Roll control poor in GE

Questions and answers about 3Dconnexion devices on Windows.

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Roll control poor in GE

Post by erniec » Thu Dec 07, 2006 3:53 pm

I'm getting used to my SN/PE, with Google Earth my only app. for it. All the controls appear to work as expected, with the exception of Roll. Roll doesn't roll as well as I'd expect.

In my experimenting, I'm pretending to be an airplane flying along above the terrain. I expect that the Roll action would cause me to do a barrel roll. Instead I get a slower version of the spin, where my nose goes around the compass with the horizon right-side up in front of me. Well, that's a spin. The Roll isn't quite as nice. The horizon does get out of whack, but I can't see just what it's doing.

Then I move out into space so that the earth is a ball in front of me. Tilt works fine, allowing me to do loops. Roll now appears to let me do barrel rolls, but they're very slow, compared to the loops. the speed slider in the control panel doesn't seem to make a difference.

Roll is the only control that's confusing me. I'll live with it, I guess, though I wish there were some way I could tweak it.

A problem with the Control Panel: In the Device Configuration tab, the Zoom Direction radio buttons are the opposite of what they show. I click the button that uses up/down (green arrow) to zoom in/out. That makes the SN/PE actually use forward/back (blue arrow) to zoom in/out. Like I said, it's backwards.

An observation: in GE, I can use shift-right arrow / shift-left arrow to cause the view to spin around a point in the center of the screen. When I use SN/PE's spin (twist the controller), I spin around a point at the bottom of the screen. I don't know of any way to get GE to do a similar screen-bottom-spin using any of the normal GE controls. I wonder why the difference. Personally, I prefer the center-screen-spin, but then the bottom-screen-spin might duplicate aircraft controls more closely. Also, with SN/PE I can get the earth, a ball in front of me, to go way off-center in the screen. I can't get it back with normal controls. I have to use SN/PE. In other words, it looks like SN/PE does things that aren't natural <grin>.

I'll have to experiment some more.

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Post by ngomes » Mon Dec 11, 2006 9:36 am

Hi erniec – thanks for your post. Great feedback and also a chance for us to clarify a few things which you can also find in Google Earth...

First up, Google Earth w/SpaceNavigator does not support roll – only 5 axes are supported at this time – 2xPan, 1xZoom and Spin and Tilt. Both Google and 3dconnexion felt that controlling all 6 at the same time would be a little too much especially as the normal mouse/keyboard interface is limited to the 5 mentioned above. However, we are always looking for feedback and we will look at this with Google for the next release. – the reason by the way you are getting some motion when you roll is that there is always a small amount of xtalk between axes.

On your question of the zoom axis, note that the 3dconnexion software works by providing configurations on an application by application basis – this means to see which axis is on zoom, you need to open our panel (by clicking the right button for example) when Google earth is active. This should tell you that zoom is on the green arrow (for google earth). The reason we do this is that sometimes you want high speeds and special settings for one application and the opposite for another – this was you avoid having to change the settings each time you change the app.

In terms of the way our device works, we worked with Google to create what’s called "user mode". In fact if you go in Google Earth and click on Tool>Options>Navigation you will find that "user based" is the setting for the controller. Please also note for the 3Dconnexion device, you do not need to select "enable controller". This user based means that the SpaceNavigator flies you around the earth and when you spin, you are spinning yourself around – not spinning the earth around you. If you use the mouse/keyboard controls, you will find that you can only tilt from 0 to 90 degrees (the SpaceNavigator allows you to do a 360 tilt) and also you will find that when you spin using the mouse or the keyboard, you spin around the point you are looking at (in other words you are spinning the earth around you) versus spinning around yourself. In fact you can get our device to emulate the mouse/keyboard navigation by selecting "earth based" from Tools>Options>Navigation within Google Earth. Note you can also "reverse" directions in the same part of the user interface. But in "user mode", it’s actually normal that you find you can do things that the normal mouse/keyboard cannot do.

