PMDG 737 rebuild week 14: Air systems, delays

NOTE for readers: The videos that go along with these blog posts are now available as YouTube live streams on the weeks the series blog posts are posted. This week’s air systems demo will take place on Aug 24, 2022. Watch for the scheduled stream to post on Talking flight monitor’s YouTube channel soon.

 

 

Five weeks have passed since we had a blog post, and the PMDG 737 series is now behind schedule. Many things have happened since the last blog post, and we will catch you up on things before getting into the new addition to the PMDG 737: The air systems panel.

 

Life is priority

There is a saying in the BVI pilots community: ‘Life is priority’. Life should always take priority over simming or gaming, unless they are involved in your career, job, or work. For the past five weeks, life has put me in a few different predicaments. First, the pharmacy messed up some prescriptions I needed. I had to keep myself motivated with other things for part of the time. Then, my guide dog got sick, and I had to take him to the vet ER to get help. Lastly, Microsoft released a preview feature update into the world of production versions of Windows. That forced me to reinstall everything again. Thanks to the people at PMDG support who helped me through the licensing problems with the 737 base package, I am back up and running again. As an extra slow-me-downer, I had to ask PMDG some questions about the air systems panel, which are now resolved issues. Now that we are caught up, I would like to introduce the air systems panel.

 

Air systems panel

 

The air systems panel is self explanatory. However, we will go through the keyboard shortcuts. The keyboard shortcuts access groups of controls because there are too many controls for individual shortcuts.

 

ALT+D – Displays. Includes flight altitude and landing altitude.

ALT+S – Selectors. Includes air source selector and pressurization mode selector.

ALT+P – Packs. Includes left and right pack selectors.

ALT+B – Bleeds. Includes left/right bleeds and APU bleed.

ALT+C – Recirc fans. Includes left/right recirc fan switches.

ALT+V – Valves/trim. Includes air trim switch, outflow valve selector, and isolation valve selector.

ALT+1 – Zone temp indicators. Includes flight deck, aft cabin, and FWD cabin.

ALT+2 – Bleed indicators. Includes dual bleed and left/right bleed trips.

ALT+3 – Ram door indicators. Includes left/right ram doors.

ALT+4 – Pack trip indicators. Includes left/right pack trips.

ALT+5 – Wing/body overheat indicators. Includes left/right wing/body overheat lights.

 

The air systems panel is located in the center overhead. You can access it while TFM is running by pressing left bracket ([), then by pressing CTRL+P. When the panels treeview appears, open the center overhead and navigate to air systems.

This has been an adventurous five weeks. I don’t foresee getting behind this much for the rest of the 737 series. As a reminder, when the overhead panel is finished, we will release a new preview build. More will come soon, since the only portion of the target goal left is the bottom overhead. See you Soon!

PMDG 737 rebuild series week 9: TFM database, support options

Welcome to week 9 of the PMDG 737 rebuild series. This week, we step away from building panels and focus on a much larger feature that TFM desperately needs: database support. I would also like to remind everyone of support options at the end of this post.

 

Database support

The following discussion on TFM’s new database support has nothing to do with Navigraph, which is a different feature from the below description. Read carefully before spreading the word.

TFM now has the ability to store data it generates in a database. We start by focusing on speech history. The new features include the following.

Brings 2 new settings to the output category. ‘Save output to a database’ and ‘Include timestamps in the speech history’. When checked, ‘save output to database’ will make use of a TFM generated database to store different information. When not checked, TFM will revert to its current behavior. The speech history size control in the output category in settings will not be available when using database support. When using database support, a new feature, ‘Include timestamps in speech history’ will become available. When checked, timestamps are included in the speech history found by pressing right bracket (]) then CTRL+S while TFM is running. When not checked, the speech history behaves the same as before with the exception that history is kept forever, and across restarts.

TFM automatically generates the database and everything it requires to use the new database features. The current location for the database is the user’s documents folder under Talking flight monitor/data/TFM.db. Manually deleting this file or folder structure will force TFM to regenerate the database on next restart. To stop regenerating the database after it is deleted, uncheck the ‘Save output to a database’ box in output category in TFM settings before deleting it and restarting TFM.

