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Today we announce the release of Condor update 2.0.5 with native support for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive (using Revive). This update is free for all Condor 2 users. Existing users can download the free update patch here.
VR Demo Video: https://youtu.be/H23IEsiVjpA
- Note: The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive both require a pretty powerful computer graphics card. I tested my PC using the utility program found on the Oculus web site and found that my 3 year old computer's graphics card was not fast or powerful enough. I therefore ordered a compatible graphics card from Dell. Below are links to the PC test utility from Oculus.
Also released today is our first glider with sustainer motor - the ASG 29 Es 18m in 2 variants with and without motor.
Condor 2 with Oculus Rift Review by Paul Remde
I am extremely impressed with the new VR functionality in Condor 2! I am using an Oculus Rift. I am surprised how much better it is than staring at a computer screen. The feeling of "immersion" is extremely cool! I feel like I'm sitting in the glider. I can glance back to see the runway as I fly down the downwind leg. I can glance up at the cumulus cloud overhead. I can even lean-out and look down at what is below me. I think it is worth the $349 for the Oculus Rift and about $300 for the PC graphics card upgrade.
I think every soaring club that wants to attract young soaring pilots should invest in an Oculus Rift, Condor 2, and any necessary PC upgrades ASAP. It is a great tool for teaching soaring on days when you can't go flying, or before or after flying. The PC monitor still shows the same 2D view it always has, but now it tracks the pilot's head movements. That way the instructor sees what the student is seeing.
There are 2 minor "nice to know" things that I should mention. At first, I found that I become motion sick when using the VR goggles - especially when I look around too much (which is easy to do when you're first amazed by the system). The great news is that the nausea improved with time. After an hour or two, it was no longer a problem. The 2nd thing is that the instruments on the instrument panel are slightly difficult to read in some of the sailplanes. Moving the goggles up and down a little to find the best focus helps a lot, but still, it is like my eyeglasses are slightly out of prescription. If I lean toward the instrument panel, I can read the instruments just fine. When I look around I can see objects outside the cockpit fine. These are not major issues, but ones worth mentioning.
Another cool benefit to buying the Oculus Rift is that the free Google Earth VR app is incredible! I can fly around soaring sites that I'm familiar with and feel like I'm there again. I especially enjoyed viewing the region between Nephi, Utah and Ely, Nevada - a journey that I haven't completed in a sailplane yet. It is very easy to use the Oculus hand controller to point in the direction you want to go, and fly off in that direction using the "hat switch". To fly faster, just pull the trigger. It is a great way to familiarize yourself with a soaring site before flying there. Also, my kids love the "Beat Saber" light saber and music beats app. It is a blast!
Condor Keypad - NEW
The Condor Keypad brings most of the common keyboard commands to your fingertips. It dramatically improves the ease-of-use of Condor and Condor 2. Instead of trying to remember which key on the PC keyboard is used to toggle the landing gear, just hit the "Gear" button. It connects to a USB port on the PC.
The Condor Keypad is especially handy for users of VR (virtual reality) goggles. The goggles make it tough to find a key on a full-size computer keyboard, but after a little practice, I was able to remember and find the desired keys on the Condor Keypad.
New Landscapes for Condor2
We designed Condor to give pilots the complete experience of soaring on their PC. The key to this experience is the feeling of immersion in the environment. Precise aerodynamics and weather physics drive the ongoing development. The Condor simulator with state of the art graphics, real time control feedback, and cockpit sounds immerses you, the pilot, in the experience and is the closest you can come to flying a glider without ever leaving the ground.
Condor is much more than a simple soaring flight simulator. It is a great competition soaring simulator. You can compete with soaring pilots in on other computers in the same room, or half-way around the world. But it is much more than that. Common uses include:
- Sailplane Racing simulator (Join races with pilots anywhere in the world, or host your own race with your friends.)
- Flight School - Learn how to fly aerotow, winch launch, fly the ridge, fly a final glide, etc. (See the Flight School page.)
- Aerobatics trainer
- Cross-Country Soaring simulator (thermal, ridge and wave flying possible)
- Classroom training tool - Show students what a spin looks like and what the controls and control surfaces are doing during the maneuver.
