All posts by RaceRay

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"Enthusiastic Sim-Racer from the north of germany. I write here about web development, hardware, software and latest motion simulator technologies."

How to set up SimTools for a dual PC configuration

Here’s a Quick Setup Guide for Dual-PC use of SimTools:

  • Install SimTools on both PC’s.
  • Install the game plugins you want on both PC’s with the SimTools_PluginUpdater.exe
  • Check the IP address of your 2nd PC with ipconfig.exe:

[Windows key]-R → type cmd → on the prompt type ipconfig → read the the ip address
IPConfigXP.jpg

  • Start Game Engine on the 2nd PC.
  • Start Game Manager on the game PC

GameManager1.jpg

  • Game Manager should read “Not Connected”.
  • Click on Tools and an additional Game Manager Tool set will appear.

 

GameManager2.jpg

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  • Click on IP Setting and read and internalise the warning.

Warning.jpg

  • Enter the IP address of the 2nd computer:

IP Address.jpg

  • Click on Save. The IP Setting dialog box will disappear and the Game Manager will now read Connected:

GameManager3.jpg

  • Make the Game Manager Tools disappear by clicking on Tools again.
  • Patch the game on the game PC where also GameManager will run.You can now minimize the Game Manager and run your simulation.
    When everything went alright, the Game Engine on the 2nd PC should receive the telemetry data from the game running on the first computer. Check this by opening the Tuning Center and watch if the Game Data – Input actually receives data.[GARD]

SimTools Quickstart

Quickstart Guide for SimTools!

Guide for SimTools 2 will be updated soon!

Following this, step after step, is a quick way to achieve your first basic functional setup and make your simulator come alive.

For detailed explanation use the complete user guide:
http://www.xsimulator.net/simtools-complete-documentation/

Find a russian translated version at:
http://mal4x.ru/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=379

A LITTLE ABOUT SIMTOOLS

SimTools is designed to be a simple set of tools that work together to get motion simulators up and running as fast as possible while still giving the user all of the customizations and flexibility they may need.

One really cool thing SimTools will allow you to do is  “Live Tuning of Profiles”! Create a profile for a game and then tune the profile to perfection while playing the game!
You don’t have to stop the game to make changes to the profile being used!

A LITTLE ABOUT THIS GUIDE…

Just follow this step-by-step guide from points 1 to 10 and you will make your simulator move accordingly to the default profile! Enjoy!

Requirements

a) Mandatory :

  • Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8
  • Microsoft .NET 4

b) Optional :

  • A second computer connected to your Game computer makes fine tuning very comfortable. But it’s optional.
  • (Directly Connected Network Cards with a crossover cable for best performance!)

Installation To do list

Please follow these all of these steps consecutively:

first: downloads

  1. ATTENTION: Microsoft Dot Net 4.0 is mandatory. So it is required that you start by installing it now http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=17851
  2. Make sure your Windows screen text is set to 100%. (Instructions can be found here)
  3. Install SimTools
  4. Download the Plugins related to your favorites Games which can be found in the resource section.
  5. Do not unzip the plugin files! They are used as is.
  6. As for “Life For Speedtm” this is preset into SimTools, you can download the demo version of Life For Speedtm here: http://www.lfs.net/?page=downloads
  7. You must run the game at least once in order to successfully patch it for Output.

second: SimTools installation in detail

  • Download the latest version [here]
  • Extract and run SimTools
  • The typical installation directory is “C:Program Files (x86)SimTools
  • Select Full Installation if you run only one PC. (If you have a dual-PC setup, you have to run the installation program on both PCs individually. In that case, select GameManager installation on the PC that runs the game; Select GameEngine installation on the PC, the controllers are connected to.)
  • Select Launch GameEngine and Launch GameManager at this point in time prior to clicking Finish on the last screen of the installation routine. This will allow you to become familiar with the application but if you plan to use more games than Life for Speedtm please close both Game Manager and Game Engine before proceeding.
  • You will get now 4 executables: Game Engine, Game Manager, Game PluginUpdater, Uninstall.

