Archive for the ‘Software’ Category

FSX & Blurries

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

i tried my hand at overclocking again. it seemed to be stable at both 2.6GHz and 2.7GHz. anything higher and the system would crash. so i thought, “great, everything’s looking good.” the next step was to overclock the graphics card. stock speeds are 600/900, which was easily increased to 700/1000. all of a sudden, the system crashed again. to make a long story short, i’m still running the CPU at 2.4GHz with the graphics card at 700/1000.

another problem i discovered was that nvidia’s nTune software is crap. it doesn’t hold any settings after reboot, and it doesn’t like loading profiles either. that’s when i decided to try RivaTuner. it’s a nifty little tool that allows you to overclock, set fan speeds, save profiles, and load them at the click of a button.

one thing that’s been bothering me about FSX is “the blurries.” this is a common occurence throughout the flight sim community. what happens is the ground textures become blurry, whether it be dependent on altitude, speed, etc. the proof is in the pictures…


there have been many tweaks that try to fix this problem, some of which even allocate more processor usage to render the ground textures. well, after a little bit of research, i discovered a tool called nHancer. it’s a much more in-depth tool that allows you to manipulate the 3D settings of an nvidia graphics card. for some reason, FSX likes to use it’s own internal anti-aliasing and filtering method. but nHancer optimizes this method by directing the in-game settings to the video driver, itself. so i gave it a whirl and wouldn’t you know… no more blurries. this is probably the most useful tool i’ve ever used, and FSX now looks the way it’s supposed to.

FSX Add-ons & Computer Woes

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

my collection of add-ons for FSX keeps growing. but most of them are free upgrades from previously purchased add-ons for FS2004. here’s what i have so far:

  • Aerosoft Mega Airport Brussels X
  • Aerosoft Mega Airport Budapest X
  • Aerosoft Mega Airport Frankfurt X
  • Aerosoft Mega Airport London Heathrow X
  • Aerosoft Piper Cheyenne X
  • Carenado Beechcraft Bonanza F33A
  • Carenado Beechcraft Bonanza V35B
  • Carenado Beechcraft Mentor T-34
  • Carenado Cessna 210M Centurion II
  • Carenado Cessna 182Q Skylane
  • Carenado Cessna 182 Skylane II
  • Carenado Cessna U206G Stationair 6 II
  • Carenado Piper Cherokee 180F
  • Dreamfleet Piper Dakota
  • Flight 1 ATR 72-500
  • Flight 1 Cessna 172R Skyhawk
  • Flight 1 Ground Environment X USA/Canada
  • Flight 1 Super 80
  • Flight 1 Ultimate Terrain X Canada/Alaska
  • Flight 1 Ultimate Terrain X Europe
  • Flight 1 Ultimate Terrain X USA
  • FlyTampa St. Maarten TNCM
  • HiFi Sim Active Sky X
  • HiFi Sim X Graphics
  • HiFi Sim XPax
  • ImagineSim KCLT
  • ImagineSim KCVG
  • ImagineSim KLGA
  • Just Flight Flying Club X
  • Just Flight Traffic 2005
  • Level-D 767-300 ER
  • MegaCity USA Atlanta
  • MegaScenery Mid-Atlantic
  • MegaScenery Northern California
  • MegaScenery Pacific Northwest
  • MegaScenery Southern California
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Acceleration
  • Wilco 737 Pilot In Command
  • Wilco 777-200 ER
  • Wilco Citation X

the MegaCity and MegaScenery add-ons are direct ports of the FS2004 versions. they don’t look quite as crisp in FSX, but i was surprised at how easy it was to install them. i haven’t had much luck flying in and out of some of the airport sceneries, as the level of detail brings the FPS to slideshow status. i’m still working on tweaking FSX to find that “sweet spot.” so far, i’ve been most impressed with the combination of Active Sky X, X Graphics, and Ground Environment X. those are definitely worth the price of admission.

