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Sky Dolly

Sky Dolly records and replays your flights. The flight data ("simulation variables") is automatically persisted in a logbook which allows you to sort and filter your recorded flights. Various import and export formats such as GPX, KML, JSON or IGC ("international gliding organisation")...

Über

Sky Dolly - The Black Sheep for your Flight Recordings

About

Sky Dolly records and replays simulation variables such as the aircraft position and attitute and basic flight controls such as rudder, ailerons, elevators, flaps and gear position. The record frequency can be specified (and even changed during recording), in order to minimise the amount of recorded data. An "auto" sample rate records values as they become available (for each "simulated frame" event). The replay speed ("slow motion", "timelapse") can also be adjusted.

This external application connects with the flight simulator via the SimConnect API, a standard API introduced with FSX back in the days.

Smooth Replay

Note that thanks to an interpolation algorithm even low sampling rates such as 1 Hz result in smooth replay, especially for airliners. For "acrobatic flying" the "auto" sample rate is recommended, in order to accurately capture every flight maneuver.

Formation Flights

Sky Dolly can replay flights with multiple aircraft ("formation"). The number of aircraft is technically unlimited, but possibly limited by CPU, RAM and especially your patience. But flights with 30+ aircraft do not seem to slow down the system.

During recording the previously recorded aircraft are replayed - so you know exactly where your aircraft is in relation to the formation flight.

"Multiplayer formation flights" are supported by adding the imported CSV aircraft data to an existing flight. Each aircraft can then manually synchronised (depending on when each pilot hit the "Record" button) with the other aircraft, by adding or subtracting a time offset.

Import & Export Plugins

Various file formats can be imported or exported:

  • CSV (import & export, including formats from flightradar24.com and Flight Recorder and a simple "position & attitude" format)
  • IGC (International Gliding Commission - import & export)
  • KLM (import for flightaware.com, flightradar24.com and generic KML, Google Earth export)
  • GPX (import and export of the GPS exchange format)
  • JSON (GeoJSON export)

Preview Release

Note that this is an early pre-release version 0.12. While it should run stable and all its present features should work as intended it is far from feature complete. Release 0.12 provides a new module plugin architecture and a new Location module that allows to capture and teleport to locations. Coordinates can also be copy & pasted (with CTRL + V) into the Location module table.

Database Backup and Optimisation

Database backups can be automatically scheduled (once per month, once per week, never, ...) and are done after exiting the Sky Dolly application (where they may also be skipped). Before migration an update is also done. All backup options are now in the File | Logbook Settings... dialog.

By default the backup databases will be located in the same folder as the original "logbook", in a "Backups" subfolder, but can be changed when the Backup dialog shows up.

As flights are recorded and deleted the database file may grow considerably. Unused file space will be reclaimed at some point (by SQLite), but in case many flights have been deleted the database file can be optimised, by the "Optimise" command located in the File menu.

Earlier Releases

In case you want to still use the previous Sky Dolly versions (e.g. 0.10 or 0.11) you may download all previous releases from the github release page (the ZIP archives are identical to the one available here).

Source Code

The source code may be found at:

  https://github.com/till213/SkyDolly

Additional usage information (README) and a complete CHANGELOG is also available in the github.com source repository. You may want to compute the SHA-256 checksum of your downloaded ZIP archive and compare it against the SHA-256 checksums published on github.com, to verify the file integrity of your downloaded copy.

Reporting Problems

Problems can be reported here:

  https://github.com/till213/SkyDolly/issues

A free github.com account is required though. "Small issues" may also be mentioned in the comment section below.

Installation

  • Unzip the ZIP archive to any location of your choice
  • Run SkyDolly.exe
  • Optional: you may associate Sky Dolly "logbooks" (files with the extension *.sdlog) with the Sky Dolly application:
    • in File Explorer: right-click on the logbook file and choose "Open with..."
    • Select the SkyDolly.exe application
    • Make sure to enable the "Always open with..." checkbox
    • The default logbook is located at: "c:\Users\[Your Username]\Documents\Sky Dolly\"
    • One the *.sdlog files are "associated" with Sky Dolly you can double-click on those files and a new Sky Dolly instance will start and open the selected logbook

