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Evan Reiter

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How-To: Setting up a Networked SimConnect Configuration
« on: July 24, 2014, 04:40:19 pm »
If you have more than one computer, you can "network" the two computers so that utilities running on a secondary machine can "talk to" FSX. For example, you could use a networked setup to run older versions of vPilot or ActiveSky on a different computer than you normally use to fly and control. This is NOT a BVA requirement. I'm posting these instructions simply because I have been asked the question a few times. Attempt this configuration at your own risk!

Note: vPilot 2.0 no longer requires SimConnect to share information between networked computers.

Allowing this to work does require some knowledge of networking. It will also require some definitions:
  • SimConnect: A utility built in to FSX that allows external applications like vPilot and ActiveSky to connect to your simulator.
  • Computer #1 ("FSX Computer"): The machine you'll be using to run FSX.
  • Computer #2 ("Add-Ons Computer"): The machine you'll be using to run ALL third-party add-on applications. Each of the applications on this machine will be networked to "see" the FSX on Computer #1 (the FSX computer).
It is absolutely possible to run FSX on both computers. However, please note that any of the applications running on that computer will "see" the FSX on Computer #1. Networking SimConnect is an "all or nothing" prospect, so ALL applications that use SimConnect will "see" the FSX on Computer #1 once this setup is complete.

I based this guide on my own knowledge of creating this setup. When configuring my setup for the first time, I followed HiFi Technologies' guide, which is specific to ActiveSky. Credit does belong to them for doing the legwork that enabled me to set this up the first time!

Prerequisites
Before beginning, please ensure you have:
  • FSX Deluxe (the standard version does not support this as it does not have the SDK)
  • FSX Service Pack 2 or Acceleration
  • The most updated SDK -- you need the original SDK, then the SP1A update for it, and finally the SDK SP2 update
1. Sharing Folders
You'll need to share three folders on the FSX Computer (#1) so that they are accessible from the Add-Ons Computer (#2). The folders are:
  • Your FSX installation folder (by default, this is: "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Games\Microsoft Flight Simulator X")
  • The "App Data" folder for FSX: "C:\Users\[username]\App Data\Roaming\Microsoft\FSX"
  • The "Microsoft Flight Simulator X Files" folder inside My Documents: "C:\Users\[username]\Documents\Flight Simulator X Files"
Ensure that you give "read" and "write" permissions on the folders. Then, test the configuration by using the Add-Ons Computer (#2) to access the shared directories. If you are using Windows XP in the configuration, edit the "Share Name" of the folders and ensure that the folder names do not exceed 12 characters (do not actually change the folder name on the FSX Computer, just change the name that it appears under when shared.

If you aren't sure how to share folders, you may wish to stop at this point as it only gets more complicated from here!

2. Configuring SimConnect on the FSX Computer
Navigate to the following location: "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Games\Microsoft Flight Simulator X\SDK\SDKCore UtilitiesKit\SimConnect SDK\config". Locate the "SimConnect.xml" and "SimConnect.ini" files, copy them, and place them as follows:

C:\Users\[username]\App Data\Roaming\Microsoft\FSX\SimConnect.xml
C:\Users\[username]\Documents\Flight Simulator X Files\SimConnect.ini

Open the SimConnect.xml file (located in the App Data folder), and make the following changes under the "<!-- Example Global (remote) IPv4 Server Configuration-->" section:
  • Disabled: Change to "False"
  • Address: Enter EITHER the computer name or the physical IP address of that computer (the FSX computer)
    • Note that it appears the IP address tends to work better than the name, and also note that the IP address is your 'internal' network IP address, not your outward-facing IP
    • To find this, open Command Prompt on the FSX Computer, type "ipconfig" and look for the "IPv4 Address" listed under your active internet connection
  • Port: Enter any port; 500 is the standard (you may have to open this port in Windows Firewall)
For me, this looks like:

Code: [Select]
<!-- Example Global (remote) IPv4 Server Configuration-->
  <SimConnect.Comm>
    <Disabled>False</Disabled>
    <Protocol>IPv4</Protocol>
    <Scope>global</Scope>
    <MaxClients>64</MaxClients>
    <Address>192.168.0.15</Address>
    <Port>500</Port>
  </SimConnect.Comm>

Next, open the SimConnect.ini file -- this is the one located in the FSX Computer's Documents\Flight Simulator X files. Ensure it looks like this:

Code: [Select]
[SimConnect]
level=verbose
console=0
;RedirectStdOutToConsole=1
;OutputDebugString=1
;file=c:simconnect%03u.log
;file_next_index=0
;file_max_index=9

3. Installing SimConnect on Add-Ons Computer
Ensure you have the latest SDK. On your FSX Computer, navigate to C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Games\Microsoft Flight Simulator X SDK\SDK\Core Utilities Kit\SimConnect SDK\lib. Copy the file "SimConnect.msi" to the Add-Ons Computer and run it there. This installs SimConnect onto the Add-Ons Computer.

4. Configuring the Add-Ons Computer
On the Add-Ons Computer, create a new .txt file in the "My Documents" folder (NOT the "Flight Simulator X Files" folder -- the file should reside in the main "My Documents" folder). Save the file as "SimConnect.cfg" (ensure to save it as a .cfg file and not a .txt), and put the following contents in the file. They should exactly match the configuration changes made to the SimConnect.xml file that were made on the FSX Computer:

Code: [Select]
[SimConnect]
Protocol=IPv4
Address=192.168.0.15
Port=500
MaxReceiveSize=4096
DisableNagle=0

5. Test the Configuration
Once everything is configured, start FSX on the FSX Computer. Then, install and run Live ATIS on the Add-Ons Computer. If the Live ATIS icon connects to FSX (i.e., turns green), then the configuration is working correctly and SimConnect has been networked. At this point, ANYTHING that you run on the Add-Ons Computer should be connected to the FSX Computer. Even if you happen to run FSX on the Add-Ons Computer, the actual applications on there won't "see" it as they have been re-programmed to look only at the FSX Computer.

In the event that Live ATIS doesn't connect, the most likely issues are:
  • Outdated version of the FSK SDK.
  • Improper networked setup (i.e., shared folders aren't accessible).
  • Incorrect system name or server address configured in the SimConnect.xml or SimConnect.cfg files. If you are using the system name and that's not working, try using the "IPv4" address of the FSX Computer rather than using the name.
  • Firewall blocking networked access between the PCs.
If you do have any trouble, please feel free to post your configuration and questions here. As I mentioned, this is definitely not a BVA requirement and so these instructions are being provided as an add-on service to help you out.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2017, 11:16:19 pm by Evan Reiter »


Evan Reiter
Training Administrator

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Evan Reiter

  • Training Administrator
  • 6265
Re: How-To: Setting up a Networked SimConnect Configuration
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2014, 04:42:44 pm »
I just helped a member set up this configuration between an XP and Windows 7 machine. The XP machine was used for FSX (the "FSX Computer") and Windows 7 was to be used for running all of the add-ons (the "Add-Ons Computer"). In doing so, we discovered two new items to consider if you are using XP in the configuration:
  • When sharing files from the XP computer, make sure the filename is less than 12 characters; otherwise, the file permissions won't set properly. The default folder names that FSX uses exceed 12 characters, so you will have to set the "Share Name" to something different. (Note that you can set the "share name" to something shorter without changing the actual folder name on the computer. Do not change the name of the FSX folders!)
  • It appears that using the IPv4 Address (and not the system name) is a requirement when XP is involved.
These two points have been added to my original post.


Evan Reiter
Training Administrator

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Don Desfosse

  • ATC Instructor
  • 5796
Re: How-To: Setting up a Networked SimConnect Configuration
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2017, 11:09:21 pm »
Note that vPilot v2 no longer uses SimConnect to pass data between networked computers.
Don Desfosse (DO)
Division Director Emeritus, VATUSA
ATM Emeritus, Boston ARTCC

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