in trying to get that extra bit of performance out of my new computer, i’ve tried several times to overclock the CPU with no luck. overclocking the old Pentium 4 with the ASUS P4P800-SE motherboard was a piece of cake. i went with another ASUS board strictly because of their overclocking abilities, but this one is proving to be a hassle. after doing a little research, the P5N-E SLI board is crap when it comes to overclocking Intel’s quad-core processors. however, it’s a champ when it comes to the Core 2 Duo CPU’s. i’m still gonna try to get what i can out of it. i may have been too agressive trying to achieve 3.0GHz right off the bat. although, that seemed like a reasonable goal, as the Q6600 is easily capable of reaching 3.2GHz or higher. based on what i’ve seen, i may not be able to surpass 2.7GHz, maybe even 2.6GHz.

MegaScenery & New Airports

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

MegaScenery USA

PC Aviator is running a HUGE sale on their MegaScenery line of products for FS2004. i’ve always wanted to give these a go, but could never bring myself to fork up the cash for all of them. well, i just happened to be browsing their site (because i like to look at the screenshots and think to myself, “man, i really want that”) and came across the MegaScenery USA Mega 5-Pack Bundle Deal. this package comes with:

    – Southern California V2 (Full Kit)
    – Northern California V2 (Full Kit)
    – Pacific Northwest (Full Kit)
    – Mid-Atlantic (Full Kit)
    – Atlanta

total price for all this? an incredible $35.95 (plus S&H)!!! i couldn’t believe it. that is quite a savings when you consider the normal price of these things is anywhere between $20 and $40. so i had to jump on this the moment i saw it. i ordered on monday and it was delivered yesterday. i gotta say that the box was surprisingly heavy. but i guess it should be since each full kit includes approach charts and area maps.

installation was a breeze, although it took a couple hours. total size for the complete installation of all five scenery packages amounted to approximately 20GB. so you can imagine why it took so long.

once installed, i was eager to check out the new surroundings. i started out at Van Nuys (KVNY) in a Cessna 172. initial loading took so long that i thought my computer had froze. but it just turns out that it actually takes that long to load the new textures. that part was kind of disappointing, but once you get going, it’s well worth it. i took off and climbed to an altitude of 6000 feet and… WOW. i flew up the coast past LAX and back down for a landing on 16R. after initial observations, all i can say is that the amount of detail is incredible. roads, golf courses, mountains… it’s all there. and the best part is that i saw absolutely no hit on frame rates. none whatsoever.

next, i loaded up a flight around DC in the Robinson R22. i started out at Regan National (KDCA) and headed straight toward the mall. i maintained a steady hover at about 5000 feet and just took a look around. i’m a little more familiar with this area and i could clearly make out all the major roads and landmarks.

i have yet to try out the northern california, pacific northwest, and atlanta sceneries. but i have a feeling that they will be just as great. if you are into VFR flying, then i highly recommend this package (and for a great price to boot!).

Airport Sceneries

my flight simming has been mostly confined to US airspace, but i’ve decided to make the leap across the pond after taking notice of some really breathtaking european sceneries and airports. being an avid reader of both Computer Pilot and PC Pilot, i decided to purchase some airports whose reviews caught my attention. in particular, Aerosoft’s Frankfurt and Budapest sceneries, as well as FlyTampa’s Vienna scenery. i haven’t had a chance to get a good look at any of these yet, but i plan on making a few 737NG short hops for Lufthansa and Malev.

