Sunday, May 17, 2009

Installing CumulusX! And Sim_probe In FSX

In a previous post I wrote that two add on modules for Microsoft Flight Simulator X can indeed make it a very decent full scale soaring simulator. I also mentioned that it was a little difficult to get both add ons up and running smoothly, and promised to write another blog post on how to do it. Well finally here it is!

Peter L├╝rkens and CumulusX!

CumulusX! creates thermal lift with appropriate clouds either on the fly, or every time you load a new environment, or glider with a wide variety of characteristics. Or you can choose from a custom-tailored list of thermals. Both allow joining in online sessions, with the guarantee of equal conditions for all participants. It adapts automatically and continuously to the FSX internal weather conditions even under real-weather-mode. Unlike regional static thermal generators, Cumulus X! Is dynamic and works the world over in FSX. Clouds are substituted for the "natural" or shall I say invisible birds circling in FSX.

It is a module which resides in your FSX folder and is activated either manually or with an autorun feature. Autorun is the way to go and necessary if you add the other companion module Simprobe.

Forster Lewis and sim_probe

Sim_probe is the other half of a realistic glider simulation in FSX. It adds slope lift in any suitable location. By setting wind velocity and direction in the FSX program sim_probe automatically provides realistic slope lift for your soaring pleasure. Using the FSX programmable API called simconnect, sim_probe can sample the terrain around the users aircraft and with the prevailing wind calculate the appropriate lift factor to apply to the user aircraft.

The end result is continuously variable highly detailed lift and sink affecting the user aircraft increasing the reality of the user experience. For ridge-soaring flights in gliders the sense of the lift within the flight simulator is almost tactile. For technical information and to down load both programs visit the following links.

http://carrier.csi.cam.ac.uk/forsterlewis/soaring/sim/fsx/dev/sim_probe/

http://carrier.csi.cam.ac.uk/forsterlewis/soaring/sim/fsx/dev/sim_probe/

Getting them both working can be a little difficult for the average guy or gal, and this is complicated by the fact that a few key bits of information are hidden or missing from the installation instructions. In one case there are three sample copies of an XML file to get the programs to autorun, all three are different, and one works if you edit it properly!

These programs are running on my computer with Windows XP service pack 3, service pack two is REQUIRED or neither will operate.

Install CumulusX! First.

Installation of CumulusX!

You need to be logged in as an administrator.

Important: Make backup
copies of the original "AirObjectVisuals.xml" in the Flight Simulator X root folder and the DG808S panel-
configuration file at SimObjects\Airplanes\DG808S\Panel\Panel.cfg.

If you have previous installations of the new cloud model, named cloud2z.bgl, cloud2t.bgl, or cloud2t1.bgl, please remove them from its scenery folder, since Flight Simulator X maybe confused otherwise.

The distribution archive contains a sub-tree "Modules", containing two other sub-folders "CumulusX!" and "SlopeDataBaseTool" with the components of the program, some settings files and the manuals. The sub-tree "SimObjects" contains modifications for the shipped DG808S. The root directory of the archive contains a new version of the file "AirObjectVisuals.xml". In addition, there is an "Addon-Scenery"-sub-tree, containing a cumulus cloud model, effective for Simulator X built-in thermals as well. In combination with the new file "AirObjectVisuals.xml" this shows a 3D-cumulus-cloud model instead of the default bird animations. In order to have this effective the Addon-Scenery folder has to be activated in the Flight Simulator X scenery manager.

Extract all files into the Flight Simulator X root directory. If you have made backup copies of the above-named files you can safely accept "Overwrite" for the files being replaced.

You need to activate the "Addon-Scenery" folder in Flight Simulator X if it is not yet active, in order to let the 3D cloud model appear. In addition, check that the "Thermal Visualizations" in Options/Settings/Display, Weather-tab are set to "Natural".

It is recommended to deactivate the built-in thermal engine in Flight Simulator X by renaming "ThermalDescriptions.xml" in root folder of Flight Simulator X for example to "_ThermalDescriptions.xml". Otherwise you will get a weird mixture of thermals from Flight Simulator X and CumulusX!.

