Welcome to X-Plane! The ultimate flight simulator, constantly growing and evolving, thanks to you and developers.
We hope you've read the manual (yes, it's actually important!), and just about every question that has been asked has also been discussed or answered in Youtube videos. There are also many "how to" guides and suggestions for X-Plane add-ons on YouTube as well.
One site you definitely should grow accustomed to is X-Plane.org, commonly referred to as the "org". The X-Plane.org community is the biggest for X-Plane and has almost everything X-Plane related you could think about. If you don't find what you want there, there will likely be discussions and/or links about it in the forums.
If you're trying to grasp using X-Plane 11, you may find the flight school a compelling guide if you are new to X-Plane, or want to improve/refresh your flying knowledge.
Before exploring what X-Plane.org has to offer, take note that there is a rule in the forums in which you're required to post two answers before being able to create new topics. Read the forum rules to get a better understanding of the overall expectations and customs of the .org forums.
In addition to the large community housed within the forum, X-Plane.org also is known for its store. Many aircraft, sceneries, and addons are sold there. A download repository in the forums containing hundreds of thousands of user modifications, freely downloadable, is also available to registered members of the .org. There you will find many major airports (and thousands of smaller fields), aircraft, and other plugin based work uploaded for, and created by, the community.
If you cannot find what you're looking for, search in the download section. If you still can't find what you are looking for, do a quick Google search. The X-Plane.org's built in search functionality is notorious for it's unreliability and error-prone results.
X-Pilot & X-Aviation
Another store to check out is X-Aviation. Home of the IXEG-737, which is widely considered to be the hallmark of X-Plane aircraft simulation, on the turboprob side, a noteworthy addition to your hangar is the SAAB 340; arguably one of the best turboprop simulation - utilised by real world airlines and SAAB themselves.
For most airports submitted in the Download repository, you will most likely need an additional library for the airports objects. The libraries are “collections of objects” that developers use, and you will need them in order for your airports to work. This master list outlines almost every X-Plane library known in the community, and we suggest you to bookmark this to stay up to date on the latest library revision/version.
+ might be cheaper (steam sales)
+ Get easier access to your X-Plane on different systems through your STEAM account. (LR-direct may get a ip-adress conflict if used excessively on different systems)
+ still easy + easy access to file structure
+ make more instances of XP directory easily
+ LR gets most profit from your purchase
+ Faster beta access (read more about pros and cons further down - not for beginners)
STEAM makes X-Plane dependent on its own file structure and you will need a workaround to be able to make one or more working copies of X-Plane somewhere else or on another disk. This is useful when you want to add content and start messing with the file structure. Or want to opt in on the beta. You will of course still be able to make a backup through STEAM as usual (Steam menu > Backup and Restore settings) And this is highly recommended if you start messing with addons. Direct Download (OR DVD purchase) gives you the option to make as many copies as you want of X-Plane to mess, mod and tweak with. It must be on the same computer or you will need multiple licenses. You will be supporting LR as much as you can and not give 30% or more of the amount paid to STEAM (this effect goes double at steam sales). LR is not a big company and we all benefit from their usage of available resources.
So bottom line: we recommend Direct Purchase.
Do check the Minimum Requirements for X-Plane. One rule of thumb is: the more addons and the more complex addons you want to install, the beefier system you will need.
If you still are uncertain, we suggest you to download the demo and test it if it works as you intended on your system.
Yes, many of your addons will work in XP11. But you might want to revisit that particular addon's website to clarify if there has been an XP11 update for it or if one is needed. Do NOT copy/paste your entire custom scenery folder, your plugins folder or your aircraft folder! Trouble and Headaches will ensue. If you do copy stuff over from your XP10 install, then copy one by one and test them.
There is a program that developers use called X-Reloaded. With this plugin, you can reload x-plane without having to restart it. In general scenery addons do work well in XP11, airplanes get a maybe (if they don't require an installer) and plugins are questionable. Rule of thumb: the more complex the addon, the less likely it will just let itself copy over.
STEAM will install X-plane in its own folder hierarchy if you do not specify it to install somewhere else. The file structure is as follows: [.../STEAM/SteamApps/common/x-plane11]
For LR direct/DVD installation:
The C: drive is almost always your system disk and installation on this disk should be avoided if possible. No harm in installing here, but make two top folders for X-Plane on a separate disk. One is the X-Plane install and the other is for the downloaded storage of your X-Plane add on files (how to install aircraft and scenery to X-plane is described further down). Installing X-Plane on a SSD gives you NO performance advantage other than loading times. You can have parts of your X-Plane file structure on another disk, even an external or a network drive, (but that is not for beginners and we won't divulge into that here).
