Jump to content
The simFlight Network Forums

Serial port issues


Recommended Posts

I've got both PFC fixed wing and Flight Link rotary controllers. These units are fairly old and are still using serial connections in some

of their setups. So while the PFC yoke and F/L G-Stick are USB connected, the pedals and throttles are still serial thru connections.

In going through a function assignment process in FSUIPC today, I'm experiencing issues with reading of those axes that are using

serial connections. Paul Johnson, very knowledgeable and patient guy, spent 2 hours on the phone with me today going through the

setup. Prior, I was getting phantom inputs on the F/L rudders and erratic numbers in raw data through FSUIPC. Paul suggested I use this

program to do assignments rather than the basic FSX platform, and when we encountered this issue, he further thought I should post about

it here.

So I guess the basic questions are, is there a software utility that can address the serial connectivity issue within FSUIPC, or should I consider

converting those serial devices to USB? Any suggestions or assistance would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Alan Aronoff

CYUL

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've got both PFC fixed wing and Flight Link rotary controllers. These units are fairly old and are still using serial connections in some

of their setups. So while the PFC yoke and F/L G-Stick are USB connected, the pedals and throttles are still serial thru connections.

In going through a function assignment process in FSUIPC today, I'm experiencing issues with reading of those axes that are using

serial connections.

How is the serial connection working through ot FSUIPC? FSUIPC only reads proper Windows-recognised joystick axes. All others need their own specific drivers.

So I guess the basic questions are, is there a software utility that can address the serial connectivity issue within FSUIPC, or should I consider

converting those serial devices to USB? Any suggestions or assistance would be appreciated.

There's no "serial connectivity issue within FSUIPC" because FSUIPC doesn't support any serial devices as it stands. The only way you'd get a serial device to interface to FSUIPC is through other software, or perhaps a Lua plug-in. So what are you actually using?

Regards

Pete

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Pete: Alan has one USB device hooked to X & Y yoke axes, but as we went along it became plain that all other connectivity was either direct serial, or USB through one of the mickey-mouse serial-usb converters (which don't work).

He's building up what will be a fairly complex airliner-style flight deck ( not there yet), and some of our time was spent moving from the pretty "Windows 7 for Dummies" interface over to an XP-style interface, where he could access the .ini, fsx.cfg and the standard.xml files, etc. The serial/USB issues only cropped up after we successfully recognised the USB X & Y axes and then ploughed into a serial rudder and throttle. There's a second controller setup (for heli's) that we looked at, but it has a "converter" on it, and, although lots of "in-out" activity - it wouldn't work either, so we abandoned the endeavour altogether, and Alan is now waiting for his new GoFlight unit to arrive. We did, however cover the processes of profile creation, axes input and calibration, and buttons/swithes inputs, so he should be all set for when the new http://www.goflighti...-ultimate-pilot arrives.

I was pretty sure that serial interface was not supported, Pete, but whether FSX or FSUIPC - I wasn't sure - only remembering something about serial not working some eight years ago, but now being too old to go back that far.... :)

Thanks,

pj

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Pete: Alan has one USB device hooked to X & Y yoke axes, but as we went along it became plain that all other connectivity was either direct serial, or USB through one of the mickey-mouse serial-usb converters (which don't work).

Some cheap USB-Serial converters are okay, but many are unreliable. I use BrainBoxes serial port cards. You can get them in PCI or PCI-Express format, and they work very well indeed. But whatever you use, the devices are still serial port devices. All the USB connection is doing in these cases is emulating a new COM port.

I was pretty sure that serial interface was not supported, Pete, but whether FSX or FSUIPC - I wasn't sure - only remembering something about serial not working some eight years ago, but now being too old to go back that far.... :)

There's absolutely no reason that a serial interface won't work except for lack of software that understands the particular device! Unlike standard "joystick" devices, which have to abide by a particular protocol to be recognised as such, serial port devices all do their own thing at the whim of the hardware or firmware designer. There's no doubt that your serial devices will work with the correct driver, made specifically to understand what they send to the PC. I don't understand how the devices were acquired without their driving software, but I would have thought the first step would have been to search for such drivers if you have a clear identifier and make for the devices.

