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Preflighting WMR/SteamVR for DCS

  • (Thanks to @Jazz for noting the need and starting the steps)



    NOTE: This is the most verbose manner in which you can launch DCS in VR.
    Much has changed with respect to DCS, WMR, and SteamVR since this was written. If you’re having issues getting your software aligned and functional, this can help determine where there is an issue. Otherwise, it’s a heavy process.

    OPTIONAL:

  • Launch WMR
  • Perform any calibration requested in the WMR Portal
  • Launch DCS in VR Mode
  • – PLAY-

There are additional steps that can be taken to ensure that a minimal amount of Steam Services are running in the background. But generally, this method is a thinner launch for your rig memory space than the Verbose method below.


VERBOSE METHOD of LAUNCH

If you’re switching from an external-tracking VR HMD to an internal-tracking WMR HMD, there are significant differences around the process of getting DCS running.

Once you’re in VR, you don’t want to jump out to fix and issue or launch a utility you forgot. Doing so can often cause a waterfall effect of issues that are on-going or cause you to restart the process.

Some pilots are reporting issues with inconsistent launching into VR, loss of DOF when in the cockpit, tracking issues once in the cockpit, or similar issues. Some of these issues can be traced to the inconsistent startup of VR or a process that doesn’t give you the best shot at it all coming together.

This set of steps works for any WMR headset using SteamVR and DCS.
Not needed for Oculus HMD’s.


Typical Multiplayer Pilot Scenario

Being in Discord chatting with your fellow pilots prior to launching a flight.
Expecting to use SRS, VoiceAttack, Joy2Key, or other utilities while in flight.

Components of WMR/SteamVR

Oculus devices have the required VR components imbedded in their drivers and do not use WMR or SteamVR for enabling the headset in DCS.

For WMR based headsets the following software is required

  • Windows Mixed Reality Portal: (WMR)
    – Part of Windows 10.
  • RECOMMENDED: Windows 10 1909 Update. (<<<LINK)
  • Windows Mixed Reality for SteamVR: (WMR for SteamVR)
    – Found in the Steam Store (free)
  • SteamVR:
    – Found in the Steam Store (free)
Pre Startup
  • Discord is already running on your desktop.
  • You’ve taken care of stopping other applications, managing processes, turning off power save settings.
  • Your area is well lit, allowing for good contrast for the cameras to map the area for tracking. Poor lighting is often the cause of bad tracking.
  • Be sure you set “Input Switching” in the WMR Portal settings to “MANUAL using Windows Key – Y”
  • Be sure you enabled “Suppress VR Warnings” and enabled “Do Not fade to Grid when app hangs” in the SteamVR settings.
  • Controls free and clear, ready to go!

Preflighting VR and DCS
Step 1:  Launch the WMR Portal    WMR Portal Icon

Put on the headset and perform any calibration requested

  • See Step 4(c) before launching for an optional process…
  • Skip this step at your peril.
    Usually, you’re ok, but how frustrating is it if you’re not and you have to start this process all over again…
  • When panning your head around for calibration, look down about 30 degrees to map the lower half of your Rig. This ensures looking at side panels isn’t a tracking issue later on.
  • Set your headset aside and continue on with launching the utilities.
Step 2:  Launch SRS    SRS Icon

Be sure it appears on the desktop and is ready to connect to your chosen server.

  • Check that the Microphone and Speakers fields are as you expect.
    This is the MOST common issue for SRS failures and frustration.
    (Should not read DEFAULT – they should NAME the devices you are using)
  • If you haven’t already enabled this feature, ensure “Auto Connect Prompt” and “Auto Connect Mismatch Prompt” are enabled in SRS for servers supporting these features. If you forget to connect manually this will save frustration later.
Step 3:  Launch VoiceAttack    VoiceAttack Icon

Be sure it appears on the desktop and is ready to accept voice commands

  • Ensure the proper recording device is selected and the Headset icon shows on/off as is your preference.
  • If VA doesn’t see your microphone or it’s muted or disabled outside of the program, the Microphone icon will turn RED.
  • The Profile should match your default or the aircraft you are going to fly, depending on how you chose to set up VA.
  • The Target field should show “Active Window”.
(Other Utilities)
  • This is a good time to launch any other utilities such as Joy2Key that you may need and check their status as well.