Basic Usage

  • Start a flight in Flight Simulator 2020
  • In Sky Dolly, press the "Record" (key R) button
  • Stop the recording (either hit key R again, or ESC for "stop")
  • Press the "Play" button (spacebar)
  • Seek the play position (left and right arrow keys, page up/page down keys)
  • Adjust recording sample rates in the settings menu (also during recording)
  • Show flight information (key F)
    • Hint: press the same key F again to close the flight information dialog
  • Show the recorded "simulation variables" (key V)
    • Same here: press key V again to close the simulation variables dialog
  • Minimise the user interface (key M)
    • Hint: Before you minimise the user interface you may also want to hide the replay speed group, in the View menu
    • As the "minimal UI" as a "fixed layout" the replay speed group currently cannot be shown/hidden once in this "minimal UI" mode
  • Switch between the various modules with the function keys (F1, F2, F3, ...).
Load a Flight
  • Select the desired flight in the logbook
  • Press the "Load" button (or double-click the row)
  • Note: double-clicking its "Title" column will edit the title
Add Aircraft to Existing Flight ("Formation Flying")
  • Switch to the Formation module (press F2)
  • For each aircraft to be recorded press the "Record" button (press R): the plus (+) sign in the button icon indicates that aircraft will be added to the existing flight
  • That's it!

Note again that the existing aircraft will be replayed during recording, so you know exactly where to fly ;)

  • To start a new flight simply switch back to the Logbook module (press F1) and press the record button

You may optionally load an existing flight in the Logbook module before switching to the Formation module. Once all aircraft have been added start replay, pause and seek in the timeline as usual.

  • Aircraft may be deleted from a flight (but which keeps at least one aircraft)
  • The last recorded aircraft becomes the "user aircraft" (the one being followed with the camera in MSFS)
  • Before adding a new aircraft you may set its position relative to the current "user aircraft"
  • You may switch the "user aircraft" at any time - also during replay!
  • Want to fly for yourself together with the formation? Simply select the "Take control" option in order to take control of the recorded user aircraft. Or choose the "Fly with Formation" to join the formation with the currently loaded user aircraft (so you can also join "single aircraft formations" in an ad-hoc manner).
Recommendations
  • Disable "crash detection" and "engine/stress failure" options in Flight Simulator 2020 for replay

Known Issues

Import
  • Flights imported from flightaware.com (KML) or flightradar24.com (CSV, KML) often have altitudes not aligned with the MSFS scenery, so aircraft either are below or above the runway when taking off or landing. This is still an open issue and not yet addressed by the most recent v0.12.0 release, but it will be addressed together with extended "flight augmentation" in an upcoming release ("still on the roadmap")
  • In general while error handling of mal-formed imort files is in place the actual error messages are extremly "generic": "File could not be imported". More detailed error messages may be added in a future update, but for now:
    • Make sure that you have selected the proper "flavour" (data source) for a given format
    • For instance depending on whether a KML file comes from flightaware.com or flightradar24.com the position data is stored in different "KML elements"
    • The generic KML format tries to find a "track" element, but if no such track element is present then the same generic "File could not be imported" error message will be shown (for now)
    • In general: if no "position data" (latitude, longitude, optionally altitude) could be found the generic error message will be shown (and also if a "parser error" due to a malformed document is encountered, e.g. an expected number is not in the expected format etc.)
replay recorder flightpath kml igc csv logbook gpx geojson
Details
Kompatibilität
Sim Update 11 1 0
Kategorie
Applications
Erstveröffentlichung
February 28, 2021
Zuletzt aktualisiert
4 month(s) ago — 0.12.0

Version

0.12.0

Dateigröße

28.33 MB

Downloads

27,411

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  • Aktualisiert auf Version 0.12.0

  • Aktualisiert auf Version 0.11.1

  • Aktualisiert auf Version 0.10.0

  • Aktualisiert auf Version 0.9.0

  • Aktualisiert auf Version 0.8.6

  • Aktualisiert auf Version 0.8.5

  • Initial File Release

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© Steeler - All rights reserved. Jeglicher Re-Upload oder Weitervertrieb dieser Datei ohne vorherige schriftliche Zustimmung des Autors ist untersagt. Diese Flight Simulator 2020 Mod wurde erstellt von Steeler and shared in Utilities » Applications für Microsoft Flight Simulator.



