Between server crashes/hacks and a year gone by, a lot of the basic hints and ideas that have been shared among the RTW community have disappeared from the Outhouse. With a bit of digging in my own files and the other teams' websites I present a compilation of "the Basics"
In this installment (RTW-101 -- The Racer's Computer) we'll go over some of the principles of setting up and maintaining your computer for Round the World Racing. Where possible, credit has been listed or names retained to show the original authors, whom we all thank for their input.
Preparing your computer for the RTWR Race (RFields (1-18-07))
We are occasionally asked about re-installing FS to prepare for the race, and uninstalling addons.
Provided your FS program runs stable and without problems there is no need to re-install FS before the race. You do need to make sure that no addons will reset the FS system clock.
FSRealTime does this. It's a great tool, but it will make validation of your flights impossible. Don't uninstall it - just do not use it during the race.
You need to be wary of automated updates to software on your computer. Most are harmless, but some could create a problem. Microsoft patches are addressed in a different post.
Now to make your FS even more stable, I recommend you create a new folder (Call it Storage or Hangar or Replace Later, etc) in the Microsoft Games folder which holds your flight simulator program. This folder will be a temporary location for files which you will not want to use during the
race - but will want after the race is finished.
Among the files I move each year are:
1. AI Traffic Files - from the Scenery\World\Scenery folder
2. AI Aircraft - from the Aircraft folder
3. Freeware flyable aircraft which I will not fly during the race - from the Aircraft folder (I strongly recommend you do NOT move payware aircraft files)
4. AFCAD Files - with few exceptions the default airport data will work great for the race. I keep AFCAD files for airports with no parking in the default FS system.
Note - I make a special effort to remove any AFCAD files for airports which are not in the default FS setup. i.e. the two in Tibet. Since they are not in the default FS, they cannot be used for the race. There are also many airports for China, Fiji, the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Iceland and Russia which are not in the default FS - watch out for them.
Scenery - I will open the Scenery Library and uncheck any scenery which I do not expect to use for the race.
This includes two types:
1. New airports - such as the new Bangkok airport - which is not in any version of FS - and we definitely do not want our team to land there.
2. Frame Rate Hogs - definitely turn off any scenery which drops your FPS.
I normally fly with very high scenery settings in FS. You may also - but if you cannot maintain above 20FPS (I prefer 30) at all times - you might want to turn down scenery settings.
(Note in FSX, I find that as low as 10FPS is usually perfectly acceptable for flying and landing - I have NO idea why FSX gives me smoother performance at half the FPS of FS2004)
For FSX - turn down AUTOGEN or turn it off completely. FSX seems to love putting 40-80 ft tall trees on the runway centerline at the airport boundary. You WILL CRASH on a night landing with them.
Detailed Clouds - be sure you know the impact of these on FPS / performance - they are fantastic - but you can have a weather update hit and bring your computer to it's knees.
BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP - as always - make a backup before you change any file.
Make a record of your FS settings before you change any - maybe screen shots?
Key assignments - make sure you have keys such as Slew, Aircraft Reload, Engine Shutdown - etc, set to key combinations which you cannot accidently hit while typing in the Chat Window. The FS Multiplayer Chat window has caused many crashes over the years - but we need it.
All excellent suggestions! Here's a few more:
- When possible, restart your computer system (or at least FS) before flying a hop. I've always found that a fresh restart makes EVERYTHING on my computer work better.
- Ensure your computer is sufficiently cooled. During the race, your computer will be running the intensive simulator for several hours in a row. Getting a new, more powerful fan can keep the system cooler, which results in less system freezes and blue screens of death.
- Disable unused or unnecessary background programs. You know all of the icons that sit down by the clock in Windows? Get rid of them. All of them take valuable memory. Check your Start Menu... Start Up folder and get rid of stuff you don't need. I also highly recommend StartUp Control Panel -
http://www.mlin.net/StartupCPL.shtml - to disable other programs that automatically start. There are other programs out there that clean up memory, but almost all of the TAKE memory to run - pretty much defeating the purpose.
- Disable unnecessary system services. Windows runs about a zillion unnecessary processes in the background. If you're not using them, disable them. A default XP system has about 50 services running. My system runs perfectly fine on 20 - a saving of over 100MB in memory and a load of processor power. An excellent guide is found at
- While carrying the baton, minimize your use of other programs. Yes, ActiveSky looks sweet, but the extra processing and memory it takes could cause problems during the race. A browser crash can lock up your entire system. I use a laptop adjacent to my PC to do things like TeamSpeak, Google Earth, posting to the forums, and e-mail while running only FS on my PC.
- Get all of this ready well before the race.
Some more good advice. This time from the guys over at Sim-Outhouse.
Turn off automatic scans by your anti-virus.
Turn off automatic updates by Windows.
Turn off your screensaver. Turn off automatic everything.
(dangerousdave, jcook28, fliger747)
Also, click on the advanced power saving options button on the
display/screensaver tab and disable all the power saving features like turn off display after..., turn off HDDs after..., etc... (Moparmike)
To get your heart jumping up and down, there is nothing like seeing your racing leg taken over by a system maintenance function! In general, you want full control of your machine when you are carrying the baton!
Just going over some things
You will want to remap keyboard assignments for some functions which can kill an RTW flight.
Y - Slew - I use CTRL+SHFT+Y
P - Pause - CTRL+SHFT+P
E - Engine - CTRL+SHFT+E
M - Magneto on/off - CTRL+SHFT+M
G - Gear extend/ retract - CTRL+SHFT+G - This is especially important for P-38 pilots and FSX pilots. The P-38 will model damage if the gear is extended too fast. The good news is you can make a successful broken gear / gear-up landing in the P-38. The bad news is that is about 25% success rate.
In FSX , ALL aircraft will model damage to the gear if extended too fast.
@ PawPaw's house - near KADS, Addison, Texas, USA
With each year we learn a bit more and a few of these ideas will change as the nature of the race evolves, but combined they give a good idea of wht we should go through to set up our systems to build a winner.
I'm sure there will be more added as we go along but don't worry about huge threads to sort through at race time. I intend to collect the best of the info and upload a .txt file toward Christmas that you can save and refer to or print.