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MSFS Kaman K-Max

Updates on K-Max, still chugging away, the little engine that could..I've discovered some sort of gremlin that I think arises from a clash between 3ds Max and the Asobo exporter, either that or 3ds Max is just extremely unstable. I know it's not just me because I have caught the Console reporting errors in Klingonese. This because I violated the prime directive of using texture dimensions that could not be halved into whole numbers twice.

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I've been working on implementing lights, reworking animations and basically dinking around the edges of the gremlin trying to figure out how long its claws are.


Most recently I replaced the green polygon windshield with Asobo window material to get the dirt effects and that has been fairly hit and miss. Not as sparkly but still tinted plus I get bug splatters and the water runs down the glass - not across, since it's a rotorcraft so that's cool.

Currently the gremlin is refusing to export the cabin ceiling. I've already replaced it several times, flipped normals, gone back to a previous build that I know works - this instead of moving on to other things. I finally got it to work by breaking the entire cabin as a single node, into two nodes - a completely non linear solution to a problem that shouldn't even exist, but generally I have found that when the gremlin appears, adding model complexity, as opposed to reducing it, appeases the little cutie.

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Anyway, as to the glass itself, Asobo declares specific vertex colors for each of dirt, scratches and fingerprints and they are set aside in RGB color channels the same way comp textures are constructed. I thought it might be nice to get a few scratches on the windshield, that is vertex color red, which is all I used, fingerprints are vertex color blue and they're smeared all over the windshield so, work in progress.

Really all that is left are the gauges, getting them all plugged in and wired up and for that I'm still trying to assimilate the whole Templates/Behaviors system; that and tuning in the suspension, flight dynamics, etc and finally moving on to testing if I can incorporate a reasonably convincing Bambi Bucket. I've got some ideas but until the thing can actually fly, they're just whatifsimisms.🤷‍♂️
 
Finally got a decent flight parameters setup so it seemed like a great opportunity to attach the Bambi Bucket and start exploring the idea of adding it.

 
New bucket system added. I feel like as long as it gives a decent go at simulating duct tape it's adequate, but I might rework it as well. :)

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A short video of dipping operations in the Columbia River Gorge.

 
Made a remote cockpit for the optionally pilotless version at someone's suggestion, I think it turned out alright. Still a bit of work to do, the clear helmet isn't some stealth thing, not sure what happened there.

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K-Max is mostly completed at this point, I 'm taking too long with the animation templates and am actively recruiting for and XML expert, please inquire, I'll edit this post when the need is filled. I did it myself! This also marks the final (hopefully) iteration of the "automatic snorkel." So if you think about it, a hose hanging from a helicopter that lays flat when landed is almost the exact opposite of what retractable landing gear does. The original goal had been to have the entire animation, from horizontal while landed to vertical while in flight, be driven by the suspension component of the landing gear G key system. The main gear is fixed and only moves when near the ground, wouldn't it be great if the snorkel hose did the same, I thought.

Then reality entered the chat and informed the default landing gear algorithm only allows somewhere around 5 feet of range, probably the same as whatever the aircraft center at rest is. Long story short, I could have made the entire animation part of the retraction portion of the algorithm but why waste the whole skinned mesh "suspension flex" since you have to hit hit g key anyway. Also added a proper bubble window and wheel skids. Not having a lot of luck with the remote workstation, video quality is sub optimal, it might still be part of the Afghanistan drone version.


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K-Max is mostly completed at this point, I 'm taking too long with the animation templates and am actively recruiting for and XML expert, please inquire, I'll edit this post when the need is filled. This also marks the final (hopefully) iteration of the "automatic snorkel." So if you think about it, a hose hanging from a helicopter that lays flat when landed is almost the exact opposite of what retractable landing gear does. The original goal had been to have the entire animation, from horizontal while landed to vertical while in flight, be driven by the suspension component of the landing gear G key system. The main gear is fixed and only moves when near the ground, wouldn't it be great if the snorkel hose did the same, I thought.

Then reality entered the chat and informed the default landing gear algorithm only allows somewhere around 5 feet of range, probably the same as whatever the aircraft center at rest is. Long story short, I could have made the entire animation part of the retraction portion of the algorithm but why waste the whole skinned mesh "suspension flex" since you have to hit hit g key anyway. Also added a proper bubble window and wheel skids. Not having a lot of luck with the remote workstation, video quality is sub optimal, it might still be part of the Afghanistan drone version.

Hi - Regarding the XML expert, you may want to also post a request for assistance through Helisimmer.com as well as MSFSAddons.com by reaching out to those website owners. I would recommend including a bunch of preview pictures fully showing the helicopter, including virtual cockpit and a feature list of what you've done so far.

Regarding the rest of the helicopter, as different users may have different (or no) motion blur settings set in MSFS, do you plan on introducing a more fully apparent rotor "disk" visualization, or are you just relying on the blur of the 3D rotor blade objects? I'm asking due to the potential for user display differences based on visual settings in-game, as well as personal hardware situations.

Finally, could you post some pics of the virtual cockpit as it stands today for the curious masses? :)
 
Yes, thanks for the heads up!

