Getting Great VR Results (With VR3 And Some Tweaks)

I upgraded the sim to VR3 last night and found, like several others, that I seemed to get generally better performance. I can run in HDR now with no significant hit compared to non-HDR, and it does seem slightly smoother.

Today, though, I watched the video below, made all of the changes suggested therein, and then had a truly remarkable 2:38 VR flight (yes, two hours, thirty-eight minutes). The sim was buttery smooth nearly the whole time, and this was WITH me streaming it and having the YouTube chat window in the cockpit via Oculus Dash. The flight started at KSPG Albert Whitted, which usually hits my frames pretty hard, but I was running at 45fps throughout. Across the flight I had no “grey flash” moments, judders, or image freezes, save one (when weather re-loaded). Toward the end of the flight I could tell the sim was probably running at 22.5fps for a time, but given that I’d been running it (and chewing through VRAM) for nearly three hours I wasn’t surprised. And after a bit, it improved. Truly a great flight, and I highly suggest taking the 40 minutes to watch his vid.

And for those who want to see the flight, here’s the final 2:00 (it seems YouTube only keeps two-hours worth of streaming video). The flight was a dress-rehearsal for the cross-country I’m set to fly tomorrow real-world. One of the fun things in this flight: about six miles out from my first landing a YouTube watcher suggested via the chat that the airport was closed via NOTAM and that I had to divert. I did, and it was a great example of what to expect from a real-world examiner.

Live Stream: Grand Junction To Aspen

Yesterday I flew my first scheduled live stream on YouTube, a PilotEdge flight from Grand Junction to Aspen. This is actually a continuation of my point-to-point flights, but I’ve switched to the JustFlight Turbo Arrow as the Saratoga isn’t a 3D cockpit suitable to VR (that Arrow is fantastic by the way – a really great X-Plane GA bird). The stream worked relatively well, although I’m still suffering from some upload speed issues. The flight goes relatively well. A weather update gives us some sudden IMC conditions, but we quickly get below the cloud deck and change our planned flight path to stay in the valleys. I also blow the approach into Aspen but the controller is good enough to get me back into the pattern. And last but not least, I crunch the landing hard enough to set off the ELT transmitter – I was using the Rift controllers and thought I had my hand on the virtual throttle in the flare but did not. It’s pretty funny to watch. Also, thinking about it now, I kept having to add rudder on the approach thinking it was a cross wind. It wasn’t. I’d used the Arrow’s rudder trim in flight and never trimmed it back. This is why we practice!

How To Get Rid Of The Annoying Blue Circle In X-Plane VR

I could not stand the blue circle that SteamVR would put around you in the X-Plane VR cockpit. Thanks to Dan on YouTube I found this post by DazzyB on how to remove it. 30 seconds and it was banished forever. Here’s the method:

1) Quit SteamVR if it is already running (you don’t need to quit Steam itself).

2) Launch Explorer and then locate your main Steam folder.  Normally this will be located in C:\Program Files (x86) unless you installed Steam with the custom option.

3) Go into the ‘config’ folder and then open up the file called ‘steamvr.vrsettings’ in Notepad.

4) Copy and paste the following lines of code directly below the line that starts with the { character (located at the very top of the file)…

"collisionBounds" : {
       "CollisionBoundsColorGammaA" : 0,
       "CollisionBoundsColorGammaR" : 255
    },

5) Save and close the file.

 

We Live In Amazing Times: The Latest Live Stream

Tonight I was able to stream XP 11 directly from the Oculus VR headset, on PilotEdge, while monitoring the YouTube live-stream chat in-cockpit via the Oculus Dash feature. Amazing.

We also toss in a few practice engine-out approaches just for good measure.

Our First Live Stream

I have an older webcam and I decided to try hooking it up to the sim PC today to try a live stream on YouTube. It was a rough start with horrible PC performance, and as you’ll see in the video SPAD.neXt seemed to be the problem. It has never been a resource hog before, so I’m not sure what the issue was – perhaps its input / output conflicts with the video streaming software? But once I terminated it things worked much better, and I was able to stream using OBS as the video compiler and still have frame rates pretty close to where they would normally be.