- Advanced 6DOF flight model for total freedom of flight
- Accurate sailplane performance and handling – also at and beyond critical angles of attack
- Sailplane damage simulation – flutter, high G stress, collisions
- UBphysics™ engine runs at 500 x frame rate for high accuracy
- Accurate ground forces for realistic takeoffs, landings and crashes
- Detailed, sub-object collision detection for mid air and ground object collisions
- Accurate conditions for a realistic towing and winch start
- Video - Physics
- Realistic thermal life cycle: starting from the ground they reach cloud base, the cloud becomes bigger and more dense and later dissipates which causes the air below it to sink.
- The location and strength of thermals is based on terrain sun exposure and ground features like forests, fields and villages.
- Realistic daily sun travel which affects the frequency and strength of thermals.
- Cloud can form streets with appropriate wind settings
- Up slope wind on sunny ridges (anabatic winds).
- Ridge lift with leeward downwind and turbulence, venturi effects.
- Waves behind ridges, wavelength depends on wind speed and stability of the atmosphere.
- Correct atmosphere pressure, density and temperature height distribution.
- 3D isotropic turbulence model for thermal and mechanical turbulence.
- Preset and custom weather conditions.
- Video - Thermals
- Support for up to 64 pilots
- Simultaneous Internet and LAN support
- Dedicated server option
- Central web based servers list for easy connecting
- Host configures flightplan which is automatically propagated to clients (task, weather, plane class, realism options)
- Real time scoring and support for regatta starts for maximum excitement
- Radio frequencies support when chatting
- Sub-object collision detection for realistic mid-air collisions
- Accurate speed polars.
- Real world handling.
- Configurable water ballast and C/G position.
- Detailed plane models.
- Moving controls and control surfaces.
- Wings flex under G load.
- Dynamic external and cockpit shadows.
- Custom registration and competition numbers.
- Custom skin support.
- Animated pilot.
- Comprehensive cockpit instrumentation with averager, speed command, custom vario time constants, …
- Support for metric, imperial and australian units.
- Handheld computer with its own software.
- Video - Planes
In Condor 2 you can fly over Slovenia which is made in 30 meters resolution. Combine that with the fact that this is an alpine country, it is perfect for the soaring experience.
- High resolution 30m terrain mesh (SRTM, DEM etc.)
- Forests with high density trees
- Ground 3D objects (villages, castles, farms, communication towers, etc.)
- Unique synthetic textures (satellite and ortophoto images can also be used)
- Realistic airports with 3D objects (hangars, windsocks, houses, restaurants)
- Multiple windsocks
- Realistic Grass
- Asphalt runways with paint markings
- With the Landscape Toolkit new landscapes can easily be added
- Video - Terrain Shadows
- Every flight can be saved as a replay file and viewed later.
- Custom cameras during replay playback.
- Every flight can be saved to proprietary “flight track” file format which is used for flight analysis and record claims.
- Flight tracks can be exported to IGC file format and viewed with external IGC viewers.
- Replays and flight tracks can be exchanged with other players and used to either compare the flying or to race against the “ghosts” of other pilots tracks.
- Real-time NMEA output through serial port
- GPGGA, GPRMC and LXWP0 sentences are supported (the set can be expanded if needed)
- NMEA is a standard communication protocol for transferring navigational data (position, speed, heading, bearing, etc.) Today, every GPS hardware features NMEA output to communicate with handheld devices or laptops through serial port. Condor uses this protocol to enable you to use your own handheld devices and software for navigation
- SimKits output
- Condor UDP protocol based output
- Using these outputs, there are possibilities for interfacing Condor with external devices like instruments or motion platforms.
- Racing to FAI rules
- Classic and window type sectors.
- User configurable penalty zones.
- Classic and Grand Prix “Regatta” starts.
- Configurable penalty points for various infringements.
