PSX_Wheramium
Moving Map for PSX

Content

 

title (432K)

August 2020: Update to Version 2

This is an incremental update, you still need the original version.
Download the update here (ca 173 KB).
Then simply put PSX_Wheramium_v02.jar into your existing folder and use it instead of the original PSX_Wheramium.jar.
Similarly, put the updated doc.s (PSX_Wheramium_Docs_v02.html) into the existing subfolder z_Docs.

Following a discussion on the forum, "Version 2" modifies only two features "behind the scenes" — user interface and usage are the same as before. If the changes have an effect at all, is an open question. But you can try. :-)

  1. The PSX client part of Wheramium now reads the PSX data as fast as it can; its frequency is no longer throttled by the polling delay controlled by the POLLINTV setting in the PSX_Wheramium.ini file.
    Note: Even so, do not delete the POLLINTV entry from the INI file; it will still be read from there, but will then no longer be used. (This is for backward compatibility of the INI file.)
    The entry for REQINTV, which controls how often the web page then requests the data from the Wheramium web server, still functions as before, so you can still configure the update frequency of the map with this setting.
  2. Copying the PSX data over from the PSX client part to the web server part of Wheramium is now thread-safe (I hope).

No systematic tests have been run to check if/how these changes improve performance; there are too may factors involved (system performance, PSX situ, zoom factor for the Wheramium map, REQINTV value, etc.).
Try it yourself at your discretion, convenience, and risk... :-)

[All following text is essentally the same as for v.01, minus the POLLINTV references]

Caution!

While paring down the old PSX_Tellurium to PSX_Wheramium*, a "mere" moving map with no 3D views, I have been plagued by numerous computer crashes (uncommanded reboots, to be precise), and so far have not been able to determine the precise cause. It may well be that the problem is with my system (e.g. driver issues) and not the program itself (I have similar issues with PSX_Tellurium** on this box, while others are still using it without trouble).

Therefore I'll ignore my scruples and make Wheramium available to the Cognoscenti "as is"(!), in the hope that their mileage may vary.

However:

Good Luck!

* pronounced classically [weərɑːmɪəm] or more colloquially (or if you don't speak IPA)
   "Where am I? Umm...". (See also Question 1 below.)

** See the PSX forum for some more details.

!  Caveat 1
As most potential PSX_Wheramium users will already have been PSX_Tellurium users before, this document assumes that you are familiar with the PSX_Tellurium documentation.
It therefore describes only the features which have changed or are new.
If you do not know PSX_Tellurium yet, please read its documentation first, to learn about the basics.

!  Caveat 2
While Tellurium was released as a beta version (and perhaps still is one), Wheramium may possibly better be described as alphabet(a), depending on how it behaves on other computers than mine. See Caution above, you have been warned. Continue to expect weirdness and surprises.

!!  Caveat 3
Wheramium has been tested only in Firefox (v.73 to 78). It is still a Java application (stand-alone Java, version 1.8, not the insecure browser plug-in), and as such "should" also work under Linuces and MacOSes. However, Wheramium makes even more use of client-side Javascript than Tellurium, so there may be more differences. To be tested (by *ix and Mac users! :-))

Question 1
"Wheramium"?? What's in the name...?
Our Branding Dept (a.k.a. the "Strategy Boutique" a.k.a. the Whale Song and Joss Stick Brigade) needed several sessions on this one. The first working title was Helium (because Tellurium "lite", geddit?). But that had to be discarded because FAA, EASA, etc. intervened: Pilots might henceforth misinterpret the ATC instruction to "squawk 4711", and instead of keying in the numbers might start "Helium" the app, take a deep breath, and then squawkily speak "four seven one one".

The next try was PSX_Lunarium: If Earth = Tellus, then what is nearest by and similar but smaller with less features? Correct.
(Besides, it did drive me crazy, too.)
This was however deemed too oblique an allusion. (Branding lives in permanent dread of over-estimating the users' intelligence.)

Hence, eventually, "PSX_Wheramium", in order to succinctly capture the typical use case.
(Originally it was actually the more classic-looking spelling "PSX_Veramium" but this would be understood only by people being aware that certain other people shtill haff zis terrribbel Cherman acktsent.)

