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.