415 Kommentare
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Pilot100

7 day(s) ago / Gedankt von Steeler

Thanks for this excellent application, could I ask where the record files are stored physically? I also wonder how the export works - I could not get this to work.

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vizipok

10 day(s) ago / Gedankt von Steeler

Thank you!

Hi, I just used this tool in 2 aircraft

  • Heavy Division Mod B787-X and everything works flawlessly
  • FBW A20N its not recorded (Flap/ Reverse thrust/Spoiler)

What I'm doing wrong here.

I will try next Salty B747-8 and PMDG 737-800 and update my comments

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alelo

22 day(s) ago / Gedankt von Steeler

Heya, this works amazingly however how I'm not sure how to export this as a video file. How do i get this as a standalone clip that I Could share?

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AGE

27 day(s) ago / Gedankt von Steeler

Many thanks to the author! I love shooting videos in MSFS. Tested all replay utilities, including paid ones. But Skydolly was above all! Recently updated hardware, you can say the top. So when capturing in 4K, Skydolly is just super!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKTRTKZwPko

great but now the sim jerks as soon as I put the replay

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jojodarthvader

1 month(s) ago / Gedankt von Steeler

so, everytime i come in for a landing i get some pretty serious lag spikes, i only get these spikes while using skydolly, is there any way to fix it? The mod is great otherwise, great ui.

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wanchaibanzai

1 month(s) ago / Gedankt von Steeler

Game changer...This really is brilliant - it's the cat's whiskers, the dogs...yeah....It's just excellent. Thank you ! I credited you at the end of the following video - 8 aircraft - absolutely amazing ! Thanks again...simPaul flights https://youtu.be/Ud40JH3WJxQ

Thank you for this replay tool -- it's fun to watch my flight from different angles without worrying about flying. One question about replaying as a tool to practice landings:

I was trying to load up an approach and landing to practice (with PMDG 737). Recorded fine. I could take control of the yoke. However, throttle would not work, neither would the autopilot or VNAV/LNAV/HDG switches, etc. and I also could not see any data on the FMC (like my ILS, glide slope, etc). Will the FMC not work on the replay?

If this is the third-party limitations with custom simulations? If so, okay. Just wondering how best to practice my landings! Thank you again!

I replayed a landing on the CRJ but noticed that none of the animations for my lights, flaps, spoilers engaged . Is there something I need to do manually? Shouldn't it record all the animations?

Update 10?

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jorgemrtz

2 month(s) ago / Gedankt von Steeler

Congrats for the amazing plugin! I can not get flaps and gear to work with pmdg 738. Variables show it well but the plane doesnt. Am I doing something wrong or it is not implemented yet? Thanks!

Does this record lights on aircraft if i turn them on and off ?

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kabouter_plons

3 month(s) ago / Gedankt von Steeler

Great tool!. I use it often.

A little tip. Please do not state the version number in the root folder name, but use a consistent name and state the version number in a text file in the directory. I (and many with me) use Addons Linker and have to change the link in it every time due to the name change.

Also a ruper addon of course!

thanks,

Fer

Can I use this as an autosave tool, insurance against CTDs?

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Dreamsofwings

3 month(s) ago / Gedankt von Steeler

Firstly what a great tool! Exactly what I was looking for to use in video work. One question which you might be able to help with. When replaying an air display and viewing from the ground the aircraft seems to disappear at an very unnatural distance. Do you know if there is any way of winding out this distance? I appreciate that this is something in MSFS rather than Sky Dolly and the way LOD is set up in it but asking just in case this is something you have experience of.

Thanks again for a great tool!

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chiwi

3 month(s) ago / Gedankt von Steeler

Thank you very much for your great work

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nrich37

3 month(s) ago / Gedankt von Steeler

Great replay addon! Was wondering why flight controls are inverted? I’m working on an F-22 demo video and it seems the flight controls are inverted (left when turning right, down when pitching up etc) is there a fix to this? Thanks!

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Pilot39

3 month(s) ago / Gedankt von Steeler

It is a nice program to replay your flights or to fly in formation. However when I replay the flight it is lagging extremely. My flightim runs smoothly during the replay but Sky Dolly updates the position of the aircraft only every 2 secs which makes the replay unusable. Between those 2 secs the flightsim plays smoothly. Is it related with the perfect Replay Seek and Recording frequency settings or with something else?

