Double TPM programmable switches

All credits for Tom Tsui

Saitek TPM

Saitek TPM

Saitek’s TPM Control Unit comes with 9 programmable toggle switches. However, FSX’s SETTINGS only recognizes their downward actions during BUTTONS/KEYS assignments. In other words, only 50% of TPM’s programmability are used.

To fully utilize the TPM:

  1. Open Standard.XML under C:\Users\user name\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\FSX\Controls
    Double TPM programmable switches 02
  2. Look for keyword “TPM System” inside the fileDouble TPM programmable switches 04
  3. 0 to 8 represent the 9 toggle switches
  4. The key_command line represents the downward action of the toggle switch
  5. To add an upward action, insert an key_command line with specific command under each switch (see example below)Double TPM programmable switches 05
  6. When done, these new switches are now shown in SETTINGS’s Buttons/Keys assignment pageDouble TPM programmable switches 06

NOTE: These upward switch commands are all having a prefix of “^” in front of the button names.

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Make Flight Simulator a little more realistic

Sometimes there are little things that we do not give much value, but are important, such as those annoying red notices when we have a Stall, Overspeed, etc …

When we hear the Stall or Overspeed warnings instinctively we look to the lower margins of the screen to see what is happening but it is more realistic if we look at the instruments to know the reason of this warning, so today we will configure the CFG to delete these notices. There are two options, TRUE (enabled) and FALSE (disabled), and this configuration is valid for both FS2004 and for FSX.

Remember that the CFG file is a hidden file and to edit it we need to activate Display Units, hidden files and folders in the Control Panel as follows: Presentation and personalization, Folder Options, View (in Windows Vista / 7) and then look for the CFG in User name / AppData / Roaming / Microsoft / FSX or FS9.

Before manipulating the CFG file don’t forget make backup!!!

  • InfoBrakesEnable – Brakes information notice
  • InfoParkingBrakesEnable – Parking Brakes information notice
  • InfoPauseEnable – Pause information notice
  • InfoSlewEnable – Slew information notice
  • InfoStallEnable – Stall information notice
  • InfoOverspeedEnable – Overspeed information notice

[FLIGHT SCHOOL] NDB

As its name says, the NDB (Non Directional Beacon) is a non-directional beacon associated with the Automatic Direction Finder (ADF) operating between 190 Khz and 1750 Khz frequencies. It is an old aid but still in use due mainly to its low maintenance cost. It also has the advantage that the NDB signal follows the contour of the ground so its range is usually much higher than for example the VORs, although it is also true that they are more affected by the weather. For more information, see Annex 10, Volume V chapter 3.2 of ICAO.

In the practice that I propose we will arrive at the Airport of Madrid Cuatro Vientos (LECU – LEVS) on the radial 5 – 6. Why these radials? Because they pass approximately by the Point Sierra of the field, one of the entry points (the other is November) of the aerodrome. Anyway you can practice the exercise in any field, just get the charts and a plotter to find the right radial. As I said this is an old aid radio, but I think it is very useful for fields that do not have other radio aids for pilots who have not been these airports before. For example my good friend Manuel told me that after flying from Andalusia (more than 200 NM) they turned around because they were not able to find S of Cuatro Vientos.

I’ve done the practice with X-Plane 10 in the Carenado Beechcraft Bonanza F33A with the SimCoders Reality Expansion Pack plugin which is the plane that I fly lately. Because speeds I do not recommend fly the exercise with faster aircraft, at least until the concepts are more or less clear. The ideal plane would be a Cessna 172 although then you will have to use the chronometer of the cellphone. I have omitted startup procedures, etc., because it is not the object of the practice.

