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Software

Download SimVimCockpit software and add it as usual plugin into X-Plane. Then, from the plugin menu you need to upload SimVim firmware to your master controller board (usually it's Arduino Mega 2560, but it be other board based on this microcontroller)


First start and Input/Output test

If you have "fresh" board, that has no previously uploaded SimVim firmware, follow the steps below. If you plan to use LAN version, attach an Ethernet module to you controller board before and connect it to your router.
  • Open the "Upload Firmware" window from SimVim plugin menu.
  • Follow the steps displayed in that window
  • When USB port is detected select correct controller type from the list
  • and set the "Ethernet" checkbox if you will use Ethernet module.
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  • Click "UPLOAD". Wait until firmware upload is completed (about 5-8 s)
  • After upload the plugin will connect to this controller automatically.
  • The connected board will appear in SimVim Status window.
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  • Connect a toggle switch to pin #5, GND and throw it on/off
  • The Pitot switch state will changing accordingly with your switch position
  • The on-board LED on the controller board will change its state (Pitot Heat is on/off).
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After successfull first test you can be sure that SimVim plugin communicates with your controller, and you can start configuring it in the Configurator.

Firmware Update

If your master board already has SimVimCockpit© firmware and a new version of the firmware becomes available, the plugin will inform you of this and present you the Upload window with the options already filled in.

  • For USB connection, just be sure that all options are correct and click "Upload".
  • For LAN connection, connect your master board to USB (or disconnect and connect it again) and click "Connect". After that, check the options and click "Upload".

SimVim Connection, notes

- You never need to upload the firmware again to change input/output configuration, all you need to do is create new data configuration file and connect all input/output devices to your master board correctly.

- If you have changed the data.cfg file while X-Plane is running, just click the "Reload Configuration" button in the Status window.

- With firmware uploaded you no longer need to unplug your controller board USB cable before X-Plane launch. If you use Ethernet firmware you don't need USB cable to be connected until you will need to upload new version of firmware.

- If you have reconnected your board USB cable while X-Plane is running, select "Hardware Reconnect" from the SimVim plugin menu.


Connection, initialization, work notes

How it all should work (our test system is Linux Mint 64-bit):

  • The controller board is always connected to USB (never unplugged, starts working when computer is ON).
  • Several different I/O devices are always connected (multiplexers LCD and 7-segment displays, serial LEDs, PWM).
  • Reset button on the board is never ever used (besides it's useless on 2560 when serial port is busy)
  • Computer is working (turned ON) literally all day round
  • X-Plane may be launched/reloaded many times during the whole day
  • Every time X-Plane is loading, the plugin and controller are always connecting automatically, without touching Arduino and using Reconnect.

So, the system allows you to keep you controller board plugged into USB permanently, and never use reset button. Plugin should always establish connection every time X-Plane is started, no matter how many times you did this and how many changes you made in the data config file.


Plugin Interface:

  • Reload Configuration button reloads all SimVim configuration, it should be used everytime you made any changes in your data configuration file.
  • Hardware Reconnect menu item resets everything inside the plugin and reopens all ports and reloads all SimVim configuration. Use it only if you need to reconnect, for some reason, your controller board physically (plug it to USB).
  • Reload Plugins menu item will restart the SimVim plugin (and other plugins in your system). Use it when you have updated the plugin< /li>
  • Restarting X-Plane is never required, since using "Reload Plugins" will do the same thing as a clean restart.
  • If the USB device (Arduino) has NOT appeared in the status window too long this is because of virtual serial driver problem, physical connection issues.

With LAN, all data packages are more easily defined, but with USB connection, wich actually used as asynchronous virtual serial interface (USB ports are just used for serial emulation) it's a bit more tricky to synchronize data exchange and keep large amout of data consistent, we are constantly working on making it more stable.

Currently serial communication protocol in SimVim is synchronized with X-Plane frames and FPS timing is used to send "strobes" in the end of each frame (you can see blinking RX LED) to more effectively synchronize I/O data and avoid loosing any bit of data packet.

You should know that any plugin that works with external programs / devices can send or receive data no more frequently than the X-Plane frame rate allows. So, if your X-Plane frame rate is 20 FPS for example, it can provide next changed data values for the plugin only in time 50 ms after the previous change.

And only after that time plugin can process and send these data to the controller. The same way the plugin can provide data received from the controller to the X-Plane only with X-Plane frame rate.





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