Plugin import

  • Check in the System Tray for Game Engine and Game Manager and make sure they are not running. If so please close them before proceeding.
  • Run the GamePlugin Updater.
    Sim Tools Icons
  • This program can be found also in the SimTools directory (most probably C:Program Files(x86)SimTools SimTools_PluginUpdate.exe)
  • Drag&drop the plugin-zipped file into the PluginUpdater. There will be a confirmation if the plugin installed correctly. 
  • If you use a 2 PC setup, Install the plugin on both PC’s
  • Once this is successful, the profile will be available within Game Engine and Game Manager.
  • Close SimTools GamePlugin Updater.

Patching the game

  • Run GameManager and GameEngine Note: If issues arise in patching games right click on the icons and select “Run as Administrator“.
  • If the GamaManager window doesn’t open automatically, double-click on the tray icon for the GameManager to open the GameManager window
  • Select the game you want to play from the Game Selection drop-down list.
  • Press “Patching” to first patch the sim program. Follow the instructions of the individual plugin and then press Patch Game.
  • There should be a confirmation message when the game is patched correctly (“Patch Installed!”).

Successfully Patched a Game

Setting up Simulator axis

a) Definitions

If your simulator is powered by several actuators. Consider that each actuator is seen by Sim Tools as an Axis. SimTools can extract up to 9 telemetry data (“DOF 1” to “DOF 9”) from the games and can handle up to 6 actuators (“Axis1” to “Axis6”).
This step in the tutorial will let you indicate to Sim Tools the data mixing to operate before sending instructions to your simulator’s interface along to your simulator configuration. Some standard configuration is preset: e.g “SimForce GT” is a seat mover with two motors connected to the back of your seat.

b) Setting up the “Default” axis assignments

First, we must define the “Default” settings that we want SimTools to use, later you can customize this.

  • Right-click on the GameEngine tray icon
  • Click on the Axis Assignments button
  • Under Game List drop-down (Axis Assignment 1) select Default

Select Default Axis - Game Engine

 

  • Click on the Axis Assignments second tab
  • Select a preset from the Presets drop-down list for your simulator

Selecting a Preset

The tab automatically switches back to Axis Assignments Tab 1

  • Select Default from the Game List and click on Save Settings

This is a first very basic setup showing just the roll and pitch from the game.

With more experience, you can also add some % of Surge to simulate acceleration and braking or Heave for road bumpiness.

c) Warning

Be sure to set up your “Default” Axis Assignments profile as this becomes the first game profile when you install a new game plugin:

  1. When using Output Testing, the Axis Assignments Profile that is used is the “Default” profile. If you have not set up this profile, you will not get any output.
  2. The “Default” profile is also copied for each new game installed as a starting place for the Axis Assignments for the new game.

Remember:

  • Axis 1 to 6 are the motors of your simulator
  • DOF 1 to 9 are the game data extracted by the plugin

Communicating with the simulator

Sim Tools supports up to 6 different interfaces!

They are selectable in the 6 tabs
Interface 1 – Interface 6.

a) How many interfaces are needed?

For a 2 DOF “SimForceGT”, there is only need for 1 interface if you use an arduino board which is able to drive 2 actuators.

The following steps are only for example purposes and treat the Arduino and JRK interfaces. There are another interface available, e.g. SimAxe or Kangaroo Controller. Look in the forum for more information about it.

Example setup for Arduino:

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Arduino is connected to Windows COM3
SimTools “Interface 1” sends to COM3 the concatenated information of Axis 1 and of Axis 2.

Arduino will dispatch the data sending Axis 1 orders to Actuator 1 and Axis 2 orders to Actuator 2

arduino

Example setup for JRK interface

You need 2 JRK 12v12 boards. Each JRK drives its own actuator

  • JRK1 connected to COM4
  • SimTools “interface 1” sends the information for axis 1 to COM4
  • JRK1 sends commands of axis 1 to actuator 1.
  • JRK2 connected to COM6
  • SimTools “interface 2” sends the information for axis 2 to COM6
  • JRK2 sends commands of axis 2 to actuator 2.

Refer to Eaorobbie’s post here for step by step startupjrk

b) Possible types of interfaces 

Basically, you will use “USB Serial interface” to control your Arduino or JRKs.
(NET interfaces are used for LAN connected interfaces: this is not described in this Quick Starting guide).

Click on the Interface Settings button.

