Sky Dolly v0.16 - Free Flight Recorder & Replay, Location Management

In the meantime I have also tested the F-18 from Asobo.
It also has the problem described.
Just like the Gripen from Deimos.
It remains: FBW when active, on all aircraft.

Hmmm, that‘s weird! What you describe sounds exactly like the problem that should have been addressed by Sky Dolly v0.14 (CHANGELOG): the problem was caused by the „PID controller“ respectively seemingly a bug in MSFS itself that caused the PID controller to „counter-act“ the „simulation variable input“. The issue was caused when recording and sending back the rotation velocity in (the physically actually correct unit) „radians per second“. MSFS seems to expect „feet per second“ here (and I only stumbled over this because the Simvar Watcher example app from the MSFS SDK doesn‘t even let you choose „radians per second“).

The solution was simply not to record the rotation velocity at all anymore. And yes, the PID controller only takes control once airborne, that‘s why I specifically tested this both on ground and especially in the air. Also with the stock Asobo F/A-18 (because I had initial reports there).

The only difference from what you describe is that this bug affected all primary control surfaces, including rudder and elevators - according to your description only the elevators seems to be affected, so I understand.

In any case I will take another look at this with the F/A-18 and stock A320 (I don‘t own any of the other aircraft that you‘ve mentioned).

Thanks for letting me know!

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Uhhhhh…Ahhhhh

You’re right.
I was too lazy with the updates. I’ve now got the latest version and everything is fine there.
You have my full admiration for your patience with the constant changes to the sim for no apparent reason. Developing add-on content for such a system must be a nightmare. Especially if you don’t make any money with it.
Anyway, thanksalot for your work and sorry for the confusion.

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Sky Dolly v0.16 “Gregarious Gee Bee” (v0.16) has just been released. This release introduces new features like new Sky Dolly logbook import & export plugins, including automated time offset calculation for formation flights.

Time offsets? What is this good for? This allows to synchronise your formation aircraft, recorded on multiple PCs by several different “live players”. Or to re-create a “busy airport day” by importing and time-synchronising real-world flights from e.g. flightradar24.com or flightaware.com.

Synchronising Live Player Formation Flights

Each formation aircraft has always had its own time offset, allowing to manually move it into the future or past, relative to all other formation aircraft. With the new time synchronisation option (available for all import formats that support real-world timestamps, such as the Sky Dolly logbook) this synchronisation can now be automated:

  • None - no synchronisation is done
  • Time - synchronisation based on time of day (but ignoring the date)
  • Date and time - synchronisation based on date and time

Both Time and Date and time synchronisation have proper time zone support.

The option Time (only) is useful e.g. if you wanted to import several historic real-world flights from different dates, but still want to have them replayed “on the same day” - unless of course you enjoy watching replays with a runtime greater than 24 hours. But hey, why not :wink:

But how would you create a formation flight with several “live players”?

  • Each pilot records his or her flight on a dedicated PC, running its own Sky Dolly instance, flying together in some MSFS “live session” and trying to push the “Record” button more or less at the same time
  • This results in recordings starting at slightly different times, of course, with a delay up to minutes (or possibly even longer)
  • After all pilots have finished their recordings they export their flights as Sky Dolly logbook (*.sdlog)
  • One selected pilot now collects all those recordings (best via some file sharing/synchronisation service like OneDrive), stores them in a given directory and imports them “in one go”:
    • Import directory: checked
    • Import: Add to new flight (alternatively: Add to current flight)
    • Time synchronisation: Date and time (for all practical purposes Time (only) synchronisation should have the same outcome)

That’s it! All aircraft are now part of a new (or the current) flight and are properly time-synchronised. Just like at the time of recording the “live players”-formation (or “community”) flight.

For all other new features also refer to the CHANGELOG on github.com.

Sky Dolly in the Top 10

In the meantime Sky Dolly has been voted to be in the Top 10 Freeware Addons - again!

On the ninth place, to be specific.

Quote: “Considering the features and quality of Sky Dolly I would recommend it over any other paid addon for recording and replaying your flights.”

Thank you so much!

Shared with kind permission from the author, @Q8Pilot8814. Also check out his other excellent MSFS videos on his Youtube channel.

Happy flying!

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I do unfortunately have som issues with SkyDolly; such as engines halting at replay and buttons I cant switch (in cockpit) suddenly while recording. Also some gear-problems etc.

Kia Ora!

Since release “Dapper Daher” (v0.13) Sky Dolly is also able to import & export locations in the Little Navmap userpoint CSV format.

In the meantime Rysatko has added all New Zealand (World Update 12) locations to the Little Navmap - MSFS POI database, freely available on flightsim.to.

With a few simple steps you can import those New Zealand POIs into the Location module of Sky Dolly:

Next:

  • Launch Sky Dolly
  • Choose File | Location Import | CSV (Comma-Separated Values)
  • Select the following options:
    • Select World_Update_12_New_Zeland.csv (or any other CSV file from the previously extracted folder)
    • Format: Little Navmap
    • Default country (optional): New Zealand

And that’s that!

You can now activate the Location module (press key F3) and immediatelly teleport to any POI in New Zealand!