    Aerosoft Budapest 2007
    Highly detailed taxiway and runway layout, with high definition textures
    Fully compatible with standard and third party AI-Traffic
    Full winter textures
    Full night textures
    Includes high density mesh of surrounding
    Includes full photographic ground texture of Budapest
    High level of animated car and bus traffic on airport
    Full and detailed lighting
    Very high number of objects on tarmac
    Superb optimization on every view angle so frame rates are stable and high
    A version of this scenery is used in Malév simulators at Ferihegy!
    Aerosoft Mega Airport Frankfurt
    Over 420 Taxisigns
    Over 1400 Illuminated taxiway and runway signs
    Over 60 dynamic apron vehicles
    Over 450 dynamic Trucks and Cars (in the rush hour) on the Highway A5
    Over 185 Parkpositions with 65 dockbridges
    Detailed airport and their surroundings
    Photo realistic ground texture
    All airport institutions and buildings
    City of Frankfurt
    US Base
    Automatic docking system (AGNIS)
    All navigation systems (ILS,VOR/DME,NDB,ATIS)
    Astounding night-time effects
    Extensive description of the airport
    FlyTampa Vienna
    Vienna-Schwechat International (LOWW) airport scenery
    Unique terrain and pavement rendition techniques
    Seasonal ground changes (Summer, Spring, Fall, Winter, Hard-Winter)
    New award winning control tower
    Numerous static and animated objects like service trucks, cars
    Docking signs & attendants
    English and German documentation

FSX SP1 Released

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

the long-awaited SP1 update has been released for FSX!!! download it HERE.

for a thorough rundown of what was addressed, visit Phil Taylor’s blog.

We think SP1 is going to deliver the goods for most users, and will reward users with better hw the most. We expect that, except in the very, very low-end hw, all users should see a 20% gain. Some scenarios will see 40%, and some will see a bit more. It’s really going to depend on a lot of variables. We hope this enables users to either fly at the same settings with greater FPS, or to bump the sliders up 1 or 2 ticks and still get the same FPS you had.

Wilco releases Citation X

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

Wilco has just released their brand new Citation X. For the time being, it is only available by download for both FS2004 and FSX.

This amazing software brings highly sophisticated ‘Jet Set’ flavour into your preferred simulator!

Combining state of the art technology to an unmatched elegance, Citation X is a powerful business jet you will fall in love with for its wonderful look and aerodynamic shape.

Once onboard, whichever your piloting knowledge level is, you will be astonished by its elegantly furnished cabin while comfortably flying at nearly supersonic speed over the oceans.

Jump back in the Pilot seat and you will be amazed by all latest aeronautical technologies embedded in the cockpit. Some of these don’t even exist in the simulation world yet.

To reflect these high quality standards, the Citation X will proudly bear our ‘Pilot in Command’ label.

BONUS: With Citation X, pleasure felt while in the air does continue even after landing! You will enjoy VIP level welcoming in several business airports around the world : London Heathrow (EGLL), Paris le Bourget (LFPB), Frankfurt (EDDF), J.F. Kennedy Airport (KJFK), Santa Monica Los Angeles (KSMO).

Specific ‘VIP’ animations allow you to book, while arriving at destination airport, vehicles to correctly welcome your VIP passengers.

This brand new animation feature can also be used with any other Flight Simulator aircraft you would fly to these locations.

Greatness, elegance, limos, and red-carpet treatment… add dazzling to your simulator!

For more info, head on over to Wilco’s product page.

PMDG 737NG

Monday, April 16th, 2007

i recently purchased the PMDG 737NG, along with the -800 and -900 upgrade. after watching the Cockpit Secrets DVD, i became much more interested in this aircraft. while the Wilco/Feelthere offering is a solid glass cockpit version of the 737, there’s just something about the NG that’s… well, different. it just looks and feels more modern, and the simulation presented by PMDG does not disappoint.

i spent a few hours flying with the 737NG over the weekend. after using the Wilco/Feelthere 737 for the past couple months, the transition was as smooth as can be. everything from startup to shutdown is nearly identical, so i was able to get this bird up in the air within a matter of minutes and with minimal reference to the manual. my first and only flight so far was a short hop from boston to philadelphia. the approach and landing traffic around the KPHL area was pretty dense. but with the guidance of ATC and the aircraft’s TCAS, i was able to slip right into the pattern and make a perfect and safe landing.

the most surprising aspect of this product was that it had no detrimental effect on FPS at all. using the TrackIR, i fly mostly using the virtual cockpit and it was just like i was flying the default Cessna. that’s how smooth it was.

overall, this product is near flawless. i have a feeling that this will quickly become my favorite aircraft to fly. i mostly go about on short hops since time is often limited for me, and i find this to be the perfect plane for those quickie flights.

