Flight Sims?

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Guardsmon
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Flight Sims?

Postby Guardsmon » Mon Dec 22, 2014 4:58 pm

Anyone into flight sims and/or knows much about setting up a 3 screen display for this purpose?

I've been asked at work (man I love this new job) to spec together a computer, 3 screens 30"+ screens and the controls for a flight sim. Budget isn't fixed but is £5-6k ish. We were wondering what the cost of a projector set up might be, but think that might be a little above the budget... either way. Its X-Plane 10 that will be running. Any help would be great.

Thank you :D

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Re: Flight Sims?

Postby Freelance » Mon Dec 22, 2014 5:13 pm

From what I've heard, flight sims are one of those areas where you can spend as much as you like, it'll chew up whatever you throw at it - not just on the PC but controls, etc.
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Re: Flight Sims?

Postby xconspirisist » Mon Dec 22, 2014 8:48 pm

Hi Guardsmon, I used to work in a aerospace and propulsion research team for EADs, I built several flight sims and helped integreate them with various research tools using the DIS and HLA protocols. I've played around with Microsoft's flight sim, but it was pretty crappy. I was using FlightGear (as it's often used in research).

What are you requirements? In particular, any notes on portability, integration, graphics/framerate or similar?

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Re: Flight Sims?

Postby Guardsmon » Tue Dec 23, 2014 2:20 pm

xconspirisist wrote:Hi Guardsmon, I used to work in a aerospace and propulsion research team for EADs, I built several flight sims and helped integreate them with various research tools using the DIS and HLA protocols. I've played around with Microsoft's flight sim, but it was pretty crappy. I was using FlightGear (as it's often used in research).

What are you requirements? In particular, any notes on portability, integration, graphics/framerate or similar?



Hi Xcon,

I now working in Bristol Uni supporting the engineering departments, specifically composites and aeros. They've not give us any firm details of what they want yet, but just popped in yesterday to let us know that this would be a project for the start of the new year.
What has been said:
  • £6,000 each (rough costs- I hope to get a better break down after xmas)
  • Potentially 6 setups, but 1 for now
  • Cost includes monitors, PC, mounts, controls and seat
  • Students will be using in lab conditions
  • Controls must be robust not to be broken by students and feel like the real thing.
  • 3 screen setup (originally came in saying they wanted 3x 30" 4K monitors, though I can't see that happening from price or lack of mounting support)
  • X-Plane 10 is the software they plan to use currently.
  • We need a good reason for the PC not to be a Dell (preferred supplier)

I've had a look around for seat setups first as this seems to dictate the monitors used and controls. I've used cheap Saitek before, and they seem to do a Pro range, but is that any good? They seem to suggest using a Pagian Flight Simulator setup which lokos good, but only supports up to 3x 27" screens. I say "only" as this was less than the project lead wanted, however I can't see that being an issue?
I've also noticed that Scan's 3XS top end system for flight sims seems to be about £1,500 so we shouldn't need to burn thousands on the build?

I've seen some pretty beautiful projector setups, but after I heard there might be 6 of these things I'm not sure that is the way to go. Any suggestions on particular parts such as controls, specifications and specifically whether to look at TN/PVA/IPS panels? I know the differences, but I don't know if the TNs will provide good enough viewing angles and whether colour is that important?

O and if you know of any fantastic screens with minimal bezels... please! (I currently believe the Dell U2715H would be a good solution).

Thanks for your help and enjoy the holidays!
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Re: Flight Sims?

Postby Merson » Tue Dec 23, 2014 5:22 pm

Guardsmon wrote:3x 30" 4K monitors

I don't think you'll find the hardware to run three 4K monitors at a high enough frame rate. Not unless you unload £3k just in graphics cards (Tri-SLI Titan Blacks or similar). 1440p would be a better, and much much cheaper choice.

For monitors, you could go overkill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bteq-6D1srs
Double those three up to six and you won't get much more immersive than that. :P

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Re: Flight Sims?

Postby Guardsmon » Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:04 am

Yes, I had looked at 2x of those screens, but I don't think they will be particularly useful for any of this unfortunately. I thought he was shooting high planning to run 3x 4K's. I think 3x 1440 is the way to go.
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Re: Flight Sims?

Postby xconspirisist » Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:53 am

Sorry that I didn't respond so quickly - I've not been checking the WL forums as frequently as I usually do and when I first read your post I didn't have much time to reply.

I think you need to reduce the variety by nailing down the requirements a lot more. For questions like, "what controls shall I get", vastly depends on what your team needs from the sim. I bought sticks from Saitek, and was very happy with them, but never had a need for additional hardware controls, for example.

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Re: Flight Sims?

Postby Freelance » Tue Jan 06, 2015 1:35 pm

Nailing down the requirements is probably the most useful thing to do with any purchasing. Even narrowing it down so you're presenting A, B or C rather than a whole alphabet is much greater.
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Re: Flight Sims?

Postby j3tpropelled » Fri Jan 09, 2015 12:20 am

I've certainly used Flightgear on triple screens with a single Nvidia card under both Windows and Linux.

That was with 3 1680x1050 panels and worked ok, could just about hold 30fps unless low level flying over airports etc. But that's on a very middle of the road single card. Have seen 9 screen setups using slave machines to hand off some of the graphics processing.

Flightgear is also really, really configurable (by hand in config files) for multi-monitor setups. Rather then just extend a single window over multiple monitors you can draw individual views on separate monitors so you get sheer and view frustrums etc.