Now, if you really want to experiment, Google Earth does also have a mode called "flight control" – again tools>options>navigation. Please note, if you switch to this mode, and your mouse is active in the Google Earth Window, your mouse will be driving the Google Earth interface (you’ll see this if your cursor is airplane shaped). In any case in this mode, the SpaceNavigator will work as a rudimentary joystick – but only 3 axes work - none of the spin/tilt/roll work. You will have roll by moving the cap left/right, forward backwards by the pushing the cap forward/back and up/down by pulling the cap up/down. In this mode, you need to set the zoom orientation to be set to the blue arrow on the 3D control panel. In reality, you will find you have much more control in pan/zoom mode than flight control but it will give you a little idea. It is one of our goals to work with Google on this for a future release. (if you do all this experimenting, you may want to have two configurations for the device – i.e. normal Google Earth and Joystick Google earth – which you can call up easily from our control panel)

Again many thanks for the input.

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zoom in GE

Post by erniec » Mon Dec 11, 2006 11:48 am

Thanks for the information. I'll be playing with these settings some more.

Let's talk about the zoom control. It's good that the settings are application specific. But, the only applilcation I currently have that the SN will work with is GE. And in GE, the zoom control does NOT match the setting in the 3D control panel. If I choose the blue option, then push/pull on the side of the controller should move me forward/back (pan), while pulling up on the controller moves me up into the sky. The reality is just the opposite. If I want the above actions, I have to choose the green option, which is the opposite of the blue.

With respect to Google Earth, this is a bug in the 3D control panel. It's not a show stopper, it's just backwards.

One note. I see that the 3D control panel talks about panning up/down and left/right while Altitude is going straight up. That's in the Advanced Settings window. But in the Device Configuration window, it talks about zooming. I'm assuming that "zoom" refers to the user inputs for Pan and Altitude being swapped. Maybe you and I are not talking about the same thing.

Now, about GE's flight control mode, where you use the mouse as an aircraft joystick. With the mouse, holding the left button while moving the mouse forward/back causes you to dive/climb, and moving the mouse left/right causes you to roll left/right. Holding the right button, moving the mouse forward/back causes you to speed up/slow down. The SN controller duplicates this action: push forward/back, push left/right are the same as holding down the left button on the mouse and moving it in those directions. Pulling the SN up/down is the same as holding the right button on the mouse while moving it forward back.

I can see that you'd want to make the two act in a similar fashion. But, since I'm using your SN as a joystick, why don't you make it work like a joystick? For the left-button actions, use the SN's Roll and Tilt instead of the two Pan (push) inputs? That would make your SN act more like a real aircraft joystick.

Here's a suggestion. I expect that a lot of folks will be like me and buy your SN for use with GE. You should put together a tutorial on using SN with GE. You could present a series of lessons, where the user makes settings in GE's preferences and SN's settings, then sees what the result is, with your descriptions telling them what they should be seeing. After going through your tutorial, a user would understand how GE's preferences and SN's settings work together.

Again, thanks for the dialog. I'll get back to you as I experiment more.


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Pan vs. Zoom

Post by erniec » Mon Dec 11, 2006 11:54 am

I hate to respond to my own post, but...
I just re-read your post, and you state that SN with GE does "2xPan, 1xZoom and Spin and Tilt". That tells me that Pan and Zoom are indeed two different things. That confuses me.

Since the Zoom setting window in the 3D control panel shows the Pan Up/Pan Down input on the controller as an option, does that mean that Pan up/down is the same as your stated "1x Zoom" and that Pan left/right is your stated "2xPan"?

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Google Earth preferences

Post by erniec » Mon Dec 11, 2006 12:02 pm

Since I suggested your doing a tutorial on the use of SN with GE, in particular GE's navigation preferences, I thought I'd point out that GE has a bug in its preferences/navigation window.

In the Controller Settings section, there is a check box and two radio buttons. When you see radio buttons, you can expect that only one button will be active. If you click on one, all others turn off. In this window, that is not the case. Both radio buttons can be "on" at the same time. If that is the case, I have no idea which of the two opposing options is really active. Of course this is something that the GE folks have to deal with, but in the meantime we users will have to deal with it.
btw, I'm using GE 4.0.2416 beta.

