Analysing and modifying the AFX file with QBasic.
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Thread: Analysing and modifying the AFX file with QBasic.

  1. #1

    Analysing and modifying the AFX file with QBasic.

    Hello folks,
    This would be the continuation of a subject recently started on the "Conspicuous by their Absence" Thread.

    Ivan had commented on some small and extremely practical utilities he had written in "C" and using batch files, with which he could make some dreary and long AF99 operations very easy and fast. For example, re-scaling the whole aircraft or moving it to an improved position.

    These small programmes involve very simple mathematical actions on aircraft elements present in a given directory, and I was immediately inspired to try and produce similar programmes using QBasic.

    I know QBasic is one of the most outdated programming languages, considered by most as only good for Kids, but not even that, because why show them something useless when thereīs more modern stuff like "C" and "C++" around...

    Well, OK, granted, but I havenīt learnt anything else, and QBasic is the only thing I can understand and use to any effect.

    It does have tremendous power to manipulate strings and files though, except perhaps for extracting file names from directories, which I havenīt found the way to do yet. Maybe it isnīt possible.

    As a result, I canīt write small QBasic programs that act on all part files stored in one directory, to re-scale or re-position them one after the other, in one go.

    However, it could be done acting on the whole AFX. All the vertices are present - they arenīt in the AFA, AFC or AFS files - only the AFP Aircraft Part files show vertices, and so does the AFX.

    So at the moment, I have got as far as identifying all the lines containing information on vertices present in all the parts corresponding to everything in the AF99 aircraft. ...all except the templates for structures, which is a different matter.

    I have also been able to isolate the three x,y,z coordinates for each vector. Now I have to turn them into real numbers, apply some maths to the needed ones, turn them back into text and re-insert them into the string to re-build a new AFX.

    The problem with Structures is that they have a different Syntax, so the name of the type of bulkhead template between the first two inverted commas type will serve as identifiers. Maybe Iīll use the firs three letters of the bulkhead names, as the shortest is "Vee". Then, there are only two coordinates for the templates, so I still have to study which is what.

    They must also be processed. As the AFX, when unpacked, actually generates all parts, I doubt that un-processed bulkhead vertices will work properly with processed Structure part vertices!

    Then there is a mysterious short line with a confusing "", syntax, which however does not correspond to a vertice. It may be the reference number of the Family that the component or Structure is grouped into, as the numbers do not depend on the position and repeat themselves in other models as well.
    There are 8 possible numbers: 83, 84 (left-right?), 10 (low wing facing down?), 12 (mid wing facing up?), 26 (canopy?) and 13, 17 (both aft?) and 36 (body?). Ah dunno yet completely, but probably it wonīt matter and wonīt need processing.

    Anyway, hereīs a screenshot of my progress so far. The different colours show the vertex numbers. The only ones missing are the Template Structures that have only two coordinates.

    Cheers,
    Aleatorylamp
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Vertex-identify3.jpg  

  2. #2

    Further progress... itīs working!

    Hello All,
    After managing to identify and isolate the structure templates, came the task of actually modifying certain parameters, and leaving others intact.

    To start off, I chose to lengthen a model by a very small amount, and after several different AF99 unpacking errors, creation of garbage structures and components, and other errors caused by missing commas or superfluous inverted commas, or excessive zeroes where there should be nothing, it worked!! My test-model is now a couple of inches longer.

    Here is a sample screenshot of a part of the listing that can be can generated so as to check what is going on during the process. The culprits were the short lines (labelled by me as "Short", for me to monitor) that have a certain value, one of 12 possible numbers I believe, and which is repeated in other models, and must not be processed.

    My deduction is that is depends on the family group of a mainly a component or structure, and its orientation. However, there are also other short lines that can be upto 2 positions longer, and they canīt be processed either.

    Now, the next part is to either rip out the wheels before processing, because they shouldnīt be stretched. Alternatively, they could be identified and be ignored (which would be more artfull) by the stretching process, to be shifted manually from within AF99 perhaps.

    Following that, texture mapping can also be identified and corrected to fit the stretching...

    P.S. From the second screenshot one can see that the "victim" is the original AiraCobra AFX by Eric Johnson. It was useful to use that as a reference point for my experiments, as Ivan had also done some research with effective "C" programs to facilitate quick adjustments on the entire model, that would otherwise take ages to perform manually with AF99.

    Interestingly enough, no offsets of any kind needed processing - neither the CoG offset, which this model has, nor e.g. the Wheels, that are originally built at the origin (0,0,0) and shifted into position on the Assembly blueprint.

    As regards the first screenshot, the coloured lines at the end of each line is the modified output of the modified lines. The original lines are the white ones on the left, and do not include the first two numbers - those are reference character codes of certain positions that are of assistance to check the parsing. Once proven correct, they could of course be deleted, as I did for the Structure Template identification to make space.

    Update: Greater precision with 2 decimals.
    At first I thought it wouldnīt handle 2 decimals in the vertex coordinates, as the model only has upto 1 decimal after the point, but then I remembered a comment in a recent post on the Conspicuous thread about AF99 handling upto 0.01 ft precision, and it worked fine, so hereīs an update of the results screen section screenshot, substituting the old one.

    Cheers,
    Aleatorylamp
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Two-decimals.jpg   AFX compared.jpg  
    Last edited by aleatorylamp; June 10th, 2018 at 09:12.

  3. #3
    Hello all,
    I just missed something: Wheels and Propdisc havenīt budged! - because...
    La-dee-dah!, they were built at origin, 0,0,0. Oh, what fun! They were offset.

    I was completely wrong about " no offsets of any kind needed processing etc..."
    ...famous last words before blundering.

    Now Iīll have to make the programme identify them for moving slightly,
    ...or apply the maths to the offset points. Letīs see...
    ...or put in the parts into their proper position with AF99 letīs see if theyīll allow
    themselves to be moved, because often they slip back) before running them

    through the modifier.