Introduction


By now most PSX users (the non-purists, that is) have complemented PSX with some full-fledged scenery generator, for which several alternatives are available: FSX, P3D, and X-Plane. The old PSX_Tellurium never could (and in fact never wanted to) compete with those, of course, which led to the assumption that no one is actually using it any more.
As it turned out, there is however still some demand (among the semi-purists, we suspect), not for the full 3D and "cockpit" view as offered (attempted) by Tellurium, but for a simpler 2D moving map, the favourite use case apparently being orientation during the taxi phase, and perhaps also, albeit to a lesser degree, during the actual flight.
This is what Wheramium is trying to provide.

Here are the essential differences to Tellurium:

Further details can be found in the following chapters.

"Main" Or "Boost" Server?


Wheramium can fetch data only from the PSX "BOOST" server.

System Requirements


Essentially the same as before:

Installation

Usage


Start Wheramium in the same way(s) as Tellurium.
In short:

Features

As a "simplified" descendant of Tellurium, Wheramium has less features; it is essentially "nothing but" a 2D moving map, always displayed in top-down view (but see the Tip below).
The only control you still have is the zoom slider. Formerly this was the "altitude correction" slider, for only minor changes; but it had now to take over the full zoom slider role as the old one (on the "camera control" widget) no longer exists.
This slider is a bit more sophisticated than it looks, so it still deserves its own chapter.

● Zoom

The slider scale is (still) logarithmic: in the middle, the zoom factor will change slowly; at the ends of the scale it will change rapidly.

As with Tellurium, finding a useful zooming range was a bit tricky, because two different uses for the moving map could be imagined, with somewhat different requirements: support for taxying (which I suspect is what most people want this application for), and general orientation (or sightseeing) during the actual flight phases.
An additional interesting issue is that even for taxying only, appropriate zoom factors diverge quite a lot depending on airport altitude; the extreme cases EHAM (ca -13 ft MSL) and SLLP (ca +13,300ft MSL) were used for testing.

The current implementation tries this compromise:

SliderPic (8K)

In any case, these "zoom factors" should be regarded as only relative measures. What they really mean (e.g. in terms of simulated viewer altitude) depends on the (unknown) spec.s of the "camera" producing the view.
(To demonstrate: Put yourself above some geographical spot, at the same nominal viewer altitude, first in Google Maps, then in some Cesium demo. You will find that the actual field of view (or visible area) is considerably different between both.)

The above slider range seems to be good enough for both taxying on the ground and flight at CRZ level. However, there may be surprises. E.g. EHAM with its altitude below sea level is good for one, as always. If you start there with the initial zoom value (1x) you will see a wildly flickering blur (you're in effect "too close to the ground"). This can however easily be fixed by simply zooming out a bit. Other airports may appear "too small" initially, but that is less alarming, and can be solved by zooming in.

Remember that zooming may require the external map data servers to deliver (possibly lots of) new map "tiles" of a different resolution, which takes time; it depends on Internet connection speed, etc. Experiment a bit so that you get a feeling for the amount of rapidly "zooming around" which your setup can handle, and for how much zooming is acceptable esp. in critical (flight) situations where every second matters.
(Nota bene: As Tellurium before, Wheramium does of course not slow down or in any way interfere with the PSX simulation; you can still rely on your instruments. It's only that the map (in the Wheramium webpage) may get "out of sync" if the tile delivery cannot keep up with things.)

!  It is your responsibility to make sure that you do not zoom into terrain (a.k.a. CZIT)! If you are zooming in towards the Earth and suddenly realize "My God — it's full of stars!" (real ones, too, not the type Donald Duck or Wile E. Coyote so often see), then you are not in the wrong movie but have zoomed in too far...

● PSX Marker/Icon

The Wheramium webpage uses the elegant minimalist style which Steve Hose supplied some time ago for Tellurium. Your position is thus marked by an unobtrusive triangle (always in the centre of the map).
However, if you miss the cute (and possibly kitschig) original little blue airplane, you can get it back simply by renaming two files:

(Note however that the size of this marker/icon will not change with map zooming.)

● Map / Satellite Image

The small button in the upper right corner of the webpage opens a dialog to let you select which type of map or image you want to use; three variants (all Bing Maps from Microsoft) are available:

The issue with the latter two is that the label text is always oriented "North up", but the the map is always displayed "HDG up", thus with rotated labels. But that can't be helped.
(And everyone reporting to managers (and thus subjected to "performance reviews" and such) can already read upside-down text anyway, so you can now practice your 135° reading skills, too.)

