Nav Lights and Beacons

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johnman

Nav Lights and Beacons

Post by johnman » Mon Feb 27, 2012 6:48 pm

Hello Simmers,

I've been modeling in FSDS 3.5 and Gmax and have a few planes ready - and am working on animation and texturing !
I'm at the point that I would like to install Nav Lites and Beacons - can't find nothing in the tutorials or forms about this - and so far I haven't been able to figure it out. The actual Light geometry doesn't even show up when I compile the model for fs 2004. Is this some thing that is not suposed to happen in Fs2004 - How about FSX ??

Any HELP !! - with animation procedures or key words would be most appreciated !!

Blind in the Night !

Johnman

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Re: Nav Lites and Beacons

Post by harkgoddammit » Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:42 pm

I'm about to do the lights for my latest mess - if you can hang on until later this evening I'll walk ya through the whole thing. :mrgreen:

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Re: Nav Lites and Beacons

Post by harkgoddammit » Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:36 pm

Sorry about the no-show, got busy & forgot all about this. I'll work up a diagram & some instructions ASAP.

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Re: Nav Lites and Beacons

Post by johnman » Thu Mar 01, 2012 3:06 pm

hey harkgoddammit,

Thanks for your reply - I have had some sucess - by going into the *.cfg file - I was able to nudge the xyz locations around so they were close. However it was a very peek and poke process.

can we actually build and install these lites in our modeling program - and pass them on with animation ??

Looking forward to your reply !!

johnman

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Re: Nav Lites and Beacons

Post by harkgoddammit » Thu Mar 01, 2012 11:40 pm

Well, you are in the right place to add lights with ease, the .CFG file.
I guess there are ways that folks apply lights in gmax, etc. - It's done one way within gmax with naming conventions for different materials that you apply to your meshes. A properly named material like Light_Land, or Light_Logo (or something to that effect) applied to a polygon or mesh will appear as lights in sim and react to cockpit switches, etc, but it's part of the MakeMDL SDK that I didn't bother with.
You can also do it in gmax with attach points by simply installing the 'Attachpoint' script in gmax, but it's designed to work for scenery, and is probably hit and miss with aircraft exports.
IMHO the best and easiest way to apply lights to your aircraft is through the .cfg file. Don't be intimidated by the apparent difficulty in adjusting those lights positions - the more you do it the better you get, and it's second nature in no time. Chances are if you're making aircraft and are ready to light and animate and all that, you'll become addicted to developing somewhat, so ya might as well get used to juggling those XYZ values into their perfect positions to light up your beautiful models.

Here's the rules: I don't believe there's any way to get any more than 19 lights showing in sim, so just be aware. (lights 0 to 18 I guess.) Those values are in feet - so you just guesstimate 'til the lights are close, then bring them into perfect position bit by bit. You will need to reload the aircraft completely in order to see any changes you make in the .CFG file as you click back and forth. The [Lights] section of your .CFG file is also for effects, so you can place afterburners and such in the same manner.
Remember to call the light the right number for the appropriate light, after the '=' sign there.
Two forward slashes are used to 'comment out' lines in the config file, there will be no effect from anything after the 'comment' marks on that line.
Also, in case you're not aware, the cockpit light effects don't show a light at all, only the effect of the light splashing light onto cockpit surfaces, so I just use a navred or something for reference to place the light where I think it will work best, then call it a cockpit light to see the effect.

First # is the longitudinal position of your effect, plus or minus being forward or aft of the center point of the model.

Second # is the lateral position of your effect. Say your wingtip navred & navgre are to sit at the end of a wing that's tip is 12.69 feet to the left & right of center. Your value in the line for the navred would be 12.69, & the opposite light would sit at -12.69. (unless I got that backwards, but you get the gist.)

The Third # is your vertical positioning of the given light or effect, again - plus or minus being above or below that center datum point.

