Ideal spec of PC, graphics card, screen or projectors

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dwynberg
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Joined: Fri Jun 19, 2009 3:21 pm
Location: Maple Ridge, BC, Canada

Ideal spec of PC, graphics card, screen or projectors

Postby dwynberg » Mon May 28, 2012 5:56 pm

If money was no object, I would like to establish what the optimum setup would be for creating a simmulator with the highest quality graphics possible for Condor. I have enjoyed using Condor for about 5 years, but always just on one laptop screen.
I have just finished a period of using a full size homebuild simulator using a Matrox TrippleheadtoGo, three XGA projectors and a dual control simulator, and while it was fun, the limitations of setting up the three 1024x768 XGA screens to a maximum resolution of 2400x600, and then setting up Condor to display full screen at 1920x480 was dissappointing. The instruments pannel was unreadable unless I zoomed in to the pannel. What I was unable to establish is what was the main cause of this limited graphics ability. Was it the PC? was it the graphics card, or the Matrox tripplehead unit and the projectors, or was it limited by Condor. Obviously the initial problem lay with the PC, graphics card, matrox and projector combination as it's best resolution was 2400x600, but then why was Condor only able to be set up to a maximum of 1920x480?
First question: If I was to build a new simuator using Condor and money was no object, what specification of PC components and projectors or HD screens should I buy? (Processor speed, how much RAM, which graphics card spec (ATI or GeForce), and would one use a Matrox tripplehead or get a graphics card capable of output to three projectors or screens?
Second question: If I was on a smaller budget what would be the minimum spec of equipment to get and still be able to enjoy a three screen simulator with HD quality graphics?
Thank you in advance.
Regards, Daan. :)

NoXylophone
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Location: Redmond, WA
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Re: Ideal spec of PC, graphics card, screen or projectors

Postby NoXylophone » Tue May 29, 2012 1:15 am

My understanding is that the limitation on 3-display setups is the fact that Condor, being a DX7 application, has limited possible output resolution. If you go for a 3-monitor or 3-projector display, you're going to be limited to something like 480 lines of vertical resolution.

Have a look at the FPS you get even running a scenery like Alps XL with a modern graphics card on a decent PC. Odds are you're getting well above 60 frames per second. If this is the case your hardware is fine; the limitation is Condor.

Condor doesn't support multi-machine rendering or any fancy features like that, so you can't use multiple instances of Condor to get better output resolution.

I run Condor on a 55" monitor at 1920x1080, if I recall. I sit far enough away from the monitor that the display takes up about 45 degrees of my forward view. I then use a Track IR 5 for head tracking to allow me to look around. The immersion is amazing with this setup.

I'm currently in the process of designing and building a simulator cockpit (though I intend to use it for things other than Condor so I'm forgoing a center stick in favor of a sidestick - let's hope they release plane pack 3 soon so I can fly the Diana), and my display plans, at the ultimate level, are probably a two-projector system onto a curved screen. All you really need is 90 degrees or so of viewing angle and a Track IR and you'll be fine.

Or you could look into a head-mounted display.

Keep in mind that you can also use an additional monitor just for instruments, running at a higher independent resolution.

If you want to get really fancy, there are some plans out there for collimated mirror displays. They're starting to get practical for the home builder, though you'll need quite a bit of fabrication skill to pull off the construction. You could have a *very* immersive two-projector collimated mirror display.

dwynberg
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Jun 19, 2009 3:21 pm
Location: Maple Ridge, BC, Canada

Re: Ideal spec of PC, graphics card, screen or projectors

Postby dwynberg » Tue May 29, 2012 3:05 pm

Thank you. Great input.

I had heard that before that Condor using DX7 is the crux of the matter. One wonders what is involved in upgrading Condor's ability to use a later version?
If Condor needs to be re-coded to take advantage of better graphics capabilities I wonder whether Condor's programmers are able to do that? If it's a matter of money, with so many users, I would suggest that a quick whip-around for a few dollars per user would generate the cash needed to employ a team of full-time programmers to sort it out in a matter of months. There are starting to be several other gliding simulator progams out there that would compete with Condor, but they don't have the established users particularly in the competition area. It would therefor be nice if those users could stay with Condor so all that infrastructure (Condor Club etc.) can stay in place.
Accuracy of the flight model and then graphics quality are probably the highest priorities. The flight model is good, but graphics quality is somewhat behind.
Maybe the Condor team is already working feverishly on this and we just don't know it.

