• How To Add New Gauges/Windows To Panels

    How To...No One-Button Install? No Problem!

    By Chip Barber (16 June 2005)

    Oh boy, has this topic been beaten into the ground or what? I’m still considering the wisdom of pursuing this article. There are several out there which describe in great detail what we are about to attempt, certainly to greater extent and clarity than my poor offering. So, why are we doing this? Darned if I know, but to heck with it, let’s proceed.

    As you well know, I’ve still got hives from my last attempt at manual installation. I am an automated kind of guy. I like “Click And Go” programs. As such, I find it wildly frustrating when I find a gauge that I’d love to have, only to be stymied by the dreaded “Installation Instructions.”

    What we’re going to do today, class (feel free to drop an apple, software, or traveler’s checks on the teacher’s desk), is to tackle Rob Barendregt’s outstanding pushback gauge (RCBGH-32.ZIP). I know, there are several pushback utilities out there, but of all of them I’ve used, this is my favorite. But hey, if you’d like to install a different one, that’s fine too. The steps are the same. Ready? Go grab that Molson’s and let’s get to messing…

    First things first. Download the file. I know, sounds obvious enough. But you don’t want to be up to your elbows in the guts of the panel cfg file, only to discover you’ve got nothing to copy and paste. Next, open the thing. Now, understand that when you’ve gotten the file aboard, you will need an unzipping utility in order to open it. I certainly cannot advocate any one over the other (http://www.winzip.com). That would be poor form.

    OK, so we’ve gotten the file, and unzipped it into our temporary file (took me years to figure out how to create and name a file – perhaps next article…). The first thing to notice is there is no Word File installation instructions! A good start by any standard! Rob has included lots of information, which of course should be read. But let’s limit ourselves to the good stuff. Here’s part 1:

    1. Extract:

    • File rcb_sound.gau to folder ....\Flight Simulator 9\Gauges\
    • File rcb_groundhandling.cab also to folder ....\Flight Simulator 9\Gauges\
      IMPORTANT: DO NOT UNZIP THIS .CAB FILE!
    • The 11 .wav files to folder ....\Flight Simulator 9\Sound\

    OK, sounds simple enough (reaching for the first Molson). We’ll tackle this one at a time.

    File rcb_sound.gau to folder ....\Flight Simulator 9\Gauges\

    Right. In the folder you’ve just unzipped is a file entitled rcb_sound.gau. A sound gauge. You can tell that by the .gau at the end (the title is something of a give-away, too). A right click on the file opens a new window with a long list of items. Left click on the “Copy” choice. Now, navigate to your FS9 directory (even I can do that…), and find and open the Gauges folder. (Just a quick word about the FS9 folder. It will make your life easier if you create a shortcut to the folder on your desktop.) Right click on anything inside the folder but one of the files already there, and then left click on “Paste”. You’ve just copied the gauge file to the FS9 gauges folder. Neat!

    File rcb_groundhandling.cab also to folder ....\Flight Simulator 9\Gauges\ IMPORTANT: DO NOT UNZIP THIS .CAB FILE!

    OK, we have to pay attention here. Now that we’ve got the copy/paste part, it is an easy matter of doing just that. But, notice we are directed to move a zipped file without first unzipping it (resist that urge to unzip…). Copy/paste into the Gauges folder, just like above. If you really wanted to be clever, you could have clicked on the .gau file, then pushed and held the CTRL button on the keyboard and then Left Clicked on the .cab file. They both would have been highlighted, and you could have done only one copy/paste job instead of two. This will come in handy in a minute.

    The 11 .wav files to folder ....\Flight Simulator 9\Sound\

    See? Let’s hold down that CTRL button and highlight all of the .wav files. Economy of movement is a wonderful thing. Some say it makes me lazy and out of shape. I say it prevents a nasty case of repetitive-use injuries. Click (while still holding the CTRL) each of the 11 files, copy them, and open the FS9 Sound folder (I bet you wished you’d done that shortcut like I said…). Just paste the sound files in, and you’re done with the easy part!

