PMDG 737 series, week 23: Lower forward panel, future features, next up

Welcome to week 23 of the PMDG 737 rebuild series. Last week, we covered the forward panel, the now available TFM 22.11 preview, and a test flight in MSFS with the PMDG 737-800. This week, we are going to cover the lower forward panel, keyboard help mode, simbrief support, the first run quick help dialog, checklists, and what is left to finish in the PMDG 737.

 

Lower forward panel

 

The lower forward panel is self explanatory. It does have quite a few brightness knobs on it though. As a reminder, pressing the letters I or d on your keyboard will increase or decrease brightness knobs values. There are 17 controls on this panel, so keyboard shortcuts take you to groups of controls. Included are the settings to select whether TFM should automatically announce the control state changes. They are located at TFM settings/PMDG/737 speech events/Lower forward.

 

Main panel group (ALT+M)

 

  • Main panel brightness, left side
  • Main panel brightness, right side
  • Main panel brightness, background
  • AFDS (flight directors) brightness

 

GPWS group (ALT+G)

 

  • Flaps inhibit switch
  • Gear inhibit switch
  • Terrain inhibit switch
  • GPWS inop indicator

 

DU group (ALT+D)

 

  • Outboard DU brightness, left side
  • Outboard DU brightness, right side
  • Inboard DU brightness, left side
  • Inboard DU brightness, right side
  • Inboard map brightness, left side
  • Inboard map brightness, right side
  • Upper DU brightness
  • Lower DU brightness
  • Lower map brightness

 

Keyboard help mode

 

Keyboard help mode is similar to NVDA’s or JAWS keyboard help mode. While TFM is running, press right bracket (]), then the question mark (?). Next, press any fully qualified TFM keyboard command to get a basic description of that keyboard command. To turn keyboard help mode off, repeat the keyboard command to turn it on. Another thing to mention here is the keyboard manager. You can now select any command in the lists and press ALT+E to execute that command. Don’t forget to turn keyboard help mode off to return to normal usage. I forgot once on a flight and ended up in a little trouble.

 

Simbrief flight plan support

 

We are going to start working on Simbrief support in TFM. This means that TFM will download the last flight plan generated through the Simbrief website. At first, users will have the ability to display different sections of the flight plan. The sections will be customizable in TFM settings when we get to that point. Later on, we will have the ability to bring the next waypoint feature over to the PMDG aircraft. It can also be used to finish the freeware flight planner, and a limitless number of other things. Get your ideas together because we will need them in the future.

 

Quick help dialog

 

The quick help dialog appears when starting TFM. It displays a few ways to get keyboard help and lists a few of the most common keyboard commands TFM has to offer. To hide the dialog during future TFM starts, check the don’t show me this again option and press the OK button.

 

Checklists and first officer features

 

Earlier today, we found a file in the PMDG 737 folders for MSFS that contained just about all of the checklists for the 737 we would want to use. After requesting permission to use the file, PMDG granted our request. This means we don’t have to come up with alternative checklists for the 737. Developing the automated/manual checklist system is going to be time consuming, but easy. These checklists will eventually work into a first officer type of feature. As with the Simbrief section above, get your ideas for future features together because we will need them later on.

 

What’s left of the PMDG 737?

We have to implement the control stand, fix some bugs with the electrical panel, and clean up code. If no major problems come up, or no more major features need implementing, I suspect that the PMDG 737 for P3D and MSFS should be ready by Christmas vacation.

We covered many things today. Hopefully, the next few weekly blog posts will wrap up progress on the PMDG 737 as well as introducing new features. As always, we will keep everyone up-to-date on what we know.

PMDG 737 rebuild series, week 22: Forward panel, MSFS test flight, preview 22.11

Welcome to week 22 of our PMDG 737 rebuild series. We are now 90% complete. This week and most of last week we took time to investigate issues with fs2020 and completed the forward panel. discussion is below. We will also cover The next preview (22.11).

 

The forward panel

 

We had to break the forward panel into different segments because there were over 50 controls on it. Some of them BVI pilots will never use, such as the DU selectors, some are used elsewhere in TFm, such as N1 or speed brakes.

 

Main forward panel area

 

ALT+W – Nose wheel steering. Press to cycle through options.

ALT+C – Capt. Disengage test. Press to cycle through options.

ALT+O – F/O disengage test. Press to cycle through options.

ALT+I – Cockpit lights. Press to cycle through options.

ALT+F – Fuel flow. Press to cycle through options.

ALT+1 – Left Below GS indicator.

ALT+2 – Right below GS indicator.

ALT+3 – Left FMC indicator.

ALT+4 – Right FMC indicator.

ALT+5 – Stab out of trim indicator.

ALT+6 – Anti-skid inop indicator.

 

MCP

 

ALT+1 – Left auto throttle disengage indicator (red).

ALT+2 – Right auto throttle disengage indicator (red).

ALT+3 – Left auto throttle disengage indicator (amber).

ALT+4 – Right disengage indicator (amber).

ALT+5 – Command A disengage indicator (red).