    Ideally a program like this should detect null-point-built elements and
    intelligently place them, but thatīs a bit difficult to program.
    Cheers,
    Aleatorylamp
    Last edited by aleatorylamp; June 10th, 2018 at 12:26.
    "Why make it simple if you can also make it complicated?"

  4. #4
    Hello Aleatorylamp,

    I don't happen to know what scaling factor you are using but there is a reason why I chose some really large (2X and 3X) scaling factors for experimentation.
    With small scaling factors, something can still be wrong and you will never see it.
    As an example, you only saw the Wheels and Prop Disk.

    This screenshot that I originally attached back at Post 1493 in the "Conspicuous by Their Absence" thread will give you an idea of what else is a bit mis-located that you are not seeing at the moment.

    As we have discussed offline, it does not work to actually move the AF99 Part because often a single Part will appear in multiple pieces and MOVING the Part will move them all which may cause effects that are very hard to work with.
    Our goals may have been different, but mine was to create a program which does as much of the alteration in an automated fashion as possible without any major detail work on the pieces.
    I actually did not quite do that.
    The StretchIt program worked on Parts.
    Components are thus affected without any need for separate consideration.
    Structures, however, were not addressed at all.
    I found it simpler to re-build the Structures individually because on this project, I had intended to alter the Bulkheads (cross-sections) of most of them anyway.
    A Triangular Cannon Barrel just does not look right when there are so many resources left over.

    I am glad you figured out that the single decimal place in the original model could not be retained with the kind of editing we are doing. The ability to put together a fairly good looking model with such low precision is why I believe Eric Johnson did a really great job here. There are places he could have done much better, but many of the improvements we are doing here are possible because the tools are better.

    - Ivan.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails NotWellAdjusted.jpg  

  5. #5
    Hello Ivan,
    OK, thanks!
    With the small fuselage-length correction, I suppose the numbers of other discrepancies are too small. I was using the same 1.0191 multiplier as you had done that excluded the nose-cannon from the specified length of the plane. The screenshots have the grid on to show the difference, although it is not calibrated.

    Incidentally, I didnīt process any of the offsets. I havenīt posted a screenshot of the model yet because the textures aren mapped correctly yet.


    Parts created at the null point wonīt react to ANY scaling and stay put, and one can only really act on them through the offsets, or on the AF99 model itself.

    Here, the problem is that the parts not only have to be placed correctly, but have to be shifted back, and it sometimes doesnīt really work as expected, now I realize that itīs for the reasons that you have just explained, so itīs better to delete the old ones from the list of the original model and put in new ones. Then, the AFX modifier will work fine - I hope! Iīm just doing that now, and Iīl take advantage of the situation and put in some 12-sided wheels.

    The screenshot looks like the plane has taken some severe hits - flak maybe... Things are disjointed and missing - the wheels have been shot off and are already distant!

    Anyway, I agree with your comments on the original E.J. AFX - itīs quite nice to work on!

    Cheers,
    Aleatorylamp
    "Why make it simple if you can also make it complicated?"

  6. #6
    Hello Ivan, Hello all!
    Itīs done! Itīs doing what was aiming for, namely adjusting the modelīs dimensions to apply
    overall corrections after having started building. This will save a lot of work and time.

    As I never build with offsets, I donīt have to include corrections for shifted parts, and I do texture mapping from within AF99, so that wonīt need to go into the program either.

    Hereīs a partial screenshot showing the old vertex coordinates in white, and the modified ones in yellow, and red for a structure template.

    Cheers,
    Aleatorylamp
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Image2.jpg  
    "Why make it simple if you can also make it complicated?"

  7. #7
    Hello Aleatorylamp,

    I am glad you accomplished what you had set out to do.
    I don't believe this kind of tool would have ever been useful for any of my own projects.
    When I screw things up, I screw them up MUCH worse than a uniform 2% scaling factor which is why I had not done a program like this until I began to examine this P-39D AFX.

    - Ivan.

  8. #8

    Future plans for the test bed.

    Hello Ivan,
    Mini-tools like yours would have been obviously been easier to use, but I canīt make them for reasons Iīve explained. The only thing I can accomplish is to act on the AFX file with QBasic, which incidentally, I thought was pretty interesting, albeit rather peculiar.

    What I will also do with it (and describe it on this thread), once it comes to the point, is generate a separate AFX for the fin, scale that with my program, unpack it and put the pieces on the P39D - test-baby conveyor belt. It is the way I can use my AFX Modifier to act only on selected areas of the plane, so it will be useful for that too! ...at least for me...

    Now, because I donīt like leaving pets stranded, abandoned on a country road, I wonīt abandon my results on my modified E.J. AFX. They will continue serving me, and I will make good use of the test model, just for some practise as I explained when you so kindly sent me the AFX, thanks to which my Apprentice Department is having a great time!

    I observe that the wheel and exhaust textures share half of the same texture-bitmap each, and re-scaling has (naturally) made rather a mess of the mapping. AF99 will do a good job of re-mapping textures except for the wheels and exhaust ones, that will have to be entered manually.

    I can see the numbers on the original texture-spread, so maybe that will serve as a guide for me to understand how that has to go, once I elongate the nose-gear by 0.50 ft, thanks to info as per your investigations on the other thread! Also, Iīll clean up the bits and pieces on all gear struts.

    Then, I shall proceed with a 179 alpha transparency canopy structure (speed below 179 for AA), to see if anything worth commenting upon happens, put in an inhabitant and do a nice glue-sequence for the cockpit.

    And, to finish, there is a planned conversion of the octogonal cross-sectioned fuselage components to be dodecagonical, (taking advantage of the situation to make the belly a bit more pot-bellied), and give the tail-plane an airfoil section. Then, if nothing else crops up, at the end, my apprentices will be able to fly about in their own updated Airacobra, and practise their engineering skills on the engine too!

    It will probably continue being fun!
    Cheers,
    Aleatorylamp
    "Why make it simple if you can also make it complicated?"

