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About mtrainer

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  • About Me
    Flight Sims since the C64 to PDMG and everything inbetween. RC Aircraft Flyer. Flown a KC-10 Singer-Lync simulator twice at Barksdale AFB in Bossier City, Louisiana. B.S. in Computer Science in 1988 - Software Engineer for Fortune 100 firms ever since. Flown a Cessna a few times briefly.

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  1. Hi, Thanks for posting. Planning on building a similar rig with next spring's tax refund. This year was devoted mostly to a Warthog HOTAS, LED keyboard, and the crosswinds rudder pedals. Next step is the main rig, which is way overdue for an update. Mark
  2. Might also add in that our movie theaters, with 24 FPS only, the films have also had undergone a "motion blur" effect during post processing for any fast moving items in scene. Perhaps once video cards introduce this effect in hardware, we won't find our selves talking about FPS so much. A high FSP sure makes for some nice landings though. I go through a never ending cycle of slowly inching all the sliders up over a period of time, and then snap in utter frustration and dial it all way back down and whola! I'm happy again. Thanks Mark Trainer
  3. Windows over the last few years has become a mess. Ever google how to do something within control panel? You're lucky if you hit the pages that match their latest version of how and where they have put things. They seem obsessed with moving things around, and I'm not seeing that it is for the better. In fact, all the really important settings sometimes still require command line commands. Their latest "idea" of sneaking around and changing the internals a couple of times a year is a model I can't stand. Go back to major updates (new OS) every few years so that consumers have choice of sticking with that they have (and works with their software). I have a dedicated MIDI rackmount on an old MS OS that is now disconnected from the Internet to keep it virus free, but the software on it costs thousands of dollars to replace with the latest version on the OS. My girlfriend bought a printer a few years back, made the mistake of not taking out of the box for a few years and now there are no drivers to support it on a modern OS. It's essentially junk. At any rate, the Creators Update has not only wrecked my flight simulator, but lots of other basic functions too - something I read can happen if your motherboard is more than 8 years old. Sorry for the rant. Am trying to "undo" the update as I write this. Mark
  4. This was a good reference too: # Article on take off / landing circuits at same airport And, I don't see a full name posted on any post in this thread, even the fellow calling out the other dude. Edit: I see it now, in tiny letters embedded in the paragraph. Mark Trainer
  5. No problems here. Mark Trainer
  6. I'd like to understand better the exact algorithm being used when deciding to use ORBX trees, default trees, and the TerraFlora trees....this thread hasn't made it clear to me. In some aspects it seems to indicate that the TF trees and ORBX trees can exist in the same scenery, yet in non-full-fat regions this isn't the case....I've been on the fence on this whole tree purchase and don't know if I should go for one or the other, or both. Thanks, Mark "President Merkin Muffley: General Turgidson, I find this very difficult to understand. I was under the impression that I was the only one in authority to order the use of nuclear weapons. General "Buck" Turgidson: That's right, sir, you are the only person authorized to do so. And although I, uh, hate to judge before all the facts are in, it's beginning to look like, uh, General Ripper exceeded his authority."
