PSX_Earth
The World for PSX

Content

 

PSX_Earth no longer functions, because Google has ended* the support for the "Google Earth" browser plug-in.
Please have a look at PSX_Tellurium as an alternative! ;-)
(This web page for PSX_Earth is still kept alive, because it provides some background information also for its successor PSX_Tellurium.)


* Update 26 May 2016:
Actually, the situation is rather confusing: Already in December 2014, Google had announced the plug-in support would end in December 2015. But apparently the plug-in as of today can still be downloaded and may work, but it depends very much on browser make (Chrome, IE, Firefox), version, and "bitness" (32-bit vs. 64-bit).
In any case, switching to PSX_Tellurium is strongly recommended: not only is it safe from Google support antics, but it also has a few new features.

 

screenshot1s (117K)
(Click on image for full-size version. More pretty screenshots available online)

Introduction


PSX_Earth is an add-on (written in Java), which connects PSX to Google Earth (GE). It uses the Google Earth browser plugin (not Google Maps!), and it also communicates directly with the server built into PSX.

What you do not get:

What you do get;

[Obviously, a belly camera cannot look upwards (well, it could but would at best peer at the pilots' bu seat of the pants; an important feature of aviating and aviators, but not so interesting as a view).
Therefore, for tilt angles above 0° = forward-horizontal, image delivery will switch over seamlessly to a "roof camera" situated in a small "astrodome", Lockheed Constellation style, with which the PSX planes have been equipped when Hardy wasn't looking.]

On the whole, GE has by now become so precise that it is quite possible to follow your flight right through the landing; you will find yourself touching down on the runway in GE, too. And you may very well be able (at least at major airports) to taxi around following visual cues, and even to be guided by signage if it is the kind they paint on the ground.

System Requirements

Installation

Usage

Known Issues

Notes

Note 1: Missing feature

In an earlier discussion of PSX_Earth on the Aerowinx forum, we talked about also displaying routes and waypoints in PSX_Earth (a feature which the old PS1_Earth did include). At the time I promised to look into it, which I since have duly done. In fact, I had already started to implement this, but a crash of the development machine stalled these attempts (the crash causing the stall, whereas with aircraft, the stall causes the crash). The work may be continued but will take some indefinite time, so I thought it is better to release PSX_Earth already now "as is", and leave the route display for a later version.
Note that this feature is about display of the planned active route (as per FMC); the forum discussion originally referred to tracking the route as actually flown. Remember that you can also use the map on the PSX Instructor page Situation > Position for these purposes.

Note 2: "Zooming"

A real zooming function would bring you (optically) closer to the point you are looking at; in GE this would require moving your actual position closer to the view target, which is not feasible for PSX_Earth *).
The PSX_Earth "zooming" cheats by simply changing your altitude. If you are looking straight down (camera tilt -90°), this works just fine and is in fact the same as real zooming. But for oblique view angles it does not: You'll find yourself lower, but not closer to the point you're looking at. This may or may not be useful.
However, if you need real zooming, you can always disconnect PSX and then zoom toward any target (or indeed freely move around), using the GE user interface. Then reconnect to PSX; if the aircraft position has changed in the meantime, GE will catch up with it automatically.

*) The problem is that GE knows only the "eye" (GE camera) position and altitude, which are affected by zoom and tilt.
But GE does not know about any other "real position" of the observer (or PSX aircraft), independent of the camera.
Try the following:

Note 3: "Frame rate" and Fluidity

This subject is as dear to every flightsimmer's heart as it is tricky...
With PSX_Earth there are, for starters, different rates involved:

It is therefore impossible to state conclusively what "target frame rate" can be achieved; the outcome will be different for every user.
My impression is that an update frequency faster than perhaps 2 "fps" does not seem to be attainable, at least not with the current approach.

So, don't expect the fluidity (ha!) of true Flight Simulator scenery; better think of PSX_Earth as a rather fast and smooth "moving map"...

Note 4: "Fly-to" Speed, Fluidity, and "Pulsating"

This note explains the purpose of the experimental "fly-to speed" slider — an explanation merely for the connoisseur: in normal usage it is perfectly safe to leave the slider simply where it is and entirely ignore this note...

