[jhb_airlines] Re: Where Can I Go Next?

  • From: Gerry Winskill <gwinsk@xxxxxxx>
  • To: jhb_airlines@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 08 Aug 2006 07:56:41 +0100

I remember reading the review of this uprated version, some time ago, but couldn't recall why its apparent attractions didn't persuade me to try it. And it wasn't because I read somewhere of a simmer who answered the door to a neighbour, forgetting first to remember to remove the sensor from his forehead!

When you got to the bit about VC I remembered that 'twas VC that, for me, ruled it out. In turn that's because I use the panel, displaced to a lower monitor. A move to that configuration was prompted by my wishing to be able to devote a full screen to the outside, VFR GM, view.

The tracker, otherwise, sounds a good way to go. Another is the device that was reviewd a few weeks ago, that allows the forward and side views to be displayed on three screens, without having to resort to Rory's multi PC setup; haven't heard of Rory in yonks. Tom can probably come up with more details of that one.

Even the panel displaced to a lower monitor has benefits related to real life. When I went up at Ronaldsway I discovered that SWMBO had told the instructor of my FS interest. As we got in, he mentioned this. Opening his flight bag he said "I always like to do this with people who use FS" and promptly covered the AI with a sticker. I got the point, that we can be expected to spend too much time looking in, at the panel. In fact I don't have that problem, since the natural tendency is to look at the view, looking at the lower panel only to check all is as it should be, down there.

For those who like VC the sensor unit seems very attractive, in its evolved state. How has your SWMBO reacted to you adopting the teenage craze for wearing a baseball cap in the house?

Gerry Winskill

Bones wrote:

Not sure if this would help you but I've just had a lot of fun with FS2004 -
more than I've had for a long time.

I ordered a TrackIR 4 Pro the other day and it arrived yesterday. The box I
unpacked was tiny - all it contains is a small sensor which sits on top of
your monitor, a USB lead, a CD and an odd shaped bit of wire. The sensor is
only about 2" square and it plugs into a powered USB hub. The funny bit of
wire has three small reflectors on it and clips to a headset or baseball hat
(the latter being the better option). Software installation was a doddle.

On running the setup you get two headshots on screen. One shows actual head
movement and the other the accelerated head movement. This can be tweaked to
your own taste although five presets are there to start you off.

The sensor picks up six movements. Yaw, pitch and roll are obvious but
up/down, left/right and in/out are also available. Each can be adjusted
individually. On my setup I've adjusted yaw so that turning the head
slightly pans the view at a slowish pace but further head turning gives an
accelerated pan. In effect I only have to turn about 30 degrees (I can still
look at the LCD screen without feeling I am peering out the corner of my eye
at it) and the accelerated movement is almost a full 180 degrees..

So how does this operate in FS2004? The first thing is that you don't need
to adjust anything in the sim as it autodetects the IR sensor. Just start FS
as normal and put your headset or hat on. I tried both options and found the
baseball hat is better. It works clipped to a headset band too but pitch is
limited upwards as your head blocks the view between the reflectors and the
sensor. In fact I can't wear a baseball hat (head gets too hot) so I've got
one of those visor only things and this is fine.

After you start FS you find TrackIR 4 Pro only works in VC mode. For those
of you who know your cfg file values quite well it appears to take over the
Eyesight setting in the cfg file and dynamically read new values into the
sim - I guess similar to the way ActiveCamera works.

My first test was very disappointing. It worked as advertised but with a lot
of lag and jerky action. The cure was found by turning off my Av software
(firewall seems OK though) after which movement was silky smooth. At this
point I realised one of the greatest faults of FS was instantly cured as I
could look instantly in any direction I wanted. No need to pan or use the
views keys any more - just one glance was needed to look down at the dials
or out of the left or right cockpit windows.

Firing up the C172 for a quick circuit showed just how useful this gadget
was. Instead of keeping my head locked in space and moving the information
on the screen to come into my view I was back doing what comes naturally and
- for the first time ever in FS - moving my head! Taxying was the first
revelation. No need to fiddle with panning to see a turn coming up - all I
needed was  a momentary look left and I had a perfect visual picture as to
what was happening. In a turn I naturally looked into the direction of turn
and this allowed far more appreciation of my rate of turn and whether it
needed tightening up or easing off. Turn right round on a taxiway without
going off the edge? A real doddle.

Once I was lined up I glanced around the cockpit at all the dials and then
looked forward again for take off. A second later it struck me that I had
literally done just that - just as you would in a real aircraft. I'd
actually turned and leant forward to look at some dials totally
automatically, cockpit panning completely forgotten. Take off was normal - I
guess - but I can no longer be sure. You see, the problem is that ingrained
habits from real flying are coming back and are so natural that I don't know
I am doing them. Did I lean slightly left on take off to get a better view
down the runway? I really can't be sure but I suspect I did.