Bug Fix Release 0.16.2

Unfortunately the newly introduced CSV parser in Sky Dolly 0.14 introduced a regression in that its validation was a bit too strict: CSV files without header could not be imported anymore. This has now been fixed in the just released 0.16.2 bug fix release.

For issues related (mostly) with 3rd-party aircraft please have a look at the Frequently Asked section on Sky Dolly for Microsoft Flight Simulator | MSFS (you may have to search for that link a little bit on that page - unfortunately I cannot give a direct link), in short: aircraft with custom simulation logic do not properly report / react to the official “simulation variables”, as they use their own “local (custom) variables”.

That you cannot activate switches during recording is completely new to me however: Sky Dolly simply requests a set of those simulation variables (“read-only”), but does not otherwise “interfere” with any simulation logic during recording.

For more specific support you may also create an issue here (free github.com account required):

Please share additional information there (not here in the forum), such as the exact aircraft type, which controls are not working during recording, whether you might have any other 3rd-party addons that might interact with MSFS via SimConnect at the same time etc.

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Hi Guys,

Anyone know if this is possible with sky dolly or any other app?

To automaticly record flights? The app starts with MSFS and closes and records all flights done?

Cheers

You can already achieve the autostart (keyword: exe.xml configuration file), but not - yet - the auto-recording.

Refer to one of the more recent comment replies of mine:

(Question asked by user e3ne3n three days ago)

Dear all,

Every then and when I get questions here in the forum or over at flightsim.to that can essentially summarised as “what does Sky Dolly actually record?”, or more generally: “How does recording / replay work?”

But to first address another elephant in the room: “Yes, Sky Dolly is still in the makings” Development has slowed down somewhat in the last three months, because I changed my job - life happens :wink: But as I write those lines I have been adding some more code to the upcoming v0.17.

Don’t expect anything big this time around, as this will be more of a “refinment release”, polishing existing functionality and smaller issues and ideas that have been reported/suggested by community members - thank you all for your support!

Now for the questions: the latest specific question that I have received was:

“Does Sky Dolly capture and replay smoke from tires upon landing?”

Similar questions that I have received in the past were related to audio, whether Sky Dolly would record that, too.

And the answer to all those questions is a simple: “No.”

So how does it work then? Sky Dolly (and other flight recording software) records a selected set of what is known as “simulation variables”: they represent the state the simulation and the aircraft is in at any moment in (simulation) time. Those variables are part of the official SimConnect API that has been introduced back in the days with Flight Simulator X and continues to be supported by MSFS today.

The “simulation variables” represent all sorts of states, for instance:

  • Aircraft position and attitude (= as a result of the user input and simulated physics)
  • Control input: yoke, rudder and the resulitng ailerons postions, flaps, spoilers, …
  • Animation states: cockpit open/closed, …
  • Environment: temperature, wind directions, time of day, …

Not all variables can be modified, as they are a result of the calculated physics, based on other simulation variables. And to make things a bit more complicated: not all aircraft properly report (support) those “simulation variables”, let alone properly react to changes in them (but that’s another topic, for another time ;)).

So what does Sky Dolly record then? A selected set of those variables that have “the (biggest) impact on the visual representation of the recorded flight”. So for sure the exact position and attitude, but also “visual clues” such as flap/brakes/ailerons/… settings (“pilot input”). Also light switches and other “visually relevant cockpit switches” are recorded.

The exact set of those “simulation variables” can be seen in Sky Dolly, by opening the “Simulation Variables” (sic!) dialog (e.g. by pressing key V):

The variables are grouped: more or less in the same groups that Sky Dolly uses to communicate with the flight simulator. “Why is that so?” you may ask: because that’s a clever way to minimise both the required disk usage and CPU usage while replaying those variables to MSFS. Only those values that are actually changing are recorded (= less disk usage) and sent back to MSFS during replay (= less CPU usage).

For instance the gears are typically only raised and lowered once during a flight. So it would be a waste of disk space/CPU to always send a “gears up” value to MSFS. (And yet this all works magically when you seek back and forth at any time during replay ;)).

So to narrow down on the specific question, whether “gear smoke” or “audio effects” are recorded: again, no. They are the result of the above simulation variables being replayed to MSFS - or not. While most of the physics keeps running during replay (instead of you giving control input it is now Sky Dolly) every physics simulation that would affect the aircraft position and attitude is disabled during replay. Otherwise the MSFS physics would constantly “fight” the injected aircraft position and attitude, for every “simulated frame” - and the result would be a “jittery user aircraft” (there is another known issue related to “jittery AI aircraft”, aka “formation flying”: but that is yet another topic and not directly related to “physics fighting recorded position”).

Because of “position / attitude” physics are disabled - by design - it could be that some “visual effects” are not triggered (simluated) as they usually would. Also keep in mind that since we are only recording a subset of all possible simulation variables the simulation during replay is not 100% the same as when you recorded the flight. So slight simulation alterations may cause some effects to be ignored (or vice versa, you keep hearing warning signals that weren’t heard during recording).