(A clean setup from the start gives you good control all of the time. And always keep a backup of your original install - OR a working copy of modded X-Plane)
For a good tutorial on how to set up your simulator after install, check out Stealthbob's video post of Catstrator's tutorial here.
Do NOT opt-in on the beta releases unless you really know what you are doing. Beta releases are there to be tested if the version to be released next is stable or not. Names usually follow this convention: "11.XXb2"
The beta then goes to "release candidate" versions, they are still considered unstable. Their names are usually something like 11.01r1 or 11.01rc2 and so on. If you are a normal user – just ignore beta. To be very clear: Leave that checkbox in the installer alone.
To roll back from an accidental beta install, un-check the opt in for beta box in the installer and run the installer as if to install X-Plane anew.
The installer will then roll back to latest stable release. But if you do know your way around betas and know what that means please do test a beta now and then (On a separate instance of X-plane). LR needs beta testers and that is why that option is there in the first place.
For Your Information:
Mentioning that you're using a beta version and giving them an explicit warning would significanly lighten the work of admins and moderators alike on Forums and Facebook Groups.
More stuff to consider:
Be aware that the more mods you install, the more resources your simulator will demand from your computer. That does not mean that every mod will crunch your fps, there are even addons that will have no effect or even improves FPS while enhancing your simulator at the same time. Be sure to check the minimum requirements of the addon you choose to install.
Never install more than one addon at a time and take your time researching the addon you are installing. Check that your installed addon works before installing the next. Many addons do NOT work well with others. Also, check if the addon is XP11 compatible. Many XP10 or even XP9 addons work out of the box in XP11 – but if the developer does not give guarantees for it – do not expect it to work in XP11. Rule of thumb: the more complicated; the more you need that guarantee.
If you plan to add tons of addons. Make a copy of the original installation of XP11 and put it in a vault where it is not touched.
Get to know the folder layout in XP if you start with modifications. Some addons install themselves with an installer (most payware do) but more often than not you will have to install your newly acquired mods manually. This is a typical X-Plane 11 folder structure:
The Aircraft folder is where you put your extra aircraft. Unpack the downloaded aircraft and just move it over to the aircraft folder. You may make sub-folders such as “my hangar” and such, but keep it clean and shallow (not folders in folders). Some people tend to get this wrong so here is an example you can use:
This is the Aircraft folder: You need to create a new subfolder and call it whatever you want, such as "My Hangar", from there on- any downloaded aircraft should be placed in that folder you've just created. Do not place it directly inside the Aircraft folder as X-Plane needs a subfolder to categorise the Developer.
If you have copied your new aircraft to the Extra Aircraft folder, then you will have to tick the box for extra aircraft in X-Plane or it will not show up in x-plane's aircraft page.
The X-Plane11/Custom Scenery folder is where you move your extracted airports and scenery folders. Be sure to follow your content creator’s instructions! Some addons need special treatment and there is almost always a readme file with instructions in the unpacked folder.
The X-Plane11/Resources/plugins folder is where your plugins go.
Difficulty of installation and/or usage:
O - Easy, X - Slight Difficulty, XX - Difficult, XXX - Geek Level
One of the best Airliner simulation you'll find on any simulator is the IXEG 737 classic. You'll also have the Flightfactor 757, 767 witch are good and the LES SAAB340, which is another highlight in X-Plane as one of the best turboprop available. There are tons of other great Airliners out there so don’t hesitate to ask for other peoples favorites. Same goes for all other aircraft, turboprops, GA, gliders, micro or military. If you don't have the money for the IXEG (you should save up for it if you like 737's..) then there are mods to enhance the default 737-800 - called ZIBO mod. And many others.. Search for it Last but not least: Liveries. Tons of liveries all over the .org as well for just about every freeware or payware aircraft. If you want high quality liveries, check out Cessnarox.
XPlane has a “feature” called X-portal where content creators can add their creations and maybe get them in on the next XPlane update. This database and thus XP’s default airport database is growing fast. But there will always be airports missing. Just search the .org for the airport near you or where you want to fly. Search by name or ICAO code.You will most likely find it in the .org. Just be aware that big complex airports get system demanding pretty fast. So your 486 with 75Mhz turbo boost might struggle here even with the button firmly pressed.