ALT+6 – Command B disengage indicator (red).

ALT+7 – Command A disengage indicator (amber).

ALT+8 – Command B disengage indicator (amber).

 

DU panel

 

ALT+D – Capt. DU. Press to cycle options.

ALT+U – F/O DU. Press to cycle options.

ALT+C – Capt. Lower DU. press to cycle options.

ALT+F – F/O lower DU. press to cycle options.

 

Standby panel

 

ALT+1 – RMI #1. Press to cycle options.

ALT+2 – RMI #2. Press to cycle options.

 

Speed panel

 

ALT+N – N1 selector. Press to cycle options.

ALT+S – Speed ref. Press to cycle options.

 

Brakes panel

 

ALT+T – Auto brake. See the MCP/Speed box for more information.

ALT+B – Brake pressure indicator.

ALT+1 – Speed brake armed indicator.

ALT+2. – Speed brake do not arm indicator.

ALT+3 – Speed brake extended indicator.

ALT+4 – Auto brake disarm indicator.

 

 

Flaps panel

 

ALT+L – Left flaps needle indicator.

ALT+R – Right flaps needle indicator.

ALT+1 – Flaps in transit indicator.

ALT+2 – Flaps extended indicator.

 

 

Gear panel

 

ALT+G – Gear lever. Press to cycle options.

ALT+1 – Nose gear in transit indicator.

ALT+2 – Left gear in transit indicator.

ALT+3 – Right gear in transit indicator.

ALT+4 – Nose gear locked indicator.

ALT+5 – Left gear locked indicator.

ALT+6 – Right gear locked indicator.

 

 

As always, we will include the TFM settings to turn on/off automatic announcements for all supported aircraft controls/states.

 

Preview 22.11

 

We will release preview 22.11 sometime later this week. Most likely, around the middle of the week. Keep an eye out for it, and don’t forget to read the release notes. This preview has a lot of working parts and new features, including MSFS support for the PMDG 737.

 

MSFS test flight follow-up

 

Last week, I tried an MSFS (fs2020) test flight in the PMDG 737-700 cargo aircraft. After some investigation, here are follow-up points from last week.

 

  • MCP controls such as L-Nav, V-Nav, level change, etc always report off. This is only true if you tell First officer next to leave the MCP alone.
  • The speed brake reports a float such as 4.93 instead of a whole number like 103. This is true and we will have to build a fix for it.
  • It takes TFM a longer time to load the MSFS airports database. This is true. In addition, you must point TFM to the FS2020 airports database after you use makerunways.exe. To point TFM to the FS2020 database, open TFM settings, navigate to the airports database setting category, then use the P3D airports database location to browse for the FS2020 database.
  • First officer fails to do auto flows. True if you have AutoFlows = 0 set in the first officer user.config file. Otherwise, it will use auto flows. The only condition is when it tells you to check doors on pushback. In this case, you will have to press the after start flow yourself.
  • Getting to the briefing, ops, and other features is difficult at best. The click points are icons with no alt text or focusable items. We hear he is going to make an accessible user interface by the middle of this week, so we will wait and see.
  • FSO next fails to program the route and other FMC items. We have mixed results with community members, and are trying to sort out the problem. If it doesn’t program the route pages, you can do it yourself.

My landing rate on this trip was -86. A never before seen in the PMDG 737, at least for me. This would prove that LNav and VNav works better in the MSFS versions. Also, auto throttle works much better in the MSFS version. A better part of my descent, the throttle maintained a .08% thrust.

We will close it up for week 22. We hope the TFM upgrades are working for you. Don’t forget to report bugs and new features, especially on the MSFS side of things. As always, if you need help, let us know.

 

PMDG 737 rebuild series, week 21: MSFS support, forward panel

Last week we covered plans for the forward panel, notes about the preview builds, and the HGS isn’t included in TFM because it has no relevant features for a print disabled person. This week, we are going to cover part of the forward panel and a little on FS2020.

 

The forward panel

 

The forward panel is about 50% finished. It is so large that we had to break it down into a bunch of smaller segments to make it easier to use. Hopefully, it will be ready in week 22. After that, it is off to the lower forward panel, which seems to be a bit smaller.

 

FS2020 and PMDG 737-700

 

I was able to take a test flight in the PMDG 737-700 this afternoon. It was only me, the plane, and first officer next. Aside from a few bloopers at the beginning of climb, the entire flight went without a problem. So, now we can use FS2020 with the PMDG 737 series. The bumps to work out are below.

 

  • L-Nav, V-Nav, FL change, altitude hold, and the speedbrake work differently, even though the offsets have the same names between P3D and FS2020. Everything above except speedbrake reports off no matter the state. The speedbrake reports a low floating point number like 5.33325 instead of 150 in P3D.
  • If you use make runways, give TFM time to load. There are around 43000 airports and a little over 82600 runways in FS2020.
  • Getting first officer next to recognize that the door is opened. First officer only automates flows when the correct conditions are met. Otherwise, we are stuck doing them manually during flight.
  • Someone needs to contact the dev for first officer and ask how we get into the briefing section.
  • An interesting point to watch for… Make sure the FD/L and FD/R and auto throttle are turned on. FSO next misses them for some reason.
  • FSO next will not program the FMC route pages. It sets fuel, payload, and performance pages.