I am still looking into recording more “simulation variables” that could have a “significant (visual) effect” on the replay, for instance I am looking into payload weights and fuel that incluences the display of external ordinance / tanks on some aircraft, such as the F-16. Also, I intend to completely re-engineer the recording of the engines: as you know MSFS now supports a total of 16 engines.

And to conclude: Sky Dolly also records some “read-only” simulation variables, but those are “for your information only”, as can be seen in the “Flight” (press key F) dialog:

I hope that answers some of the questions :slight_smile:

Happy flying!

P.S. Pro tip: hover the mouse over any of the above simulation variable text boxes and you will see the exact “simulation variable” name, as used via SimConnect and documented here:

https://docs.flightsimulator.com/html/Programming_Tools/SimVars/Simulation_Variables.htm

And if you want to experiment yourself, there is a simple “Simvar Watcher” example application that comes with the MSFS SDK (software development kit) examples, downloadable from within MSFS with enabled “developer mode”

Here is an older post illustrating the use of the “Simvar Watcher”:

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Thank you for the information packed post! Great stuff. I really appreciate the depth of your reply, including the links to reference material.

It amazes me that you’ve created such a much needed program that is full featured and performs so well.

Thanks again for your efforts and significant contribution to the flight sim community!

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The location management is great! I’m curious to try it later today!

Can we export and share these user locations? :thinking:

Yes, you can, as comma-separated values (CSV) text file (e.g. also editable in some spreadsheet editor like Excel or LibreOffice Calc etc.).

Two flavours are currently supported:

  • Little Navmap userpoints CSV format - import and edit your Sky Dolly locations in Little Navmap and plan your flights accordingly
  • Sky Dolly CSV - share „everything there is“ with other Sky Dolly users

Of course you can also import Little Navmap userpoints. In fact, you‘ll find „collections“ of all photogrammetric cities, all POIs of all world updates etc. on e.g. flightsim.to as Little Navmap userpoints.

But I also intend to provide import/export plugins in the Sky Dolly logbook format. Having the advantage that they would automatically be converted to the latest Sky Dolly format.

And there‘s more to come in the Location module, too :wink:

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Hello @Sulenor, maybe not exactly what you‘re looking for, as the SimConnect API (still?) does not give access to actual „multiplayer“ aircraft instances (the same reason for which you e.g. don‘t see multiplayer aircraft in Little Navmap).

But the latest Sky Dolly v0.16 release offers extended flight import/export plugins, with automated time synchronisation functionality based on real-world timestamps (*).

So essentially:

  • Every multiplayer records her flight
  • One pilot collects all exported flights and imports them all at once into a single „formation flight“
  • With optional automated timestamp synchronisation

(*) And yes, with proper timezone support

For more details also refer to:

How does SkyDolly handle weather during replay?
I recorded one with Live weather which obviously changes the wind speed/direction, so wondering exactly what happens on replay?

What weather setting should I set the sim to for replays?

Sky Dolly currently doesn’t handle weather at all :wink:

Currently the SimConnect API does not even allow to programmatically set weather presets, let alone “live weather”.

There is the option to load a “saved flight” via SimConnect, but I haven’t looked into this just yet. And I would anticipate that it would require to “load the flight” each time the user pushes the “play” button in Sky Dolly (just like you would start a flight from the “in-game earth map”) - at least initially for any newly loaded recorded flight. So not sure how I would like the fact that one has to “load a flight” (in MSFS) each time as well - at least I would make the “restore flight settings” optional, and I have definitively thought about this possibily already. I do understand that such “saved flights” (as in “saved in MSFS”) also store some “environmental settings”, so I would expect that at least weather presets are stored (and restored) as well.

I thought about at least (optionally) restore the date/time of flight (that data is already recorded with Sky Dolly flights, but currently only “for your information only” - see the “Flight” dialog, together with other “flight conditions”.

What weather setting should I set the sim to for replays?

Any weather settings/time of day that you like, as a matter of fact: as “flight physics” (at least those that would affect the aircraft attitude in any way) are disabled during replay anyway Sky Dolly will stoically steer the recorded aircraft through any weather, be it heavy rain showers, snowfall or even a tornado - exactly just like you’ve recorded it :wink:

Does that answer your question?

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Liked the “stoically steer” comment :grinning: Actually I always enjoy seeing people use language well: such a rare event in the internet era.

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aok thanks. Makes sense.

Recorded takeoff with 737-800 by PMDG. When I load and start the replay from a cold and dark state the airplane follow the replay without sound (engines are off) and with all cockpit hardware off.

What am I doing wrong?

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You are not doing anything wrong. It is just that not every 3rd-party aircraft - specifically those with custom simulation logic for hydraulics, electrics etc. - does (can) support the official SimConnect API that allows other 3rd-party apps such as Sky Dolly to query and set the aircraft state.

Sky Dolly does try to:

  • Detect when the engines are powered up/down and
  • Start/stop the engines during replay accordingly

This „cold and dark“ start works for a range of aircraft - but unfortunately not for all.

This is a frequently asked question. For more details about those „simulation variables“ (and why not every one is supported by each and every aircraft) have a look at the Frequently Asked (sic!) section at:

(The Frequently Asked section may be a bit hard to find - but it is there ;))

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