Journal Archive (Newest First)

COMPUTERS - Hardware, Software and Project Architecture

Computers provide the 'grunt' to operate the software with 'drive' the various OEM parts.. 

I am not an expert on computers or their internals, however, I know individuals who do have a sound knowledge in this field.  Like anything in life, success is not always what you know, but learning to accept the knowledge of others and build upon this knowledge.

Lockheed Martin and ProSim-AR

The simulation uses Lockheed Martin P3D V4.1 (previously it used FS10).  The avionics suite will be ProSim-AR 737 (previously I was using Sim Avionics).

To run the simulator, I am using three computers linked in a network. The benefit of using two or more networked computers is the sharing of resources; accessory programs need not take valuable resources required for P3D to operate smoothly. 

One computer operates P3D and the main ProSim-AR 737 module while the second and third computers host the ProSim-AR737 accessory modules and several other programs.

Some will question the use of three computers.  It's true that two computers can easily be used, however, the use of a third computer removes bottle-necking, decreases load times, and most importantly enables easier configuration as less USB ports are required per computer.  Another advantage is that dedicated audio can be run from three platforms to different locations in the flight deck.

Use of dedicated Solid State Drives (SSD)

The main server computer used two SSD drives.  One drive is dedicated solely to the operating system while the second drive is used to store P3D, scenery and other programs.  Maintaining the OS on one drive ensures that it runs efficiently and is not 'bogged' down needlessly with the operation of the simulation and other accessory software.

Technology is not stagnant and as more powerful computers and other technology comes 'on-line' these improvements will be used.

The computers currently use Windows 10 64 bit home edition, and run across a network using a gigabyte switch.

Computer Specifications (March 2018)

The computers were upgraded in March 2018.  This hs been the first computer upgrade since the project began in 2011. 

The server computer has the highest work load and as such should have an optimum processor, motherboard, graphics card and cooling system.  The client computers do not require the same level of power.  As such, lower grade specifications can be used (in this case the older computers used from 2011 with a minor graphics card overhaul).

PC 1 - Server (P3D)

  • Intel Core i7-8700K Processor 12 Mb cache LGA 1151
  • ASUS Intel Motherboard Prime Z370-A LGA 1151-2 ATX
  • DDR4 2133Mhz 16Gb desktop RAM
  • GeForce Poseidon GTX1080T1-P 11Gb graphics card
  • Intel SSD 545s Series 256Gb SATA 6Gb/s hard drive (Windows operating system only)
  • Samsung 850 EVO 1Tb SSD (all P3D files and scenery)
  • Corsair RM850X power supply (Japanese capacitors 105 degrees)
  • NZXT Kraken X52 RGB enclosed liquid cooling system
  • Deepcool Dukase Mid tower case
  • PCI express card ports (3)
  • Windows 10 home 64 bit OS

PC 2 - Client 1 (avionics)

  • Intel Core i7 2600 3.4GHZ 8MB cache LGA 1155
  • GIGABYTE GA-Z68X-UD3HB3 Motherboard. Z68 Chip set
  • 2 x 4GB 1333MHZ DDR3 desktop RAM
  • GeForce GTX1060-6Gb graphics card
  • 4 X DDR3, 1333, RAID, GBLAN, 2PCI-E 16x, SATA3, USB3, ATX, STEP3, LGA1155
  • VANTEC ION2+ 600W ultra quiet power supply
  • ANTEC six hundred gaming case
  • TP-LINK wireless G PCI Adapter with removable antenna unit
  • GB/s Ramdac: 400 MHzBus: PCI-Express 2.0 Cooling: 2-Slot
  • Fan Video-Features: Mini HDMI connectability: Dual DVI-I
  • Front loading internal USB 2.0 HUB 4 PORT BLACK, EOL unit
  • DVD-RW BURNER, SATA II, DUAL LAYER, BLACK, unit
  • Windows 10 home 64 bit OS

PC 3 - Client 2 (avionics)

  • Intel Core i5 2400 LGA1155 quad core 3.10GHZ 6MB cache processor
  • 2 x 4Gb 1333 MHz DDR3 desktop RAM
  • GeForce GT430 PCI-E 1Gb graphics card (two cards installed)
  • CZ Agility 3 series 60Gb SSD
  • ANTEC Three hundred gaming case unit
  • VANTEC ION2+ 600W Ultra quiet PSU - SLI certified unit
  • Z68XP-UD5 MB, Intel Z68, 4x DDR3, HDMI, 7.1CH, crossfire Fire/SLI unit
  • SATA3, eSATA, RAID, USB3.0, Firewire, ATX
  • PCI express card (1)
  • DVD-RW burner, SATA II, dual layer black unit
  • Windows 10 home 64 Bit OS

Networking and Surge Protection

  • 16-port Gigabyte smart switch with combination SFP slots
  • CAT6 crossover network cables
  • Novaris PP10A/4 surge filter
  • Belkin surge protector boards

Software

Server Computer

  • P3D V4.1
  • ProSim-AR 737 systems module (server)
  • ProSim-AR 737 MCP
  • ProSim-AR 737 audio module
  • ORBX AI, airports & scenery
  • WideFS
  • FSUPIC 5
  • Phidgets software (used to connect OEM parts)
  • Set Volume (engine sound modifier)
  • Ultimate traffic Live (AI)

Client 1 Computer

  • ProSim-AR 737 display modules
  • ProSim-AR 737 audio module
  • ProSim-AR instructor station (IOS)
  • ProSimUtilities
  • FS-Control instructor station
  • PM Sounds
  • WideFS
  • Top Cat load calculator
  • OPUS FSI (weather generation & synthesis)
  • METAR search
  • Navigraph Charts program
  • Lord of the Landing (LOLA) flight analysis program

Client 2 Computer

  • ProSim-AR 737 CDU (2 instances to operate OEM MCDU units)
  • ProSim-AR 737 audio module
  • ProSim-AR 737 display panel (lower display unit)
  • ProSim-AR 737 chronometer
  • WideFS

Interface Cards

A project of this magnitude cannot be developed without the use of interface  and other specialty cards.

The following interface cards are used:

  • FDS-SYS4X System Interface card (1) - minimal use (legacy card that came with the FDS MIP)
  • FDS IBL power distribution board (1)
  • Pokeys Joystick card (1)
  • Phidget cards - various types (10)
  • Polulu JRK cards (2)
  • Leo Bodnar Joystick cards (3)
  • Leo Bodnar Button Box card (1)

Apart from the FDS cards used to power the basics of the MIP, all other interface cards and relays are accommodated in interface modules that sit forward of the simulator.

  • For additional information on what software has been used, naviate to Add Ons.

Project Architecture

A visual document showing the architecture of the various systems and how they integrate with each other and the computers.

I favour the use of modular systems, rather than installing interface cards 'willy nilly' without any specific order.  A modular system enables fast troubleshooting if a problem presents, is clean and tidy, and enables easy replacement of cards, or updating of the system.

 

BELOW:  Schematic showing internal architecture of the simulator (click diagram to enlarge).

TIM = Throttle Interface Module.

SIM = System Interface Module.

TCM = Throttle Communication Module.

SMART = System Smart Module.