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Old 04-01-2018, 01:46 AM   #1
Cobra847
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Default ** DCS F-14 March Mini-Update! **





Dear All,

We’d like to wish you all a very happy easter weekend!

Since our last update, we’ve been working hard on finalizing several high level systems and fulfilling major milestones due in March.
We’ve reached many of our goals, but full completion of our March roadmap was hampered by a variety of factors, and a higher than expected non-development task loading.
None of these really come as a surprise in a dynamic development environment; but it does mean that we’ve had to burn the midnight oil and have had to spend much less time than expected on updating you on our progress - and especially so with fancy eye candy.

In detail, some of the progress made in March revolves around the following areas:

AN/ARC-182 & AN/ARC-159 Radios:
While these have been partially done for a long time, we’ve now gone back and brought these systems to full completion. Specifically, we’ve added:
  • The ability to read channel presets from mission settings and set these presets in the cockpit.

  • Synchronized remote displays between front and rear cockpits (each crew member only controls one radio, but receives readouts for both).

  • Completed the intercom and audio warning system, including four independent sound amplifiers and volume controls for different sound sources. Not all tones are generated by default at both stations, but a crew member can listen to the tones from the other cockpit by selecting different sound amplifier.
  • New failure states for each radios and associated transmission/receiving equipment.
One important aspect of DCS multiplayer is communication, and we decided to invest time into making the F-14 radios fully Simple Radio capable out of the box, with ICS, Radio transmission/receiving, pre-defined channels and KY-28 encryption all integrating with and communicating with SimpleRadio. Hot and Cold mic positions are supported for the intercom systems, and the SimpleRadio plugin functions are fully controllable through the F-14 cockpit.

Our hope is, that those of you running SimpleRadio in our squadrons and multiplayer environments will find the experience of transitioning to the F-14 smooth and painless, especially on the communication front. Special thanks to Ciribob, the creator of SRS for being supportive in ensuring smooth F-14 SRS support!

New F-110 Engine Model:
In late February, we revealed that we’ve been working on an entirely new, modularized jet propulsion model for the F-14 and future projects. If you haven’t read that update; you can find it here: https://forums.eagle.ru/showthread.php?t=203063

Since then, we’ve continued work on our engine model and integrating it into the F-14.

Minor engine updates include improvements to the afterburner fuel control and additional AFTC functionality.
Over the next few weeks, AFTC functionality such as RATS and Asymmetric Thrust limiting will be completed, as well as implementation of the last minor engine-related cockpit animations such as warning lights. After that, off-nominal cases such as flame out, compressor stall and battle damage will be added, essentially bringing the engine model to a fully complete state.

Major updates completed include implementing inlet spillage and lip suction (haha) drag effects based on real F-14 inlet wind tunnel test data.
This spillage drag/lip suction effect can be thought of as the force generated by air that the engine/inlet cannot ingest and must be “pushed” out of the way or around the sides of the inlet cowl, the profile drag of the cowl itself, and the friction drag of the air passing through the inlet duct and its interaction with the AICS ramp surfaces. Inlet drag is a function of mach, streamtube capture area, engine air mass flow (aka power setting), and AICS ramp position.

This drag data allowed the team to compute highly accurate installed net thrust, which in turn revealed that some previous FM drag tuning which slightly deviated from wind tunnel data was no longer needed. Level flight acceleration, fuel burn, and top speeds are now very close to published values.
Thrust is at the heart of any fighter jet - and ensuring accurate engine performance within a few percent of stated values is incredibly important to us.

We’ll go into much more detail on our engine simulation in upcoming videos.
New Kneeboard Functionality:
In order to facilitate the changing of various aircraft parameters while on the ground near ground crew, we decided to implement an “interactive” kneeboard to help you tweak these settings in a multiplayer environment. In particular; you can configure things like laser codes, M61 Vulcan gun burst lengths and KY encryption keys.
These settings will only be available near ground crew (or on the carrier) - and of course in the mission editor.
Navigation:
During the last month, we’ve entirely revised our modeling of the F-14’s INS (Inertial Navigation System) and associated subsystems.

This includes an overhaul of the INS (AN/ASN-92) and associated AWG-9, CSDC, AHRS and CADC functions.
In particular, we’ve also created an entirely new model for the IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) which will offer a far more authentic simulation of limited precision of the INS.

We’ll be elaborating on this system next week.

Tying in with the Navigation system is a lot of finalization work on the navigation features of the RIO-centric user interfaces in the rear cockpit.
The F-14 includes plenty of complex and useful navigational functionality that will allow you, together as a crew, to better strike targets and fly your missions.
Much of this work mirrors functionality found in e.g. the Viggen; but turned up to 11 and involving many more subsystems (such as A-A radar and TCS).
Sound:
As the Artwork development process for the F-14 begins to draw to a close; we’ve now begun the process of designing the final soundscape of the F-14 module, starting with the F-110 engined F-14B.

