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  1. History The BK-117 was a joint development between MBB (Germany) and Kawasaki (Japan) during the 80s and 90s. The Bk-117 has been very successful as a medevac helicopter thanks to its exceptional performances, generous cargo space and smooth flight model. After the merge of MBB and Aerospatiale in 1992, the BK-117 became part of the Eurocopter line-up. The BK-117 evolved into what is known today as the EC-145 BK-177 model from ND Art & Technology This model is not new, as it was initially released in 2009. However, it has been updated to work perfectly with X-Plane 10 and it is 64 bit compatible. Where to get it: BK-177 X-Plane.org Store Download size: 68Mb Price: $29.95 X-Plane requirement: X-Plane 10. 32 or 64 bit. Updated store# Includes: Two versions of the BK-117: Regular model and BK-117 with Weather Radar Radome PDF flight manual 7 paint schemes First Impressions When you load the BK-117, the first thing you see is a unique menu where you can decide which doors to open and close. Door controls can also be assigned to buttons. By default the Bk-117 comes loaded with a pilot, 2 paramedics and 1 (badly hurt) patient: You can adjust the number of occupants in the BK-177 using the Weight and Balance menu of X-Plane. Cockpit The cockpit is a full 3D cockpit. Instruments are well modeled and easy to read: The Bk-117 includes many systems such as autopilot, stability augmentation, and engine controls. A default GPS 430 is installed. It also comes with a Medivac G20T handheld GPS. The G20T will only give you the distance to a target coordinate. Overall the cockpit is very well made and easy to navigate: Dark and cold start-up The Bk-117 does support a dark and cold start-up. Nils from ND Art & Technology has published a video about the start-up procedure: Exterior and flight Model: Everything is modeled in detail: The frame, doors, Main rotor, and blades. You'd be highly unlikely to find any defect in this model. Details on the rotors: The Bk-117 is fairly easy to control. As long as you own a decent joystick you should be able to master the Bk-177 very quickly. The aircraft is very forgiving thanks to the Stability Augmentation system implemented by the designers. Thanks to the autopilot you can use the Bk-117 for longer flights such as search and rescue missions. The Sperry helicopter autopilot is fully simulated in the systems plugin. SAS Control and Sperry Autopilot: Additional Paint schemes: Conclusion: Hard to believe this model is four years old already. It still looks like a brand new release . ND Art & Technology's BK-117 is a pleasure to fly. It has everything you would look for in a payware model: Detailed graphics, systems to mimic the real aircraft, and great flight model. On top of all that, the Bk-117 is easy on your computer. I was able to maintain a frame rate of over 55fps during all my tests. Highly recommended for anyone who is interested in learning to fly a chopper.
    1 point
  2. Scenery Review : Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International by Butnaru Introduction: Fort Lauderdale ( ICAO: KFLL, IATA: FLL) is Butnaru's latest scenery to be released for X-Plane 10, and no, this is no ordinary scenery! Many new features have been added in this scenery package which make it unique above the rest. Situated in Florida it's surrounded by many other airports, some bigger some smaller. So what makes Fort Lauderdale special? Apart from the fact the others are default scenery! Fort Lauderdale is one of the closest to the Florida shoreline, and has become and intercontinental gateway. If you enjoy long haul flights to or around America then Fort Lauderdale has to be in your scenery collection. Another bonus is that KFLL is located not too far from TNCM, another great place to fly! So the history behind KFLL. On the 1st of May 1929 the US Navy stationed base there (start of WWII), then in 1946 when it was transferred to county control it became: Broward County International Airport. With expansion in growth, popularity and buildings it's now known as Fort Lauderdale, this airport serves millions of the general public each year. So how does the real Fort Lauderdale compare to Butnaru's rendition in X-Plane? The answer, a review with a conclusion. Publisher and Developer: Butnaru is known for his work within scenery development around the community, publishing KLGA - La Guardia, KORD - Chicago O'Hare and even KMIA Miami which is close by... However KFLL has taken a massive leap into the latest most up to date scenery category. Comparing this scenery to some of his others you can clearly tell he has come a long way now! Yes, he is known for his sceneries but he doesn't have a website? Or a branded logo? However he sure has airport development skills. So lets move onto the airport itself. Installation and First Impressions: Installing the scenery was simple but not ordinary. No, there wasn't an installer and yes, you drop the folder like normal into custom scenery. However you have to complete these two steps for installation. Taken from the manual: 1- Go to x-plane/Custom scenery/Global Airports/Earth nav data/+20-090 and rename or delete the file +26-081.dsf 2- Place KFLL – Fort Lauderdale inside x-plane/custom scenery I can't say that the steps are confusing because they are not. Step 2 is normal for scenery installations and step 1 is explained clearly. The only thing that