Ultimate home combat sim setup

Member for

11 years 11 months

Posts: 73

Hi all, I was planning to setup an ultimate combat flight sim at home based on a PC. Just wanted some guidance from all the people in the know on this forum about how to proceed. I need some guidance on the following; What spec PC should I go for? Any particular graphic card I should specify? Any particular chipset? What controllers are the best, i.e. flightstick and other controls? What about other resources such as 3D virtual reality headsets? Which flight sims, if any, are compatible with these? Which combat flight sim is considered the best? I was aiming for Falcon 4.0 Allied Force as the ultimate combat flight sim, but what about some of the Jane's Series? Are there any resources on the net where I could get more guidance? I realise I could use the wonders of Google to find some of these things, but I thought I may use the experience of other members here. Any helpful guidance would be most appreciated, thanks in advance.
Original post
Profile picture for user fw190uk

Member for

11 years 6 months

Posts: 79

You have to have a tracker head set, it works on all my fav sims (microsoft,lL2 series,bob) to name a few. I would not be without it.

Member for

11 years 11 months

Posts: 73

You have to have a tracker head set, it works on all my fav sims (microsoft,lL2 series,bob) to name a few. I would not be without it.
Thanks for the suggestion. Could you provide make of headset and where I could get further details? Could it work with Falcon 4.0 Allied Force?
Profile picture for user fw190uk

Member for

11 years 6 months

Posts: 79

I`ve never came across a flight sim it does not work on. NaturalPoint makes the tracker (www.TrackIR.com). I got mine from Duxford flying legends last year.I think if my memorys ok it was a flight sim shop based at Huddersfield. But i have seen them on ebay. They go for around £120.00.

Member for

11 years 11 months

Posts: 73

I`ve never came across a flight sim it does not work on. NaturalPoint makes the tracker (www.TrackIR.com). I got mine from Duxford flying legends last year.I think if my memorys ok it was a flight sim shop based at Huddersfield. But i have seen them on ebay. They go for around £120.00.
Thanks for all the helful suggestions and info, much appreciated
Profile picture for user Flexman

Member for

11 years 5 months

Posts: 9

Hi there, just to chime in, I completely aggree that TrackIR is perhaps one the best hardware purchases I ever made. Despite several PC upgrades and different sims, its still plugged in and works with nearly everything. When it comes to control sticks, my advice is spend as much as you feel comfortable with. It's very much a case of getting what you pay for. Overall, I found the new Saitek X52 Flight Control System hotas is a good all round, pretty robust stick and throttle. Alternatives include the Thrustmaster Cougar, costs nearly double, weighs a ton due to it's nearly all metal construction. And if you have an arm like a boxer you might be comfortable with the springs. Personally I found the internal build less than satisfactory, force required too much and there's dedicated web sites for hardware modifications/improvements, which suggests a thing or two about the satisfaction level out of the box. Although the ULTIMATE all round flight stick IMO would be a Thrustmaster Cougar with a third party "Ultimate Cougar" Hall Sensor upgrade which eliminates the springs and turns the stick into a pressure sensitive device just like the sidestick in a real F16. That doubles the price but makes it a no-brainer if your budget allows. If you're planning an ultimate Falcon 4.0 sim and cockpit, then the upgrade is a must must must have. It's good enough for the US Air Force in their mock-ups. Graphics according to budget. The current best of the crop is the nVidia 9600GTX2 but costs about the same as a Playstation 3 here. A good price performance compromise right now would be an nVidia 8800GT as there's a new 9900GTX due out very soon meaning prices will come down. Allied Force isn't a graphically intensive sim however so you can aim a bit lower here, a PC with dual core CPU for running all the little AI guys should be high on the list. If you want to use three monitors in a tripple screen (see http://www.matrox.com/graphics/surroundgaming ) then you will need a graphics card with a really really fast fill rate to update all those pixels. Weather and transparancy effects really hit 3D cards with large screens hard. So the nVidia 9600GTX series is a must there. Of course, you can ditch the TrackIR, ultra-fast 3D card, multi-monitor setup and opt for a nice projector and screen. You can get away with resolution do away with need for head-tracking (espeically if you can curve the screen and set FOV or zoom settings in the sim accordingly). I've been doing this stuff since the 1980s and tried a bit of everything, it's really down to budget and deciding what you really want to do. Bit of everything? Air combat, comercial sim or general aviation? Space? All of the above? Doesn't matter so long as you enjoy it, it's a great hobby. Somehow I wrote about three pages again for which I apologise :/ /You have control

Member for

11 years 4 months

Posts: 8

Hi Adil, I have read a very interesting article about graphics cards and performance of same in Summer Special No54 PC PILOT. it is informative reading and it might give you some guidance on graphic cards etc. Barrie