  7. Totally agree about the Anti-virus situation - the "Anti-Virus" software these days actually behaves like a virus itself - using up CPU cycles, scanning every file that the hard drive reads into memory thus slowing performance, moving files on their own that break applications (quarantine), jumping up in your face every time you go to run a program, demanding more money each year with the claim that if you don't, bad things will happen.....etc.. Mark Trainer
  8. Yes.....I'm sold. Mark Trainer
  9. The Windows 10 Creators Update pretty much made my PC unusable. With some digging, I found out that the Creators Update doesn't play nicely with older hardware, and this PC's motherboard is about 9 years old. It did set a restore point so I was able to roll it back and all has been well ever since. Mark
  10. I spent a week in Chicago back in the early 90s waiting on the Union to show up and cable up some Unix machines I had was a great week as there was nothing for me to do but explore the city each day. I finally called up the boss and explained I could spend another week here waiting, but he said heck, just go ahead and take the next flight home. Great times! The entire time I was exploring the city, I had no idea a few short years later I'd be living here. Mark
  11. It has gotten out of hand - I know a girl in Colorado who registered her pet as a service animal just so it could go every where with her....are there no guidelines required for getting a dog declared as a service dog? Does an "emotional support" dog qualify as a "support dog"? I personally don't want to go to restaurants, stores, wineries, etc. and have to sit next to someone's smelly pet. Furthermore, we all know about those small "yappy" dogs that bark constantly and act as if they want to bite your ankles. I've got a neighbor down the street who has one of those dogs that barks all day when they are away at work, or shopping, or where-ever. They have no idea the racket being put up because the dog isn't barking when they are home, so they have no idea what is going we all have to suffer. If you're going to get a dog for a pet or companion, please research its personality. People who have bull-dogs always tend to stick up for them, but every month I'm reading a news story about someone getting killed by them (usually small kids). I've found Golden Retrievers to be the most pleasant breed by far - very easy going personalities. I'll posit that it's only a matter of time when we'll hear a news story where some "emotional service dog" attacks someone on an airplane. And then, perhaps, we'll see the laws change. Mark
  12. I remember Flight Unlimited 2 - had that also! I still have it packed away in a big box full of obsolete software. Having purchased nearly every sim on the market from 1983 until current, I probably spent the most time in FS9 - AKA Flight Simulator 2004 - I flew it even after FSX came out, because of the inconsistent frame rate of FSX - it would run smooth but then stutter with a long frame about once a second. That alone was an immersion killer. Then, as PCs became ever faster, FS9 began to run like a dream - nothing like taking the Level D 767 in for a landing with a solid 60 frames per second. Thus, I stuck w/ FS9 and frankly never really spent much time in FSX- went from FS9 right into LM Prepar3D V3. At first, I was a little disappointed with Prepar3d, at a glance the major upgrades I was expecting just weren't there. Once I accepted that this sim needed add-ons such as PMDG aircraft, ORBX Scenery, REX4 w/ Soft Clouds, a decent camera system, and Active Sky, it all began to shine. I had expected though that these would be incorporated into the sim by Lockheed but they seem content to continue providing a base-sim only and let 3rd parties do the rest. It has its pros and cons but since my posts tend to go long I won't go into them here. Glad you folks enjoyed the original article, I wrote it about 6 months ago and just didn't know if it was something worth posting but now I am glad that I did. Thanks, Mark Trainer
  13. Well not to mention FSX is a dead product. No new development going on there, so why keep investing in dedicated add-ons for that platform? It's frozen in time. Sure, we all have great memories there, but it's best to go with a product that continues to evolve over time as a living, breathing product - Prepar3D. It's also poised to make better use of modern PC resources. While I don't mind folks who have FSX hanging on, mostly likely due to their large investments in add-ons, I'd suggest moving on and re-starting your add-on collection one small item at a time. And as each item comes on-line, enjoy it fully before moving on to the next. I've never understood folks who need 150+ different aircraft at their disposal and 200+ add-on airports to fly into and out of. Pick the "best of the best" and fly that hardware into destinations that support it well. Mark
