SIMSTRUMENTATION - Free MSFS Instruments for Air Manager

WHO WE ARE

Simstrumentaton is the result of @FLRob27 and I (@Crunchmeister71) teaming up with @Toddimus831 to pool our efforts to develop an entire, realistic, and functional suite of instruments for the Working Title CJ4. We also want to thank and credit @HPuukka for some helpful input, ideas and contributions to this project.

WHAT WE DO

Sim Innovations’ Air Manager is an amazing tool. It’s been around for X-Plane, FSX, P3D, and AeroFlyFS for several years now. While there are a lot of MSFS 2020 compatible generic instruments, the selection of specific instruments for specific planes offered in MSFS is lacking.

We love MSFS, and love to fly the various planes. As we find the need for instruments for a particular plane, we build them for ourselves and then share them with the community at large, free of charge. There’s little point in building these for ourselves and keeping them private when so many others in the community could be enjoying them also.

Our goal is to fill that gap and create awesome instruments that match the look and feel of specific MSFS planes and hopefully add cool new features not normally seen in Air Manager instruments. We’ve already added the first cool feature to our CJ4 instruments. Keep reading for more information!

INSTRUMENT SUITE FOR THE WORKING TITLE CJ4

Version 1 of our CJ4 instruments have been available for some time on mine and Rob’s Google drives initially, then our GitHub. While functional, the graphics quality was questionable, not very homogenous (using screen shots from the sim) and relied heavily on Mobiflight to get instruments to work.

Our most recent suite of CJ4 instruments Version 2 have been completely redesigned with fresh, custom graphics, and use native sim commands instead of requiring Mobiflight. They’ve been redesigned, improved and had new features added, including…

NIGHT LIGHTING THAT FOLLOWS AMBIENT LIGHT IN THE SIM!!

When using the optional CJ4 Ambient Light Dimming control and setting it to AUTO mode, the panels will adjust to the ambient light conditions in the sim and lighten or darken over time. There’s no jarring switch from light to dark. The lighting is completely smooth and seamless, transitioning from one state to another unnoticeably. This is a completely new feature for AM instruments! Due to a brilliant script coded by @Toddimus831 which takes into account time, date, latitude, longitude, altitude, and a multitude of other variables, we’re able to calculate ambient lighting in the sim and brighten or dim the cockpit to match.

All our CJ4 panels also have back lighting that is controlled by the dimmer knob on the light control panel either in our Air Manager light panel or from the knob in the virtual cockpit. We will likely be bringing this feature forward to other planes as we create full cockpits for them.

OTHER INSTRUMENTS / PLANES

There are a collection of instruments and controls for various other planes available as well. You could previously find some of those on my Google drive. They have now been rolled into the Simstrumentation project and are available from our GitHub page.

New instruments for other planes will be added over time as need arises and time permits.

THE FUTURE

The first big step is to sumbit the new v2.x suite of CJ4 instruments to the Air Manager Community Store. We’ve released them to the public here first in order to get feedback and any bug reports. It’s easier for us to fix that before submitting. When / if approved, our instruments will be natively available directly in Air Manager requiring no downloads from GitHub in order to get updates.

Over time, our other instruments which are currently still using game screen shots for graphics will be re-drawn with custom graphics and will also be submitted to the store for inclusion in AM as free community instruments.

DOWNLOADS

Our instruments can be found at our GitHub page here: https://github.com/Simstrumentation/Air-Manager

CONTRIBUTIONS

If you feel you can add to this project with either panel programming skills or are interested in contributing art / graphics, please let us know. None of us are artists in any way. It’s amazing these instruments turned out as well as they did considering our collective lack of graphic design skills. Having an actual artist as part of the team would be invaluable!

Or alternatively, if you want to contribute to the project to create instruments, please let us know.

THE TEAM

Core Team

Contributors

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Wonderful, what a great work, will give it a try in the evening. You are brilliant, how did you manage in that short time?
Regards,
Herbert

1 Like

It’s the work of 3 people over several weeks with the goal of delivering a great user experience. And of course, your ideas, contributions, help with variables, suggestions, etc was well appreciated, good sir.