startled me was the word 'delete' I don't like deleting x-plane directory files so instead I renamed it, I added a - between the 8 and 1. This way I still have the dsf however x-plane does not recognize it. The first time I loaded up KFLL I was parked in a 732 at the default parking gate. Normally I look outside the cockpit window and browse around to see what's out there but at KFLL it felt different. Before looking around at the scenery I was startled to see the shear volume of traffic maneuvering around the airport. Even though I was looking straight ahead at the terminal I could see a pilot undergoing a walk around inspection in the gate to my right! And on the left in the corner of my cockpit window I could see an aircraft to my left with a baggage cart driving around it and ground crew walking beside it! I was not expecting any of that! Although the people walk a bit weird you can still get the impression, and feel the immersion. So then I decided to go flying, taking off for a short flight. Pushing back from the gate and turning looked fantastic as the gate slowly got further away, now back from the gate and turned around it would be impossible not to pick up on the ground textures. I have never taxied a real 732 away from a gate in Fort Lauderdale however the ground textures are very high resolution and look realistic. The tire marks have to be my favorite part of the ground textures, when I looked back or to the side it looked as though I actually left the tire marks myself! Now facing out toward the runway and my taxi route I was just blocking the small road which the ground vehicles use. There are hundreds of ground routes for all of the ground vehicles and people, so it was time to put them to the test. A Baggage truck and a few carts was approaching me on the right side using the road I was blocking. To my surprise the truck didn't stop and went straight through the aircraft. This is pictured below. This may become annoying with extensive use of this scenery because of the many ground vehicles moving you have a 70% chance of one driving straight through you. After undergoing a standard takeoff I thought I would undergo a long flight from KFLL - Fort Lauderdale to TNCM - Princess Juliana in a BAE Jetstream 32. After passenger loading at the default gate it was time to push back in the BAE. Being in the Jetstream meant that I could see more of the ground textures and scenery, after pushback and engine start it was time for taxi to takeoff. Taxiing around KFLL is pretty simple the ground navigation is made easy with the big taxi signs. One thing I did notice taxiing is how low resolution the orthophoto actually is. From the air it looks fine but taxiing it doesn't. The orhtophoto is used to fill the gaps of grass between the apron concrete. As well as the blurry orhtophoto there aren't any ground grass polygons, this is a shame as these grass polygons really add to great immersion. The only thing that softens the blow is the great ending of the texture. When the asphalt stops and the grassy area begins the asphalt has a black ledge which looks very real and it's how you expect it to look. The small cracks are great, it's just as though the sun has dried up the asphalt and it's been subject to wear and tear! As well as cracks oil spills can be noticed, especially at gates where the aircraft park they really work in conjunction with the green grunge making the airport look dirty. And it's all high res! Shortly after takeoff I could look back at KFLL at around 2600ft and climbing. This is when I noticed a few more things about KFLL. The roof textures look great as I believe they are from the orthophoto however they are very blurry. From above it doesn't matter too much as the higher you climb the less blurry the roof textures become but low flying into the airport and you will easily notice the blurriness. The only advantage of using the orthophoto as the roof textures is from above is it blends in with the orthophoto creating a realistic look from above, but then we move onto the orthophoto it self. So yes I have already said it's blurry to a degree however from the air like I said with the roof textures this gets better the higher you go. The problem is the colour of the ortho. The ariel ortho image does not blend back into the default x-plane land and instead is just cut off. This is when you can clearly tell the difference within the colour. For some reason its as though Butnaru didn't colour change the ortho as it is very bright from above and just does not fit in. When your thinking about purchasing this scenery you have to think will I be really bothered how the airport will look from 2000ft? Are you just looking for a very realistic environment to taxi and takeoff from? Then this scenery is the answer. I know I have just pointed out everything wrong with the scenery but nothing can be perfect. But that is not to say this scenery is not worth buying! This is one of the best for X-Plane 10 yet!!! And it's version 1.00 so we can expect many future improvements. This scenery has so many great features that I haven't even got to yet such as animations and lighting! I just pointed out all of the minor bad things!! Around The Airport: Around the airport you are certainly not starved of objects. Many are moving which makes it feel living and breathing however many are static and not dynamic. Overall they all have high resolution textures on them! However most