Just a heads up but it this doesn't seem to work with the Fenix A320 at the moment. Other than that it works perfectly for everything else I have flown




Roadmap
Diese Artikel befinden sich derzeit auf der Liste und werden in Kürze bearbeitet!
Backlog
Vorschläge, Bugs und Ideen für die Zukunft.

  • Version 0.12.0 July 28, 2022

    This release brings the architecture one huge step closer to the final picture: modules are now also implemented as plugins, reducing the memory (RAM) usage even a bit further. The modules are sorted in topological order, based on their defined dependencies (order).

    New features:

    - A new Location module is introduced, allowing to teleport the aircraft to the selected coordinate
    - The current aircraft location can be captured and edited
    - A set of default Locations (currently non-editable by design) is provided
    - GPS coordinates in various formats (decimals, various DMS notations) can be pasted into the Location module with CTRL + V
    - Various attributes such as country and location type can be defined

    A few bug fixes and improvements are also included, also refer to the full https://github.com/till213/SkyDolly/blob/main/CHANGELOG.md. Sky Dolly now also compiles with the Microsoft Visual Studio 2022 compiler and is code-scanned automatically with the Microsoft C++ Code Analysis Action.

  • Version 0.11.1 May 27, 2022

    This release focuses on "quality of life" improvements, both "under the hood" as well as usability and existing feature improvements:

    - A truly minimal user interface mode, configurable in the settings
    - The Formation module features a new Set relative position option which - when unchecked - allows to keep the aircraft to be recorded at its current location
    - Improved AI object resource management, causing less aircraft flickering when e.g. changing the user aircraft in the Formation module
    - Columns in tables can now be moved
    - Less RAM usage, that is resources are released as soon as e.g. a dialog is closed
    - Additional tooltips, consistent dialog titles, alternating table row colours, confirmation dialogs before and after logbook optimisation
    - Architecture / code refactoring

    The newly introduced GeographicLib (third party, open source) converts between WGS84 reference ellipsoid and EGM2008 geoid altitudes ("undulation"), specifically in:

    - The GPX import/export plugins
    - The IGC import/export plugins

    Note that while especially the IGC format specification requires that GNSS altitudes are in relatin to the WGS84 reference ellipsoid not every IGC format may adhere to this specification. That's why for both the IGC and GPX import the altitude conversion is optional.

    Various bug fixes are also included, mostly of "cosmetic nature", but also usability related issues.

    For the complete changelog also refer to: https://github.com/till213/SkyDolly/blob/main/CHANGELOG.md

  • Version 0.10.0 April 09, 2022

    This release further improves the plugin import/export architecture and supports new import/export formats.

    New plugins

    - GeoJSON export, including style properties (interpreted e.g by https://geojson.io)
    - GPX export plugin, including the possibility to export real-world timestamps (useful for GPX "photo tagging" of screenshots taken during flight recording)

    Improvements

    - Import
    * All files (of the same format) can now be imported from the selected directory
    * Imported aircraft can be added to the same (formation) flight, or into distinct flights
    - Export:
    * File existence is now checked before overwriting existing files
    * The entire flight formation may now be exported, into separate files or - if supported - into a single file (e.g. KML and GPX)
    * All export plugins support data resampling (1 Hz, 2 Hz, 5 Hz, original data, ...)
    - The CSV plugin now supports export in [flightradar24.com](https://www.flightradar24.com/) CSV format
    - The IGC plugin now exports "K records" (every 20 seconds), including true heading (HDT) and indicated airspeed (IAS)
    - The KML export plugin does not have any line segment size limitation anymore
    - Miscellaneous
    * Various usability improvements (button shortcuts, consistent title-case for push buttons)
    * Additional selectable aircraft (selectable in file import) from the sim update 7 (F/A 18, PC-6, Pitts Special, NX Cub, Volocity)
    * Initial online help (very much work in progress)

    Bug fixes

    - The flight cereation time is now properly updated upon start of flight recording (not at the end when the flight is persisted)
    - The logbook now properly shows _simulation_ start- and end times (not local times)
    - The IGC export plugin now properly exports _simulation_ timestamps (not local timestamps)

  • Version 0.9.0 February 28, 2022

    This release provides new import and export formats and minor usability improvements.

