FreeMeshX

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About FreeMeshX

FreeMeshX is a global terrain mesh replacement for the stock terrain mesh inside Microsoft Flight Simulator X, Flight Simulator X Steam Edition, and Prepar3D (V1,V2, V3), and features LOD10 (38-m) coverage for almost the entire world. LOD10 is equal to the same terrain level of detail used for the USA in the stock scenery. The rest of the world varies from LOD6 to LOD9. FreeMeshX was created to bring the rest of the world up to the LOD10 standard as much as possible, although some regions of the world in the higher latitudes are still limited to LOD9 (76-m).

The motivation for this project started from the lack of a comprehensive global terrain mesh replacement that did not involve forking over hard earned cash. FS Global 2010 is a great project, but it costs well over 50 USD and uses mainly older SRTM2 90-m downscaled to 76-m resolution. FSGenesis has a 20 USD global terrain mesh, but like FS Global 2010, it uses mainly older SRTM2 90-m data downscaled to LOD9.

Towards the end of 2014, NASA began to release newer, upgraded terrain data for regions outside of the USA that was higher in resolution and also void-filled. This SRTM 3.0 data is identical to the quality of the USA SRTM data that is available at 1-arcsecond resolution (30-m). Unlike proprietary terrain data, such as NextMap, SRTM data has always been open and free, so nothing prohibited us to start downloading the data and compiling it for FS use.

FreeMeshX LOD10 (38-m) coverage:

  • North America (LOD10 Canada is released in this mesh - default USA is already LOD10, so USA is not included for the base release. An LOD11 - LOD12 USA mesh is WIP.)
  • South and Central America
  • Europe
  • Asia
  • Africa
  • Australia and Oceania

FreeMeshX LOD9 (76-m) coverage:

  • Antarctica
  • Greenland
  • Russian territories north of 60 N latitude

FreeMeshX was compiled using over 400 GB of raw terrain data. The final size of the product is 42 GB, making it one of the largest freeware projects ever for FS. It wouldn't be in everyone's best interests to download all 42 GB at once, so we are releasing the product the product into continental regions for a total of 7 downloads total. Each continent contains a number of 10 deg x 10 deg titles, created from 1 deg x 1 deg tiles into an approximately 2.5 GB file, and then compressed into a multi-LOD BGL file. Defragmentation is highly recommended for mechanical hard drives to ensure smooth and quick loading.

Largest improvements are found in regions that contain mainly LOD6 and LOD7 meshes. Mainly remote regions of Africa, South America, Antarctica, and Asia. Europe sees some improvement, but it's LOD9 mesh is just a one level upgrade to LOD10. Some improvements will be found in the accuracy of the mesh and level of detail in mountain ranges, such as Suilven in Scotland pictured below.

Distribution

Distribution over the net is a challenge. With this much data, how do we move it? Well, bit torrent was built to move large amounts of data through P2P. We'll be employing this solution as the primary distribution method, but we will also be using MediaFire links as well for those who can't use bitTorrent due to ISP throttling or blocking. Please seed! With as many people as possible seeding, download speeds will be excellent for all users. We rented out a seedbox with a 10 Gbps upload speed just for this purpose!

Future Expansions

FreeMeshX Global 1.0 is just the beginning. FreeMeshX is planned to be a moving release, and evolve in time. Subsequent expansions will include a higher detailed mesh for the USA using NED data.

Why are we releasing this for free?

Because why not? We haven't used significant financial resources. Neither should you. We certainly don't feel our free time is so important that we should charge you 50+ USD. We'd rather share with you without expecting donations, payments, or even small thanks. If you try and like it, then that is enough reward for us.

Compatibility

FreeMeshX should work with other meshes. FSX simply uses the highest LOD mesh in the library for a given location. This way you can layer meshes. For instance, FS Global 2010 may have a LOD11 mesh for a mountain range. With both FreeMeshX and FS Global 2010 enabled in the library, FSX will prioritize the LOD11 mesh over the FreeMeshX LOD10 mesh.
Tested and built using FTX Global. Works great. We recommend purchasing it. It's on sale this month of May too.

Airport plateaus:

Every terrain mesh is affected by airports on plateaus. This is due to FSX making every airport flat, and then giving the airport file an elevation to place it along the default terrain. If the default terrain is not correct, which is often the case, and a more accurate mesh is installed that differs significantly from default terrain, then the airport will be found in a pit or plateau.

The only way to circumvent the problem of plateaus are (in preferential order):

  1. Manually blend in each default airport by hand with the new mesh (not going to happen)
  2. Code a tool to flatten meshes around airports (inconvenient)
  3. Provide updated airport elevation corrections (inconvenient)

None of these solutions will be offered by Nine-Two Productions, mainly because we lack the skillset or means of developing them at this time. What we recommend is using existing 3rd party solutions such as Pilot's Airport Flattening Meshes or ORBX FTX Vector airport elevation corrections. We recommend the ORBX solution because you get more for your buck than just generic flattening meshes. Both of them are linked below:

https://www.fullterrain.com/product/ftxgvector
http://www.fly2pilots.com/Cms/Default.aspx