This is the system I use to play on the flight simulator. I really enjoy my time flying around the world virtually and trying to split the journey up into twenty minute flights.
The stuff I have here is a HOTAS system from Logitech, two PC screens, keyboard and mouse from Razer along with two external displays. The Samsung tablet runs some software giving me a PFD and the information involved there. My phone runs some software which is similar to the tablet PFD but also includes glideslope information and forward terrain. In the picture below you can see my chair, which I absolutely love. It’s a lovely chair.
It was quite hard to get the camera to take a reasonable photograph of the system because I have a polarising filter on the lens and as the displays are also polarised, but in different directions, it means that I couldn’t really get the best direction of the polarisation. But I did ok. Here is what it looks like at its worst.
It turns out I’m a sucker for some kinds of advertising. Normally it’s the advertising that solves a particular problem I have had or something that’s been playing on my mind. I bought the NVIDA Shield TV after seeing an advert on a graphics card driver update loading screen. I bought a SONOS Move after it was announced and they sent me an email letting me know about their new products. I guess I’m a sucker mostly. I bought a new television after “popping” into Richer Sounds and picking up their catalogue, there was a Philips Ambilight TV on the front. I didn’t buy one straight away but I would think it was within two weeks. I think the adverts have to be technology based for me to want to get whatever the product is. I haven’t been disappointed by my purchases but that might be just the sunk-cost fallacy kicking in.
I get emails from X-Plane about new aircraft, scenery, plugins and ideas and recently they sent one with a lovely F-16 model but that’s coming in a around GBP40 and I don’t really think that is a sensible purchase. Below the F-16 was an advert for a web-based glass cockpit simulator. I didn’t need much persuading, I looked at the shop page and decided I would get it. The current instrument panel I have on my [old] tablet takes ages to load and the refresh rate is quite slow. This would at least mean I could use any browser on any device and see flight instruments.
Just look at that F-16, it’s gorgeous. Except for the conformal fuel tanks over the wing root, I really think they spoil the lines of the craft. So, I bought SkyScout. It works well, it’s a small webserver which reads the data from X-Plane and then serves that to a browser on the LAN. I initially used the old Samsung tablet but it’s so old that the browser isn’t supported anymore. I then used a laptop and it worked really well but I didn’t want to have to keep getting the laptop set up when I wanted to fly around the world. So, I thought about a second monitor for the PC. It’s specification is high enough that it should be able to cope. The choices were about whether to get a small monitor or large. How much was I prepared to spend. Should it have touch capability? I really like the touchscreen I currently have as I can operate cockpit switches just by touching the screen – assuming the cockpit deign has hotspots.
I decided the screen had to be the same size as the current monitor so 27″. This, is quite frankly, ridiculous. I remember when I moved into my current home I had a 28″ widescreen flat TV that was pretty good for its day and that would now seem tiny. That TV ended up being given to Mr Pom, I think I remember carrying it up the stairs to their flat. So, screen size was sorted. The existing monitor has a large bevel and that would mean everything looks uneven but there wasn’t a lot I could do about that. Touchscreen costs are a lot more than a standard monitor so that was an easy decision. It was also quite fortunate as the touchscreen can only operate one of the desktops. So, only one monitor can run a touchscreen and it can only operate one of the desktop areas. I lucked in there.
I opted for a reasonable Philips monitor and ordered another screen arm and also I had to order a DP cable. All of these items arrived on the same day but late and so I decided to complete the build the next day. I couldn’t sleep well and I don’t know if it was tech-excitement or just the fact that I couldn’t sleep well. I also woke up quite well at 0500 and I think this is due to a neighbour leaving for work around that time, I think it’s just enough noise to nudge me awake as I sleep with the window slightly open. This morning there was a full blown conversation happening at 0450 as two people stood outside their RUNNING vehicles and chatted about stuff. I did at least get back to sleep. I love the sound of the rain and I wish it rained more.
The first set up I tried was to have both screens in landscape and next to each other. I think this made the whole unit too large and too much headsweep was needed to look from one edge to the other. The new Philips monitor is the main screen and will be used as the gaming monitor while the old ACER monitor is now the secondary, information giving screen. In this view you can see the system as it was set up for a couple of days.
The aim is to turn the keyboard and ancillary equipment to face the right a little more. As a system it worked well but I did think that having the ACER monitor as portrait would be more interesting and serve a more natural feature as the extra screen for information. I mentioned this to Penguin and he agreed, it seemed that it would work quite well along with fitting within the floor area of the desk and also making the bevel less obvious. So, yesterday morning I spent some time adjusting the left monitor to the portrait position. I needed to perform a little extra cable management and also move both monitor support stands so it would fit in the available space.
This is the current set up and will likely remain the monitor positions for a while. I like it. I think the left monitor looks good and fits better than landscape. Windows seems happy enough with the monitors being like this and the touchscreen still works and maps correctly to the portrait screen. I’ve had to find some wallpaper and set that up as Windows doesn’t want to have slideshows from different folders for different screens and that is something I can live with. There exist plenty of programs that can sort that out but I don’t really want to install more stuff on to the computer. As I write this X-Plane is downloading scenery for the rest of the world because when I installed it onto this computer I only covered Europe and northern America. It’s taken around an hour of download running at around six megabytes per second. My X-Plane installation currently consumes 442GB of my hard drive.