objects seem to be placed in places where you will visit most, there is not a certain level of objects used throughout the airport. For example in some areas there seems to be a lack of static objects placed but to argue that they are places you will probably never visit. The above image shows how ground traffic gets into the areas where no static objects are placed, so really even the open 'empty' areas aren't actually empty. The details on most of the objects really increases the quality of this scenery package. For example the jetways have been modeled to a very fine detail, every small detail can be carefully noticed. The gpu boxes attached on the bottom of the jetway are greatly modeled, and the jetway looks as though it constantly moves as there are very high resolution tire marks on the concrete. Overall the detail of objects sets this scenery apart as it creates a high level of immersion tricking you to believe you are actually there. The lighting in this scenery package is simply the best feature. The lights create a very realistic night environment as a range of techniques for lighting have been used. Orhtophoto lighting: The orhtophoto has been lit up in certain places linking to certain buildings, this is great as it increases the brightness however in some places the lighting on the orthophoto is a bit out of place. For example a random lit circle on the floor with no building above it. The good thing about this technique for lighting is that with HDR Rendering ON it looks great and with HDR Rendering OFF it still creates that same effect. The second technique used was colouring standard lights. Butnaru has edited the colours of the lighting to create the real orange effect throughout the airport, this just looks great! All lamp posts emit this orange spill, in conjunction with the othophoto lighting great results are achieved. A new lighting feature was also used, rotating beacons! This just puts the icing on the cake in terms of lighting! The rotating beacons on the moving vehicles creates a living and breathing world atmosphere! This is something not yet seen in x-plane! The two pictures below of the baggage cart show off the new rotating beacon feature, you can see, flicking between each picture, the rotating beacon light! These features are hard to explain as words can't express how good the features look in the sim. A video is surly needed so you can see the lighting and animations around the airport! Trees can also be found spread around the airport, the trees look great and really capture the feel for florida. Tall thin palm trees, with long branching palms. A small misc thing I also noticed was how each terminal has gates only associated with certain airlines, just like in real life! The far terminal just has 'Southwest' jets parked at the gates and then the other terminal next to it is full of 'United Airlines' jets. This just shows the attention to detail that Butnaru has put in. The 3D modeling is not basic yet not advanced. Where you would expect a round surface you will get a sort of hexagonal surface. I believe that this is linked to Sketchup (3D modeling program) however it is now possible to texture round surfaces. Despite that Butnaru has modeled extensively in detail for KFLL. Textures have taken over from modeling in some parts of this scenery for example the roof has the orthophoto texture and displays some squares with dark shadows I can only pick them out to be air conditioner units, not modeled just on the texture. However down at the gates, 3D modeling has had attention to detail. So FPS (frames per second). FPS anywhere in and around this scenery is great I don't get any lag at all. Running addons such as aircraft and Skymaxx pro I don't get any hit to frames. With HDR ON/OFF it doesn't make a considerable difference regarding FPS. Also on high rendering options I still get very good FPS! Animations: Animations are everywhere, wherever you look something will be moving or be en-route to somewhere. This is great in the day or night as the airport never sleeps! This means that whatever time you land or takeoff at KFLL you are sure to have an immersive experience. The following ground objects move around: Baggage carts and trucks Fuel Trucks People Airport SUV's As well as other objects which I may have missed, anyhow you can imagine just how much stuff moves around all at once! My favorite animation has to be the people, it's not just ground crew that wonder around doing their daily jobs but pilots as well! In some gates well before departure a pilot can be seen walking around the aircraft undergoing his exterior checks, looking around for noticeable issues. In other gates ground crew are preparing aircraft for their next movement. Obviously static aircraft don't move about but the ground vehicles do which makes you believe the static aircraft are about to as well! There are some draw backs to the ground traffic, I wouldn't call it big problems just small constraints. For example the ground vehicles move without the wheel moving which is possible to do but not animated within this scenery. Also the vehicles do not make any sound, however that is down to the plugin which was written by Marginal and not Butnaru. The moving ground vehicles contain the rotating beacon light and headlights as well, overall it creates ground traffic that looks amazing! Also there is no traffic on the custom roads which is also possible within a scenery