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FSUIPC PFC Random Input - Need Assistance


Knox1423
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Good evening!

I apologize if this is not the correct place for this type of troubleshooting question, but I'm hoping someone can help provide clarity with my situation. I will also note that I'm very new to this type of hardware and community.

I acquired a PFC Cirrus II P.C.A.T.D. flight control console and rudder controls a few days ago and have been attempting to get it up and running. It's a model that was manufactured somewhere in the late 90's or early 00's, but I'm not exactly sure when. The only ports on the rear are serial COM ports - one for UCI (computer), rudder controls, and avionics. It lacked the original power adapter and serial cables for use. I ordered a new power adapter (confirmed by the manufacturer PFC to work), as well as a DB15 cable for the rudder controls and DB9 to USB-A cable to connect to my computer. I'm using a fairly new Windows 10 computer and wanted to use this control console with MSFS (2020).

I installed FSUIPC and the PFC DLL files for compatibility and got the program up and running with MSFS. Once the game opened, it launched the hardware checker and confirmed everything on the console itself was good, but noted it could not detect the rudder controls (they were already plugged up to the console). This was fine at the moment as I just wanted to test out the yoke and throttle controls first to make sure those were working. I navigated over to FSUIPC, then to the PFC Add-On. I went to the Flight Controls tab for configuration, and noticed the Aileron input was changing without me moving the yoke. When I checked the throttle controls, two of them were jumping between inputs as well. I went through every calibration tab, enabled the appropriate column for which I had control (e.g. yoke, throttle, cowl flaps, etc.) and  tried testing/calibrating. None of them seemed to work though; the only input being shown was the random input number changes that wasn't me.

So far I've checked the cable connections, tried a similar but different power source, swapped the Ethernet yoke/quadrant connections on the internal board (in case they were inserted reversed, played around with the COM port settings on Windows 10 Device Manager, and a handful of other things that aren't coming to mind at the moment. I'm consider myself fairly technically savvy, but the combination of older hardware and layers of applications for compatibility is starting to go over my head as I've tried most solutions I would've believe to work. I can provide any additional information if needed, and have screenshot of the tabs where the inputs are changing, but the forum uploader noted they were too big to add.

Any assistance would be very much appreciated.

Thank you!

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25 minutes ago, Knox1423 said:

I apologize if this is not the correct place for this type of troubleshooting question

As your question is on MSFS / FSUIPC7, you should use the dedicated sub-forum for this - I have moved your post for you.

First, can you check your MSFS assignments and make sure that you don't have any axes assigned there.

Did you have an aircraft loaded and ready-to-fly before attempting to assign or calibrate your axis?

Unfortunately I don't have any PFC devices and am not familiar with the PFC driver and assignments using that. Maybe @Pete Dowsonwill be able to help...

John

 

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1 hour ago, Knox1423 said:

I navigated over to FSUIPC, then to the PFC Add-On. I went to the Flight Controls tab for configuration, and noticed the Aileron input was changing without me moving the yoke. When I checked the throttle controls, two of them were jumping between inputs as well. I went through every calibration tab, enabled the appropriate column for which I had control (e.g. yoke, throttle, cowl flaps, etc.) and  tried testing/calibrating. None of them seemed to work though; the only input being shown was the random input number changes that wasn't me.

I've not actually ever heard of, or seen, a Cirrus Console which wasn't using the USB (HID) system. That sounds like a very early model which I never knew about. You mention a DB9 to USB connector. Are you sure that's not delivering a true USB signal? Which PFC DLL are you actually using? The PFCcom64.DLL is for the COM/Serial port systems whilst PFChid64.dll is for the later USB/HID devices.

I honestly can't think of anything in the PFC DLLs which would give the results you see, unless it is something silly like the wrong serial speed being set for the COM port. But then I wouldn't really expect the initial checks to pass.