I’m still in amazement at Todd’s ambient light dimming code. I was looking through it and I thought it was going to give me an aneurism. It’s fantastic! I think the curve still needs a little tweaking (it’s going to take a while to dial it in just right), but it works incredibly well. Dim the lights in the room as you fly, and you get a wonderful immersive experience of “being there” as your instrument panels darken and brighten along with ambient light in the sim.

I’m glad that the heavy lifting is done. We’ll likely find small bugs, make minor improvements, etc over the next short while, but I’m glad we’re done and that I can kick back and actually enjoy the fruits of our collective labours.

1 Like

This is fantastic!

As you stated, the pannels available within AM as of now leave allot to be diesred, but at least there were a few options. You’ve created some brilliant pannels in the past and your new setup with the CJ4 looks increadible!

Thank you @Crunchmeister71 and team for not only putting this together, but sharing it with the community. It will certainly enhance my immersion.

However, this should come as no surprise for anyone who has interacted with @Crunchmeister71 who is always more than willing to help and share what he knows.

He was a tremendoud help behind the scenes (DM’s) in getting my setup going!

3 Likes

@FLRob27 and @Toddimus831 are the ones that deserve the real praise here as far as I’m concerned. I did some coding and was involved in all parts of dev process, planning, etc but my primary job in this V2 of the instruments was the graphics work. They did the heavy coding and are the ones that made these products what they are in terms of functionality.

As for Air Manager, fully made panels that are compatible with MSFS are still few and far between. However, there are hundreds of MSFS compatible instruments and controls. You just have to build them into your own panels. The problem is that a large number of those are more generic instruments - steam guages in various styles for various planes. Generic brake or landing gear levers, etc. There’s little in terms of specific instruments crafted for specific planes outside of the popular Cessnas or Beechcraft for MSFS.

I don’t know what’s next for us in particular. I’d like to make a few more instruments for the Mooney, and possibly a nice switch panel for the Bonanza. Perhaps some instruments for the SR22 as well. I know I’ve been eyeing up the DA62 for a while. There are zero AM instruments or controls available for that plane, and due to its unique layout, generic controls don’t work well.

Time will tell where this goes.

3 Likes

This is awesome work. thank you both for sharing your skills with the community… :+1: :grinning:

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Air Manager is a great program. why is it that there aren’t many community panels or even premium panels available on Sim innovations site for MSFS 2020?

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Panels are tough. They tend to only work well on monitors of a particular size. And people have different monitor sizes.

If you look, for example, at the community C172 panel. If you’re running that on a 22" or larger monitor, it’s pretty much true to life size-wise. Running it on a 15" monitor, it’s illegible and you can’t accurately touch buttons. The GNS530 buttons are useless unless you have tiny fingers. And the display itself will be minuscule.

With a G1000 panel - running it on a 22" monitor, you can run the bezel at about 700 pixels in height, and it will appear to be the same size as a real life G1000. And you’ll still have 1/3 of your screen real estate free under your G1000 and a bunch of space to the side(s). On a 15" monitor, you need to run it at 1080 pixels in height to get that same result. It takes up 100% of your vertical space and about 85% of your horizontal space. Doesn’t leave room for much of anything else.

So basically, full panels are really a hit or miss thing.

As an example with our own CJ4 instruments, @HPuukka (I borrowed your pic to illustrate my point) can fit everything on a single large touch screen and it’s completely usable.

In my case, I have 2 15.6" monitors, and iPad and a 9" Android in order to fit everything.

Granted, I could fit the light panel and trim / engine panel on the second 15.6" screen (I used to have it that way before), but I had to reduce the size of the FMS in order to fit, which made buttons smaller and harder to hit accurately. Especially with my fat fingers. lol

Anyway, that was long-winded, but I hope it explains why panels are really not something people bother making for the public for the most part.

