At least it did mine. After the auto-install of the latest Windows 10 comprehensive update two things happened. First, and for the first time, my Saitek panels and FIPs showed up correctly (with little icons and everything) in Windows Device Manager. That’s good. But the FIPs also weren’t loading any gauges. That’s bad.
This afternoon I decided it would be a good time to update the BIOS on the sim PC’s Asus Hero VIII motherboard. It’s running v. 603, which is the one it came with an which is about a year and several generations old now. The download and flashing process were easy enough, and the PC booted to the new BIOS setup screen without any problems. Well, one problem: the PC now no longer saw the internal solid state drive, which happens to be where Windows 10 is installed. As a result, the PC could not boot to Windows (and certainly not to Prepar3d, which is also on that drive).
Much digging and probing ensued, followed shortly by panic, as I was worried that I may have turned the entire basement sim into an interesting piece of installation art. I reverted a version on the BIOS. I reverted all the way back to 603 on the BIOS. I tweaked and prodded and nudged about every setting in the BIOS setup I could find. No dice – the PC still only showed the optical and hard drives. I googled 37 variations of “I updated my BIOS and now the PC can’t see my SSD.” I even went so for as to take off the PC side panels and pull out the NVIDIA 980ti graphics card and the Intel 750 SSD so I could get a better look at what was going on (and thinking that maybe I could plug the SSD into another SATA port). While doing this I noticed that the SSD SATA connection was non-traditional. It connected to sort of an add-on mini PC board on top of the motherboard. It said “hyper” something on it.
“Hmmmm …,” I thought. “That’s curious.”
It turns out that the curiosity was an Asus Hyper Kit, which converts the M.2 SATA connection to the U.2 cable attached to the Intel 750 SDD.
I knew from checking the Asus manual that the motherboard had an M.2 connection on it about where this thing was attached. I’d also read in a thread during my research that M.2 connections can disable other SATA ports on the board depending on their settings. Thinking this might be the problem, I did some Googling and found this thread, which ultimately led me to understanding that the advanced storage settings on the BIOS have an “Enable Hyper Kit Mode” setting. That was set to “DISABLED” in the default, post-flash BIOS settings. Flip that little switch, and things fire right up.
The other day I was on a flight (a real one) from Dallas. There were overcast conditions, and as we broke out of the clouds there was a very nice view of the cloud deck out the window, so I shot a short video. The sense of speed was also cool.
I posted earlier that I had tried out Night Environment for night lighting, and had liked it a lot. But they don’t have coverage for the full US, so yesterday I downloaded Taburet 3d for a big chunk of the Rocky Mountain West. Here are some shots. The lights are a bit bright, but I think I can adjust that, and I think they look great.
One of the things a person has to do when building (and constantly tinkering with) a flight simulator is get into, update, repair, change, deconstruct, and reconstruct lots of different devices. Nearly all of these have screws and fasteners, and most of those screws and fasteners are some weird head design you’ve never seen before, and they’ve been designed that way precisely to make you less likely to get into, update, repair, change, deconstruct, and reconstruct that particular device.
As the name suggests, the kit has 54 bits. They cover every type of screw head I’ve so far had to deal with. The kit also has a flexible neck attachment (which, incidentally, I used to tighten the door handle on our freezer yesterday), other bit attachments, and an extender.
Build quality is spectacular, as is fit and finish. You can read more about the details at their site, but if you were to ask me which three things you should have sitting around to help build a basement flight simulator I’d say, in no particular order, (1) a circular saw, (2) velcro tape, and (3) the iFixit 54 bit driver kit.
Today I took a little VFR flight from SLC Airport #2 to Heber Valley airport, up Little Cottonwood Canyon, over the top to Sundance, and then over Deer Creek Reservoir for final approach. There’s a video forthcoming, but here are some screen shots from along the way (with the full gallery below).
After reading so many good reviews of it over at AVSIM, tonight I decided to download the Night Environment scenery for Pennsylvania. I don’t know if I got the install quite right, and it took a minute to figure out that I should turn off the default autogen scenery (which also makes lights), and I probably should have turned off the Ultimate Terrain scenery, too … but even with all that, it looks REALLY great. Lights from horizon to horizon. I had good frame rates with this – 30 fps or so – but it took a huge chunk out of my working memory. I know with some tuning (and turning off other stuff I don’t need to see at night) memory won’t be an issue, and the lights will look even more like the real thing.
I took some screen captures during the flight. Can’t wait to do more.