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Thread: Sextant for FSX

  1. Default Sextant for FSX

    I have been updating the sextant by Dave Bitzer/Mark Beaumont (with their approval and support), to be compatible with FSX, and a beta version can be downloaded from my site: http://kronzky.info/fs/sextant/index.html



    It is pretty much done, but it would be good if I could get some feedback before publishing it officially.
    The basic functionality is the same as before, but the following features have been added or changed:
    • Date/Time display for either local or GMT time
    • Optimized mouse hotzones for use with mouse wheels
    • Magnetic declination info is only shown on demand
    • If within clouds, no reading can be taken

    The first three items should be pretty uncontroversial, but I'm not absolutely sure on the last item yet.
    It is supposed to simulate your inability to take shots when in cloud cover, but due to the limitations of FSX, the result doesn't fully match what you would expect when you look out the window. Sometimes you're at the top edge of a cloud, and still can't take a reading (even though the sky above you is clear), and at other times, when you're below some clouds you can take a reading nevertheless.
    It does limit your abilities to take reading in cloudy conditions though (so that part is realistic), it's just that the visuals don't match 100%.
    The implementation as is would be the only way to do it, so it's either an all or nothing thing (i.e. either it stays the way it is, or it goes altogether).
    If we have some sextant users out here, I'd love to hear some feedback regarding this (or any other) issue.

    Also, if you have any other questions regarding the sextant use (or possible improvements to it), or have questions about celestial navigation in general, feel free to post them here. There was recently an "upflare" of sextant discussions in the MP forum, but due to the forum and thread name probably nobody noticed it, so it was suggested to move the sextant-specific discussion to this place.

  2. #2

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    Hi Kronzky,
    porting the sextant to FSX is an excellent initiative ! Thanks !
    That is a feature that has been missed by those few of us aficcionados using FSX and valuing this means of navigation (I'm still personally on FS9 though).

    I like all the improvements you have put in place, in particular the mouse zones and the cloud feature. That will make weather become a real element to factor into planning and execution of navigation.

    Suggestion for this feature:
    Add a switch to the sextant to turn cloud influence on/off, so users can turn it on/off ad-hoc (I'd normally use the cloud feature, but turn it off if I'm clearly seeing the sun/stars but the sextant is not allowing a shot).
    Also, it would be helpful if it would be clear to the user why he is not seeing any stars/sun in the sextant - maybe display an image of a cloud instead of the image of the sun/stars in the sextant ?

    Good job !
    My computer is not yet able to run FSX satisfactorily, but it's good to know the sextant is available for FSX the day I can switch.
    Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by teson1 View Post
    Suggestion for this feature:
    Add a switch to the sextant to turn cloud influence on/off, so users can turn it on/off ad-hoc (I'd normally use the cloud feature, but turn it off if I'm clearly seeing the sun/stars but the sextant is not allowing a shot).
    I'm not sure about that... Wouldn't human nature just cause you flip the "clouds off" switch once you try to take a reading, and you can't? Whereas on the other side, if the sextant allows you to take one, even though the conditions when you look out the window seem like you shouldn't be able to — would you actually put down the thing and wait for good conditions? And if a person is that disciplined, then I guess we wouldn't need a cloud feature in the first place...

    Also, it would be helpful if it would be clear to the user why he is not seeing any stars/sun in the sextant - maybe display an image of a cloud instead of the image of the sun/stars in the sextant ?
    Did you try the new version already, and you didn't see clouds?
    It should show only clouds when you can't take a reading (it still shows the bubble, but no stars or sun should be visible):
    Click image for larger version. 

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  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kronzky View Post
    Did you try the new version already, and you didn't see clouds?
    It should show only clouds when you can't take a reading (it still shows the bubble, but no stars or sun should be visible):
    Wow, that's exactly what I was thinking about. You've already done it. Outstanding !

    I didn't download and test yet as my FSX is a slideshow.
    But I think I'll have to fire it up one of these days and test the sextant out.

    Btw, does that FSX version work in FS9 ? I'd immediately switch.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kronzky View Post
    I'm not sure about that... Wouldn't human nature just cause you flip the "clouds off" switch once you try to take a reading, and you can't? Whereas on the other side, if the sextant allows you to take one, even though the conditions when you look out the window seem like you shouldn't be able to — would you actually put down the thing and wait for good conditions? And if a person is that disciplined, then I guess we wouldn't need a cloud feature in the first place...
    Well, I do not take shots if I don't see the stars or sun if it's a flight that counts (as opposed to a test flight).
    I'm currently on a RTW flight using pilotage/DR only (and the sextant to get across the Pacific). Currently the plane is on Robinson Crusoe island off the Chilean coast, waiting for the last hop to South America to finish the Pacific crossing.
    I had some serious drama on the leg from Mangareva to Easter Island, searching for the island in dense fog with a search pattern for 2.5 hours.
    It really did feel very lonely out there over the ocean, with no island apperaring out of the fog, and the fuel going down and down...
    That flight would have been far less nerve-wracking (and fabulously interesting and rewarding - one of the best flights I ever have done !) if I just would have pulled out the sextant in the fog and shot a LOP.
    https://www.flightsim.com/vbfs/showt...97#post1727497

    But I get your point...

