So another tutorial on FS stuff. This is just a basic guide brought by SurClaro, and by no means should it be taken as an endorsement of Microsoft or any add-ons developers. Use of this tutorial is at the user’s discretion and I will not be held responsible for any damage to software or hardware.
Don’t worry…it won’t do any harm…
Chapter One – Installing Aircraft
I found a really simple way to install aircraft and I hope you find it easy as well. Most often we get our aircraft files in a zip format. We then need to ‘unzip’, or extract these files and install them in our Flight Simulator aircraft folder. Any aircraft we install must always go in the FS2XXX/Aircraft folder. Sometimes there are other files included in the package like gauges or effects files. These need to go in folders other than the aircraft folder and I’ll describe this as we go along.
So let’s start with a simple install. Here’s what I do…
I have a separate folder for almost everything that I do:
FS2004 Scenery etc.etc.
So I download ‘eastern_747-100.zip’ into my FS2004 Downloads folder. Now I need to unzip or extract the files in it and install them into the appropriate folders.
Once I have it downloaded, I right click on the file and choose ‘extract files…’
Rather than change the folder to where I unzip it to…I just unzip it into the FS2004 Downloads folder. That way, if I don’t like it, I delete the two files ‘eastern_747-100.zip’ and ‘eastern_747-100’. If I decide to keep it, I just delete the unzipped file and keep the original and burn it onto a DVD/CD later.
Now all I do is open up the unzipped folder ‘eastern_747-100’ by clicking on it and it shows me this:
Now click on the Eastern folder again…
Wow…now we see the heart of the file. This is what you need to look at to make sure all parts are there. You must always have the following folders/files in order for the aircraft to work in FS…
Model – contains the model that the textures are applied to
Panel – contains the panel the aircraft will use or an alias to another panel in your FS2XXXX/Aircraft folder.
Sound – contains the sounds the aircraft will use or an alias to another sound in your FS2XXXX/Aircraft folder.
Texture - Or Texture.delta, Texture.british airways etc.
(For multiple textures/liveries explanations see Chapter Two for details)
The ‘air file’ (747-200PW.air) –contains flight dynamics info
aircraft.cfg – contains livery setup info, ATC, FS and flight dynamics and other parameters that we can edit if we need to.
You will find the readme, copyright, description files here as well as some pic's of the aircraft. Delete the pic’s if you want when installing but never delete the copyright/license files. So the folders and files all look pretty good for this add-on so let’s install it. Now here’s a trick…at this view where you can see all of the files we just talked about…all you need to do is click your ‘back’ or ‘up one folder’ button ONCE.
Then you will see this again:
All you have to do now is click and drag this folder over to your FS2XXX/Aircraft folder.
That’s it…its installed. If the developer has done their job correctly…you should be able to start FS, find that aircraft and start flying. If not…I’ll explain how to troubleshoot in Chapter Two.
Now say the download of the Eastern has effects and gauge folders. Well that is simple as well. After you have unzipped the eastern_747-200 folder, navigate until you see the folders marked ‘Effects’ or ‘Gauges’.
Now all you do is open up each folder and copy/paste the effects files to FS2XXX/Effects folder and the gauges to the FS2XXX/Gauges folder. If you are asked to ‘overwrite’, never overwrite an older version over a new one so compare the date/time stamps on the both files when asked to overwrite and if the one you are pasting is older than the one on your system…don’t overwrite! Another precaution is when copy/pasting gauges…leave the folder structure of the folder being copied as is. In other words, if the gauges folder shows you the gauges and some other folders as well…copy/paste them as they are. Do not open up the secondary folders and copy/paste from them into your main FS2xxx/Gauges folder. And note…NEVER unzip or extract cab files. They have the extension cab like ‘747-400.cab’. Just copy/paste them as they are.
That’s it really to installing aircraft! Now we all know we will get bored of them and want to have different liveries on them so I’ll keep typing away here as you read on and we’ll go through how to install textures!
Chapter Two – Installing Textures
Installing textures is quite easy as well. The basic concept is that we are putting a new ‘skin’ on an existing model. All we need to do is add this skin to the folder of the aircraft we wish to install it in, and then edit the aircraft.cfg file of that aircraft so it knows:
There is a really easy way to do this…so let’s get to it!
We’ll use the default Boeing 737-400 as an example as everyone has this when they install Flight Simulator. Open up the b737_400 folder. There you will see the standard model,panel,sound etc. folders as well as the aircraft.cfg, Boeing737-400 air file and maybe some checklists for it as well.
Now, notice the multiple texture folders? Those are the skins for the default 737 namely, World Travel,Soar etc. Let’s say we found a ‘World Travel’ texture for the 737-400 and want to install it. No problem…here we go…
Just like we did with the install of the aircraft, it’s almost the same procedure for installing a texture. We download a zipped file, extract it and then place the files/folders in the proper place. So using our imagination…say we downloaded the World Travel texture file and have unzipped it and are now ready to install it. We take the folder called Texture.4 and put it in the 737_400 folder. If there was already a folder called “Texture.4” then the one we install would have to be renamed something else otherwise Windows will overwrite the original we already have! So if that happens to you, just rename the one you unzipped to something unique like “Texture.WorldT” or something PRIOR to moving it into the folder of the aircraft you are installing it to. Remember…its Texture – not Textures so be very careful when you rename it. Oh, and it must have a period after texture.