Member for

11 years 11 months

Posts: 73

Hi there, just to chime in, I completely aggree that TrackIR is perhaps one the best hardware purchases I ever made. Despite several PC upgrades and different sims, its still plugged in and works with nearly everything. When it comes to control sticks, my advice is spend as much as you feel comfortable with. It's very much a case of getting what you pay for. Overall, I found the new Saitek X52 Flight Control System hotas is a good all round, pretty robust stick and throttle. Alternatives include the Thrustmaster Cougar, costs nearly double, weighs a ton due to it's nearly all metal construction. And if you have an arm like a boxer you might be comfortable with the springs. Personally I found the internal build less than satisfactory, force required too much and there's dedicated web sites for hardware modifications/improvements, which suggests a thing or two about the satisfaction level out of the box. Although the ULTIMATE all round flight stick IMO would be a Thrustmaster Cougar with a third party "Ultimate Cougar" Hall Sensor upgrade which eliminates the springs and turns the stick into a pressure sensitive device just like the sidestick in a real F16. That doubles the price but makes it a no-brainer if your budget allows. If you're planning an ultimate Falcon 4.0 sim and cockpit, then the upgrade is a must must must have. It's good enough for the US Air Force in their mock-ups. Graphics according to budget. The current best of the crop is the nVidia 9600GTX2 but costs about the same as a Playstation 3 here. A good price performance compromise right now would be an nVidia 8800GT as there's a new 9900GTX due out very soon meaning prices will come down. Allied Force isn't a graphically intensive sim however so you can aim a bit lower here, a PC with dual core CPU for running all the little AI guys should be high on the list. If you want to use three monitors in a tripple screen (see http://www.matrox.com/graphics/surroundgaming ) then you will need a graphics card with a really really fast fill rate to update all those pixels. Weather and transparancy effects really hit 3D cards with large screens hard. So the nVidia 9600GTX series is a must there. Of course, you can ditch the TrackIR, ultra-fast 3D card, multi-monitor setup and opt for a nice projector and screen. You can get away with resolution do away with need for head-tracking (espeically if you can curve the screen and set FOV or zoom settings in the sim accordingly). I've been doing this stuff since the 1980s and tried a bit of everything, it's really down to budget and deciding what you really want to do. Bit of everything? Air combat, comercial sim or general aviation? Space? All of the above? Doesn't matter so long as you enjoy it, it's a great hobby. Somehow I wrote about three pages again for which I apologise :/ /You have control
Hi Flexman, Thank you so much for the informative suggestions and for sharing some of your experience, which seems quite considerable if you have been doing this since the 1980's!! :eek: I was planning to build around a PC with a single large monitor and since I'm a huge F-16 fan, Falcon 4.0 was the natural choice. I did have my sights set on the Thrustmaster Cougar, but wasn't aware of the issues you mentioned. Could you provide any details of where I could fine upgrades and how to about it? As for heatracking, it looks amazing and would be a must for a flight sim. However, I was considering both head tracking and visuals combined, i.e. a virtual reality headset with headtracking. However, some digging around and it seems that the prices of these units are still quite high :eek: I have seen this one provided by a UK distributor (Inition). Altough this is one of the more cheaper models for gaming application, its price is still quite high (£~900), so I can only imagine what it must be like :( http://www.inition.co.uk/inition/product.php?URL_=product_hmd_emagin_z800&SubCatID_=16&cur=GBP Also, does anybody know what the Red Falcon and Open Falcon mods/add-on packs are? Can they both be added onto Allied Force? Thanks again for all the info

Member for

11 years 11 months

Posts: 73

Hi Adil, I have read a very interesting article about graphics cards and performance of same in Summer Special No54 PC PILOT. it is informative reading and it might give you some guidance on graphic cards etc. Barrie
Hi Bazzer, Thanks for the helpful hint, will look into it :)
Profile picture for user Flexman

Member for

11 years 5 months

Posts: 9

Hi Flexman, I was planning to build around a PC with a single large monitor and since I'm a huge F-16 fan, Falcon 4.0 was the natural choice. I did have my sights set on the Thrustmaster Cougar, but wasn't aware of the issues you mentioned. Could you provide any details of where I could fine upgrades and how to about it? As for heatracking, it looks amazing and would be a must for a flight sim. However, I was considering both head tracking and visuals combined, i.e. a virtual reality headset with headtracking. However, some digging around and it seems that the prices of these units are still quite high :eek: Thanks again for all the info
Hiya again. The Hall sensor upgrade, as well as numerous DIY and other projects for the Thrustmaster Cougar can be found at the following community site: http://cougar.frugalsworld.com/ Look for the "Hardware Mods" link. I have to say the combined head tracker and HMD while expensive is attractive but as you say expensive. Bit hard to invest all that and find you get motion sickness. 800x600 doesn't seem that great for reading HUDs and the only HMD I've used was a headache inducing 640x400. Try before you buy would be my advice. I wouldn't mind giving that Z800 3DVisor a go myself. Don't expect add-on packs for the "open falcons" to work with Allied Force, but this is perhaps not the right place to ask, try the Open Falcon forums. Good luck pilot

Member for

11 years 11 months

Posts: 73

Hiya again. The Hall sensor upgrade, as well as numerous DIY and other projects for the Thrustmaster Cougar can be found at the following community site: http://cougar.frugalsworld.com/ Look for the "Hardware Mods" link. I have to say the combined head tracker and HMD while expensive is attractive but as you say expensive. Bit hard to invest all that and find you get motion sickness. 800x600 doesn't seem that great for reading HUDs and the only HMD I've used was a headache inducing 640x400. Try before you buy would be my advice. I wouldn't mind giving that Z800 3DVisor a go myself. Don't expect add-on packs for the "open falcons" to work with Allied Force, but this is perhaps not the right place to ask, try the Open Falcon forums. Good luck pilot
Hi Flexman, Again, thanks so much for the helpful guidance. I never realised ther would be such a huge fan following over a joystick and flight controls :eek: But having read up over the Thrustmaster Cougar HOTAS, I can see why. It's clearly one of the best ones to get, if not THE best flight controls. The Hall sensor upgrade does look quite awsome, but not sure it justifies the price tag and if it really does add any further value. I think the I would have to give up on the idea of a combined HMD/Headtracking unit, the unit costs really are abit on the high side, well for me at least anyway. Maybe if they become more popular. Thanks for the guidance