Fanboy Friday: TGIFF

Sorry for the lame title, but my brain is liked cooked oatmeal this morning. With raisins. It’s been a long week of bashing my skull against an army of zombie web projects, and I’m done in. Good thing there are some fun FS goodies to look forward to this weekend! Which ones, you say? You’ll just have to

Use the Force

This is a hot one – just got the news this morning. Russel Dirks has just upgraded his FS Force FSX module to version 2.5. You are already using FS Force, aren’t you? Tsk. If not, you’re missing out on something really great. There are three add-ons that no virtual flier should be without; FSUIPC, a TrackIR unit, and FS Force. Of course, you’ll also need a force-feedback joystick in order to enjoy that last one.

You think I don’t see you rolling your eyes, but I do. Force feedback? That’s for kids! It’s just so… so unrealistic. Spoken like someone who has only encountered the default feedback. While I make it a policy never to disparage anyone or anything on Fanboy Fridays, I’ll make an exception just long enough to ask this: Microsoft, what were you thinking? It’s true, the default force feedback facility in the FS series is, to put it mildly, bizarre. If real aircraft controls reacted to air rushing over them the way the stock forces in FS do, Orville and Wilbur would have been just two kooks that killed themselves on a hill, and we’d all be using MS Train Sim right now.

02 2009.10.09 07.49Fortunately, FS Force is an entirely different beast. It separates the various forces of flight into categories; elevator forces, aileron forces, static forces (including goodies such as unloaded elevator weight), ground ops, braking, etc. Aircraft in your hangar can be assigned to individual force profiles, and each profile can be tuned to your liking. For instance, I’ve set up a profile just for my Piper Cub collection (see right) and configured it so that the elevator and ailerons stiffen up and offer resistance at much lower speeds than, say, a jet fighter.

But wait, it gets better. One of the places where FS Force really shines is in how it handles trimming. By default, FS treats the trim commands sort of like mini joystick inputs, simply deflecting the controls up or down, right or left. FS Force actually links trimming with control forces. That means you can hold the stick back for a climb, for instance, and then use your trim keys/buttons/controller axis to trim away the pressure on your FFB stick until it is balanced in the new position. It’s one of those things that you have to feel in order to appreciate, but trust me, it’s the closest thing to a real-world reaction I’ve felt from a controller. And yes, I do have some real-world stick time to compare it to.

Apparently, the new 2.5 version (which is free to currently registered users) adds a stick shaker facility, along with stall buffeting. I was in such a rush to get this article out that I haven’t tried those features yet. Knowing Russ Dirks, I’m sure they’ll be top notch. Get your copy of FS Force here – and if you’re not sold yet, he offers a trial version in which you can fly within the vicinity of Seattle to test it out for free. Can’t beat that.

Banana Bob’s Paint Shed

kodgreen1If you’ve ever gone looking for a new paint job for one of your planes, chance are you’ve encountered Bob Rivera, aka BananaBob. He’s one of the most prolific aircraft painters out there. I was perusing some of his Lionheart Kodiak repaints the other day when I noticed a link to his full paint collection, which is hosted on Nick Churchill’s Siminsider forum. Duh. Why didn’t I know/realize/remember that? Seems that although I frequent Nick’s ScreenshotArtist site (and yes, do the occasional banner graphic for it), somehow his forums hadn’t made it into my daily circle of visits. Consider that problem rectified.

If you want to breath new life into an addon, nothing works like a fresh coat of paint, and nobody paints ’em quick like BananaBob. Hustle on over to his corner of the SimInsider forums and have a gander.

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s an… Eagle!

I was a bad boy last week. In my roundup of new releases, I neglected to mention one that will surely light the fires of virtual aerobatics fans. Iris Simulations, usually known for their high-quality military aircraft, have gone civvie for their latest release: the Christen Eagle. The screenshots looks fantastic, and I’m sure that this little buzzer will really eat up the sky. The virtual version has not only the blessing, but the support of the plane’s real-wold daddy, Frank Christensen, so that’s got to count for quite a bit. If you flew the FS9 Long Island Classics version, but have since moved up to FSX, this looks like just the ticket. Find out more on the Iris Simulations website.

Oh, and one more thing…

Last week, I profiled a pair of P-38’s that had just been released; one by Sky Unlimited, and one by FSD. If you bought the FSD version, the devs have been hard at work patching a few issues with their bird. You can follow the progress and download updates here. If you were holding off on buying the Sky Unlimited version for some reason, the US$17.95 price was supposed to have expired by now, but they’ve graciously extended it. Nobody knows when it’ll change, though. It’s a pretty sweet deal, so you’ve been forewarned. Now or (maybe) never…

Now go flying.

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3 responses to “Fanboy Friday: TGIFF

  1. Thanks for the Kodiak Tips. I didn’t realize this bird until now.

  2. What force-feedback joystick do you use? What would you recommend?

  3. @jimlc – I have an old Microsoft Sidewinder II Force Feedback stick. They don’t make it anymore, but I found mine on Ebay for a good price. It’s a great stick, and even though it was used when I got it, I’ve had several years of use from it with no signs of it wearing out.

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