Making A Landing/Taxi Light Object
 
In this tutorial I will explain what I have found and my process for making a landing light object for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002 and 2004 in gMax v1.2. With the exception of one point which I will mention later, the process is the same for 3d Studio Max. For some that may read this, you may find some things fairly obvious, but I am writing this with the total novice in mind.
 
I start with a back viewport selected.
 
I am going to make a simple plane object to start with. First click on the "Create" tab, then the "Geometry" button and next the "Plane" button. Click on the "Square" radio button under "Creation Method". Expand the "Keyboard Entry" group and enter in the dimensions shown in the image. Scroll down to the "Parameters" group and set the Length and Width Segs to 1. Then click on the "Create" button.
 
You should see the new object now. If not, click on the "Zoom Extents All Select" button.
 
Next name the object and set its color. I usually name it something descriptive like what is shown so it is easy to find in a long objects list box. I can't see how anyone can be organized and find a particular part in a part list with several dozen boxes, cylinders and the like. Oh, and if your doing a taxi light name it light_taxi_01... just substitute taxi for land.
 
Now we need to rotate the plane 90 degrees around its actual Y axis. Click on the "Rotate" button ( I also like to click on the "Lock Selection" button, especially when working in a place where you might accidentally click on another object.) and drag the left lower corner around 90 degrees exactly. If you are familiar with typing in the angle, then do that if you prefer. The reason we are rotating the plane it to get the #1 point of the plane on the top. You'll see this in a minute.
 
Now click on the "Modify" tab and with your mouse over the selection in the stack list, right click and convert the plane primative to an "Editable Mesh" object.
 

Switch to "Point" sub-object mode. Select the point in the left upper corner of the plane and notice that it says "Vertex 1 Selected". If you work your way around to each of the points individually, you'll see each has a number of its own.

 

Now select both of the top points as shown. Where it used to say "Vertex 1 Selected" it now says "2 Verticies Selected".

Scroll the roll-out panel down so you can see the "Collapse" button and click it.

 
The 2 selected points are combined to a single point and "Welded". Notice that we have "Vertex 1 Selected" again.
 

Deselect the point and back out of point mode. Click on the "Hierachy" tab, then press "Affect Pivot Only" and click on the "Align to World" button.

 
Notice that the green arrow of the pivot point is now pointing perpendicular to your view where as before it was pointing to the right side of the viewport.
 
Now click on the "Select and Move" button on the icon bar and you can turn on "3d Object Snap" with it set to "Vertex" sub-object. Set the "Lock Selection" to if you like. Drag the pivot straight up till it snaps to the #1 vertex. Turn off and back out these setting when your done.
 
Now click on the "Utilities" tab, select the "Reset XForm" button and then click the "Reset Selected" button. This modifier will make it as though this was exactly the way this object way made from the beginning. Kinda like erasing any previous history of the part.
 

Now return to the "Modify" tab and with your mouse cursor over the "XForm" modifier, right click and select "Collapse All" to make the change premenate.

Now the basic geometry is finished.



 
Next we need to make a material to apply to our object. Open the "Material Editior" and also open the "Material Navagator". Click on the "New" button and in the "New Material" window that pops open, select "Standard" and click "OK". Now here is the reason you need to have the "Material Navagator" open. Name your material light_land. There seems to be a bug in gMax and the program crashes if the "Material Navagator" is not open when you are naming a material. Go figure! Anyway, your material must be named light_land or light_taxi depending on what you are making. You can also append the name if you have a need for more than one material. Like light_land_01. The light_land part of the material name is significante because it acts as a trigger when the source is compiled by Makemdl.exe and the proper code is inserted into the *.mdl or *.bgl file. Next double click on the "Diffuse" color box and select the color you want your light to be then ckick OK in the "Color Selector" window. Besure you still have the light_land_01 object selected and then click on "Apply". Also note the changes in the "Material Navagator". Keep your materials cleaned up. Delete unused materials as they serve no purpose. They increase the file size on your hard drive and take up memory during editing. I recently saw a file that was 30+ megs on the hard drive and had a ton of unused parts, un-collapsed stacks and unused materials. gMax ran like a pig till the file was cleaned and was finally about 3.5 megs and with absolutly no change in the end product.
 
 
Our object now looks like this.... I know, big deal! Here is a little clue. Because the #1 point is the point of origin for the virtual bulb, the top of my triangle indicates exactly where that bulb will be in the finished product. I can also move the part where I want it to be because the pivot is in the same place as the #1 point.
 
Switch to the Left viewport, click back on the "Hierachy" tab, then "Affect Pivot Only" and then the "Select and Rotate" button on the icon bar. "Lock Selection" and rotate the pivot so that the blue arrow points to the right side of the viewport. This will aim the beam. In gMax, the beam is projected in the opposite direction of the blue arrow. It seems that if your working in 3d Studio Max the beam is projected in the direction the green arrow is pointing. I think this is due to the exporters and not Max. What, somebody goof up, couldn't happen!

 
Now make a "Clone" of this object and name it light_land_01_01. Click on "Edit", then "Clone" and in the "Clone Options" window select "Copy" and type in the name and then click OK.

 
Link this clone to the original object. The new object should now be the current selection so click on the "Select and Link" button on the icon bar, then 'Select by Name" on the icon bar. Highlight the light_land_01 object in the "Select Parent" window and then click on the "Link" button. Besure and get out of the "Select and Link" mode. I usually just click on the "Select object" button on the icon bar to exit this mode. You can verify the link by clicking on "Select by Name" button again and down at the bottom of the window click on the "Display Subtree" box. It should look like the illustration of the "Select Objects" window. If you save this out as a separate scene, you can merge it in to any scene where you need a part like this.

 

If you look at the sample aircraft that came with FS2002 you will notice that the Parent objects in their landing lights have no faces that need to be drawn by the sim yet the lights still work! Here is how I get rid of them and still have the object.
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Select the light_land_01 object as the current object. Click on the "Modify" tab and in the "Point Sub-object" mode click on point #3 and delete it. Do the same for point #2 and then #1.

 

 
Now if you look at the "Object Properties" it looks like this.
 
Download my sample files here. Includes gmax, max, 3ds, X and asm files as well as a bgl at Meigs.