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Real World

The Flight Sim Deck: Head Tracking With A Webcam And $3 [FYC]

Constantly scanning the sky is an integral part of flying.  It’s for safety but also to take in the sites all around you. With that in mind, I want to show you how you can get awesome head tracking in your flight simulator with just a webcam and $3. You might wonder how this method compares to TrackIR. The short answer is that it’s not as precise as TrackIR, but still an excellent alternative that’s left me with almost no complaints.

For those who don’t know, TrackIR is the leading head tracking device on the market costing $149. TrackIR uses a camera and Infrared to track the movements of your head. It’s accomplished by mounting a camera in front of you and wearing the infrared light on your head. This allows you to look all around the cockpit and lean towards your instruments.

The method we’ll talk about today uses your web cam to track the movement of your face rather than infrared light. This is done with software called FaceTrackNoIR. This software tricks the simulator into thinking TrackIR is being used. The camera I’m using is the HD Pro Webcam C920, but any modern webcam will do. Your monitor should provide enough light, but if not, try to light your face as much as possible. This will increase the accuracy of the head tracking.

Once you open FaceTrackNoIR for the first time, you’ll need to configure your webcam. Click “Options” at the top left of the window and then proceed to “Webcam Utility.” From there, click “Devices” and your webcam should be recognized in the drop down menu.

Now that you’ve set up your webcam, you can go back to the main window. Here you will see various options that you can apply to the tracker. “Profile” allows you to save your settings and load them in at anytime. You might want to do this if you have different configurations for various sims. I use “faceAPI V3.2.6” for tracker source, “Accela Filter Mk2” for filter and “FreeTrack 2.1” for game protocol. I also set my smoothing to 30 samples and I invert the pitch axis. Lastly, you can adjust the curves for each axis.

When everything is set, you can click “Start” under GO!. You should now see a black and white video of your face with a yellow overlay tracking your head movement. This shows how your face is going to be tracked in the simulator. Always remember to click “Start” prior to opening the simulator. Otherwise it might not recolonize that you are using head tracking and you will have to restart the sim.

When it comes to compatibility, I’ve tested FaceTrackNoIR on Prepar3D v4.4, X-Plane 11, Aerofly FS2, DCS World 2.5, and IL-2. Each sim functions slightly different but they’re all very close in functionality. This is where you might want to start saving profiles for each sim. The head tracking works right away upon loading Aerofly FS 2, DCS World, and IL2. With Prepar3D and X-Plane 11, there is just a couple of extra steps to make the head tracking work.

For X-Plane 11, it helps to have the plugin X-Camera, which is free to download. But if you want your settings to save, you do need to purchase a license. Otherwise the free version works great for Track IR, as long as you’re okay with re-positioning the camera each time you open X-Plane. To turn the head tracking on, simply open the X-Camera control panel and check the “Enable Track IR” and “Retain Mouse Look Position” boxes. If the camera is not aligned correctly, you can use the arrow keys and mouse to center your view.

Prepar3D follows nearly the same process. The most efficient way to use head tracking in P3D is with camera software called ChasePlane. The head tracking should work automatically, but if not, click “Preferences” on the left and make sure “Enable Head Tracking (TrackIR)” is checked. Again, if the camera is not aligned correctly you can use the arrow keys and mouse to center the view.

From dog fighting over the Persian Gulf, or turning base onto final; FaceTrackNoIR has made a world of difference in my flight simulation experience. TrackIR can be a costly investment but if you already own a web cam you’re just a few dollars away from turning your head inside the virtual cockpit. Have fun out there everyone, see you in the skies!

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FSExpo 2019 Interview with QualityWings Simulations

During FlightSimExpo, we interviewed the team behind the Ultimate 787 and the Ultimate 757 collection, QualityWings SImulations. They talk to us about their experiences at the show, the community engagement and also hint at possible things to come in the future.

This is part of our FSExpo 2019 content from last month in Orlando. Be sure to check out our archive hub to catch up on anything you may have missed.

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Welcome Nick To The Video Team: An FSElite Introduction

We’re hugely proud to announce a new addition to the growing FSElite video team. It’s with pleasure that I welcome Nick to the team. Nick has many years of flight simulation video content creation and will be joining the team as another producer.

I’m going to keep the text short as Nick does a wonderful job of showcasing his talent, who he is and what he will bring to the table.

You may also know Nick as NickFlightX. He has produced a bunch of video for simulation including promotional content, real-world vlogging and more. You can check out that channel on YouTube.

Please join me in welcoming him to the team. We can’t wait to show you the content we have in store for you guys.

Finally, we’re still keen to build our growing global team. If you’re interested, you can find out more on our newly re-designed join page.

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Virtual-Fly Yoko the Yoke Video Review [The Flight Sim Deck]

Our friend and fellow video producer TheFlightSimDeck was also lucky enough to get his hands (literally) on the Virtual-Fly Yoko The Yoke. Whilst this review is independent of the FSElite written review we published late last year, the comments on what Patrick liked and disliked are very similar. Furthermore, as we work closely on a daily basis, it only made sense to share this review with our community. Let’s call it an ‘unofficial’ FSElite review in that sense.

Regardless, you can visually see the Virtual-Fly Yoko the Yoke in action thanks to Patrick’s video.

If you’d like to read our written review, you can do that here. Or you can visit our Virtual-Fly hub to stay up to date with the latest news, reviews and content from the team.

Be sure to subscribe on YouTube to him for more hardware content in the future. If you’re feeling generous, give us a subscribe also!

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Happy Holidays from FSElite

Just a quick message to our community wishing everyone a happy holiday from the FSElite team. 2018 has been incredible from the number of releases to the amount of support we get from the community every day. We are really humbled by it all and it really drives us to continue making the site bigger and better.

2019 will soon be upon us and we’re super keen to start bringing out even more amazing content. For now, myself and the rest of our amazing team of volunteers will be taking it easy over next few days, spending time with family and recharging batteries. We have a few things scheduled to come out, but do forgive us if we don’t update as frequently as you would expect.

Please enjoy our short video wishing everyone well for the holidays and into the new year. For now, thank you again and speak to you all very soon!

Just a quick reminder to take part in our Holiday Grand Raffle.

Also, if you’re keen to share the journey with myself and the rest of the team, why not have a look at our positions and apply for something! We have some cool stuff lined up so we’re looking for some new talented people to join us.

Additionally, if you’re after a bargain, there are still plenty of deals on-going. Details can be found in our Festive Sales Round Up post.

Finally, our first big event taking place in 2019 will be our annual Community Choice Awards. More details on that soon!

Thanks everyone!

The whole FSElite team!

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