Setting the Interface Output Type

  • Select Interface 1 to set up your first interface.
  • Select the Output Type – typically “SER”

c) JRK Game Engine interface settings

  • If you are using JRK’s select JRK 12bit from the Presets drop-down list. Otherwise, select the correct ComPort settings as provided by your controller manual.
  • Select the ComPort your controller is connected to.

jrk ser1

Click on Save

  • Select Interface 2nd tab
  • Again, select SER and the correct ComPort settings as before with Interface
  • Enter <Axis2> in the Interface – Output!

jrk ser2

Click Save

d) ARDUINO Game Engine interface settings

Interface 1 only:

GE arduino SER

d) SCN5 Game Engine interface settings

Thanks @nclabs

  • Click on Interface Settings, Interface1, Output Type and select SCN.
  • Under ComPort, select one of the COM ports connected to you SCN5 (if you don’t know it, check the Control Panel on Windows, under the COM Port section).
  • Under Packet Rate select 10 ms.
  • Under Assignment Axis, select Axis 1.
  • With the Speed bar, you can adjust the speed of the actuator, select a temporary value of 10.000 (value that you can increase after some testing).
  • With the Acceleration bar you can adjust the acceleration of the actuator, select a temporary value of 500 (same thing here, you can increase it after).
  • Now do the same thing with the Interface2, using the other COM port, and selecting Axis 2 under Assigned Axis (important!).
  • Last thing. Click on Axis Assignment, Axis Limiting and, to any axis connected with a SCN actuator, select a value of 90%. This is very important to preserve your actuator in the long term. Not doing this can lead to mechanical damage.

Moving your Simulator (with mouse controller)

Let’s move your simulator without any game input with simply using your mouse!

Its is recommended to test first manually your simulator before testing any game output.

  1. Plug in your serial connection between your computer and your simulator.
    For example, a USB cable between your computer and your arduino/JRK 12
  2. Game Engine / Output Testing

GE Output1

Click on Turn on
Select Axis Output

Now, choose an Axis and slide gently the slider with your mouse!
As an Axis corresponds to an actuator, you will see the selected actuator moving!
Axis limitation is not active for this testing purpose.

The smoothness depends on the refresh rate (try below 10 ms).

Checking the direction of movements

Now we need to test that the simulator behaves correctly: if the game plugin sends “tilt left”, the simulator has to tilt left and not right!

You can invert the motor wiring … or invert the DOF in the “Axis Assignments”  😉

With the slider, we will manually make sure that it is rolling and pitching in the right directions.

For this example we find

Roll : 100% – Tilts Left
Roll : – 100% – Tilts Right
Pitch : 100% – Tilts Forwards
Pitch : – 100% – Tilts Backwards

We have to follow the coordinate system that is in place in the Sim Tools Plugin API reference – see http://www.xsimulator.net/co-ordinate-system/

We know from that in Virtual Axis when it Tilts Left – Roll is all the way Left
Tilts Right – Roll is all the way Right
Tilts Forward – Pitch is all the way Left
Tilts Backwards – Pitch is all the way Right

Virtual Axis can be found next to the “Axis Testing” tab and can  be turned on by pressing “Turn On”

So to correct to the coord’s we need to invert the Roll and invert the Pitch or our games will not produce the right directions of movement.

Once we have this all set up including Heave, Sway and Surge we can then go on and patch a game and begin to test the motion and fine tune it to your Sim.

Visualizing game´s data extraction

Click on Output Testing.
Don’t connect the motors yet.

  • Click on Virtual Axes and on Turn on.
  • Run the game.

If everything is set-up correctly the sliders should be moving.
You can now see that SimTools can read the Game data!

GE output virtual

Note: If you only want to test the slider movements and don’t have 6 ComPorts, just write
<Axis1><Axis2><Axis3><Axis4><Axis5><Axis6>
into the Interface – Output line.

 

Starting your Simulator

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A) security approach

The first step, the Security approach: in order to preserve your hardware, begin the test by lowering the range and the intensity

  • Via the GameEngine / Axis Assignments / Axis Limiting: reduced to 50%

ge3 50%

  • Via the GameManager, open the “Profile Editor” window in the Game tab / Main settings: put the Main Level to 20% to preserve your actuators

gm5 50%

 

B) The second step, starting the sequence:

  1. Launch Game Engine
  2. Launch Game Manager, select the Game Profile in the drop-down menu
  3. Launch the game, start a race! The playseat comes alive…

C) Increase the levels: 

– Don’t Skip –
Increase the levels until simulator’s movements are satisfying.

