Intro to IKARUS

Hey! Sorry for the delay in posting. I have been extremely busy working on my second version of my pit, have recently been promoted at work and have had limited time to update the blog with content. Additionally, I’ve been accepted into the 104th Phoenix, as a cadet and have been trying to get in as much time with them as possible – woo!

With that said, by popular request, let’s get into IKARUS. This guide will be an introduction to the software, it will not go over how to custom build your own profile – that will come next as it would be far too much information. But this will be a great starting point for you.

This intro is meant for you to have IKARUS already installed and have the FA18 profile up. Read this entry and navigate through IKARUS at the same time. Further, each section sort of builds on the other and they get slightly shorter as you keep reading because many of the sections have similar attributes.

Lets Begin

IKARUS is much like Helios, for those of you who are familiar with Helios. In short, both allow you to export gauges and send/receive data both to and from DCS allowing for the use of toggle switches and buttons to be used on a touchscreen and sent to the game.

The major difference between the two is IKARUS allows for more customization than Helios. For example, my touch screen UFC that looks sort-of-like a Super Hornet UFC. I was able to custom-make buttons and switches that enabled me to make the UFC more believable VS. a weathered looking panel with 3D looking buttons that are projected onto a screen – that seemed silly to me. So since I have a glassy (read:monitors) cockpit I decided to build a UFC and panels that mimicked what it might actually look like if the gauges/dials were actually projected onto a screen.

Early concept of my A-10c UFC, it doesn’t “look” like the A-10c UFC in real life, but it offers all the same functionality of the real thing and looks real/believable on a digital touch screen.

IKARUS Basics

Once you’ve downloaded and installed IKARUS, per it’s instructions, you will likely be quite overwhelmed. For the purposes of explaining we are going to use the stock Hornet profile it comes with. It is broken up into 6 primary sections (from Left to right):

  • Instruments
  • Instrumentfunctions
  • Switches
  • Lamps
  • Accessories
  • Configuration
  • Log (7th, I know, but we are going to ignore this one)

For purposes of explaining these we are going to start out of order.

Additionally, when you install IKARUS there are a bunch of sub folders that contain a bunch of assets. I’ll talk more about these in the building your own profile guide, but what you need to know is that they contain images that you will use to assign to the various functions. For example – Switches contain all the images for buttons/toggles. Lamps contain the lights for gear on/off, etc.

Configuration

You can think of the configuration section as canvas for your buttons, switches and gauges. That is, you build 1-or-more panels and link your buttons and such to them. Imagine having 3 pieces of paper and 5 photos for a photo album. You would glue each photo to a piece of paper. Configuration is similar to this concept, with the exception you’re not gluing yet. You’re only defining how many pieces of paper and what size they are and where they exist.

In this section should notice the following:

  • Detail
    Clicking this opens a GUI to edit the below, but know you can edit directly within the grid itself.
  • Refresh
    In my custom profiles I have not had to adjust this. I’m not entirely sure what benefit this provides, we can ignore it.
  • Panel
    This is the numerical value assigned to each “canvas”; think of it as a page number to say, “I want photo 2 and 4 to be assigned to page 1”. My custom profile only needs 1 panel.
    You’ll find with the stock Hornet profile that multiple were created to turn them on/off to be able to use panels that you don’t always need to be looking at. This is a feature not really needed in a custom profile.
  • Pos. X/Pos. Y
    This is the same concept as my previous post regarding Exports. This is the X/Y coordinates on your monitor that you want the panel to begin. If I wanted the panel to start at the top left hand corner of my screen I would be at 0,0. But say I’m building a pit and I wanted to populate it below my main Exports…. I would need to figure out where the DCS screen ends and where I need IKARUS to begin.
In this example we would want IKARUS to start at 0,2240 right where DCS ends
  • Width/Height
    Sticking with the page example: this would be defining the size of the page you wanted. Is it 8.5×11? 9×14? You get to define, in pixels, how large the page is. It should not be larger or smaller than the monitors you are trying to populate.