For my PFC gear I always first checked everything with the test and setup program supplied by PFC themselves. Haven't you got that? If not perhaps you could look at whether there's a download facility on the PFC site. If not please do contact PFC Tech support.

Pete

 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, John Dowson said:

As your question is on MSFS / FSUIPC7, you should use the dedicated sub-forum for this - I have moved your post for you.

First, can you check your MSFS assignments and make sure that you don't have any axes assigned there.

Did you have an aircraft loaded and ready-to-fly before attempting to assign or calibrate your axis?

John, thank you for moving it to the appropriate location.

Upon your note about the axes, I created a new preset in-game that removed all axes assigned. After that, I navigated to a fresh plane, and was still encountering the 'ghost' input issues.

1 hour ago, Pete Dowson said:

I've not actually ever heard of, or seen, a Cirrus Console which wasn't using the USB (HID) system. That sounds like a very early model which I never knew about. You mention a DB9 to USB connector. Are you sure that's not delivering a true USB signal? Which PFC DLL are you actually using? The PFCcom64.DLL is for the COM/Serial port systems whilst PFChid64.dll is for the later USB/HID devices.

I honestly can't think of anything in the PFC DLLs which would give the results you see, unless it is something silly like the wrong serial speed being set for the COM port. But then I wouldn't really expect the initial checks to pass.

For my PFC gear I always first checked everything with the test and setup program supplied by PFC themselves. Haven't you got that? If not perhaps you could look at whether there's a download facility on the PFC site. If not please do contact PFC Tech support.

The cable I purchased connects to the DB9 port on the console, and USB 2.0 to the computer. On the computer under Device Manager, the input shows up under the COM-ports drop down menu, and is assigned to COM7, which I selected when the hardware checker popped up upon launching MSFS, after which it checked and gave me the okay for the yoke and throttle quadrant.

I didn't realize it until you noted, but I had BOTH HID and COM files in the FSUIPC folder, so I moved the HID files out. I uninstalled and reinstalled FSUIPC7 just in case, added the COM DLL files back in, launched MSFS, got the 'okay' for the same hardware, but was still receiving the same 'ghost' inputs without my own touch. I've seen notes throughout the documentation I've read (I tried to read every possible doc on the software before sending in the request on the forum) that there are some niche issues where the hardware requires 19200 bit speed rather than the standard 9600, and have tried changing that on the port settings (the Speed:xxxxx setting was not shown on the DLL file, so I assumed I could change it in Device Manager), but still experienced the same issues.

I attempted to use the PFC Hardware Calibration and Test GUI, but unless I'm missing something, nothing showed up on there and gave me no indication it recognized applicable hardware. I assumed that might've been maybe the program was designed for the USB/HID model of the console rather than the COM model.

I'm determined to get this hardware to work, and maybe the solution is just something simple that I never thought of. My next thought was maybe trying another cable that connects the console to the computer, but it seems to connect to the PC fine and recognized without an issue; I'm not sure if that could be a factor or not.

 

EDIT --

Here are the links to the cables I purchased for reference:

USB to DB9, https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0758B6MK6/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

DB15 (male) to DB15 (male), https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00O07653K/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Power Adapter, https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GEA8PQA/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Edited by Knox1423
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I reached out their way before I had all the cabling to confirm the power supply would be sufficient and provided some basic information about setup (assigning proper COM ports noting that for the applicable software).

I reached back out in regards to this issue and have not heard back yet. They made a point in their original email though that they really don't support the older hardware anymore, so I'm honestly not holding my breath they're going to be much more help, even though I agree it seems like a hardware issue.

At this point I'm at a standstill unless PFC ends up providing more clarity or I luck into the solution by trial-and-error. I appreciate both your help @Pete Dowson and @John Dowson and will let you know if I hear back or find a solution. 

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Ok, thanks - and yes, please update if you manage to resolve.