Yesterday my PC powered down completely unexpected. Not in a shut down type of way but in a dead kinda way. Now, I am slightly concerned by this. I’m not too worried about my data, I back up everything regularly and use a NAS and cloud based storage. My bigger concern is that I might need a new PC. I guess I could survive without one? Nope. Just spent a moment thinking about that and it is definitely something I would be unable to do. My phone doesn’t offer all the useability I would need and I can’t use my work laptop for home based stuff.
The questions now are what specification should I be looking at and do flashy LED colours add to my experience? What do I do with the current PC, which is working fine at the moment but I wouldn’t be surprised if it died for good. What peripherals do I get? Do I need another monitor? That answer is easy, I don’t. I’ve got plenty of screens in the house. It’s just a matter of being able to utilise them correctly. How am I going to pay for this is another thought I suppose?
I know what I’m like when buying big stuff. I get super excited and need to force myself to calm down and think about things. I need to consider all the options and then build up to a final decision. Also, it being lockdown and everything I probably need another little project to keep me going and I need a PC on which I can write “music”. I call it music, but it’s noise really and me messing around trying to emulate my favourite artists.
I may or may not update here what happens over the next little while. I’m off to do more googling around and seeing what the best deal I can find is.
The speedometer in my car over-reads. The car, named Bora Horza Gobuchul, has been with me for a while and I remember being on a motorway thinking that I’ll settle at 60m.p.h. as I wasn’t in a rush. After a while I was being overtaken by HGVs and that was quite disturbing given they have a 58m.p.h. speed limit. So, I got a speed application downloaded from the iTunes store and tested my speed using the phones GPS signal.
The result, my speed, according to my phone, was 54m.p.h.
That explained a lot. I had never tested the speedo in the Beast, there never really seemed to be a need to do it. So I set about testing the readings my car was giving me and it turns out that my speedometer over-reads my speed by 10%.
So, if the car is indicating 70m.p.h. then I’m really going 63/64 m.p.h.
My understanding is that speedometers are allowed, legally, to over-read the speed but NEVER under-read the speed. Because of this rule that they are NOT permitted to under-read means that a tolerance HAS to be included for under-reading. It would be costly for manufacturers to produce speedometers that are “exact”.
So, a car indicating a speed of 70m.p.h. could be doing anything in the range of 63 to 70 m.p.h.
Having tested this and observed the traffic around me and used various different speed testing apps I have now adjusted my speed accordingly. This effect could also be deliberate to try and make Prius drivers drive a little slower and therefore save fuel. You use approximately twice the fuel to travel at 70 than you would at 50m.p.h.
Now, here’s the rub:
My car has a “computer” as they used to be called and it tells me average speed, m.p.g. etc. Over the summer I reset this to zero while travelling on a clear motorway. I set the car’s cruise control to a steady speed of 77m.p.h. and reset the trip computer. Once the computer had enough data it flashed up my average speed: 70m.p.h! This continued over the next ten miles of travel before I had to slow down.
It appears that the car’s trip computer reads or reports the correct speed.
This confuses me. The trip computer either uses a different source for its data OR it knows the correct speed from the existing source. I don’t understand why either of these would be designed like that. The car has a mechanical device for reading the speed OR it could use the GPS system but why over complicate things?
This is the follow up to this communication. I am happy to say that after about 10 days of waiting I finally picked up a new tower PC from PC World in Chatham. I have been using it to waste plenty of time.
The main reason I bought the computer was to do some music stuff in collaboration with my best mate. I’ve been inspired to have a go and create stuff. This is a new direction for me. If you want to know more then pop over to twitter and see what happens.
Still playing around with our first ever song! No idea how long this will take. Am aiming for 4 ish songs buy the summer!!
— DBL_MF (@DBL_MF) December 22, 2014
So, I have the computer back. It took about 2 days to set it up to my liking. Most settings copied across from my Microsoft account which was nice. If you want to see more reasons for me getting the PC then look at the next communication.
I’m happy again, but I don’t have enough time to do all the things I want to. Too many projects.
tldr: computer broke, still waiting for replacement.
I wrote a while back about my new computer. OK, I just looked for the communication so I could link to it and apparently I didn’t write about it. Curious. Here’s a picture of the new screen behind my little old tablet PC [the old fashioned type of tablet PC before they all went Windows 8 and mobile]. I blame Rich for the screen size because his computer was this size when I visited him in Washington DC. As he now lives in Texas I guess he’s got a larger screen.
I bought an ASUS M51BC from PC World with an Acer screen. In terms of screens “you can’t get big enough” is a good rule of thumb, thanks to Trusmoov.
The software on the new PC, Windows 8.1, along with the touch screen made it extremely useful and easy to use for the kids. Photos look great and I was going to start the DBL-MF project.
Early on using the computer I went to get a coffee and when I returned the computer had turned off. I thought it might be an errant setting. However, it turned itself off a number of times over the next few weeks. The fan would run up to maximum speed and then the power would cut.
I got in touch with ASUS and they said they would fix it. The PC got sent to Scotland to be fixed. This seemed reasonably efficient. I later got an email saying they were waiting for a new motherboard. No problem. I could use the tiny laptop that I own. Then the new motherboard failed the tests. It would be longer still to get the PC back. I had been waiting four weeks.
I got in touch with PC World and they agreed to replace my PC. So they got in touch with the repair people, agreed to get the PC delivered to them and then ordered a new replacement PC. I am currently waiting. I have been waiting about a week for the new PC to be delivered to store.
I just want a computer, that works, with my big screen so I can start doing plenty of time wasting stuff again. Like writing these communications.
I’ll update you when I get back on a PC tower rather than use my reliable little 7 year old tablet PC, which still works fine.
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