To set up MuVIT hardware, you will require a computer. The initial MuVIT version was developed using an HP 4540S laptop equipped with an i5 processor and 8GB of RAM, which is a fairly basic configuration, indeed the computer was new in 2012 but continues to function quite well for this purpose in 2023. Your milage may vary, but the point is that you do not need a gaming quality PC for MuVIT to operate successfully.. In most cases, you can use the same machine for your classes and launch the simulator when needed. The software is not resource-intensive and can easily run alongside PowerPoint presentations.
The minimum MuVIT hardware requirements for Virtual Sailor are:
CPU: Intel Core I5
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 6500 GTX
VRAM: 1024MB of Graphics Memory
Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c Compatible
OS: Microsoft Windows 10
DirectX: DX9.0c – Read this blog post. Virtual Sailor does not install the DX9 runtimes but this will explain how to fix that.
You can test your system’s hardware by downloading a demo of the Virtual Sailor NG package and trying it out. If all works fine you can go to the Virtual Sailor website and buy the full program for ~ $40.
One thing to consider for the computer is that you may want an SSD (Solid State Drive) if you plan to take it to boat shows as the physical handling can be a little rough on rotating media (e.g. hard disk drives).
The console is one of the critical MuVIT hardware components and often the most expensive one at approx. ~$450. It has built-in throttles which will support single or dual-engine arrangements based on the software configuration. It also has 26 buttons* that can be used to turn on or off functions and options within the simulator. If the console is not something you want immediately you can run the simulator completely from the keyboard and mouse. *It seems that not all buttons (4 or 5) are recognized by Virtual Sailor but most are.
We are currently moving away from this console for a couple of reasons; First is the cost, at $450 it isn’t meeting our requirement for a low-cost solution. Also, it is becoming increasingly difficult to source. Currently, the only source seems to be the manufacturer VRInsight. More information on the console and configuration can be found on our VRInsight tutorial page and the VRInsight documentation. It will still work with Virtual Sailor NG, but we can no longer recommend it to our members based on the cost and single source. See below for our alternative tablet and throttle options.
The Logitech Wingman wheel is used for many of the simulators as the ship’s wheel. They can be purchased in the $40-$50 range used. We generally get these off eBay and only had a problem once when they sent one with the wrong connector, so make sure the one you ordered has a USB connector. These can also be sourced from many other places. Based on what we’ve tested, almost any wheel should work, (Logitech G27, 29, 902) some need power, and some don’t. The powered ones often have the advantage of being self-calibrating. The buttons can be configured as the horn, binoculars, etc. as needed providing great flexibility in configuration. Some like to set the paddles behind the wheel to pan the view, which makes it easy to look around, again that’s whatever your preference is. We did a blog post about wheel compatibility you might find helpful.
If you do buy a used wheel, they sometimes do not include the power supply cube. The Wingman wheel doesn’t require one but it does make the wheel firmer, of course not many boat helms force themselves back to center so you decide. You’ll want a 24V adapter like this one from Amazon. Some wheels like the G27, 29, etc. won’t work without the power.
Alternative MuVIT Hardware
We recommend a console based on an app called UnifiedRemote that runs on either an Android or iOS tablet or phone to serve as the buttons, effectively creating a glass console. You can even make sliders that function as throttles. The buttons can be labeled as to function making them easy to identify and use. This is an app you download from either the Android or Apple store as well as a server component you install on the computer running the simulator.
Alternatively, you can purchase one of our ready-to-go scripts or we can develop a custom one for you. Contact us for more information. So, take that old tablet or phone and give it a second life as a MuVIT console. Recycled hardware is free hardware.
While you can buy throttle quadrants they are almost all geared to flight simulators and while they can work, they come with their issues and often a hefty price tag since they are a specialty item. For this reason, we have developed our own throttle quadrants which we 3D print and source to keep the price down. Whether you use ours, the VRInsight or roll your own, we recommend you read this blog post about how to configure the throttles.
A powered chill pad for the laptop is highly recommended to help with cooling. Although the program is not computationally intense, the graphics can be quite intensive and depending on your drivers and graphics subsystem can generate a fair amount of heat. While it won’t hurt the computer it can cause performance degradation if it gets too hot so for that reason we recommend a good cooling system. Which one to get is a function of your laptop, its size, and the layout of the cooling vents. Depending on how many USB ports your laptop has you may be able to power it directly or you may require an external USB power source such as a small cellphone charger type adapter. Amazon and other vendors have an ample supply at decent prices.