FlyTampa releases St. Maarten

Monday, April 16th, 2007

  • 3 airports: St. Maarten (TNCM), St. Barts (TFFJ), Saba (SABA/TNCS)
  • 3 Islands covered with Photoscenery, custom Autogen and Mesh
  • Animated AI-Ships ranging from Windsurfers to Cruiseliners.
  • Animated car traffic.
  • Numerous details on Maho beach / St. Maarten approach
  • St. Maarten (TNCM) also available as stand-alone airport package.

For more info, head on over to the FlyTampa website.

FSX Service Pack 1 (Beta)

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

The much anticipated service pack for Microsoft Flight Simulator X has been released for beta testing. With non-disclosure agreements still in effect, one can only speculate what issues it will address. At the very least, I would expect bugs to be fixed and the code to be cleaned up a bit. Hopefully, some degree of performance increase may be seen, or better yet, support for DirectX10 hardware.

Check out Phil Taylor’s blog for more info.

Wilco announces Citation X

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Wilco has announced yet another addition to their Pilot In Command and Luxury Aircraft collections: the Cessna Citation X.

  • Highly detailed First class business jet: Citation X by Cessna
  • Citation X is the world’s fastest business aircraft and also the world’s most aerodynamic jet ever built: aerodynamic shape, swept back 37° wings…
  • Luxury VIP/Executive interior
  • New specific FSX camera definitions (gear, wing, cabin, overhead…)
  • Multiple business liveries and the official Cessna livery
  • Realistic flight dynamics created and tested by an active Citation X pilot and based on manufacturer’s specifications. The plane operates extremely close to the real plane’s specifications.
  • Truly immersive sound experience with the real plane digitized sounds: engine, APU, batteries, air conditioning, passenger signs, clicks…
  • Realistic animations: hydraulic suspension, flaps, slats, spoilerons, speed brakes, thrust reversers, landing gear, passengers door, cargo hatches, stairs…
  • Nose wheel steering limited over 40kts
  • Rear-mounted Rolls-Royce turbofan engines: 3900 miles at Mach .92
  • Reflective textures, dynamic shine, night lighting…
  • Frame-rate friendly
  • Wingview
  • Easy-to-use Paint Kit to create your own liveries

For more info, head on over to Wilco’s product page.

Add-ons Galore

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

as if the price of a computer didn’t stretch my wallet enough, here’s a list of my current add-ons…

Aircraft:
Abacus: Flight Deck 4
Aerosoft: Coast Guard HH-60J Jayhawk
Aeroworx: B200 King Air
Carenado: Cessna 152
CoolSky: Ultimate Airliners Super 80
Dreamfleet: A36 Bonanza
Eaglesoft: Citation X
Flight 1: Cessna 172
Flight 1: Pilatus PC-12
Iris Simulations: F-14A Tomcat
Just Flight: 777 Professional
Just Flight: C-130 Hercules
Level-D Simulations: 767-300ER
Phoenix Simulation Software: 757 (2006)
Phoenix Simulation Software: Dash 8
PMDG: 737NG (-600, -700, -800, -900)
PMDG: 747-400 Queen of the Skies
Wilco/Feelthere: 737 Pilot In Command
Wilco/Feelthere: CRJ-200
Wilco/Feelthere: CRJ-700/900
Wilco/Feelthere: ERJ-145 Pilot In Command

