Historically, the RealSimGear Add-on and Plugin functioned mostly in the background needing very little input from the user. With the release of Version 184.108.40.206 for FSX/P3D and 220.127.116.11 for X-Plane, the Add-on and Plugin's provide a bit more functionality and control for the user.
NOTE: To make use of the personal selector feature outlined in this guide, the firmware on RealSimGear hardware must be updated to Version 3.1.4 or greater. The firmware update instructions which contain links to the 3.1.4 firmware can be found HERE.
In order to better understand the Add-on/Plugin interface documented below, it is first important to understand a bit about the architecture of the RealSimGear hardware and associated software.
RealSimGear Hardware - This is the actual hardware device and contains custom firmware that generates serial commands that are sent to the RealSimGear Add-on/Plugin via the USB cable which are set as COM ports by the PC operating system.
RealSimGear Add-on/Plugin - This software (the subject of this document) is what translates the serial messages coming from the hardware into something the simulator software can understand, ie SimConnect events for FSX/P3D or X-Plane commands or dataref's using the CommandMapping.ini configuration file.
CommandMapping.ini - This is a configuration file that can reside either in the root of the RealSimGear Add-on/Plugin folder for global configurations, OR can reside in the root of each aircraft folder (if any customization to the mapping is desired). At a high level, this file provides a dictionary of sorts to map incoming serial commands from the hardware to a SimConnect event or X-Plane dataref/command that gets sent to the simulator by the Plugin. A default file is provided by RealSimGear in the installation package, but may be updated by users as necessary.
DeviceMapping.ini - This is a configuration file that resides in the root of the RealSimGear Add-on/Plugin folder. There will be more detail on this file below, but at a high level, this file provides a mapping of hardware devices to COM ports used as well as device persona. This file is automatically created on the first start of the Add-on/Plugin after install and/or when the Rescan button is pressed from the Add-on/Plugin interface.
To install the latest Add-on or Plugin, please visit one of these locations for the instructions and downloads:
Once the Add-on or Plugin is installed, simply start your simulator software (FSX, P3D, or X-Plane 11). The simulator software itself should start the RealSimGear Add-on/Plugin, it is NOT necessary to manually start these.
One of the new features of these versions of the Add-on/Plugin, is a mapping between the hardware and COM port in use. This was done to alleviate some of the COM port conflicts seen when other COM/Serial software was present (notably SimVim). During the first start of the Add-on/Plugin after installation, a scan is performed on all available COM ports in order to identify RealSimGear hardware (this can take a minute or so), and those devices are written to the 'DeviceMapping.ini' file in the root of the Add-on/Plugin folder (more on this file later). NOTE: If you do happen to be using another Add-on/Plugin that makes use of COM ports, please disable this for the first start using the new RealSimGear Add-on/Plugin to allow the RealSimGear Add-on/Plugin to access all ports in order to create the proper mapping. After the initial scan, the RealSimGear Add-on/Plugin simply load what is in the above mentioned file and will not scan ports (unless a Rescan is initiated).
Once the simulator is started and the initial scan is completed, users can access the RealSimGear Add-on/Plugin interface by choosing the following from the simulator menu bars:
FSX-P3D - Add-ons > RealSimGear Device Interface
X-Plane 11 - Plugins > RealSimGear Device Interface > Connected Hardware
Selecting those options will open up the RealSimGear Interface. NOTE: The interface will ONLY show the hardware you have connected to your system. The images below illustrate what it would look like with a good amount of RealSimGear hardware connected and with all devices updated to firmware version 3.1.4 or newer. The selector option will NOT show if using firmware 2.6.4 or older.
This interface provides information about each piece of hardware connected:
Hardware - The name of the hardware connected (some hardware may be listed twice such as the PFD and MFD will both be listed as XFD)
Device Type - These are selector buttons to set the persona of devices with that capability (more on using this below).
By default, G1000, GNS, GTN, and G5 units may have a default persona selected otherwise will show a grey button prior to selection, blue afterwards.
Port - The COM port that the device is connected to and using
Version - The firmware version currently running on that hardware
Message - The serial message being sent by the hardware itself (also corresponds to the information to the left of the "=" sign in CommandMapping.ini
Command - The internal simulator message being sent to the simulator as defined by the SimConnect event (FSX/P3D) or dataref/command (X-Plane 11) to the right of the "=" in CommandMapping.ini
LEDs - A binary representation of the serial string being sent to the hardware which controls which LED's are turned on or off
Also, the title bar also indicates the location from which CommandMapping.ini is loaded. This can either be the GLOBAL version that resides in the root of the RealSimGear Add-on/Plugin folder, or located in the root of the aircraft folder (notated by showing the name of the aircraft).
There are three action buttons available:
Connect - Will cause the Add-on/Plugin to re-read the DeviceMapping.ini and CommandMapping.ini files as well as connect to all the hardware defined in DeviceMapping.ini via the defined COM ports
Disconnect - Will cause the Add-on/Plugin to disconnect from the connected hardware and COM ports
Rescan - Will cause the Add-on/Plugin to do a Disconnect as outlined above, and rescan all available COM ports. The end result of this action is an updated DeviceMapping.ini file with all new hardware shown and all device persona's will be reset to default.
Device Persona Selection
NOTE: For devices to show a personal selector, they must have firmware version 3.1.4 or greater as outlined at the top of this document. Using older firmware, the devices will simply show up and personal management will need to be done using manual CommandMapping.ini changes.
To make a persona change, simply click on the behavior you want that device to mimic (as outlined below). Once selected, the buttons will turn Blue and the new persona will take immediate effect (and be written to the DeviceMapping.ini file).
Example with selections made
G1000 Units (PFD or MFD) - These units will now show up as G1000XFD units and users can select the behavior to either be PFD or MFD and the hardware buttons (not the screens) will send the appropriate commands per the selected persona.
GNS or GTN Units (COM1 or COM2) - Users can now select which virtual COM/NAV stack is controlled by these units. Selecting COM1 will cause the internal COM/NAV1 radios to be controlled, selecting COM2 will cause the internal COM/NAV2 radios to be controlled.
G5 Units (PFD or HSI) - These units will now show up as simply RealSimGear-G5 units and users can select their persona as either PFD or HSI depending on the desired behavior and the hardware will send the appropriate commands per the selected persona.
Other hardware such as GFC, GCU, GMA, and switch panels currently do not support the personal selector, but support for that may be added in the future.