  9. #9
    Hello Aleatorylamp,

    Quote Originally Posted by Aleatorylamp
    Mini-tools like yours would have been obviously been easier to use, but I canīt make them for reasons Iīve explained. The only thing I can accomplish is to act on the AFX file with QBasic, which incidentally, I thought was pretty interesting, albeit rather peculiar.
    I never really did understand the logic of not being able to work with a simple process but preferring to deal with a much more complicated process. It just does not make any sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aleatorylamp
    What I will also do with it (and describe it on this thread), once it comes to the point, is generate a separate AFX for the fin, scale that with my program, unpack it and put the pieces on the P39D - test-baby conveyor belt. It is the way I can use my AFX Modifier to act only on selected areas of the plane, so it will be useful for that too! ...at least for me...
    Your description of packing just the Fin into a new AFX file in order to do some fairly simple processing seems like a rather convoluted way of accomplishing a very simple task.

    This proposal actually brings up a LOT of other questions:
    1. Where did you get the idea that the Fin is out of scale in relation to the rest of the 3D Model?
    2. Which way are you planning on stretching / scaling the Fin Parts?
    3. WHY are you bothering to do anything at all with the existing Fin Parts when they also have the Diamond cross section instead of a proper Airfoil shape?
    If you are going to do some heavy editing to those pieces, why not just build them from scratch. It would be quicker and simpler.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aleatorylamp
    Then, I shall proceed with a 179 alpha transparency canopy structure (speed below 179 for AA), to see if anything worth commenting upon happens, put in an inhabitant and do a nice glue-sequence for the cockpit.

    And, to finish, there is a planned conversion of the octogonal cross-sectioned fuselage components to be dodecagonical, (taking advantage of the situation to make the belly a bit more pot-bellied), and give the tail-plane an airfoil section. Then, if nothing else crops up, at the end, my apprentices will be able to fly about in their own updated Airacobra, and practise their engineering skills on the engine too!


    it seems to me that you are going about this in the wrong order.
    When you start looking at how to put in a Transparent Canopy, Cockpit and other cool things you will see how the current divisions of the Fuselage won't work well with that idea.
    It makes a lot more sense if you are going to spend the time to build a 12 sided Fuselage to do that first and plan for the Cockpit and Transparent Canopy ahead of time.
    You will avoid a lot of problems that way.
    You will also find out what is really wrong with that Aeroplane's Tail; It really isn't a scaling issue.

    I chose not to go there because I saw that when allowing for the precision possible with Aircraft Factory 99, just about EVERYTHING in this model had a shape problem so it didn't make sense to do more than just correct the most obvious problems that were the most benefit at the least cost in time.
    I had to go further than I wanted because as I pulled on one string, others would unravel and I could not leave the patient bleeding from other areas even if I had not been working there.

    - Ivan.

  10. #10
    Hello Ivan,
    Thanks for your message.

    I donīt believe you understand my position very well when you say
    >"I never really did understand the logic of not being able to work with a simple process but preferring to deal with a much more complicated process. It just does not make any sense."<

    It is of course very simple for someone who is used to programming very well in C and in MS-DOS, but as Iīve already said, it is MUCH easier and more understadable for me to do it with a programming language that I know, and that I know can do the job for me. Iīd have to learn C and MS-DOS, before being able to do the job so simply, and it would be more difficult and take longer than using QBasic now.

    When I mentioned the fin, it had to do with your comment in Post#1527, where you said the rudder/fin was too high, but possibly you didnīt mean what I thought you meant!

    Now that I have looked a bit more closely at the two diagrams you posted in your posts #1484 and #1482, comparing Paul Mattīs drawings to both the stretched and unstretched models, it is obvious that the fin is too high, but not because of the fin itself - it is the fuselage-tail that goes up to high, and the fin is sitting on it.

    So, correcting rear the fuselage angle to go down a bit, will provide a new correct height for the existing fin to sit on, whether in its diamond cross-section or as an airfoil. The fin then wonīt have to be re-scaled, just moved down.

    I could do it by shifting the component down in a skiving way, or re-position it as an AFX with my Qbasic program, or re-building it with a correct cross-section from scratch, the latter of which, as you say, I agree would be the most logical.

    And, as the rear fuselage would have to be re-built, the whole fuselage would be done in 12 sides while Iīm at it. As a re-building exercise, the model is quite a challenge.

    How about writing a program that converts 8 sided bodies into 12 sided ones? Just joking...

    I mentioned the transparent canopy as being done before the intense fuselage re-build, because it is an easy way of enhancing the model. Built as a top-only transparent structure thanks to AA, it would be a piece of cake to fit to a possibly later re-worked fuselage, if that were to be built. Fitting a couple of frame pieces wonīt pose a problem either.

    Depending on the complication involved, I may do the lot, or not... Iīll see how it goes.

    Cheers,
    Stephan
    "Why make it simple if you can also make it complicated?"

  11. #11
    Hello Aleatorylamp,

    I think we are mostly in agreement about how the Fin needs fixed and why I stated that the Fuselage needed fixed first.

    Regarding Simple and Complicated programs:
    I was not suggesting that you learn C programming to work with these Parts editor programs.
    It was more a suggestion of building programs with a command line interface using whatever language you are comfortable with and working on a single Part at a time.
    Properly done, the single Part program could be called by other programs to handle Components via "Sysem" calls in BASIC.

    As an example:
    MoveIt - Moves ONE Part.
    CMoveIt - Calls MoveIt on all the Parts of a Component
    StructMoveIt - Pretty Obvious purpose.

    Mirror - Reflects One Part across the Y-Z plane to get a New Part
    CMirror - Builds a Mirrored Component. Conceptually the same, but does not call the "Mirror" program....

    I just found it odd that you would write the AFX modification program without the smaller programs first.

    Does your AFX program also do a Move? I had thought it was only doing a Stretch?

    Regarding Flight Models, I am still doing data collection for my version.

    - Ivan.

  12. #12
    Hello Ivan,
    I havenīt needed a Move program yet - I was actually waiting, for example, for a better place to set the CoG, to practise a possible MoveIt version that would globally affect the whole airplane.