Tip: As described above, in principle the map is displayed "HDG up" and in top-down view. You can thus not freely change the viewing direction, as you can in Tellurium. However, there are two options which you still have, e.g. to improve your situational (geographical) awareness:

1. You can of course temporarily disconnect the Wheramium webpage from PSX (use the "Disconnect", not the "EXIT" button!). Then it is possible to freely rotate and tilt the map/image by directly manipulating it with the mouse:
— left mouse button + drag to pan;
— CTRL + left mouse button + drag to rotate and tilt;
   (middle mouse button + drag does the same).
— You can also zoom in and out (right mouse button + drag; or mousewheel).
(Remember, though, that meanwhile, PSX is still happily proceeding along its route unless you have put it into MOTION or PAUSE mode!).
On re-connecting, the map will of course "catch up" immediately.

2. The PSX Boost server sends coordinates, altitude, heading, pitch and bank values. Coordinates and heading are of course applied by Wheramium, which is why you cannot pan or rotate the map while connected to PSX — any manual input will at once be overridden by the next set of data arriving from PSX.
However: Wheramium ignores the PSX pitch value, which means that even while connected you can tilt the map manually (it may be a bit fiddly) and thus achieve a kind of forward "cockpit view". But keep in mind that there will be no 3D terrain to enjoy (or fear).

● EXIT Button

Abandoning Tellurium's "Belly Cam Control" widget presented an interesting new challenge: Users can still start Wheramium (the Java program) by double-clicking the JAR file, but how can they then stop it again? CTRL-ALT-DEL? Pulling the power plug? Re-installing Windows? Formatting C: ?
The "solution" to this is the new EXIT button on the webpage. It sends a special request to the webserver, which will then gracefully close down the Java program. Or so it is hoped. Note that it can work only while the webpage is still connected to the Wheramium webserver.
It is however not quite clear how reliable this mechanism is; most of the time it works, but (very) occasionally the stop message seems to get overlooked. In itself that is not a big deal; the problem is that the user has no direct way to determine if the Java program is still running or not. I did not want to create a new Java GUI especially and exclusively for that purpose, as it might increase the CPU load etc. further, and quite unnecessarily.

After clicking on the EXIT button, the bottom of the webpage should look like this:
 
afterExit (2K)
If you however still have the "Connect" option (and can in fact re-connect to the webserver), like this...
 
afterDisconnect (2K)
... it means that the Exit button message has been ignored and Wheramium is actually still running.

To make perfectly sure if Wheramium ist still active or not, run it in a Command Prompt window, or check in Task Manager or Process Explorer, and kill the process there if required.
Caution: The Wheramium process is labelled javaw.exe. (In Task Manager, check the "Details" tab to see this.)
             Do not kill java.exe, for that is PSX!
Finally, if you restart Wheramium later on, you must also reload the webpage.

● "Heartbeat" Indicator

To the right of the coordinate indications, there is now another, intentionally inconspicuous field labelled "Conn:"

heartbeat (2K)


As long as the connection to the webserver is working, this will show rapidly changing numbers. Their value as such is not important (it is the "millisecond modulo 1000" part of the records sent by the Boost server); the point is to indicate that data from PSX via the webserver are indeed being received, and that Wheramium is thus still running fine.
This is important esp. in situations where the coordinates do not change, e.g. when stationary on the ground, or with PSX in PAUSE or MOTION mode. In these cases you would not be able (unless you have a Command Prompt window to look at) to determine if the connection is still OK and the aircaft is just not moving; or if the connection has broken down. So these numbers serve merely as a kind of "heartbeat" function.

● Tips and Tricks

Finally, some general hints for Wheramium usage...
Don't take them too strictly: Much will depend on the specific circumstances of your system (Internet connection speed, CPU and graphics card power, etc.) and also external factors (esp. the current load on the map servers). So, experiment a bit to find out what can and cannot be achieved in your specific setup.


Credits

Thanks and credits go to

Licences

Cesium is under the Apache 2.0 License, see file README.md in the ...\cesium_min folder.
(This folder contains a subset of the full Cesium installation: demos etc. have been omitted.)

Licenses for the various third party components of Cesium are listed in the file LICENSE.md, also in ...\cesium_min.

As to PSX_Wheramium itself, I dunno. Do no evil.
PSX_Wheramium is free, but I reserve the Copyright (© Martin Erdelen 2020).
Don't make money from it, don't use it commercially (not always the same thing), and don't distribute modifications without contacting me first. (This latter restriction is for technical rather than for legal reasons... ;-))

Have fun!


End of document
updated for "v.02" 13.08.2020: version 2
© Martin Erdelen 2020