My Current X-Plane VR Settings

I’m often asked for this, so here is the latest. I will update this post over time, and as of this posting these are my VR settings for X-Plane 11.25b1 and the Oculus Rift.

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My settings are primarily based on a YouTube video I’d found, which I have posted at the bottom of this post. It’s worth watching the entire thing, although the last 10 minutes or so you can probably scan through as it, for the most part, just makes and extended case for the use of the 3jFPS plugin. Here’s the list:

  • Using the automatic overclock wizard in my BIOS I have overclocked my CPU. A 4.0 chip, it’s running at 4.6 after the wizard, which I have manually upped to 4.7. DON’T OVERCLOCK YOUR CPU UNLESS YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WITH WHAT YOU ARE DOING AS YOU CAN PERMANENTLY DAMAGE YOUR PC.
  • Based on the video below, in my BIOS I also:
    • Turned Hyperthreading on
    • Disabled power management
    • Disabled CPU C states
    • Disabled Intel Speed Step
    • AGAIN, DON’T MESS WITH YOUR BIOS UNLESS YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WITH WHAT YOU ARE DOING AS YOU CAN PERMANENTLY DAMAGE YOUR PC.
  • Using the NVIDA Inspector I overclocked by GPU by 80 on the clock speed and 200 on the memory speed. DON’T OVERCLOCK YOUR GPU UNLESS YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WITH WHAT YOU ARE DOING AS YOU CAN PERMANENTLY DAMAGE YOUR PC.
  • Using Oculus Tray Tool I:
    • Set the performance to Maximum Performance Plan
    • Disabled USB Select Suspend
    • Set SuperSampling to 0
    • Left ASW alone — which is DIFFERENT from what he says to do in the video, because I prefer Oculus Debug Tool for setting the frame rate, as I can decide between fixing it at 45 FPS with AWS or without.
  • Each time I load X-Plane I set Super Sampling to 1.7 and ASW to fixed 45 FPS with space warp off. This works best for me, and if you have performance problems you might turn down the Super Sampling to a lower number (maybe start with 1.3 and work your way up – at some point the increase in clarity is not worth the decrease in performance).
  • As a result of the two points above, please note that (1) the Tray Tool changes are a one-time thing. I do NOT load Tray Tool each time I load X-Plane. I DO, however, load the Debug Tool each time I load X-Plane, and I am good with that.
  • Using Project Lasso, I:
    • Enabled Performance Mode in the overall settings
    • With X-Plane and X-Plane VR running, in Lasso I:
      • Set XP’s priority to High
      • Set its CPU affinity to use virtual cores 2-7 (all but the first two)
      • Note: If you are not using hyper threading, run XP on all but your first physical core.
      • I have not had great results moving other items, like the Oculus programs, to the first physical core and away from X-Plane. Rather I give X-Plane the last three physical cores and keep it of the first, and let Windows allocate the rest of what’s running across the cores and threads as it sees fit given my performance and power management settings.
  • In Windows Power Management (which is in the Windows Control Panel settings), I set the power management profiles to Bitsum Highest Performance (which is a profile created by Lasso). If you don’t have Lasso, pick Highest Performance.
  • In NVIDIA Control Panel, I:
    • Set the overall 3D profile Energy setting to Max Performance
  • With X-Plane running, in the 3jFPS plugin Advanced Settings I:
    • Ran the wizard for a min FSP of 45 and max FPS to 46, and took the best FPS options in every other choice it gave me
    • Then I went back through the advanced settings and:
      • Reduced sliders in the LOD settings to the bottom of the green scale
      • Reduced min and max sliders in the visibility settings to the bottom of the green scale
  • In X-Plane graphics settings I:
    • Set it to windowed mode as it seems to perform better minimized (meaning once I have the Rift on I minimize the XP window)
    • Graphics to HDR (position 4)
    • Textures to max (position 4)
    • AA to FXAA (position 2)
    • Objects to almost max (position 4) — while he runs at max objects, I found it hurt my frames too much in busy areas
    • Shadows on if I’m using the latest 3JFPS with it’s auto-shadow setting, otherwise shadows off, reflections off
  • Finally, I did anything else I could do to reduce the CPU load while playing X-Plane:
    • Turned off Windows auto updates
    • Turned off NVIDIA Geforce Experience
    • Set Oculus Server to run in administrator mode, which seems to keep it from loading the full Oculus window unless I specifically open it

These setting are working really well for me, with usually solid 45FPS, smooth performance, and few to no “grey flashes” or frozen views. I do think the changes to the power management settings throughout made a difference, for what that’s worth. It’s really a remarkably good experience, although your mileage may vary.

