Gauges for Combat Flight Simulator
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Thread: Gauges for Combat Flight Simulator

  1. #1

    Gauges for Combat Flight Simulator

    One of the things that has bothered me for years is not having stock gauges either in CFS or FS98 to do the things I want.
    Some of the issues have been for Fuel Selectors for unusual Fuel Tank Arrangements and Multi-engine gauges that will work properly.

    A few days ago, I was trying to explain to my son why I was trying to program my own Tachometer (easy first project I hope) and wanted to show him that the FS98 Cessna Tachometer simply did not work.
    Strangely enough, the Cessna gauges worked perfectly as did the Extra's Digital Tachometer.

    I was surprised. I KNOW they didn't work earlier which is why I wanted to program my own.
    Last night, I was looking back on my test aircraft's panel and noticed that the Cessna Tachometer had stopped working again; Its needle was pegged at somewhere near 4000 RPM while the P-51D Tach and Extra's Tach both were reading near the correct 2600 RPM value.

    Have any of you seen this before? Do FS98 or perhaps FS2000 gauges work in CFS? I know that CFS2 gauges do not work in CFS..

    - Ivan.

  2. #2
    SOH-CM-2019 hubbabubba's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Montréal, Québec, Canada
    I have used FS98 gauges time and again without real problems. For example, the jeep uses them. They should be, for the most part, retro compatible. The only one that can cause problem are related to startup and magneto, maybe a few other.

    FS2K (true ones) wont work. I tried...
    Torture numbers and they'll say anything.

    Hubbabubba, Touche à tout.

  3. #3
    Hello Hubbabubba,

    Glad to see you again.
    So far, I have been getting very inconsistent results with FS98 stock gauges and not good results with the ones I have been trying to program. CFS stock gauges don't seem to have problems but they do not have anything for the second engine or some of the odd fuel selectors that I need....

    - Ivan.

  4. #4
    SOH-CM-2019 hubbabubba's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Montréal, Québec, Canada
    Just realized yesterday...

    ... that the jeep uses FS98 AIR file. I checked the Taifun, a CFS1 AIR file, and it is using the Bf-109 tachometer.

    The change in reciprocating engines sections between FS98 and CFS1 did caused a few gauges to act weirdly... or not at all.
    Torture numbers and they'll say anything.

    Hubbabubba, Touche à tout.

  5. #5

    Tachometer Version 2 Testing

    Hello All,

    I have actually had some success with programming a Tachometer for CFS.
    The test subject is a B-25 Mitchell, and unfortunately I have had to hard code the 2600 RPM Maximum.
    In theory, it should be self calculating but I have not figured out how to do that yet.

    Here is what it looks like.

    The hole in the center of the pointer is so that I can tweak the alignment of the indicatory on the gauge face.
    I am finding that the values which SHOULD center the gauges alignment is very close but is not precise.

    - Ivan.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails NewTachometer1.jpg   MitchellC1.jpg  

  6. #6


    with respect to Ivan's gauges.....
    As you say Ivan the gauges dlls seem to just supply
    info for (I presume) the panel .dll to create a bespoke type ,bitmaps for gauges ect
    I looked at the temperature gauge in 98 SDKand it gives
    formulas for centigrade +farnheight outputs.
    maybe worth a look tosee how it is done.
    Ps Iam in hospital for last week or so-old skin trouble.
    before that I was experimenting with Microsoft scale
    AI .mdls and .dps (scale ref means 2X size thro' the
    Has anyone ever seen the stock bf109e catch fire?
    I know that I have not!!!!

  7. #7
    Hello Papingo,

    Hope your skin issue gets fixed soon and you get to go back home.

    Your understanding of gauges and mine is a bit different.
    I believe the ".gau" fie is the DLL and the Panel.cfg file only specifies which DLLs to call.
    The panel.cfg file is a simple text file and can be edited by any reasonable text editor.

    My need for building custom gauges is mostly because I just want to know how to do it and I like including either stock files or stuff I built myself into released aircraft. I am sure there are better panels than I am likely to build.
    The need for building gauges at this point is because there are no stock CFS or FS98 multi-engine gauges that will work well enough for me.
    The FS98 Tachometer is available for multi-engine aeroplanes, but it does not read correctly; It always seems to read way too high. For some reason the Extra 300 digital gauge seems to read correctly....
    The Tachometer may not have been the best place to start, but it was the one I needed the most.
    The other gauge I need just as much is the Manifold Pressure gauge.

    This became a serious issue when I realised that the P-38J (subject of the Design Study thread) happens to have a very unusual gauge that I have never seen implemented before.
    The early model P38s had the standard looking gauges, but the late P-38 used gauges with a single dial for both engines but with one indicator needle for each engine.
    Instead of starting there, I thought I might start simpler with a plain Tachometer I could use for my B-25 Mitchell.