    - New IGC (International Gliding Commission) export plugin
    - New GPX (GPS exchange format) import plugin
    - The CSV import plugin now also parses Flight Recorder and flightradar24.com CSV files
    - The KML import plugin now also parses flightradar24.com and generic KML files (having at least one <gx:Track> element)
    - The IGC import plugin now detects the "first significant movement" (minimising "erratic movements" on the ground) and turns on/off the engine (propeller) according to the environmental noise level (ENL), given a selectable noise threshold value
    - Import:
    * the aircraft selection is now editable, with autocompletion support
    * the selected aircraft is now stored in the settings
    - Logbook: the default "Delete" key now deletes the selected flight
    - Replay: a "loop replay" toggle option has been added

    Bug fixes:

    - The spoiler position is now properly displayed as percent value (in the simulation variables dialog)
    - The leading and trailing flaps are now positioned with a higher degree of precision, doing away with the "stuttering flaps noise" (especially audible in the A320neo cockpit)

  • Version 0.8.6 February 06, 2022

  • Version 0.8.5 August 18, 2021

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, FLIGHT SIMULATOR 2020!

    The Flight Simulator 2020 turns one year old.

    - As a present to the community this bug fix release contains a new KML import plugin which allows to import flight data from https://flightaware.com, in order to visualise real-world flights

    This release also fixes the following issues:

    - The dates in the logbook are now properly formated ("localisation"); they are now properly sorted, too
    - The dates in the "date selection widget" are now properly resized according to their content (month names)

Häufig Gefragt

Fragen? Finden Sie hier Ihre Lösung.

How do I install Sky Dolly?

The preview versions are provided in a simple ZIP archive for the time being. Simply unzip the archive in a folder of your choice and run the executable SkyDolly.exe.

You may want to create a "desktop shortcut": simply right-click on SkyDolly.exe and choose "Create shortcut". Move the shortcut onto your desktop and/or to the Windows start menu.

How do I replay a recorded flight?

Load the Flight

Sky Dolly automatically stores all recorded flights in the logbook (an SQLite database):

* Select a flight by left-clicking on a row in the logbook table

* Click the "Load" button

* Alternatively double-click on a row (except on the Title column which starts editing the Title of the flight)

The flight is now loaded into memory and is ready for replay.

Replay

In order for Sky Dolly to be able to send ("replay") the recorded "simulation variables" to Flight Simulator 2020 a flight must be already present.

In Flight Simulator 2020

In order to create a new flight in Flight Simulator 2020 follow the usual steps to start a new flight:

* Choose any location on the world map as either departure or arrival (*)

* Choose an aircraft, preferrably the same as with which the original flight has been recorded (**)

* Click the FLY button

* Optional: choose the desired time of day and wheather

(*) The selected location does not matter: the aircraft will be "teleported" to the proper location upon replay

(**) It is technically possibly to replay the flight with any aircraft. Note though that the exact same flight path will be taken (and wheels may seem to be "stuck" in or "float" above the runway, depending on the original aircraft height). So if you record a flight with a Cessna and replay it with an A320neo the flight will be... interesting ;)

The original aircraft with which the flight was recorded is shown in the logbook table as well in the "Flight" (press key F) dialog, under "Aircraft". That "Flight" dialog also shows the initial weather conditions, for information purposes (only).

In Sky Dolly

Now the previously loaded flight can be replayed with Sky Dolly:

* By clicking the "Play" button in Sky Dolly

* Alternatively hit the spacebar or P key

* Hitting the same key again stops the replay

* The key ESC also stops the replay (just as it also stops the recording)

If you want to load another flight simply follow the inital steps above. No need to restart the existing flight in Flight Simulator 2020. Note though that when changing location it may take a while for Flight Simulator to download / update the new terrain data. Graphical glitches are to be expected in this case.

My aircraft crashes during replay - why?

Most aircraft do not like it when they suddenly drop from 20'000 feet altitude right onto the runway upon time slider changes ;)

So it is highly recommended to disable crash, stress & engine damage in Flight Simulator 2020 prior to replay. This is because forces acting on the aircraft are still simulated during replay - and especially also during replay position seeking with the time slider.

