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DCS-BIOS client to automate aircraft setup

Project description


This is a minimal DCS-BIOS client to automate setting aircraft controls from text files.

Version 0.4.3


  1. Install any recent Python 3 version (3.7 or later)
  2. Install the FlightPanels/Skunkworks fork of DCS-BIOS
  3. Download Bort to assist with writing your own scripts
  4. Copy the example script to %USERPROFILE%/Saved Games/DCSZap - create this folder alongside your DCS settings folder
  5. From the command prompt/terminal:
    pip install dcszap


From the command prompt/terminal:


You will be given a list of scripts (.txt files in the scripts directory):

$ dcszap
Scripts located in C:/Users/YourNameHere/Saved Games/DCSZap:
 1 Mi8_Preflight                   Mi-8 preflight
 2 Mi8_ArmGunpods                  Mi-8 set up gunpods
 3 SA342M_Preflight                Gazelle SA342M preflight

Type the number of the script you want to run and press Enter to run.

The commands are sent to DCS-BIOS over a network socket - the DCS window does not need to be in focus for the scripts to work. Some modules may require you to be in the aircraft cockpit.

You'll see the commands on the screen as they run:

> 3
TABLET_PW                   TOGGLE          Tablet                       Off
TABLET_SHOW                 TOGGLE          Tablet                       Stow
PANEL_LIGHTING              1               Panel lighting               On
DASHBOARD_LIGHTING          3276            Backlight brightness         Set 5%
FLARE_DISP_FIRE_CAP         1               Flare dispense switch cover  Open
WEAPONS_MASTER_ARM          1               Master arm                   On
ANTICOLL_LIGHTS             1               Anticollision lights         Off
Script complete!

You can then start another script. Enter nothing or Ctrl-C to quit.


To use scripts stored in a location other than %USERPROFILE%/Saved Games/DCSZap:

dcszap --scripts your/scripts/directory

If DCS is running on a different computer, or if DCS-BIOS isn't using port 7778:

dcszap --host --port 24601

To suppress messages while the script is running:

dcszap --quiet

For a full description:

dcszap --help


Scripts are text files:

script SA342M_Preflight
description Gazelle SA342M Preflight
interval 0.3

set PANEL_LIGHTING 1            # Instrument backlighting: On
set DASHBOARD_LIGHTING 0.05     # Backlight brightness: Set 5%
pause 0.8
set TV_ON_OFF 1                 # Viviane TV: On

The first lines set the name and description for the script, and optionally the interval between commands in seconds. If not specified, the interval is 0.2 seconds.

The remainder of the file is set and pause commands and comments.

set is for sending DCS-BIOS commands:


This sends the argument 1 to the DCS-BIOS identifier PANEL_LIGHTING - which in the Gazelle turns on the instrument backlighting.

End-of-line comments start with #. The script will split the comment on : and display them in two columns.

Arguments that look like floating-point numbers - 0.25 say - are converted into an integer between 0 and 65535. 0.0 becomes 0 and 1.0 becomes 65535.

pause adds a delay between two actions, in addition to the normal interval.

Lines which don't begin with script, description, interval, set or pause are ignored and can be used for comments.

Writing scripts

  • Launch your favourite DCS module
  • Open Bort
  • Find the controls you always find yourself using at the start of every flight
  • Operate the controls in DCS and see the values change in Bort
  • Operate the controls in Bort and see them move in DCS
  • Write the control identifiers and the desired values into your own script file (a .txt file in the DCSZap scripts folder)
  • Optionally include comments to describe the intent, e.g. that setting the radar alt bug to 2215 corresponds to 10 meters.
  • Save your script and run dcszap
  • Run your script
  • See the controls move!

For controls like instrument brightness knobs which take a number between 0 and 65535 representing 0% to 100%, you can enter the value as a floating point number. DCSZap converts these into into integers - 0.0 to 0, 1.0 to 65535.

Presently the scripts are loaded into memory at the time they are displayed for selection, so if you've edited a script with DCSZap waiting for a selection and then you run it, you'll run the old version. To reload the list, enter a number that doesn't correspond to any script e.g. 0.

For more guidance on DCS-BIOS commands, please see:


If you'd like your script to be included as an example, please let me know (via an issue, pull request, Discord, or forum) and I'd be delighted to include it with attribution. Ideas, bugfixes, pull requests etc are all welcome too.

Next steps

This project is likely to develop rapidly and the script format could change in the near future. In particular I'd like to go further with expressing scripts in human language e.g. Landing lights: Extend rather than set LANDING_LIGHT 2, with a translation layer between how the controls are labelled to the virtual pilot and the identifiers and values used in DCS-BIOS.

  • command line option to specify a specific script rather than select from directory, allowing the script to run completely silent
  • load scripts on selection, not when the selection list is displayed
  • more obvious selection list reload action
  • Make the tests better, largely for the sake of better tests
  • 2-way comms with DCS-BIOS to, e.g., select a script automatically on loading a module, start scripts from within DCS…
  • more example scripts!

Related projects

With thanks to SlipHavoc for DCSAutoMate, the inspiration for this project. DCSAutoMate includes the ability to simulate keypresses to carry out actions unavailable via DCS-BIOS, and is driven from Python scripts, which gives a great deal of additional flexibility. I wanted to make a system which is more lightweight, which can be installed and run without auto-py-to-exe or much Python expertise.

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