One thing you will HAVE TO KNOW or airports & scenery won't work
(You can skip this step and go download X-Organizer mentioned a bit further down - it will sort this for you. But if you get into trouble and see errors, then come back here and read on.)
Where as aircraft are usually straight forward, airports will often have to be manually put in the right order in the scenery_packs.ini file. Not that hard to do but must be done for the scenery to load correctly. First: drag the airport into the Custom Scenery folder.
Start XP (this is for XP to recognize the new content). Close XP again and just open the scenery_packs.ini from your custom scenery folder with notepad or a text editor of your choice (I use notepad++). In that list you will now find the new scenery. Cut it out and paste it in where it should be located. (Airports on top) If you are unsure where your scenery goes, check the link under the warning tag below Ortho4xp section.
You can easily work in the Custom Scenery folder rather than in the .ini file if you wish to. You can rename all your sceneries so that they are in alphabetical order and in the order required by XP. Just delete the .ini file whenever you add new scenery and X-Plane will create a new one with the alphabetically ordered folder names on next start. But do not rename Libraries (!) as this WILL lead to errors. You will not be freed of editing the .ini file in this regard since when adding new libraries and such, you will have to check that they are in the right loading order.
You can order your airports as you like, by country, then by ICAO code, then by name. If you want to start making your own scenery the tool to use is called World editor or WED. (A good tutorial) ----> this is not a part of what beginners should start off with. I just wanted to mention it for those who might be interested and if you have had some experience with computers it is not that hard.
Want to try making scenery for x-plane? Bill Womack from iBlueYonder has made a VERY comprehensive introduction to it all. Read all of it here.
Once you share work where you have used ortho4xplane or other scenery photos from sources that you have no agreement with, you are risking a heavy lawsuit from the provider. The other problem with this is that you risk closing off this access to free personal usage of areal photos for everyone. Once you throw in a donation request or charge money for it, this goes double. That there are many scenery developers that have ignored or are ignorant towards this problem among the available sceneries in the.org or elsewhere is not an excuse to commence sharing such projects and it is still considered piracy.
1. Airport scenery
2. city single objects, certain buildings, bridges, statues, etc.
3. whole city scenery
4. Airport terrain
5. city state terrain
6. photo scenery
7. Global OSM
8. Global Mesh
I can't recommend this program enough. It organizes and keeps your x-plane folder tidy. It has a good amount of functionality and is a very useful tool to keep your head on top of what you have installed. A great tool and there is a reason I mention this one first .
Pro tip: I use xOrganizer to choose between non compatible addons such as Skymaxx and xEnviro. You only need to do this once to change what you want X-Plane to load and you can then start XP normally through the XP shortcut.
If you want photorealism - then check it out (you will hear a LOT about that program here and everywhere. Ortho4xplane is a program that generates photorealistic tiles of your chosen area (if there are providers for it). It covers most of the world but be aware that this addon gets space consuming fast! W2XP is something you will hear about in the same breath as ortho4xplane. It adds autogen based on OMS data. Works great with Ortho but is not an absolute must. It replaces the default autogen. HDMesh is the last one in this scenery galore trio. It is the “heightmap” of the downloaded area. Ever seen those stunning Xplane pics from the Alps (LOWI and such)? Yeah, that’s probably made with these three buggers.
This ortho stuff is not easy at first. If you are uneasy with editing config files or just generally a nervous poor sod, then stay away from this section and never return. But if you get this right then not only does your sim look fantastic, but the reward of completing something like this could develop into a minor fetish for tile rendering. I won’t judge – if you don’t. Some info and a good overview can be found here. Ortho, w2xp and hd mesh is a big theme and I have made a minor wall of text out of it… That wall of text continues at the end of this gude. Questions about scenery? Ask in the forums or on a X-Plane facebook page of your choice.
What? I didn't shake off your interest on ortho? If yes, scroll on. If no - I have compiled a small how to at the end of this guide...
Seasons for X-Plane! March 2018 marks a change in X-Plane history. While we have had ortho-tiles converters and attempts on seasonal packages before; this one stands out as one complete package that does not require a science degree to get to work. (It does not work with ortho4xp tiles, but you can easily switch between them in xOrganizer) Head over to MaxxXP to read more about this plugin.