Once airborne the differences really started to show. Pilots never keep
their heads still and are constantly looking out for other traffic. I know
you can do this in FS by panning but it's too slow and it becomes a rarer
happening than in real life. Released from the tunnel vision of FS my head
was moving as it should - dials, look left, sweep across to right, back to
dials, look forward. At 500ft raise wing slightly, glance left and turn.
Crosswind and just one glance was needed to look back at the airport to
confirm positional accuracy. 1000ft and turn downwind, look at airport again
- it's so easy. No hunting around in pan view. Checks completed. Continue
downwind until 45 degrees from the threshold and turn base, power back and
hold height to bleed off the speed. Flaps down 20, let the nose fall and
trim for 75. Now look left and watch as you approach the extended runway
centreline and then KEEPING YOUR EYE ON THE RUNWAY, turn final. Perfect.
This is something that has never been possible in FS before (unless you are
REALLY slick with the pan button) and I found that I was not only looking at
the runway the whole time I was turning final but I was also checking the
PAPI's and windsock.

I confess that the landing wasn't a good one. FS habits crept back in and so
I was mixing techniques and suffered a bounce because of this. Next time
round I did what I should have done and it just rolled onto the runway.

I guess the unit shows up the differences between flying for real and flying
in FS. Techniques have evolved for both to suit their strengths and
weaknesses and real pilots have had to adjust to the limitations in FS.
TrackIR 4 puts those limits behind and allows you to use real world skills
much better.

A second flight in the Tiger Moth revealed far more differences. In taxying
I was able to lean left and right outside the cockpit to see where I was
going (you physically move a LOT when taxying a Tiger). Landing was made
with my head out of the cockpit and sideslipping right down to roundout. In
the flare my eyes were on the ground just in front of the port mainplane -
not the "look ahead and pray" position that FS has been limited to before
(although I'd got very good at that). A further flight in the prototype
Spitfire showed that aerobatics and flying a curved approach also brought
back real world habits because these were now possible. In a loop it was
completely natural to glance at the port wing when vertical (yaw check) then
look up to see the inverted horizon come into view (the sooner you see this
the sooner you can correct any deviation in bank or yaw).

A final quick glance at the PMDG 747 showed me bits of the cockpit I'd never
seen before - but I ran out of time to try this aircraft. One humorous
observation with the Tiger was leaning forward to look over the stick to see
the compass - it worked too. And if you lean forward enough you can make any
single dial fill the whole screen.

Is it worth the money? This is a tricky question because I think it comes
down to how much you would use six axis freedom. Real pilots look around a
heck of a lot and this gadget frees them of the viewing limitations in FS.
In my case I found I reverted to real world techniques almost immediately.
FS pilots have never had this freedom nor to they have any real world habits
to adjust to like good lookout - they never have to worry about a Tornado
boring down on them at 600kts. What I can't guess at is whether FS pilots
would develop any real world habits once viewing limitations are lifted.
Maybe it depends on how good a natural pilot you are - I just don't know.
For those more interested in cockpit displays and button pushing I doubt
this kit would prove of any value at all.

Andrew Herd recently reviewed TrackIR Pro 4 and this is what stirred my
interest in it.

Andrew gave it a definite thumbs up (despite hating VC's almost as much as I
do) - as did Bob at RC Simulations when I spoke to him. It's not cheap and
you look a right dipstick with alien antennae sticking out of your head but,
for me, these are minor points for a product that will change the way I use
FS forever.

The one major disadvantage in describing TrackIR 4 is that you can't use
screenshots to convey how it works. I'm not sure a video would do it justice
either. Words are inadequate (especially mine) so I suggest the best option
is to find if it is being shown at one of the FS shows and give it a try.

(currently upside down in a Spitfire about 20ft off the deck in the Welsh
hills, looking at the rocks going by.)

-----Original Message----- From: jhb_airlines-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:jhb_airlines-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Gerry Winskill Sent: 07 August 2006 21:10 To: jhb_airlines@xxxxxxxxxxxxx Subject: [jhb_airlines] Re: Where Can I Go Next?

First four of the ones I don't recall visiting are now visited. Since I can press the pause button, in the privacy of my own home, I can get away with this project. Arthritic kneck is currently limiting me to ten minute stints in front of the screeen. Doctor changed the pills today but, tactfully, said he can't do anything about the passage of years. Don't the Apollo crew lie on their backs, to look at monitors? Can't see SWMBO letting me get away with that idea.

Gerry Winskill

Bones wrote:

At my last count there were 316 operational airfields/strips active in
the UK. About 215 of these were available in FS2002 and 225 in FS2004.


-----Original Message-----
From: jhb_airlines-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:jhb_airlines-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of franklyn fisher
Sent: 07 August 2006 16:11
To: jhb_airlines@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [jhb_airlines] Re: Where Can I Go Next?

Gerry My VFR Flight guide lists 223, active and inactive, major, minor and farmstrips, from A to Y. Frank

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