What i don't understand, from what's been said here so far, is how he got anything from the serial devices recognised at all without some software installed to read them. Looking back, he said

I'm experiencing issues with reading of those axes that are using

serial connections. Paul Johnson, very knowledgeable and patient guy, spent 2 hours on the phone with me today going through the

setup. Prior, I was getting phantom inputs on the F/L rudders and erratic numbers in raw data through FSUIPC

So, how on Earth were ANY values at all getting into FSUIPC from the serial devices? You must surely have had some software reading those devices!

Regards

Pete

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He may have, as he has been using the existing components, but having lots of problems, hence his earlier posting on Avsim http://forum.avsim.net/topic/381125-flight-controls-gone-haywire/ - but it didn't come up in the conversation, and my experience with serial ports has been solely using laptops to connect to servers in a past life... I'm not aware of any serial driver interface to FSX, as everything nowadays uses USB2 or 3.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not aware of any serial driver interface to FSX, as everything nowadays uses USB2 or 3.

There's never been any possiiblity of a "generic" serial port interface in any case, as there has never been a standard for such devices to follow. The same could apply to USB devices too. There are certain laid-down standards for USB devices to adhere to if they are to be recognised without their own specialised drivers. These classify USB devices into things like storage devices (USB sticks and hard disks) and HIDs (Human Interface Devices) of which Keyboards , Mice and Joysticks are standard, but others may do their own thing (like GoFlight devices other than their throttle quadrants).

FSX merely uses the standard Windows drivers for keyboard, mouse and joysticks. A serial port driver can make serial port devices look like one of those, but it would be specific to that device. The Windows drivers for known types of USB devices can be generic only because the defined standards for those devices lay down strict rules. That never was the case for serial port devices in general.

Pete

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pete,

Allow me to clarify a bit. I have the PFC drivers installed and those devices were seen in FSUIPC when I used the PFC specific setup routine available through the FSX addons menu option. I also believe that the serial connections might have been causing the phantom spiking that your program detected, and was evidenced by the involuntary inputs to the other devices in FSX, specifically in this case helo rudders moving without any input from the HID.. The Flight Link rig seems to use standard MS drivers as there's nothing specific from them available in that regard. The serial devices (pedal/throttle box in the PFC rig) are conneted directly to a serial port on the PC. The pedals/collective on the Flight Link rig are connected THROUGH the Flight Link G-Stick housing and that housing is connected via USB to the PC. I am NOT using any external serial/USB converter plugs. Tried that a few years back with no joy..they just don't work in this setup. I just received the following today from Flight Link.....

Thank you for your question. The pedals and collective are not "serial" but they connect directly to the G-Stick USB controller on the G-Stick itself via the two db15 connectors and cables. I've included a document that describes how to setup the units using Windows Game Controllers and how the small dip switches on the G-Stick should be configured. With the controls you own and fully connected, dip switches 1-5 should be in the "down" position and dip switch 6 should be in the "up" position. The dip switches are very delicate so please be careful when trying to move them.

We can sell you usb controllers for the pedals and the collective. They are $50 each. Once installed, you will most likely not experience a better signal in the software than connecting them with the DB15 cables to the G-Stick as they are currently configured. The pedals and collective use similar potentiometers and the signals are the same whether coming through their own controller or through the G-Stick controller.

If I use the Windows joystick setup routine, and further the one resident in FSX, I am able to assign functions to the device. But the whole purpose of this exercise is to bypass that and program all devices via FSUIPC. I'm concentrating on the G-Stick III currently and was able to program the stick buttons/hat switch via FSUIPC..no problem there. BUT..I can't seem to get the pedals and collective to be seen by FSUIPC when all settings in the FSX.cfg file were cleared out as per the exercise conducted yesterday with Paul.