    With a 0.5 ft lower nose gear, For the moment, the present positioning of the CoG is so critical that the aircraft often sits on its tail, only with the adjustment the lower nose gear, and would require the main gear to be set back by at least 6 inches in the .air file.

    Doing a Move would be a second version of the same program, containing an adder instead of a multiplier. The moving factor, like the stretching factor, would be entered into the program text first. That way I can avoid having to create an interface with a selection menu.

    At the moment, the Stretching program applies the same multiplier to the 3 coordinates in each vertex line, taking for granted that a uniform stretch in all directions is desired. Alternatively, three different factor variables could be written in, so that some could be left at 1:1 if desired.

    I understand what you mean with the program concept you describe, but there is a problem.
    To call subroutines that select a part or parts from a directory for processing, would involve entering the names of the parts into the program, but the point is that this is better done automatically.

    I canīt just have one part in a directory, for example, and expect the program to identify it and to process it, unless I give it the name of the part.

    Doing a Dir of the directory shows the names on the screen, but there seems to be no way to have the computer store the filenames so files can be accessed automatically by a program. The only thing to do would be for the user to select a part having done a Dir, and then enter its name so that the computer can choose it. It seems a bit cumbersome, and it would be easier to do it directly in AF99.

    That was the reason why I had to use the AFX, as it acts on all the parts in it, and also the reason for making possible partial AFXīs.

    Cheers, and good night!
    Aleatorylamp
    "Why make it simple if you can also make it complicated?"

  13. #13
    Hello Aleatorylamp,

    Quote Originally Posted by Aleatorylamp
    I havenīt needed a Move program yet - I was actually waiting, for example, for a better place to set the CoG, to practise a possible MoveIt version that would globally affect the whole airplane.
    Actually you have needed it. I think it was on your AT-9 Jeep.
    I did the move of the entire Aeroplane for you if I am recalling that project correctly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aleatorylamp
    With a 0.5 ft lower nose gear, For the moment, the present positioning of the CoG is so critical that the aircraft often sits on its tail, only with the adjustment the lower nose gear, and would require the main gear to be set back by at least 6 inches in the .air file.


    Out of curiosity, whose AIR file are you using to make this determination?
    I can tell you with great certainty that your conclusion here is not correct: at least not entirely correct.
    There are a few more factors involved in determining how the aeroplane sits.
    I have most of the items located fairly accurately now but I am using P-39Q Data which is a bit different from the early P-39D. It is close enough to come to a few conclusions though.
    At the moment, that particular Spreadsheet only contains P-39Q Data and I have not tried to adjust for differences for the P-39D, but I do not expect any great surprises when and if I do that.

    The screenshot of the Airacobra sitting on its tail I posted was, as I should have noted, extremely difficult to get.
    I have not been able to reproduce it the last 30 or so times I have tried.
    .......
    I was just about to tell you what I was actually doing on my Airacobra Project but that would be seriously hijacking your thread.

    If you want a listing of the AF99 Parts files, enter this command:
    DIR /b *.AFP > AfpFileList.txt

    As I mentioned earlier, this command will give you a "Bare" listing with jut the File Names and nothing else.
    I also sometimes create a dummy Component usually called X1.AFC containing a bunch of Parts I want to move.
    When I run CMoveIt on that Component, it moves all the Parts at one time.
    This idea would also work if you want to create a list of Parts with nothing else.
    Create the AF99 Component and then edit the AFC file to delete the Header and other useless sections.

    I tend to use partial AFA files, but have never tried to do a partial AFX file.

    - Ivan.

  14. #14

    2 in 1

    Hello Ivan,
    I do remember your moving the entire AT-9 Jeep forward to solve a cabin bulkhead bleed problem caused by an inconvenient CoG position. I meant I hadnīt needed it for the Airacobra yet.

    In the case of the P-39D cockpit bleeds arenīt so much the reason, because I havenīt got round to doing the transparent cabin yet. It is more a case of applying the possible results of your CoG study affecting the visual aspect of flight behaviour.

    BTW: No hurry, I can wait... and itīs not vital if itīs inconclusive, so not to worry!


    You had also commented that the landing gear position on the model you had was quite critical. The model I have, is made from E.J.īs original AFX, apparently, and put into one of 14 packages by one Deke Wakefield, with FS98 FD by Christoph Ruhtenberg. The .air file is named P-39C.air although the model is named P-39D.

    Main-gear FD contact points in the FD are: l/r 71, u/d -61, f/a -14. As soon as Iīd built the 0.5 ft longer nose gear and lowered the nose contact point by 0.5 ft, while I was adjusting the fuselage angle to prevent the jerk-bounce upon loading the aircraft into FS, the aircraft easily sat on its tail, so for the meantime, I merely moved the landing gear position backwards by -6 inches.

    A question: What language does the instruction DIR /b *.AFP > AfpFileList.txt belong to?
    In QBasic, as Iīd commented earlier, all the instruction FILES "*.afx" : PRINT does, is output all the .afx files onto the screen, and there seems to be no provision for anything like placing filenames into a variable or dimensioned variable for use from within a program.

    Thatīs why I have to do everything to an AFX file, that will contain all the parts required for a modification, without being in a directory I canīt access the files from.

    The only reason I didnīt name this thread with anything related to the AiraCobraīs names, was so as not to step on your toes, as the P-39 is really your project.

    I only want to test some things using the original E.J. P-39 AFX to a) see how successful I can be with QBasic AFX modifications, and b) to do some AF99 aircraft updating on it, to give that activity another try after being put off some time ago.

    The Test Bed is the Airacobra, definitely, so please feel free to make any comments on your own P39 improvements that you wish! I AM very much interested, if you are willing to give your opinions on the subject - Iīd very much welcome that on this thread, and wouldnīt say it would be hijacking, quite the contrary!

    Incidentally, I got the nose-wheel texture centered by adjusting the numbers in the AF99 texture spread window, and by the way, the flaps are not split flaps under the trailing edge, but cut out of the wing trailing edge.