So disable the following options in Flight Simulator 2020:

  • Assistance Options / Failure And Damage / Crash Damage -> Disabled
  • Assistance Options / Failure And Damage / Aircraft Stress Damage -> Disabled
  • Assistance Options / Failure And Damage / Engine Stress Damage -> Disabled

 

What are those "simulation variables"?

SimConnect

Sky Dolly - like most other third party applications - communicates with Flight Simulator via the official SimConnect application programming interface (API).

That API gives access to the aircraft state in the form of so-called "simulation variables". Examples of such variables are:

* Latitude / longitude / altitude

* Aircraft attitude (bank, pitch, heading)

* Gear / flaps up/down

A complete (long!) list of simulaton variables is available in the official developer documentation:

https://docs.flightsimulator.com/html/index.htm#t=Programming_Tools%2FSimVars%2FSimulation_Variables.htm

Supported Simulation Variables

In order to keep the required storage space at a minimum and improve performance by minimising the size of the request message sent to Flight Simulator during replay Sky Dolly primarily focuses on variables having the greatest "visual impact". So if a given lever or button activates a visible surface (flaps, ailerons, but also canopy or a landing hook) an attempt to record that variable is made.

Optimised Messages

During replay the previously recorded simulation variables are sent for each "simulated frame" event. In order to optimise performance (fewer messages = less CPU usage) and especially also storage requirements only those variables which have actually changed are recorded and requested during replay.

This is illustrated in the "Simulation Variables" dialog in Sky Dolly (press key V):

* The tabs represent the "simulation variable groups"

* "Inactive" variables - where the value did not change during a certain amount of time - are rendered as disabled text, indicating that they are currently not sent to Flight Simulator 2020 during replay

Note that Sky Dolly applies a clever "seek & search" algorithm which makes sure that all previously set variables are still applied, regardless of when their value has changed last and regardless of the new timeline position which has just been set. Clever :)

Known Limitations

Not all simulation variables are actually "writeable", that is, external applications such as Sky Dolly cannot modify them. Which is a precondition in order to "replay" a given variable.

In addition, not all aircraft honour those simulation variables. That is specifically true for third party aircraft. This is because some aircraft use their own set of (local) variables (for various reasons).

Other aircraft do react to simulation variable changes, but have their own local variable which "counter-acts" against the simulation variable. As Sky Dolly goes a step further - again in order to save on storage space and optimise performance - and only sends variables if their value actually changes such "counter-action" is a problem, as it "nullifies" the effect of the previously set value.

One such example is the "canopy" which either is always closed or opened again, depending on some switch in the cockpit of the given aircraft. In order to override that switch (in effect the corresponding local variable) Sky Dolly offers a "Repeat Values" setting (under File / Settings...), which - if enabled - always send the simulation variable, also if its value does not change.

Custom Simulation Systems (Third Party Aircraft)

Unfortunately one notable example of a 3rd party aircraft which ignores (or "acts weird upon") the official simulation variables is the A320neo (now renamed to A32NX) by "FlyByWire" (FBW), specifically the development version (at the time of this writing). The current 0.6 stable version should still work fine, but the current development version is implementing more and more "custom systems" which do not react upon (or even properly report) the simulation variables, as own internal "local variables" are used to model the various aircraft systems.

Unfortunately that development is "out  of reach" for Sky Dolly, and one shall see whether support for the official "simulation variables" will be (re-)added in future "stable" versions of the A32NX.

Which recording frequency ("sample rate") should I use?

Recording Frequency

Sky Dolly offers the possibility to select the desired recording frequency, or sample rate:

* File / Settings...

* Open the Recording tab

* Set the desired Record Frequency (default: "Auto")

The default setting "Auto" will automatically adjust the recording frequency to the "simulated frame" events, as reported by Flight Simulator 2020. Or in other words: the aircraft state (-> "simulation variables") is sampled every simulated frame.

So why offer the possibility of recording at rates as low as 1 Hz ("one sample per second")? Because the more samples are taken, the more work Flight Simulator 2020 needs to do (to gather the values and send the response messages via the SimConnect adapter to Sky Dolly) and the bigger the storage requirements get.