For Best Performance, make sure the profiles Main Level is back to 100%. Also make sure that your simulator Axes Limiting are set back to 100% once you are all setup. SCN actuators may want to leave the Axes Limiting at 90% to avoid damage to the actuators rod ends.  

Conclusion

Congratulations, you have now completed the Quick Start Manual!

To learn more

Please refer to Complete Documentation
http://www.xsimulator.net/simtools-complete-documentation

Installing SimTools

Installing SimTools

Downloading SimTools.

 http://www.xsimulator.net/simtools-download/

Installing SimTools for the first time.

Now that we have downloaded SimTools open, the archive  that you have received and then double click the icon to open the file browser in order to install the application.

Now to continue, Double Click SimTools_vx.x.exe in order to start installing it.

Click Next to continue, please read the Licence Agreement and if you agree please check the radio button I accept the agreement then Next.

Next you will be asked to select the destination location, please change if you wish to install SimTools to a different location. The manual uses the default location and you will need to remember this location when we refer to the installation directory.

Once you have selected your destination directory click Next to continue. Ok the next part needs to be considered carefully, options are:

  1. Full Installation – Select this one if you wish to only uses one PC, for example the game and motor controllers or any other peripherals is all running off one PC.
  2. Game Engine Installation – Select this if using two PC’s and should be on the PC that you are running the motor controllers or other peripherals from.
  3. Game Manager Installation – Select this if using two PC’s and should be on the PC that the Games are actually running on.

Once you have selected the components to install, please set the menu name that you wish to appear in the Start menu and click Next.

Next is the option to create a desktop icon (recommended) or to create a Quick Launch icon.

Click Next once you have selected one or both. Then in the Ready to Install you can check on everything you have selected previously and if any changes needed feel free to click “Back” to make any changes necessary.

Once happy with you selections continue to install by clicking Install. SimTools will then install as per your requests. At the end of this there will be another two options that we recommend leaving so one may check the application has successfully installed plus helps to familiarize yourself with the way it is laid out.

Now if using a second PC you will need to follow the above instructions but select 3 if you are now installing SimTools on the game machine, or vice a versa. If you are only planning to playing Live for Speed© you are ready to start setting up your default axis

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Overview of SimTools.

The Game Engine

The Game Engines main task is to drive your simulator from the game values that the Manager is sending. Plus setup and manage any interfaces that you have setup.

Contained in the Game Engine we have a button list on the right hand side as follows:

 

  • Home – This is where a picture of your simulator will be placed, explained in Chapter x. Please refer to this and makes your copy of SimTools personal.
  • Axis Assignments – Here you can setup the axis of the simulator as in how you want the forces to act when everything is running
  • Interface Settings – This will be where you enter the details for setting up the motor controllers, etc. that you will to use with SimTools.
  • Output Testing – Here you will be able to test your interfaces without using a game output. The Default axis settings are used here.
  • Tools – Here is where we can use tools selected for Game Engine to use, clear our home page, Manage our presets and set the priority of the Game Engine.

Game Engine

Game Manager

The Game Managers main task is to patch games and transfer this information to the Game Engine for processing to the Interfaces setup by your settings and for creating game profiles and setting up the of the Game Dash.

The buttons contained in the Game Manager have the following functions:

  • Top bar shows the status of the Game Manager, whether it is connected to the Game Engine or if a game is currently running.
  • Game Selection – Allows you to select a game plugin that you have installed via the Plugin Updater.
  • Profile Selection – As it states you can select the default profile to run when a game starts or a custom profile that you have written in the Profile Editor.
  • Profile Editor – Is where you can build a custom profile that can be selected via the Profile Selection and can be change live while in the game and can be modified while still live in the game selected.
  • Patching – As it name suggests is where you patch a game with the plugins so that Game Manager may send data to the Game Engine.
  • Tools – Here we can select tools that you have setup in order to help you in the Game Manager and also contain the area where you can access the profiles created in the profile editor, so you can copy and send them to someone else to use. Also contains the area where you can drop profiles that you have obtained by someone else all these operations.
  • Dash – Allows you to initiate the Dash out available in certain games as well be able to set an IP address if the dashboard is on another IP Address.