- Rendering code completely rewritten to DirectX 11, allowing extensive use of GPU shaders (vs DirectX 7 of Condor 1 with fixed pipeline rendering)
- Screen resolution limited only to hardware (vs max 2048 in Condor 1)
- Fullscreen ALT-TAB functionality is now supported (vs. full screen switching not supported in Condor 1)
- Many improvements to thermal model (higher cloud base, thicker clouds, streeting, flatlands activity)
- Completely new Cu cloud model, much less strain on the GPU and more realistic lighting, will enable much bigger clouds (2.x version)
- Improved ridge lift model
- A new high level wind speed setting with wind speeds up to 100 km/h (vs. no high level wind setting and wind speeds of max 50 km/h in Condor 1)
- Completely rewritten wave lift with multiple waves and lenticularis clouds (vs. single wave and no lenticularis clouds in Condor 1)
- Adjustable cirrus density (vs static in Condor 1)
- 64 planes or more in MP with better (smarter) plane position data exchange (vs max 32 planes in Condor 1)
- Automatic port forwarding (vs manual NAT setup in Condor 1)
Flight physics model:
- Improvements to flight physics model
- Nicer plane handling
- 30 m resolution scenery, internally 22.5m (vs 90 m in Condor 1)
- Default scenery texture size is 2048 (vs 512 in Condor 1, that is 16x more texture data)
- Much lower terrain texture memory footprint despite higher texture resolution
- Much denser forests with real size trees and more accurate tree placement (vs less dense forests with 3x too big trees and 16x worse tree placement in Condor 1)
- Multithreaded terrain loading which loads terrain tiles much faster (vs. single threaded terrain loading in Condor 1 which would now take 8+ seconds if not multithreaded)
- Water is “alive” with sun reflections and waves (vs static texture in Condor 1)
Sky and shading:
- New sky model with more realistic sunrise/sunset effects
- Exponential (realistic) haze (vs linear haze in Condor 1)
- Cu clouds cast shadows depending on the sun position (vs shadow always vertically below cloud in Condor 1)
- Lenticularis clouds cast shadows on ground and planes
- New sun and flares model, sun is hidden behind objects, flares disappear (vs. sun and flares always ON even if behind an object in Condor 1)
- Realtime scenery lighting and shadows, mountains cast shadows (vs. static texture shadows in Condor 1)
- Trees, planes, airports and all ground objects lighted from sun and shadowed from mountains and clouds (vs. static color in Condor 1)
- All ground objects cast shadows (vs no shadows in Condor 1)
- Realtime self shadowing of planes in cockpit and outside (vs. no self shadowing in Condor 1)
- Specular highlights on planes and other objects (vs no specular highlights in Condor 1)
- Much higher poly count of planes (exterior and cockpit)
- 3D instrument models (vs 2D textures in Condor 1)
- Reflections of pilot on instruments (vs no reflections in Condor 1)
- New, high poly and high resolution texture pilot model
- Completely new wing bend model, wings now have inertia (vs. no inertia in Condor 1)
- New animation for hand to see wristwatch which is animated
- Rotating wheels on planes (vs static wheels in Condor 1)
- Improved high/low G effects
- Completely redesigned airport rendering with high resolution asphalt and grass textures (vs. low resolution textures in Condor 1)
- Scenery designer controlled placement of windsocks. Multiple windsocks per airport are allowed, with adjustable size (vs. 1 windsock with generic placement in Condor 1)
- Much higher poly count and higher resolution airport objects
- New, higher resolution GUI
- High resolution flighttrack logging (vs. low resolution in Condor 1)
- Right button mouse “zooming” allows camera placement almost everywhere (vs static distance camera in Condor 1)
- Moved all user files (flighttracks, flightplans etc) to documents\Condor folder (vs “virtualstore” issues in Condor 1)
- Revised registration and verification to eliminate installation counter problems
- Many other improvements (variable tow rope length etc.) …
Condor uses a limited area or “Sandbox” approach with landscapes. This was chosen because of the specific needs of a soaring simulator and the limitations of current hardware. Condor is optimized for SRTM data for terrain mesh, use of synthetic (rather than photorealistic) textures and heavy use of 3D ground objects, such as forests, cities, airports, villages, mountain huts, telecommunication towers, etc.
Creation of a wide selection of quality landscapes for Condor is a complex and time consuming task that exceeds the capability of our team. It would be impossible for us to cover many interesting soaring sites that our users demand. That is why we chose to give users the ability to create their own landscapes. This way the workload is spread among many people and also users can choose to create the landscapes they like without being limited to specific areas.
Since the release of our Condor Scenery Toolkit in 2006 a number of great landscapes have been made by Condor users and many more are in the pipeline which is a great acknowledgment for our landscape policy.
The toolkit is updated and renamed for Condor 2, and its now known as Condor Landscape Toolkit. It can be found on the Downloads page.
Much more additional information can be found at our Landscape development forum.
Quality, highly detailed handmade commercial landscapes with 3D objects for Condor 1 and Condor 2
Almost all free landscapes are available to be downloaded at Condor club