Still using blurred/slow/still animation states for the rotors, but the slow and blurred textures are just barely motion blurred. This is because the RPM is only 270 and I know from personal experience that we can still see the individual rotors flying directly overhead under load. If you watch startup videos I think you'll see what I mean. So to answer your question, I'd like to do the rotor animation entirely with the still state rotors, depending on the the final look. The still/slow/blurred algorithm reverses all three states to simulate video frame synchronization, which I think destroys the illusion. This won't happen until I tune in the engine, right now the rotors are spinning at 450 odd RPM and they seem to look just about perfect, so we shall see.

As to cockpit, pedals and stick are animated, pilot moves with the controls while scanning the instruments and terrain but only in exterior view of course. I'll get right on the screenshots next time I'm tuning settings in sim!
 
At the risk of spamming my own thread:

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Images do not necessarily reflect the final release, there are yet some details to smooth. I find it interesting that hook load, EGT and rotor torque are all that is necessary for hand eye coordinated dipping and dumping. I've what I feel is a very nice animation for the bucket and that along with the animated hook load gauge should be fairly immersive, no pun intended. I'd like to also animate the water level that is alongside the integral bucket, but the sim is unwilling to provide the level of transparency required. The tube we see is already filled with "water," if it is made any more opaque it will look like paint, imo.

I notice that another developer has gone the route of limiting speed to retain the Bambi Bucket and that makes sense, theirs is a big aircraft. I'd prefer to have the bucket itself do the limiting, 5600 lbs is about the weight of K-Max alone, you'd expect it's to be incredibly nimble empty and to handle like a school bus loaded. Accomplishing this goal probably requires some Mr Robot level coding magic.

If anyone is curious about the setting, it is the site of Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood in Oregon, also known as the Overlook Hotel from the movie The Shining. The model and chairlifts were in FSX as a scenery object and later as an Acceleration mission. I dug them old of a mechanical HD and resurrected them to make a little nostalgic treat for a friend. Uploading to fs.to in a few days.

 
Some progress to report! Been having a lot of luck with ChatGPT composing animation component xml. It turns out that CGPT is a mediocre AI, but a superlative word processor. The things I have the most trouble with, terms and tenses, CGPT can serve up to me smorgasbord style to pick through at my leisure. Granted, it can only rehash established content so we won't be writing any cutting edge templates, but while I'm grappling with my dyslexia, we're activating gauges and systems. Here's a modest start sequence, the rotor brake is optionally joystick or mouse click driven. The intention is to have all dump/fill related functions be able to be key bound to a joystick or other control device so we can focus on the mission.


Here we're testing the externally mounted torque and egt gauges. The egt seems like more of an overall overheat indicator, but the torque gauge directly shows when the rotors are pushing the hardest and it really helps with fine control near the ground. The weight gauge will be one of the last things to hook up.

 
Here are some action images at last, testing the water and fire animations.

Spray and Pray.png
only you.png

 
Looks great! I'm wondering though, if you plan on reducing the window tint a bit? I'm looking at pictures inside and outside of the real bird and the glass is generally very clear. What you've shown looks like the "sunglasses" option so far. :)
 
Thanks! I think it's really just a perceptual thing. Bear in mind we see no pilot, this is all interior model with me slewing through the cockpit walls in order to be able to simultaneously fly and look back doing so. The pilot model, reversed glass and active gauges are about the only differences between interior and exterior models, as far as that goes. As to the tint, that is a violet shade at 1% opacity exported as an image, then reimported and again reduced down to 1% opacity for a total of .001% tint, passing any law in any state but we'll take it under advisement.
 
A few new developments to share, new unique Wwise sound package, revised rotor animations and heat blur, among other things. Currently working on ground effects and creating a virtual water tank management system to control all the related animations and effects. Overall very pleased with the new sounds, it was very tricky adding the characteristic K-Max "whop whop," so I think it came out as well as can be expected. The package was composed using distinct recordings of T-53 engines running on hard stands and actual K-Max rotor sounds, which allows the software to highlight the occasions the two operate at different speeds.

 
Very pleased to announce completion of what is probably the most intensive phase of assembling K-Max thus far! Enabled the cowl animation, redid the snorkel animation, several times actually, probably in for a few more. The water tank system is complete and is controlled by the simulator variables windshield deice and pitot deice. This was done so the controls can be set to keyboard commands or your joystick buttons. The water will not fill the reservoir unless the aircraft is in the air and within 20 feet of the ground, the length of the hydration snorkel. The windshield deice function can be set for automatic filling and can also be set for infinite water by leaving it in the on position. If the deice switch is turned off after filling, then the water will only dump while what is in the tanks remains available, it's not a lot.

The snorkel will work anywhere, because it is a simulation, not a test, so you you'll be able to practice over ground if you prefer. It's my belief it will take some practice to master anyway. K-Max is a bit brutish to handle, but it's extremely stable. Anywhere near level you can simply drop the stick and concentrate on setting up for dipping and K-Max will self level. If you get too banked over like I am at one point, simply turn into the bank and K-Max will rotate out of it just like you see in the video.

Only a couple of more gauges to go, I have to tune the sound profile a bit and then I think that's it for the Rainier version. It will take a little time to bring the bambi bucket version up to this level and same with the Afghanistan version.

 
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