    At the moment, I have a working set of Tachometers for that aeroplane, but the problem is that I had to hard code the Maximum RPM to 2600. It should be able to sense the Maximum RPM specification from the token variables and that is the part I am currently working on. I am sure I will get it eventually.

    Speaking of Messerschmitt 109Es, have you tried out the Me 109E Trop that I released here a few months ago? It is a heavily modified AFX by Richard Osborne so it isn't really mine, but I believe it is the best 109E that is currently available for CFS.

    - Ivan.

  8. #8

    Digital Tachometer

    Hello All,

    I made a few attempts at using a proper scaling variable derived from a token variable in the simulator.
    So far nothing has quite gotten the right results.

    I am on vacation down in Virginia Beach, so my tools are a bit more limited than usual, but I still have my laptop.

    I thought it might be useful to see exactly how far off I was in guessing at the scaling multiplier that I was hard coding into the gauge so I decided to try to convert the SDK.Temperature gauge into a Digital Tachometer.

    The first attempt at compiling simply failed. Apparently the SDK has conflicts even with a MSVC compiler.
    It appears that the SDK.Fuel gauge didn't have problems because it does not use <windows.h>.
    The Digital Temperate gauge DOES include <windows.h> and that is where definitions in the SDK gauges.h file and windows.h have issues.

    My prior attempts have been to try to adjust compiler definitions to suite the SDK. This time it will be with adjusting SDK definitions to suite the compiler.

    We shall see how far that goes.....

    - Ivan.

  9. #9

    none realy

    dear Ivan
    (out of hospital now)
    I have your 'trop 109' I have
    damaged it but never shot it
    down! It often just flies away
    from my reisen!

    have you made a Microsoft magic
    scale--ie double size through the
    gunsight plane yet?

    more to come

  10. #10
    Hello Papingo,

    I almost never thoroughly combat test the aeroplanes that I build other than to confirm the alignment of the guns.

    You SHOULD be able to kill the 109E Trop with any of the A6M Fighters. Actually the 109E and the A6M have pretty equal firepower. I will have to try it when I get back hope. I am currently on holiday in Virginia Beach which is most of a day's driving from home. It SHOLD be shorter drive but vacation traffic makes it much longer.

    I have never tried to do anything with double sized aircraft with Microsoft's Magic Scaling. I always thought those huge aircraft were way too easily to shoot. I have never even experimented with when they double size and when they do not.

    Should be getting back home in a couple days and will continue with the gauges then. Glad you're out of the hospital.

    We have not been so lucky on this trip. My daughter twisted her ankle very badly (X-ray shows no broken bones) and has been on crutches for a few days now. Before the crutches, Dad either carried her or helped steady her while she was hopping around. She was running in shallow water and the sand was a bit uneven and she stepped into a hole.

    Anna Honey also managed to strain her knee while running and is now using a cane.

    - Ivan.

  11. #11
    Hello All,

    The last couple of days have been quite eventful with my Gauge Project.

    First of all, getting the SDK Temperature Digital Gauge to compile turned out to be much easier than expected.
    Commenting out a few entries in "Gauges.h" turned out to be sufficient.....
    But although the SDK Temperature gauge now compiles it also displays nothing.

    After having no success with a digital display, I decided to experiment a bit with an analog display of the variables I was interested in.
    The results there were quite unexpected. I am still trying to make some sense of what I am seeing which doesn't seem to match the documentation and explanations I have been reading.

    It turns out that my B-25 Tachometer gives an accurate readout regardless of maximum RPM of the engine. That saves a bit of work, but my conversion factor may not be as accurate as I would like.

    Still Playing!
    - Ivan.

  12. #12

    Changing the Background

    The first gauge background I used was generated by a utility I downloaded.
    It had some serious issues but worked well enough for the quick prototype gauge.

    The issues which can be seen from the prior series of screenshots were:

    1. The BMP that it generated didn't really match the 302x302 BMP that the SDK Fuel gauge used.
    I rescaled it to match.'=

    2. Although I wanted 4 Small Tick marks between each major tick, it would only give me three.

    3. There were no colour options for the background or tick marks though I could have edited them after the bitmap was created.

    Attached are some images that I was able to create using GIMP and MS Paint.
    The basic idea is to create a tick mark at 6 o'clock and then rotate it and superimpose on top of a working copy.
    I also found that I had to use a 303x303 pixel BMP file to have a center pixel about which everything rotated.

    4 minor tick marks is definitely better than 3....