 

Step 4: Launching SteamVR

There are some options and variations here I’ll list a few. Option (a) or (b) or (c) or (d).
You’ll have to see which branch of the process works best for your Rig.
How quickly the Rig can load the programs may be a factor in your choice of next steps.

Step 4(a): Launch WMR for SteamVR     WMR-Steam Icon
  • Put on the Headset and be sure you now have proper tracking in the Steam Grid with all of your proper DOF.
  • If you are missing some DOF (the grid moves forward and back when you do rather than tracking over the grid), you have an issue.
  • Move your head around and see if it’s just tracking and contrast causing it, if it doesn’t clear in a few seconds, you have an issue.
Step 4(b): Launch Steam    Steam Icon
  • After Steam starts up on your desktop, find the VR icon on the top and CLICK it.
    • Steam VR Icon
  • Tends to be better for slower machines or those having issues with other methods.
  • Wait for the icon to turn green and you see the SteamVR window appear on the desktop.
    • Steam VR Green Icon
Step 4(c): Launch WMR for Steam BEFORE Launching WMR Portal  WMR-Steam Icon
  • Launch your utilities before proceeding with WMR for Steam launch.
    • VoiceAttack
    • SRS
    • etc.
  • Put on your headset as you launch WMR for SteamVR.
  • Launches WMR Portal straight away.
  • You may not get a chance to calibrate, so take the risk there.
  • The remainder of the required SteamVR programs launch.
  • Go to Step 5.
Step 4(d):  Go to Step 5
  • WMR for SteamVR and other required Steam processes start automatically.
  • Problematic on slower machines, where DCS may launch and look for hooks prior to the Steam processes being ready. Could then result in no VR in DCS or loss of DOF.
  • Only possible if you have set SteamVR to launch on detection of VR programs launching.
Step 5: Launch DCS:    SkateZilla Icon
  • Preferably from the Skate Zilla DCS Launcher or native.
  • DCS Settings:
    • I do NOT recommend using the FULL-SCREEN option in the DCS settings page. This prevents any ALT-TAB ability you may need to use to correct issues.
    • I DO recommend settings LALT-ENTER as soon as you’re in the cockpit, which takes DCS to temporary FULL-SCREEN and stops you from losing your mouse from desktop wandering. Also allows you to ALT-TAB out if you need to.

*** Now I have an issue but restarting SteamVR didn’t fix it…

The following is faster than a complete PC restart unless you really need to walk away for a moment…

  • Exit and stop DCS
  • End SteamVR
  • End Steam (if it’s running)
  • End WMR Portal
  • Check your running processes for any residual SteamVR elements.
    Check for them and End them all in the CTRl-ALT-DELETE window.

    • Steam Server
    • Steam Helpers
    • Steam Web stuff
    • Steam Compositor

PGSS – Pretty Good Seat Shaker (DIY)

When I first joined the 231st Harrier Squadron as a part of JTF-1 (then CSG-1) – I was bombarded with – “If you’re VR, you have to get seat shakers! They are as immersive as VR, all over again.” 20 minutes of explanation later, links to the equipment on Amazon – I was on my way!

I hope you enjoy the added experience and immersion as much as I do!

  • Everything you need to get started is here.
    Take your time.
    Be neat in your cabling.
    Enjoy the results and immersion you add to your VR experience!

What is this?

Briefly, seat shakers are transducers added to your chair, desk, controls that along with a finely crafted piece of software, take the mechanical and aerodynamic movements of your jet in DCS and supply tuned frequency vibrations to your chair. This is NOT pumping the sound of your sim through your seat, that would not have the desired effect.

  • When control surfaces move, you feel it.
  • When gear moves and locks you feel it.
  • When your speed-brake extends, you feel it.
  • When you taxi over bumps and expansion joints, you feel them.
  • When you land, eject, get hit by a missile, break your jet, fly too fast, too slow, launch weapons, yes – you feel it.