Interpolation

In any case Sky Dolly always interpolates between the recorded "sample points" with what is known as "cubic spline interpolation" (e.g. refer to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spline_interpolation as  a good starting point). "Interpolation" basically makes "educated guesses" about values between "known values" ("samples").

However it is intuitively clear that the less data we sample, the less "details" we can capture. When it comes to flying "less details" mostly affects the accuracy of the recorded flight maneuvres: if we only sample at 1 Hz a barrel roll with an (exagerated) roll rate of, say, 2 Hz (two rotations per second!) cannot possibly recorded in an accurate manner!

On the other and airlines which "mostly fly straight lines" and "slow roation movements" may be perfectly captured with a sample rate of 1 Hz only!

The following video illustrates the usage of three different recording rates and compares the results with the original captured video:

https://youtu.be/bfgkY0eXL4w

Recommendation

* When in doubt, use the "Auto" setting: this gives the best accuracy in any case (at the expense of required storage space - CPU usage is only marginally affected)

* When "long flights with airliners" are to be recorded lower the recording rate accordinly - even 1 Hz results in good results

* Note that you can dynamically change the recording rate while recording!

 

How do I manually fly with a formation?

The "Formation" module in Sky Dolly allows you to manually take control of the aircraft and join the formation.

Since Sky Dolly v0.8 there are two "formation replay modes" available, namely:

  • Take control of recorded user aircraft
  • Fly with formation

Both replay modes essentially allow you to manually fly together with the recorded aircraft(s) - the formation. The difference: in the first mode you take control of an already recorded aircraft (the one currently selected as "user aircraft"), whereas in the second "Fly with formation" mode you fly along with your currently "active" (loaded) aircraft. This means that you can also join a "single aircraft" formation (the "Take control" mode on the other hand requires at least two recorded aircraft - otherwise you'll simply fly alone again).

This is how it works in detail:

Take Control of Recorded User Aircraft

  • Load an existing flight (at least two aircraft)
  • Switch to the Formation module (press F2)
  • Select the "Take control of recorded user aircraft" replay mode (combobox bottom right)
  • Select the desired aircraft, by marking it as "User Aircraft" (double-click on the table row, or select the row and press the "Set User Aircraft" button)
  • Press "Play" (key P)

You are now in control of the previously recorded user aircraft.

Note that in this repaly mode you can switch the current "user aircraft" (the "active" aircraft being followed by the camera and being flown with the currently loaded aircraft) at any time, also during replay:

  • Select the aircraft in the table
  • Press the "Set user Aircraft" button
  • Alternatively simply double-click on the aircraft row in the table

Fly with Formation

  • Load an existing flight (at least two aircraft)
  • Switch to the Formation module (press F2)
  • Select the "Fly with formation" replay mode (combobox bottom right)
  • Select the desired user aircraft you wish to fly next to, by marking it as "User Aircraft" (see above)
  • Select the desired starting position, by clicking on one of the aircraft icons in the "Bearing" group box
  • Choose the initial vertical / horizontal distance (which is measured in "multiples of wing spans" of the selected user aircraft
  • Press "Play" (key P)

In both modes you can press the "Pause" button (or key P), which also pauses (technically: "freezes") your own manually flown aircraft. In the "Fly with formation" replay mode you can also re-position your aircraft again while paused, by simply clicking on one of the aircraft icons in the "Bearing" group box again.

Returning to Normal Replay

If you get lost you can simply select the "Formation (normal)" replay mode. This will hand back full control to Sky Dolly, over all recorded aircraft.

Sky Dolly v0.8 allows changing the tail number - but with no visible effect?

Yes, since Sky Dolly v0.8 the tail number of the recorded aircraft can be changed in the Formation module (double-click with the left mouse button on the corresponding table cell to enable edit mode).

However it is correct that this does not yet have a visible impact on the currently loaded flight in FS 2020, for two reasons:

* The tail number of the user aircraft (the one being followed by the camera in FS 2020) does not get updated (unless the flight is restarted in FS 2020)

* "AI aircraft" (in formation flights) show a white empty box instead of the tail number (that is a bug in FS 2020)

But I still decided to make the tail number editable in Sky Dolly, because it may actually work better with future releases of FS 2020.