After leaving Point W we ascend to 4500 Ft in heading 270 and after reaching this altitude and move away from the field (IMPORTANT, THE RANGE OF THE X-PLANE RADIO AIDS ARE A JOKE AND SOON THE SIGN IS LOST, TAKE ACCOUNT OF IT IF YOU FLY EXERCISE IN THIS FLIGHT SIMULATOR) we make a few turns, changes of course, etc., to “get lost” a little

[FLIGHT SCHOOL] NDB 1

[FLIGHT SCHOOL] NDB 1

Although it is not strictly necessary, first we are going to know where we are exactly, for this we are going to take the needle of the ADF to a side, this is, 90º or 270º, in this case I have taken it to 270º

[FLIGHT SCHOOL] NDB 2

[FLIGHT SCHOOL] NDB 2

We maintain the course and we check the time the needle takes to reach 260º mark, in our case about 90 seconds. Then through a simple formula (Time = Time between markings (in seconds) / 10) we know that we are at a distance of 9 MINUTES. To know the distance in nautical miles it is enough to know the TAS or better the GS applying it to the following formula: Distance in NM to the station = TAS (GS) * minutes between marks / 10. To calculate the TAS we need the CR3, but the use of the computer is not the object of the practice so it is enough to know that we are a little more than 20 NM. of the station. As I said this information is not necessary for the practice I have proposed, but it is very simple and it is useful to know the distance we are from the station, for example my friend Manuel could have known the approximate distance to the NDB and then maybe he would not have had to turn around

[FLIGHT SCHOOL] NDB 3

[FLIGHT SCHOOL] NDB 3

We are going to start the maneuvers to arrive to the field by the radial 06 of the NDB of LECU (CVT). First of all we maintain the aircraft in the heading of arrival and we check that the ADF mark indicates 10º to the left

[FLIGHT SCHOOL] NDB 4

[FLIGHT SCHOOL] NDB 4

Then we must turn left 10º of ADF + 30º, I mean as we were heading 060º (the chosen heading for the arrival), we will turn left heading 020º. If the ADF we had 050º right so we would have turn right 50º + 30º = 80º, we always add 30º to the ADF reading. ATTENTION!!! MAXIMUM CUTTING ANGLE 90º

[FLIGHT SCHOOL] NDB 5

[FLIGHT SCHOOL] NDB 5

Continue at 020º until the needle of the ADF needle marks 060º (chosen arrival heading to the station), starting turn taking into account the indicated speed. In this case we are practically aligned in the radial 060 from the beginning of the maneuver

[FLIGHT SCHOOL] NDB 6

[FLIGHT SCHOOL] NDB 6

We keep heading and there is Point S (the urbanization to the right of the compass). The ideal would have been to enter between half and a mile to the right of the point of notification, but since it was not the object of the practice I did not take into account the drift

[FLIGHT SCHOOL] NDB 7

[FLIGHT SCHOOL] NDB 7

From there it is simple, we just need to follow the procedures described in the approximation VFR charts of the field and nice land!

Flight Simulator 2004 not launching after an update

If as recommended we have Windows Update activated (in my case in Windows 7, but this problem is also known in Windows 8 and Windows 10) there will come a time when Flight Simulator 2004 simply will not launch. This is due to a Microsoft update to, as I understand, prevent piracy. It is ironic that Microsoft does not let launch a Microsoft software.

We can go to the Microsoft help page and follow the instructions to solve this problem, but it will not work, so what we have to do is uninstall the KB3086255 update and prevent it from being reinstalled.

Let’s go to the fix (I have the Operating System in another language so it is possible that the translation differs somewhat):

  1. Go to the Control Panel, System and Security, Windows Update and View Update History
  2. In the upper right, go to Installed Updates
  3. We make a search (top right) of the update that we want to uninstall, in our case the KB3086255
  4. When the result comes out, right-click and uninstall, we confirm and wait for the uninstallation.
  5. We DO NOT RESTART and go back to the Control Panel, System and Security and Windows Update. In the left panel look for updates and we will see X Important updates are available and optional Y updates are available. We go into the important updates and there we have the KB3086255 again. Uncheck the update and then press the right mouse button on the update and then we will see Copy details and Disable update, we need check this last, close all windows and restart.

I hope that if someone more have this problem, this can help. There are many people who continue flying Flight Simulator 2004, and with the proper configuration still has much life ahead.