Scenery:
Abacus: Flight Deck 4
Aerosoft: Budapest 2007
Aerosoft: Manhattan Scenery
Aerosoft: Mega Airport Frankfurt
Aerosoft: Wonderful Madeira
AlphaSim: USS Enterprise
Flight 1: Flight Environment
Flight 1: Ground Environment Pro
Flight 1: USA Roads
FlyTampa: San Francisco International (KSFO)
FlyTampa: Vienna-Schwechat International (LOWW)
FlyTampa: St. Maarten (TNCM)
ImagineSim: Charlotte Douglas International (KCLT)
ImagineSim: Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International (KCVG)
ImagineSim: Detroit International (KDTW)
ImagineSim: Newark Liberty International (KEWR)
ImagineSim: New York La Guardia International (KLGA)
PC Aviator: MegaCity USA Atlanta
PC Aviator: MegaScenery USA Mid-Atlantic Region
PC Aviator: MegaScenery USA Northern California V2
PC Aviator: MegaScenery USA Pacific Northwest
PC Aviator: MegaScenery USA Southern California V2
SimFlyers: Chicago O’Hare (KORD)
SimFlyers: Dallas-Fort Worth International (KDFW)
SimFlyers: Hartsfield-Atlanta International (KATL)
SimFlyers: Houston George Bush International (KIAH)
SimFlyers: John F. Kennedy International (KJFK)
SimFlyers: Las Vegas McCarran International (KLAS)
SimFlyers: Los Angeles International (KLAX)
SimFlyers: Orlando International (KMCO)
SimFlyers: Philadelphia International (KPHL)
SimFlyers: Phoenix Sky Harbor (KPHX)
SimFlyers: Toronto Pearson International (CYYZ)
SimFlyers: Washington-Dulles International (KIAD)
SimFlyers: Bari Palese (LIBD)
SimFlyers: London Luton (EGGW)
SimFlyers: Manchester Intl (EGCC)
SimFlyers: Rome Fiumicino (LIRF)
TropicalSim: Daytona Beach International (KDAB)

Utilities:
Anticyclone: Active Camera v2.1
DBS: Walk and Follow
Flight 1: Ultimate Traffic
FS Build 2.3
FS Navigator
FS2Crew: PMDG 747 Edition
FS2Crew: Level-D 767 Edition
GameCam v1.4
Just Flight: Traffic 2005
TweakFPS 2004

Miscellaneous:
Aerostudio: ATC Simulator 2
Raxco: PerfectDisk 8.0 Professional
Ulead: VideoStudio 10 Plus

FREEWARE:
AlliedFSGroup: Beechcraft King Air 300
FreeFlow: Florida
FreeFlow: New England
FlyTampa: Boston Logan International v2.1 (KBOS)
Hinson/Bostic: F-14D Tomcat
Iris Simulations: F-22 Raptor
Ninoy Aquino International v2.0 (RPLL)
Real Environment Pro
Team FS KBT: F/A-18 Super Hornet

one of my goals has definitely been to accrue an entire Boeing fleet, which i have done in the past several weeks. now, it’s not the ENTIRE Boeing fleet of aircraft, but a fleet that’s suited to my tastes. as you can see, i’ve acquired the 737, 747, 757, 767, and 777. i would also like to put together an Airbus fleet, but i haven’t been able to find any add-on aircraft worth pursuing. i’ve read nothing but complaints about the recent Wilco/Feelthere release. if they decide to release a patch or another developer decides to tackle these beasts, then i may have to reconsider.

also, you can see that i purchased some miscellaneous utilities, namely ATC Simulator and PerfectDisk. i have not yet tried ATC Simulator, as the manual is very extensive and i haven’t had time to go through it yet. apparently, it can also integrate itself with FS2004 multiplayer, which is a neat little feature. i got this program since i’m considering transitioning careers into the world of ATC.

PerfectDisk is a third-party defrag utility. it has gotten some rave reviews over the years and people have attested to major performance increases due to this piece of software. after trying it out, neither of my hard drives were fragmented enough to see any significant improvements. but i can rest assured that PerfectDisk will prevent them from ever getting that way.