Build Your Own VFR Scenery With FSEarthTiles
By Michael Hayward
One thing many people have issues with when it comes to flight simulators is the realism of the ground scenery below them. In default FSX and P3D, the ground scenery is created through a system called 'Ground Class' where a grid is used to determine the ground in the real world and a texture is placed on top of it. Some companies have been able to create VFR scenery which places real-world satellite images on top of the FSX World to create a realistic representation of the ground.
There are two FREE methods of getting VFR Ground Scenery within FSX. The main method people know is through a program called 'Tile Proxy' which downloads the data as you fly through a server. The second method which I will be going through in this tutorial is through FSEarthTiles.
DO NOTE - VFR scenery created in this manner CANNOT be sold for commercial purpose or gain. Since the data is collected through third-party sources, you will need to obtain licensing from the respective third-party company.
It may also be worth checking out my video explaining how to set this up, giving you a visual explanation through the process.
Setting Up The Program
FSEarthTiles has not been updated for a few years now, meaning setting up the program takes a little extra work, but still really easy to do nevertheless.
First of all, you need to go to the official web site and download the main program from there. The web site is in French, but not hard to navigate
The only requirement to install the program is to have Microsoft.NET Framework installed on your computer. Once you are ready to download, click on the "LIEN OFFICIEL" or "LIEN DE SECOURS" hyperlinks by step 3 on the page.
Once downloaded, extract the folder entitled FSET into a safe location (I stuck it on my desktop). Do not open the program just yet!
The next thing you need to do is replace the 'FSEarthTiles.ini' file with one I have prepared. You can download it at this link here. Replace the file and you are good to go!
It is also good practice to create a new Work Folder in your documents. The Work Folder will essentially be the cache as the maps are made, meaning it will fill up very quickly taking up a large portion of your hard drive. This can be changed within the 'FSEarthTiles.ini' file under the "WorkingFolder" tag. Likewise, you can change the Scenery Folder to suit your simulator, whether it be FSX or P3D.
Creating The VFR Scenery
Once you have replaced the old .ini file with the new one, you are ready to open the program. Double-click 'FSEarthTiles.exe' and wait for it to load. By default, the program will take you to Genoa. The program may look complicated, but it's really easy to use.
For this example, I will create VFR ground scenery over Paris, France. The first thing you want to do is to navigate to your chosen location. There are two ways of doing this, manually locating it yourself by changing the Map Zoom Level and dragging the map, or inputting the latitude and longitude of your location and placing the values in the blue box on the top of the screen.
The easiest way to find the latitude and longitude of your chosen location is by using the web site below.
Once you are over your chosen location, click on the 'Draw' button and highlight where you would like the scenery to be created. There is no size limit, but be warned that for large maps you will need a fast processor and multiple cores, otherwise it will take forever to compile the scenery.