Goodbye OOM

oom

New RAM

Flight Simulator 2004 and Flight Simulator X were programmed to run on 32-bit operating systems and until now there was no problem, but with the increased quality of the addons and if we maintain the Flight Simulator with a high level of graphic requirement, each time more often we will have a CTD (Crash To Desktop) because of the famous OOM (Out Of Memory). This is because although we are running a 64-bit operating system, Flight Simulator 2004 and Flight Simulator X works under 32-bit, so although we have 8 GB of RAM, if you use the 2.5 to 3 Gb. which is recognized by the 32-bit operating systems we will have an OOM.

Fortunately, users of 64-bit operating systems are in luck, as Daniel Pistelli has created a little free utility that makes the Flight Simulator working in 64 bits. The operation could not be easier, simply run the utility, select the executable file (fs9.exe or fsx.exe) and problem solved, bye to annoying OOM.

Although I personally have not noticed differences, some people have reported significant improvements in the performance of the Flight Simulator once patched. I had no news of any problem generated by the patch either, so I think it is advisable to use it.

In theory and although it is a 32-bit software, Prepar3D does not need this patch due to a better memory management

You can download the utility here

Recommendations for Microsoft Windows Vista and 7

Microsoft Flight Simulator X (Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 and Lockheed Martin Prepar3D as well) is a legacy product. This means that the product is no longer supported by Microsoft. It also means that the product was developed before Microsoft Windows Vista and Microsoft Windows 7 came along.

Here are some suggestions for running Microsoft Flight Simulator X with Microsoft Windows Vista and Microsoft Windows 7:

  1. Run Microsoft Flight Simulator X in WINDOW MODE only (this tip is very important for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004). FULL SCREEN mode may look nice, but can cause Microsoft Flight Simulator X and add-ons to run erratically with Microsoft Windows Vista and Microsoft Windows 7.
  2. Adjust the Microsoft Flight Simulator X Program Properties:
    • RIGHT CLICK on the Microsoft Flight Simulator X program icon and select PROPERTIES from the dialog.
    • Choose the COMPATIBILITY TAB
    • Set as depicted:

fsx

NVIDIA Inspector configuration guide

All credits for Ryan Maziarz

Step 1 – Get the latest Nvidia Inspector version here: http://www.guru3d.com/files-details/nvidia-inspector-download.html SURE YOU EXTRACT ALL THE FILES! The program needs more than just the exe, there’s a file called CustomSettingNames_en-EN.xml that defines the names of all the different settings – if you’re seeing cryptic feature names and hex values, you didn’t put that file in the same folder as the exe.)

Here are three possible ways to set it for FSX and FS9 – one uses the 4xS mode, one uses 8xS and the other uses 8xSQ. I added the 4xS version because it was my own personal experience with the NGX that running a ton of texture resolution intensive addons like the NGX, REX, Orbx sceneries etc all at once massively increased the load on the video card and caused stuttering, particularly in spot view. The work required of the GPU to perform supersample AA is affected by the resolution of the textures and with everything using 4096 textures, I found this a better solution on my particular card (GTX 570). It’s definitely possible that the next generation of cards will not be affected in this way even when using a ton of 4096 textures. The 4xS option is probably best for people with older video cards in a general sense as well. 8xSQ reduces shimmering a bit more than 8xS does, but it comes at a performance cost and may look a bit more blurred due to the higher level of supersample AA used.

To make these settings – run Nvidia Inspector and click the icon to the right of the driver version (it looks like a wrench and screw driver in an X shape) – that will bring up the profile editor. Click in the Profiles dropdown box and type “MS” – this should make the FS9 and FSX profiles visible – click (you can’t use the arrow+enter keys for some reason) the one you want and that will make it active for editing. The settings are the same for both FS9 and FSX – I’m only showing FSX here.

Now – go through and change the settings that are in bold in the screenshots below – anything that is greyed out should be left at the default, which is inherited from the main global profile.Inside FSX, uncheck AA and set filtering to Trilinear. These in-game settings actually do not matter, but I’ve seen NickN bring up a good point that if they’re set this way it acts as a way to warn you if something isn’t working right in the driver – for example, say you update your drivers and suddenly see blurry textures – that would tell you that the forced AF mode is no longer working because your profile got wiped or the driver is bugged etc. That’s good advice that makes sense to me.