EXAMPLE Jet Events for the AV-8B-NA in DCS and SettingsPGSS_Jet_Settings

I sourced this material from various places on the ED Forums and from my fellow pilots in the 231st. This is a consolidation of what I have learned and am sharing for your benefit.


What do you need?
  • Dedicated Sound Out
    • Cannot be shared with your headset, desktop sound out to speakers, etc.
      • Again, this is NOT taking game sound and vibrating your chair.
      • You “could” use Voicemeeter Banana, but I don’t recommend that unless you already know how to use it and have experience.
    • Preferably a Sub Out on a sound card or similar. Can be a USB sound device (EX: BlasterX G1), the Sound Device on your motherboard (provided you aren’t using it for anything else), a new simple sound card in an available slot.
  • Transducers (at least 2, maybe more)
  • An Amp capable of driving the 2 or more transducers
    • You may have an extra stereo amp hanging around, headphone amp, whatever the math works out to be on ohms and power required.
      Your call. Recommendations listed below.
  • Various Cables to hook the PC sound out to the Amp and Transducers to the Amp.
  • Screws to mount the transducers to your chair.
  • A chair that is suitable for modifying.
    • Accepting screws, allowing for cable management, etc.
    • This is where your imagination and fabrication skills get to have some fun.

What are the parts?

I’m not going into all of the permutations or options you can have with this setup. This guide is just to get you going, and you can plan, tune, upgrade as you desire once it’s up and running.

Your implementation will be custom, as every Rig is different, you have varying degrees of available sound cards, etc. This is a LOT more simply done that you will think while looking at the list. Really is VERY simple.

Typical Hardware Listing
  • At least (2) Transducers
  • OPTIONAL: (2) Additional smaller Transducers if you want on-the-throttle and on-the-stick shakers.
  • OPTIONAL: (2) Small Sub-Woofer External Amp(s) instead of one, depending on the number of transducers you are driving. (4+) Transducers, you may want one Amp per side or grouping.
  • You can have as many as 6 channels (5.1) with the software. As many transducers as you want to power and wire. I would NOT start with this though.
  • Cable: 3.5mm cable to 3.5mm, or 3.5mm to Stereo RCA, depending on your amp
  • Various Cable Extensions depending on locations of devices
  • Power Strip
  • 5mm Audio Extension (if needed)
  • RCA Extension (if needed)
  • Speaker Wire
    Lamp Cord will work just as well. Seriously. Physics works folks.
    No Monster Cable required, save your pennies for more toys.
  • Zip Ties
  • Screws
  • Available nearby power for your Amp(s)
  • OPTIONAL: Headphone 4-Channel Amp if you want to run multiple Amps and split and control the output for L/R and/or Seat/Stick shakers.

Software

Start with Andre’s Blog  <<<LINK

(Both of the following applications are required for DCS and DIY SimShakers)


Other Guides and Info

PGSS HARDWARE COMPONENTS


Example Setup

I sourced these from the Internet and from SNACKO on the ED Forums.
https://forums.eagle.ru/showpost.php?p=3080963&postcount=1

exp1exp2exp3

Process Lasso – Simple First Tune

This initial setup for Process Lasso will help with the most common tuning issue facing DCS VR Pilots running SteamVR

Keeping DCS and SteamVR process on separate cores will eliminate some types of stutter and drag for VR users.

[CLICK HERE for a deeper dive video]

This does NOT apply to Oculus Rift users.
The Rift processes do not react well to Core restrictions and appear to manage to keep away from busy cores on their own.

CPU Core Binding Goals
  • Lock DCS to specific cores for on-going process management.
  • Ensure the VR process keep away from DCS when running.
  • Setup DCS to later ensure other windows processes do not impede either of those critical process groups.

Processes Initial Focus
  • DCS.exe
  • (Steam) VR Compositor
  • (Steam) VR Server.exe
  • Other Steam Services
Cores
  • A (6) Core CPU running Hyperthreading shows (12) Cores.
  • Core 0 & 1 being Physical Core 0 and it’s Virtual Core 1.
  • All even cores are physical, all odd cores are virtual.
Enabling

Decide which two Cores to lock DCS into.

