Hardware for Effective Simulation of Air Combat

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Home Forums 1st JVFW 1st JVFW Squadrons 13th Virtual Fighter Squadron 13th VFS Lobby Hardware for Effective Simulation of Air Combat

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    Within this Fighter Wing, there are many members with different simulation cockpits, further referred to as “simpit”. It all depends on your preferences and budget. While everyone needs the basic control inputs, there are two main hardware branches that determine what specialized equipment you will need. different choices will always have pros and cons.

    1. Virtual reality or 2 dimensions (flat screen)
    A. VR Pros
    1. Usually require less hardware overall as the VR headset renders all your instruments and outside world.
    2. Provides a field of view and immersion not available in 2D.
    3. Provides depth perception.
    B. VR Cons
    1. Requires a high-end graphics card and headset to get the highest frame rates and graphics quality. Otherwise generally inferior to 2D graphics.
    2. Requires many addon software packages to do things that would normally be done with hardware controls. These addons are a constant issue with updates.
    3. Sometimes in is necessary to raise your goggles to see a control you need to manipulate, thus breaking immersion.
    4. Can be very warm to wear if there is insufficient climate control in your sim space.
    C. 2D Pros
    1. Graphics more easily set to maximum while maintaining high frame rates and resolution.
    2. No headset to obstruct the view of your hardware. (MFDs, instrument panels, etc).
    3. More compatible with simpit replicas or pits with a lot of hardware controllers.
    D. 2D Cons
    1. Replica simpits are more expensive overall.
    2. 2D flatscreens offer no depth perception. Aerial refueling is more difficult in 2D due to a lack of depth perception. But is not insurmountable.
    3. More equipment requires more investment.

    The most basic pit would be a “desk pit”. One in which you simply add controls to your desk. This is the cheapest way to go but there are some pieces of hardware necessary to allow you to function well. And therefore, be an asset to the unit on missions. The minimum required hardware for this, and to make your life easiest with this simulation are:

    1. A hands-on throttle and stick (HOTAS) combination.
    2. Rudder pedals.
    3. Head tracking.
    4. A means to attach HOTAS to your desk to make it comfortable to fly for several hours.

    Replica HOTAS setups are available through several manufacturers, and it is mostly for your budget and preferences to determine what you will use. Several popular brands include:

    1. WinWing – Replica sticks and throttles for your preferred aircraft.
    2. Virpil Controls – Not replicas but highly functional and good for multiple aircraft use.
    3. Real Simulator – High end sticks for the more discerning player.
    4. Thrustmaster – lower end and lower quality units but more budget friendly.

    Rudder Pedals are generally from the same manufacturers.

    Head Tracking
    1. VR headsets – HP Reverb G2 is a popular set with members.
    2. Aimxyz – A camera that tracks your had movement without wires. The only limitation is in low light. External lighting is needed in a dark room. (This is my preferred hardware).
    3. TrackIR5 – Also a camera but is infrared. It works in low light but requires wires to the power led lights on attached to your headset. This is tricky to adjust curves.
    4. Track NoIR and other open-source face tracking.

    The above hardware is going to be critical to your enjoyment and effectiveness within the simulation. Adding to the basics, you can evolve by adding the following:

    1. Multi-function displays and their buttons. These would be the next logical additions. WinWing makes these with screens. Thrustmaster does without them and requires some DIY work.
    2. The Up Front Controls, whether generic or aircraft specific. WinWing also offers a F/A-18 “deskpit” setup which includes, MFDs, screens, UFC and other replica controls. They can be programed for any aircraft. SimGears is my choice for the Viper’s ICP and DED. But it can also be programmed for use in other aircraft.

    After a true desk setup, you may consider moving into a dedicated simpit seat. This is how most players, both VR and 2D, have configured their simulators. Former options were modified auto racing seats until recently. Next Level Racing has released their dedicated aircraft setup in the Boeing Military Edition pit. They offer other alternatives as well depending on your budget. Controls and hardware can be firmly mounted to these seats and they provide a comfortable and immersive feel to your simulation. These seats are suited to both VR and 2D flight.

    Lastly, is the replica simpit. There are 3 current members that have them and a fourth who will start one soon. These are the ultimate enthusiast projects. They are very expensive, and very time consuming to build. They are also somewhat limiting in that they are aircraft specific unlike a more generic pit.

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