My aircraft recorded with v0.7 (or earlier) randomly shuts down its engine with v0.8?

Why does the engine shut down?

Sky Dolly v0.8 introduced improved "is the engine running" detection and better "autostart/shutdown" support based on a new "combustion" simulation variable which is now being recorded.

For existing flights recorded with Sky Dolly v0.7 and before this simulation variable is initialised ("migrated") on a "best effort guesstimate", as follows:

  • If the thrust lever is > 0, then the combustion is initialised with 1 ("engine running")
  • If the thrust lever is "fully pulled back" (= 0) then the combustion is initialised with 0 ("engine shutdown")

Of course that implies that the engine - again, for flights recorded with v0.7 and earlier only - is now shutdown whenever the thrust levers are fully pulled back. And started again when the thrust levers are pushed forward again.

For flights recorded with Sky Dolly v0.8 the actual "combustion" value as reported by the flight simulator is recorded.

Note that all engines are started at the same time - including for flights recorded with Sky Dolly v0.8 - as soon as one engine combusts: this is because an "engine autostart" event is sent to flight simulator, which is the equivalent to "CTRL + E".

So while this does not allow a faithful replay of the actual engine startup process (specifically when multiple engines are involved) it should more reliable detect when at least one engine is running. This also works when seeking back and forth in the timeline, so "flying aircraft with dead engines" should now be a thing of the past.

Can I re-enable my engines such that they run constantly during the entire flight?

Yes, but this requires some manual steps which involve "diving into the database" (logbook), using a database browser such as:

https://sqlitebrowser.org/

  • In Sky Dolly it is recommended to first create a backup of your logbook
    • File | Logbook Settings..., choose "Next time, when exiting Sky Dolly"
  • Close Sky Dolly
    • To execute the backup
    • Also in order such that no other transaction is running on the same database while we are modifying the data in the subsequent steps
  • Launch DB Browser for SQLite
  • Open the logbook
    • Set the file filter to "All files"
    • Logbook location, see Files | Logbook Settings... in Sky Dolly
    • Default location: "c:\Users\[Your Username]\Documents\Sky Dolly\Sky Dolly.sdlog"
      • Your backups will by default be in a "Backups" subfolder in that same location
  • In the "Execute SQL" tab copy and paste the following update statement:
    • This will update the "combustion" value of all four engines to 1 ("combusted" = "running") ...
    • ... for the flight given by :id (this placeholder is to be replaced with an actual flight ID, see below)
update engine
set general_engine_combustion1 = 1,
    general_engine_combustion2 = 1,
    general_engine_combustion3 = 1,
    general_engine_combustion4 = 1
where aircraft_id in
(select a.id
 from aircraft a
 join flight f
 on a.flight_id = f.id
 where f.id = :id
);?
  • IMPORTANT: Before you execute this update statement replace the :id (including the colon) with the actual flight ID, e.g. 73
    • The flight IDs are shown in Sky Dolly, in the column "Flight" of the logbook
  • In order to persist the updated data click the "Write changes" button (top-most toolbar)
    • Or execute a commit;

That is it, the engines should now be constantly running for flight 73.

Flaps, spoilers, ailerons and/or gears are not animated during replay - why?

SimConnect

During replay Sky Dolly merely sends the previously recorded simulation variables back to MSFS (also refer to question "What are those simulation variables"). Those simulation variables represent the state of the aircraft and can be "read" and "written" via the official SimConnect API.

Third-Party Aircraft

However especially some third-party aircraft use their own custom simulation systems, e.g. for the hydraulics. Those custom simulation systems use their own set of variables (so-called "local variables") that are not accessible via the SimConnect API.

Or in other words: the official simulation variables are ignored. While they might or might not represent the actual state during recording they are not taken into account during replay.

The result: flaps or gears etc. do not move. There is nothing that can be done currently by the user.

The following third-party aircraft are known to have limited functionality, including but not limited to:

  • A32NX (FlyByWire)
  • A320 (Fenix)
  • Boeing 737 (PMDG)
  • CRJ (Aerosoft)

I do however have some idea to improve on this situation. Whether that will work sufficiently well (or at all) I can only tell once implemented and tested.

Abhängigkeiten

These add-ons may be required or recommended to use.


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