I am awaiting a GoFlight Ultimate Pilot rig which is why we didn't even attempt to play with the PFC devices yesterday. The PFC throttle/trim/gear unit will disappear to be replaced by the GoFlight. I've downloaded their driver file and will get to it when the equipment arrives and is ready for installation.

All this having been said, I'm simply looking for a soultion whereby all devices will be seen and able to be programmed through FSUIPC. Do you believe that converting the db15 connectors to USB on the Flight Link will help?

Alan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Allow me to clarify a bit. I have the PFC drivers installed and those devices were seen in FSUIPC when I used the PFC specific setup routine available through the FSX addons menu option.

Aha! Not any old serial port devices, then, but PFC digital protocol devices! That's a completely different matter. The PFC driver is interpreting the serial data.

I also believe that the serial connections might have been causing the phantom spiking that your program detected, and was evidenced by the involuntary inputs to the other devices in FSX, specifically in this case helo rudders moving without any input from the HID.

Hmm. I don't know of any way you can get cross-interference from separate devices, and especially separate devices with separate drivers, UNLESS there's some mlutiple assignments going on, possibly ones you aren't aware of. Pretty much all cases like that have been down to such a mix up.

The Flight Link rig seems to use standard MS drivers as there's nothing specific from them available in that regard. The serial devices (pedal/throttle box in the PFC rig) are conneted directly to a serial port on the PC. The pedals/collective on the Flight Link rig are connected THROUGH the Flight Link G-Stick housing and that housing is connected via USB to the PC. I am NOT using any external serial/USB converter plugs.

Again, that is nothing like you seemed to describe earlier. The device is evidently a bona fide USB joystick type device as far as Windows is concerned.

If I use the Windows joystick setup routine, and further the one resident in FSX, I am able to assign functions to the device. But the whole purpose of this exercise is to bypass that and program all devices via FSUIPC.

That's okay, but FSUIPC is reading them via the Windows joystick driver, so they need setting up correctly there first. All FSUIPC would be doing is handling assignments and final calibration instead of letting FSX do that.

I'm concentrating on the G-Stick III currently and was able to program the stick buttons/hat switch via FSUIPC..no problem there. BUT..I can't seem to get the pedals and collective to be seen by FSUIPC when all settings in the FSX.cfg file were cleared out as per the exercise conducted yesterday with Paul.

Sorry, now it gets confusing again. Are you saying you CAN set up the FlightLink devices via Windows and you can assign them in FSX, but not in FSUIPC? That makes no sense as FSUIPC is using the exact same Windows functions as FSX -- UNLESS Windows is assigning them a joystick ID or more than 15. FSUIPC can only handle joystick devices 0 to 15. But, since Windows assigns these IDs sequentially according to the number connected, I cannot imagine that number being exceeded. I've never known it happen.

All this having been said, I'm simply looking for a soultion whereby all devices will be seen and able to be programmed through FSUIPC. Do you believe that converting the db15 connectors to USB on the Flight Link will help?

How can you do that when it is already USB? If you bypass the FlightLink device which is making it look like a joystick what will it look like? What will recognise it?

But HOLD ON. "DB15"? Do you mean Game Port? That's not a normal serial device at all -- serial COM ports are DB25 or DB9. The DB15 connector is the classic Game Port device. You might just need a USB Game Port adapter! (Game Ports disappeared from most PCs before Serial ports did -- though there are still some motherboards with a Game Port header present. If yours has one you can just get a Game Port socket to mount on the rear and connect it to the header. But take care. real Game Ports may still be recognised as joysticks under Windows XP, or not. Less sure still about Windows 7.

Regards

Pete

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmm. I don't know of any way you can get cross-interference from separate devices, and especially separate devices with separate drivers, UNLESS there's some mlutiple assignments going on, possibly ones you aren't aware of. Pretty much all cases like that have been down to such a mix up.

That's why Paul suggested we clear out all assignments from the fsx.cfg file and do a "virgin" setup within FSUIPC.