[LIGHTS]
//Types: 1=beacon, 2=strobe, 3=navigation, 4=cockpit

light.0 = 3, -2.88, -18.11, 2.95, fx_navred
light.1 = 3, -2.88, 18.11, 2.95, fx_navgre
light.2 = 2, -3.15, -18.31, 2.95, fx_strobe
light.3 = 2, -3.15, 18.31, 2.95, fx_strobe
light.4 = 1, -20.60, 0.00, 6.33, fx_beacon
light.5 = 4, -2.27, 0.00, 1.45, fx_vclight

Hope this helps a bit, believe me, with practice it's child's play. A bit tedious play sometimes, but well worth a careful effort when you send out a nicely lit aircraft. Have fun.

Any animation or texturing questions as you go, feel free - I'm getting pretty good at this now. :wink:

...and just call me hark, lol...

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Re: Nav Lites and Beacons

Post by harkgoddammit » Thu Mar 01, 2012 11:52 pm

Done the contact points yet? When you do, set the points as lights, that's the only way to physically see where you are putting your gear or scrape points accurately. Just change the lights values to match the points you are setting as you make changes. You can 'comment' out the real lights for your model in the meantime with the slash marks until you're done the points. (//) Fun? oh boy oh boy... Actually it only gets goofy when setting gear points, the scrape points don't usually act too weird when you're new at it, or like me, too lazy too learn how to do it right. :mrgreen:
Want a real good look at the procedures with screenshots and well worded tutoring - find a file called fsplaned.zip. Probably available at some larger flightsim sites. It's an awesome .PDF. If I find it first I'll link you up. :)

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Re: Nav Lites and Beacons

Post by johnman » Fri Mar 02, 2012 3:28 am

Hello Hark,

Thanks for the Prompt and detailed reply !! - I guess my main question is - can you pick up your nav lite locations in fsds or gmax and use that info to position them in fs9 ?? - I kind of tried this when I was nudging around - but I couldn't seem to get it to work very well ??

Also I think trying the contact points - is prying the lid off a whole nother can of worms - I downloaded fsplaned.zip - it is now near the top of my todo list !

Good to talk to You !!

Johnman

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Re: Nav Lites and Beacons

Post by harkgoddammit » Fri Mar 02, 2012 3:56 am

Hiya Johnman, good to chat with you too. Yeah, sure you should be able to get your coordinates right out of the 3D program, in fact I know some people that do it that way. Just makes too much sense to me, I have to do it the hard way. :lol: :roll: I imagine it's just a matter of having your units of measurement set to feet, as I believe the xyz #'s in those [LIGHTS] lines are in feet. BEWARE of changing the units of measurement in gmax though, once your model is animated especially. The change may cause your model to kick out way out of scale on export & the subsequent rescaling required causes your animations no end of trouble in gmax. Umm, apparently there's a 'ruler' feature in gmax somewhere to assist with all this, but I never looked.

When it comes to points, as long as your wheels are sitting just right on the runway when the model's done & animated, no big deal, but don't forget that those XYZ coordinated gear points also dictate where skid marks will appear on the tarmac, & where the puffs of smoke appear when you touch your wheels down. Also, you want your wingtip to clear that building if you missed it by a hair, not 'CRASH' :wink: ..& you want it to 'CRASH' if you drive the wingtip into the skyscraper side. Your scrape points become pretty critical to your model's realism. Do it right and you'll get sparks from wingtip & tail strikes, etc. It's great to have the sparks coming from the right place when you bust your front gear when landing and slide down the runway on your nose.
The gear points are a little trickier than the simple light effects, but are placed in the identical manner. Anyways, we'll talk if you need points pointers, have fun lighting up your creations. 8)

EDIT: BTW - I'm lighting my latest starfighter this evening. Taking a break from it right now, to get some sleep. I know it's time for a break when I start moving almost perfectly placed lights way out of position after working on it for an hour! =D> #-o :lol:

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Re: Nav Lites and Beacons

Post by johnman » Fri Mar 02, 2012 4:34 am

Hey Hark,

any way I could see Your starfighter ??