If you choose the top two Cores to lock DCS.EXE to, with Hyperthreading on, you would select Cores (8-9) (10-11).

To keep Steam processing away from DCS.exe, you would make those cores not available to the steam process. Simply by checking the boxes for all Cores and unchecking the boxes for (8-9) and (10-11).

  • The best way to do this is to run the applications/SteamVR and DCS in VR mode.
  • Run Process Lasso and find the processes noted above.
  • Right-click on the process and select “CPU Affinity/Always/Select CPU Affinity”.
  • Then walk through locking the process in or out of your chosen schema.

Moving from Oculus to Reverb

Components for an Oculus Pilot Converting to Reverb
Components you MUST have installed!

“What do I need to make the Reverb work?”
A good question and a valid concern for pilots switching from an Oculus Device to a Windows Mixed Reality device such as the Reverb.

Core Software Components
  • Windows Mixed Reality Portal
  • Windows Mixed Reality for SteamVR
    • Available in the Steam Store.   <<<LINK
    • Highly recommend the BETA version of this important component.
      • Without the Beta version, you won’t get the native resolution for the Reverb at 100% or advanced Reprojection Beta.
    • Install the WMR for SteamVR, then enable the Beta version by Right-Clicking on the App name in your library.
    • Select PROPERTIES
    • Then enable via the BETAS tab.
    • wmr2wmr1
  • SteamVR

These core components will get you started on the setup and tuning to follow.
Additional tools and utilities will be called out as needed in the Initial Settings Section.

Tuning Videos – DIY

[WIP!]
These creators and their videos are referred to over and over.
Helpful, on-point, and understandable.

Though these videos may be citing a specific CPU or GPU, they are great guides for learning to tune in general. They make it easy to take what you learn and apply the steps to your current Rig.

Beginner Grade – No Fear!


If you have favorite videos or creators you’ve found to be most helpful in this journey, leave comments or feedback. I’ll review each one and add it to the list as needed!


Windows OS Tuning


Tuning & Recording in DCS


Intel Overclocking


GPU Overclocking
  • PASCAL

Process Lasso


  •  

Rig Tuning Tools List

There are many ways to accomplish what these tools can, though I’ve found these get down to the core of the need in a focused manner and perform quite well.

The following are extremely helpful in tuning the Rig, setting up for success, and squeezing every ounce of power out of the investment and into DCS.

GPU Graphics Benchmarking
CPU Benchmarking
CPU/GPU Info and Compare
Overclocking
USB Management & Clean-up
  • USB DView
    • USB info, device removal, reset, fixer of USB evil.
Network Tuning & Management
  • CFosspeed
    • Network optimization, traffic shaping.
      Only for your LAN, doesn’t fix your ISP connection issues.
OS Tuning & Management
  • Process Lasso
    • CPU Core assignment by process, real-time process management, OS performance enhancement.
Anti-Virus
  • Kaspersky
    • Lowest process load and overhead on a gaming Rig, with the best protection.
    • Bad press over the last two years, still the best for Rig purposes.
Cloud Connection Management
  • ExpanDrive
    • Manage connections to cloud resources and connect only when you need.
    • Significant reduction in connection clogging and services related performance loss.

Game Rig Tuning “Non-Techie”

[WIP – Graphics to Follow Shortly]
Tuning your Game Rig means optimizing the money you’ve already spent to get the performance you need.

Some simple steps with excellent videos from the community can get you higher frame rates, better frametimes, and an overall a much smoother in-flight experience. Smooth is the name of the game, FPS won’t do much for you if you can’t sustain it for the fight.

Basic OS Tuning

Windows 10 contains a huge amount of overhead in the form of processes you aren’t using. Every bit of this adds to the opportunity for lag, reduced resources for DCS, and a guaranteed less than optimal experience.

Overclocking

Tools today make it easy to get at least some additional performance out of your hardware with minimal risk, maximum reward.