Again, that is nothing like you seemed to describe earlier. The device is evidently a bona fide USB joystick type device as far as Windows is concerned.

Sorry for any confusion. It would seem, then, that we're not sdealing with "classic" serial inputs but rather GAME inputs. The PFC throttle/pedals are connected directly to the back of the PC through what I would imagine then is a gameport.

That's okay, but FSUIPC is reading them via the Windows joystick driver, so they need setting up correctly there first. All FSUIPC would be doing is handling assignments and final calibration instead of letting FSX do that.

Are you then suggesting all devices be calibrated first through Windows Control Panel before I mess with FSUIPC?

Sorry, now it gets confusing again. Are you saying you CAN set up the FlightLink devices via Windows and you can assign them in FSX, but not in FSUIPC? That makes no sense as FSUIPC is using the exact same Windows functions as FSX -- UNLESS Windows is assigning them a joystick ID or more than 15. FSUIPC can only handle joystick devices 0 to 15. But, since Windows assigns these IDs sequentially according to the number connected, I cannot imagine that number being exceeded. I've never known it happen.

Prior to clearing out the fsx.cfg, ALL devices were set up through the FSX internal routine. Everything worked fine. Calibration routines were normal. The only issue I encountered was that phantom spiking I reported on the Avsim forum.

I certainly don't have more than 15 joystick devices so I doubt that's the issue. I've just gone back to FSX and opened up FSUIPC. Now we're on to the axes section as the buttons were successfully assigned yesterday. It seems that the collective and pedals are now visible through FSUIPC in that I'm getting values when those units are moved. Might be time for another quick call with Paul on how to actually get them to function in FS. School is fun!! I'll get back with more info on the progress.

Thanks,

Alan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's why Paul suggested we clear out all assignments from the fsx.cfg file and do a "virgin" setup within FSUIPC.

"Clearing out" the FSX.CFG isn't really the answer. FSX makes default assignments, drawing them from a set of "defaults" files. The only sure way to prevent assignments in FSX is to use the settings dialogue option to disable controllers. It was the same in FS9.

Sorry for any confusion. It would seem, then, that we're not sdealing with "classic" serial inputs but rather GAME inputs. The PFC throttle/pedals are connected directly to the back of the PC through what I would imagine then is a gameport.

No! More confusion! :sad: The D15 plug would be a game port plug, and that is on your FlightLink device, you said. If you are using my PFC driver with the PFC device then it is most certainly a serial port device!

Are you then suggesting all devices be calibrated first through Windows Control Panel before I mess with FSUIPC?

Yes, definitely ... for ALL devices handled by Windows drivers -- otherwise you start off with bad values. FSUIPC and FSX both read joysticks through the Windows drivers!!!!

This doesn't apply to the serial-connected PFC devices because they are NOT handled by Windows drivers in any case, only by my PFC driver.

I'll get back with more info on the progress.

After today I'm away till Tuesday 7th August.

Regards

Pete

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Understood Pete. Seems clear now. Just re-did the FlightLink stuff and all is working OK

One more thing about the PFC rig. With the GF equipment coming, I'll be removing the throttle unit. The Cirrus pedals connect either through that or into the back of the PC.

Would you suggest I change the pedals to USB? I'd need to buy a new unit as PFC informs me the current one is not convertible.

Thanks to Paul and you for all the input.

Alan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One more thing about the PFC rig. With the GF equipment coming, I'll be removing the throttle unit.

I'm rather surprised you'd prefer the cheaper less professional feel of a GF throttle unit to the superior quality of the PFC one.

The Cirrus pedals connect either through that or into the back of the PC.

Not easily. I think it looks like a Game Port (so you'd need an adapter in any case), but I'm not sure it is directly compatible without some rewiring in the plug.

Would you suggest I change the pedals to USB?

I'd suggest keeping the FC throttle unit.

I'm away now till next Tuesday (7th).

Regards

Pete

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use. Guidelines Privacy Policy We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.