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Post by ngomes » Mon Dec 11, 2006 1:54 pm

Ernie, thanks again for your great input – you are helping us clarify a number of things – some of which have not been as clear as we would have liked:
  • Firstly, in the Google Earth interface – you are right: there is a bug – only one radio button should ever be active at any given time – in fact to truly switch modes between user based and earth based, you need to actively unclick one radio button to make sure it is off. This bug has been reported to Google and will be fixed in the next release.
  • In terms of the zoom choice, you are right in that you need to pick the green arrow to get the actions you want – in fact we should have used the word "altitude" instead of zoom for this particular application. So when you pick the green arrow, you are actually selecting altitude to be on the vertical up/down motion of the cap. (this is the default way which we/Google feel the device should work – the usage of the word zoom can be confusing). But if you do choose the blue option, then moving the cap in/out will cause your altitude to change and panning north/south is on the vertical up/down motion of the cap. Probably the real issue is that the model moves in and out of the screen instead of showing an altitude change which is what "zooming" does in this specific application. We agree that it is confusing. Try the 3DX picture viewer to get a feeling for moving an object into/out of the screen.
  • Again great feedback for the Joystick functionality which will be worked with Google for a next release. We specifically focused on the core functionality (which is more like a Helicopter/Space ****** but without roll) and not so much on the joystick aspect with this release. The feedback will be given to Google as we look at future features. Again, thanks for this feedback. We really wanted control which allows people to operate at ground level, high altitude and in between. See this video from youtube for a good example of the close control we are trying to provide. The idea of the tutorial videos is also really good. Thanks for this input.
  • Finally on the motions supported by the device (assuming you have the Green arrow selected for GE)
    • Push the cap vertically down/pull the cap vertically up = altitude change or "zoom"
    • Push the cap horizontally north/pull south = panning north/south (relative north)
    • Push the cap horizontally left/right = panning left/right or east/west (relative)
    • Rotate the cap clockwise/counterclockwise = spinning
    • Tilt the cap towards you/away from you = looking at the horizon/looking vertically down on the earth
There is also a short video of the cap motions which you can see here.

Thanks again for the feedback...

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Post by erniec » Mon Dec 11, 2006 3:12 pm


Thanks for the video link from 3DConnexion's website showing the controller cap in use. Unfortunately, we still need to get straight on terminology.

I agree with the descriptions you use in your post, above. But, the video disagrees with you and goes against my understanding of these terms too.

You: push cap vertically up/down = zoom. Video says "pan".
you: push cap horiz. north/south = pan north/south. Video says "zoom".
you: tilt cap left/right (not a GE action) = roll. Video says "rotate"

or put another way:

Code: Select all

action                3D control panel    you       video me
--------------------- ------------------- --------- ------ --------
cap vert. up/down     pan up/down         zoom      pan    zoom
cap horiz. n/s        zoom                pan n/s   zoom   pan n/s
cap horiz. e/w        pan rt/lft          pan e/w          pan e/w
cap tilt n/s          tilt                tilt n/s         tilt n/s
cap tilt e/w          roll                tilt e/w  rotate roll or tilt e/w
cap twist l/r         spin                spin             spin
After typing this, I noticed that the 3D control panel does say "zoom" in the Advanced Settings window. That makes the zoom configuration in the Device Configuration window more puzzling. If the definition of "zoom" is moving horizontally forward/backward, then the Device Configuration description /model movement is correct. That makes it even more important to switch the action associated with the selected radio button. It's simply backwards. You have to pick the green (up/down) button to get the blue action (front/back).

I realize that there are rough spots with any new product. I'm glad you think my comments are helpful.

BTW, I must be losing it. Yesterday the 3D Control Panel said "Altitude" for moving the cap vertically. Today it says "Pan up/down".
Today I can't find the word "Altitude" anywhere. And then, just now, I took another look at the 3Dconnexion Control Panel, Advanced Settings window and I see that it's back to the way it was yesterday. I haven't closed that window, but it's changed back to:

Code: Select all

action                    3D control panel       
---------------------     -------------------       
cap vert. up/down         altitude
cap horiz. n/s            pan up/down                      
cap horiz. e/w            pan rt/lft                  
cap tilt n/s              tilt                           
cap tilt e/w              roll                          
cap twist l/r             spin

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Post by erniec » Sun Dec 24, 2006 12:20 pm

There has been no discussion on this thread for a while, but I felt I had to add to the comments I made, above.