    So far, so good, right? Let’s celebrate with that Molson’s that is now not as cold as it should be, and quite possibly sweating all over your desk. So, put it back in the ‘fridge, get another, and we’ll go on to step 2.

    2. Add the gauges to the panel of your aircraft.

    Here’s where we get to the scary stuff. Before we start, let’s get some protection going. Create a folder on your root drive (usually the C drive), and call it something that you will remember (I call mine Molson). If you need instruction on how to do that, feel free to drop me an email and I’ll send you instructions. Now open the FS9 folder (really starting to wish you’d taken my advice on that shortcut), open the Aircraft folder, and open whichever aircraft you wish to have sport this rather spiffy new pushback gauge. I have installed mine onto the default 737 and a Beech 1900D. Let’s do the default Boeing.

    Within the Aircraft folder is a file called b737-400. Open that. Now, open the folder that says ‘panel’. See the icon that says panel cfg? Click on it. Twice. No, left click. Now do it faster. OK, problemo number one: Windows doesn’t know how to open this file. Easy. Open the panel.cfg with Notepad. This will be one of the choices listed in the window that opens when Windows gags on a file it doesn’t know what to use in order to open it. Got it open yet? Terrific.

    Now close it. Quick! Do it! I’ll wait.

    We should be looking at the icon that says ‘panel.cfg’. Remember that file we created on the root drive? Before you do anything, copy/paste that cfg file into that file. Why? Well, I speak from experience, here. If/when you manage to screw up this process (like I’ve done more often than I care to recall), you’ve got a copy of the cfg file that actually works, which you may easily copy/paste back into the aircraft panel folder, and either start again or shut off the computer and take up knitting (repetitive injuries, don’t forget).

    OK, got the copy made, and we’ve got that safety net. Now, let’s play some hardball…

    Re-open that cfg file. Wow, lots of stuff in here. There are three sections with which you will become intimately familiar:

    [window Titles] section
    
    [window00] section
    
    [window**]
    

    Notice the funky little **? They are often written like this (not in the cfg file, but in installation instructions), and represent the next free number to be used to describe to your program the Window you would like it to address (think of the windows as houses, and the ** are the street numbers).

    Ya ready? Let’s get to modifying:

    Rob’s instructions state this:

    - In the [Window Titles] section, add the line:

    Window**=Groundhandling
    

    where '**' is the next free number.

    Looking in the cfg file, [window Titles] is the first group of entries. Go down to the bottom of the list (just before where it says [window00]).

    Now, copy this:

    Window**=Groundhandling
    

    For you, the next Window number will likely be different. For me, it is 42. I draw your attention to number 37 in the above graphic. There is my cut and pasted window37=Groundhandling entry.

    So much for Molson number one. Fortunately, he has some chilly friends…

    Now for the [window00] section. Here is what Rob has to say:

    - In the [Window00] section, add the line:

    gauge**=rcb_groundhandling!Icon_Pushback, aaa,bbb,12,12
    

    where '**' is the next free number, 'aaa'and 'bbb' are the coordinates for the groundhandling Icon on your panel and 12,12 is the size in pixels.

    Looks complex, but is actually quite simple. First, keep looking below where you just added the window** entry. Here we find a list of gauges.