The new database support provides limitless possibilities in the future. With something simple such as speech history to something as complex as storing complete flights, landing rates, custom panel states, and more. The only limit is your imagination. This brings us to an important topic. TFM support and feedback channels.

 

 

Support and feedback

 

TFM has a few support and feedback channels available to users. With new users coming on board, joining different BVI communities, and the number of BVI pilot communities growing in number, it is impossible to reach everyone in person or on a Team Talk server. So, it is critical that new feature requests/feedback go through one or all of the following channels. We can no longer take feature requests, bug reports, and feedback by word of mouth.

 

Available support channels

 

 

Other options  will come available in the coming weeks. We would like to request users make use of the options above when requesting support. It goes a long way in speeding up fixes, implementations of features, and reviewing feedback.

 

PMDG 737 rebuild series, week 8: Center over head continued, preview releases, Navigraph support

Welcome to week 8 of our PMDG 737 rebuild series for Talking flight monitor (TFM). Last week, we introduced the main area of the center overhead panel and preview releases of TFM. This week, we will cover anti ice and hydraulics panels. We will also describe when preview releases are provided for download.

 

Anti ice panel

 

The anti ice panel isn’t complicated to use. On the other hand, it has many controls to go through. Since keyboard shortcuts are assigned for groups of controls, we will provide the groups with keyboard shortcuts here, then cover all of the controls in the provided demo video.

 

ALT+W – Group that contains all window heat controls.

ALT+P – Left/right probe heat switches.

ALT+G – Wing anti ice switch.

ALT+E – Group containing engine anti ice switches.

ALT+ 1- 5 – Indicator groups containing all panel indicators.

 

Hydraulics

 

The hydraulics panel isn’t complicated and has few controls on it. The 4 switches have no keyboard shortcut at this time. We want user feedback on whether to include keyboard shortcuts for these switches. The indicator groups do have keyboard shortcuts though. Here are the controls and groups of indicators.

 

Electrical ½ switches

Engine ½ switches

ALT+1 – Electrical indicator group.

ALT+2 – Engine indicator group.

ALT+3 – Electrical pump overheat indicators.

Next week, week 9, we will finish the center overhead panel and provide a new preview build for everyone to take a look at.

 

When are preview builds released?

 

Recently, we have been getting questions about the timing of preview releases. Preview releases are built when a major portion of the 737 is finished. Examples are the forward overhead, aft overhead, center overhead, glare shield, and others. This gives us time to finish a significant portion of work while fixing bugs identified in the previous preview build. If significant work means multiple areas of work, then the preview build may be delayed for a while.

 

Bug reporting and feature requests

 

When reporting bugs or new features, follow the following guidelines.

 

  • When reporting on 737 bugs or features, report them against the preview releases of TFM.
  • Any other aircraft, report bugs and features against the current release.

The above guidelines will change for the 777 and the 747. We are no longer taking bug reports and feature requests for the PMDG 737 series. Again, any new bug reports and feature requests should be reported on the preview releases.

 

Navigraph support in TFM

 

This past week, we discovered that Navigraph owns a public API for downloading the current and past Navigraph cycles. TFM is in the process of applying for access to their APIs. When approved, TFM will have the ability to directly download the Navigraph databases. Implementing the ability to download the databases will take time. When support is finished, TFM will have the following workflow.

 

  • TFM will offer the ability to download a new cycle.
  • The user is directed to a secure Navigraph login page.
  • The user signs in with their Navigraph username/password.
  • Navigraph will request permission to grant TFM access to the Navigraph account.
  • When granted access, TFM will download the current cycle.
  • Once approved, TFM will download the current cycle without intervention.

 

We hope you are enjoying the PMDG 737 rebuild series, and hope to see you next week for some new features and content. To report a bug or new feature request, press right bracket (]), then CTRL+SHIFT+I while TFM is running. To contact us, feel free to fill out the contact us form. One of us will get back to you soon.

