drdjmilly

Future of Aviation SImulation software

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Hi all,

I'm a new user so should introduce myself. I'm a PPL pilot and have an FSX sim running win7, decent graphics running over 3 screens with a fair amount of Saitek hardware. It works well and tbh, am happy with it.  I'm here to hopefully gain some insights on the future of avsim and how I can possibly build a bigger/better sim for the future with better hardware and software. 

I'm new to the forum so please be kind. With all respect to those longstanding users on here, I've had many unpleasant experiences in the past on other sites from the "typical" armchair enthusiasts (think comic book guy from the Simpsons) who enjoy ridiculing and belittling people of lesser experiences. I'm really not interested in any of that. I'm not a total ignoramus, but completely accept I am far from as knowledgeable as some. That said, I can and do learn. I know it's a pitfall of forums, but all i ask is "polite - not patronising". I hope that's ok. 

So I would love to upgrade my home sim and at the moment, I cannot find any reliable information as to which direction I should go in for the software platform. It would be a serious dream come true to involve a small motion platform and with the advent of small "home sized" hardware, this will surely become an affordable reality in the future. 

I guess the big question (which might not have a perfect answer at this stage) is what do you guys think will be the future software to think about working with? There seems to be some promising developments for the home user but no concrete advice as to which to go for. 

As a separate question, what software do the professional training SIMS use? Are these bespoke systems developed by the aircraft manufacturers? I can't help but wonder that they must, along the way, use similar graphics and computing technology that is available to us mere mortals - and if so, accepting the astonomical costs, what are the essential differences between a static Boeing flight training sim and a home made equivalent?

NIce to be here and i hope I can make some mates interested in building our dream sims!!!

All the best

Dave Jones

 

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1 hour ago, drdjmilly said:

NIce to be here and i hope I can make some mates interested in building our dream sims!!!

Hello and Welcome. There is only really two choices. P3D that is based on MS FSX. Its from Lockheed Martin and used in professional training https://www.prepar3d.com/

The other is XPlane and its also used in professional training. http://www.x-plane.com/

P3D has a 90 day money back period if you are not happy and XP has a Demo. So try both!

Pete

Edited by n4gix
Removed excessive quote.

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Hi Dave and welcome to Avsim!

I believe what you are looking for far exceeds my knowledge and expertise. So excuse me if I tell you something you already know:

At the moment, there are two new, fully fledged flight sims available, which can be regarded as successors to FSX: X-Plane 11 and Prepar3D v4. Both are used in professional environments (I don't know which exactly, but that's probably googleable...) as well. I do not know which one is better for building true home flightdeck, but I do know that I've seen both used for these purposes (check out the Youtube Channel "On the Glideslope" for a Cessna Homecockpit for example). There are two minor (and upcoming?) players in the market as well with Aerofly2 and Flight Sim World. Both are still in early access, so they might develop into something viable or not.

The biggest new technology for flightsims in general in my opinion is Virtual Reality, because it produces a level of immersion that can only be beaten by custom flightdecks, but comes at a far lower cost. Aerofly2 already supports VR natively, XP11 will follow suite and P3D can be made compatible via a third-party tool.

If I were you, I'd try out both XP11 (free demo available) and P3Dv4 (60-day refund policy) but wait with a big financial commitment until both sims have matured a bit, especially since you are happy with what you've got!

As far as the difference between home-made and professional simulators go, the biggest difference is probably the software simulating the aircraft: If I assume correctly, professional simulators can be equipped with the same proprietary software that runs the actual aircraft and the proprietary data from real-world flights can be put into the sim to make it as real as it gets when it comes to flight behavior and systems simulation. Visually, those sims can be far less appealing than consumer-level flight sims as far as I've seen, because they are designed to provide systems training and not the whole flight experience that most flightsimmers are typically aiming at.

Cheers,

Dom

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Welcome to AVSIM! We look forward to having you as a contributing member, and sincerely hope you will enjoy your membership.

While there are indeed less expensive "home motion platforms" becoming available, I thought you might enjoy this link to Redbird Simulations's commercial, certified Flight Training Devices's. Of interest, they use Lockheed-Martin's full-featured Prepar3D "Professional" for their base software.

http://simulators.redbirdflight.com/products/topic/full-motion-simulators

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2 hours ago, drdjmilly said:

As a separate question, what software do the professional training SIMS use? Are these bespoke systems developed by the aircraft manufacturers? I can't help but wonder that they must, along the way, use similar graphics and computing technology that is available to us mere mortals - and if so, accepting the astonomical costs, what are the essential differences between a static Boeing flight training sim and a home made equivalent?

 

Welcome to Avsim :cool:

You can actually use XPlane for that, although not the default 60 quid version most of us will typically own. Basically, the 'pro' version of XPlane will enable the simulator to output the required data for an FAA certification as a professional simulator, plus it can output expanded visual projections and drive external hardware avionics. You can learn more about that here:

http://www.x-plane.com/pro/

You may also be interested in this site too, which is a company that makes stuff which can connect to all that data coming out of XPlane:

https://flypfc.com/

As you might know, the criteria for a simulator to be a professionally certified, are things such as accuracy and fidelity of the displays/audio, the reaction time to control inputs, replication of real controls, replication of the surrounding environment etc. But professionally certified simulators do not necessarily have to be amazing in all respects in order to be classified as such, it depends on what they are intended to train and to what level.