Anybody else with contributing views on this?

I had been thinking also of pressing our 55" TV screen into Condor duty, only problem is that it sits mounted quite high above the fireplace, and I would look quite funny sitting in a chair on a table about 1m away from the screen - but I might just give that a try for experience sake.

I have looked briefly at head mounted displays, but what I saw was not great. Low resolution, and anyone with corrective lenses can't use them. I may just have seen the low end of the market, so probably worth keeping an eye on. One big downside is the inability then to use any keyboard keys and buttons on the joystick - unless you know where they are by feel.

I have'nt heard about collimated mirror displays. I'll definitively look into that.

NoXylophone
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Location: Redmond, WA
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Re: Ideal spec of PC, graphics card, screen or projectors

Postby NoXylophone » Wed May 30, 2012 1:54 am

There are a few new HMD's coming out that look impressive. The ST1080 and the Zeiss Cinemizer are the two main ones that look like they have what simulator users would want; ability to support head tracking, 3d display, and HD resolution. The issue is that they really aren't "wrap around", they still project an image that only takes up about 45 degrees of your field of view. Still, at 800 bucks or so, they're cheaper than you might expect.

My TV is an old Samsung DLP unit; I've had it for 6 or 7 years and, well, I've got no real issues pressing it into service as a computer monitor. Until I get my cockpit built I'm just flying from the couch; works pretty well, though it makes using a keyboard a pain. The number of times I've crashed trying to chat during a race is pretty laughable.

I still think a curved projection display is going to be the way to go. Maybe not collimated, but at least 90 degrees wide.

ACROHUNTER
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2012 6:09 pm

Re: Ideal spec of PC, graphics card, screen or projectors

Postby ACROHUNTER » Sat Sep 22, 2012 4:28 pm

Hi Dann,

I'm glad to hear about your home build simulator, we're building one at Vitacura Gliding Club in Chile, basically with the same configuration as yours, a Matrox Triplehead2go and tree projectors. We just can run Silentwings on the tree screens, but can’t do that in the Condor Soaring.

Would you mind to share with us what configuration you use to split the Condor image in tree monitors with the Matrox Triplehead2go.

We'll do appreciate your help.

http://www.planeadores.cl/main/club/not ... lador.html


Big hug,

Marcelo M.
mmordoj@mi.cl

rodrigosorbilli
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2013 2:05 am

Re: Ideal spec of PC, graphics card, screen or projectors

Postby rodrigosorbilli » Fri Jan 18, 2013 2:20 am

Hello all!

I'm a glider pilot from CVV-CTA, São Paulo Brazil. We are building a very similar simulator to the BMGC and Vitacura club.

We're building a complete two seat glider cabin of the P1 (http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/P1) that was design and built by one of our members. The glider hardware is working fine, just missing some commands adjustement. The eletronica interface was made by linear potentiometers and LeoBodnar controler (http://www.leobodnar.com/products/BU0836/).

We are now bulding 3 flat screen (around 1.80m of width) completing 135º of the lateral vision.

Today just received the eletronic equipment. A computer with i5 processor, GeForce GT640 screen board and 3 Dell projectors (resolution 1024 x 728) and made the first testes. The projectors all worked fine in Windows (resolution around 3000 columns), and all connected direct to the screen board.

I was very desapointed that is not possible to run Condor around 3000 columns resolution. We have the equipment for it! Is there a way to do it?

Thank you for the posts and any suggestion is welcome.

Regards,

Rodrigo Sorbilli

phercek
Posts: 97
Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2012 6:48 pm

Re: Ideal spec of PC, graphics card, screen or projectors

Postby phercek » Fri Jan 18, 2013 2:33 pm

rodrigosorbilli wrote:I was very disappointed that is not possible to run Condor around 3000 columns resolution. We have the equipment for it! Is there a way to do it?

No, not with the current Condor v1.x. Silent Wings should be able to support this. The best you can do with Condor is put the projectors in 3x1 portrait mode that is 2184x1024*. Then set Condor to the windowed mode 2048x1000 (by manually editing Condor's Setup.ini (set Mode=2048x1000x32)). This way you will waste only 136 columns of your screen.

* I'm not sure if your GT640 supports this (higher end ATI cards with Eyefinity do).


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