Network Management

This will affect your performance greatly in a multi-player environment. Even in the single-player environment, Network services (cloud connections, backups, poor connections) will drag your Rig and produce jitter, frame lag, or worse.

This guide assumes you are running a dedicated gaming rig. As such you’ll need to take heed of some of the processing being turned off, in case you do use them for other than gaming purposes. But probably not…


Step 1: Benchmarking

You need to know where you are in some measure to understand what effect your tuning is having, and where tuning may be most effective for your situation.

Have some paper and a pen handy to jot down the results of your Benchmark runs.
You think you’ll remember, but you won’t. Each run should have some notes about what was adjusted and to what degree. Nothing fancy, just enough for you to remember what changed and what the result was for the effort.

Create a folder in a directory you can find, where you will store screenshots of your results.
These will be produced by the benchmark software or by you taking screenshots with the Snipping Tool provided in Windows 10.


Graphics Benchmarking Tools

One of the easiest to use is by UNIGINE and their tool called Heaven.
This tool will exercise your Rig and show the stress it’s capable os sustaining for your GPU performance. Note that this is greater than the stress DCS will place on your system, but as it’s DX11 based (as is DCS at the moment) it gives an accurate representation of capability in-game.

Run the utility.
When the menu appears select EXTREME.
Once the screen begins to move about, press F9 to start the Benchmark run.
As the Benchmark starts to run, touch nothing! Let it run to the end.
When complete, you can save the results or take your own screenshot for a later compare.
**Ensure you’ve turned off any screen savers and stopped any other applications. It takes a while to run and shows you remaining scenes to completion.

As VR takes a heavier toll on your Rig, it can also become a relative performance gauge once you have some experience in VR and in performance tuning.

Advanced: Unigine Superposition. Includes VR specific tests.


Step 2: Windows 10 Tuning and Optimization

Simply reducing the background process and services Microsoft has imbedded into Windows 10 will get you more FPS, better FrameTimes, and add significant smoothness to your flying. These changes are well worth your time and effort as overclocking alone will make only make the vampire process faster!

We’re in luck here!
Bryan B. @ TechYESCity has a couple of great videos for easy tuning of your Windows OS. Follow his guidance carefully, you’ll find more power with no risk in his approach.

Windows 10 Tuning Videos

I recommend running these in order.
The first video is for those of you who have not yet upgraded to Windows 10 1903.
The second video is for Windows 1903 and up.
Watch them both if you like, there is overlap, but also added tunes in each video.

Windows 10 1803 OPTIMIZATION Guide For GAMERS & POWER USERS!


How To SPEED up Windows 10 1903

 

How do I know which version of Windows 10 I have?
  • Click the GEAR for Windows Settings
  • Click SYSTEM
    Windows Settings
  • Scroll down and click ABOUT
    ABOUT Windows Settings
  • Scroll down a bit until you see Windows Specifications and the info you need.Windows Version

 

 

STEP 3: CPU Management and Overclocking

Your CPU is half of the FrameTime optimization equation.
If you’ve read through the Reverb Setup section, you know that FrameTime gets you the best measure of performance and indication of smoothness in play. CPU overclocking is half of that critical performance indication.

While you may want to use your Rig’s BIOS tuning utilities for overclocking, that may be more technical than some of you want to manage. INTEL offers an all-in-one tool that allows you fairly deep tuning capabilities with less technical (though some) knowledge.

If you want to continue with your motherboard BIOS tuning capabilities, I recommend you search YouTube for videos detailing your Motherboard Model/CPU combo. There is a video out there showing you overclocking for every combination.

CPU Overclocking Utility

Intel offers the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility.
Allowing you to overclock without the need to enter your BIOS for extreme changes.
This tool allows you to get the best performance of your CPU, benchmark the changes, create Profiles for specific applications (DCS.exe for one), and run automatically as the application is launched. Using profiles allows you to step up the speed and overclocking of your Rig at the time you need it, and not be running hot all the time when you don’t.

(WIP – SETUP and GRAPHIC TBD)