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January 5, 2008

Thoughts on Plane Maker 9.xxEdit

Nov 23 2007, 12:53 AM

Hi everyone,

I had a first look at the Plane Maker and noted my observations here, along with my personal opinion on these points.

Please note: I have always loved X-Plane IN SPITE of its user interface, and I'm very sensitive against anything that decreases the "productivity" I have in Plane Maker (which I consider far lower of what I'd get from a standard Windows interface anyway). I don't mean to slam X-Plane, but I have a couple of spontaneous gripes with the new Plane Maker ...


- I don't like the new white background as it doesn't show white aircraft well, and I don't understand why it is still not configurable. (Minor gripe.) - The decimal points are almost imperceptably small on my system. I've erred by orders of magnitude before, and I see worse errors in the future. (Minor misfeature.) - The mouse cursor changes to an appropriate arrow if you're over a "increase/decrease" field. This causes me to lose track of the precise pixel position of the cursor, easily miss my mark and accordingly increase/decrease the wrong digit. That occasionally happened even with the old cursor, but I see worse errors in the future. (Major misfeature.)

Nothing new on the viewpoint screen.

Nothing new on the limits screen.

Panel Screen

- Scrolling now works by arrow keys and also works horizontally to handle the larger panels mentioned in the announcement. (Feature) - You can't scroll at all as long as you have selected an instrument. (Major gripe.) - There is no "live" roll-over selection bar anymore if the mouse cursor moves over the menu. (Minor gripe.) - I have difficulties getting submenus to open by double-clicking them. I am an ambidextrous mouse wizard, so I blame Plane Maker. (Medium gripe.) - There is a new category "IOS" which is not commented and which I don't understand. (Undocumented Feature :-) - There is an "autopilot power" button, but still no "autopilot disconnect button". (Feature, below my expectations.) - New category "Generic". (MAJOR FEATURE if I understand the announcement right.) - Noticed "oxygen quantity" gauge. Figure that the mention of "oil quanity" in the announcement is a typo. (Misdocumented feature. Jacques will like it!)


- Jets: New control "rpm at 100% N1" (Good feature!) - Jets: New control "Thrust reverser deployment time (Feature) - Transmission oil pressure and temperature added as announced. (Feature)

Nothing new on Wings, Misc Wings, Pylons screens except slats 1/2 etc. as announced.


- New control to insert bulkhead between existing bulkheads (Good feature!)


- Speedbrakes 1/2, slats 1/2 - Phase-out screen to set control deflection for low and high speeds (GREAT NEW FEATURE!) - Blown Flaps are gone. Expect to find them elsewhere.

Landing Gear

- New way to set spring constants as announced.


- Blown Flaps are here. Stab Incidence with Speed is gone. Exepect to find it elsewhere.

Special Controls

- Aileron cut out speeds are gone, probably in favour of the new and more useful phase-out screen. - Spoiler 1/2 limits are set differently for flight/ground deployment. (Feature!) - Stab Incidence with Speed is now here. - Auto-sweep new as announced (Good Feature! Sailor will love it :-)

Artificial Stability and all the rest appear unchanged.


Henning (HoHun)

Nov 23 2007, 06:34 AM

Hi Ben,

>We had a lot of debates internally about hiding objects, but in the end of the day, if we don't provide it, you can just make a transparent airplane texture and get the same effect at lower fps, so we might as well let you hide the parts regardless of whether we think it's a good idea. :-) (We came to the conclusion that it's a necessary evil.)

I follow you there :-) I wonder if it would be sensible to implement marking of objects as "aerodynamically irrelevant", too? That might be useful for objects overlappen/hidden by other objects, such as spinners that are modelled separately from nacelles, so that they don't add their frontal area to the nacelle frontal area.

(I just had a case where I meant to provide an objects inside the nose of a supersonic aircraft to simulate the view restriction generated by the nose during landings. The fuselage object itself would not display, but adding a Misc Body messed up supersonic drag modelling and reduced speed from Mach 2 to Mach 1.3. I could work around it by turning the Misc Body into a Misc Object, but of course simply flipping a switch would have been much easier.)

Just a spontaneous idea ... :-)


Henning (HoHun)

Nov 28 2007, 12:10 AM

Hi Somtaawguy,

>If I have 4 engines, the #4 engine drives the last 5 props and I can't change it. The only way I can get it to work is have just one engine or have 8.

I'm trying to prepare an example plane, but I'm running into so much trouble with Plane Maker that I get distracted.

Trouble with Plane Maker:

- I had four RPM levers numbered 1, 2, 3, 4 from left to right. I added another four RPM levers to the right of that in sequence and ended up with eight total in the sequence 3, 4, 7, 8, 1, 2, 5, 6. This seems to be kind of regular, but it's definitely not what I wanted or what I expected. (I had the problem with all kind of other engine-related controls but blamed my own clumsiness until switching my brain into beta tester mode).

- The new keyboard interface has a bug. For new propellers, the root chord is set to "00.1". I tried to use the keyboard to change this to "07.0". I could enter the 7, but I could not enter the 0 even after successfully entering the 7. My inputs for that digit were simply ignored.

- The new keyboard interface is seriously un-ergonomic. If my cursor leaves the input field to the right, it's not supposed to wrap around and re-enter from the left. Instead, it should jump to the next field in the TAB-key cycle order.

- The new up/down click indicator arrows interfere with keyboard inputs since they are so massive that they obscure the digit of the input field, causing click misses. (On the positive side, they do away with the arrow shaft obscuring the digit you are just changing while you use the increase button. In the sum they are still a nuisance.)

- The new propellers are only shown with the proper prop plan in Plane Maker if you enter the prop plan screen once.

Other observation:

- AUTOMATIC MIXTURE IS GONE! It's mashed into the FADEC which also limits RPM. How am I supposed to build authentic WW2 aircraft with that? Virtually all of the top-notch WW2 engines had either Auto Lean and Auto Rich, or even fully automatic mixture, but NO RPM LIMITER. I want my money back! I'm used to having to put up with modern-day conventions in the simulation that are not adequate for WW2 aircraft, but that's taking it too far! I hate the new 8.x autopilot, too - the old one was far more realistic for WW2 aircraft.


Henning (HoHun)


Hi again,

Another one:

- The new keyboard interface is seriously un-ergonomic (2). Jumping to the next field in the TAB-key cycle order can cause the orange input marker to disappear - maybe because the field it came from has more digits than the one it went to, and the cursor was placed on an "excessive" digit in the field it came from when TAB was pressed.


Henning (HoHun)

Nov 28 2007, 01:39 AM

Hi Somtaawguy,

>I've never had this problem before so I'm thinking its the new version. I was tinkering with contra rotating propellers and I can't get the transmissions to work any more. It automatically sets everything to a one-one engine-prop setup. I want 4 engines and 4 transmissions (think Tu-95), not 8 and 8. If I have 4 engines, the #4 engine drives the last 5 props and I can't change it. The only way I can get it to work is have just one engine or have 8.

Please have a look at this aircraft, which is a quick and ugly demonstration hack: ( 72.69K ) Number of downloads: 5

I think it does what you intend to do with the Tu-95. Maybe the example helps you to your aircraft! :-)

(It's a converted 8.xx aircraft, not a new build.)


Henning (HoHun)

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