Working With Datarefs

I’ve been hoping to increase the quality of the sky colors and clouds in X-Plane 11. While I have used xEnviro for some time and have liked it very much, I don’t think it always looks great in VR (especially in how it handles haze). I had downloaded a number of free cloud and sky enhancements over the past few days, but none of them looked right (or even much like what I saw in the screen shots online). Today I realized that part of the problem was that I was running the wrong version of FlyWithLua — I need the “complete edition” if I (or other scripts I install) are going to modify art datarefs (data refs are the variables X-Plane uses to run its world). Things immediately got better once I had the correct version installed, but I also continued down the path of playing with different cloud and shadow datarefs in search of a mix that suits my eye.

I’m getting close and have attached screen captures below of various cloud decks. These use the FSEnhancer sky colors (free) and set 2 or 3 (I can’t recall which) of the Unique Clouds Variety Pack (also free). I’ve modified quite a few datarefs in getting this look (and they load in via a little LUA script I’ve written), and in addition to the clouds looking good I am particularly happy with the look of the cloud shadows — something that I think the default X-Plane release handles quite poorly. Things look good in VR as well, with one exception: the cloud shadows rotate when you move your head. I’ll work on figuring that out next, and once I have it nailed I’ll post the LUA code here.

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Thank You SimVim

A few posts back I reviewed the awesome GNS 530 unit from RealSimGear. It’s a great piece of gear, one that I find extremely true to life (especially when running the RealityXP GNS 530), and one that I was very happy to not have to build myself. I also did not have to pay for it as it was a courtesy unit sent to me for review, but in candor I would pay for it if I did not have the good fortune to have one.

Along the way the good folks at SimVim have sent me a note to make mention of the fact that the unit uses their Arduino board and firmwear, and a user of this GNS 530 also downloads their ArdSimX plugin for use with X-Plane. I just wanted to mention that here in the interest of proper credit being placed where it’s due. This is also all an excellent example of how the different parts of our simulation community work together to create amazing things for us to use in our hobby or real-world practice.

Mooney Ovation Point To Point

Mooney Ovation Point To Point

A while back I was flying a Piper Saratoga from place to place in X-Plane. I gave that up some time ago, but recently have started a similar process in the Alabeo Mooney Ovation. Starting in Half Moon Bay the aircraft is now in Goodland, Kansas, and in each flight I have flown under real-world weather conditions. I was thinking of flying it all the way to the east coast of the US, and then perhaps on to Europe, but I really do prefer being in the Pilot Edge service area so I can practice my ATC skills. Goodland is near the far eastern edge of the PE map, so I’ll probably head south next.

Here’s the current map. I’ve also been live streaming most of these flights on YouTube, and you can find them here. It’s been an interesting experience, especially with me trying to follow real-world procedures and decision making throughout. I also found an Ovation operating handbook online, so I’ve also been following its procedures for managing a complex aircraft. That, too, has been very worthwhile (and thanks to the YouTube viewers who have helped me learn the proper way to lean the mixture for takeoff during the run-up).

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Shakedown Solo Today

Went up today to knock the rust off before tomorrow’s scheduled XC solo. Today was my first solo hop in Tampa. It was intense – big boy airspace, traffic, and the door popped open on climb-out prompting some unintended pattern work – but it felt good to be in the airplane alone again. Weather permitting tomorrow it’s off to Ft. Meyers Page and Arcadia.

Fly With Me Today @ 10:30 AM ET: RW XC Practice

I’ve done some troubleshooting in the sim and all seems to be working well, so we’re going to take another shot at practicing the real-world solo cross country that I’m set to fly next week. The flight is KSPG – KFMY – X06 – KSPG. If you would like to come along, there are two ways to do so:

  • I will stream the flight on YouTube here.
  • Or fly it with me on PilotEdge. We will make standard CTAF calls using the real world ground and tower frequencies given the flight is outside of the PE ATC network coverage area. We can brief on 123.45 to start, and if you miss the brief I will fly 4,500 on the way down and 2,500 on the way back.

For route planning, see the route I’ve planned on SkyVector here. Hope to see you then.

Join Me For Cross-Country Practice Today At 11:45 AM ET

Today I’ll be simulating my real-world solo cross-country, which is scheduled for this Monday. I’ve decided to stream the flight, and if you want to ride along you may do so here. I should be streaming around 11:45 AM ET today.

UPDATE: Boy was this a pain trying to get off the ground. First there were USB problems on PC boot. Then the audio wasn’t working in X-Plane. Then the sim crashed. In the real world I have a “three strikes and you’re out” rule for any flight — three small problems, taken together, is the Universe telling you not to go flying. So we ditched the flight and I instead did Q&A with the viewers for a while, which I enjoyed. I will try to stream this flight again tomorrow morning US Eastern time.