After you do all of the above, which is by the way the instructions supplied on Lurkens help file, you have to go to the modules folder in FSX root directory, open it, open CumuusX!, and look for the readme files, and most importantly the following information:

Enabling AutoStart

Fig. 20: Enabling AutoStart

It is possible(desirable ed.) to use CumulusX! in AutoStart mode. This means that after start of the program, it automatically connects to Flight Simulator X and enable lift. This is particular useful, if you want to start CumulusX! through Flight Simulator X by means of an "EXE.xml"-file. A sample "EXE.xml"-file is given in the appendix.

ED. Note:Don't use this one,and don't try to initiate autostart at this time, wait...until AFTER you install sim_probe, there is yet another xml sample in the sim_probe readme .txt file with the script necessary for both CumulusX! and sim_probe. Use this one, and remember only edit the destination folder where you would like the igc files stored. What you say is the igc file? Well sim_probe auto logs igc files of every flight you make so you can use them with a data logger such as SeeYou or several other free ones available.

Remember to both insert the xml.exe file AND click the auto start button in the program window.

Then the program starts in minimized mode, so if you are not planning to change your settings, the main window of CumulusX! remains invisible throughout the entire session, but You can open it by clicking on the modules header in the task bar in windowed mode. By the way if you want to open CumulusX! and edit settings on the fly in FSX You will have to set FSX in windowed mode. In AutoStart mode CumulusX! will terminate with Flight Simulator X, in normal mode it will remain active(you will have to close it manually).

The next time you start, Flight Simulator X will ask you to start CumulusX!, and if you trust the source. If you click "Yes", the next time CumulusX! will start fully automatically. If you check "AutoStart" in the CumulusX!-tools menu, CumulusX! will from now on connect automatically and enable lift.

Don't activate the autorun feature until after CumulusX! is running ok in manual mode, then after installing sim_probe add the following xml.exe file here: C:\Documents and Settings\your user account name\Application Data\Microsoft\FSX.

:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="Windows-1252"?>


<SimBase.Document Type="Launch" version="1,0">

<Descr>Launch</Descr>

<Filename>exe.xml</Filename>

<Launch.ManualLoad>False</Launch.ManualLoad>


<Launch.Addon>

<Name>CumulusX</Name>

<Disabled>False</Disabled>

<ManualLoad>False</ManualLoad>

<Path>Modules\CumulusX!\CumulusX.exe</Path>

<CommandLine></CommandLine>

</Launch.Addon>


<Launch.Addon>

<Name>sim_probe</Name>

<Disabled>False</Disabled>

<ManualLoad>False</ManualLoad>

<Path>Modules\sim_probe\sim_probe.exe</Path>

<CommandLine>log="C:\\Documents and Settings\\Ian\\My Documents\\fs\\igc_files\\"</CommandLine>

</Launch.Addon>



</SimBase.Document>

Change the line in red above to suit yourself any folder where you would like the igc files stored.

Install Sim_probe


(1) INSTALL THE VISUAL C++ 2008 RUNTIME LIBRARY (vcredist_x86.exe)

Download and install the file from Microsoft:


http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=9B2DA534-3E03-4391-8A4D-074B9F2BC1BF&displaylang=en


A copy of the file vcredist_x86.exe is included in this zip file if for some reason you have a problem

with the above link.


(2) INSTALL THE SIM_PROBE.EXE FILE:

From the Windows 'start' menu, open "My Computer" and navigate through the folders to

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Microsoft Flight Simulator X"


Open the sim_probe zip file (i.e. the file containing this readme)

with Windows Explorer


drag the 'Modules' folder

into your base FSX program folder, i.e. you should end up with

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Microsoft Flight Simulator X\Modules\sim_probe\sim_probe.exe"


(3) INSTALL THE SIMPROBE OBJECT:

From the zip file window,


drag the "SimObjects" folder

into your base FSX program folder, i.e. you should end up with

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Microsoft Flight Simulator X\SimObjects\Misc\SimProbe"


(4) ADD SIM_PROBE.EXE TO YOUR FSX AUTOSTART FILE "EXE.XML":


SEE ABOVE


If you understand all the above and do it in the proper sequence, it should all work fine. If not back yourself out and start again.

Some notes:

The stock FSX DG 800 vario is erratic even with the new gauges supplied, better are the Cassiet gauges in Wolfgang Pipers sailplanes. Available at segelflug.de. or try the SOAR modified DG800.





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