    Using the same image above, we can see IKARUS is populating 1600 pixels on the X Axis (800+800) and 1400 pixels on the Y Axis (600+800). Wait is it 1400? Nope, we also need to account for the space on the Red 800×1280 monitors, too. We know DCS is taking up 2240 pixels in Height and my main monitors is 1440. So if we subtract the two we can figure out how much space DCS is taking up on the Red monitors and add that difference to the 1400.

    2240-1440 = 800, 800+1400 = 2200

    The total area IKARUS would need to take up is 1400 x 2200
  • Background Day
    This is where you get to choose an image to serve as the page color. I chose to make a digital looking green background that is a solid color, no fading or anything. Even if you make that color 60×60 pixels you can define and stretch it using Width/Height option above to whatever size you need it to be. It will not impact the clarity or anything because it’s just a single color.

    Do note, if you choose to make a weathered looking background you will want them to be the exact Width/Height you need otherwise as it scales to the size it will more than likely reduce clarity and stretch the image.

Instruments

IKARUS has already predefined all of the instruments within each aircraft. If you were building your own pit you would just click at the bottom left “Add Record”. Click on Detail for the new record at the bottom and:
– Assign it to the page (Panel)
– Define the Class, the actual Instrument (ADI, HSI, etc)
– Call it something (name)
– Define where you want it to populate and how big you want it to be
– I have not really messed with the Frames/Glass. Most of the options are weathered looking panels so I just remove them. I have not created any either as I have not had a need for them – but feel free to play around with this. There are several premade options available.

Going back to “Define where you want it to populate”. The Pos X/Pos Y coordinates follows the same concept we have been discussing with a slight caveat. These coordinates are the X/Y Axis of the IKARUS Panel you created above. If you created a 800×600 panel, but it sits at 0,1400, the X/Y is the coordinates within the 800×600. 0,0 would sit at the top left corner of the 800×600 panel – not the overall size of all of your monitors. While this might seem confusing, it’s actually quite helpful because you’re only worried about where it populates within the IKARUS panel – NOT your total monitor space.

There are other options in the grid view that are not available in the Detail Panel. Instance and Panel.
Instance is just a unique number given to the Instrument you created. If you’re a database person think of this as a primary key to link other database fields to from different tables. Now, I have a theory that instance also acts as a layer. That is the higher the instance is, it will overlap lower instances if the two instruments were placed on top of each other.
Panel, this is where you assign what panel you want your instrument to populate to, very important. IE: What pictures you want on what page.

Instrumentfunctions

This is probably the most difficult section to understand, but I’m going to make it easy because you really do not need to understand all of it.

First, if you have nothing highlighted on the Instruments tab, nothing will display here. For the sake of understanding, go back to the Instruments tab and highlight “ADI”, which is the FA18C_ADI; don’t click detail, just the row itself. Now if you click Instrumentfunctions you’ll see all of the functions that the ADI uses: Pitch, bank, slipball, etc.

After highlighting ADI, you should see the following

Basically, each of these functions are associated with a DCS ID that allow IKARUS to read values and project them into the instrument.

Initially, I was digging into LUA/XML files trying to pull what all of the min/max values were, the IDs and all of that stuff. However, if you wanted to build the ADI into your own panel, just take a screen shot of this section. and replicate all of the values you see here into your new instrument. You would have to do this for all of the instruments you wanted, but it is possible.

…or you could use this profile as a baseline and just delete the instruments you don’t want, but more on that when I go into creating your own profile in a separate post.

Switches

Switches follow a very similar approach to Instruments/Instrumentfunctions. When you add a record you get to select what panel you want it assigned to, the type of switch you need it to be (Class) and the Function it will perform. Additionally, you get to define where it populates and the size of the button, all in pixels (again within the IKARUS canvas pane, not total monitor space).

In this case though, the Functions are laid out to tell you exactly what it will perform. IE: UFC Keyboard Pushbotton, 5. That will activate the Push button associated with the Hornet’s UFC #5. Which is far more intuitive than the Instruments.

The more complicated section is the relation between Class and Image On, Off, On. What I did was understand the aircraft I’m flying and the switch positions and how those relate to IKARUS. IE: If I push a button and it stays depressed, or a flick a switch up and it stays up. I take my knowledge of that switch and see how it is configured in IKARUS and make a note of that option for the future.

