Using the Electronic Checklist (ECL) controller: It isn't stuck!

Here is an area in the PMDG 747-8 that is going to trip some users up, and so we wanted to put together a special, single topic item here for you to read.  Our hope is that this will prevent confusion when it comes to the Electronic Check List (ECL) system in the 747-8.
 
HOW TO KNOW YOU SHOULD COME BACK AND RE-READ THIS LATER:  If you find yourself in a scenario where you think the ECL has “frozen” or “is stuck” or “isn’t responding to mouse clicks” come back here and read this again.
 
When the 777 first debuted back in the mid 90s, it was innovative in that it had a touch pad installed for each pilot in order to control the ECL.  The touch pad functioned much like the touch pad on a laptop computer, allowing the crew to slew a cursor around on the ECL screen, with push buttons to make selections by clicking.
 
When we designed the PMDG 777, we emulated this functionality by creating a custom process that allowed you to use your mouse to move the cursor around over the top of the ECL display and click on desired items.  This very effectively emulated the function of the onboard touch-pad from the pilot’s perspective, and also worked very much like a standard Windows interface, so it was really quite handy!
 
The 747-8 is DIFFERENT:
Okay so this should be an obvious fact, but it still needs to be pointed out:  The PMDG 777 and the PMDG 747-8 are different from each other.
 
Yes, they are both stunningly beautiful airplanes to look at, and yes they both are detailed in grand fashion within our simulations, but the issue we are focused on here is that the 747-8 airplane also has an ECL but you will interact with it a manner that is completely different than what you became accustomed to in the 777.
 
It is important to understand how this will change your interaction with the PMDG 747-8 ECL system.
 
If you look to the side of the throttles, you will see that the analog trim gauge from the 747-400 has been replaced with a selector knob.  This knob rotates, and also has a push-to-select function that allows a crew member to push vertically downward on the knob to make selections.
 
If you look at the ECL screen, and rotate the knob, you will notice that the magenta selection box moves progressively through each of the clickable items displayed on the screen.  If you rotate the knob by left/right clicking on it, or by rolling your mouse-wheel, the magenta selection box moves in the desired direction.  For purpose of this explanation, it is helpful to think of knob rotation as performing the same function as the tab key on your keyboard when moving a selection between options within the Windows operating system.
 
 
Once you have the desired item highlighted, simply push down on the knob to click.
 
 
The ECL will respond appropriately, and move to the next logical place on your checklist, or to the menu you have selected, as the case may be.
 
 
You will find that this function is quite nicely compatible with your mouse scroll wheel, with the scroll wheel serving as the rotating knob, and then clicking to simulate pushing down on the selector knob.  (NOTE:  Your mouse must be over the ECL screen for this to operate, but it is important to note that the location of your click is the magenta highlighted area and NOT the location of your mouse cursor!  <<=== THIS IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER.)
 
To describe this another way:  You can't simply move your mouse to a different item on the display and click.  This will not work!  The "click" will be applied to whatever is highlighted in magenta, not to the location of your mouse. 
 
NOW:  We had a vigorous debate internally within PMDG as to whether we should allow users to select between the correct 747-8 selector method and the older 777 method.  This debate was eventually settled along the lines of “more options are a good thing for users” and we have included both functions.
 
If you find that the new roller knob functionality confuses you, or doesn’t work for you because you use your mouse wheel for something else more important, you can easily activate the old 777 style of ECL manipulation by going into the OPTIONS menu within the FMS, go to SIMULATION and on Page 5, change the selection from WHEEL to CURSOR.  You can play with this in flight by switching back and forth to see which one you like more, it won’t hurt anything.
 
 
GOTCHAS:
We mentioned in the beginning that you are inevitably going to hit a moment in your flying in which you think, “hey, the ECL is frozen and not responding.”  When this happens, stop and take a look at your ECL screen closely.  Chances are, the checklist has reached a “sensed switch” that requires input from the crew in the FMS to match a handle/selector position, or simply requires a knob/switch to be in a specific position before the item can be checked off the list.
 
 
When this happens, you simply need to use the roller knob to move the magenta box to whatever other desired item you need to select, because the location of your click is the magenta highlighted area and NOT the location of your mouse cursor.  (Remember we said this was important?)
 
Now, if you fall into this trap, don’t panic.  Just use the roller knob or your mouse wheel and you will find everything is working just great.  (And don’t feel badly because 1/3 of the PMDG team stumbled into this late in beta testing and thought it was broken, too...  See?  Even we have bad days.)
 
Remember:  When in doubt, roll the knob to move the magenta selection box. 

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