Game Manager

SimTools Game Manager

Game Manager

Checking the State

The game manager has three states that it can be in and is displayed in the top bar as follows:

·         Not Connect – (red) which states that the game manager is not connected to the game engine, normally meaning the game engine is not running, please start the game engine and it will then automatically connect itself.

·         Connected – (green) which states it is connected to the game engine and is ready to go.

·         Game Running– (blue) this states that it has connected successfully with a game plugin and is sending data to the game engine which in turn will be sending data to the interfaces if you have set them correctly. 

These three states help you recognize what process step the Game Manager is in.

Patching a Game for Motion

In order to use the plugins we have previously installed with the SimTools Game Plugin Updater we must patch the game for motion. Here we will just set the game plugin that comes supplied with SimTools before we had installed any other plugins in Resource section on the website with information on the directory you need to select in order to successfully patch the game for motion.

To patch Live for Speedtm we do as follows:

  1.        Open Game Manager from the system tray if not already open.
  2.        Select Live for Speed from the game selection drop box.
  3.        Press Patching.
  4.        Press Edit Path.

 

You will now notice another window open as asks you to select the Live for Speeds installation directory.

patching a game for motion

  1.  Now press Ok to continue.
  2.  In the Browse For Folder window, select the directory you installed Live  for Speedtm.
  3. For example mine was C:\LFS\LFS. On pressing OK the path is  transferred back to the Game Patching Path, if you have selected the  wrong path it will say so too.
  4. Press Patch Game.
  5. You will then be asked to confirm that you want to patch the game  selected.
  6. Press Ok to patch the game for Motion.
  7. Again if successful you will be notified that the patch installed.
  8. Press Ok to finish.

This can now be repeated for each game you have installed via the Plugin Updater.

Patch Installed

Please note if you change the game plugin or update the game plugin you will need to first remove the patch as follows:

  1.  Open Game Manager from the system tray if no already open.
  2. Select Live for Speed from the game selection drop box.
  3. Press Patching.
  4. Press Remove Patch.

Remove a patch from a game

On pressing Remove Patch you will be asked to confirm that you want to Remove the Patch for Motion ‘Live for Speed’? Select Ok to continue. Again a confirmation like below lets you know that the operation was a success. Press Ok to complete this and you will now see that in the Game Patching Path is now not set and the Edit Path button is now selectable.

Now you are free to update the game plugin via the SimTools Game Plugin Updater.

Patch Uninstalled

Make a Custom Game Profile

Once of the nice things that the Game Manager allows us to do is if we have followed all the right instructions in the setting up of the Game Engine, mainly setting up the default profile correctly.

We can now modify the profile without leaving the game. This is best done with the game in a window and the Game Manager open next to it.

With the Game Manager open:

  1. Press Profile Editor.

A new window will pop up and this is where we can create and save custom profiles on the fly.

Profile Editor

You will then notice there is a button box labelled on the top which contains:

  • Main – where you are now and where you can change game quickly and change the Main Level of % to make the Game Motion less overall.
  • Editor – where you can edit each force and save your new profile.
  • More – Is where you can check the details of the plugin and modify the three extra forces the plugin may contain for example Traction Loss.

Main

In this section it is split up into three areas, all serve their own functions, first on the top is a nice banner showing the Game Plugin selected plus in the upper right corner is the name of the people(s) responsible for writing the actual game plugin. A nice way to say thank you. The second area labelled Main Setting is where you can select a game plugin, a quick way of moving through the game plugins that are installed. Press the down arrow and a list of game plugins installed will appear, simply pick the game plugin you want from the list and watch the banner change and now you can work with that one. The Main Level % can be used to lessen the overall movement of the sim. Simply move this slider and the percent will represent the overall used by the Game Engine to drive your simulator. Thirdly the bottom section shows the forces available in the plugin, if your wonder what forces you need to setup in the Axis Assignment this will show you.