The older classification of pro simulators was from Level A through to Level D, but this is generally being replaced by the newer ICAO classification of I through to VII these days, with VII being the highest of course (equivalent to a Level D simulator). These 'gist' of what is required for various levels of simulator, is as follows:

Level 1: Requires an enclosed cockpit, the enclosure itself doesn't need to be an accurate representation of a cockpit, but does have to prevent distraction. There has to be a hardware representation of the controls and instruments. It has to simulate basic flight stuff, i.e. engine operation, different temperatures in flight, different weights of aircraft etc and has to simulate sound and have a visual display, but this can simply be a basic front view.

Level 2: All of the above, plus has to simulate airport environments, ATC simulation (can be as text messages) and has to have weather reporting simulated.

Level 3: Doesn't need ATC simulated, but otherwise does need all the other above criteria in addition to being able to simulate varying runway conditions.

Level 4: All of the above but with more stringent audio simulation requirements than preceding levels and has to be able to use voice control for ATC. From this level upwards, the visual simulation criteria get more and more tough in terms of degrees of view which the display system covers.

Level 5: All of the above but also has to have realistic feel to the controls and has to be able to simulate certain failures such as burst tires, brake failure, degraded performance relating to those.

Level 6: All of the above, plus a 6 DOF movement system which is capable of replicating turbulence, buffet, atmospheric effects such as wind sheer etc.

Level 7: All of the above in a realistic representation of a specific aircraft environment, i.e. if it is meant to be simulating a 737, then it is basically going to have to look and feel exactly like a 737 when you get in the thing.

As you can see from all of those, many people's home-built simulators actually far surpass the required features of many professionally certified training simulators, but unless they can have their parameters checked from a measurable output to ensure that they are indeed reacting within a spicified amount of milliseconds to the control inputs on the hardware, they could not be cetified for professional use (this is the really important criteria of most 'pro' simulators).

So, I could literally get a broom handle, saw it in half, get someone to sit in a chair and hold that half a broomstick like a joystick and it would be perfectly possible for me to teach them which way they should move it to operate the elevators and ailerons of an aeroplane. That is effectively a simulator, albeit not a very sophisticated one and not one that could be certified, but I have in fact done stuff similar to that in the past to explain the controls of an aeroplane to someone, and they were indeed sat in a makeshift simulator when that happened.

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Welcome to AVSIM!

 

I'd highly recommend Prepar3D.  It is used for professional flight training, as well as X Plane.  I'm not an expert on X Plane, but I do know that that most payware addons (such as A2A simulations aircraft and Orbx scenery) aren't compatible with XPlane and are only compatible with FSX and Prepar3D.

Another reason I'd recommend Prepar3D is that 95% of addons that are compatible with FSX are also compatible with Prepar3D.  Even if they only say that they are compatible with FSX and don't mention much about being compatible P3D, they usually are still compatible.  I own an addon that doesn't mention much about being compatible with P3D, but it works great.

Prepar3D has much higher system requierments than FSX, but a Nvidia GeForce GTX 700 series GPU will run version 3 ok.  If you want version 4, you might need a better/another graphics card.  The system requirements page on the Prepar3D website will be able to give you much more detailed information than I can here.

 http://www.prepar3d.com/system-requirements/

 

5 hours ago, petkez said:

P3D has a 60 day money back period if you are not happy, and XPlane has a Demo. So try both!

 

Glad to help

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On ‎6‎/‎7‎/‎2017 at 0:18 PM, n4gix said:

While there are indeed less expensive "home motion platforms" becoming available, I thought you might enjoy this link to Redbird Simulations's commercial, certified Flight Training Devices's. Of interest, they use Lockheed-Martin's full-featured Prepar3D "Professional" for their base software.

 

I would absolutely love to have a full motion simulator, but it's $31,900 for the least expensive Redbird full motion.  Redbird also makes a very good stationary trainer for under $3k  http://simulators.redbirdflight.com/products/jay 

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Hi all, and many thanks for such great and informative responses. 
Has taken me a while to work through and test some of the software that you suggested (it's a shame work has to get in the way of having fun with flight simulation!).

Without doubt, if we had limitless cash, we would take this to the nth degree but a SIM has to fit the purpose you need it for - (eg. I'm not going to be using mine to train pilots - but just create as real experience as I can - and I really appreciate Chocks post about the levels of training sim - most will certainly exceed the FAA requirements (or in my case CASA) and I think I'm initially going to work with P3D (for the moment keeping FSX as an alternative), update Graphics (1080T probably) and look at 4K screens.

The graphics is a massive topic all on its own. When I have flown professional SIMs (even an old 737-300 at Ansett in Melborne), the display is projected. And I've just never been a fan of projection - it just seems to be so much less accurate than a 4K resolution. I might well be wrong about this - and in fact, it might be with newer tech and existing excellent lenses that projection is in fact an ongoing usable technology. Maybe some of you have some wisdom with this?

re: motion platform - again this is a massive topic all on it's own but thanks for the links. They have provided more food for thought. 

Great to be on the forum and I hope I can be of help to others in the future with my setup and experiences. 

Dave

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