4xS version:

inspector_4xS

8xS version:

inspector_8xS

8xSQ version:

inspector_8xSQ

Now…In the interest of furthering everyone’s understanding of GPU technology and settings, here’s the explanation of what Nvidia Inspector itself is and explanation for what you’re doing with each of these settings:

Nvidia Inspector: There’s been some confusion over what Inspector (and any similar program like the old nHancer we used before the 2xx.xx drivers) actually does. Inspector is a front-end for editing the Nvidia driver’s application profiles. Application profiles determine the video card image quality settings get applied when you run a particular game. The profiles are stored in a binary file that’s usually edited using the Nvidia Control Panel’s “Manage 3D settings” page, Program Settings tab. That’s all Inspector is, an alternate way of editing that file – it does not make the video card do things it and the driver are not already capable of doing. It’s not a “hack” or anything like that. What it does do however is allow access to some AA modes that Nvidia considers experimental because they don’t always work with every possible game out there. The 8xS mode that works best for FS is one of these modes that isn’t normally accessible in the Nvidia Control Panel.The other big reason to use a tool like Inspector is that Nvidia predefines the way certain programs act with respect to the card’s options. For some reason they set the FS profiles to “Enhance only”, which does not allow you to totally override what FS tries to do on its own as far as AA and AF settings. Inspector lets you clear those “flags” so that you can set whatever you want in the application profile and FS will get exactly those settings applied to it without any modification. Most modern games do not require this – they have settings in the game itself for all these options and you just leave the application profile set to “Use the 3D application setting” for everything.

Antialiasing Section

Antialiasing – Behavior Flags:
By setting this to none, we are disabling Nvidia’s predefined flags for FS that force it into “Enhance” mode that I mentioned above – you can see what the default is before you change it to None.

Antialiasing – Mode:
By setting this to override, we’re telling the card to ignore anything FS itself is telling it to do and apply strictly what we have specified.

Antialiasing – Setting:
This is the full scene antialiasing (FSAA) mode. FSAA is what provides the main AA effect on all the terrain, buildings, the edges of the planes etc. These particular “combined” modes that work best in FSX are a combination of a multisample FSAA algorithm and a low-level supersampling FSAA algorithm. Multisampling and supersampling are two different ways of doing FSAA. Multisampling AA works by looking at the edges of polygons and the surrounding color pixels. It adjusts those colors at the pixel level to smooth the jagged lines. It’s very fast to the point of being “free” in terms of performance on modern video cards, but it has a couple of drawbacks, most importantly that it doesn’t AA inside polygons or on alpha-test textures. Supersampling AA works in an entirely different way – it actually renders the scene internally at a higher resolution than the monitor is displaying and uses that image to create the AA “map”. Supersampling is very hard on performance at higher settings – for example to run at true 4×4 supersampling AA on a 1920×1200 monitor requires the video card to actually render every frame internally at 7680×4800. That’s a huge amount of data and even the top of the line cards today will choke on it. That’s why the combined mode is there – it gets you close to the image quality that pure supersampling offers, but without the massive performance hit. 8xS is a 4x multisampling AA combined with a 1×2 supersampling AA (this means only the vertical component of the screen is rendered at twice the resolution internally.) 8xSQ is a 2x multisampling AA combined with a 2×2 supersampling AA. It has a bigger hit on performance because it’s using true 2x supersampling in both dimensions of the image. I would not use this unless you have a late model video card.