Contact us

PMDG 737 rebuild series week 7: Center Overhead/main area

Welcome to week 7 of the PMDG rebuild series for TFM. Although We only have one panel for this week, there is a new key feature to be aware of when using panels with lighting knobs. We will now take a look at the Center Overhead panel’s main area.

 

Center Overhead main area

 

  • ALT+B – Circuit breaker knob. Use I to increase and D to decrease.
  • ALT+O – Overhead panel knob – I to increase and D to decrease.
  • ALT+E – Emergency lights – Use arrows to change.
  • ALT+U – Equipment cooling supply switch – Use SPACE or ENTER to change.
  • ALT+X – Equipment cooling exhaust switch – Use SPACE or ENTER to change.
  • ALT+C – Chimes – Use arrow keys to change.
  • ALT+S – Seatbelt sign. Use arrow keys to change.
  • ALT+ 1 – ALT+5 – Panel indicators.

 

We would like to remind everyone about a few important points.

  • TFM is owned and developed by Jason Fayre and Andy Borka.
  • The preview versions are ‘use at your own risk.’ Neither of us will take responsibility for its current affect on pilot’s flights.

To report a bug or new issue, press right bracket (, then CTRL+SHIFT+I while TFM is running. If you would like to contact us at TFM, fill out the contact form. We look forward to seeing you during week 8!

PMDG 737 rebuild series, week 6: Electrical, APU, wiper panels; preview releases

In week 6 of our PMDG 737 rebuild series, we will cover the Electrical, APU, and wipers panels. We also introduced preview builds of TFM, so keep reading to find out more. Unfortunately, I lost my laptop to a Windows crash and am still putting it back together. Now, on with the panels.

 

Electrical

The electrical panel is much like the rest of the panels we covered so far. The methods of access are present: tabbing through the controls and using keyboard shortcuts. We will go over the keyboard shortcuts below.

 

  • ALT+B – battery selector. Use arrows to change.
  • ALT+R – Ground power switch. Toggle with spacebar or enter.
  • ALT+C – Cabin utility switch. Toggle with spacebar or enter.
  • ALT+F – Passenger seats (IFE) switch. Toggle with spacebar or enter.
  • ALT+D – DC power group. Has 3 controls.
    • DC power selector. Use arrows to change.
    • DC volts – Indicator.
    • DC amps – Indicator.
  • ALT+A – AC power group. Has 3 controls.
    • AC power selector. Use arrows to change.
    • AC amps – Indicator.
    • AC volts – Indicator.
  • ALT+S – Standby power selector. Use arrows to change.
  • ALT+I – IDG disconnect group. Has 2 controls.
    • IDG #1 disconnect switch – Toggle with spacebar or enter.
    • IDG #2 disconnect switch. Toggle with spacebar or enter.
  • ALT+G – Generators group. Has 5 controls.
    • Generator #1 switch. Toggle with spacebar or enter.
    • Generator #2 switch. Toggle with spacebar or enter.
    • APU generator #1 switch. Toggle with spacebar or enter.
    • APU generator #2 switch. Toggle with spacebar or enter.
    • Bus transfer switch. Toggle with spacebar or enter.
  • ALT+N – Indicators group. Has 14 controls in this group.
    • Battery discharge
    • TR unit
    • Elec
    • Drive #1
    • Drive #2
    • Standby power
    • Ground power available
    • Transfer bus #1
    • Transfer bus #2
    • DC source
    • AC source
    • Generator #1 bus
    • Generator #2 bus
    • APU generator bus

 

APU

The APU panel is self explanatory. It only has 6 indicators listed below.

 

  • ALT+T – EGT needle. Indicator only.
  • ALT+M – Maint. Indicator only.
  • ALT+O – Low oil pressure. indicator only.
  • ALT+F – Fault. indicator only.
  • ALT+S – Overspeed. indicator only.

 

Wipers

Wipers is a simple panel that has 2 controls listed below.

 

  • ALT+L – Left wipers. Use arrows to change.
  • Alt+R – Right wipers. Use arrows to change.

Restart TFM!