Johnman

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Re: Nav Lites and Beacons

Post by harkgoddammit » Fri Mar 02, 2012 11:28 am

It's called the Hammerhawk & there's a work in progress thread on it in the 'Add-ons developers' topic on our main forum page here. You can get a really good idea of what it's gonna look like, but if you hold on for a few days she's SO almost ready to release! =P~

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Re: Nav Lites and Beacons

Post by nazca_steve » Sat Mar 03, 2012 6:16 pm

Great thread here, wish I'd have seen this a few years ago! After a lot of trial and error, you do indeed end up sussing it out and it does become like second nature. One thing I have noticed though is that the Z coordinate does not seem to work properly in Smoke systems part of the cfg, but you can control this via the z offset in the actual effect file...sometimes!

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Re: Nav Lites and Beacons

Post by harkgoddammit » Sun Mar 04, 2012 11:22 pm

Yeah, no fun when that xyz thang doesn't do what you're used to it doing in the [LIGHTS] & [CONTACT_POINTS] sections of the AIRCRAFT.cfg files when you try it for [SMOKESYSTEM]. I'll never get those hours back. #-o
Last edited by harkgoddammit on Sun Mar 04, 2012 11:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Nav Lites and Beacons

Post by nazca_steve » Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:03 am

Lol, seriously...don't even attempt to total up the amount of hours lost in FS 'debugging' (if we can even call it that!)...it's all worth it in the end, right?

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Re: Nav Lites and Beacons

Post by johnman » Mon Mar 19, 2012 2:12 pm

Hey Guys,

I am still convinced that there is a way to animate nav lites and beacons - in Your modeling software !!

I think it has to do with changing textures on keyframes ?? - a texture for Navlite on - a texture for navlite off. Maybe it could be done with layers ??

Would this be more complicated than doing it in Fs ?? What would be the difference between a Bright texture and a texture for off ??

OK all You Masters of flight sims out there - Your shot !! - I just confused myself !!

Johnman

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Re: Nav Lites and Beacons

Post by harkgoddammit » Wed Mar 21, 2012 1:35 am

BRIGHT_ The material is bright (emits light).
LIGHT_BEACON A beacon point light is drawn, and the diffuse color is the light color.
LIGHT_STROBE A strobe point light is drawn, and the diffuse color is the light color
LIGHT_RECO A recognition point light is drawn, and the diffuse color is the light color
LIGHT_WING A wing point light is drawn, and the diffuse color is the light color.
LIGHT_LOGO A logo point light is drawn, and the diffuse color is the light color.
LIGHT_NAV A navigation point light is drawn, and the diffuse color is the light color.
LIGHT_TAXI A taxi spotlight is drawn, and the diffuse color is the light color.
LIGHT_LAND A landing spotlight is drawn, and the diffuse color is the light color.

'Kay - you asked for it, there it is, the material names for lights in gmax into FS9 as per the MakeMDL SDK. (FS9 - I know some of this has changed in FSX!)) If you don't have a few of the key FS9 SDK's you.... well - you have to have the MakeMDL SDK with it's lists of naming conventions in order to animate anything really in FS. Everything 'flightsim' in that gmax gamepack relies on naming conventions when it comes to aircraft animations and using 'specifically named materials applied to polygons' as lights within gmax, which seems to be what you have your heart set on. Have you used specific aircraft part names to make your animations come alive within FS9 yet? In order to see your landing gear or flaps, etc, work in FS the parts have to be named just so in gmax right? Same thing with materials as lights. Create a polygon (three-sided is the least you can do right, so draw a triangle poly), then creat a new material, adjust your colours with the swatcher thangs, then you name the material 'Light_Land' for instance, and a light splash will show from your aircraft in FS, in whatever direction you aimed the polygon's certain axis. Then, of course, it gets silly because you have to flip the polygon around and have the opposite direction show as the light beam direction. That's for landing lights anyway, not sure about logo lights and all that. I had a great tutorial on all this, along with a gmax file with three different coloured landing light poly's, facing the right direction and everything - if I still have it I'll find a way to get you the files.

