An update on the site itself… some file – either a post or one of the pages on the site has got corrupted. That is the reason the site does not load consistently and the pages dont come up like before.

Please bear with me as I figure out which post, image or page is causing the issue. Initially i thought it was large images that were causing the problem. But even after removing it, the problem persists. So i have tried taking out all the posts and pages and adding them back in one by one. But that is a long task… between work and family – not enough time to do this…. slowly getting there.

Thanks for your patience….

SimRes

 

I was trying to upload some pictures of the new ORBX scenery that I installed. However, that didn’t work. The page load times were so bad that it would never fully load the page.

I ended up recovering the site from a backup. In that process some of the posts and pages may not be in the same sequence as before. What I cant make out is what I may have lost in the process because the backup was also from some time ago.

The good thing is that the web site loads faster now. Over time I will fix the sequence of the posts and pages.

Thanks for your patience.

SimRes

 

I bought ORBX recently. It is a great scenery package. The grass and greenery is so well modeled. However, once more after you install the software, the PC runs so slow that it is hardly usable. I am not sure if its just my PC or some settings in it.

All the enthusiasm of loading software and trying it, just gets totally taken away quickly. I wish the software would be easy on the PC. Am not sure how others are using this heavy software.

 

 

Testing the HiFi’s technologies new software product. It was a nww experience using ASN. It models low visibilities and clouds much better. low visibility and low ceilings was very nice.

Mountain obscuration with ASN was even a better experience. very nice light grey clouds and blue skies.

I had tried to upload some pictures. But some of the readers say that the site hardly ever loads up. I am not that technically savvy and I am not able to fix the page load problem. I tried uploading low resolution small pictures from my TV monitor, but even those are causing issues. Maybe I need to figure out a better way to build these pages.

 

Just a quick update on Active Sky NEXT.
Tried applying a few tweaks and adjusting the sliders. No impact.
The artifacts continue. More importantly, tried again with Active Sky 2012 only.  The problem persists even with AS2012. Never had that before with AS2012 for over the year I have been running it. Have written to HiFITech asking if ASN writes new textures or shaders in my FSX PC that may be causing this issue.

Will update when I find the answer.

UPDATE – Jan 4 2014
The answer lies in adjusting the CDD setting in ASN. Under options, there is the ability to control the MIN and MAX CDD value. In the past this was controlled purely in FSX in the CDD setting. What ASN does is adapt this value in FSX as needed. When given a range, this is determined by a variety of factors and ASN intelligently decides the most appropriate value for the situation. However you could choose to lock it at 60 mi. This is done by setting both MIN and MAX to 60. In this case, it is basically simulating what we had before – which was lock it to a value in FSX.

In my case, this seems to resolve the situation greatly. Artifacts, screen tears on my display and glitches have considerably reduced.

 

Have been a long customer of HiFi. Have used, ASE, AS2012 and now testing ASN.

Had a chance to install and use ASN yesterday evening. Thought it useful to post early observations.

Install – Went through successfully. Had an issue with “Waiting on Simulator” message. Finally read that SP2 Simconnect was needed. That solved, the connection went through fine. [Maybe useful to add that to the requirements pre-requisites in the manual]

Before I provide any comments, here is some context to my sim environment.
Triple Projection, 180 degree visuals, part scale simulator.
i7 3770, 4.2GHz, 8 GB Ram
GTX 660, 2GB.
ASN running remote on a dedicated PC and connected via SimConnect.

Flew from FRA) to AMS. Fra had low ceilings and EHAM was reporting precipitation and thunderstorms. In short,was a good day to test live WXR on ASN.

ASN worked well in Live WXR mode and in manual mode. The WXR is very very REAL. I fly a lot for work and am an ardent photographer of weather outside. I took some pictures and video of ASN-rendered WXR yesterday and compared them to my pix from the real world.

I have to say the ASN is a leap forward in its rendering. The comparisons are very close.

The cloud textures are more appealing. The transitions are very smooth. I did notice that more than once the clouds still disappear and reappear. That could very well be a problem with resource limitations in my computing environment.

ASN does a great job of rendering full layers of OVC across distances. There was also another thing that I hadnt seen before – when you are skimming over a cloud base, the feeling is exactly like in real life. The cloud base stays underneath you and the engine renders it continually. Cloud pass through effects are very well rendered. Precipitation is more realistic. Thunderstorms are better depicted and lighting in the distance is well defined. Turbulence is handled well, although sometimes noticed an unrealistic swing of the plane which appeared more like a shift in my image rather than a smooth movement of the wind gust. This, of course, could be a resource latency issue.

In manual mode, the impact of changes is far more quicker. Any new config is rendered almost instantly. Configuration is easier.

One noticeable observation is that I see a whole lot more screen rips and visual glitches – continuously. After my early – and minimal – tweaks to FSX.CFG when I installed my setup last year, never saw any of that with ASE or AS2012. Indeed it is pumping more into FSX than AS2012 did and I understand that these are limitations of the GPU. However, the GTX 660 is not a trivial GPU by any standard. For a more direct compare, maybe I need to adjust my ASN options to match what I had in AS2012 and see how that performs.

I will have more feedback as I test more this week.

I do have some questions in my mind as to the various options that AS2012 brought to the user – Graphics, Snapshots, color and hue control, Wx-influencing etc. Did we lose all that control or does ASN handle all that now?

The UX is easy, takes a little bit of learning – or unlearning the old – I should say.

I like the product and I am sure with a little tweaking on my part and some fixes from HiFi over the coming months, this is a nice product and will bring new realism to sim environment.

More to come…

Regards,
CPJ

 

As with any FSX user, tuning and tweaking is an ongoing process. this is simply because, its rare to be able to lock down an FSX instance and never have to touch it. there is always a new aircraft to install, a new airport scenery to apply, the next revolution of weather engine that simply can’t be passed. Given this, while it is worthy to think of locking down a well working instance of FSX, it is not practical.

There is a long slew of FSX tweaks that have been discussed, debated, argued, accepted and rejected. One of them is BufferPools.

This is a partly understood tweak and even though I have tried working with this for many years I am yet not convinced that I have it set optimally. Any discussion regarding FSX tweaks and results MUST BE in the context of the configuration that the simulator is built on. Here is a little about my configuration – i7 3770, 8GB, nvidia 660 GPU/2GB. Triple projection rendering 3840×1280 pixels.

Firstly BufferPools is best set as the section header in fsx.cfg file. UsePools is the setting. This is typically applied along with the RejectThreshold parameter.

I have tried this with Nvidia 580 and Nvidia 660 cards.
My best mileage has been achieved with UsePools=0. For some reason, Nvidia cards don’t seem to like the BufferPools model.

I see a average frame rate drop of at least 4-6 frames/second each time I try to use the parameter – with or without the RejectThreshold. And before the question comes up as how i measure FPS, I want to clarify that whichever method is used the impact is relatively the same.

On the other hand, I don’t subscribe to the view that we should be increasing the water shader parameter to HIGH merely to force FSX to leverage the BufferPools model.

So if you are using an nvidia card! especially the 500 or 600 series, I would say leave BufferPools at 0.

As always, YMMV.

CPJ

 

This blog is primarily about the simulation hobby. However, from time to time I am tempted to post some of my travel experiences. Here is one to that list…

Long-haul travel can make one weary, it also provides for very unique experiences.

My most recent trip took me to the Eastern Hemisphere. On the way back to the Midwest, travel routing called for a flight over the Orient.

Leaving Singapore in the wee hours of the morning, it was a treat to watch the sun come up on the horizon as the 747 dash 400 rolled down runway 02 Center. The Pratt and Whitney engines are a marvel in themselves. They make lifting 875,000 pounds look easy. The dash 400 is another story – when the ‘Queen of the Skies’ rotates for takeoff it makes one wonder if the airplane is flying fast enough to even take flight.

20130309-234615.jpg

Making a straight-out departure north-east, we left the Straits behind. Flying over the South China sea, we flew past Kuala Lumpur and then Ho Chi Minh city to arrive in Hong Kong 4 hours 20 mins later. Change of planes.

Less than hour later, we were rolling down Hong Kong’s Runway 28R for the long flight to Chicago. 7779 miles/~13000 kilometers – planned flight time 14 hours.

The flight plan would take us past Shanghai, China and then over the North Pacific past Osaka and Tokyo, Japan. Past that it was blue ocean beneath all the way to the 63rd parallel. Turning east here we made landfall on the Alaskan shoreline, past Juneau into Northwest Canada. With Saskatchewan past us, it was direct Edmonton, over North Dakota and Minnesota we flew into Chicago.

We had been about 8 hours into our departure from Singapore at sunrise and it was beginning to get dark. The light had begun to fade. What a strange feeling.

The longitudes had been incrementing all this time. We had gone past the 170 East longitude and soon crossed the international date line. The longitudes will now begin to decrement, The time zone clock had been advancing all along. We were UTC+12. Now in a flash, we were UTC-12!

In about 5 hours from that point the sky began to turn to early morning blue. Soon the orange glow appeared and within minutes a bright sun filled the sky.

20130309-234710.jpg

Within 10 hours of seeing the sun come up, I had seen it turn dark outside and then witnessed the sunrise again! Speaking of modern air travel shrinking the world, it even shrinks solar cycles.

These experiences make one realize the vastness of the planet we live in and laws of nature that rule.

It is humbling in many ways and makes us understand what an infinitesimal part of this ecosystem we really are….

CPJ

 

Continuing from my last post… having been unable to do away with the Matrox appliance because I couldnt get 3 outputs to work from the 660 with the XGA projectors – the Matrox Th2Go is still in place.

Now for some results…

The first step on the physical install was that the system asked for the install of the driver that came with it – that driver is WHQL 305.27. This is important, Please note it because of a point that comes later in the post. The driver uninstalled the 304.yy driver and installed the 305.yy driver successfully.

Rebooted the PC.

The nvidia auto-updater asked if I wanted to update it to the latest version – WHQL 310.yy and performed the update.

Started up NThusim and FSX. Everything works well- till now!

Here is where the problem began – didnt feel like everything was like before. Images were not sharp. Blur scenery even on ground. Aircraft textures were bad. Felt like my old 800×600 monitor and PC XT in the 80s.

The graphics card – one of the best in its class. The driver – the most recent.
Then what could be wrong??

I didn’t want to adjust anything on the projector. However I tried a few things just to be sure..
No improvement.

Restored the 304.xx driver.

Came back to basics of FSX tuning – started with the FSX Config File.
Started by recovering an old baseline FSX.CFG file. Went through all of the routine mods that had to be placed.

Experimented with texture size parameter – went back to 2048 rebooted FSX and came back repeated that with 4096 later.

Tried reworking the LOD parameter. No improvement

Reduced the TBM number back to default and then increased it upwards. From what I have read and understood, TBM acts a throttle of how much is being pumped into the GPU.

And finally I think the right match between TBM and FIber Frame Fraction did the trick. The blurs went away – in heavy airports and in the sky.

I also noted that this combination also helped me achieve something that had eluded me for quite sometime – the max load in the GPU. I had never seen that load number go beyond 20% – even in heavy airport or significant WXR. With this match I now see my GPU being used a whole lot more – spikes reaching 87-90 percent and an average load of 60-70 percent.

The average use of VRAM went up a little bit – with a lot of traffic and heavy airports it uses about 800-900MB up from the standard 500-550MB it would consistently use.

My FPS (Nvidia FPS gauge) went up a little in very heavy airports like Aerosoft EDDF or FSDT Zurich (even with Jetways operational). Used to average 22fps, now get around 27-28 fps on the ground in heavy airports.

While the other tweaks may have helped get rid of the blurs, my conclusion is that the 310 driver caused the blurs.

If you choose to use it, please backup your config files and the old driver installer before installing the 310 driver.

CPJ

 

After trying the GTX 560Ti, (thanks to the folks at Jetline Systems), I was in a position to try the GTX 660.

The 600 series cards have gained a lot of coverage due to their ability to provide video surround without the need for a Matrox TH2Go appliance. The 660 for example likes a space shuttle and and its cooling fan has the appearance of the turbine blades on a 737 engine! I think this makes it even more apt for the flight sim hobby.

The 660 is a GDDR5 device and comes with 4 ports. The one I had came with 2GB of video RAM. Three video devices can (in my case projectors) can directly plug into the card without needing the Matrox device. In any case, this was the plan.

However, upon opening the box, I discovered that the 4 ports were all of a different type. There was one of each of the following – DVI-D, DVI-I, HDMI and DisplayPort.

Here is where I hit the first snag – each of these, with the exception of the DVI-I port, I needed adapters that would convert to DVI-I or directly to VGA – because VGA connectors are the only ones that the XGA projectors have.

Amazon to the rescue, ordered those connectors. They took thier own time to show up. One arrived but didn’t work, another came with the wrong part being sent and the third came all right but wouldnt was too wide in its moulding that it wouldnt fit.

Anyway, a week later, had all the right parts. Plug them all in.
two work, the other two wouldnt. I only need three so I could manage with DVI-I to VGA, DisplayPort to VGA. I needed one more. The one that never came to be.

I tried different adapters. The projector wouldnt light up even though the 660 detected the third device. Back to Google for more research and reading. While I dont have a conclusive answer as to why, I am now sure that while there are adapters to convert DVI-D to DVI-I or VGA, HDMI to DVI-I – they wont work. So my limited knowledge on the subject, it is clear that there is no passive method to converting an Analog RGB video signal to a Digital RGB signal. It requires an active converter. So please watch for this. If you dont have a video output devices with digital ports on them, the 660 wont work for you.

With the native ports not going to do it for me, I was back to plugging the Matrox Th2GO device into the DVI-D port on the 660. That worked okay however it nullified the primary need for the 660 – i.e. to eliminate the need for a Matrox device in the ecosystem.

Will describe the results in my next post…

 
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