Journal Archive (Newest First)

COMPUTERS - HARDWARE, SOFTWARE, SET-UP & PROJECT ARCHITECTURE

Computer Hardware, Software and Set-Up

Computers provide the 'grunt' to operate the software. 

I am not an expert on computers or their internals, however, I do have access to a number of 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.

The simulation will use Flight Simulator 10 (FSX) and the avionics suite will be ProSim737 distributed by ProSim-AR.  Previously I was using Sim Avionics (Sim-A).

To run the simulator, I am using two 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 FSX to operate smoothly.  One computer operates FSX and the main ProSim737 module while the second computer hosts other necessary programs and the ProSim737 accessory modules. 

When the forward and aft overhead is implemented, a third computer will be added to the network.  This computer will be dedicated solely to the overhead panels.

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

I run the same operating system (currently Windows 7) across all computers as this makes networking much easier.  Furthermore, I use relatively powerful client computers as this ensures that multiple programs run flawlessly without RAM and memory problems.  This philosophy minimises the number of client  computers required.

Computer Specifications (February 2013) 

PC 1 - FSX COMPUTER

  • ANTEC six hundred gaming case
  • VANTEC ION2+ 600W ultra quiet PSU - SLI certified unit
  • 1 GIGABYTE GA-Z68X-UD3HB3 Motherboard. Z68 Chip set unit
  • 4 X DDR3, 1333, RAID, GBLAN, 2PCI-E 16x, SATA3, USB3, ATX, STEP3, LGA1155
  • INTEL CORE I7 2600 3.4GHZ 8MB cache LGA1155 unit
  • TP-LINK wireless G PCI Adapter with removable antenna unit
  • 2 x 4GB 1333MHZ DDR3 desktop RAM
  • 1.00 OCZ VERTEX 3 SERIES 120GB solid state drive. SATA3 2.5" unit
  • 1 x NVIDIA GTX580 1536MB DDR5 GPU: GeForce GTX 580 GPU unit - Clock speed: 772 Mhz Memory: 1536MB GDDR5 (384 bits) Memory.  Clock speed: 2004 Mhz Pixels per clock (peak):N/A Band-width:192.4
  • 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
  • MICROSOFT WINDOWS 7 home premium 64 BIT edition OEM
  • CAT6 Crossover network cable

PC 2 - AVIONICS COMPUTER

  • 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
  • INTEL core I5 2400 LGA1155 quad core 3.10GHZ 6MB cache unit
  • 2 x 4GB 1333MHZ DDR3 desktop RAM
  • OCZ Agility 3 series solid state drive 60GB. 2.5" drive unit
  • TP-LINK wireless G PCI adapter unit
  • 3 x NVIDIA GT 430 PCI-E 1GB 128-BIT DDR3, DVI, VGA, HDMI, fan unit
  • DVD-RW burner, SATA II, dual layer black unit
  • MICROSOFT Windows 7 home premium 64 BIT edition OEM

The following software is operated from the two computers.

SERVER COMPUTER (PC 1)

  • FSX
  • ProSim737 main module (server)
  • ProSim737 MCP
  • ProSim737 audio module
  • PM Sounds
  • ORBX AI, airports & scenery
  • WideX & FSUPIC
  • CP Flight software (MCP, EFIS, ADF 1/2 & rudder trim panel)
  • Phidgets software (used to connect OEM parts)

CLIENT COMPUTER (PC 2)

  • ProSim737 display modules (overhead panel, PFD, ND, EICAS, CDU, Instructor Station, etc)
  • ProSim 737 audio module
  • PM sounds
  • WideX
  • PMDG B737 fuel calculator
  • Top Cat load calculator
  • OPUS FSI (weather generation & synthesis)
  • METAR search
  • Navigraph 5 Charts Program

Interface Cards & Equipment

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

Apart from the FDS-SYS4X System Interface card and the FDS IBL power distribution board, which are used to power the Main Instrument Panel (MIP), all the interface cards, relays, etc are accommodated in interface modules that sit forward of the simulator.

The FDS cards are located on the rear of the MIP.

This section provides information on the interface modules.

Project Architecture  

An unusual title that I am lead to understand is a visual document showing the architecture of the systems and how they integrate with each other, the main instrument panel, instruments, throttle, yokes, various interface cards and computers.

I favour the use of modular systems, rather than installing interface cards 'willy nilly' without any specific order. 

BELOW:  Schematic showing internal architecture of the simulator.  Note that the overhead computer is not used until development of the overhead is complete.  Click diagram to view larger.

TIM = Throttle Interface Module.

SIM = System Interface Module.

TCM = Throttle Communication Module.

SMART = System Smart Module.