Both the F-14B and -A will use fully authentic sounds, recorded directly from the appropriate engine type.
We’ve also sourced real, in-service F-14 sounds for everything from canopy sounds, engine starts, avionics and anything else you can think of giving off audible cues during aircraft operation.
While scanning and researching the F-14’s we had access to in the United States, we took the opportunity to record practically every single switch, level or control in the cockpit.

While we’re fairly satisfied with the audio design in the Viggen module (bar some bugs!) - we believe we can do much better, and we aim to make the F-14’s soundscape, both inside and out, the best yet.

Here’s a quick, heavily work in progress video of the exterior soundsets!

One of our main objectives in March has been to complete the tuning and tweaking of our Flight Model.
March has seen great focus on refining our low and high speed handling, and coaxing out unique flight characteristics at the edge of or beyond the standard flight envelope, such as aileron rolling reversal at appropriate angles of attack and lateral rudder usefulness at similar flight envelopes. It sounds like we’re repeating ourselves, and that’s because we are.
Tweaking and tuning a flightmodel is an incredibly time intensive and long process - hence it will likely continue right up until the day of release.

Getting the unique characteristics of the F-14 just right has required us to work closely with F-14 subject matter experts.
To date, we've had the pleasure of having worked with three F-14A pilots, one F-14B and D pilot, and three F-14 RIOs, in order to cover all of our bases.
Last year, we even flew over to the United States, to give a US Navy commander a hands on session with our F-14. The latest round of changes have been heavily based on feedback from our SMEs, and we have to tread the careful ground between maintaining performance figures reflecting the published documentation, as well as recreating the characteristics as described by our expert contacts.

Another big item on our list that has been worked on in March has been appropriate aerodynamic damage effects on the flight model.
Generally this is fairly straightforward - flight surfaces can be damaged or fall off, and the ensuing effects need to be appropriately modeled.
While straightforward, it is still time consuming, and this will continue to be worked on as we head into April.

In general, however, we consider the flight model to be practically release ready. This represents a massive milestone for the project and is the “beginning of the end” of 3 years of intensive flight modeling work. Strip away all of the avionics, radar, weapons systems, and graphics - and you’ll still be left with what can easily be called the crowning achievement of our F-14: the flight model.

The footage below is very raw and rough. It was originally intended to be a part of Episode II of the flight model highlight - but we’ve decided to just put it out as is instead due to a lack of time.
The aircraft is an F-14B equipped with our new F110 engine simulation. Enjoy a very dirty (Ew, Chromecat) look at how powerful the Tomcat really is, and some quick footage of low speed high altitude handling and subsequent acceleration:



Concurrently with everything else, work continues on the heart of the F-14’s combat capability; the AWG-9, TID and associated systems and subsystems.
There really is practically too much to list here, with work progressing on both AA and A2G functionality (though, the former, is practically complete from an early access standpoint).
Everything from targeting systems, HUD/TID/ECMD modes and readouts, datalink, radar, RWR, ECM, weapon combinations, LANTIRN, pylons/adapters has been worked on in March.

We’re again, confident in the F-14 launching in a very complete state. As ‘boring’ of a conclusion that is in an update like this - the depth of our simulation come release shall be excellent.

Much of the current work is also tied in with the aforementioned updates to our navigational systems and logic.
In the context of weapons systems, this is mainly relevant to datalink and target waypoints.
All in all - the F-14 as a development process is beginning to wrap up.
We’re late, but making the tough decisions last year to not only rebuild all of the artwork, but also to invest more into adding authenticity and breadth to the avionics and systems is paying off in spades. The extra time has allowed us to source new and exciting documentation that has filled any and all remaining gaps for us.

To give you an unfiltered insider’s look into just how much work goes on behind the scenes, here’s a look at just the F-14 code repository alone over the course of 10 days:



Major items remaining prior to release currently are as follows:
  • Completing the new cockpit and exterior, and the merge of the release branch of the Tomcat (and deprecating the placeholder Chromecat - we won’t miss it!)
  • Finalization of the new engine model, navigation systems and some other (relatively) minor parts; such as the ALR-67.
  • Final tuning of flight model.
  • Bugfixing!
  • Brushing the dust away and preparing for the rise of the Phoenix by stocking up on champagne.

We presently believe that the next 90 days will see most, if not all, of these major and minor items to be resolved, leaving us within touching distance of launching.
We’re keeping our fingers crossed and our coffee pots plentiful.


As always, thanks for your support and patience. Apologies for this update dropping so late in March and still being based on the Chromecat branch; but we’ve had to prioritize hitting development milestones over sticking to our planned PR roadmap. We had hoped to update you before the very end of the month. I’ll leave you with one more video; this time of a simple valley run and CCIP (Or, Computer/Pilot as it is known in the F-14). Featuring your first few glimpses at Jester AI!



Enjoy the F-18 livestream tomorrow!

Sincerely,
HB, F-14 Team



__________________
Nicholas Dackard

Founder & Lead Artist
Heatblur Simulations

https://www.facebook.com/heatblur/

Last edited by Cobra847; 04-01-2018 at 07:00 AM.
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