(XX donation ware)
This is an alternative to ortho4xp. The difference being that this is a plugin that starts with X-Plane and it generates tiles per position of the aircraft. It might be an easier way of getting photo realistic scenery, but ortho4xp is better if you want to create large areas fast.
Now that I have experience with this I would say it is the best offline ATC even if it is pricey. You also have 124th ATC which is a lot lighter and cheaper - but better than default ATC (Which to be honest... is rubbish --> BUT a new and refined default ATC is being worked on today by Austin Meyers himself) Pilot2ATC will be compatible with WorldTraffic3 in the future. (see further down about WT3)
Default weather is getting better and better in XP - but if you want that little extra you can start pulling your hairs out when you want to choose between the two pay ware addons. There are more or less confirmed rumors that Active Sky Next and other current P3D weather addons are coming to X-Plane. No dates or any real info is given on this. While it is very highly anticipated by many, no one knows if they will be able to do a better job of presenting the weather on the X-Plane platform than the two existing competitors. With that said - more competition on this is a good thing. (maybe except for your hair when trying to choose one over the other)
This addon will give you total control over camera views (a bit daunting at first glance maybe - but well worth it!)This is a MUST HAVE if you use track ir. Setting the boundaries of movement in x-camera makes all the difference when trying to keep your head in the cockpit. :)
Yup, just that. Shakes head (Is compatible with X-Camera.)
(O freeware / donationware)
If you like flying in 3rd person or outside view, scenic flyer adds a basic instruments panel to your screen.
Pilot2ATC is one of the best offline ATC you could get in X-Plane. You'll also have 124th ATC which is a lot lighter and cheaper - but better than default ATC (Which to many is underdeveloped, A new and refined default ATC is being worked on today by Austin Meyers himself)
Pilot2ATC will be compatible with WorldTraffic3 in the future. (see further down about WT3)
An “autoloader of scenery” elements such as autogen that only loads in as much as your system can take at a time. (good for low end systems)
If you want to throw in some economic aspect and "play career mode". This too may seem a bit daunting at first and it is in essence web-based with a small plugin for XP itself. So don't expect a full blown transport tycoon like experience or a fancy GUI. But once you are in and get the basics: Definitely worth a go!
These are AI traffic for your simulation world. Default AI is.. well lets say I feel more alone with them there than without.. Like the promise of a close companion and getting a 1980's toy robot that has 2 functions. X-Life is an almost plug and play addon that automatically adds routes for AI. WT3 is the same but is not as plug and play. In return WT3 is the most advanced of the two with AI relating to the environment such as wake turbulence and more.
For a comprehensive guide on how to get WT3 running - read this
I have not tried these yet myself since I find them daunting (get a grip!) But I hope I will get my nerves together in the future to get over my initial fears. What is it you ask? Oh, sorry – it’s online live ATC for your inter-humanistic communicational needs. You actually talk to a human who plays the role as ATC. I need to be corrected on what I write about these since I am a total noob. Vatsim and Ivao are somewhat similar, Ivao has more people flying and controling, they are both free. Pilot Edge is a Professional network that has real world ATC 24/7 but only covers some parts of the US. I would say that this is NOT for beginners as such – you should know your system and what you are doing before going into these addons. If you want to know more:
If you decide to take the plunge into this side of flight simming, then this script might help you along.
Kelly Jacobs (left) & Gergely Debreceni (right)
For Your Information: List is non-exhaustive.
Ask and it is probably made, being made or someone here will take an interest in making it. And as you can see there are no addons that go under the full geek difficulty. Make a copy of your X-Plane folder today and start expanding your X-Plane! Remember that the X-Plane community, although growing extremely fast since the launch of XP11, is still small compared to FlightsimX and Lockheed Prepar3D. The backside of having such a small crowd is that the major developers don't see profit and therefor hesitate to start large projects. Plus side is that the community is a tight one and that it is a very friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Smaller developers now also have a chance to get bigger and maybe compete with the "big boys" like PMDG from FSX nad P3D down the line. PMDG have an excellent study level DC6 for X-Plane btw. So they are not totally off. And Orbx is coming with some scenery addons in 2018 so things are happening.
For Your Information: A Fun way to Play
One can use FSEconomy to somewhat determine your route whenever you fly. First you choose the region, then choose the starting point based on where your desired aircraft for hire is located. The destination depends on the jobs available.