    OK, then. The cats are jumping on my keyboard again!

    Update: Cats are fed...
    I just put in a mode selector into the AFX Modifier, which either reads "Stretch" or "Move", depending on whether the x,y,z modifiyng factors will be multiplied or added. For the moment, all this is written directly into the program code, which seems easier than having to input the mode and the 3 factors into a line every time you run the program.

    Incidentally, I found 3 other shifted elements: The prop blades!! Iīll fix that in AF99 of course.
    You can see them on the shrunk airplane screenshot.
    The other one shows the airplane moved forward and upward. (Note how the red vertical and green horizontal centre-lines have been displaced.)

    Uptate:
    Another thing you mentioned a while back, that I can see now on the AFX, is that it is interesting to see how other people build (or built) things. Looking at the nose gear yoke, as well as the triangles on the main gear struts, this building style seemingly corresponds to 3dfx graphic card capacity of the time. Modern 3d graphic cards now use OpenGL which apparently cannot display that style properly, because of their more sophisticated texture-shading system, even though basically both use "hardware accelleration".

    Cheers,

    Aleatorylamp
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Cobra-move.jpg   Cobra--shrunk.jpg  
    Last edited by aleatorylamp; June 13th, 2018 at 02:25.

  15. #15
    Hello Aleatorylamp,

    Let's take care of the easy stuff first:
    The "DIR" command is what you would type if you open a MS DOS / Command Prompt window.
    I can tell you it still works with "Command Prompt" as late as Windows 8.1 which is what I am running on this Laptop.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aleatorylamp
    Incidentally, I got the nose-wheel texture centered by adjusting the numbers in the AF99 texture spread window, and by the way, the flaps are not split flaps under the trailing edge, but cut out of the wing trailing edge.


    When you moved the Nose Wheel, It would have been a good idea to create a Reference Part for where it USED TO be.
    That way, you know the exact offsets to change the Texture Mapping in AF99. This is the reason I keep a hand held (as opposed to computer) Calculator by my Development Computer. It is nothing special. I think the current one is a Ti-30 or Ti-35, but it helps with the math without having to find the Windows Calculator.
    The Airacobra had SPLIT FLAPS..... See the attached image. It was lifted from the "Detail & Scale" book.
    I have a copy on my shelf, but generally use the PDF copy I found online even though it is much inferior to the printed copy.
    Just do an Internet search for "P-39 Airacobra Flaps" and you will find a LOT of images. Most of them will be model aeroplanes, but these guys are much more serious rivet counters than I am.
    For a good 3D model, I suggest you fix the Flaps to be Split Flaps like they were on the real aeroplane.

    Regarding the P-39C:
    You need to decide which variant of the P-39 you are attempting to build. It is important because a lot of things depend upon that decision. The P-39C had all of its Guns in the Nose which means its CoG will be a bit different and also weighed a LOT less than the P-39D and later because it had no Armour or Self Sealing Fuel Tanks.
    See attached image for P-39C Armament.

    Thanks for the consideration about the P-39 being "My" Project.
    I actually didn't think you had an interest in this aeroplane at all.
    I guess I really should start a thread on "My Build" even though I actually can't build anything at the moment.

    I am very hesitant to post my conclusions thus far because I really don't like the idea of posting something when not all the data has been worked out and then having to revise it later. Sometimes this happens because of an honest mistake or because of new information, but in this case I KNOW I haven't used all the information currently available to me.

    I didn't know you were waiting on me to provide Center of Gravity data. I was kind of hoping that you would do your own calculations and see if we arrived at the same conclusions.
    In any case, here is some information that should help you correct your AIR file so it doesn't sit on its butt so often.
    I believe my version is pretty close at this point and it is near impossible to get it to sit on its butt.

    These are with current data and subject to change as I refine calculations.
    The Stretched Model actually ended up VERY near correct for Longitudinal Center of Gravity as compared to my estimates.
    If I were you, I would leave that number alone for now.
    The VERTICAL Center of Gravity is quite a bit off though.
    It should be around 8-9 inches (I think I used 9 inches) below the Thrust Line.
    I believe the current MDL has it at about 13 inches which won't totally ruin things either, but it help to get things closer to get the Landing Gear positions correct.

    The Main Gear should be +- 68 inches Left - Right according to Paul Matt's drawing and according to the manuals.
    The contact point should be 18 inches aft of the CoG.

    Ready for this one????
    I believe the BIG Balance Killer on this flight model is that the Fuel Tanks are incorrectly located by A LOT.
    I don't happen to have even my Game Computer operational at the moment to check all the numbers, but I believe the Fuel Tanks should be a couple inches below the CoG and aligned with the CoG Longitudinally.
    They may be actually an inch or two AHEAD of the CoG in reality, but this is where my current calculations have not quite pinned things down yet.

    This sounds pretty stupid to not know where the Fuel Tanks are. I sort of do, but only for the later P-39Q which doesn't carry the same fuel load. The problem is more that I don't know for certain where the CoG is in relation to the Fuel Tanks but I don't think this amount of shifting will noticeably affect your flight model or mine for that matter.

    If you feel like it, email me your P-39D and I will take a look at it when I can. As I mentioned earlier, my Game Machine is not operational at the moment; It's monitor is being used to test other machines which are a higher priority. Don't bother sending me the AFX. I have no means of examining it.

    - Ivan.





    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails P-39_SplitFlaps.jpg   P-39C_GunsCropped.jpg  

  16. #16
    Hello Aleatorylamp,

    Quote Originally Posted by Aleatorylamp

    Uptate:
    Another thing you mentioned a while back, that I can see now on the AFX, is that it is interesting to see how other people build (or built) things. Looking at the nose gear yoke, as well as the triangles on the main gear struts, this building style seemingly corresponds to 3dfx graphic card capacity of the time. Modern 3d graphic cards now use OpenGL which apparently cannot display that style properly, because of their more sophisticated texture-shading system, even though basically both use "hardware accelleration".


