Sunday, August 17, 2008

Building a sim cockpit?

You might probably have heard by now that CPFlight has been producing some excellent hardware for Flight Simulator hard core enthusiasts and cockpit builders.

Up to now, these products were designed exclusively with Project Magenta in mind, as there was no 737NG addon for any simulator version out there that could fully utilize the various modules CPFlight so expertly has created. Various efforts to use keyboard commands, mouse clicks etc. allowed some interfacing with the PMDG 737NG to some extent, but it was always a tricky proposition and not everything would work properly.

This is not so anymore!

Flight Sim Labs is now able to interface the CPFlight MCP, MCPPro, EFIS modules to the FS2004 PMDG 737NG family directly, with its upcoming FS2004 CPFlight driver interface software. No keyboard command programming is required and you can easily forget about having the PMDG panels open while flying your favorite aircraft.

If that was not good enough, Flight Sim Labs will offer full compatibility for an extra 8 CPFlight modules, allowing full and complete interfacing for the following modules now:

- MCP Pro (USB version)
- MCP (USB version)
- MCP (RS232 version) - will require a hardware dongle from CPFlight
- EFIS module(s)
- Radio Stack VHF1, VHF2 modules
- Radio Stack NAV1, NAV2 modules
- Radio Stack ADF1, ADF2 modules
- Radio Stack XPDR module
- Main Instrument Panel, containing
- Autobrakes
- Fire Warning
- Master Caution
- Captain / FO sixpack warning lights
- Flaps Lights
- Gear Lights
- Test Panel
- SPD Ref
- N1 knobs
- Fuel Flow
and many others!

We are very happy to provide such full functionality with the upcoming CPFlight driver interface for Flight Simulator 2004 and the PMDG 737NG family of products. Stay tuned for more news about this in this blog and in our web site!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Was this for our own good? (Part DEUX)

- Well Manuel, it seems like Deja Vu all over again!
- Que?

Excuse the attempt at some dry humor, but having spent two straight days investigating a weird Flight Simulator X crash to desktop, that was apparently completely unrelated to anything remotely related to FS, I have to find some avenue of escape for the unrealized amount of frustration. Thankfully, the solution itself, while not apparent to the untrained eye, provides some level of fulfillment to those who keep blaming the %^%%#@ operating system for everything that goes wrong with their simulator. And guess what: This time, they're right.

To explain:

At the labs (yes, that is the new affectionate term for our new company, Flight Sim Labs), we've been getting some customer support emails from friends who've tried repeatedly to purchase our hardware interface products that have been released as Try-Before-You-Buy, only to hit a hard Crash-To-Desktop (CTD) as soon as they click on the "Purchase" button on their driver dialog window.

Long story short, Yada Yada Yada, some days later, (insert your favorite bit here), and with the very appreciated help of our web sales vendor,, it became apparent that the common element (if you can call it common) in the CTD has been that the operating system was NOT Windows XP. We were able to reproduce it on machines running Windows Server 2008 (my machine here - experiences with which I'll blog about at some point soon) and/or Vista (regardless of flavor - 32bit and 64bit, Home, Premium, Business, Ultimate - it happened sporadically to those).

It turns out that the common denominator in those systems was the security facility called "Data Execution Prevention" (DEP for short), which does not play nice with Flight Simulator X. While goog- I mean searching through the net for a solution, I found several posts that described weird FSX crashes that seemingly had nothing to do with what the user was doing at the time. In our case, something in the concurrent threads that the eSellerate webClient DLL uses to run online comms with the credit card verification scheme is considered to be "bad bad bad" with FSX, even though we were assured that there's absolutely no attempt at wrong doing by our very respected vendor.

Solution? Simple. If you are running Vista and you haven't done so already, disable DEP if you want your sanity maintained with Flight Simulator X. It won't hurt you either, as I am sure you already have a good firewall and antivirus system going, and you're not relying on DEP to protect you anyway. - And no, it won't be enough to "OptOut" - you'll need to set it off permanently on the PC, or else you'll think you've done it but FSX will still complain and crash. The way is simple:

Run a command prompt (DOS) with elevated permissions ("Run As Administrator") and issue the following command:

bcdedit.exe /set {current} nx AlwaysOff

Then reboot your machine and you're good to go. Simple, eh? For more information and a detailed explanation on what DEP does, how to turn it on and off etc, visit this link.

I cannot profess to know exactly why FSX crashes with DEP turned on, I will leave that to Phil and our good friends at ACES - perhaps it's something we're doing wrong, but if so, I'd definitely welcome a technical explanation and a hint or two on how to fix it, if possible ;-).

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Concorde-X wallpapers

We published some high resolution (1600x1200) images (for desktop wallpaper) of the Concorde-X dressed in FSLabs colors on the Flight Sim Labs website, as many of you requested it in its splendor.

You can find them here.