In October of 2016 I wrote a post titled How To Get Started With X-Plane 11 (For Those Coming From P3D Or FSX). I recently received an email from a reader who’s new to X-Plane asking if I’d updated it, and I had not. I did so today (it’s here as well as in the How To menu at the top of the page), and I will continue to do so on a regular basis. It was amazing to me how much has changed — for the better — in two years.
X-Plane is currently pushing betas for version 11.3, and they’re up to beta 4. It’s actually a bit of a rollback from beta 3, which was performing really well and had given me about a 20% increase in performance from beta 2. More on that here, and as Laminar says in that post:
X-Plane 11.30 Beta 4 does not have the performance improvements we have been working on for the last week and a half; Sidney and I found a bunch of things that are slowing 11.30 down, but we didn’t want to risk yet another broken beta. This stuff should be ready for beta 5 in a few days.
That’s all well and good and the right thing for Laminar to do. That said, this morning I reconfigured the sim for virtual reality and took a VR flight for the first time in quite a while. What I found surprised me: the best VR performance I’ve had in X-Plane to date. With the new 1080ti I was running (with the Twick VR plugin set to show 88 percent of objects) maximum objects, HDR, 2xSSAA with FXAA, maximum texture quality, and — and this blew me away — shadows ON. And I had 45 FPS sitting on the ramp at KSPG, and even more on takeoff over the bay. I decided to push my luck and turned on super sampling using the Oculus debug tool, and the frames again held in the 43-45 FPS range. It was remarkable. If this is what the future of 11.3 holds, we have fun times ahead.
One other thing I noted today was that the flight model for the default 172 has regressed (at least for me). The plane falls out of the sky with full flaps and an approach throttle, and in my experience flies not at all close to the real numbers and configuration on base or final. It flies much to slow, and I have to nearly drive the thing into the ground to get 70 knots on final with flaps 40. The REP was much more like the real thing in my testing today. We’ll see how that develops in the beta 5 as well.
All said, the X-Plane platform keeps getting better and better. The curious can see the full, and ongoing, change log for 11.3 here.
Often in the OTG forums, via email, and during my live streams people ask questions about the home cockpit, construction, and more. So to make it easier for others to ask questions and get answers I’ve added a new feature to the website: a questions and answers page (like you might see at Quora, but more simple). You can post questions, offer answers, vote on answer quality, and more. Links are in the menu and the sidebar. I ask that those with questions give it a try, and please note that I hope everyone in the OTG community will help in providing answers (as my time to answer every question is limited). Let me know what you think, and thanks for asking and answering questions.
After more than a year of having it on the back burner, I’ve been working recently to complete my book on building a home GA flight simulator. I’m searching for a title — one better for a Kindle ebook than “Building Your Basement Flight Simulator: A General Guide” — and would like your help. Please consider taking the poll below, and I will use the results to inform my thinking on the title. Thanks so much.
It’s finished, and at least for now everything is working. I still need to build the new glare shield, and hope to do that this weekend.
Some lessons learned along the way: first, if your flight information panels aren’t working it’s almost surely because Windows has turned auto power management for the USB hubs back on. I love this particular lesson because I get to relearn it about every six months.
Second, for the GNS 530 to sit atop the 430 I need a right-angle HDMI adapter. One is arriving today, and until then the GNS units are a bit less than flush with each other.
Third, and perhaps most important, is that I learned the GTX 1080ti, while it has five display ports on it, is only capable of displaying to four monitors at once. This means I wouldn’t be able to run both GNS units at the same time. Fortunately I was able to change a setting in my BIOS that allows my PC to run both the card and the onboard GPU simultaneously, and this seems to be working well.
This past weekend I started working with VMI-Twick VR, a new utility that allows you to auto-manage object visibility in X-Plane. Set a desired frame rate, and the utility makes more or fewer objects visible with the goal of hitting that frame rate target. In this, it works a lot like 3jFPS, which many of X-Plane folks use (in VR and non-VR). Twick is nice in that you can see it in the VR headset. It’s also nice in that it allows you to modify many other settings, including fog, shadows, cloud density, number of vehicles, etc. This is helpful not only in managing frames, but it getting a look in the sim that suits your eye. Highly recommended, and it works in non-VR, too.
I’ll put up a longer post later, but initial impressions under my normal 980ti settings:
Running one screen, 1080p:
- Before, KSPG clear skies: 90 FPS
- 1080ti: 115 FPS
- Before, KSPG overcast: 76 FPS
- 1080ti: 91 FPS
- Before, KSPG clear skies: 45 FPS
- 1080ti: 45 FPS
- Before, KSPG overcast: 30 FPS
- 1080ti: 43 FPS
Now I’m going to get into playing with changing settings, but so far I am very happy!