So in my initial flight planning where I plan routes and stuff for my flight I now have a starting point and a destination. So now to the next step in my routine: My flight planning also includes the search for and installation of the custom airports that are in or near my flight plan (if I don't have it already and of course if it is availabe) This way I usually discover new scenery and airports by flying over and landing on it with a purpose. Making virtual money and Internet points
At the moment, X-Plane only supports two VR peripherals: The Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. Future support for other peripherals is being worked on at the moment. In addition to the VR headsets, you need the controllers as well.
With X-Plane11.20vr beta testers have access to Native VR. Before, and in non-beta versions VR enthusiasts had to use a program called Flyinside (for x-plane, p3d and fsx - separate versions). Now VR is coming natively and although it still has some bugs and is system demanding, it looks beautiful and it will give you a completely new experience in X-Plane. Performance is LR's top priority until VR is good to go.
First - you need SteamVR - get it here
When STEAM is downloaded search for steam VR in STEAM and download it - it's all free.
Opt in on BETA in X-Plane installer
Launch X-Plane and in graphics options enable VR
If you find bugs, then please report them to the proper authorities. Being, of course Laminar Research.
Do not to use if you actually plan to report bugs to LR! And keep in mind that this fixes things just temporarily (mostly). Aaaand there are no guarantees that it won’t break your install (remember that I mentioned to back up XP before messing with this?) Anyways – here it goes: Delete the x-plane.prf file in your X-Plane11/Output/Preferences folder. You may see increase in FPS as a result of this but only use this as a last resolve. And don’t come crying to me if something happened or something did not get fixed. I think I have warned you enough now.
What causes low FPS in X-Plane? Many factors can be taken into account, depending on your computer specifications, your OS and what programs and background tasks you have running, your in-sim graphics settings, where you fly and the plane you have chosen. There is a huge difference between Large Cities or large airports and starting on a small airfield in remote areas. Also, the difference between any given aircraft is very relevant. But its complexity is not necessarily a big factor. It depends on how well the aircraft is made.
A decent PC can be a CPU close to or above 4GHZ (XP11 is very CPU single core power hungry), with a GPU such as a GTX1060 / AMD480 or above and 16 GB of RAM or above. You'll meet the recommended specs that are found here.
You'll have checked that you do not have unnecessary programs running in the background.What can you expect? There is no precise answer to this but you can get a feel for how it should be. Go to a small and remote airport and load the default Cessna on medium to high settings (Not all of the sliders all the way to the right but on that side of the middle - you will have to test this yourself). You should at least get between 30 and 45 FPS. Maybe up to 50-60 FPS in external view. But notice that when you look at high-resolution textures in the VC cockpit you can get as low as 20...Everything under 20 FPS, in general, is considered too low with the specifications mentioned above.
For lower spec PC's try to lower your settings. Start at the bottom and work your way up to an acceptable compromise. A simulator is a slow moving thing and you do not need 60FPS to get a flowing experience. Everything above 25FPS is enough for airliners and you only need more than 30-35FPS if you fly Jets or acrobatics. Until XP11.1 releases with a performance upgrade you really should reconsider if you are chasing high FPS numbers. These are only my thoughts on the matter, and people tend to have a strong opinion on what good FPS is for them. Especially if they come from fast paced first person shooter games where you need all the fps you can get. When we talk VR, it is a whole new ballgame and Laminar Research is aiming for VR readiness in the 11.1 update which will benefit everyone since VR is very FPS demanding.
For Your Information: The FPS counter is under [Options > Data Output]
If you are struggling with low FPS in general or want to find our the culprit for your FPS loss, try the easy fix above. Do that first. If you have a low-end system, then you might want to try out a small program called Rendering Options for XP11 which will give you much more flexibility in customising your graphics options than native XP11 (Fly With Lua dependent.)
So all you see is water? The easy fix won't fix this one... But it is still easy! Just open the installer (in your X-Plane root folder) and install the scenery. Yup, that's it. Be aware that the whole world will eat up a lot of space, so start with your local area or where you want to fly and expand from there.
Often it is not the downloaded folder that goes into the Aircraft or Custom Scenery folders but a folder within the downloaded folder.