I wanted to add that I finally found out why the labels associated with different movements of the cap were changing on me.

It turns out that you can have different "profiles" defined in the 3D Control Panel. The "any application" default profile, on the drop-down list, labels the cap vertical up/down movement as "pan up/down". When you pick the "Google Earth" profile, predefined in the 3D Control Panel, that label changes to "Altitude" and the cap movement horizontally north/south is labeled "pan up/down".

I kept scratching my head, even after updating the 3D Control Panel to version 6.0.18, when I kept seeing those labels change, on their own. Now I can sleep again at night.

But now I have a new worry. It took me some time before I stumbled on the answer to this mystery. How many others are out there still in the dark? And why is it that the label, or description, for a specific movement of the control cap gets changed for Google Earth? Doing so causes great confusion, especially when a specific label, for example "pan up/down" is applied to very different movements, depending on the application you're using. This is not good. I would hope that your programmers give this some thought and settle on a standard set of labels that you'll use consistently. For example, when using the Google Earth profile, the labels in the Advanced Settings tab don't match the label used in the Device Configuration tab. The latter talks about "Zoom" and there is no "Zoom" in the former. It's all too confusing.

Oh, I forgot to mention that you only see the "Google Earth" settings if Google Earth is running. Even more confusing.


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no roll in GE

Post by dsigg » Sat Oct 01, 2011 4:07 pm

Seems like 5 years on the option of enabling all 6 axes in GE for 3Dconnexion is still not possible, if i'm not mistaken. I would like to urge 3Dconnexion (and Google) to include this as an option for advanced users. I'm quite good at controlling 6 axis navigation with space pilot as i use it every day at work. Although I appreciate disabling roll makes navigation much easier i just would not want to miss the awesomeness of 6-axis freedom in GE! please add!

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Post by Hypersonic » Sun Oct 02, 2011 4:35 pm

It would be nice if googleearth.exe could provide an embedded scripting langauge for input, just like the browser based version.
Where it would expose input (like joystick) values, and current position and view angles.
Using these values various customized movement logic can be performed on them.
Then have the scripting language be able to set position and view angles.
The processing wouldn't be so great as to not have a significant impact on the framerate.

This could allow 6dof 'Descent' type movement.
Perhaps ride a jetski on the lake or ride a motorbike over sand dunes.
Acceleration movement effects could be added as well.
This would solve this issue viewtopic.php?t=4331

In googleearth.exe (ctrl-alt-a) flight sim mode you have roll control.


Roll control seems to be already possible with the browser-based Google Earth.
I've pasted javascript-joystick code into ... index.html
To adjust latitude and longitude with the 3dmouse. There's more set variables listed here: ... ntrol.html ... meras.html
" <Camera> provides full six-degrees-of-freedom control over the view, so you can position the Camera in space and then rotate it around the x, y, and z axes."
Although this is for kml files, all these values are also exposed to browser javascript.
GE Flight Simulator is living proof.viewtopic.php?t=4511

This would make 'Descent' Google Earth possible. One just needs to program some javascript rotation matrix tools and you're set!
(and add 6dof to javascript-joystick for 6dof variable control via the 3dmouse.)
Javascript on modern machines might be as fast as native code on machines say 10 years ago (approximation.)
Making it well suited for light to moderately intensive tasks.

All the left panel features (search,placemarks) are missing from the browser based versions, however, that functionality could be added (modular design.) Javascript access to local filesystem is limited, unless it instead saved 'on the cloud', like it does with google docs.

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Location: Aachen

Post by ajomer » Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:21 am

same problem here

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Post by Hypersonic » Mon Dec 12, 2011 5:12 pm

Roll control is possible in the web-browser version.
But in 'raw form' roll doesn't change the direction yaw and pitch rotate like in the video game Descent.
Meaning that when you roll on your side, self-pitch should turn into world-yaw, and self-yaw into world-pitch.
However, you can write you're own control scheme to do this.
For awhile I tried to put proper roll control into the web-based Google Earth: ... th-3dmouse
but I put it off until a later time, the 3dof rotation math was a hassle.

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Post by Hypersonic » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:51 pm

I've gotten true 6dof functioning in the web-browser based Google Earth plugin, check out this thread for more info: viewtopic.php?p=24678#24678

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