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Boat design sample
Boat data structure | Boat design sample | Instrument panels | Weapons

Virtual Sailor has an open boat format, a boat consists of several file types:

  • Boat.cfg , Boat.bmp , and panel textures.
  • Model files and their associated texture files.
  • The sound files of the boat, which will be used instead of the default sounds.

The Boat.cfg file defines the physical parameters of the boat such as the lenght and mass , and also the position and orientation of the moving parts.

In the following sample we will go step by step over the components of a sample sailboat.

Step One:

Download the boat source files , converter and textures
Download source files and conv3ds

If you do not have a 3D mdeling program Download a Demo of B-Cad

B-Cad will not allow you to save 3DS files but will give you good start with 3D modeling so that you will understand how to modify the boat files with the one of the popular programs 3D studio or 3D studio Max.

Step Two:

Then extract the boat source file into an empty directory of your choice, inside it you will see the following files:

The "new_boat" directory is where the files for the new boat will be placed.

The "source" directory is where the original 3DS files are found.

The "conv3ds.exe" file is a standard converter made my Microsoft for converting 3DS files into X files used in VS.

The "make.bat" is a small batch file to convert the files in the source directory and place them into the new_boat directory.

Step Three:

Run the make.bat and let it convert the 3DS files into X files for the new boat.

After the batch has completed examine the contents of the new_boat directory:

As you can see the directory containes now the Boat.cfg file, the texture files and the X files used for the boat, there are also two sounds of the engine and waves that will be used for the boat sounds instead of the default ones.

Step Four:

Copy the new_boat directory into the Virtual Sailor\Boats directory, run Virtual Sailor and select the new_boat.

As you can see the boat was made very similar to the default sailboat , now apply some engine and you will hear a different engine sound, also note a different panel and a different wave sound.

So far we have seen how to use and convert the files in the sample, and also how we can use a customized panel bitmaps and boat sounds.

Step Five:

Now we will examine the Boat.cfg file and it's relation to the X files we have just created.

Open the Boat.cfg of the boat you have made with Notepad or any other text editor, and examine the parmeters of the helm location:

As you can see the helm is located at Y = 8.0 and Z = -18.5

Now open the boat.3ds file with your 3D program such as B-Cad mentioned above.

As we can see, the location of Z = -18.5 and Y = 8.0 is the location of the helm in the boat's model coordinates, so the helm.x file is simply positioned where the helm of the boat should be placed inside the boat model.

Now if we wanted for example to move the helm to the unlikely position of the cabin entry it would have the cooridinates of Z = -14.5 and Y = 8.5 as wee see in the model.

Now change these values in the boat.cfg and save it into the new_boat of Virtual Sailor.

Run Virtual Sailor and select the new boat, now you can see that the helm has indeed moved to the cabin entry.

In this step we have seen how moving parts are positioned in the boat according to the values in the boat.cfg file, now we will show how orientations of these parts are being used in the program.

Step Six:

Open the boat.cfg file and examine the orientation parameters of the jib sail : Sails_dx , Sails_dy, Sails_dz , Sails_ux, Sails_uy, Sails_uz.

Here we have for the jib sail :

sails_dx = 0.0

sails_dy = 0.405

sails_dz = 0.915

sails_ux = 0.0

sails_uy = 0.915

sails_uz = -0.405

These numbers represent the vectors that define the direction axis and the up axis of the jib sail, as we can see in the following diagram a direction of ( 0, 0, 1) is pointing in the Z axis direction , and an up axis of ( 0, 1, 0) will point at the y axis.

So if we change these values to:

sails_dx = 0.0

sails_dy = 0.0

sails_dz = 1.0

sails_ux = 0.0

sails_uy = 1.0

sails_uz = 0.0

Then then jib will be oriented just like the main mast and will pivot around a vertical axis.

Now change these values in the boat.cfg file and save it into the new_boat of the Virtual Sailor.

Run Virtual Sailor and select the new boat, examine the chaneg that has occured in the jib's orientation.

So far we have seen how to position and how to orient the moving parts in the boat, some parts are not moving but have special functions, these are discussed in the next step.

Step Seven:

Open the lights.3ds file with your 3D program such as B-Cad mentioned above.

You will see a very simple object made of three spheres, a red sphere, a green sphere and a white sphere.

These spheres are placed in the exact position where you want the lights to show on your boat, they will not be lit by the sunlight or moonlight as the rest of the boat but will glow always as if they were real lights.

This can be seen when you examine the boat in Virtual Sailor:

If you want to make the lights acoording to the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea these lights should be built according to the following diagram:

In the next step a few tips will be given how to create the boat and all parts for it.

Step Eight:

So by now you must be asking "how do i create a whole boat ?", the answer is simple: create the whole boat in a single file, place each part in it's correct location and then take each of the components of the boat and save it as an individual file and remove it from the boat file.

The steps for creating the whole boat should look somethign like that:

1) Assemble the whole boat into a single file with all parts in place.

2) Seperate the Helm, Rudder, Main sail , Jib and Spinnaker and place each of them in a seperate file so that the center of rotation will be at (0,0,0) .

3) Save all the seperate files as described in the boat structure, and save the boat without the moving parts in the boat file.

4) Now run the Make.bat with the conv3ds.exe converter to convert these files into x files.

5) Use an existing copy of the boat.cfg as atemplate and fill in the values of positions and orientations of the moving parts, measure those locations in the file of the assembly of the whole boat.

6) Place the bridge position to the place you want the pilot to be, usually in front of the helm.

7) Copy all the files into an empty directory and put it inside the boats directory of Virtual Sailor, test the new boat and adjust positions as necessary.

8) Set the physical parameters of the new boat and test the boat's handling.


Creating a new boat is not difficult but a certain knowledge of 3D modeling is required, and ofcourse a good 3D modeling program.

Find a good 3D program and learn how to use it, once you have gained confidence try to start with the sample files attached and modify them, set new positions and orientations and even change the textures.

Once you feel confident, start creating your new design or adapt one of the exisiting ones found on the web.

If your boat looks good, please contribute it to this site so other users can enjoy it and boat selection will increase.

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