This is not an error, but just a thing that has to be done on many aircraft as they do not contain the icon in its file systems. X-Plane will generate one for you, and this is how: Start a flight with the plane you wish to generate an icon for. When X-Plane has loaded, go to Flight > Flight Configuration. Go to "customize" on the loaded aircraft and now you will find a "Generate Icons" button. Press it and voila. Your sim will probably enter windowed mode and if it seems stuck you most likely have paused your sim. Not every aircraft will show these icons correctly some will be over exposed and bright, others will turn out as miniature planes like the ones from the "kids on flight packages" that you got as a kid from some companies. Search the forums if there is a fix for your airplane.
For Your Information: You won't break your sim with Ortho4XP
In essence, Ortho4XP is a standalone program and it generates the photorealistic tiles within its own file structure (unless told otherwise). You only transfer the generated folders to your custom scenery folder and to uninstall them simply delete those folders.
After installing Ortho, which you will find here and you are faced with this file structure:
The bin folder, circled in Black, is where you'll find the .exe which you'll open to set up and make imagery.
The Tiles folder, circled in Red, will contain the created tiles
The yOrtho4XP_Overlays folder, circled in Blue, is where your overlays folders will be (overlays are Autogen, roads, rivers, beatches, trees and so on)
If you use w2XP-scenery you maybe skip this step. I do recommend latest W2XP for the autogen in your area. http://simheaven.com/
In the Bin folder, you need to open an exe called "Ortho4XP_v120.exe". After opening the file, the following interface will show up:
We recommend doing this step first if you have an area that you wish to create that consists of more than one tile. It is also the more “automated way” of creating tiles since you don’t have to follow the steps. You can later customize the tiles if you leave a copy of your created tiles in the Ortho tiles folder.
Choose base source and Zoomlevel in the “Provider and Zoomlevel" section.
Start with BI (BING) and ZL 16. If you select a zoom level higher than ZL16, we recommend doing as a custom tile for specific areas unless you know you will be flying GA close to the ground. You can “edit” the tiles after this step. ZL16 is good at 1000 feet and above.
You might also want to consider increasing the mask_width (20 is preferable). This adjusts beaches to merge better into the oceans and avoid sharp edges. 20 might be too much for some areas – tweak this later when you get the hang of creating tiles. ZL16 is good at 3000 feet and above. (Personal preference gnome appears and says it’s all about personal preferences…) Higher than ZL16 I recommend doing as a custom tile for specific areas unless you know you will be flying GA close to the ground. You can “edit” tiles after this step. in the “Provider and Zoomlevel section.
You always do this as a second step after source and zoom level to choose what area you want to create.
(A yellow box shows that it is selected this also gives you the coordinates of that tile in the upper left window)
Red box means it is marked. Blue box is already created tile that ortho finds in its tiles folder.
Choose two for now (and no more than 4 at once unless you have a lot of time or are prepared for a headache if something goes wrong and most likely have to start again)
while still in the Earth tile map.
Ortho4XP will now build your first tiles! You can close the map window and observe that Imagery has begun creating tiles in the white field on the right side. This may take some time. It may also show connection fails and try to reconnect which usually works. This is normal since the providers have built in security against server hammering. Server hammering cal lead to an IP ban if you do it excessively. The ban normally is for 12-24 hours, but you may risk a life ban of your ip-address if you are reckless.
Choose area in earth tile map
Choose zoom level and base source (custom zoom level if wanted)
Set mask width (further down)
Now go step by step until Build Tile. For each step you will see Ortho working in the white field on the right.
Go to the ortho4xp/Tiles folder, copy or move the tile-folders to your X-Plane/custom_scenery folder. Copy if you want to customize the tiles further. If you move them they will also disappear in the earth tile map.
But hold on - there is a third way! And it is the best one: Create a shortcut of your created tiles (select all tiles --> right click --> create shortcut) and move the shortcut to the custom_scenery folder in X-Plane directory.
Now open the scenery_packs.ini file in the custom_scenery folder and place the ortho created folders at the bottom but above any mesh folders.
Tip: use xOrganizer to sort all of this for you. I will repeat this with bolder red text: Let xOrganizer sort that out for you. It does not always get it right, but 99% of the time it is flawless.
And it gives you a good overview over the structure of the .ini file. Read more about general scenery order here
Ortho has the ability to create them from X-Planes own data. (You WILL need this if you do not use W2XP or similar). Remember, his is autogen and everything that goes on top of the Ortho photo layer.