Now, there is also some way to get really frikkin' fancy and use alpha channels in your textures which are applied to your variously named materials in order to get 'ON/OFF' activity happening in FS, and I guess it's tied into the above method somewhat, I'm a little lost on all kinds of things gmax. But now you're dealing with materials named just so, the textures named just so; with all the frikkin' suffixes just so, and I think in some cases if you want certain things to happen with your lights you have to even pay attention to the name you call the bloody colours within the materials. It just makes me crazy, maybe it'll all be gravy to you.
All I know is the BRIGHT_ named material you create in gmax, applied to your mesh, will show nice & brightly lit up in FS, without any texture even applied to it, I'll post a night shot of the engine spinners on the 'hawk. Dude, the rest of those naming conventions for lights I stayed away from, you may have a ball with 'em, but it all scares me.

To find and download the SDK's try FSDeveloper, or the FreeFlight Design Shop. You must have done the MakeMDL one in order to get models out of gmax - read those wordpad documents by Todd Laney that are included in MakeMDL, they'll open up 'ALL KINES UH CANS -O- WORMS' for ya. :mrgreen: :twisted:

If you get hung up on the naming conventions for animating parts in FS, like your gear & flaps & ailerons & all that SDK 'Lists From Hell' stuff, ask away - I'm all over that like Oprah on a baked ham. :mrgreen:

Sumbitch, I think we're in the wrong section of the forum for this stuff.

ALLLOOOOoo...

ALLLLOOOOoooo...

Anyone...?

:D

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Re: Nav Lights and Beacons

Post by rd » Sat Mar 24, 2012 1:05 pm

:evil: :oops: :oops:

@$#%&*#$ Stupid freaking Mod control sucks. Tried to get this moved into "Effects", and did.... almost. Looks like you have to GO to the 2nd page and add it as well. Freaking stupid.

My apologies guys for screwing up the thread. If johnman and Hark could somehow re-do what they had found and made, I and others would appreciate it. I did try to get to the second page just to copy and paste it, but no joy.

I hate this Mod control, not user friendly AT ALL!!!! :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

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Re: Nav Lights and Beacons

Post by johnman » Sat Mar 24, 2012 2:11 pm

Hey rd,

Could you remove My last post - I havn't figgured out how to load a *.doc file with Pics.

I'll repost as soon as I get'r goin.

Hey bud, look at the menu down under here ▼ "upload attachment" .

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Re: Nav Lights and Beacons

Post by mel wilson » Sat Mar 24, 2012 4:15 pm

rd wrote::evil: :oops: :oops:

@$#%&*#$ Stupid freaking Mod control sucks. Tried to get this moved into "Effects", and did.... almost. Looks like you have to GO to the 2nd page and add it as well. Freaking stupid.

My apologies guys for screwing up the thread. If johnman and Hark could somehow re-do what they had found and made, I and others would appreciate it. I did try to get to the second page just to copy and paste it, but no joy.

I hate this Mod control, not user friendly AT ALL!!!! :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

RD
Thanks RD, I tried and failed, stuff like that was so much easier in the old days, why fix something that aint broke. Also deleted Johnman's post as requested, at least managed to that .... :?

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Re: Nav Lights and Beacons

Post by johnman » Sat Mar 24, 2012 5:06 pm

Hey rd,

Guess what I found lingering on my desktop - maybe I can get it to work this time ??

Hey Hark,

BAAAZINGAAAH !! - OOH great obikanobi – You have done it again !!!! – Beacon Lights – Nav Lights – Strobe Lights – they are all SHINNING !! . I’m shickled Pink !!

You will never believe what dumb ass – Me – was trying to do !! – I was trying to ( Picture This) animate the nav lites ?? as in a keyframe animation – key frame zero nav lite off ( texture #1 ) keyframe 100 – navlite on ( texture #2 ) ??? does that make sense to anybody out there ( including Me ) ?? I was applying the magic words to everything but a " material " !!