 

Aside from this, the flight was fun and quite amusing. The fun and amusing parts are below.

 

  • The airplane was not loud, even during the takeoff, the engines were quiet.
  • Fuel burn is much better. I burned an average of 4800lbs/hour at fl370 and around 2300lbs/hour on descent.
  • The airplane is much more responsive than the one in P3D.
  • If you have GSX and PACX installed, first officer next will use them during flight. I have GSX for FS2020, and it loaded passengers while we set up the FMC.
  • You have to purchase first officer next for each series of aircraft. Example: FSO next for PMDG 737 series is $30 as of yesterday.
  • ATC behaves itself when you control the aircraft.
  • All gages such as speed and altitude read correctly when you are in control of the aircraft.
  • The aircraft behaves itself when you have control of it.

To make it easier to warp to different places, read the section below.

 

Warping to runways and gates

 

TFM now has native support for warping to gates and runways. While loaded in an aircraft, and with TFM running, do one of the following.

 

  • Press right bracket (]), then Ctrl+G to bring up a dialog for warping to gates.
    • In the airport code text field, type the icao for your airport, then press ENTER.
    • In the gates list, press ENTER on the gate to jump to.
  • Press right bracket (]), then Ctrl+R to bring up a dialog for warping to runways.
    • In the airport code text field, type the icao for your airport and press ENTER.
    • In the runways list, press ENTER on the runway to warp to.

 

This will work for all supported simulators.

 

FS2020 and bugs

 

While on the subject of FS2020, support for it will have the most amount of bugs. When reporting bugs, we ask that you include the simulator version. Some examples are MSFS 1.29.25.0 (found in the FS 2020 title bar), P3D 5.3, or FSX, FSX:Steam. It always helps to know what simulator you work with. Most of them have the same access points, but some of them differ.

Hopefully, most of the FS2020 bugs can get worked out in time for its inaugural MSFS flight next weekend. We will keep everyone updated on all issues and progress as we finish up the PMDG 737, which brings us to the next point of goodness.

 

Synchronous support for PMDG 737

 

When we started thinking about support for FS2020, our eyes glazed over, and we almost passed out from the thought of the work load. Some time ago, I started to wonder how nice it would be if TFM could stay on top of both P3D and FS2020 without much lag. Fast forward to this week, and our dreams came true. Since PMDG released the SDK for the 737-700, we found out that they were identical except for a few offsets and the entire memory block the offsets live. This makes writing code for the PMDG 737 series easy. Now, we can build support for P3D’s version of the PMDG 737 series, and the support will follow you over to FS2020 (except a few bumps in the road now and then). At most, we don’t suspect more than a week or two lag on the FS2020 side.

Now that the cat is out of the bag, surprise!! The first TFM supported aircraft for FS2020. Based on the initial test flight, we feel it safe to start purchasing the PMDG 737 series for FS2020. Have fun, and if you get stuck, we are always happy to help.

PMDG 737 rebuild series, week 20.2: HGS, remaining panels, FS 2020 status

Currently, we are at the end of week 20 of the PMDG 737 rebuild series. Hopefully, we will wrap things up over the next few weeks. There are a few things to consider before we end this series. They are covered in the below sections.

 

The HGS

 

The HGS/hud is a small display on the main forward panels of the 737. It helps pilots get an accurate picture of the runway and surrounding areas. It is often used if flight conditions are less than best. A few examples include dense cloud cover below minimums or at night where the airport is dark. Since it is highly visible, and PMDG doesn’t offer the display in their SDK, we are not inclined to put it in TFM.

The remaining panels

 

The remaining panels are the forward/lower forward panels and the console. These remaining panels will have different sub panels to help reduce clutter.

 

PMDG 737 for FS2020

 

We discovered that PMDG had released their SDK for the 737-700 for FS2020. This may require some reworking because the memory block for the offsets is different than the 737 for P3D. There are a few options when dealing with the problem. First, we could import all of the PMDG offsets into TFM, or we could wait for them to be included in the FSUIPC .net library TFM uses for its connection to the simulator. In either case, it is fairly easy to set TFM up to choose the correct memory block. This way, any work done on the P3D version will automatically carry over to the FS2020 version. At least the SDKs are identical outside of the memory block problem. If you want to take a look at the PMDG 737-700 for FS 2020, you will need the following items.

 

  • FSUIPC 7
  • FS 2020
  • * The PMDG 737-700 for FS2020
  • A copy of TFM preview 22.10 or later.

The panels and automatic announcements of aircraft state will not work, and the FMC will only display the main menu. You may also get random announcements of control states with no values. Again, this is a different offset memory block and needs the attention of the FSUIPC .net library developer, or TFM developers. Since this isn’t officially supported yet, use at your own risk.

We hope to see you during week 21 where we take care of the forward panel and some of the lower forward panel. Until then, happy flying!