaps and the Milviz DHC aircraft

This post is slightly different; usually I try to stick to something I know a little about.

For me, the Milviz Beaver and now the Turbo Otter create a synergy with the stuff I like to do. Add to that the Cheesy Simulations Harbour Air repaint for the Beaver and it’s even better.

Most of my use of the sim is in slew mode so I can check my work but these two aircraft have helped me learn to enjoy P3D as it’s intended to be used. They are so realistic. The work the Milviz guys do is really amazing—and inspiring too.

The weak link for me has been the operation of the flaps. I’ve tried various assignments with my controllers but none felt right.

I finally decided to do something about it. I bought an adjustable hydraulic door closer from Amazon and extended the arm with an aluminum tube with a nice end cap. That got screwed to the underside of my small flight sim table along with a momentary on switch (DPST) that is triggered with the movement of the arm. I wired that switch to a 3 position switch (double pole) I mounted in my Saitek throttle quadrant and in turn the 3 position switch taps into one of the toggles (two micro switches) on the quadrant. That second switch simulates the function in the actual flap mechanism. The middle position is there to make sure I can deactivate all my additions.

For those who build cockpits I’m sure this is super basic stuff. For me, the result is very cool; as I come in for a landing, the sensation of pumping the flaps down makes me think I could actually fly a Beaver or an Otter. Ha Ha.

Ferry system update

In conjunction with what I hope will be a significant update to Orbx CAC8, I have updated the ferry system in anticipation. The CAC8 update is described here:

For the Duke Point ferry terminal, I have moved all but the model to CAC8. Because the Departure Bay ferry terminal, the Nanaimo ferry terminal and now most of the Duke Point ferry terminal are part of CAC8, I consider it as a requirement for the ferries. I likewise would like to think of the ferries as a requirement for CAC8, at least for those interested in the boats. At a minimum it gets rid of the ugly default AI ferries.

The ferry system now has an AI model of the Victoria Clipper running on a 12 hour schedule between Seattle and Victoria. See the WSF AI schedule.pdf in the LR_PNW_ferries_complete\Documents folder for departure and arrival times. The Clipper should dock properly with my Coho ferry terminal addition for VictoriaPlus for Orbx PNW by my late friend Jon Patch.

Contrary to what I had previously thought, there seems to be no problem using the xml add-on method for P3D v4 even if you have an existing installation with files in the default locations. The updated instructions describe what to do; it’s quite easy. So even if you already have the ferry system installed in P3D v4, I would recommend giving the xml add-on method a shot. It makes things so much simpler.

Victoria Clipper to be added

The PNW ferry system has always seemed incomplete without the Victoria Clipper. I’ve finally gotten around to finishing my model of it and it will be included in the next ferry system update which will coincide with a service pack for one of the Orbx SPBs. Here’s a clip:

victoria clipper

XML add-on install method for P3D v4

For the PNW AI ferry system:

I have now implemented the xml add-on installation method for P3D v4.x, with thanks to Roger for checking the xml file. I have amended the PDF instructions (AI Ferry System for Southern BC and Puget Sound v2.pdf) in the download link with a description of the procedure. It’s really pretty simple which should help non-native English speakers.

I would recommend that current users stick with their current installation method provided it is working. If you want to use the new xml method you would have to very carefully disable or remove all files from the current installation so as not to create active duplicate files.

How to adjust the intensity of an effect

Adjusting the intensity of effects

The look of many effects depends on what sim you are using and it seems to change with each new version of the sim. I have given up trying to make sim specific effects; as soon as I adjust one to my liking, a new sim version comes out and trying to keep versions for each sim maintained is a recipe for a mess. But if it is important to you, you can make some adjustments yourself. In general, it seems to me that effects become more intense with newer sim versions perhaps because what’s called for in the effect file is rendered more completely. My usual fix is to adjust the alpha (transparency) values in the effect.

Effect files ( files with the extension .fx) are just text files and can be edited with a text editor like Notepad. If you want to get fancy you can edit them with Arno’s FXE effects editor. FX Tool in the SDK can also be used but I find FXE to be quicker and easier.

About effects:

Effects are two dimensional textures that can be controlled by the effect file in endless ways. An effect file typically has a number of individual effects. Each one has 3 parts: Emitter.x, Particle.x and Particle Attributes.x

Among the settings in the Particle Attributes.x section are color and alpha values. For example: Color Start=74, 85, 82, 100   The numbers range from 0 to 255. In order they represent red, green, blue and alpha.   An alpha value of 0 is completely transparent and 255 is completely opaque. We want to adjust the last number, the alpha value.

Note: the alpha value for ColorEnd is ignored.  You can adjust the colors too if you want but that’s another subject.

The first task is to identify the file that is responsible for the effect you want to adjust. Most have descriptive file names. Say you want to adjust a waterfall effect. Identify the effect file by searching for the word ‘waterfall’ in the Effects folder and then one by one, disable the files by adding a .off extension and checking in the sim to see if you still see the effect. If you have add-ons that use the xml add-on method, the file you are after might be located in the add-on package. Once you have identified the effect, make a backup so you can experiment safely. You can ignore controller files; they control the effects themselves.

Open the effect file you wish to edit in a text editor like Notepad.

Since the effect file may contain multiple parts, each beginning with the [emitter.x] section, you have to decide which ones to edit. Figuring out exactly what each part does requires an effect editor like Arno’s FXE and is beyond the scope of this post. However you can narrow the choices down by looking for Ground Normal=1 in the Particle.x section. These sections deal with horizontal parts of the effects. If you are editing a wake, these are the sections you want to adjust. If you are editing a waterfall effect, you can ignore these sections.

For the sections you do want to edit, say to make them more transparent and therefore less intense, reduce all the alpha values (the last of the 4 StartColor numbers) by a fair amount and then check the result in the sim. You will not notice small changes, so as a start you could try reducing the alpha values to say three quarters of the existing values. If the alpha value was 100, try 75. If that’s still too intense, try 50. Reduce all the alpha values in all sections you want to adjust by the same percentage just to keep things simple. Save the file and check in the sim, restarting after each change you make.

That’s about it for this relatively simple fix but don’t be surprised if you find editing effects rather time consuming.

Here’s an example:


Blend Mode=2



Color Start=250, 230,160, 255 <———– the alpha value we want to adjust

Color End=140, 90, 70, 0 <———————this alpha value is ignored

Jitter Distance=0.00

Jitter Time=0.00

uv1=0.00, 0.00

uv2=0.50, 0.50

X Scale Goal=0.00

Y Scale Goal=0.00

Z Scale Goal=0.00

Extrude Length=0.00

Extrude Pitch Max=0.00

Extrude Heading Max=0.00


Refuge Cove SPB released

Orbx YRC Refuge Cove Seaplane Base is now released. You can find it on Orbx Direct under Freeware. If you still have my quite old Refuge Cove that had been available on the links page, you must remove it to use YRC. And if you have not already done so, you might want to update the PNW ferry system so the flight from CAG8 to YRC is a little more seamless. A couple of AI routes are also adjusted so as not to interfere with YRC.

In spite of my going over everything in the Orbx projects who knows how many times and in spite of the beta testing I dread releases, thinking that they may blow up in my face. Nothing is really proven until it’s proven in use for a fair period of time. However YRC has so far survived with a pretty large number of downloads, so the immediate risk has passed. (Famous last words.)

Regarding the ferry system, I have been thinking of organizing the files so that the xml addon system for P3D v4 can be used. This would make installation quite easy but my impression is that there are still issues with the xml system so I’ll wait for now. There is also the issue of current users going from the current system to a new one and the potential problems that might entail.