    - Ivan.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails MajorTick.bmp   Minor5Ticks.bmp   KPW.Tach2BG-Work.bmp  

  13. #13

    Conversion Factor

    The idea behind having a digital tachometer was to be able to confirm the correct conversion factor to use in the regular analog gauges.
    At this point, I have had no success with even the SDK Digital Temperature Gauge, so I decided that there might be another way of finding the same thing.

    I took one of the tachometers that I had built and reprogramed it so that it would only read the range between 2980 RPM (The new Zero Value) and 3015 RPM.
    I was pretty sure that the conversion factor I had been using was close enough so that I would be within this range if the actual RPM (as shown by digital gauges) was 3000 RPM.
    The original conversion factor I had been using was


    With a digital readout of 3000 RPM, my modified analog gauge gave a reading of 3009 RPM.
    After a few cycles of modify and test, the new conversion factor is


    which is accurate to well under 1/2 RPM and as close as I can get it. The needle tends to wobble a bit (perhaps 1/4 RPM) which makes a more precise reading difficult.
    It certainly is good enough for what I need to accomplish.

    - Ivan.

  14. #14
    At this point, I have two functioning tachometers with a reasonable appearance.
    The modifications shown here are the coloured warning arcs, larger display numbers, and the counter balanced pointers.

    Still having no success with the two pointer tachometer but still trying.

    - Ivan.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails TachometersFunctional.jpg   TwoTachs.jpg  

  15. #15

    Manifold Pressure Gauge

    At some point I will also need a set of Manifold Pressure Gauges and thought that this was an issue that would be fairly easy to take care of. It turns out that it was about as easy as I expected.... with one exception.

    The Test Gauge in the upper right corner is configured so that the zero mark represents 30.0 inches Hg.
    The digital test gauge reads 29.6 inches. The Analog Test Gauge reads4 tick marks below 0 and each tick mark is scaled to represent 0.10 inches Hg. This confirms for me that the proper conversion is divide by 1000.

    This brings up an issue that does not affect my projects but might affect others:
    The raw value that is returned in the Token Variable ENGINE1_MANIFOLD_PRESSURE is 0-64K.
    Since 64K - 65,536 and the conversion factor is 1000, the maximum value that can be represented is 65.53 inches Hg.
    While this is sufficient for both the Mitchell (44.0 inches) and the Lightning (60 inches), it may not be able to represent other common aircraft.

    The late model Merlin Spitfire could use up to +24 pounds boost which translates to 78.78 inches Hg.
    Just for amusement, I made an adjustment to my test aircraft (the long suffering Mitchell) to allow 75.0 inches Hg.
    The result was quite surprising:
    Both the Digital and Analog gauges only read around 57 inches Hg.
    This makes me wonder how the modern Unlimited Class Racing Aeroplanes are handled or whether they can be at all. back to the dual pointer gauges.

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Manifold_Off.jpg   Manifold_Full.jpg  

  16. #16

    Success? Maybe Not So Fast.

    Here is a screenshot with a few different Tachometers while using the P-51D AIR File.

    Only two gauges agree with each other. I need to make some serious adjustments.

    - Ivan.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails TachometerDisagreement.jpg  

  17. #17
    Hello All,

    The last post was just over a year ago.
    Much has changed but much remains the same.
    Most of the changes have actually not been pleasant, but that is how life (and death) goes sometimes........

    The Dual Pointer Gauge is still not successful.
    The Manifold Pressure Gauge still has the 64K limitation.
    The Single Pointer Tachometer still has a fixed conversion factor and is still inaccurate in the same way.

    So, What has changed and why am I posting now almost exactly a year later?
    (The timing was pure coincidence; Until I found this thread, I had no idea that the last post was just over a year ago.)

    I am now using a different compiler that may offer the hope of better compatibility (as yet unrealized).

    The real reason for this post was that a week or so ago, I set out to do some experimenting with AIR files to see what exactly it was that was causing my version of the Tachometer to read incorrectly.
    This evening, I believe I have finally located the parameter that appears to cause the issue.....
    Unfortunately, that by itself does not mean success.
    The next trick is to figure out how that parameter is represented in a gauge and IF it is represented, how to go about using it properly.
    There is a lot of work to do before I even do any analysis but at least until the next roadblock, there is a potential solution.

    ....Now if only I could get other things to settle down long enough for me to spend more time here on this project.....

    - Ivan.

  18. #18
    Hello Ivan,
    Hopefully future changes be more pleasant.
    Good luck with the Tachometer!
    You have my moral support.

  19. #19

    Success? We shall see soon.

    Hello All,

    The new Gauge is on the top row, second from the right.
    From appearances, it seems to match the
    Extra 300 Digital Gauge,
    P-51D Tachometer,
    and Jerry Beckwith's Test Panel
    quite closely.