1 Like

I’m running the new panels now and WOW, just BRAVO guys this is so awesome!! This is such next level immersion, really appreciate your efforts on this. My only wish list would be to add the 3 light switches on the cockpit ceiling if it’s possible, but no biggie at all! I’m also curious if there’s any trick as to how you guys line up your PFD/MFD/MCDU pop out screens into the overlays, it’s always a time consuming trial and error process for me, sometimes I lose the window bar behind the panel and have to start over hah, and I do have “click through” enabled in AM but it doesn’t let me grab the window bar once it’s hidden. Nothing I’m too concerned with though considering how AWESOME the end result is, thanks again!!

2 Likes

Thank you. I think I speak for all involved saying we’re happy to hear you’re enjoying our new CJ4 toys. :slight_smile: We wanted this to be as immersive as possible - not just removing the mice from our cockpits, but also giving us the proper visual look with ambient light dimming. I think we did pretty well overall, adding a new dimension to AM instruments that haven’t been seen before. At least not done like this…

Rob originally wanted to add those. I personally thought it was a waste of time, so it’s basically my fault those light controls aren’t there. My reasoning was that it’s just a matter of time before we get the ability to hide the virtual cockpit altogether. And most folks with cockpit setups will likely do that once the option is available, making those dials redundant. Perhaps we’ll consider adding them at some point in the future if enough people want it.

There are still a few controls on the lower left panel that need to be added at some point. They’re just not critical to operation of the plane in its current state. But I’m sure at some point we’ll complete them, and when we do, we can potentially do the cabin light dials as well.

Look into a tool called FancyZones that comes with the WIndows 10 Power Toys (google will take you to the GitHub for it. It’s Microsoft produced tools). That allows you to define areas on your monitor(s) that you can then shift+drag windows into and they resize automatically to fit. It’s a bit of a pain to initially set up, but once you have it, it makes placing windows simple.

And you can save 10 diferent window layouts, so you can save them for multiple planes.

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As far as pop out position, has anyone tried this?

Seen it, but haven’t tried it yet as my current solution with FancyZones works perfectly and I can save 10 different layout profiles that are easily accessible with Start + (1-0).

It seems clunky to me from what I’ve seen, but if it works, it works, I guess. To be clear, I’m not crapping on this guy’s work. It just seems to be an awkward solution to a simple problem for which an elegant solution already exists.

2 Likes

Because for the past year or so the MSFS platform has been a mess when it comes to external interfacing. It’s still not anywhere near the level of Xplane when it comes to instrument or panel development and I doubt it ever will be. However the recent improvements have made possible more stuff. I’m lucky enough to see first hand what’s recently arrived and what is coming from the community so over time you will see more and more compatible instruments. Anyone can contribute so if something you want is not available muck in and make it.

I don’t know about that one as I haven’t got round to trying it yet. I did however try the originator of that threads version and it is absolutely brilliant. I’m just waiting for him to add per aircraft position saving and he is also talking about auto pop out as well. Judging by how simple it is to setup and use it will make every other solution look clunky once it gets these additional couple of features. Load your plane and boom popouts appear in the correct positions and with the correct size without you doing a thing. It will be sweet. Shame Asobo didn’t see the sense to include it out of the box.

If somebody developed this sort of external panel for the FBW 320NX (at least partially, only the MCDU would already be great) I would be the happiest man in the World…
xD

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I commend you on the work so far with these and look forward to looking them over in a bit more detail. I’ve had a quick look at a few of them like you asked and I’ll pm you with what I’ve seen so far. I love the enthusiasm for these and you have every right to feel that sense of accomplishment. I’m not sure the ambient lighting feature is as new or grounding breaking as you may think. As you know I have been incorporating dynamically changing ambient lighting effects in my instruments and panels for a long time now. I like that others have realised the added immersion this brings. Interesting to see what aircraft you go with next.

A32NX is being worked on by some so they will come for sure. Just today 4 new ones for the store. Not uploaded yet but coming soon.

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Sneak peek.

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AW… this is great!! tnx guys… I luv Air Manager for my 2d panels in my pit. Im headed to your hub now… JU52 maybe? lol

Very helpful info, I will certainly look into it, thanks again!