[UPDATE 0.14] Sky Dolly - Flight recorder with formation replay, logbook, locations, import/export | till213

Sky Dolly

The Black Sheep for your Flight Recordings

About

Sky Dolly is an open source application which records and replays your flights in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 (MSFS).

Logbook

The flights are stored in a logbook (an sqlite database). The logbook lets you filter your recorded flights by aircraft, date of flight, engine category, departure or arrival and more. Simply double-clicking the log entry will load the flight. That easy.

Advanced users may even browse the data with a database browser such as SQLite Browser and do their own statistics with SQL.

Formation Flight

Sky Dolly also provides a Formation module which lets you record and replay formation flights. You select your relative position to the previously recorded aircraft (distance, bearing and altitude offset) and simply click the record button while in the Formation module.

The trick here is that you see your previously recorded aircraft being replayed while you are recording your current flight, so you know exactly where you fly in relation to the other aircraft in the formation. And all this with a single user interface instance and with the ease of a single record button click.

Replay

The official SimConnect API is used to communicate with MSFS, which exposes the state of the simulation as so-called “simulation variables”. A selected set of variables - for example position, altitude, heading and pitch - is then stored and during replay sent back to MSFS.

Sky Dolly uses “event-based sampling” (values are only recorded when they actually change) with a selectable sample frequency. The recorded values are smoothly interpolated, in case of position and attitude related variables with Cubic Hermite spline curves. But don’t worry: the math is all under the cover :wink:

At any time during replay you can:

  • Pause
  • Rewind and fast-forward (with the timeline or the corresponding buttons)
  • Stop the replay and resume your flight

All operations are implemented with usability in mind. For example you do not need to click first the pause or stop button to be able to fast-forward or rewind: you just fast-forward or rewind at any time you want during replay. Also with keyboard shortcuts and variable time intervals.

Import & Export

Sky Dolly provides a plugin architecture. Currently the following import & export plugins are available:

Import

Export

  • CSV (Sky Dolly)
  • KML (Sky Dolly)

Availability

Sky Dolly is available free of charge:

Source code and binary releases are also available here:

Support

I develop Sky Dolly in my free time and as such can provide only limited support. But please feel free and post your questions, bug issues and feature requests here:

I’ll do my best to give you at least a reply :wink:

9 Likes

Release 0.9

Sky Dolly v0.9 has just been released, but before we go into the new features…

:birthday: :birthday: :birthday: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SKY DOLLY :birthday: :birthday: :birthday:

To the day - on February 28 2021 - Sky Dolly was released on flightsim.to.

New Features

  • A new IGC (International Gliding Commission) export plugin
    • Export of GNSS (“plane altitude”) and pressure altitude (“indicated airspeed”)
    • Export of environmental noise level (ENL)
    • Waypoints are exported as “C records”
  • A new GPX import plugin
    • Option to map GPX waypoints, routes and tracks onto waypoints and path in MSFS
    • In case the optional elevation and timestamp elements are missing
      • the default altitude can be specified
      • the timestamps are calcuated based on the desired velocity
  • KML import
  • CSV import

Improvements

  • IGC import
    • the timestamp of the imported waypoints (“C records”) are now updated according to the actual flown path (“nearest point”)
    • The “initial significant movement” is now determined (internal: new “flight analytics module” - still in an early development stage), reducing “random heading changes” (due to GPS signal noise) while the glider is still on the ground
    • The environmental noise level (ENL) - if present - now turns off/on the engine, based on some selectable noise threshold
  • Import
    • The aircraft selection is now edtiable, with autocompletion
    • The last selected aircraft is now also stored in the settings
  • Logbook
    • The default “Delete” key now deletes selected flights
    • Logbook columns are only resized (“fit to content”) upon first loading of the flight data (after that manual adjustments are kept)
  • The replay can now be “looped”

Further usability and minor bug fixes, please refer to the complete CHANGELOG on github.com.