    I almost forgot to point out:
    I actually AM running 3dfx Graphics Cards. 3dfx (I think they were eaten by Nvidia long ago) was the maker of the Voodoo series of Graphics Cards and my old Development Machine had a Voodoo 3 3000 and my Game Machine still has a Voodoo 3 2000. My own opinion is that the 3dfx Graphics Cards were very good for the time (which is why I bought two) and even today are pretty well thought of. I also have their competition of the time, the Nvidia TNT2 M64 but have only used it for testing. It wasn't until I recently that I found out what this Nvidia PCI test graphics adapter really was.

    - Ivan.

  17. #17
    Hello Ivan -
    A quick reply to the latest, like the stack in a computer: Last in, first out.

    I loved the 3dfx cards, because they I think did a much better job and seemed
    to be programmed more eficiently than OpenGl, even nowadays, if the O.S. or
    the hardware can cope.

    The OpenGl graphics card on my tower now, canīt handle hardware accelleration
    in FS98. Were I to remove it and only use the 512 Mb graphics capacity embedded
    in the CPU (called APU), then FS98 h.a. would work!!
    FS98 uses, as you know, 3dfx only. But then, Iīd have a super graphics card sitting
    on the shelf...

    I had a friend who swore by the NVidia TNT and TNT2 like the Matrox Millenium. I was
    using one on an old computer, and you couldnīt do better!

    I think thatīs why some aircraft visual model glitches are not visible on old graphics cards,
    only becoming visible with hardware accelleration turned off.

    Allow me to respond a bit later to the items in your other message,
    i.e. the next one in the proverbial stack!

    Cheers,
    Aleatorylamp.
    "Why make it simple if you can also make it complicated?"

  18. #18
    Hello Ivan,
    Iīve just been fiddling with the propellerīs new blades as a component, a split spinner with glue between the slices, and a prop blurr. Then Iīll deal with a more convenient nose gear. Itīs coming out in a rather clean way, luckily. Not a bad model to work on at all!

    Now then, hereīs the reply to your comments two posts ago, as promised:

    OK on the Dir command! I know the MSDOS Command window works also in Windows XP, but what to do with the bare listing obtained after entering this Dir command is another matter. Iīm afraid Iīm quite out of my depth.

    When I lengthened the nose gear and lowered the nose wheel on the stretched model, the unstretched one still existed elsewhere, and served as reference to get the old texture mapping numbers. I moved what I supposed would be the imaginary texture square forward until the texture was centred on the wheel, and then it required very slight vertical adjustment.

    Until yesterday, I hadnīt noticed the flaps issue, as I thought theyīd be OK, which they arenīt.
    I know they should be split flaps and the E.J. AFX has cut-out flaps. That will expectedly not be a difficult fix. Curiously this model has the wing divided into upwards and downward facing components!

    Regarding the P-39C variant:
    I had already decided on the P-39D, as the P-39C was not really well prepared for heavy combat. I believe the FS98 .air file already accounts for it, and there are also guns on the wings in the Dp files that came with the FS98/CFS1 model.

    At first, I wasnīt really interested in the plane, but my interest was spurred on as I was following your P-39D improvements on the other thread. I was surprised that when the Stance was corrected, the model started getting a character it didnīt have before. It got a totally different look, and I began to like it. It will get even better when the tail-fuselage business is corrected.

    Working on the model, I get the same feeling as you did: I is a good model to try out different things. The real plane has beautiful lines, and the model starts looking better and better as you go along, which is an important motivating factor.

    I understand your views about the CoG research results. Thatīs why I was trying not to hurry them, and was patiently satisfied with my provisional fix.

    My own calculations were more like a rule of thumb issue. I noticed that the AFX had the light blue spot in a position that looked quite fine, I thought, about 25% from the leading edge along the wing chord, so I was happy to leave it that way.

    I posted the pictures of my stretched and unstretched models with the CoG Point, and also the numbers, so that you could have a reference to go by as your development machine wasnīt in running order.

    Thanks for the interesting confirmation that the longitudinal position is as I thought! Your stretched model would be the same as mine, so thatīs fine.

    Now, if the vertical CoG is quite a bit off and should be about 9 inches below the thrust line, it has to be adjusted - either in the AF99 CoG positioning menu option, or with MoveIt (or the Move option in my program). I believe both ways will have the same result, and both will then get readjusted in the .air file.


    ...and OK on the Big one! The fuel tanks. Iīll try what you suggest provisionally, about 2 inches ahear of the CoG, (and also check the munition weight and position in the Dp files). Firing the rounds and using up fuel should be perhaps be only a little noticeable in the flying behaviour!

    Donīt worry about the .air file on my machine for the moment. I find it flies quite nicely - Christoph Ruhtenberg did very nicely here for FS98.

    But, as a good CFS1 .air file is planned here, I donīt think itīs worthwhile putting too much effort into a FS98 .air file. Thanks for the offer anyway!


    Cheers,
    Aleatorylamp
    "Why make it simple if you can also make it complicated?"

  19. #19
    Hello Aleatorylamp,

    Here comes the Can of Worms:
    First Worm:
    When you rebuilt the Spinner into two Structures, did you correct the incorrect shape or the diameter which is way too small and I believe the Spinner is also too short?
    Problem is that if you correct that without correcting the Nose, there is a mismatch.....
    That is why I only replaced the Propeller Blades and didn't worry about the bleeds there.

    Second Worm:
    The Propeller is the wrong diameter and obviously the wrong shape..... but you probably already knew that.
    My rebuild wasn't that correct either, but I intend to do better on the real model.

    I had thought EJ's AFX had Split Flaps, but perhaps I fixed that years back when I first got the AFX.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aleatorylamp
    My own calculations were more like a rule of thumb issue. I noticed that the AFX had the light blue spot in a position that looked quite fine, I thought, about 25% from the leading edge along the wing chord, so I was happy to leave it that way.

    I posted the pictures of my stretched and unstretched models with the CoG Point, and also the numbers, so that you could have a reference to go by as your development machine wasnīt in running order.


