Practical Tutorials

Tutorials

This series of tutorials is intended to document the configuration of the various components of the MuVIT system. It is a work in progress.

The VRInsight console is the heart of the interface to the MuVIT platform. It functions as the throttles which provide control over both single and dual engine vessels. It also provides the buttons which allow you to execute functions such as changing viewing location, turning on/off displya features such as chartplotter, etc.

The first thing to consider how you want the buttons configured. The photo below is what I recommend as it is the result of several variations to find the most useful config. Check the addons page for labels that allow you to make custom button labels that you can print or design your own. I made some to replace the Cam labels with a more descriptive name such as helm and birds-eye view.

Speaking of the labels, the console comes with quite a few you can choose to use. You have to remove the button covers and place the label inside the put the cover back on. VRInsight is kind enough to include a tool which has a sticky face you place on the button face and lift it off. If you misplace that tool like I did you can gently use pliers to lift the cover off the button.

The throttles have a very positive center detent which makes for a very handy neutral position for the engines. This makes it easy to calibrate your forward and reverse throttles.

One feature which some use is the rotary control on the lower left. It can be for steering or for the bow and aft thrusters on some of the larger vessels, but most of the time it just sits there unused.

picture of button layout on vrinsight console

The VR configuration section is coming soon.

Software Configuration Tutorial

The setup for ShipSim is straight forward although  it can be somewhat tedious due to the number of options available. I’ll try to break it into the various components in the interest of simplicity.

When you first start the program you get the menu shown. In order to begin the setup process you select Options from the menu. This will put you into the configuration menus where you can setup how you want the program to behave and what the user inputs are.

Once you select the Options you will see the following selections. Each selection allows you to setup specific operations withing the program. The choices are self explanatory with the exception of the last one, Multiplayer. The servers which supported this function were shutdown some time ago although I do understand that you can run multiplayer on Steam but I’ve never gotten around to trying it.

When you select graphics this is the screen you get. Pretty straight forward, with a few caveats. I’ve played with split screen, it doesn’t allow you to put the chartplotter on a separate screen, which would be really sweet, it mostly just splits the screen into 2 screens. Some like it, some don’t.

Another feature is to run windowed which is very handy and can allow you to minimize the display when you aren’t using it. Also helps to turn on the title bar for easy navigation. One thing that can trip you up in the windowed format is that you need to remember to maximize the window. If you don’t you end-up with parts of the display you can’t access and it is very frustrating especially on the setup screens when you can’t find the OK button. The resolution settings are for a non-windowed configuration and allow you to adjust to your actual screen size and refresh rates. Be aware that messing with refresh rates can cause damage on some displays so make sure you know what your displays specs are.

Under Quality Settings I generally leave it on High although if you are having performance issues you can turn that down. In Advanced you can set things like the range at which things become visible, if other vessels leave a foam trail in their wake, etc.

 

The Sound setup is pretty straight forward. Shown is the setting we use for class.

We turn the GUI volume to zero, this is the music, etc that just serve as useless distractions. Master volume is just what it says and effects all settings equally without effecting the base setting. Engine volume is just that and you want it on so just like in the real world you have audible feedback on throttle position. Ambient is waves, wind, rain, etc. Not required but it does add to the reality of the simulation. Finally is the Radio volume which is again an obvious setting. You get a sound track of the VHF radio running in the simulation, again it adds to the reality of the distractions boaters can face.

 

Now we get to the meat and potatoes of the configuration, the ship controls where you will assign functions to the console devices buttons and controls.

At the top you will see 3 check boxes. Precision steering allows you to adjust your engine speeds and rudders in smaller amounts, but does cause other issues with control of steering so it is best left unchecked. Natualpoint TrackIR in theory allows one to wear a hat with IR LED’s which should allow the point of view to shift with head movement. I played with it but it was very prone to error. Take a look at the MuVIT VR for a better solution. Arcade steering is just that and doesn’t add a thing but can cause steering problems. Feel free to experiment you can always click on set defaults to restore the settings, be aware this will affect your settings globally and wipe out any mappings.

The list of settings for ship controls is extensive, what is shown is just a small subset as the size of the menu slider shows. Start engine 1/2 can be mapped to buttons as the console display shows. To activate them you would double click in the appropriate row in the secondary input column. The display will gray out to indicate it is ready for input. You then push the button on the console you want to map to start that specific engine. The unassigned value will change to the value for the depressed button. Lather, rinse and repeat for the other buttons you want to assign to controls.

The throttles are similiar. Double click on the Unassigned setting and then moving the throttle lever either forward or reverse depending on which you are setting. The unassigned will change to a joystick notation to indicate success. Then do the same for the other throttle. For twin engine configurations this is four settings.

If you want to run a single engine vessel find the settings that has the engines combined and do the same for each direction, and you have a single engine boat.

Steering is the same but it is easier to just use the combined rudders setting and select that then turn the wheel in the direction specified in the setting.

That pretty much covers the control settings, pretty simple once you figure out the pattern of what settings define which peripheral device.

In the upper right corner of the Controls menu is a drop box for other settings. Next we will discuss the interface settings.

The interface settings are selected just like the ship controls, double click on the Unassigned Secondary input and push the button you want assigned to that function.

A few points regarding the interfaces. The show/hide info setting is the info bar at the top of the display which has RPM, compass, speed, etc. displayed. This has a lot of information about navigation in a small area so it is often useful to leave it on during exercises.

Show/Hide chart allows for turning the chart plotter display on or off.

One setting which is very handy to set it the Camera1 and Camera2 settings. These represent the helm and birds-eye views respectively. These views are essential while Camera3&4 don’t really seem at all useful. If you check the addons page you can find the custom button labels for the console as the console doesn’t come with labels for those.

Just go through the list of options and see what looks useful to you, experiment.

And last but not least are the camera controls. The big one here is Camera rotate right/left. I assign these to the paddles on the rear to the wheel. This allows a full 360 degree view in either direction. Handy for docking exercises as well as situational awareness. One exercise does assume that one occasionally looks to the rear so as to avoid a collision.

Another one is zoom which I assign to buttons on the wheel which can act as binoculars. Again I suggest you play around and get familiar with the settings and what they do.