OK here is what I did ounce the light bulb in my little pea brain went on ! A. create a light ( nav light – Beacon LIte – Strobe lite ) geometry – and apply the appropriate color. B. Create a material – call it ( Light_Nav - Light_Strobe – or Light_Beacon ) – C. create a Plane and place it directly in the path of the light – and D. apply Your material to it ! Bazingah – You have a light located where You want it and the color You want it and it works with the panel switches !! All from within Your modeling software.

You do have to fiddle a little bit with the planes – but it is no worse than the X, Y, Z athon in the aircraft.cfg file.

Actually Pivot Points and Animation have not been a major problem so far – Heirarchy however – is a whole Nother story – I can manage to completely reduce a perfectly good airplane to a huge pole of Junk with Heirarchy !!

Each Plateau is another battle – As Luke Skywalker ounce said – “Where’d all these Dam Indians come from”

Note on the Pics :

Shot A. Fs NIght Shot with all LIghts Glarring !!

Shot B. Fs Day Shot with all LIghts Glarring !!

Shot C. Modeling Software Shot of Right Wing Nav and Strobe Lites - and Planes (Polygons ) with LIght_Nav - and Light_Strobe "Materials" Applied !

Shot D. Beacon Lite and Plane - and Planes for the Tail Lite - and Strobe Lite

Pretty neat Hey !

LIfe is so short - and victorys so insignificant - ROCK ON SIMM'IN !!

Johnman
Attachments
Me334_NavStrobeBeacon_FsNite.jpg
Me334_NavStrobeBeacon_FsDay.jpg
Me334_NavLIte_LIght_Nav.jpg
Me334_Beacon _LIght_Beacon.jpg

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Re: Nav Lights and Beacons

Post by harkgoddammit » Sun Mar 25, 2012 5:53 am

Lol- I can't remember what all I wrote after this, I was just surprised that he took my general ramblings about the little bits I remembered (sorta) from the makeMDL SDK and made all his lights work. I had never tried any of that stuff beyond the Light_Land tag, & I usually ended up with a little light keyhole underneath my plane, it drove me nuts. Mind you, the landing light one is a bit different, a light point isn't drawn, it's a beam or whatever they call it in Make MDL land.
I'm fairly busy trying to wrap up some worthy projects for release, but I should really post a few quick and dirty tutorials on maybe basic animations and basic texturing for aircraft in gmax. You can pick from umpteen ways to lay a texture onto your plane, but there is some tried and true little workflow thangs that will keep gmax from laughing at you if you're careful and diligent and all that. gmax is pretty darn powerful and effective, and the learning curve part can take a fair bit of trial and error. You guys may remember me having to figure out how to manipulate pivot points in order to get jet spinners to stay inside the friggin' engine housing and rotate on that proper axis instead of looking like mini carousels going round and round parallel to the ground. That was the first few times I made an aircraft, but it wasn't long ago that I went through that again because of some stupid thing I did in gmax that I didn't even know I did. It gives your brain a little nudge to problem solve.
Okay, this isn't the first time I've promised, or at least expressed interest in knocking out a few tutorials, I promise one decent one by the end of the weekend. :wink: ...and I'll look up some trusted tutorials & sites and link you up too.

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Re: Nav Lights and Beacons

Post by johnman » Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:45 pm

Hey Hark,

Good to see that You picked up on the transition here ! Looking forward to Your worthy Projects - releases - and future tutorials . Maybe something on panals - or contact points ??

Had a bit of an epithany here recently - I downloaded an airplane - beautyfull machine - flys good - nice textures - guess what ?? - the navlites - and strobe lites didn't work !! hehehe - however - armed with the wealth of knowlege gained from just reading this thread - I was able to reconfigure the Lights section of the aircraft.cfg file - and swap out their lights - with the Fs lights - and made the miracle happen ??