One thing though, on this:

On 8/31/2021 at 3:52 PM, Knox1423 said:

there are some niche issues where the hardware requires 19200 bit speed rather than the standard 9600, and have tried changing that on the port settings (the Speed:xxxxx setting was not shown on the DLL file, so I assumed I could change it in Device Manager)

Has the com bit-speed been changed to use that required by the device?  Maybe worth double-checking.

Other than that, good luck and please report back if/when you manage to solve.

John

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Hi,

Maybe I can help you, I have the same hardware then you and it is working perfectly with MSFS2020. Just to make sure you have this console 

2069860154_PFCCirrusII.jpg.9134846a870e5e09c541f4ee65cbaac5.jpg

Using a serial port with the rudder pedals?

First It is not recommended to use a COM/USB converter with the Cirrus II, I had this configuration for about two years and had many problem. You should connect a serial port on your motherboard.

Second you need to have those files in your FSUIPC7 folder:

1889413747_Screenshot2021-09-02105343.thumb.png.b1c7bd610813b7b58bb30606473d03b4.png

Before I continue, I would like to know what plane are you using for testing? Also what Throttle quadrant are you using with the plane?

I am in a rush, but I will be back in a couple of hrs. So please provide the info so I can continue to help

Pierre Nantel

 

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1 hour ago, John Dowson said:

Has the com bit-speed been changed to use that required by the device?  Maybe worth double-checking.

It was set to 9600, and I read that's where it should be. I just remember coming across a note where there's a certain type of PFC module that requires 19200, so I tried that, but defaulted back to 9600 since it didn't change anything.

49 minutes ago, nantelp said:

Hi,

Maybe I can help you, I have the same hardware then you and it is working perfectly with MSFS2020. Just to make sure you have this console 

2069860154_PFCCirrusII.jpg.9134846a870e5e09c541f4ee65cbaac5.jpg

Using a serial port with the rudder pedals?

First It is not recommended to use a COM/USB converter with the Cirrus II, I had this configuration for about two years and had many problem. You should connect a serial port on your motherboard.

Second you need to have those files in your FSUIPC7 folder:

1889413747_Screenshot2021-09-02105343.thumb.png.b1c7bd610813b7b58bb30606473d03b4.png

Before I continue, I would like to know what plane are you using for testing? Also what Throttle quadrant are you using with the plane?

I am in a rush, but I will be back in a couple of hrs. So please provide the info so I can continue to help

Pierre Nantel

 

This is a great lead. I'll go ahead and order a serial ports card for my computer to give that a try and see what I come up with. I'm not at home at the moment but will double-check that I have the correct files later.

During my testing, I tried a number of different planes, just in case. I tried a single-prop, double-prop, and twin-engine jet. I have the same throttle quadrant shown in the picture you attached - 6 levers, 2/2/2, same colors.

I really appreciate the advice, and will update when I get further.

Thank you!

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29 minutes ago, Knox1423 said:

It was set to 9600, and I read that's where it should be. I just remember coming across a note where there's a certain type of PFC module that requires 19200, so I tried that, but defaulted back to 9600 since it didn't change anything.

This is a great lead. I'll go ahead and order a serial ports card for my computer to give that a try and see what I come up with. I'm not at home at the moment but will double-check that I have the correct files later.

During my testing, I tried a number of different planes, just in case. I tried a single-prop, double-prop, and twin-engine jet. I have the same throttle quadrant shown in the picture you attached - 6 levers, 2/2/2, same colors.

I really appreciate the advice, and will update when I get further.

Thank you!

For serial ports I can thoroughly recommend those by Brainboxes. They are more expensive that the majority, but all mine have been superb over many years.

Pete

 

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Hi Again,

For the serial ports question, I use the one on my motherboard at 19200 bit speed. It is important to configure the serial port in window devices manager to be at the same speed.