  14. Hello, I'm absolutely impressed with the level of detail provided with the Prepar3D / 737 NGX. In my opinion seeing something that simulates the interaction of the electrical, hydraulic, computer, and control inputs- is something I feel we don't see enough of. And yes, I've been flying the Level-D 767 since it first came out as Pilot in Command, which in my opinion deserves an award for the being the first product to push the genre in this direction. This diatribe will begin with my experience on a real-life simulator, and then end with some comparisons to the PMDG 737 NSX at the end. If you get bored, my sincere apologies just quit reading and move on. My first simulator was Bruce Artwick's subLogic Flight Simulator II on the Commodore 64, so hey, I've been around the block. I think I've owned every major flight simulator between 1983 and now and have built countless rigs to support them. I don't know how many hours I have in simulators, and frankly I don't know if the true value would horrify me or not. Although I read a lot of forums, I'm mostly a lurker but since this is one of my first times to create a thread from scratch I'll try to make it count. After college (Bachelor of Science in Computer Science) my first job was as an instructor at a technical college teaching COBOL/FORTRAN/RPGII/C programming to kids working on their Associates Degree. Since dad had retired from the Air Force at Barksdale AFB, I was quite familiar with base - it was within walking distance of our house. As for the KC-10 Singer-Link system, I knew of the existence of this simulator at Barksdale Air Force Base because of a friend I had met in an advanced college calculus class. After we got to know one another one day I asked him, "So what's your major?". And he replied that he didn't have one, and wasn't pursuing a degree. This intrigued me, that someone would take such a difficult course out of the blue... He explained he was a contract programmer on the Singer-Link simulator at Barksdale AFB and needed to better understand the wake turbulence experienced by a KC-10 as it was being refueled by a KC-135. He explained the bow wave effects and how he was getting a handle on the math as he had to code this in Assembly Language and the systems they were using were already at 90% capacity from a CPU perspective. I was impressed. So a couple of years later it occurred to me that I might be able to leverage my position as an instructor to get a tour of their KC-10 Full Motion Singer-Link Simulator on the base. A couple of calls later and it was all worked out - the base was delighted to have us- my employer (the Dean of the school) was blown away that I arranged this - a real win/win and my entire class was going to get a tour. We got to operate the boom and refuel a B-52 below us; we got to play around in the procedures trainer, and of course we got a look at the data center used to run it all. It was amazing - it took a basement of computers each the size of refrigerators to run this simulation- each major computer only worked on one small part of the sim- and fed the results into the next computer for further processing. It was millions of dollars in equipment that could probably be handled now by a couple of decked out modern PCs with decent video cards. While in the basement the pilot showed us printouts of the real pilots upstairs performing engine-out approaches. He pointed to one green-bar printout and said, "This reflects an engine out approach where the back wheels weren't quite on the pavement upon touchdown. It's a bit difficult because in a long plane like KC-10 the cockpit is well ahead of the rear wheels". Well, no problem. Or so I thought. Later, when my class was standing near the scaffolding waiting, the Air Force pilots exited the simulator just as one of my smarty-pants students exclaimed, "Set it down in the dirt, huh?" The look those two pilots shot back could have stopped the hearts of most small animals. It was lethal! When it was time to actually take a ride, only a couple of people could go since the cockpit could only hold a couple of folks at a time - everyone has to be strapped into seats since a sudden bump of the controls could send someone crashing into some very expensive equipment and toggle switches. The Lt. Col. leading the tour had been eye-balling the girls in my class and when he asked who wanted to fly in the pilot's seat, everyone bashfully averted their eyes downward. He kept looking at the girls to see if one would change their mind, but me- my arm was straight up into the air and after an awkward moment I could tell he was a little bummed that none of the girls volunteered! With what was a heavy heart for him he said to me, "OK, come on." Using my entire class was a sneaky way to get into that simulator and fly it....and I pulled this entire trick twice during my time teaching there, exactly one year. Both times I got to sit in the pilot's seat and fly the thing through some very specific maneuvers (fortunately the tour wasn't led by the same officer both times). For those that have never experienced this, I'll explain a few things that made this experience incredible. For one, they even had the runway cracks programmed in- you felt the bumps as you crossed them. They had Barksdale and the entire cities around it represented. It wasn't the same level of detail we're accustomed to, but the frame rate was rock solid and smooth. When you take off, you're pressed back into the seat as the place accelerates. When viewed from outside the simulator you can see that what is actually happening is that the entire enclosed cockpit is tilting backward. Inside, you