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 20: Vatsim mode, preview builds, finishing the PMDG 737 support

In week 19 of the PMDG 737 rebuild series, we covered the new Vatsim mode, introduced the forward panel, and launched the 2022 fall survey. If you haven’t gotten a chance to fill it out, it is located in the primary menu. For screen reader and braille display users, it is at the top of every page on the website. It shouldn’t take more than 5 – 10 minutes to complete. This week, we will cover more of the new Vatsim mode, testing preview builds, and ending the PMDG 737 rebuild series over the next few weeks.

 

Vatsim mode

 

Vatsim mode is used when flying on the popular Vatsim ATC network. Vatsim mode replaces the AI traffic window in TFM. Although we will eventually release Vatsim mode to the public, we must mention that it is unstable at times. So, sometimes users might get an error while loading traffic and ATC controllers. Hopefully, we can fix the problem later. The next preview build of TFM will have the controllers, traffic, and distance filter for Vatsim traffic. We will add more features to Vatsim mode as the year progresses.

 

Testing preview builds

 

As of this blog post, TFM preview has only had 6 downloads. There are no issues filed against TFM preview builds. We would like to remind those interested in preview features that reporting issues when detected is important in making a stable release. It is good if there aren’t any bugs. However, if you find a bug or want a feature included, you must fill out the new issue form found on the issues page of the repository. Have fun exploring and testing!

 

PMDG 737 series 80% complete

 

What is left?

 

Through the past 20 weeks, we have rebuilt TFM support for the PMDG 737 series of aircraft. If estimations are correct, we should finish TFM support for the 737 in about 4 or 5 weeks. Here is what is left.

 

  • Forward panel
  • Lower forward panel
  • Console
  • Some random offsets not on any real panel.
  • Minor feature additions/changes
  • Code cleanup.

 

What’s next?

 

Once the 737 has a week or two left to complete, we will start working on the 747 series. It will follow the same format as the 737. At the end of the week, we will publish a blog post covering the new features for the week. Then we will publish videos demonstrating it. Estimated time to finish the 747 series is roughly 52 weeks. We hope to see you there!

PMDG 737 rebuild series week 17: Glare shield, MCP, 22.10 preview

In week 16 of the PMDG 737 rebuild series, we covered the main premise behind the MCP/auto pilot system and its TFM components, “the MCP boxes”. Most of it was finished at the time. However, a portion of it still had not been developed. In this blog post, we will review the MCP components from last week’s blog post, then cover the remainder of the MCP. At the end of the post, we will briefly let you in on what’s up for next week.

The MCP

 

As mentioned, last week’s blog post covers everything in the MCP except two major parts: The altitude box and the navigation box. We will cover those here.

 

Altitude box

 

The altitude box is self-explanatory. So, we will cover the keyboard shortcuts here. To open the altitude box while TFM is open: Press left bracket ([), then SHIFT+A.

 

ALT+E – Altitude entry. Enter altitude and press enter.

ALT+I – Altitude intervene. Turns altitude intervene on. Turns off when desired altitude is achieved.

ALT+V – V-nav. Turns V-nav on/off.

ALT+L – Level change. Turns level change on/off.

ALT+H – Altitude hold. Turns altitude hold on/off.

ALT+1 – V-nav indicator. Indicates if V-nav is on/off.

ALT+2 – Level change indicator. Indicates if level change is on/off.

ALT+3 – Altitude hold indicator. Indicates if altitude hold is on/off.

 

Navigation box

 

The navigation box is the portion of the MCP that helps the 737 navigate. This includes flight directors, autopilots, autopilot interrupts, and other useful commands. You can open the navigation box while TFM is running by pressing left bracket ([), then SHIFT+F. The keyboard shortcuts are below.

 

ALT+F – Left flight director. Turns FD/L on/off.

ALT+D – Right flight director. Turns FD/R on/off.

ALT+P – Approach mode. Turns approach mode on/off.

ALT+V – Localizer hold. Turns localizer hold on/off.

ALT+A – CMDA. Turns CMDA on/off.

ALT+C – CWSA. Turns CWSA on/off.

ALT+B – CMDB. Turns CMDB on/off..

ALT+W – CWSB. Turns CWSB on/off.

ALT+K – Bank limit selector. Selects maximum bank in degrees.

ALT+I – Disengage bar. Turns the disengage bar on/off.

ALT+1 – ALT+8 – Indicators. Indicates various states of controls in this window.

 

The entire MCP and its components can also be found in the cockpit panels. While TFM is running, do the following.

 

  • Press left bracket ([), then CTRL+P.
  • Navigate the tree until you find Glare Shield, then expand it.
  • Navigate to MCP, then expand it.
  • Choose one of the following tree nodes.
    • Altitude
    • Heading
    • Navigation
    • Speed
    • Vertical speed

 

Either press TAB to navigate the windows, or press each window’s relevant keyboard shortcuts.

Return to tree in Panels and settings

 

A new keyboard shortcut in the cockpit panels and TFM settings windows is the F6 key. Pressing this from anywhere in these dialogs will return you to the main tree. This way, users don’t have to TAB all the way around a large set of controls to return to the tree.

