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Alan Blencowe's

Microsoft Flight Simulator Airfield Design

 Downloading and Installing Addon Scenery

Declaration:  Alan Blencowe does not have any financial interests in any payware companies or sites and apart from FSX and FenceBuilderPro, all scenery projects are developed totally free of reliance on payware.  Models created by Alan Blencowe with freeware can be used in freeware projects with permission.

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It is extremely simple to install addon scenery so that is why you might find it hard to get information.  There are a lot of assumptions made by people who have been in the game for years.  After 35 years as a teacher, I have always used "a picture is worth a thousand words" and avoid technical terms as much as possible.  Some sites like AussieX have fantastic scenery for free but with automatic installation you're not going to learn anything so get those later on.  Start with some of the airfields here then register with a good site like Simviation or AVSIM and download from there.  Finally make sure you go to AussieX!

 

Opening the zipfile safely

I have created a folder in My Documents called "Unpacking Department"  Because most zipfiles have different layouts and when you unzip, you don't really know where all the files have been installed.  This will show you the layout and you can always send me a screenshot if you are not sure.  This is the safest way.  Double click and select "extract all files"  Before you open a strange zipfile, you need a good virus scanner.  www.avast.com/free-antivirus-download

 

What is a .bgl file?

Boost Graphics Library files are your scenery files and manage the structure of the scenery.  If you install the BGL files in your scenery folder and your bmp and dds texture files (download my models and textures) in the matching texture folder it will work.  Sometimes the models come as a library and then there will be a bgl file for the scenery and textures with it to go in the texture folder.

 

Creating your folder structure

1     The easiest way to start off is to use the default addon scenery folder provided for you in the simulator.  Drop the bgl files in the scenery subfolder and the texture files (dds or bmp) in the matching texture subfolder.  That is the first option and the location is already registered.

Addon Scenery

                           Scenery

                           Texture

 

2     A better way is to create your own scenery folder with its own scenery and texture subfolders so you have some control over which fields you wish to view and it also helps with trouble shooting.  You will have to register the location of it in your simulator (see below).  I recommend you sort airfields by designer because they usually have the same textures in all of their airfields.  All my airfields use the one model and texture set so you can paste all of the bgl files in one scenery folder.  This new set has to be registered so FSX can find it.

Blencowe_FSX

                           Scenery

                           Texture
 

Registering your scenery

If you have created the recommended new folder, "Scenery" and "Texture" must be spelled correctly then you can register the location in your simulator.  This folder set can be anywhere in your computer but the best place is your addon scenery folder.  If you have no BGL file in the scenery folder the simulator will refuse to register the location.

         In FSX settings , select Scenery Library

1       Select "Add Area"

2&3  Navigate and select the parent folder - click OK

         (Windows 7 and Vista - you then need to click the white space under texture to release the popup)

4       Rank your scenery - most important at top - Click OK


Finally if you have windows 7 there is a glitch and after you click ok, you have to click back in the scenery area box to make the "ok"go to work!
 

Ranking your scenery

You might wonder why you can move your scenery library up and down.  If two sceneries are in the same place the top one will obscure the other.  The one that is ranked the highest will cover the other.  This is great if you have a big airport and you want to paste a new piece over part of it.  Now you can move my downloads to the top but as a rule of thumb, keep everything you add above the "addon scenery" level.  If you rank your scenery below there, default scenery may bury it and you will never see your addon.
 

Troubleshooting - bgl files

If you fly over a field and notice there appears to be another field underneath, you can suspect that the designer did not exclude some default scenery or two designers have modelled the same field.  To find out what is going on, you need to isolate a few bgl files at a time until you find the fault.  This is often trial and error.  All of my fields have the ICAO code and my initials AEB included in every bgl filename so it is easy to find and isolate them.  Other designers have their own methods and might not be as clear.  You will notice in my first illustration above, you will see a folder called store.  If you move the bgl files there and restart the simulator, you have isolated those files and will know if they caused the problem.  You can then progressively introduce them until you know which bgl is the problem.  Often with two airfields you simply have to delete or store one.  For example YNRG Narrogin has been built by two designers.  The other is better quality but uses more memory.  If you have a very fast computer, you might choose that one but your frame rate will be slower.  Movie films have 24fps but 20fps is usually satisfactory and you can run other more important features such as better levels of scenery.

 

Troubleshooting - texture files

If the textures are not in the matching folder nothing will appear as the models will be black, white or totally transparent but you might still crash into the invisible models.  When you import scenery you must also get matching texture files.  Some sceneries use models from the simulator and you won't need to install them but some ask you to import extra scenery models such as Runway 12 or EZ Scenery.  Once again they will have their own scenery and texture folders.  Texture files are generally not coded as well and sorting is not as easy.  Do not change texture filenames or the bgl file will not see them.  It is sometimes better to find out which bgl file has the missing texture and simply store or quarantine the bgl.  Go back to the original zipfile you downloaded and see if you are required to download a texture set.  If you don't have the full set of textures and the texture is not in the default of the simulator, the bgl is no use to you; simply delete.  If you are required to buy textures, ask yourself if they are better than the free ones?


Installing Aircraft

While Iím at it, you can also import aircraft and they MUST go in your simobjects\Airplanes folder.  All aircraft folders Must have model, panel, sound and texture subfolders.  Simviation or AVSIM are good websites for those.  If you ever feel tempted to play around with the performance settings in the aircraft.cfg or panel.cfg files be sure to backup first.  This is useful if the wheels of the model donít touch the ground (change axis height), you want to increase braking force (1-10), you just can't resist tweaking the performance or balance or you want to overload the fuel.  As an example, you might want to add an auxiliary tank.


Drop me a line if you need any help.
Alan

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