Image On/Off/On section is where you get to choose the images for the associated switch. Let’s keep with the UFC #5 Button… we know that that button is Off until it is depressed. So with my custom UFC I created a button for On and Off using photoshop-like software.

The stock profile has something similar but they look more like physical buttons than digital. I could have kept those same buttons and not gone through the hassle of creating my own images, but I’m a bit extra and wanted it to have a solid look. The Image Off/On get assigned to those sections respectively.

Further, if you do not assign any images to the switch, the switch still exists to the size dimensions you gave it. IE: if you make a switch 100 pixels at 0,0 but assign to images to it. While you might not be able to see the switch, it actually is there and will perform the function you have assigned to it regardless if you can see it. This knowledge becomes useful with regards to lamps.

Lamps

Lamps perform very similarly to Switches. The exception is you don’t need to worry about multiple on/off/on functions, as a lamp is either on or it is off.

If you open the detail it becomes pretty self explanatory. Select the function it is related to, for example, CPT_LTS_FIRE_APU. There is a light for when its on (there’s a fire) and off (no fire). This is probably the most simplistic part of IKARUS, but just like switches I got a little extra:

Here is my AA selection lamp in the hortnet AA = Off AAON = On

Now, in the case of the AA and AG functions in the hornet we know that these are both a switch to toggle between air-to-air and air-to-ground modes but there are also lamps associated with them when the mode has been selected. In my custom IKARUS profile I did not assign an image to the switch, because I knew when I selected the switch the lamp would illuminate.

If I have no image for the switch, how do I know where to press? Well, the ON/OFF of the Lamp is always there, that is, there is a OFF Image associated with the off function of the lamp and on with on. So I just kept the switch and lamp size the same and overlaid the Lamp on top of the switch (read: they populated the same x,y coordinate). Since the switch has no image there is no conflict between the overlapped “images”.

Accessories

Think of accessories as a bit of flare to spice things up. That is, they are images that do nothing and perform no function at all. But they can be used to enhance a panel. One of my issues in creating my own profile was getting away from weathered panels – panels that did not look digital in nature. So I created, using photoshop-like-software, an image for my fuel/RPM readouts.

I assigned it the panel, adjusted x/y where I wanted it and then placed the instruments where they should be.

Voila! my own custom made Engine/Fuel readout

That’s it! That’s an overview of IKARUS. My next post will be creating your own profile and some short cuts to make the whole thing a lot easier for you. I’ve learned a lot and have a bunch of stuff to share with you that will save a bunch of time. However, if you decide to take this overview and run with it in creating your own… there is one little feature I had not discovered until awhile ago.

When you’re building your own profile it helps to check “Editor Mode”… it’s a bit finicky, but it will allow you to drag instruments, lamps and switches around on the panel. This makes moving things close to where you want them much easier. Then just fine tune with the exact X/Y value of that particular asset. In the second image above, of my fuel panel, you’ll see yellow boxes with digital 8s… that’s an example of Editor Mode. You can click, drag and move those instruments. When you’re completed, just uncheck editor mode and those selection areas disappear.

I hope this helps as a starting point… much more to come!

Guppy, out.

4 thoughts on “Intro to IKARUS

  1. Thank you so much for this post! I’ve been using Helios for about 2 months now and while it’s pretty solid if you just want to run a CaptZeen profile (which are amazing) I find it very difficult to customize anything.

    Ikarus seems like a great alternative and now I finally have a intro guide to get started! Keep up the great work!

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  2. Utter misguided. There is nothing Ikarus can do that Helios can’t (and much more elegantly) except give you a headache.

    As for custom button images, the pressed and unpressed states have an option to use custom images RIGHT THERE in the properties panel in Helios. You just drag an existing (typically A10) button type that you want e.g. push button toggle, and then specify your own paths using the standard windows gui to the two custom images for the two states. It LITERALLY can’t get any easier than that.

    How you think the mess that is Ikarus is easier is beyond me.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! It sounds like you are really passionate with your opinions and that’s awesome. Much like I don’t understand why some people prefer to use google-sheets over Excel it looks like you prefer Helios over Ikarus. That’s great! Different strokes for different folks. It’s okay for people to have different opinions on what works best for them. After-all, this is a blog of my experience and opinions.

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