• Project Magenta - High End Flight Simulation
  1. Windows 8 tests looking good

    December 19, 2012 by Enrico Schiratti

    As always concerned when a new Operating System comes out, no exception with Windows 8.

    The first hardware available was a Sony Vaio Duo 11 tablet PC, and it performed very well. Connected via wireless to the simulator, the Instructor Station ran smoothly with a suprisingly high framerate.

     Photo Courtesy of FSC




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  2. Project Magenta and new PMDG and iFly releases

    August 10, 2011 by Enrico Schiratti




    With the recent releases of two amazing new products several people are rightly asking about compatibility between that software and Project Magenta.

    In the past add-ons with their own flight management and aircrafts simulations (which go well beyond the capabilities of FS) could easily be used with third party software by removing or replacing the panels, as those were the ones used for the additional features. This way cockpit builders were able to use the parts they wanted, i.e. the flight model and the outside view of their aircraft within FS, and the rest of the Project Magenta Software in their networked computers with their dedicated hardware. Typically these add-ons are used in a normal one-computer setuo.

    Due to new copyright protection systems included in the fresh generations of some products, the flight model and 3D model of the aircraft is now interlinked with the rest of the add-on, which makes it difficult, if not illegal, to “break out” these parts from the rest of their product.

    As Project Magenta we can’t make any efforts to break this protection, and we will have to see what alternative solutions can be offered by ourselves or others. Please check our forum for a more in-depth discussion about this.

    iFly http://www.iflysimsoft.com/
    PMDG http://www.precisionmanuals.com/


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  3. OpenGL and Project Magenta

    June 10, 2011 by Enrico Schiratti

    It isn’t just the outside visuals that are impressive in a simulated cockpit, the vast majority of the time a pilot is looking at rendered instruments, flight management computer screens and synoptics. On top of being fully functional, they have to be smooth and visually identical to their real aircraft counterparts.

    Project Magenta has been developing flight simulation avionics and systems for more than ten years and OpenGL is a core quality and selling point. Several thousand of installations with Project Magenta are being used by flight training professionals, the aviation industry as well as hobby cockpit builders.

    The following products use OpenGL:

    • all Glass Cockpit Software
    • Flight Management Computer screens
    • pmSystems
    • Instructor Station
    • General Aviation avionics

    Having become the industry’s foundation in our own sector heavily relies heavily on using the industry’s foundation of high performance graphics.

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  4. File Sharing with Vista and Windows 7

    June 9, 2011 by Enrico Schiratti

    Much in the spirit of the post about the User Account Control for Win7, file sharing in mixed networks can also become a headache.

    This process will make the network a little less secure but it works well because a password isn’t used and everyone is allowed access.

    1. First, know what the Computer name is and what Workgroup it belongs to.

    The Workgroup name needs to be the same on all PC’s that are being networked; no matter the OS on each system. This is already setup, even if only by default, in the setup process while installing each OS.

    Verify what the Windows 7 computer and workgroup names are by going to Control Panel > System and Security > System > and read information under “Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings” (The third category down).

    If the names need to be changed go to Change settings in that category or Advanced System Settings in left pane. Then, Computer Name Tab > Change, type the Computer Name and Workgroup Name. > OK. Make the computer name meaningful to aid recognition. The computer should restart.

    2. Second, adjust Win7 settings to allow for sharing with older OS on other networked systems.

    Now go to Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center > Change Advanced Sharing Settings (side panel). Make sure Network Discovery, File and Printer Sharing, and Public Folder Sharing are all set to “on” and Password Protected Sharing is set to “off”.

    Note: I recommend leaving Media sharing set to “on” and under Windows HomeGroup connections select “Allow Windows HomeGroup to manage homegroup connections (recommended)”.

    3. Third, choose which folders to share on the network and adjust properties to do so.

    To share a specific Windows 7 folder or additional drives on the system, right-click it > Properties > Sharing Tab > Advanced Sharing > tick box for Share this folder > Apply > OK > Close. You only need to share the highest level folder, not every sub-folder. Two little people should appear on the icons of the folders that are shared.

    4. Now, you MUST follow this step or the folders will not be shared despite previous steps followed!!!

    Because Password Protected Sharing turned off, the security permissions have to be changed on the folder(s) to allow Everyone access. Right-click the shared folder > Properties > Security Tab > Edit > Add and type “Everyone” (not the quotes) into the box and select OK. Tick the boxes next to the permissions you want to allow (e.g. Read or Write, etc.) then Apply > OK. Some messages may appear: “An error occurred while applying…” This is not unusual and can be ignored by clicking Continue.