    Again, copy/paste gauge**=rcb_groundhandling!Icon_Pushback, aaa,bbb,12,12

    to the next gauge entry, and add the next number. We’ve got a handle on the **, but now to deal with the aaa/bbb stuff. This takes a little investigative work, but it’s not difficult. The aaa refers to the coordinate from the upper-left side of the screen and moves the icon sideways. The bbb does the same thing, but top to bottom. So, take a look at the other icons in the list:

    gauge34=SimIcons!Kneeboard Icon, 181, 10
    gauge35=SimIcons!ATC Icon, 194, 10
    gauge36=SimIcons!Compass Icon, 264, 10
    gauge37=SimIcons!ECU Icon, 250, 10
    gauge38=SimIcons!Map Icon, 208, 10
    gauge39=SimIcons!Avionics Icon, 222, 10
    gauge40=SimIcons!GPS Icon, 236, 10
    

    Take note of each icon on the aircraft panel, and from that you can figure out where you’d like to place your icon, either in relation to the defaults or elsewhere. Those listed above are the default icons. I’ve placed mine in a different location:

    gauge42=rcb_groundhandling!Icon_Pushback, 236,204,12,12
    

    It is the Down Arrow. Can you find it? I’ve really gotta move that thing.

    236,204 is the location. 12,12 is the size of the icon. Using the last two numbers, you can alter the shape of the icon, too.

    OK, almost there. Good thing, too. I’m getting a little woozy, and can’t figure out why…

    Last but not least, we have to add the actual window in which the graphic will appear. Rob tells us to do this:

    - After the last [Window..] section, add the lines (use copy/paste to avoid typing errors):

    [Window**]
    size_mm=196,100                 // The relative window size in pixels.
    ident=10005                     // The ident used by Icon_Pushback.
    visible=0                       // 0: hidden when aircraft is loaded.
    window_size= 0.3,0.2            // Window screen size: 30 % Hor., 20 % Vert.
    position=0                      // 0: opens in top-left of screen.
    background_color=16,16,16
    gauge00=rcb_groundhandling!XMLSoundSwitch,             0,  0, 50, 36
    gauge01=rcb_groundhandling!AutoTaxiAfterLanding,      50,  0, 48, 36
    gauge02=rcb_groundhandling!AutoTaxiAfterParkingbrake, 98,  0, 48, 36
    gauge03=rcb_groundhandling!ParkingBrakeSwitch,       146,  0, 50, 36
    gauge04=rcb_groundhandling!PushbackDisplay,            0, 36, 86, 64
    gauge05=rcb_groundhandling!TaxispeedFS2004,           86, 36, 60, 64 //NOTE-1
    //gauge05=rcb_groundhandling!TaxispeedFS2002,         86, 36, 60, 64 //NOTE-1
    //gauge05=rcb_groundhandling!TaxispeedNoBrakes,       86, 36, 60, 64 //NOTE-1
    gauge06=rcb_groundhandling!BrakePressure,            146, 36, 50, 64
    gauge07=rcb_groundhandling!PushbackStates, 0,0
    gauge08=rcb_groundhandling!XMLSoundServer,0,0
    gauge09=rcb_groundhandling!BrakeSound, 0,0
    gauge10=rcb_sound!sound,0,0,,,9998 9999 95  // 95efault overall sound volume
    

    where '**' is the same number you used in the [Window Titles]

    Simple enough. Left click and drag the mouse from the [Window**] to the last line of …95efault overall sound volume . Now do the copy/paste trick, adding this entire section after the last [window].

    Now, ‘X’ out of the panel.cfg. It will ask you if you want to save your changes. Say YES! If you panic and say NO, you’ll just have to start again…

    Now, open up FS2004 and start a flight with the default 737. If everything went in correctly, you should see your new icon on the panel. Click on it, and there is the window with the pushback panel! If not, go back into the panel.cfg and carefully read over all of your modifications. One thing you can do if you can’t find the icon is change the size to, say, 48,48. Ridiculously large, yes, but you’ll find it! You don’t have to close out of FS2004. Just select “Choose Aircraft” and choose the same aircraft – just hit OK, OK?

    That’s all there is to it! The really cool part is, this describes pretty much any addition you’d care to make in the panel.cfg. Once you get the hang of installing this gem of an add-on, the sky’s the limit!

    Now, I think I hear some of those frosty cold ones calling me…

    Three Green!

    Chip Barber
    rfbarber@optonline.net