 

We added a new keyboard shortcut to restart TFM. You can use it by pressing right bracket (]) then Ctrl+Shift+X.

Preview versions of TFM

 

We started releasing preview versions of TFM last Monday. This gives users the ability to get hands-on experience with the new features before they appear in the normal release. Since we started offering preview versions of TFM, people have been asking some questions about the process. We will answer the most common questions in this section.

TFM is open source. This means that anyone who has an interest in new features can get the source, build it, play around with the new features, then report back in the GitHub issue queue. Some users aren’t interested in the source or don’t have the technical skills needed to run TFM from source. So, we offer preview versions that are installable and ready to use. The preview versions can be installed side by side with the official release.

You can access the preview versions from the preview releases section of the website. When a preview version is out, it will have a higher version number in the release notes than the official release. When the preview build becomes the official release, the preview releases page will offer the official version. There isn’t a schedule for the preview releases, so we will make announcements when they are released to the public. As a friendly reminder, preview builds have no support attached to them. Use at your own risk. On the other hand, the official release does come with support.

If you need to contact us, feel free to do so on the contact page. If you need to report a bug or new feature, press right bracket (]) then Ctrl+Shift+I while TFM is running. We hope to see you during week 7 of the PMDG 737 rebuild series.

TFM PMDG rebuild series, week 5: the fuel panel

This is week 5 of our series in rebuilding TFM support for the PMDG 737. This week, we will cover the fuel section of the Forward Overhead panel. This one isn’t very complicated, so, let’s get started.

 

Fuel panel

There are more controls and indicators on this panel. As a result, we had to simplify the keyboard shortcuts. They are listed below.

 

  • ALT+A – Move to the aft fuel section.
  • ALT+F – Move to the forward fuel section.
  • ALT+C – Move to the center fuel section.
  • ALT+X – Move to the fuel transfer and cross feed section.
  • The transfer/cross feed sections contain the fuel valve indicators.

As with any other panel, this one comes with settings to turn on/off the offset as it changes. Go to settings/PMDG/737 speech events/Forward Overhead/fuel to see them.

We want your feedback on any TFM features. To report a bug or new feature request, while TFM is loaded, press the right bracket key (]), then press CONTROL+SHIFT+I to open the GitHub issue queue. Please look to see if your feature or bug has already been reported. If not, feel free to post a new report. Otherwise, make a new comment on an existing report discussing your bug or feature. To contact us about getting started with TFM, feel free to fill out our contact form. One of us will get back with you soon.

PMDG 737 rebuild week 4: Flight controls and navigation/displays

This week, we continue with our series on rebuilding TFM support for the PMDG 737 aircraft. In week four, we will cover the flight controls and the navigation/displays panels. Before we get started, a quick reminder that there are plenty of websites that show how the 737’s panels are used.

 

Flight controls panel

The flight controls panel has two parts. The top section that contains the controls to manipulate, and a bottom section that holds the indicators. Below are the shortcuts for the flight controls panel.

 

  • ALT+ A – Captains controls, or control A.
  • ALT+B – F/O controls, or control B.
  • ALT+P – Spoiler A.
  • ALT+O – Spoiler B.
  • ALT+Y – Yaw damper.
  • ALT+N – Alternat flaps armed on/off.
  • ALT+F – Alternat flaps position switch.
  • ALT+1 – ALT+0 – the different indicators for this panel.

 

Navigation/Displays panel

 

The navigation/displays panel is fairly simple. It has no indicators and only 5 switches. Below are the keyboard shortcuts.

 

  • ALT+V – VHF navigation selector switch
  • ALT+I – IRU selector switch.
  • ALT+F – FMC selector switch.
  • ALT+S – Source selector switch.
  • ALT+C – Control pane selector switch.

 

To report bugs and new features, while TFM is running, press right bracket (]), then CTRL+SHIFT+I to open the issue queue. Take a look at other bug reports/feature requests before posting a new one. If one similar to your own idea exists, comment on that one before creating a new one. Have questions or want to get started? Fill out the contact form and we will get back with you soon.

