• Looking For A Tinmouse (Boeing 737-200)

    Looking For A Tinmouse II

    By Alejandro Hurtado (2 July 2008)

    When I started this series, I supposed I was going to talk just about newer, only FSX planes. But this time I'm going to write about the Tinmouse II Boeing 737-200.

    Even as I'm going to make all the usual analysis, this time I'm going to focus more in the model history and less in the real plane history. Why? Because this time I'm involved in part of the Tinmouse II history. This is going to be a long history, about business associations, art love and many other things.

    As far as I know, Tinmouse was a 737-200 model and web site made by Rich Probst. It went backrupt and, better than let all his effort go to the bit bucket, he released it as freeware. It was improved, especially in the panel area, by a team of entusiast developers, calling it the Tinmouse II project. You can find all the Tinmouse II files here: TinMouse II Boeing 737-200 (tnmsb732.zip) TinMouse II Boeing 737-200 v1.2 (tnms2v12.zip) TinMouse II Boeing 737-200 v1.21 patch (tnmsv121.zip).

    By the middle of the year 2007, Mike McCarthy posted a forum message requesting volunteers to make a team of non-profesional developers, willing to make plane models as good as the profesional ones. I was the first to answer the challenge, and so started a virtual relationship that I hope will continue for many many years.

    Of course, I was going to make the textures of a model that doesn't existed yet. I selected the airlines, developed a team livery... and sat down reading emails for weeks. Eventually, I started to design my own set of textures, a wonderful exercise for any repainter. We usually take an existing texture and repaint it. But this time I could select the size, detail, number of pieces, cockpit detail, inner complexity and many other things that are usually defined by the modelers, not for the repainters. Of course, merchandising exigences, administrative directives and even tempermental decisions where made. I was just another one in a team.

    But, by Murphy's laws, we started to develop an improvement of the Tinmouse II model, specially the panel and textures areas. It doesn't bother me, because I have always loved the Boeing 737-200. My last four plane trips had been in a -200 model, and I've released my Avior file (b737ah49.zip) thanks to this flight.

    So, once again I started to choose airlines, consulted the rest of the team, consulted you flighsimmers, and elected five liveries: Ryanair, fsOC (our livery), Southwest, Aerolineas Argentinas and Aloha N73711. Having finished the first two, something unexpected happened.

    Sadly, by December 2007, the fsOC project ended. I released the only two finished, freeware textures (txt03ah.zip and txt04ah.zip) as a tribute to the team.

    If you are going to install the plane, remember to copy all the folders and files in the corresponding places. It includes a file called B732adv.gau, wich can be found in the fsfsconv\panel.b732adv folder, and wich is supposed to be in the \gauges folder. You must copy the FSSound.dll file inside the modules folder, and enable the Flight Simulator to use it when entering in. If the airspeed indicator doesn't work, you need to upgrade the FSUIPC.DLL to the version 3.70 or later. It must be installed in the modules folder too, and activated via the in-flight FS panel. You can find the latest version in the Peter Dowson page. You can register or not, as you wish.

    The original file includes six textures for cargo and passenger versions, all with great detail, but for this review I'll install my own RyanAir texture. Once everything is installed and running, we will start making a walk-around. The plane is well detailed, with some rain streaks from the windows and a very real aspect. If you are a repainter, you have very detailed textures to work with, and some model and engine variations to play with. The wings, fuselage and all the textures are well aged and with many details, looking very realistic.

    The panel is VERY detailed, not for beginners. It's not the default panel, for sure! You must open the fuel pumps before flight, for example. In fact, all the usual keyboard commands are better entered via the control panel. For example, deploying the flaps with F7 will not work. Instead, you must open the central panel with shift-4 and pull the flaps level down with the mouse. Same after liftoff, F5 is useless. Forgetting this detail will set on the "wrong configuration" horn.

    The sound section is very good, with a copilot giving you the V1 and Vr speeds, the low altitude warnings and so on. The look of the "office" is good, with all the eight cockpit views very realistic. The plane has a 1970's panel, so, even as you can open the GPS, you still need to fly the plane with heading and altitude holdings. Or at least, I have to. I was using the original panel, but there are some upgrades available in the flighsim library. There is no VC, but I think it's not a great loss. You can adjust the weight of each passenger row, and there is a little extra fuel tank, just one gallon, maybe for the APU. The plane has some minor failures, like a small darkening on the top of the cockpit in some external positions and the need to reconfigure all the panels again each time you reload the flight, but just don't save the game in mid-flight (after all, the real pilots doesn't park in the sky for a dinner!)

    The ground handling is easy, and the plane is easy to fly too. I can't give you maximun horizontal speed, or climbing speed, because I think there are numbers that even the real Boeing 737-200 pilots doesn't know. The plane climbs at 250 knots under 10,000 feet, and there is a maximum speed limit with a horn warning. Stable, not a fighter but not a brick either. Just a gentle plane that can carry you to any place in the world inside its radius and flight parameters.

    About FSX? Well, I readed that the plane works fine, but the panel doesn't. Even so, there is a FSUIPC.DLL version made for FSX. Maybe FSX with SP2 gill give a problem, maybe not. The first plane I reviewed, the P-40B, has a problem with the wheels after installing SP2. Mark Rooks wrote me that there is a solution, but he didn't write me what it is, and his firewall now sends me back my emails. Mark, will you tell me the solution so I can write it?

    My verdict? If you are an expert simmer, and you know how to install and configure some details, the plane is worth the time and effort. If not, just install the default panel and fly this beauty anyway.

    Alejandro Hurtado
    [email protected]

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