I’d never done this before, and didn’t know quite what to expect. But it was actually very cool: we had 20-30 people online, and they represented Indonesia, Brazil, Ireland, England, Italy, Russia, France, and the States among other places. One viewer even jumped into his sim, loaded in at KSBP on PilotEdge, and made the flight with me. You can see him land near the end. Sadly the audio stream wasn’t capturing the PilotEdge transmissions, so you don’t hear him or ATC. I’ll get that figured out as soon as I can.

I had the stream and live chat running on my iPad, which worked reasonably well although it’s clear that one should not fly and participate in YouTube chats at the same time. Here’s the vid of the stream. You can clearly see and hear how the quality changes once I fiddle with things and determine SPAD is an issue. Thanks for watching.

How I Mount The iPad To The Yoke

I get this question quite a bit here and at YouTube, so I thought I’d post about it. I use two items from MYGOFLIGHT: their Flex Yoke / Universal Clamp and their iPad Kneeboard Sport which connects the iPad to the clamp (and which can also strap around your leg). Those are Amazon links if you want to go to their respective product pages. A bit pricey, but they work extremely well and are for real-world aviation, where I also use them. Highly recommended.

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Well, That Was Frustrating

Thanks to those who joined for the PilotEdge event today. We had a few aircraft go out of KSUN and it was fun to see others on takeoff, and to pass one of you at the same altitude with ATC separation. I rocked my wings in case you were looking.

But on the whole, this was a very frustrating experience in the Rift. Things started off well, even with clouds, and it was really pretty stunning from 9,500 MSL. But for some reason the Rift stopped working about half-way through. Initially I thought it was a USB issue, but I think SteamVR crashed. In trying to fix it X-Plane crashed. I reloaded from Milard to fly in to SLC from there, but the frames were never smooth, even when locked to 45 FPS. I killed the weather and it didn’t help. I searched for other things hitting the CPU in Lasso – MS Edge was running at some points, so lord only knows what was going on behind the scenes. But by the time I was approaching the KSLC downwind it was unusable. Total slide show. I quit it in frustration.

In retrospect, it felt like a memory leak. Performance just slowly got worse and worse. Who knows, but thanks to those who started the flight and I hope you had a great time. When I looked there were 59 people on the network, and long streams of aircraft inbound to KSLC. It was really pretty cool and I look forward to the next one (which will be in February).

Fly With Me Tomorrow On PilotEdge

Fly With Me Tomorrow On PilotEdge

Tomorrow PilotEdge is getting back in the swing of monthly fly-in events with a takeover of Salt Lake City (KSLC), with directions to plan an arrival in the window of 13:00-13:30 PST. They have suggested inbound routes from Phoenix, San Francisco, and Seattle, which are also towered fields in the PilotEdge network.

Given that these are bizjet / airliner routes, I suggested on the PE Discord server a GA / VFR flight set to arrive at the same time: Sun Valley / Haley ID (KSUN) to Salt Lake City (specifically, KSUN BYI OGD KSLC to allow for a little VOR navigation practice). In a 172 that flight should take about 1:45, and in a faster aircraft (I may be in the new JustFlight Turbo Arrow) about 1:20. This should provide some inbound traffic for runways 17/35 at KSLC, which serve the GA side of the field, and may make some of the arrival work a bit more interesting for the controllers handling all those 737s. Should be fun.

If you’ve wanted to do a group flight together, consider joining me. I’ll probably be on the ramp at KSUN around 11:30-12:00 PST / 2:30-3:00 EST. You will need a subscription to the PilotEdge Western US Expansion to make this flight, but given its continually growing coverage, I think that’s money well spent. I will probably fly it in VR to see how well I can actually manage ForeFlight and charts while under the hood, and I might video some of the flight as well. I hope to see you there.