 

Preview 22.10

 

It is time for another preview build. This one is 22.10 preview because it will be at least October before we can get another official release. The 22.10 preview cycle proves to be exciting because we will cover the forward panel, comms/transponder panels, and we will introduce a new feature called “Vatsim mode”. So, stay tuned for more exciting features. Until week 18!

 

PMDG 737 rebuild series, week 15: TFM preview released, glare shield progress, and Navigraph support

In week 14 of our PMDG 737 rebuild series, we discussed the air systems panel and other life issues that left us behind schedule by 4 weeks. In week 15, we will cover the release of TFM 22.9.1 preview, the upcoming glare shield, and some exciting news everyone has been waiting for a long time to hear.

 

TFM 22.9.1 preview

 

During week 14, we originally thought the air systems panel would be the only topic covered. Unexpected plans had us releasing TFM 22.9.1 earlier than expected. It turns out that the bottom overhead was easier to finish than originally planned. The bottom overhead contains the engines and lights panels. We will cover each one below.

 

Engines panel

 

The engines panel is fairly simple with a limited number of controls. The keyboard shortcuts are below. NOTE: for ease of use, we moved the fuel control switches from the control stand to the engines panel.

 

Alt+A – APU start selector.

ALT+1 p Engine #1 group. Contains engine start switch and fuel control switch.

ALT+2 – Engine #2 group – Contains engine start switch and fuel control switch.

ALT+I – Ignition switch.

 

Lights panel

 

The lights panel is also self explanatory. We will list the keyboard shortcuts below.

 

ALT+L – Landing lights group. Contains left/right retractable and left/right fixed landing lights.

ALT+R – Runway turnoff group – Contains left/right runway turnoff lights.

ALT+T – Taxi lights.

ALT+G – Logo lights.

ALT+A – Anti-collision lights (beacon lights).

ALT+W – Wing lights.

ALT+H – Wheel well lights.

ALT+P – Position lights.

 

 

Glare shield

 

The glare shield is not yet complete. However, there are some points we want to cover in this section. They mainly cover the EFIS, MCP, and HGS panels.

 

  • We will not include the EFIS panel in TFM. The EFIS panel has switches we can use. Unfortunately, we can’t get any data from the panel. Since we can’t get feedback from the controls/displays, we are leaving the EFIS out of TFM.
  • The MCP panel will move from the overhead panel to the glare shield. We will discuss more of the MCP panel later.
  • We will not include some of the HGS (headsup) guidance system panel. Some of the controls such as entering a runway, runway length, and landing altitude are not accessible when it comes to output. Most of this panel includes camera still images of the runway and other areas of the airport, which BVI pilots can’t use. However, there are other items we can use. These include the rollout, takeoff, and landing/Autoland indicators that we will put into TFM.

 

The MCP panel

 

The mode control panel (MCP), or auto flight controls normally live on the glare shield. Ever since TFM supported the PMDG 737 MCP, it has been on the overhead panel. As identified by the PMDG 737 SDK, it is supposed to be on the glare shield. So, we will move it to the glare shield. There are some fundamental design flaws in the current MCP panel, making it difficult to use. The new MCP will have the following changes, making it easier to use.

 

  • The speed box will have a speed entry field, speed intervene, speed hold, auto throttle, spoiler A, spoiler B buttons, and a speed brake input field.
  • There will be indicators (lights) on each MCP box that are easy to access.
  • Some controls not normally on the MCP panel will merge with the MCP panel/boxes to facilitate ease of use. Examples include speed brake and spoilers on the speed box.
  • New flight control boxes
    • Navigation (left bracket, SHIFT+N) – Courses and NAV 1+2, tuned VOR readout.
    • Autopilot (left bracket, SHIFT+P) – Flight directors, autopilot controls, bank angle selectors, barometers, etc.
    • The MCP panel in the glare shield will be broken down into different segments. For instance, each focus area of the MCP/flight control boxes will have their own treeview entry under MCP.

 

Since the MCP is segmented and could get complex, we will continue to cover each segment in different blog posts.

 

Focused areas of need

 

We usually maintain that each panel of the PMDG series of aircraft is added to TFM in the order they appear in the SDK, unless otherwise required. In some cases, it is best to do them out of order, and organized in a way that TFM users best understand them.  We will give a brief overview of the comms panel that is coming to TFM soon.

 

Comms panel

 

The comms panels usually consist of mics, receivers, audio transmitters, and a set of frequency types. TFM will layout the comms panels as follows.

The comms panels which you can access with right bracket, SHIFT+C is a generic comms window that helps you change comms frequencies for any type of aircraft. We are building one specific to the PMDG 737. It will include a comms tab that includes com1/2 frequencies, a tab for audio setup, a tab for transponder, and a tab to setup mics/receivers. This may change as requirements change, but this gives a basic layout.

 

Navigraph support

 

We brought this up in previous WhatsApp messages, email list messages, and blog posts. TFM is applying for Navigraph database support. When we first applied a year or so ago, the Navigraph development team told us it would be a fairly long time before they could get to TFM. We are pleased to let everyone know that we are now up in line, and a person from Navigraph is actively working with us to get TFM into the FMS data manager.

There has been a lot of movement this week with TFM development. From TFM 22.9.1 preview, to starting the glare shield and rebuilding the MCP, and finally to working with Navigraph to get TFM enrolled in their system. We have been fairly busy this week. There aren’t any deliverables for week 15, but as we said, progress is key.

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.