PMDG timeline, partial aircraft support

We get several questions on how long it takes to build support for an aircraft, and will partial support be released to the community. I want to take a few minutes and answer these questions.

 

How long does it take to build support for an aircraft?

The short answer to this question is it depends on the aircraft. It can take a short amount of time for some of the freeware aircraft because they don’t have any panels or controls not provided by the simulator, and checklists are usually short. On the other end of the time scale, it could take a long time if the aircraft has a large SDK and detailed checklists. Each PMDG aircraft has a detailed SDK that provides access to most controls and indicators. On the other hand, the Aerosoft A3xx series SDKs are detailed, but compact. They provide access to most controls, indicators, and markers for the start, in progress, and end for each stage of flight. Each SDK will require evaluating what it can or can’t provide, building support, and testing. Evaluating and testing are the most time consuming parts of building TFM support for an aircraft. Below are estimated due dates for each of the PMDG aircraft.

 

sept 22 2022 737

mar 20 2023 777

sept 22 2023 747

 

Since these dates are estimated guidelines, we could finish early. Each week of the rebuild process will feature a blog post covering the completed items for that week and a video demonstration of those items.

 

Will you release partial support for an aircraft?

In the past, we would release support as we built it – the alpha versions were the released version. Now, we only release a feature when it is complete. Sure, it might need more work, but the feature is still complete. The new ILS feature is an example of this. It is complete, but we can still add to it. From now on, aircraft are part of this decision. An incomplete aircraft means beta or alpha versions, which we will not release. Since TFM is open source, anyone can retrieve the source code, build it, test it, then report on it. You can report bugs, new features, confirm existing bugs, and report a fixed bug. For this, you need Visual Studio 2022, a GitHub account, and a local install of git for Windows. I recommend consulting the documentation for these products to get started with testing preview versions of TFM.

At the end of this week, we will continue our series on the PMDG 737 rebuild process. If you have any new features or bugs to report, press right bracket (]), then CTRL+Shift+I while TFM is running to reach the GitHub issue queue. Try to find existing bugs or features to comment on before creating a new one. Trying to get started and need help? Feel free to fill out the contact form. We will get back with you soon.

 

PMDG 737 rebuild, week 3: Looking “Forward” to next week

Over the past two weeks, we have been rebuilding the PMDG 737 Aft Overhead panels. This week we finished them. They follow the same format as the previous ones. Switches and buttons first, then indicators. As always, each panel has its own set of settings found in TFM’s settings dialog. Below is a list of panels not covered in previous weeks.

 

Dome lights

It has a single switch to set the dome lights. Choices are dim, off, and bright. This panel has no keyboard shortcuts assigned to its controls.

 

EEC

 

  • ALT+L – Engine #1.
  • ALT+R – Engine #2.
  • ALT+1 – ALT+6 – The various EEC indicators.

 

Oxygen

 

  • ALT+X – Oxygen needle.
  • ALT+O – Oxygen switch
  • ALT+1 – Oxygen indicator.

 

Gear

 

  • ALT+1 – Nose gear indicator.
  • ALT+2 – Left gear indicator.
  • ALT+3 – Right gear indicator.

 

Flight recorder

  • ALT+F – Flight recorder switch.
  • ALT+1 – Flight recorder indicator.

If you would like to provide feedback to TFM, while TFM is running, press right bracket (]), followed by Ctrl+Shift+I to launch the GitHub issue queue. Here, you can create new issues to report a bug or request a new feature. If you see a feature or bug report similar to your own, comment on that one before considering making a new one. If you need help on a one-on-one basis, or need help getting started, feel free to contact us. We will get back with you soon.

 

PMDG 737 rebuild, week 2: PSEU and service interphone

In week 2 of the PMDG 737 rebuild, we took time to rebuild the aft overhead panels PSEU and service interphone. These panels are fairly simple, featuring a single control for each. The PSEU panel has an indicator, and the service interphone panel has a switch that turns the service phone on and off. Again, these panels come with companion settings for TFM found at settings>PMDG>speech events> 737.