Choose your area in the earth tile map
Close the map
Click on the small check box in front of “Custom overlay dir” (In the last section of the Ortho interface)
You will get a dialog box asking for a source. Choose X-Plane/Global_Scenery/X-Plane 11 Global Scenery (do NOT choose the earth NAV folder)
Click “Build overlay” aaand you’re off. The overlay folders are created in the yOrtho4XP_Overlays folder.
If you have several areas that you need done overlays for, there is a batch build script for it here
When Ortho is finished creating the overlays, move or copy the yOrtho4XP_Overlays folder to your custom_scenery folder. Remember the scenery.ini file!
(You can do this later as well when you have created more overlays and just overwrite the existing folder)
Choose area on the Earth Tile map (close the map afterwards)
Click Choose custom zoom level a new window pops up with a blank area on the right. This is where your map comes up later.
Choose provider (source) let’s take BING again.
Press Preview button map should load shortly (progress bar - if the map does not load then try another source - this won't change your Ortho source for the tile creation)
Find the area you want to “enhance” like an airport or area of interest. (Move around by right click and drag)
Choose zoom level and use Shift+left click to define an area.
For each finished area press save – when finished: save and exit the preview map.
Now you will have to continue with the singe tile procedures but if the tile is already created in an earlier session and it is present in your Ortho tiles folder then you only need to press the build tile button.
In the picture below I have created four different zones. Base ZL is 16. Then I have a wide area with ZL17, a closer one with ZL18 and the airport itself is ZL19. This way you save space by not making whole tiles at high zoom levels and you save a lot of time as well.
Approx timeframe per tile (ZL16): (depends on Internet speed and your hardware)
> Build Vecor data: 20 sec
> Build Base Mesh: 30 sec
> Build mask: 30 sec
> Build Tile: 40 mins
> Size per tile: 2-3GB depending on amount of water/land
Higher zoom levels will demand more time for completion and more space!
Note: A ZL17 has 4 times the sections of a ZL16. ZL18 four times the sections of a ZL17 and ZL19 four times of ZL18. So yeah... you'll be stuck converting tiles a lot. On a regular HDD this takes a lot more time than on a SSD too. On top of that the connection to the provider might not give you the full speed of the download despite your connection being a good one. I don't copy my tiles. If I want to store them, I move them to a separate folder for storage. When I use the tiles I just make shortcuts of each tile. That way I never have double sets of tiles anywhere in my system.
Cloud correction comment: (for advanced Photoshop users)
Find the tile in the jpeg saved folder and edit the part of the tile with clouds. ( /Ortho4xp/Orthophotos ) Find another aerial photo and paste, allign and blend it in. When that is done delete the section of the tile and redo it without downloading images - letting ortho convert the edited part of the tile.
Tip: You can check if the provider of your choice is of good quality by opening the custom zoom level (after choosing area in the Earth tile map) and choosing the provider (source) there and press preview. Zoom level under the source shows preview zoom level (max 13). Look for color mismatches and clouds.Choose provider and Base zoom level
For an ever evolving list of the best sources for any given country, you may visit this useful link HERE
I am not downloading the whole world and not testing every available source for any given area - so this list is completely dependent on YOUR input. Please add to it if and when able as per instructions given on the page. Thanx
"Curvature tolerance" or how much you accept a tolerance for the curvature when you build mesh, so if there is more curvature tolerance means your mesh is less complex. Example a mountain curvatures will be roughly constructed because you are inserting a high value for curv_tol, you are allowing more rough curvatures in the mesh whereas when you put lower values you will have smoother mesh => more complex and less rough curvature.
Did I forget something? Remember that this is for beginners who just joined our ranks and not a in-depth guide on how to code a parallel matrix. =) I am making this one in response to the many new members coming in to the facebook page XPNG where I am on the admin team. I don’t want to overwhelm anyone but not leave essentials out so any feedback will be greatly appreciated.
If you want to follow closely what is next in line for X-plane, you can follow the developers blogs.
Knowing Austin Meyer is knowing X-plane.
Visit the Official X-Plane facebook page
Examples of X-Plane community facebook pages:
"X-Plane11" - The largest but also a very lightly moderated facebook group
"X-Plane Next Generation (XPNG)" - Second largest x-plane community group and has active moderators. (Threshold's origin community)
If you have any questions or comments about this guide or other x-plane related stuff - join XPNG and ask around. We are all very much active there.