As I have mentioned elsewhere in my blog site, I am interested in a lot more than just virtual gliding when it comes to flight simulation. In recent years the graphics, sound and the credibility of systems and flight modelling of aircraft models for FSX and P3D have improved beyond anything that I ever anticipated. I never cease to be amazed at the success the add-on developers are achieving in breathing new life into FSX.
Three outstanding examples in the GA light aircraft class in my FSX hanger are the A2A Simulations models: the Cessna C172 Trainer, the Piper PA20-180 Cherokee and the Cessna C182T Skylane. The pre-flight or walk-around feature included in all three of these models adds significantly to the perceived realism and immersive experience and I use this unique feature on every flight.
Unfortunately, the pre-flight inspection feature of these three models does not play well with the popular EZDOC camera add-on. Ever since the C172 was released there has been discussion in the A2A and other forums and several “fixes” have been suggested but all seem to involve compromises.
The most widely publicised fix involves re-ordering and re-numbering the camera definitions in the aircraft.cfg file for each A2A model using this pre-flight inspection feature. See the “EZDOC users” item in the A2A General Troubleshooting FAQ post here.
For me the resulting compromise associated with this fix for the two A2A Cessna models is too great to bear. When I re-order the cameras as suggested the Cessna looses the nose wheel and possibly other aircraft graphics in the EZDOC external camera views. See image below.
This fix also makes the EZDOC camera positioning keys go wonky, which is irritating but not a major issue. The strange thing is that there doesn’t appear to be any visible problems with EZDOC external aircraft views with the A2A Piper Cherokee model when this fix is applied, although the arrow keys still seem to get mixed up when positioning the external camera views in EZDOC. So I am still using the fix for this aircraft model but for the A2A Cessna models I needed a better solution.
There are other suggestions in the forums for dealing with this issue and from those suggestions the best compromise for me so far is this workaround: leave the aircraft.cfg as is after running the EZDOC config tool (i.e. no manual edits to the aircraft.cfg file), and then always do the walk-around inspection in the reverse direction using only the “<” button on the walk-around dialogue window. The main drawback with this compromise is that if I click on any of the direct inspection station points except for the first one in the cockpit, the selected inspection position will be out of sequence by +1 position and also the “>” button will be out of sequence as well making the first position a nonsense view and the last position unreachable if I try to go that way. Walking in the reverse direction works perfectly but it is a slight pain when I want to quickly check the pitot heat and stall warning with the battery on after doing the main walk-around until I remember to always click on one inspection station further on in the aircraft diagram. The big plus is that all of the external EZDOC views and camera positioning keys seem to work properly. Another nice thing about this compromise is that I don’t have to re-edit the aircraft.cfg file after installing updates for the A2A aircraft models. So this workaround is very appealing to me because I am a strong believer in avoiding any customisation if at all possible. In fact I will shortly be restoring the aircraft.cfg file for my A2A Piper Cherokee and using this same workaround.
There is another suggested compromise fix in the A2A forum topics that involves customising the walk-around.xml file but that hack was only superficially explained and when I looked at the xml code I decided I really just want to fly the darned aircraft rather than waste time trying to get my head around how that code works – maybe it is easier than it looks but until a better solution is found I am happy with the current compromise. Since at least one person reports that this solution leaves to the EZDOC external camera views intact, I may revisit this suggested fix later on when i have bit more time. If you are interested in this solution see the posts by “molleh” in the A2A forum topic here. As with all custom hacks, it is likely to get clobbered when you install any updates to this aircraft.
So unless a better solution is emerges, such as patch from A2A, I recommend avoiding any customisation and doing the walk-around in the reverse direction if you want a quick and easy way to use external custom cameras in EZDOC.
Also on a separate note, I had a slight issue with A2A walk-around default zoom being wrong and this seems to be caused by the fact that I use 100% zoom at all times in the VC with most FSX aircraft. I prefer 100% zoom because it doesn’t seem to exaggerate the perspective when landing and it just looks more natural to me when looking outside of the aircraft. 100% zoom also avoids unnatural perspective distortion when viewing an aircraft from external views. However, the pre-flight inspection views seem to maintain whatever your current zoom factor is and these views seem to be based on the assumption that you will be using a zoom factor somewhat less than 100%. To avoid changing the zoom of any of my favourite EZDOC camera views, I have used EZDOC Studio to assign the same controller button that I assigned in FSUIPC to invoke the pre-flight inspection walk-around to also select a new custom pilot seat view in EZDOC that is zoomed to 40%. That way the walk-around inspection always starts off with correct default zoom of 40%. I named this new EZDOC camera view “Pre-flight inspection” so that I would remember why it was needed. Moreover, I didn’t include the new 40% zoomed view as a indexed camera view in the EZDOC Studio camera list. Thus it doesn’t get in the way when I am flipping between my normal views using the hat switch on my yoke.
So things are not perfect with the compatibility between the A2A pre-flight inspection feature and the EZDOC add-on but at least now I have an acceptable compromise, which is largely thanks to the flight sim community contributions to the forums.