    I don't really know what it should look like on EJ's P-39D because of distortions and for that matter, I don't even know what it should look like on ANY profile.... I just know that my calculations with a minor estimated correction for model variations put the CoG at about 31-32% of Mean Aerodynamic Chord. Not quite sure what that corresponds to on the model. It is buried in the Spreadsheet calculations somewhere.
    25% MAC would be a good estimate for an Aeroplane that is well behaved, but we know that the Airacobra was not so well behaved which is why we can't just estimate. If we go by estimates, it ends up to be pretty average and loses its character.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aleatorylamp
    ...and OK on the Big one! The fuel tanks. Iīll try what you suggest provisionally, about 2 inches ahear of the CoG, (and also check the munition weight and position in the Dp files). Firing the rounds and using up fuel should be perhaps be only a little noticeable in the flying behaviour!

    Donīt worry about the .air file on my machine for the moment. I find it flies quite nicely - Christoph Ruhtenberg did very nicely here for FS98.
    The DP file that comes with the CFS version is pretty much garbage.
    There is nearly nothing useful in that DP file.

    Firing off the ammunition actually had a rather serious effect on the handling of the aeroplane.
    My earlier calculations showed that expending the Fuel also had a slight effect but data from the P-39Q suggests that it should not.... There is more to this story though.

    Thank you for the vote of confidence on the good CFS AIR file. We shall see where it ends up.

    - Ivan.

  20. #20

    Mysteries return... but get solved too

    Hello Ivan,
    OK on the flaps, and I noticed the spinner thing, thanks!
    I didnīt change the shape either, other than splitting it for the prop component and the glue. The fuselage would need re-shaping first, and I probably wonīt do that after all, because of the worms that come out in this work. The "workms"!

    So, I finished re-vamping the nose with only a new 12-sided spinner, props with better shapes and uniform lengths and positions, and the lengthened nose-gear.
    This, as a preliminary face-lift, with a nice prop-blur included! Classified as a nose-job!!

    I wasnīt too worried about the small bleeds - yet - because I was more interested in the CoG shift to the newer position (thanks very much for your suggested new CoG position!): A bit further back and a bit further down - fine to do with AF99, but I wanted to get the whole model to sit on that new place with its null point!

    Sounds coherent, what you say: The centre of rotation being where the CoG is, and the centre of lift, infront a bit (offset in the .air file), would then cause the inherent instability that this aircraft had in certain circumstances.


    So, I deleted the AF99 CoG offset 3.5,-1.1,0 to make it 0,0,0, with the intention of correcting the re-vamped P-39D with my AFX Modifier Move Option.


    But... Oh, Woe! NOTHING except the spinner templates (the vertical one didnīt even exist because I used "Longitudinal Symmetry") were visible in the new, unpacked Model!! And this with no error messages of any kind!

    Backtracking, it turned out it was not the CoG shift itaself that was creating the problem, but something in the "nose-job", combined with it, because both the original AFX, and the stretched AFX, do allow Moving the aircraft to center its null point on the new CoG position.

    Update
    : I discovered is was a new short line that should only be like "",-2.41 right at the beginning of the AFX listing that mistakenly had extra commas and parameters, so it has to be parsed the same as other short lines like "",83 , which are identified but must go into the newly generated AFX unchanged. Allowing three more characters in the cropping of these short lines cured the new problem.

    So, the re-positioning works, and so does the "nose job", which is a relief!

    However, all this wonīt eliminate further worms. After a face lift that probably will not involve a new fuselage any longer, or anything else thatīs difficult, I think my Iīll finish my re-working exercise - itīs only for practise anyway, and the resulting aircraft will have served its purpose - and also look a bit better!

    Extra Update:
    OK! So here are two screenshots with the 0,0,0, at the centre of rotation.
    Itīs now 18 in. below the centreline (prop axel), and I was trying for about 30% from the leading edge, but I think I fell short and itīs only 27 or something, and will probably have to to go a bit further back. The question is whether this concept is correct, to have the null point on the Centre of Rotation.


    Then, I still have to re-map all the textures, as it has all changes, of course, but that should be no problem: Easy skiving with AF99-automatization!

    I gave up on sharing one bitmap with different areas for wheel-doors, exhaust and wheels, because I was going crazy, and my psychiatrist is on an extended holiday because he is deranged completely himself, so now thereīs an own bitmap for each of those.

    Cheers,
    Aleatorylamp
    Last edited by aleatorylamp; June 14th, 2018 at 05:31.

  21. #21
    Hello Aleatorylamp,

    How well did the 12 sided Spinner blend in with the 8 sided Nose?
    Even the original didn't blend in all that well and they were both 8 sided.

    There are just small bleeds at the Nose.
    There are some major bleeds at the Wing Roots when seen from outboard and
    There are plenty of bleeds on the underside especially on the Landing Gear Wells.

    Regarding Stability and Center of Lift:
    I actually have noticed the instability but haven't really gone very far yet in tuning the AIR file other than trying to get the weights more or less located properly. Even those are still subject to revision, so *I* don't have any useful conclusions yet.

    Regarding Center of Gravity:
    I don't think I told you what you think I stated.
    I told that the CoG of the 3D Model was pretty close Longitudinally and should be at around 9 inches below the Thrust Line. vertically as opposed to a bit over 13 inches as it is now. That would be a slight shifting of the CoG FORWARD which I believe can be ignored FOR NOW, and CoG shift UPWARD.

    Regarding Parsing and Interpreting Data:
    My principle has always been to retain the formatting of the original when possible unless it is OBVIOUSLY incorrect.
    In the case of AF99, I can tell you that often the AFP files leave out numbers when they can be assumed to be Zero.
    The problem is that this isn't the natural way that the programming languages display numbers.
    That is why I have a special (!) routine called "Normalise" which takes a number and puts it into what I understand the AF99 format to be.
    The Serious Test is to use your program to process the data on one execution and then reverse the parameters to "un process" the data on a separate execution.
    The resulting file should be identical to the file you started with.
    If it isn't, you have a problem.
    This actually works better with the Move programs than the Stretch programs because with multiplication, there are rounding errors.
    Think about it: If we use a multiplier of 1.0191 as I did for my stretch of the EJ P-39D, there are going to be LOTS of places where that does not work out to an exact 0.01 feet increment.
    There won't be any actual Tolerance Stacking because all the offsets are absolutes from the Origin, but any particular point may stretch to one particular increment and the un-do may not take it back to the exact same place it was before.