[lights]
//#1=beacon #2=strobe #3=nav #4=cockpit #5=landing
//#6=taxi #7=recog #8=wing #9=logo #10=cabin
//index,type, long, lat, vert, fx_filename
//-------------------------------------------------
light.0= 3, -12.43, 18.7, -0.82, fx_navred // fx_SF86_steadyg <==
light.1= 3, -25.55, 0.10, 1.81, fx_navwhi // fx_SF86_steadyw <==
light.2= 3, -12.43, -18.7, -0.82, fx_navgre // fx_SF86_steadyr <==
light.3= 2, -12.43, 18.7, -0.82, fx_strobe // fx_SF86_flashg <==
light.4= 2, -25.55, 0.10, 1.81, fx_strobe // fx_SF86_flashw <==
light.5= 2, -12.43, -18.7, -0.82, fx_strobe // fx_SF86_flashr <==
light.6= 5, 8.60, -0.55, -2.10, fx_SF86_landing
light.7= 5, 8.60, 0.55, -2.10, fx_SF86_landing
light.11=1, 0.60, 0.00, 0.00, fx_beacon // fx_SF86_Firepower3 <==
// JR gun flashes

Sometimes I amaze even myself with new found knowlege !!

Johnman

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Re: Nav Lights and Beacons

Post by harkgoddammit » Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:25 pm

Aww YE-ah! If it's not broke, use a bigger hammer. Lol, it is fun stuff, eh? Sometimes when I'm blindly tweaking the aerodynamics, etc, on some creation - I feel like a virtual designer/engineer/mechanic, all powerful and wise. It's a great illusion until gmax catches wind of my cockiness and brings me down a peg next time in. #-o

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Re: Nav Lights and Beacons

Post by harkgoddammit » Mon Mar 26, 2012 4:08 am

Okay, I shouldn't promise stuff by the end of the weekend. I'm well into a tutorial introducing folks to gmax, and building and animating a simple landing gear set, but I want to do it right and I'll need another few nights. I'll manage to hook a few people on the 3D stuff hopefully, or at least make some stuff clear to folks that are wading the gmax waters. Got a starfighter to wrap up too. :wink:

When you're ready, let me know. I'll make a sticky in the developers forum for your Tutes. (lol... was going to put "toots, as in flatulance.) :twisted: RD

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Re: Nav Lights and Beacons

Post by johnman » Thu Apr 26, 2012 1:46 pm

Hey Guys,

I posted this in the Boogie Man thread - and I thought it good to add it in on Nav Lites and Beacons !

Well I’ve been busy on “Precious” – jumped in and Lit’er Up – and Pretty much worked out the Nose Gear – Still need to do the steering arm – but have the scissors links done ! – Not yet animated.

Going back to the NavLights and Beacons Thread – The Lights on the Wing Tips and the Rotating Beacon – I entered in the Aircraft.cfg File – The Strobe Lite and Tail Light on the Rudder – I had to use the Light_Nav and Light_Strobe Materials – so I could link them to the Rudder. I try to use the Light_yadayada materials only as needed for moving parts - because like on strobe lites - or Rotating Beacons - it really slows down the Flash Rate - but still very usable !!

This is the first time I have done Landing and Taxi Lights – Basically I used a Cone – Detached the End Polygon – and applied the Light_Taxi or Light_Land To it. – Really happy how they turned out.

Note : Don't forget the Light takes the Diffuse color of the Material !

Gonna work on animating the Nose Gear next – that aught to be a Hoot ! – then a Panel – Way New Territory for Me ! - and Hark - I'm sure animating the nose gear and prop are going to be a real ipithiny or me !! :=}}}

Johnman
Attachments
Cessna152LandingLIghts.jpg
Actually - use a Cylinder and collaspe one end - better structure
Cessna152LightsDawn.jpg
Lite'er up Precious !!
Cessna152LightsRear.jpg
Tail Light follows Rudder
Cessna152LightsFront.jpg
Like them Landing Lights !

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