    5. Windows firewall is normally set to allow file and printer sharing but if you have a third-party firewall make sure file and printer sharing are enabled so that each machine can talk to the other(s). Do not disable the Windows firewall if it’s the only one running.

    Now you can run pmFileCheck and verify whether these folders are visible to all programs (at least FS, WideFS and the FMC must be running for this test)

    (adapted from this post )

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  5. Throttle Hardware and Cutoff Switches

    by Enrico Schiratti

    In the past few days I have been working on trying to reproduce a problem that had been reported, when during engine startup the N2 value was doing strange back and forth movements (rising and dropping) when the engine start was being initiated for either engine.

    This is with pmSystems running and throttle hardware connected.

    It took me some time to realize that this was due to the definition of the FS cutoff switches vs. the pmSystems cutoff switches.

    As a premise, FS uses these offsets to set the fuel cutoff valve

    0890 2 fsCutoff1 //word 0 – 16383
    0928 2 fsCutoff2 //word 0 – 16383

    This will start the engines (if the starter is activated) no matter what, especially in FS2004. It does not reflect any bleed pressure and other conditions.

    When you use pmSystems, it is this program which sets those variables (or offsets if you wish) and it makes things conditional. So you would need to use the following bits to set the switches:

    561A .0 Cutoff1 //(aka cutoffL in the 737)
    561A .1 Cutoff2 //(aka cutoffR in the 737)

    In the pseudocode (simplifying pmSystems) it looks like this:

    if Cutoff1
         if all_conditions_are_met
              fsCutoff1 = 16383
              fsCutoff1 = 0

    Thus, your throttle hardware should have the option (in the driver) to write to another offset than the default FS (e.g. fsCutoff1) offset, otherwise there will be a conflict between what pmSystems thinks the position of the fuel cutoff switch is and what the throttle hardware position is.

    So *without* pmSystems your hardware has to write to the fsCutoff1 offset.

    With pmSystems running, it has to write to Cutoff1, and then pmSystems writes to fsCutoff1.

    Thomas Richter pointed out that in addition to this you can also set the following option in pmSystems:

    Press [Esc] for the Menu, select User Options and check “Cutoff Lever has a Pot and NOT a switch”

    Then pmSystems doesn’t take control of fsCutoff but still displays the switches and the FUEL/SPAR VALVES correctly depending on fsCutoff value.

    This logic is in the Cutoff section of the B737 file, it starts with “if Poti = 0… if cutoffl”

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  6. Windows 7 User Account Control

    June 8, 2011 by Enrico Schiratti

    When it comes to networking and Windows 7, things can be pretty restrictive with the UAC. This is also affects software installation and general network and computer speed.

    Disclaimer: We do not reccomend you do this, but if your network is in a controlled environment, and you know who can access it and how (or can’t) then there is no reason for you not to disable the Windows 7 UAC.

    To do this, simply click on Start, then enter ‘UAC’ in the “Search Programs and Files” Box.

    The first (and possibly only) entry is ‘Change User Account Control Settings’.

    The slider in on the left of the screen goes from “Always Notify” to “Never Notify”. The setting we suggest to use is “Never Notify”.

    The statement that “need to use programs… do not support User Account Control” is a bit misleading, as even fully certified programs need to be run as administrator on occasions. We are simply doing away with a hurdle which might not be needed in a simulator environment.

    As we have had reports of Windows Drivers and even FSUIPC/WideFS or Prepar3D installations malfunctioning, and this is a valid workaround.

    Comments welcome.

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  7. CDU and MCDU Full Screen operation

    by Enrico Schiratti

    The FMCs (Boeing-Type CDU and Airbus-Type MCDU) work in two modes, OpenGL and pure text mode.

    The rendition in OpenGL mode is more realistic and recommended. The non-OpenGL mode is only there for backwards compatibility with older systems, avoid using it if you can.

    To switch between these two modes when you see the keyboard bitmap press Ctrl-O.

    When in OpenGL mode you can:

    • Run the FMC in Windowed Mode press [Ctrl-Shift-O] (toggle)
    • Run the FMC in Full Screen Mode press [Alt-F] (toggle)

    To position the text on the screen, use the same methods as with the Glass Cockpits:

    • Numeric Keypad [+] and [-] Zoom In and Out
    • [Ctrl-Cursor Keys] (up/down/left/right) to position the text
    • [Alt-Cursor Keys] (up/down/left/right) to stretch the text (MCDU)

    It is best if you set up your FMC’s keyboard first before you set up the screen at this point.

    Important: Once done, remember to press [Ctrl-Q] to shut down the software and save the settings.

