A few months after finishing our marvelous amazing big 737NG simulator, sitting in a very wide screen of 5 meters wide and 8 meters long, we are now setting up a « small » C172, with an EOS hardware cockpit in the middle of a semi-cylindrical screen 3.5 meters wide. We decided to test the brand new X-Plane 11 in multi-monitor mode with the help of Fly Elise-ng warping software for this configuration. Step by step tutorial.
So now X-Plane 11 comes with an integrated Multi-Monitor feature! Great.
No more need of multiple computers (and multiple X-Plane license!) to render your wide views, panels and cockpits on multiple screens or projectors.
Anyway, the steps to follow to successfully achieve a nice dome view or a surrounding view with multiple monitors are not easy for everyone.
Here is how we did for a wide curved screen (180° semi-cylindrical, 3.50 m of diameter), beamed by 2 HD short throw projectors. If you use 3 or more projectors, or if you use 2, 3 or more PC monitors, the philosophy will be the same.
We hope that this small tutorial will help people searching here and there how to set up their own system. Each simulator is different, so this is NOT THE ABSOLUTE SOLUTION. But it can help – we hope so – and inspire cockpit builders and flight simulators fans!
1) Choosing a warping software
First, as soon as you want to extend your view widely, a first problem occurs: a native view from your favorite flight simulator application (X-Plane, MS Flight Simulator, PREPAR3D) is never correct on the lateral sides. Image is stretched and landscapes, buildings and other objects seem completely distorted when you look at them near the lateral edges of your screen(s).
Second, if you want to project an image on a curved surface (cylindrical, spherical…), you should expect a huge deformation if you do not correct it.
That’s where the great software of Nikola Gidalov from Fly Elise-ng comes in! Immersive Calibration Pro (ICP) is the perfect tool to design the warping that you need, and Immersive Display Pro (IDP) is the final application that will run the calibration settings that you created with ICP.
NOTE: This document is not a tutorial on how to use ICP and ICP. If you need information for this very first step, visit Fly Elise-ng website where you will find a lot of documentation and some very useful step by step guides.
2) Warping the image
Here below is a picture of our cylindrical visual after calibration. As you cans see, no blending yet, but our 2 projectors now create a perfect grid with regular vertical and horizontal lines.
By the way, it’s very useful to use some laser levels to achieve such a calibration. We are using 3 Bosh Quigo but there are other solutions.
It’s important to remember that the warping is realized for a specific point of view, so your lasers should be placed such a way that they respect this predefined point of view, at least for the lines that could be deformed by the curvature of your screen (vertical lines in our semi-cylindrical system).
3) Setting up and defining the frustums
Immersive Calibration Pro allows us to define our frustums.
ICP is able to manage asymmetric frustums but it seems that asymmetric frustums are not recommended for X-Plane. Therefore we will not use this feature here (look: « Use asymmetric frustums » is not ticked).
All these settings can be calculated by ICP. Just click the « Calculate » button, choose All Projectors » and you are done. In our case we didn’t need any adjustments of the calculated values, but some projects will need that you adapt the pre-calculated settings if they don’t properly fit your screen. See our settings below.
Our settings for projector #1:
Our settings for projector #2:
4) Exporting calibration files
As a last operation in Immersive Calibration Pro, you should now click on:
- « Calculate single virtual camera »
- « Calculate multiple virtual camera »
- « Export calibration result »
This last action will open an Export dialog window:
Here we just check the Multi frustums and XPlane Multi PC/ XPlane 11 Multi View options (Single frustum is always automatically checked).
A click on the « OK » button will output 7 files (in our setup), where the 3 most important are:
As you can see, we chose « calib » as a prefix for the exported files names. « PC1 » is the name of the displaying computer. At their end, the files names contain the position and dimension of the displays.
The 2 « _multi.procalib » files will be loaded in Immersive Display Pro running on PC1, which is connected to our 2 HD projectors (1920×1080).
5) Setting X-Plane 11 Monitor Configuration manually
Immersive Calibration Pro frustums cannot be imported automatically in XP11. We have to proceed manually – but it’s easy. Do it like this:
Open the « .xplane » file in a text editor. In our situation, this file is named calib.xplane and contains:
Projector 1 (0_0_1920_1080@PC1)
Projector 2 (1920_0_1920_1080@PC1)
Then launch X-Plane 11, open the Settings window in XP11, and click on the Graphics tab.
At the bottom of this window you will find a « MONITOR CONFIGURATION » section.
You should set something like this:
NOTE 1: these parameters are manually copied from our calib.xplane file (see above). They are working for us with our dual projector configuration and are given as an example.
You have to enter your own values; these one will NOT WORK on your system!
NOTE 2 : we use 2 views « Forward with scenery » because we own a real C172 cockpit with all controls and instruments, so our screen is only dedicated to sceneries. If you want to use the « Forward with 3-D cockpit » instead, please read Nikola Gidalov blog here.
NOTE 3: Please disregard the RENDERING OPTIONS shown above. They are not set and are not related to this article. Choose the bests for you, within the limits of your computer.
If you have more than 2 monitors / projectors just continue the same way for the next one(s).
YOU ARE SET! HAPPY LOOPS!
Written on April 17th, 2017 by Pierre Van Walleghem, manager at Brussels Flight Simulators
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