Sky Dolly v0.9 binaries are available here:

Source and binaries are also available here:

On a personal note: this release is dedicated to peace everywhere. I was really put off flying any military jet in MSFS for the last couple of days, and for a moment I was very glad that MSFS doesn’t offer anything related to war and destruction.

As a major new feature is turning around glider (IGC) support it is not quite a coincidence that the new “title image” now shows a glider [1] - what can be more peaceful? So this was an easy choice this time for the “title image” (on flightsim.to).

Here is the original screenshot:

You will also notice that the app icon has slightly changed:

application-icon@2x

(This is some last-minute work, so please be gentle when judging my artwork skills here - it is more about what I want to convey here anyway).

I would like to conclude my thoughts by saying that despite all the sanctions and all that terrible stuff - which remember: they harm ordinary people like you and me everywhere, on all sides, in the end - and the implicit attempt to “divide people” (that do not mean any harm to each other under normal circumstances) Sky Dolly is for everyone in the flight sim community, and for everyone that wishes for peace.

Sorry for the rambling, but I just had to write it down somehow…

[1] the Discus 2c is available on flightsim.to and also discussed here in the forum - there are other free and paid gliders available for MSFS, go check them out!

2 Likes

Release 0.10

Sky Dolly v0.10 has just been released, putting again the focus on the import/export plugin architecture and providing support for additional file formats, notably GPX and GeoJSON.

New Features

  • JSON export plugin
    • Export in GeoJSON format
    • Including style properties, interpreted e.g by https://geojson.io
  • GPX export plugin
    • Timestamps are based on either simulation or recording time; the later being useful for GPS-tagging screenshots taken during flight recording

Improvements

  • All import plugins
    • An entire directory can now be imported at once:
      • All imported files are imported as distinct flights or
      • All imported aircraft are added to the same newly created flight (“formation flight”)
  • All export plugins
    • File existence is checked before overwriting existing files
    • An export option for formation flights:
      • Only export the current user aircraft
      • All aircraft are exported into a single file (if supported by the file format, e.g. KML, GPX and GeoJSON)
      • All aircraft are exported into separate files
    • Resampling (“original sample rate”, “1 Hz”, “2 Hz”, “5 Hz”, …) is now supported by all export plugins
  • CSV export plugin
  • IGC export plugin
    • The true heading (HDT) and indicated airspeed (IAS, in km/h) are now exported (in K records)
  • KML export plugin
    • The LineStrings are now exported as connected multi-geometry lines (no point limit anymore)
    • Reduced the number of fractional digits to 6, reducing file size while still providing a practical precision in the range of centimeters (also refer to the mandatory XKCD)
  • Miscellaneous
    • Add shortcuts to dialog buttons
    • The recording time is now shown in the Flight dialog
    • Use title-case for all push buttons
    • Add additional aircraft types (F/A 18, PC-6, Pitts Special, NX Cub, Volocity) from sim update 7 for the import aircraft selection
      • Note: third-party aircraft types are automatically made available in the aircraft selection once recorded at least once
    • The new Help menu contains a link to a “work in progress” online manual

Further usability and minor bug fixes, please refer to the complete CHANGELOG on github.com.

Sky Dolly v0.10 binaries are available here:

The background of the title image shows the DG Flugzeugbau DG-800 glider, available from DG Flugzeugbau DG-808S » Microsoft Flight Simulator

Source and binaries are also available here:

The ZIP archive from both locations - flightsim.to and github.com - is identical. You can newly verify the ZIP archive integrity by computing it’s checksum (digest) and compare it against the published SHA-256 checksums on github.com. Instructions for how to compute the SHA-256 checksum for a given file are given there as well.

1 Like

Release 0.11

Sky Dolly v0.11 has just been released. While superficialy not much new functionality is to be seen this is one of the biggest - if not the biggest - update in the history of Sky Dolly, with 505 changed files with 9,564 additions and 6,963 deletions.