don't notice this because the computer is drawing the out of the window view that is compatible with rolling flat down the runway. In addition as the plane picks up speed you've got the usual vibration occurring - incredibly realistic. Bumps, cracks, sounds, visual, and of course all of the real cockpit controls, switches and instruments (all analog at the time!) was incredible. Likewise, when coming to a stop, you feel the straps of the belts pulling at you- it actually feels like a strong deceleration but in this case the entire simulator is on hydraulic struts which are now tilting the entire cockpit downward. Visually they normally set the simulator to dusk conditions - which they deemed the most realistic looking. They even had the car headlights on some roads that were around Barksdale. It wasn't as detailed as what we have in today's PC simulators, but it actually looked very good. We (I) did a refueling over the grand canyon, purposefully broke the nose wheel off during a hard landing, and an on-purpose mid-air with the KC-135 we had been refueling from. When we were taking on fuel from the KC-135 just above us, I was very surprised at how hard the Lt. Col. was struggling to hold our position, both mentally and physically. I had assumed the flight controls were like power steering in a car. When he said, "You've got the controls son" I could not believe the amount of effort required to hold our position - the updates required were constant with control wheel movements around 4-6 inches once to twice a second. It was hard work - these guys must develop strong arms. Watching you-tube videos of B-52s refueling they don't seem to struggle as hard to hold their position as we did- but dad says they had 2 modes in the B-52 for the controls and one was for refueling. I couldn't stay connected (the green "connect" light on the overhead goes out) and we eventually floated down and away to the right, when I heard the dreaded, "I've go the controls son." That is when he pulled us up, hard and to the left, purposefully colliding with the underside of the KC-135. All at once it seemed there were lights on every switch in the cockpit and of course there were alarms and bells too- we nosed over hard, going into a dive. About 4 seconds later everything stopped and the interior lights came on- he said at that point the computer had considered us dead and had stopped the simulation. Another interesting fact - I asked him if anyone had attempted inverted flight or crazy maneuvers in the sim - and he said that going into a dive to pick up speed and then pulling up into a climb and then trying to go upside down to loop, was very bad because the computer at the top of the climb would have the hydraulics holding the simulator at full tilt back, but the moment you passed the 90 degree mark the computer would instantly command the hydraulics to put the simulator into a fully deflected downward position and the abruptness of the change was quite severe and not good for any of the equipment. Same with trying a roll - these were forbidden because of the stress it put on the components when the computer tried to "snap" the cockpit (which must have weighed thousands of pounds) into an all new attitude. After teaching I sent off a resume hoping to get on to the Rockwell International Simulation Team for the brand new B1-B at Dyess AFB in Texas but they never responded and I ended up in the Financial Side of Software Engineering. I wanted in that B1-B simulator cockpit bad! Since then, Barksdale AFB in Bossier City Louisiana is still home of the 8th Air Force 2nd Bomb Wing with approximately 44 B52s, but sadly the KC-10s have all been reassigned and it is doubtful that the simulator complex I visited exists there anymore. Ever since that experience, I've been craving something that had the level of depth, and I've found it in the PMDG 737 NGX. This plane has kept me quite busy, reading the manuals and learning the nuisances of its operation. When I saw how big the manuals were (dashing my hopes of using the office printer to print them out unless I stayed late so as to not interfere with legit prints!) I didn't know whether to be elated or overwhelmed. Turns out I'm still both. And, I'm still determined to stay late one day this month and print this stuff out (in color!) and put it into sets of 3 ring binders. Being a Software Engineer since 1988, I view the MSFS/Prepar3D/PMDG737 as a state of the art piece of software engineering - when I read some of the posts related to nit picking it makes me hope that the authors of this product don't take it personally. The complexity of this product and the fact that it runs at anything other than slide-show speeds is truly amazing. (I tried programming just a simple graphics attitude indicator on an Amiga 2000 using Manx Aztec C, and it ran darn slow!) We finally have a working model of a wonderfully complex machine that we can experiment with on our very own PCs, a realistic simulation that rivals and in many ways surpasses the multimillion dollar Singer-Link system I had the rare privilege to fly in 1989. I'm impressed with how far we've come. As someone whose first simulator had 4 colors and a FPS of 2 and ran in 64K of RAM, it's a good time to be alive. Thanks for reading, Mark Trainer