As it turned out, the GE way of doing things has one rather quirky and (in this add-on author's opinion) unfortunate design feature:
When the user changes position, or clicks on a link connected to a GE location, GE will "fly to" the new position, i.e. an animated "voyage" to the new point will be displayed. The speed of this "fly-to" can be controlled via the API, from very slow to "teleport" speed (the latter means that the location change is instantly, without any interpolating animation). All very nice.

The problem is however that GE does not fly from point A to point B at a constant altitude (maintaining the "eye altitude") — for unknown reasons (eye candy show effect, probably), it always does a parabolic "high jump", kangaroo style, thus:
You are sitting at A with an eye altitude of 5 km, and then jump to B which is about 20 km away. You will end up at B at the same 5 km eye altitude again, as you should; but instead of moving along at 5 km altitude, during the jump ("fly to"), you'll be lifted up to a maximum altitude of about 450 km (!).

For general end-user usage of GE this may be a nice visual gimmick, but it's a pain in the neck for purposes such as PSX_Earth:
As discussed in Note 3, the coordinate updates will come in at a fast rate (1-2 Hz), which means the spatial distance between two position updates in GE is rather small (something like 200 m per update, at cruise speed). So, GE does not have much time and room for "high jumps" in between updates, but it still tries: Even if the resulting (unnecessary) eye candy altitude change is very small (only 0.1 km perhaps) it can still be clearly perceived.

The effect is a strange "pulsating" quality of the GE display, quite different from the "jerkiness" or stuttering all flight simulator users are only too familiar with.
This pulsating is most obvious when looking straight down towards the ground ("map view"); much less so when looking more or less forward ("out-of-cockpit view") towards the horizon.

Now, as said, the fly-to speed can be made user-controllable, and the obvious idea is to use a speed as high as possible (or indeed the "teleport speed" with no delay/animation at all between position updates). However, that involves a trade-off, unfortunately:
It is true indeed that the higher the fly-to speed, the less pronounced the "high jump" (and "pulsating display" effect) will be. But alas, at the same time the conventional "stuttering" or jerkiness of the movement increases: GE reaches the new position instantaneously or "too early", then has to stop more or less completely to wait for the next update from PSX_Earth, and then will move again very quickly.
Effect: stuttering.

At the other end of the scale, if the fly-to speed gets too low, the PSX symbol will actually run away, off the display: the PSX coordinate updates now come in too fast, so that the slowed-down GE interpolation can no longer keep up with them.

So, a compromise has to be found. In my setup, it is a fly-to speed of about "1" (the available range goes from "0" to "5"). But this may depend on many factors (see Note 3), many of which are user-equipment specific.
Hence the slider, so that you can try to find your own optimum, if you feel like experimenting.

Note 5: Security

In the wake of the currently raging nubeo-reticulomania epidemic (everything has to be a web "app" and/or in the "cloud"), the GE plug-in will only talk to a web server, but not directly to local files.
(It seems that the Google security concept does not allow cross-domain talk, which makes sense; but unfortunately it also considers each individual local file to be in its own individual domain, and therefore you cannot e.g. load a local file into the plug-in.)
Therefore, PSX_Earth includes a tiny webserver all of its own.

Obviously, running this micro-webserver carries a certain risk of opening an undesirable door to the rest of the world.
Against unwelcome visitors, the server built into PSX_Earth therefore provides a few barriers.
You should understand these
1. in order to run the add-on properly, and
2. to assess yourself how big a risk may still remain (none of these "barriers" will be 100% water-proof).
Please note that security is your responsibility — PSX_Earth does not take any of it, make any promises, or give any guarantees in this respect! Do keep your firewall, ADSL modem/router, anti-virus software, etc. up to speed!

This is what has been done in PSX_Earth to keep things a little safer:

Even so, be careful. Carpe diem!
Or was it Cave canem?
Or Caveat emptor?
Latin, in any case. :-)

Credits

Thanks and credits go to

Have fun!


End of document
16.08.2014: version 1 for public release
© Martin Erdelen 2014