Before I can help I need to know the following:

Are you able to successfully run the Control Connection check? If you do not have the radio/avionics hardware then the last 3 items in the check should fail, that ok just it continue.

if yes you need to follow those steps:

1- You should start FSUIPC7 and then MSFS2020. You should get this screen showing that FSUIPC is connected to MSFS;

617210473_connectionscreen2021-09-02172540.png.d9ea2cd5a4d03b98160283771835bbee.png

2- In msfs2020 you should select the aircraft and the departure airport and hit FLY and ready to fly (I have loaded the Baron because it fit the quadrant you have) please select the same aircraft.

3- then you should see this screen in FSUIPC . You will only see the PFC option when you have hit ready to fly.

791693889_secondscreen2021-09-02172540.png.6cd57fbe518e7b44537d7622d2493bc2.png

4- If you hit the PFC... you will then see this:

 

1894821684_initialscreen2021-09-02172826.png.75e8d4b0db968448cdcae326dc9d7fa5.png

Make sure you have the correct quadrant selected and the same version of the DLL. Then you have to configure the flight control

1850475245_Flightcontrol2021-09-02172937.png.d6f2d695cc6954ff411d32d4c0fd53f5.png

notice that the ailerons and elevator are not enable, I use FSUIPC7 to define those axis.

Then you need to configure the quadrant (this is done every time you select a new aircraft for the first time because you need to assign the quadrant to the each aircraft. so don't forget to hit assign to the aircraft. 

280365725_Quadrants2021-09-02173041.png.12f5cab619ada8d97e15de8d8b97f5bd.png

 

Then you need to configure the consoles, you do this only once.

1100426876_Consoles2021-09-02173129.png.6e9296f796b0cb5639fa6ccab331d0aa.png

 

if you hit ok, that will close the PFC interface. Go back to MSFS2020, you should see your Throttles, Prop rpm and Mixture moving properly. The Rudder should also work. But the Ailerons and Elevator will not work. 

Do you have the same result.

Pierre Nantel

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Hi,

 

Just to make sure before you go back to MSFS2020 open the assignments menu in FSUIPC7 and go to axis, if you move Throttle1 you should see something like this:

324784255_throaxis2021-09-02194116.thumb.png.d4ea2ced9f88ca3b5d227df2dbc6e794.png  

then do what I did. assign this axis to throttle 1 with send direct to FSUIPC. You will need to do this for Throttle2, then the two Prop RPM and the two mixture. So you use the rescan, move the second arm up and down and assign it to throttle2, and so on Then just use the joystick calibration option for each axis.

1525520376_calibration2021-09-02194715.thumb.png.8cd65250e1ff0681f86cbe0e40d067bf.png

Then you should be good.

note: I am not sure how well you know fsuipc, but in my case I use the profile option. This is why you see the profile specific check in. 

Pierre Nantel

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Hi,

I did found some good information about  how the unit should be connected with other device. (see picture)

 

1402594452_connectiondiagram.jpg.2b7e1bbfca0b541e1efc568e75b3d72e.jpg

 In your original post you say,

On 8/31/2021 at 7:35 AM, Knox1423 said:

swapped the Ethernet yoke/quadrant connections on the internal board

I do not understand this action, there is not internet connection in the unit. The yoke axis are managed by POD's and the rest of the axis and buttons/switches are control by a circuit board. The PCFCom64 interface will allow you to reverse any axis if required.

On 8/31/2021 at 7:35 AM, Knox1423 said:

but noted it could not detect the rudder controls

The rudder should be detect during the connection test and show Okay! in green. Make sure they are plug in the right place.

Finally, just make sure that the Battery master, Alternator (left and Right) & Avionics master switches are ON.

Pierre Nantel 

 

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18 minutes ago, nantelp said:

Hi,

I did found some good information about  how the unit should be connected with other device. (see picture)

 

1402594452_connectiondiagram.jpg.2b7e1bbfca0b541e1efc568e75b3d72e.jpg

 In your original post you say,

I do not understand this action, there is not internet connection in the unit. The yoke axis are managed by POD's and the rest of the axis and buttons/switches are control by a circuit board. The PCFCom64 interface will allow you to reverse any axis if required.