    Personally, I'd advocate to leave that feature in. I believe it adds a whole new dimension to navigating with the sextant.

    But it could be frustrating to people learning the sextant - not being able to take a shot while they see the sun/stars ... difficult ...

    Maybe provide two versions of the sextant .xml file, or give instructions how to edit the .xml file to completely turn off the cloud feature using notepad ?

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by teson1 View Post
    Btw, does that FSX version work in FS9 ? I'd immediately switch.
    Absolutely. Still works in FS9, like it always did (plus the new features, of course).
    It's just that now, it also works in FSX.

    I had some serious drama on the leg from Mangareva to Easter Island, searching for the island in dense fog with a search pattern for 2.5 hours.
    It really did feel very lonely out there over the ocean, with no island apperaring out of the fog, and the fuel going down and down...
    Yeah, that final search looked like a pretty scary situation!
    Good thing you brought lots of fuel!
    BTW — I noticed all your nice LOPs drawn in on Google Earth. How'd you do that???
    I had posted a question regarding this kind of map drawing in the "Outer Marker" forum a few days ago (not the most popular forum, I know... But I guess the question is not really FS-specific, so that's why I put it there). If you know of some good tools, perhaps you could make some recommendations over there?
    Last edited by Kronzky; 04-11-2013 at 03:56 PM.

  6. #6

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    Excellent ! I'll soon try it out in FS9 then.
    The mouse zones alone are worth it already. Should make adjusting parameters easier. I've always had to hunt for the click zones.

    Don't worry, I'm following the navigation thread.
    Even been planning to copy over and add from a thread over in the MP forum where we have discussed online map services useful for for pilotage, in particular tools for Google Earth.

    I can also post a description how I plot the LOP in GE. It will be a pleasure.

    It will just take a little time. Lot of things actually going on.

  7. Default

    Very nice, kronzky. Good job! Have you published yet?
    Dave Bitzer

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    Quote Originally Posted by striker63 View Post
    Very nice, kronzky. Good job! Have you published yet?
    Hi Dave, good to hear from you!
    (For those who may not know this — Dave is the original author of this, as well as many other great and unique, gauges.

    I have published the updated version on my site, along with some tutorials, and it should show up fairly high, if you google for "FSX Sextant".
    I haven't posted it on the typical FS libraries though, as I'm still hoping to overhaul the documentation a bit.
    I do a lot of software documentation in my day job, and have a fairly good idea of what people can digest, so I had started doing a major re-write of the sometimes very overwhelming documentation. But that turned out to be more of a challenge than just rewriting the gauge itself...
    I'm about 1/3 through, and it seems there's still a few weeks of work left to do, so I have a hard time getting it done.
    It also seems there's really just a handful of people in the FS community that are actually interested in sextant navigation, so I'm not sure if it's worth to invest the extra time.

    I had also toyed with the idea of adding a minimal star lookup chart to the gauge (basically an in-game almanac), but again, with the miniscule interest in celestial navigation there may only be three people who end up using it, so that idea got shelved as well.

    But the current version (V6) is out there, and seems to be working quite well. And even people who were used to the FS9 version responded positively to the changes I made (e.g. the different mouse behaviors), so I guess I haven't confused the old-time users too much, by doing a few tweaks here and there...

  9. #9

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    For some reason, I'm not able to see any star or sun "bouncing" in or around the bubble so there is no way I can "center" the star in the bubble. (See attached pic) Therefore, I don't think I'm able to determine actual position versus assumed position correctly. Weather is set to clear skies and I'm sitting on the runway at KSHV. Anyone know why this might be happening? Seems to be a problem with all my FSX planes.

    Here are my panel.cfg entries.

    Window06=Sextant
    -------------------
    [Window06]
    Background_color=0,0,0
    size_mm=671,273
    position=1
    visible=0
    ident=18
    window_size= 0.656, 0.355
    window_pos= 0.100, 0.040

    gauge00=BB_sextant6!CH, 0,3,280,270
    gauge01=BB_sextant6!sextant, 290,0,383,273
    ---------------------------

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I have the BB_sextant6.cab file in the panel folder of the plane as well as in the main FSX gauges folder. (I also have older sextant cab files there as well - BB_sextant.cab, BB_sextant4.cab, and BB_sextant5.cab)

    And the only background bitmap I see is the brown one shown in the picture, whether it is night, day or cloudy.

    Any ideas on how to get this working properly in FSX?

    TX_3306

  10. Default

    The sun/stars will only show up in the viewfinder if your actual position is within a certain distance of the assumed position (I don't remember the exact numbers right now, but I think it is in the 200nm range).
    It looks like the main issue with your situation is that you entered the longitude value as a positive, but positions for the Western Hemisphere would have to be entered as a negative number (i.e. -93º 50').

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