    A lot more testing needs to be done to verify the results,
    If the testing is successful, there will need to be some major repackaging to be done.....

    ....But it is a good sign after all this time.
    It isn't the entire solution to my twin engine projects but it is a major part.

    - Ivan.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails RPM0585.jpg   RPM3000.jpg   RPM2000.jpg  

  20. #20
    Hello Ivan,
    Congrats on the preliminary results!
    Look very promising indeed.

  21. #21
    Hello All,

    After a couple days of messing around when I could get the time, I am finding that the Microsoft SDK Macros are amazingly in the amount of hidden side effects and code generation.
    At this point, I can get a Tachometer working but some very basic stuff still seems to elude me.
    I am still making progress but it is slow with lots of trial and error.....

    - Ivan.

  22. #22

    Just a Little Success

    Hello All,

    The screenshots show the most recent testing.
    After getting pretty well tangled in my edits, I decided to try the same modifications but only one at a time.
    The results are quite pleasing thus far.
    What isn't visible in the external screenshots that I can see in the simulator is that the two propeller animations are quite different from each other.

    (The two small analog gauges at the center of the screen are the new ones.)

    The RPM looked as it should during startup.
    The values also looked as expected at full throttle.

    The fist screenshot shows the results of cutting ignition on Engine 1.
    Noted on the lower left corner that both magnetos are off. (I have no controls for Engine 2.)
    Engine 1 RPM matches between the
    P51D stock Tachometer,
    Extra 300 Tachometer,
    my two Engine 1 gauges, and
    the Beckwith Test Tachometer.

    Note that the FS98 Cessna 182 Tachometer at upper right doesn't seem to correspond to anything else.
    On the next version of this test panel, I should remove it and the Gauge at upper left that I was using to check token values.

    Next step is to add the Engine 3 and Engine 4 Gauges to be useful and complete and to re package a few things that would make it easier for further development. The functioning is there now, but there is still quite a lot of editing needed to make things the way I want them to be.

    After that, comes a set of Manifold Pressure Gauges which hopefully will not cause problems.

    - Ivan.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails TwinTachPanel.jpg   TwinTachTestExternal.jpg   TwinTachTestClothed.jpg  

  23. #23
    SOH Staff
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    State of Confusion..... -8GMT
    this is encouraging...well done.

    your comment about "no controls for Engine 2"
    got me to thinking about a panel setup
    sent to me years ago for the a20.
    if you have any interest,
    i would be happy to zip it up
    and send it to you...gauges included.
    sometimes the magic works.
    sometimes it doesn't.

  24. #24
    Hi Smilo,

    Please do email me the panel setup. It is worth looking at to learn even if I want to build my own stuff.
    Bottom line is that I still am pretty uneducated as to how to set up a panel.

    I finished up Tachometers for Engine 3 and Engine 4 and wanted to test them.
    The problem was that I needed a suitable victim for testing, but I wanted to use a CFS Flight Model rather than one from FS98.
    I came across the RAAF Avro Lancaster which has a mediocre 3D model and only a FS98 Flight Model, but also has a really excellent Panel arrangement.
    I will be looking there also for ideas when I have enough completed in the way of Gauges.

    Because I could not find a decent CFS Flight Model for a 4 Engine Aeroplane, I cheated a bit..... (Check Record 311 in the AIR File.)
    Did you know that there were 4 Engine B-25 Mitchells???? I didn't either, but here is a screenshot showing the performance to be expected.

    FWIW, there actually was a prototype B-25 Mitchell fitted with a pair of Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine.
    It was an amazingly hot ship until it had a structural failure and crashed.

    For the 4 Engine Gauges, the startup changes in RPM worked as expected, so I believe this is a workable set of gauges.
    Now comes the re-arranging of the code, bitmaps (This bitmap is not really suited for the Mitchell), compile order, etc.
    But I think I will go for the Manifold Pressure Gauges to make sure the token variables work as expected.

    Note that for the Mitchell and the P-38J Lightning, I actually still need two pointer gauges and I have not figured those out yet.

    - Ivan.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 4EngineTachTest.jpg  

  25. #25
    SOH Staff
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    State of Confusion..... -8GMT
    the panel has been sent.

    of particular interest might be,
    gauges 08, 09, 10 and 15
    all four are for multi engine.
    oddly, they are duplicated in the panel.cfg
    which doesn't make sense.
    as i said above,
    i don't know about their functionality
    or historical accuracy.

    ...and don't forget the throttle quadrant.

    post script;
    i wouldn't use the panel.cfg
    as a panel set up guide.
    it's, pretty much, a hack job mess.
    as i recall, there was a lot
    of experimentation going on with it.
    sometimes the magic works.
    sometimes it doesn't.

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