So, we’ve moved the Texture.4 folder over to our default 737_400 folder. Now, we need to let FS know that it’s been added and the only way to do that is to edit the aircraft.cfg of the 737-400. Sometimes, the developer has included the entry you need to make when installing a texture. All you have to do is copy/paste it into the aircraft.cfg. I don’t use them as there is a possibility of error, or if you are like me, you have different models than they have which means that the texture won’t display properly or at all. So this is what I do…open up the aircraft.cfg of the 737-400 with Notepad. Look for the text that starts off with [fltsim.0].
This is the first texture and must always start off with ‘0’. Any textures added after that follow in numerical sequence.
Now, select all of the text from [fltsim.0] to the end of the entries for that texture.
Right click to copy, then select an area under the last installed texture (in this case the last texture would have been Texture.3 or [fltsim.3]) and paste it underneath the last texture.
Change the [fltsim.0] to [fltsim.4]. Great! Now let’s go line by line for the rest of the entries to make sure that this texture will work correctly in FS.
[fltsim.4] –This is the sequence of numbers that define which texture was installed first to last.
title=Boeing 737-400 Paint4 – Used by FS in AI Traffic identification and other programs like FlightSimManager to identify the Aircraft. These titles are always unique in that no two are alike.
sim=Boeing737-400 – this is the airfile. It has to be the first name of the airfile exactly as it is installed i.e. ‘Boeing737-400.air’. All we do is leave the ‘.air’ part out.
model= - if this is blank then FS just looks in the model folder and loads up whatever is in there. Sometimes we have different models like vc for virtual cockpit or reflective for using a reflective model. Whichever you choose, make sure there is a folder for that model ie. If you want to use the virtual cockpit model, then you must have a folder installed that says ‘model.vc’. Just like texture folders.
panel= - folder where the panel is. Again, if this is blank then FS goes to the folder and loads up whatever is there.
sound= - same as panel entry
texture=4 – this is where you have to be careful. The texture folder says: Texture.4. We enter whatever is after the ‘period’. So if the texture folder was Texture.WorldT this entry would be: texture=WorldT You can rename your texture folders to whatever you wish…as long as you change the entry here.
kb_checklists=Boeing737-400_check –checklist when you hit F10 in FS
kb_reference=Boeing737-400_ref – reference file when you hit F10 in FS
atc_id=N737T – Registration # of the aircraft
atc_airline=World Travel - Airline
atc_flight_number=1123 – Flight number…call it whatever you want
ui_manufacturer=Boeing – This is what you see your aircraft under when you go to select it in ‘create flight’ menu in FS.
ui_type="737-400" – Same as above, what you see when you select the model type in FS
ui_variation="World Travel Airlines" – Description of the livery when you select the paint scheme (livery) in FS.
The rest is just general description of the aircraft, model, painters, designers etc. Leave it as is. That’s it! Once you have changed the entries, save the aircraft.cfg, boot up FS and check it out!!
Remember, you must install textures that are applicable to the aircraft. You can’t put the body of a Honda Civic on an Acura NSX. It has to be the same model and type. Also, by using the ‘alias function’, you can save yourself a lot of disc space. Aliasing can be used for Panels and Sounds. Simple really, say you want to use a really sweet panel that you have off a Skynet 737 add-on for the default 737-400. Go to your panel folder in the default 737_400 folder. Open up the panel.cfg with Notepad and enter the following:
Skynet737-400 is the folder name of the aircraft I want to use the panel from. Whatever the folder name of the aircraft is, enter it and add ‘\panel’ and that’s it! Same goes for sound files. Open up the sound folder of the aircraft you want to change, edit and add the entry:
Now that aircraft will use the Skynet sound. No need to copy/paste over large amounts of files. If you already have a panel or sound you like but want to just try out something from another aircraft then use this procedure:
Go to the folder of the aircraft’s panel or sound folder you want to change. Rename the panel.cfg or sound.cfg to panel.OLD or sound.OLD. Now FS won’t use it, but it’s still there. Make a new panel/sound.cfg with notepad and then make the alias entries as above. Test out the panel or sound. Don’t like it? No problem. Delete the new panel/sound/cfg you just made, and rename the panel.old or sound.old to panel.cfg or sound.cfg. Now it’s back to normal.
There are automatic installers that some people use for their repaint packages. These usually come as a file names "setup.exe" or "install.exe". If programmed correctly, they will install everything in it's proper place. But as is the case with developers, they may miss something or the installer may not work correctly on your system. If you want to manually install the files for packages such as these then install the setup.exe to a 'temp' folder somewhere on your hard drive, and manually move all the files to their respective folders. Some of the newer addons like Flight1's Level D Simulations packages have an excellent texture install process. They use one file for the textures package designed for their format only. This file is put in their Flight1/downloads folder, and using their Repaint Manager, it install everything for you flawlessly! I'm thinking that this will probably be the wave of the future...
That’s it. Now you know how to install aircraft with minimal fuss, as well as textures. You also know how to conserve disc space using the ‘alias’ function. Hope this makes things easier for all of ya…
Like to thank Gonzalo at Surclaro for the hosting of this Tutorial, Max from Flight Sim Pro for the HTML version, Groundsquirrel for continuity tips and the gang at Surclaro.com. Happy flying!
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