Antialiasing – Transparency: (there are two settings – Multisampling and Supersampling)

Transparency AA on Nvidia cards can be one of two types – multisampling or supersampling, just like FSAA. Transparency AA singles out objects like trees and power poles that can’t normally be antialiased by FSAA methods. FSAA works on the edges of polygons, but objects like trees in FSX are actually a larger invisible box – the shape of the leaves/needles on the trees are a texture that is placed onto that invisible polygon. (These are also called “alpha test textures” technically) TSAA modes are able to AA those textures, the driver figures out where they are and performs something akin to what FSAA does, but ONLY on the objects that use transparency textures. Supersample TSAA is higher quality than multisample TSAA, just as it is with the full scene versions.You have to choose one or the other, you can’t have both multisampling and supersample TSAA active at the same time. I’m not sure why the author of Inspector has it as two separate settings. It’s totally normal though for the Transparency Multisampling setting in Inspector to be disabled when you have a supersample mode selected.I’ve actually had the TSAA setting slightly wrong here in the past. The card actually cannot do a higher level of TSAA than what the base FSAA level is set to – in this two examples above, it’s limited to 4X with 8xS FSAA because that’s the base FSAA mode in 8xS. (8xS is not true “8X” anything, so 4X is the max TSAA that will work with it) 8xSQ is limited to 2x TSAA because 2x multisampling is the base AA level in it.It is a combination of this setting and the supersampling component of the FSAA setting that massively reduce the shimmering in the trees, power lines and another other similar objects in the sim.

Texture Filtering section

Anisotropic filtering mode:
All we’re doing here is putting the driver into the mode that lets us set this manually instead of letting FS set it itself.

Anisotropic filtering setting:
This is setting the actual level of anisotropic filtering (AF). AF is an effect that blends texture mipmaps into the distance while correcting for angle and perspective. A texture in a 3D game engine contains bunch of different resolutions called “mipmaps” – this cuts down on memory usage and processing work for the card because distant textures that shouldn’t have much detail to them anyway can be drawn with the lower resolution mipmaps. Close up they’ll be the full high resolution mipmap. AF blends the transition points between these mipmaps in an extremely smooth and convincing way. It should never be set to anything other than 16x in any game on a modern GPU. This operation is “free” like multisample AA is on cards today.Here are examples of the same scene in FSX that demonstrate the huge difference AF makes:

Trilinear filtering (not AF):

fsx_trilinear

16x AF:

fsx_16xaf

The difference there should be immediately apparent.

Texture filtering – Negative LOD Bias:
This setting prevents the FS engine from moving the mipmap transition points further into the distance. It does this in an attempt to sharpen the textures, but that creates massive texture aliasing (aka texture “crawl”). Anisotropic filtering does not need negatively biased mipmap transition points, in fact it’s designed to work without them and not create aliasing. This setting should basically always be on in any game when you’re using AF.

Texture filtering – Quality:
The Nvidia driver has various optimizations it does to the texture filtering process to speed it up. At the “High Performance” setting, all these optimizations are active and you trade image quality slightly for performance. At the other end, “High Quality”, all of those optimizations are disabled and a slight amount of performance is traded for the best possible image quality. This is very very slight, I see no noticeable difference in performance between the settings, but High Quality does cut down on the texture shimmering slightly vs. the others.Common section:

Frame rate limiter: (requires Nvidia driver 290.xx or higher)
FSX performs differently when the sim’s internal target framerate limiter slider is set to unlimited instead of an actual framerate. For a lot of people with high end systems it produces a smoother experience. The problem with doing this however is that the sim can wildly fluctuate and you can actually get stuttering from the sim pumping out far more frames than the monitor can handle. Externally limiting the framerate solves this problem. Up until very recently simmers had to use one of two dedicated frame rate limiting utilities to do this – no longer! This setting is an Nvidia created and approved framerate limiter that is built right into the driver itself. 30FPS is a good starting point – if you have a very powerful machine, you may be able to raise it up to 40 or so. I suspect within another year or so we might actually be able to lock this to 60 realistically.

Power management mode:
This stops the card from underclocking itself when it feels the load isn’t enough to warrant the maximum clock speed. It just makes sense to me to have it going full speed while I’m flying. There’s probably no harm in leaving this at Adaptive, but I’d rather be safe knowing all the card’s power is instantly available.

That’s the gist of it all – hopefully this gives you all a better understanding of what we’re actually doing when we set up our video cards for FS.