Monday, 11 September 2017

Alan shares his experience with the Oculus Rift

Hi all,

Well nights are starting to draw-in and thoughts return to SWFSG, I have been having fun flying using an Oculus Rift, put simply it is absolutely brilliant and I am sure you feel the pain more when you crash!
I have heard that more members have taken the plunge and bought the Rift.
When I first started I was a bit unsure as to the best way to get started? Setting up the rift is very straightforward as the installation guides you through the process. But how do you get X-plane onto the Rift?
After some advice from a fellow member of SWFSG (thanks Steve) as to the best way, I tried a demo version of FlyInside1, fully functional (but you only get 15 minutes each time). This will set you back another £35 or so to buy, but it IS worth it. Be warned, there is a learning curve. FlyInside is available for FSX, P3D and X-Plane and supports the Rift and Vive headsets. At the time of writing the Rift was on offer.
So if you are thinking of upgrading your display, just for flight sim. You may find that it is as cheap to get a Rift&FlyInside as a reasonable graphics monitor. If you get the Rift, your current monitor will be fine for the limited use you’ll make of it.

The good and bad points of VR flying:
+ It is totally natural; you automatically turn your head and see what you expect to see.
- Resolution is good but not as good as a monitor yet, but you can lean in to read dials, text etc. or zoom in a bit. You may need to upgrade your graphics card pushing the price ever higher so do your sums.
+ Map reading is easier, I put the map on the seat squab and “look” down when required. Note any standard window can be imported by FlyInside: approach plates etc. They can be positioned, sized and zoomed

- Getting the map where you want it is a but tricky at first. I find using the FlyInside cursor best at the moment (but it’s early days).

The FlyInside menu gets in the way by default, but this can easily be moved and resized. And auto-hides after a few secs anyway.

~ Some people can feel a little queasy at times and although I don’t seem to suffer, I definitely “feel” something when I make a high G turn? Must try the Mach loop in VR!

- As I am retired, I find I fly a lot through the day and found that in the recent warm weather the headset caused me to sweat a bit. Not a great problem unless you then park your headset up on your head, after which you may find the lenses steamed-up.

+ For VFR simmers this is a must,  you will find yourself looking around a lot more. And I was surprised to find airliners were more fun to set-up, and it must be good for something as you instinctively go from the overhead, console and glareshield views, automatically getting a neck workout.
~ I did get a bit frustrated at first taking my glasses off to put the headset on, then put them on to view the sim/windows menus etc. before realising I did not need to remove the headset as FlyInside provides the facility to access and interact with the windows desktop (I am running W10)

Plan-G loaded into an MD80 – using FLYINSIDE plus X-Plane

If you are still reading here are some hints about the installation and use:
As I said before setting up the Rift is OK, but get used to the controls with the tutorial. Not brilliant but functional.
FlyInside will need one or two buttons allocated2:
1: Activate, bring up or select-from menu. You move the blue pointer by head movement then click the activate button to select/drag/etc.; it’s not as hard as it sounds provided you position the Menu window sensibly (not onto the co-pilots seat as I did - my neck has fully recovered you'll be glad to know).
2: Re-centre view. I used the same button I use in the Sim, this works fine. Alternately you can click the activate button and “tap” the headset  (you can adjust the tap strength required) - not so keen on that, we’ll see.
Keep a lens cloth & tissue handy.
Keep your desk layout standard, you will soon find reaching for what you want, instinctive but don’t put drinks etc. within easy reach! I only did this once and fortunately, it was empty.
Importing other windows is easy but a little convoluted:
Open the required window on your desk top and set-up as required. Link to Sim if appropriate.
Press the FlyInside activate button, a blue panel with 3 menu options will appear, look-point at rectangular Menu area and click the activate button. (The other 2: the upper semicircle moves the panel and the lower allows you to re-size.
Two new panels will now appear. Select Sim on the RH one and the panel now shows the sim as it appears on the desktop. At the bottom left there is a “button” marked Import Window.
Look-point at this button and press activate. A list of active windows will be shown.
Select and click Add.
Finally  select Enter Sim (Left hand panel). You may need to reposition your new window; similar to positioning the Menu.
If you haven't already, try one at an SWFSG meet, it takes you from being sat in front of your monitor and puts you into the pilots’s seat instantly!
Alan Wright
1          FlyInside is available at:

A youtube video that shows the menues is at:

A video to give an independent review/round-up of VR flight simming 2017:

Having your Rift and an Oculus account try the FREE Store/Gallery/Aircar (currently on p4) you will see what can be achieved.

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