The rudder should be detect during the connection test and show Okay! in green. Make sure they are plug in the right place.

Finally, just make sure that the Battery master, Alternator (left and Right) & Avionics master switches are ON.

Pierre Nantel 

 

Hi Pierre,

I really appreciate all the information you've provided! I'll be trying the setup with a Serial port card on my desktop later today as well as all the other tips provided and will advise if I get any further at that point.

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6 hours ago, nantelp said:

In your original post you say [comment about Ethernet ports for yoke/throttle]

I do not understand this action, there is not internet connection in the unit. The yoke axis are managed by POD's and the rest of the axis and buttons/switches are control by a circuit board. The PCFCom64 interface will allow you to reverse any axis if required.

That was in reference to the guts of the flight console. Under the casing of the console, the throttle and yoke inputs connect to the main board via an Ethernet plug. See the picture attached:

IMG_8972.jpg.b85def1009ba69e9da2193ea1f7f4c4a.jpg

I acquired a new Serial port card for my computer, got it connected and drivers applied, and it recognized the COM ports as well. I started up MSFS with FSUIPC, started a flight with a twin-prop plane, went through the hardware check (again, yoke and throttles recognized and 'okay'd, but rudder pedals not recognized), and experienced the same issue under the Flight Controls tab where the yoke is tested.

I'm concerned it's a hardware issue, because out of curiosity I just unplugged the yoke and throttle from the main board and was still receiving the ghost input on the Flight Controls configurator. Not being well-versed in bread/circuit boards, I'm honestly not sure what to do about it myself. My next thought would be to find someone who's (at least somewhat) familiar with it and see if they can help troubleshoot.

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This is very weird, 

Have you try without the rudder pedals, maybe they are sending weird signals to the main unit. Also in the PCF apps on the main page try to enable the suppress possible interference from non PCF, it might help.

Let me know 

Pierre Nantel 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just wanted to follow-up on this problem.

I essentially never found a solution between days of troubleshooting, contacting PFC for support, and trying all the helpful advise given here. I can't remember if I mentioned this, but there were (2) generic USB gamepad circuit boards included with the flight console (I assume the previous owner planned a future conversion), and in an attempt to get something to work, I resorted to unplugging every connection on the original board and reconnecting onto the USB board. To my surprise, it crossed-over very well, and just took some trial-and-error to get most of it working. Some of the buttons and switches don't work exactly as expected, but I think most of that is due to a lack of axis/slider inputs on the board itself. I was able to get everything working on the console besides the engine switches, flaps switch, and cowl flaps switch. At the moment I still have no rudder control, but will be working through a solution on that later, since I'm pretty troubleshooted-out.

It's recognized by MSFS under the circuit board's name and acts as a standard USB controller. I'm not entirely happy with the current setup, as I would've liked to use the original hardware and all the features on the console, but having 90% of the control and standard USB is a satisfactory alternative.

As I stated before, this obviously isn't much of a 'solution', since it involves a complete re-wire, but it helped in my situation.

Thank you everyone for being so helpful and patient as I've worked through this project.

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All,

   Just noticed this thread, and wanted to comment that I have very similar hardware (PFC Cirrus II, circa 2000 with only serial port input/output), acquired from a government auction from a local community college aviation school (they were selling 3 of their older flight simulators).  With a bit of reading and experimentation, I have been successful with interfacing to MSFS and Pete and John's FSUIPC with the serial port version of the PFC add-on.  As you noted, not everything works perfectly, but am hoping that I can resolve these (minor) issues (such as not able to get the cowl flaps switch to be recognized) via the 'advanced' users capabilities and adding additional scripts (LUA, etc.).

Thanks for posting the cable configuration picture (I hadn't seen that).  We should stay in touch.

George Winski (Fort Collins, Colorado, USA)

Edited by grwinski
getting rid of underlining, and a spelling correction
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