Many changes have hence been made “under the hood”, such as:

  • Less RAM usage
  • Refactored notification system (“Qt signals and slots”)
  • Refactored plugin managers
  • Generated code (“C++ templates”)
  • Modernised build system (CMake)

However there are also some user-visible new features and improvements, as follows.

New Features

  • A truly minimal user interface mode, which - by default - only shows the very essential buttons (configurable in the settings)
  • A new Set relative position option in the Formation module allows to let the aircraft start from its current location when recording
    • So if you want to record “play chicken” with two aircraft starting from the opposite ends of a runway… this is now possible :wink:
  • With the help of the new GeographicLib (open source, third-party) the undulation values are now correctly calculated, converting between WGS84 reference ellipsoid and EGM2008 geoid altitudes
    • The conversion is applied in the GPS and IGC import/export plugins

grafik

Note that even this minimalistic user interface is fully functional, including formation flight recording and automatic storage of the recorded flights in the logbook. It does not get simpler than that!

Improvements

  • Improved AI object management, causing less aircraft flickering when changing e.g. the user aircraft in the Formation module
  • Table columns are now movable, alternating row colours
  • Confirmation dialogs before and after logbook optimisation, including before and after disk usage (file size)
  • Additional tooltips
  • Consistent dialog titles
  • Small user interface layout tweaks and pixel-perfected icons

Further usability and minor bug fixes, please refer to the complete CHANGELOG on github.com.

Sky Dolly v0.11 binaries are available here:

Source and binaries are also available here:

1 Like

Release 0.12

Sky Dolly v0.12 has just been released. This release brings the software architecture a huge step towards “the final picture”: namely the modules have been implemented as plugins as well.

As the module plugins are unloaded immediately after use this reduces the memory (RAM) usage of Sky Dolly even further.

New Location Module

A new Location module is introduced, with the following functionality:

  • Capture, manage and teleport to locations
  • Location attributes such as type, country, identifier and description
  • Copy latitude/longitude coordinates from this forum, Google Maps or any other website and paste them directly into the Location module (with CTRL + V)
  • Various latitude/longitude formats are accepted: decimal values (comma-separated or not) and various DMS notation flavours
  • A set of default (“system”) locations is provided (*)
  • Including a challenging visual approach to Santos Dumont (SBRJ) in Rio de Janeiro, based on the real-world flight AZU4205 from SBGO on July 25 2022

Improvements

  • The tables are updated in a more efficient manner “by row”
  • The code now compiles with Microsoft Visual Studio 2022 C++ compiler and is now constantly scanned for “code smells” with Microsoft C++ Code Analysis Action (“continuous integration”)

Further usability and minor bug fixes, please refer to the complete CHANGELOG on github.com.

Sky Dolly v0.12 binaries are available here:

Source and binaries are also available here:

(*) I am sorry for the somewhat Swiss-centric selection of locations :wink: The current location list can be seen on github.com.

2 Likes

Release 0.13

Happy 40th anniversary, Microsoft Flight Simulator!

Sky Dolly v0.13 (“Dapper Daher”) has just been released. This release introduces location import & export plugins.

Location Import & Export

Locations can now be imported and exported from/to comma-separated values (CSV) files, with the following flavours:

  • Sky Dolly - application-specific CSV
  • Little Navmap - user points from/to Little Navmap

In fact, the Little Navmap user points CSV import makes it possible to literally import all POIs, photogrammetric cities, airports and more released with all world updates, including World Update 11 (Canada) from free databases such as Little Navmap MSFS POI Database (hosted on flightsim.to).