I use the Saitek Yoke / Throttle / Rudder pedals and they all work really well. There are physical customisations out there for upgrades to turn multiple throttles into and single unit for multi-engine setups etc.

Stick with Nvidia cards, a number of known issues with ATI ones and Flightgear.

It has realtime weather feeds.

There's the possibility of cheap head tracking with just a USB webcam.

Steep learning curve once you step into multi-monitor setups etc. but really worth the effort IMO.

Cheers

Paddy

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Re: Flight Sims?

Postby Guardsmon » Fri Jan 09, 2015 4:00 pm

Thanks for the help. We will definately be using Xplane 10, 3 screens and nVidia cards.
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Re: Flight Sims?

Postby Guardsmon » Mon Jan 26, 2015 6:57 pm

Hello again.

Thanks for the responses before. I've got a little more information now, and a lot more questions.

The university I work for currently spends in excess of £25,000 a year sending students on professional flight training courses (apparently for free...) and are looking for cheaper options which could also allow the students more access to rather than the 1 off time each.
As such I've been asked to help investigate the suitability of putting together 6 flight sim rigs (of which I am looking at 1 now).

  • The member of staff pushing the project has used Flightgear in the past, but wants to use X-Plane 10 for this.
  • Other software may be used in the future
  • I've got £3,000 to £3,500 for PC and 3x Monitors (Mounts, controls, seating and software is being dealt with separately with a project total of £8,000).
  • Current spec is roughly; i7-4790K (clocked to 4.5GHz+), 16GB (@2.4GHz), 1x GTX 980, 500GB SSD, Win7 x64 and 3x Dell U2715H (Built from a supplier with support)
  • The computer is needed to be ordered in the next 10 days.

Questions;
  • Is there a X-Plane Server that we can host to have 1 - 6 clients all connecting to locally? I've found online servers and odd people mentioning a local server, but I've not found any real information and I don't have the software yet to trial
  • What plug-ins are a "must" for X-Plane? I've heard it is pretty bare to start with. (I've not been informed yet what types of planes they will want to fly, but I would assume a bit of everything)
  • Do you see any obvious issues with above spec?
  • Would a Titan Black be any better than the GTX 980 with the use of 3 screens? (I've read somewhere that X-Plane doesn't support SLI or Crossfire, hence not going to Titan Z (as well as price). And I'd love to wait for 980Ti, but thats not an option.
  • Anyone know anything about displaying "controls" on an additional screen - how easy is this to setup?
  • Any other advice you can think of for a FPS n00b ;) ?

>Can someone move this into the Tech Advice area I'm aware its not General chat. Thanks
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Re: Flight Sims?

Postby j3tpropelled » Tue Jan 27, 2015 7:51 pm

Hi,

Never used X Plane..but.. bit of research suggests..

Multiplayer - It's built in, just set up one of the clients as the server from the menu.
Plugins - No idea on that one I'm afraid.
External Controls - Plenty of opensource projects about for using additional monitors to display instruments / glass cockpits. http://xhsi.sourceforge.net/ for example.
Physical Controls - I'd go with the SAitek stuff (Yoke / Throttle Quadrants / Rudder Pedals).. sensible prices and works very well. They also produce extra hardware such as radio / nav panels, instrument pods etc. which would be suitable to re-create small aircraft like single engine Cessna's. Would need to check on compatability with XPlane.
Machine Specs - Can't comment for XPlane but taking Flightgear as an benchmark they'd be fine. 500GB SSD might be overkill, 256GB should be ample even with high quality worldwide scenery.

What a fabulous project to be involved in! Best of Luck

j3tpropelled / Paddy

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Re: Flight Sims?

Postby j3tpropelled » Fri Feb 06, 2015 12:00 am

One thing I would add though is that there are plenty of complaints that the flight dynamics model (fdm) on x-plane is way too forgiving and far from real world in it's function making flying just too easy.

I would strongly suggest looking at Flightgear for the future as the fdm's on the more developed planes are much closer to reality imo. It's also Open source so nil cost and is native to Linux so no O/S costs for the machines.

It's also really, really easy to interface with, for example tonight I wired up 8 cheap toggle switches to a Leo Bodnar BBI-32 interface board (it presents itself as a joystick and all the switches as buttons), knocked up a quick bit of xml to define what each one did and now I've got a much more tactile experience using real switches to control parts of the sim like switching lights on/off etc.

If you're in the Budleigh / Exmouth / Exeter area you're welcome to pop round to have a look what it's capable of :)

Cheers

Paddy

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Re: Flight Sims?

Postby Guardsmon » Tue Feb 17, 2015 8:26 pm

Hi J3t,

Thanks for the responses. If we get issues with xPlane I'll suggest they look into Flightgear, but I think they are going with xPlane as they have experience with it and it is used in industry.

I'm up on Bristol so Exeter is a little far to travel, but thanks for the offer. It should be a very nice build when its done. I've convinced the project lead to allow me to have a play so I have the following custom build coming on friday:

Intel i7 4790K overclocked to 4.6Ghz
4x8 2133Mhz Corsair
Gigabyte Z97X Gaming G1 Wifi BK
3x EVGA GTX 980 Superclocked
2x 250GB Samsung Evo

3x Dell 2715H 2560x1440 monitors

I got it on the grounds that I might be able to get each GPU to drive a different display through some hokey pokerey and if not we'll put them into the next builds :)

I'll get some pics up once we've got it working.
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