    In addition to that there is a special page to stretch and size the font as well as the position of the scratchpad and the title:

    Airbus-Type MCDU
    In the MCDU press MCDU MENU twice and then DISPLAY (LSK 6R) and then FULL SCREEN (LSK 1L)
    Using LSK1L or LSK2R you can navigate through the FONT (size and position of title and scratchpad), TEXT (position and stretch) and FRAME pages (for windowed mode).

    Boeing-Type CDU
    In the CDU press MENU twice and then DISPLAY (LSK 5L) and then FULL SCREEN (LSK 4R)
    Using LSK1L or LSK2R you can navigate through the FONT (size and position of title and scratchpad), TEXT (position and stretch) and FRAME pages (for windowed mode).

    In the CDU.INI and MCDU.INI file you can find these following settings:
    (please note that if you have two identical setups, you can copy this section verbatim into the RCDU.INI or RMCDU.INI file.

                                  / This section is for OpenGL settings
                                  / and OpenGL Full Screen Display
                                  / Will use OpenGL rather than normal
                                  / windows text, 24 columns, 14 rows
                                  / When set to on, font smoothing
                                  / for display is done via polygons,
                                  / if off, via blended outlines
                                  / Bitmap-less full screen operation
                                  / Will automatically Maximize screen
                                  / for full screen operation
    OpenGLFullX= 10
    OpenGLFullY= 5
    OpenGLFullZ= 15
    OpenGLFullHeight= 0
    OpenGLFullFontSize= 0
    OpenGLFullSpacing= 0
    OpenGLFullScratchPad= 0
    OpenGLFullTitleText= 0
    OpenGLFullRotate= 0

    Full=Off / This section is for the non-OpenGL Text mode
    / and is not needed

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  8. pmStartup

    June 7, 2011 by Enrico Schiratti

    This program is a simple little tool to update a local computer with files from a given main computer.

    Please place this program in your WideClient folder and run it there, if you use any Run1= or RunReady1= commands in your WideClient.INI, then then you can run it with ‘run wideclient.exe’ To let this program run after the computer has finished booting, place it in your Start – Programs – Startup folder. Make sure it is pointing to the right ‘Start In:’ folder, so it finds the script file.

    In this example, it assumes that the update zip files are uncompressed and in a folder c:\updates on a computer called MAIN

    Files are then copied to the last destination folder that has been defined.

    pmStartup will stop WideClient if it is already running and re-start it once it is cone this is done so you can replace wideclient as well from a reference folder

    To stop this program, press Esc

    wait 5 //waits 5 seconds (if you wish)

    source \\main\c\updates\ //sets source folder
    dest c:\wideFS
    copy wideclient.exe
    dest C:\abgc\ //sets destination folder
    copy abgc.exe
    copy abgc.dll
    copy abgc.nav
    wait 1
    dest C:\pmSystems\ //sets another destination folder
    copy pmsystems.exe
    copy pmsystems.dll
    copy pmsys320.txt
    sleep 1
    //you can place a run wideclient.exe here
    run wideclient.exe
    sleep 1
    run c:\fcu\fcu.exe
    sleep 1
    run c:\abgc\abgc.exe

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  9. Error with ATI HD cards (MSVCR80.DLL not found called by atioglxx.dll)

    June 2, 2011 by Enrico Schiratti

    From time to time we get support questions about OpenGL not running on some cards (such as in this case an ATI HD) because the MS Visual C Runtime library is missing.

    This is normally due to a faulty or incomplete install of the graphic card drivers. One solution is to look for the newest driver for your hardware and install that one, another is to follow the instructions in the link below:

    Solution source: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/270377-33-atioglxx-opengl-error-series

    Resolution by a customer:
    “The solution to my problem was using the older ATI Driver that came with my card as you suggested. It is dated from 30/10/2009. This stopped all the runtime errors for me. The unable to create font was fixed by a simple restart like you also suggested.”


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  10. Windows 7 Notes

    May 21, 2011 by Enrico Schiratti

    Here some notes about things to consider with Windows 7

    File and Path Sharing
    Unlike other versions of Windows, in your simulator network you will have to make sure all machines are running with the same access credentials. I.e. same Windows account user name and password. Please also check that the network sharing is set to ‘simple file sharing‘.

    Program Permissions
    Depending on your general configuration, you might have to make sure that the executables are set to ‘run as administrator’.  To set this, right-click on the executable (e.g. FCU.EXE) select ‘Properties‘ and then the ‘Compatibility‘ tag. Make sure the Privilege Level is checked and the program is allowed to run as an administrator.


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