Improvements

  • Location module
    • Locations can now be filtered by keywords, type (system, user, imported), category and country.
    • User and imported locations can now be updated with the current location in MSFS
    • The engine can now be started, stopped or kept “as is” when teleporting to a location, making it for instance possible to spawn on custom helipads „cold and dark“
    • The selected location count is now shown
    • The location table now automatically scrolls to the newly inserted location (even with custom column sorting enabled)
  • The system locations that are automatically migrated into a newly created logbook are now optional and can be deleted: [Sky Dolly installation directory]/Resources/migr/Locations.csv
  • Default aircraft types including the “40th anniversary update” aircraft have been added to the aircraft selector combobox (when importing a flight)
  • Position data is now interpolated with an “infinite interpolation window”, improving replay when importing “sparse flight plans” (e.g. GPX flight plans from Little Navmap)
  • The Flight Recorder CSV importer now also imports the “propeller lever position”
  • Keyword search text fields now have a clear button
  • Performance improvements and bug fixes

In addition now 100 system locations are provided: each position has been fine-tuned. Most locations come from flightspots.co, but unfortunatelly that website seems to be “terminating its radar service”. All GPS coordinates have been verified and the aircraft has a predefined heading and speed.

Together with the new engine state feature this makes it possible to spawn at beautiful locations such as this one - with the ease of a single mouse click!

For all details please refer to the complete CHANGELOG on github.com.

Sky Dolly v0.13 binaries are available here:

Source and binaries are also available here:

Release 0.13.1

Happy New Year 2023

Sky Dolly v0.13.1 (“Dapper Daher”) is a bug fix release:

  • The mixture lever position is now properly initialised from “percent” (instead of “position”) values:
    • during “flight augmentation” (“flight augmentation” is applied when importing flights from e.g. flightradar24 or flightaware)
    • during IGC import (when detecting “engine noise” in the IGC data)
  • In the Simulation Variables dialog (and elsewhere) ensure that at least one recorded data sample exist before accessing the “last” entry
  • Prevent access to invalidated data upon application termination when either the Flight, Simulation Variables or Statistics dialog was open before quitting the application (rare race condition)
  • Properly spell “airport” in the location CSV export in Little Navmap format (fix typo)

For all details please refer to the complete CHANGELOG on github.com.

Sky Dolly v0.13 binaries are available here:

https://flightsim.to/file/9067/sky-dolly

Source and binaries are also available here:

Release 0.14.0

For the Big Birds

Sky Dolly v0.14 (“Ethereal Embraer”) has just been released. This release focuses “on the big birds”, namely improved 3rd-party aircraft support.

Improvements

  • Control surfaces such as flaps, ailerons, rudders, elevators and spoilers should work better with 3rd-party aircraft such as the PMDG 737 and IniBuilds A310
    • Note that while there are also some improvements for the Fenix A320 the latest release 1.0.6 does not report some “simulation variables” as reliably as previous versions
  • Improved support for thrust levers, tailhooks and wing folding
  • Improved light switch support
  • Improved replay code for AI aircraft (“formation flight”), including animated ailerons, elevators and rudders, wing folding and tailhooks
  • New location categories, including improved CSV import & export with Little Navmap v2.8.8
    • Addon, Cabin, Carrier, History, Obstacle, Oil Platform, Settlement
  • When pausing recording the simulation is now also paused (“time to take a coffee, Capt’n!”)
  • “Repeat flaps” replay option removed (due to improved replay code)
  • Added new flight information simulation variables (dialog Flight → Conditions):
    • Surface condition (normal, wet, icy, snow)
    • On any runway
    • On parking spot
  • Increasing the replay speed now also increases the simulation rate (up to a maximum rate of 16x)
    • The simulation rate is a power of 2: 0.25, 0.5, 1.0, 2.0, 4.0, 8.0, 16.0 - the nearest simulation rate is chosen, given the current replay speed
    • Note: certain aircraft may reduce or even fix the simulation rate to 1.0 (for instance the Fenix A320)

Bug Fixes

Among some other small fixes a most annoying bug has finally been fixed:

  • Rudders, ailerons and elevators don’t “counteract” anymore for aircraft with “PID controllers”: they now move into the expected direction

For all details please refer to the complete CHANGELOG on github.com.

Sky Dolly v0.14 binaries are available here:

Source and binaries are also available here: