Wading head first into Kirk's VIPER (the F-16 thread)
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Thread: Wading head first into Kirk's VIPER (the F-16 thread)

  1. #1

    Wading head first into Kirk's VIPER (the F-16 thread)



    OK, let's dive into this beast. Wayyyy back when FS2K was still "state of the art" in terms of freeware and FS2002 was well on it's way to becoming M$'s red headed step child in the FS line, Kirk Olsen released one of the most advanced freeware aircraft the community had seen. The mighty F-16 Viper. The (pre-GMAX) 3DO pushed the limits for what was possible back when VCs were still a novelty. The dynamics were even more advanced for FS9 because Kirk purposely modeled a computer controlled fly-by-wire cockpit, and it took some getting used to. You didn't fly the plane, you constantly updated the flight computers with the joystick and rudder inputs (ie, "suggestions").

    Did it work? Well, mostly yes. The original flight dynamics took advantage of the new SDK for FS2004, which really didn't address fly-by-wire cockpits. Just ask the now gray haired Airbus fan boys who were up in arms back in 2004-5. The Viper also had to deal with other problems. In FS, airplanes with small wings weren't supposed to go fast or be aerobatic.
    What this meant was that the Viper was twitchy beyond all get-out. Even if you took your time and built up your experience level in it, the Viper just never felt "right". I think a lot of this was due to the original Viper download, which was geared toward the Thunderbirds. The plane handled slick and twitchy because that was what you wanted for an air show. Later variants would come out with stores on the pylons in both the single-seat C model and dual cockpit D. The 3DO continued to get better with non-US variants that featured things like larger tail pods, drag 'chutes, conformal fuel tanks, and the big avionics spine. Still, the flight dynamics didn't change much, if at all.
    That novel virtual cockpit was a lot of fun, until you looked inside the Panel folder to see what was going on.
    To me, what it always looked like was that Kirk and his team would find problems during the coding and layout and just start throwing kitchen sinks at them until it worked.
    Its an A+ for effort and, at best, a C- for efficiency. Meaning, its a bear to figure out what's going on with that VC. I'll get into what we can do about it in a later post.

    So, let's keep things simple in this first post. One of the big drawbacks to the Viper happens when you try to fly it in cold conditions. Give it a minute or two after you take off and you'll see the airspeed in the HUD and the back-up ASI drop to zero. Oops, you just froze the pitot tube. There are two ways to fix this, either add a Pitot Heat switch to the 2D panel or let the flight computers deal with it and make the following change:

    Open the Aircraft.cfg file and find the {electrical] section. It should look like this-

    [electrical]
    ;BusType, MaxAmpLoad, MinVoltage ;BusTypes:0=MainBus,1=AvionicsBus,2=BatteryBus,3=H otBatteryBus,4-7=Generator/AlternatorBus(1-4)
    max_battery_voltage=24.0
    min_battery_voltage=24.0
    max_generator_alternator_amps=400.0
    generator_alternator_voltage=28.0


    flap_motor = 0, 5 , 17.0
    gear_motor = 0, 5 , 17.0
    autopilot = 0, 5 , 17.0
    avionics_bus = 0, 10, 17.0
    avionics = 1, 5 , 17.0
    pitot_heat = 0, 2 , 17.0
    additional_system = 0, 20, 17.0
    marker_beacon = 1, 2 , 17.0
    gear_warning = 0, 2 , 17.0
    fuel_pump = 0, 5 , 17.0
    starter1 = 0, 20, 17.0
    light_nav = 0, 5 , 17.0
    light_beacon = 0, 5 , 17.0
    light_landing = 0, 5 , 17.0
    light_taxi = 0, 5 , 17.0
    light_strobe = 0, 5 , 17.0
    light_panel = 0, 5 , 17.0


    See it yet?

    pitot_heat = 0, 2 , 17.0

    All you need to do is change that first 0 to a 1 -

    pitot_heat = 1, 2 , 17.0

    Now, you can fly above FL 200 or the Korean country side in winter with no hassles.
    I like this fix better than adding a switch because it "feels" a little more authentic from the Sim's point of view.
    Its also much quicker.

    Speaking of Korea, there are many repaints available for the Viper and some nice ones feature the WP tail code.
    Those planes fly out of Kunsan/Gunsan AB (RKJK) which is included in the stock scenery but its very simple.
    BTW, Kunsan was officially renamed Gunsan when South Korea issued corrections to the english spelling of many of their words several years ago.
    To keep it simple, just call it RKJK.

    I spent years off and on trying to find some scenery or at least an AFCAD for RKJK.
    MAIW did some great scenery for Osan but never did anything with Kunsan.

    I found the one and only FS9 AFCAD files for Kunsan last weekend by mistake.

    Head over to Flightsim.com and download pacafai2.zip or pacbases.zip and you'll find the FS9 AFCAD for RKJK.
    The first zip has an AFCAD with a more "fighter-like" feel and some basic buildings included.
    That first AFCAD also includes the odd long taxi way going north with a small apron.
    That apron is the civilian airport.
    You can tweak those parking spots with AFCAD2 or just leave them be.


    ANYway, that's enough for today. In the next post I'll write about some of the competition to the Viper (KBT's F-2, Lago's F-16, and Dean's F/A-18C and D) and why you may want them installed along with the Viper.

    The Viper has been around for a LONG time, if you have any insight or ideas on how to make it better, please drop a post or twelve in this topic.

  2. #2
    Senior Administrator huub vink's Avatar
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    The model by Kirk Olsson has been around for ages and despite its age it is still a very nice looking model. My main problem with the F-16 models by Kirk are the large number of versions and updates. Packed either by Kirk or others who included the model with their repaints, or simply made a package with all things made by others.

    The differences in mainly in the configuration files and whatever is controlled by these files. For instance I have been struggling to get the afterburner effect by Jan Rosenberg working for ages. And the installation instructions in the readme simple doesn't match with the versions I have installed.

    So Bob your efforts are definitely appreciated, but I can only hope they will work for me.....

    Cheers,
    Huub

  3. #3
    I have several 'versions' of Kirk's Viper installed on my rig...

    -- F-16 A IAI variant with several Loadout
    -- F-16 B "Iron Eagle" variant with empty back seat
    -- F-16 C with the 'stock' Loadout USAF
    -- F-16 C using Glenn Copeland's "Air Show Tour' Panel that allows for in flight 'refueling'
    -- F-16 D " Big Spine" variant
    -- F-16 D with 'stock' Loadouts (two of the Models have no back seater, the 'long range' Model has the back seater)

    My only beef is with the D and the lack of the GIB; I know most guys flying D's don't bomb around like Doug Masters with an empty back seat... or do they?

    Looking forward to the next Installment!

  4. #4
    Senior Administrator huub vink's Avatar
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    My list is roughly the same, in addition I have the CTF version installed.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by huub vink View Post
    For instance I have been struggling to get the afterburner effect by Jan Rosenberg working for ages.
    Cheers,
    Huub
    Since the engine in the F-16 is basically the same as the pair in the F-15, I've had good results using the "sparkly" afterburner effect used in the DSB/Iris F-15's.

    Just use the same controller gauge in the F-15 Panel file and place the effect(s) "calls" in the same location of the Aircraft.cfg file.
    Your single engine will need to be "zero-ed" to the center line, then adjust the effect up or down then "in" or "out" to get what you want.
    The flame part of the effect should be placed in the lights section, mostly because you can control the "up/down" numbers better.

    Like you said, different 3DO models have different center points so you'll need to nudge things around.

    Or, post the part of your panel.cfg that shows the effects controller gauge and the parts of your aircraft.cfg file showing the flame and smoke parts and someone (maybe me?) will be able to spot your difficulties. A long time ago I installed an afterburner flame at the 0,0,0 point and then wondered why I could never see it.

    As we all know, Kirk's Viper has been around for a LONG time. While those 3D models are old enough to vote, it also means that we've had a lot of time to wrench on them, so someone should be able to help.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by ViperPilot2 View Post
    My only beef is with the D and the lack of the GIB; I know most guys flying D's don't bomb around like Doug Masters with an empty back seat... or do they?
    Look at it this way, it depends on what the squadron has available for any given mission.
    If you need to take off with an XYZ pod installed and there's one already fitted to a D model on the flight line, guess what you'll be flying?

    Remember that all those bits and bobs on the different D models take up space in the 3D model.
    I'd like to try adding the conformal body tanks to a C model some day.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Sbob View Post
    Look at it this way, it depends on what the squadron has available for any given mission.
    If you need to take off with an XYZ pod installed and there's one already fitted to a D model on the flight line, guess what you'll be flying?

    Remember that all those bits and bobs on the different D models take up space in the 3D model.
    I'd like to try adding the conformal body tanks to a C model some day.
    Now that is something I wasn't aware of! Many Thanks!

    Most times I fly the C because the local ANG Squadron here (120th FS, 140th TFW) flies the C/D, and there's the Aggressor schemes as well.

  8. #8
    Try running a Google image search for Shaw AFB.

    Shaw is the east coast hub for F-16's and they aren't afraid to try some of the "export" configurations.
    You'll find C's and D's with the tail pod for the drag 'chute, the "big spine" configs for both models, etc., etc.

  9. #9
    So, now is a good time to look at some of the competition.

    It was tough to accurately model the F-16 but some folks got pretty close in different areas.
    Keep in mind, DCS probably does the best job but I don't run DCS.

    -The KBT Mitsubishi F-2. It looks a LOT like an F-16 by design, let's just call it Viper San. KBT really wanted to push the boundaries with this freeware for FS9 and FSX.
    What you get seems to have been mis-understood. It flies like a single engine fighter hauling stores under the wings, as opposed to Kirk's Viper which really models a slick load out.
    Well worth the download just to get the Sound folder, but don't sell this plane short. Install the whole package and take it up for some fun. Crank it into some high AOA maneuvers and really neat things start to happen.
    The plane will purposely start to shake and vibrate. Go to your outside view and check out the wing vapor effects, they look VERY convincing. The flight controls feel about right for a modern digital FCS aircraft. You also get the "squadron" version of texture folders with the awesome "blue on blue" camo paint. The only real gripe about this aircraft is that the cockpit canopy can't open, but like I said, KBT was pushing the MDL file as hard as they could. OK, NOW you can poach the sound folder for your F-16. Just copy the whole folder then rename it to something like "Sound.3-5" and drop it in your Viper main folder. Edit the aircraft.cfg so your newer repaints (Block 30 to Block 50) contain the "sound=3-5" line. The F-2's sound folder has that very convincing afterburner HOWL and it just sounds so right when you're buzzing the tower. The internal sounds include the constant "Huhhh Huhh" sound of the O2 regulator and your mask. Some folks don't like it, I think it adds a LOT in terms of immersion. If that sound bugs you, imagine what the folks who fly the real thing have to deal with.
    While we're borrowing pieces and parts from the F-2, consider swapping the .air file over to your Viper. Spend enough time in the F-2 and you'll understand that it just flies better and most of your F-16s will have full pylons under the wings. You could even copy most of the lines from the F-2's aircraft.cfg file and paste them into your Viper aircraft.cfg (just keep the old [contact points], [lights], and [view] settings). You'll probably want to borrow the [smoke] section, at a minimum.



    -The LAGO F-16 payware set. Its still available and it'll set you back $20.

    https://www.justflight.com/product/f...-2004-download

    But, is it worth it? This is defiantly a mixed bag. The package was designed for (in order) FS2002, FS9, and CFS3.
    One of the tricks to selling really old files is to sell a LOT of them at once. This package doesn't disappoint on this level. You get a slew of texture options, the F-16 C and D models, and all sorts of gizmos to turn your hair gray. The MDL files are REALLY dated, think FS2K and you'll get the idea. You get an in-flight refueling gizmo that will leave you scratching your head or punching a hole through the wall (remember, this package was designed for FS2002). Give it some time and the tanker.bgl may NOT freak out when you get close. Better yet, just install one of the versions of ArrCab and be done with it. Flight dynamics are, um, "vanilla". Nothing to really write home about. The stock sound files will remind you of the Learjet although you do get a complete set of "Complaining Betty" sound files and the gauges to run them at the right time.

    So, why should you even consider buying this junk? The 2D panel and VC are about as good as it gets for FS9.
    The gauges are really nice, but BE CAREFUL. I can write that the mech. ASI acts like good ole' Shareware when you try to re-use it in another cockpit.
    Still, this set has the most read-able HUD going (2D and VC) and there are many more gauges you may want to borrow for your Viper.


    If anyone has some other contenders to enhance the Viper, either freeware or payware, please add a post.

  10. #10
    My only recommendation would be the Air Show Tour 2D Panel by Glenn Copeland. Lots of his unique Gauges, but the big feature is the ability to 'refuel' the Viper from any AI airplane, from a Cessna to a Triple Seven. I've only used the Panel with the C in its Clean loadout, but not with the other Loadouts.

    There are a few videos on YT with the real world F-2; what a beautiful bird!

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