    Another check is to make sure that any piece that starts off as symmetrical ends up just as symmetrical.
    I wasn't getting that on my first couple versions of the program which is what I was describing as "stability issues".
    The difference wasn't easily visible and didn't happen frequently, but I knew it was there.

    - Ivan.

  22. #22
    Hello Aleatorylamp,

    I don't believe you understood my original post which I will quote here:

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan Ivanovich
    These are with current data and subject to change as I refine calculations.
    The Stretched Model actually ended up VERY near correct for Longitudinal Center of Gravity as compared to my estimates.
    If I were you, I would leave that number alone for now.
    The VERTICAL Center of Gravity is quite a bit off though.
    It should be around 8-9 inches (I think I used 9 inches) below the Thrust Line.
    I believe the current MDL has it at about 13 inches which won't totally ruin things either, but it help to get things closer to get the Landing Gear positions correct.

    The Main Gear should be +- 68 inches Left - Right according to Paul Matt's drawing and according to the manuals.
    The contact point should be 18 inches aft of the CoG.


    You can of course do whatever you want, but if you are trying to follow my suggestion, I believe you actually did the opposite.

    - Ivan.

  23. #23
    Hello Ivan,
    Oh Dear! I got all the numbers mixed up, especially when the Move Option started failing...
    The numbers that are in now, were not intended.
    What was intended is what you have now re-confirmed, ...Sorry, and thanks!
    Nevertheless, the mess will actually be very easy to fix because the AFX Modifier is working
    very well, so it will only take a couple of seconds - unless of course it doesnīt...

    Thanks also for your longer post and your helpful indications, warnings and failsafe measures!

    There is a kind of Normalization option in QBasic that puts zeroes in, so that the format is always ##.## ,##.##, ##.## after the initial "",
    of a vertice line. This also has rounding off effect. I was trying it before, so maybe that will help.
    I had discarded it when I saw that the AF99 AFX didnīt have all the zeroes, and thought that putting them in would interfere with the parsing, but if the zeroes disappear anyway, it will probably not matter. Iīll see.

    Also, at the moment, there is no rounding off without the ##.##, so with 0.009, a 0.01 should be added, and it isnīt - I noticed the slight variations! Without rounding off it is worse than with.

    Done: OK, the CoG is 9 inches below the centreline, and Iīve left the fore/aft as it was just now as it is more or less where it was before. The actual position numbers in AF99 are different now because the null point is now at the centre of rotation, so thereīs no CoR offset anymore, but the fore/aft CoR measurement is the same - or should be!

    Cheers,
    Aleatorylamp
    Last edited by aleatorylamp; June 14th, 2018 at 09:18.

  24. #24
    Hello Aleatorylamp,

    The "Normalization" I was describing for AF99 is a bit different. They actually use some really strange number formats if I remember correctly. What you are describing is pretty standard.

    The "Rounding Error" problem I was describing would be fairly small and very much like running a printed picture through a scanner and then printing it again repeatedly. Gradually the errors accumulate, especially if the multiplication factor has a few decimal places.

    The actual problem you are running into is a Truncation Error via using the formatted PRINT in BASIC.
    It is a much worse error.
    It is worth your time to fix this, especially if you intend to run the Stretch program multiple times on a project.
    It is actually pretty easy to do.

    You should not run into this problem with the Move program.
    That is probably the best place to test if your program damages the AFX file.
    Do your test by moving the AFX around by several offset triples so that the last one takes it back to the original location and then compare the AFX to the original.
    There should be no differences at all.

    What does the revised aeroplane look like?
    Do post a screenshot.

    - Ivan.

  25. #25
    Hello Ivan,
    Thanks very much for your interest and support. Iīm finding it very useful indeed!

    One of the steps to fit the numbers to the second decimal place, which really only truncates them, is muliplying their value by 100, and dividing its integer value by 100. Eventually it ends up getting worse if you do it to the same file several times - thatīs why I only do it once, keeping the original file if I have to re-apply anything. Itīs not really too inaccurate if you only do it once.

    As the different trials to get the position right moved all the textures, and I hadnīt re-mapped them yet, I was only posting blueprint screenshots. Aircraft screenshots looked terrible!

    The up/down setting for the null point is now at 8.89 inches, and the Forward position is actually very accurate too - between 31 and 32% from the leading edge. The Wheels are at 68 inches sideways in the .air file, and in the model, the inboard wheel-edge is at just under 66 inches, and the outboard edge at 72, so itīs quite OK, I suppose.


    I was also fitting the 12-sided spinner to the noce with some triangles, and it came out quite well. As soon as everything is presentable Iīll post a screen shot. Iīm almost done in that aspect, and the "nose job" is almost finished except for the nose-gear yoke, which has to be changed a bit to prevent the deforming bleeds.

    More later... have to feed the cats (theyīre like a clock...)

    Update: OK, here are six pictures, taken from the best no-bleed angles.
    A short second phase of the "Nose Job" would involve the nose-gear door and propeller bleeds, which arenīt apparent on the pictures though.

    Whatīs done for the moment, looks quite good. It may also not be too annoying to make the fuselage a little rounder and pot-bellied too, while Iīm at it...

    Bellīs design of the Airacobra is admittedly motivating enough in itself, as are your comments and indications!

    Iīm also following your progress with your "new" hardware on the other thread, so as soon as that is functional enough, I can post something more tangible if you were to be interested.

    Cheers,

    Aleatorylamp
    Last edited by aleatorylamp; June 15th, 2018 at 02:01.
    "Why make it simple if you can also make it complicated?"

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