package, this means that the main raised highway coming into the airport has no traffic on it. However the road is only noticeable from the air and not from the ground anyway so it doesn't matter too much. Documentation: Very minimal. That's a harsh way of putting it but I am afraid not much effort was put into the READ ME PDF. It consists of two pages. The first gives you the two steps listed above for installation and the second page consists of special thanks and references to his other sceneries. No charts are included or 'Recommended Settings' or FAQs, just 2 steps for installation, and obviously the email for support. In a way I suppose that's all you really need. The Read Me is something that you reference once and forget? Unless it's an aircraft and you use it for the checklists. Outside the Airport: Yes, things are modeled outside the airport and yes, the othophoto covers it. But it's not all great. Its good that Butnaru spent the time modeling outside the airport boundaries so lets take a look. Outside the airport two areas are included along the coast line, the first is the shipyard. Butnaru has made some container ships and placed them inline with the ortho image on the water. The container ships look okay but are a little blurry as the textures are low res. On the ground at the dock you will find some containers placed on the ground stacked very high. To the left of this you will find the other side of the dock where the cruise ships park. The cruise ships are modeled and textured again with low res textures. I feel as though so much more could be achieved with these cruises. To start smoke puffs could be easily added as well as navigation lights. Currently the ships textures do the night lighting. But its outside the airport so you will only be flying over it at 700ft. The custom roads blend in nicely with the default roads outside the airport so that link makes the airport fit in place. Here are some left over pictures, I took too many screenshots as there was a lot to document: Summary: I know I have commented on the many minor things that can be changed, added or improved however it is version 1.00 and it has many great features that make it stand out from the rest of the sceneries. All things can be fixed in the future with an update. My final verdict, yes, it's certainly worth having! This scenery creates a very realistic experience that you need to see for yourself. The ground traffic mixed with the advanced lighting system make this scenery one of the best. The annoyances are just my personal preference for scenery quality and everything works just the way it should. I didn't find any bugs within the scenery, so nothing to report there. It's possible to even further enhance the visuals with the Haze plugin and more. I did not use the haze plugin or enhanced runway textures HD as I reviewed the airport as it came. The only thing I had exrta was aircraft and Skymaxx pro v2. It's hard to develop a payware scenery and live it up to the standard of other sceneries for example Beti-x's Stewart, but Butnaru pulled it off here and that's surprising due to the size of the airport! Also Stewart by Beti-x is $25.80! so as you can see from the price difference this aiport has been priced right. Yes, a few things could be improved which are mentioned above however as the base for V1 this scenery should definately be in your x-plane.org shopping cart. The modeling is great, the animations look real, the textures look phenonemal and the frames per second are high! What more could you possible want? Maybe more area covered such as the beach and some modeled hotels but for the price you are paying so much is already included. For the price range of this scenery package you will definately experience a special visit in your simulator to KFLL, an experience to remember! KFLL - Fort Lauderdale International by Butnaru is now available on the x-plane.org store for US$19.95 Please comment below if you have any questions. Developer Website: None Developer Support: Mundo3dvirtual@gmail.com Aircraft Used in the review: - 732 TwinJet by FlyJSim - BAE Jetstream 32 by Jrollon - 757 Professional by FlightFactor - x737 Project Review System Specifications: Computer System: - Intel Core i5 3330 @ 3.00GHz - 4.00gb of RAM - Geforce GTX 650 1gb Software: - Windows 7 64 bit - X-Plane 10 Global version 10.25 - Saitek Pro Flight Yoke System - KFLL - Fort Lauderdale International - Skymaxx Pro v2 Review by Joe Charman 13th August 2014 Copyright©2014 : X-Plane Reviews
    1 point
  3. Congratulations and I'll echo others comments - you know how to describe the nuances of each piece of work, call out the unique and special features and generally encourage us to part with our £££s and invest in the payware economy! You've also saved me a few quid by telling it how it is when developers can do better... For me, the best review has been the I would never have played around with the auto-hover so much if you hadn't called this out in your review: Like all your reviews, this has the "scene setting" info to get me interested, the install details, critique of the modelling detail, a walk through of how it flies and excellent screenshots of the included liveries - all your screenshots are fabulous and really add to the articles! Well done on the first year and thanks for all the effort and time you're giving to all of us!
    1 point
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