 

Editor

Now to actually edit a profile:

 

  1. Press Editor in the top button bar.
  2. Press Copy to copy the default profile and give it a new name.
  3. Press Ok to begin to edit this newly created profile.
  4. Now move the sliders and test in game until you are happy with the motion.

Setting a custom Game Profile

 

Your custom profile is now ready and can be selected on the fly in the front page of the Game Manager. Now for any reason you don’t like this, you simply press Delete and it is removed, on the other hand if it’s just the name you don’t like press Rename and give it a better name.

More

In this panel we can check what is contained within the game plugin. As per the picture below you will notice in the top area named Plugin Information it has:

·         Process Name – This is the name that appears in the process section of the task manager for Windows and if you Game Manager will not patch the game please check here and you can see if the actual game exe name is different, please if this found to be true, report the details to the game plugin creator so he/she may update this for you and any other user in the future. SimTools grows with help of its users.

·         Port Used – is the UDP port that the Game Plugin uses to send the data too, if your data doesn’t seem to be passing to the Tuning Centre and the Game Manager’s status is Blue with Game Running, you may have to exclude this port from your firewall software.

·         The next three check boxes – If checked (orange dot) shows how they obtain their data as well whether they support the Dash Out data for Dashboard Support.

The next three sliders that follow the above information are the Extra Forces that may be available in each game plugin and can be dealt with the same and do save in the editor if you are changing them for the default profile or a custom one you have created. 

Game Manager - More

Selecting the Profile to use in Game

There comes a time when the default motion profile does not suit the car or plane we have change too, so instead of going through the lengthy process of tuning a profile again we can do as explained in the above section of the Profile Editor. Now we can quickly change our profile without ending the game. We can simply select the profile in the front screen of the Game Manager under Profile Selection, and the Game Engine automatically picks this up for us and modifies the values accordingly, without you worrying about it. Which allows you to go straight back to enjoying your favorite game.

Quick changing a Profile

 

Using the Tools

Include in the Game Manager is a list of tools, their functions are as follows:

  • IP Settings – If using two computers with the Manager separate to the Engine.
  • Profiles – Access to all your game profiles stored in the Game Manager.
  • Import Files – A simple Drag and Drop to import Game Manager related files. 

IP Settings

  1. Open Game Manager from the status bar.
  2. Press Tools.
  3. Press IP Setting
  4. Press Ok.
  5. In the next window please change the IP setting to match the IP of the Game Engines location.
  6. Press Save.

Changing the IP in Game Engine

 

Note that if this game is already patched you will have to later follow these instructions in order for motion to be present from this game again. Please stop the game after changing the IP Setting and Un-Patch and Re-Patch the game again, Thank you.

Profiles

Here you can gain access to copy your profiles so they may be posted to a web site or attached to an email in order to send them to someone.

Please note if you do not copy and just move them you will no longer be able to use them anymore. Please be carefully.

  1. Open the Game Manager from the system tray.
  2. Press Profiles.

Retieving a saved game manager profile

Import Files

Now you have received a Game Manager profile from somebody, What do we do with it? Well with in the Game Manager we have a simply drag and drop box to import such files.

  1. Open the Game Manager from the system tray.
  2. Press Tools.

Now we can simply drag and drop the supplied Game Manager Profile to the Import Files box (3.) And the Game Manger will then install this to the right place ready for you to use it.

Importing a saved game manager profile

 

Setting up the Dash

With the Dash Output settings you to set the pack rate for the data being sent to the Game Dash to send it to the micro controller or  peripheral it communicates with, as well as setting the IP address if this is connected to a different computer on your network.

IP Setting

Here if the dashboard or peripheral is located on your network, for example is run of a second computer. You need to change the IP Setting in the Dash.

  1. Open the Game Manager from the System Tray.
  2. Press Dash.
  3. Press IP Setting.
  4.  In the IP Setting window set the IP Address to the computer it is on.
  5. Press Save.

 

Now the Game Manager knows which IP Address to send the Dash data too.

Changing the IP for the Dash

Packet Rate

Now with the packet rate is the time that the dash out pauses between sending the data to the Game Dash .This in turn give the Game Dash time to do what it needs to do before another set of values are sent and is needed in order to keep a nice constant flow of data. As well when not set the Enable Dash Output will not be able to be selected.

To set the packet rate desired.

  1. Open the Game Manger from the system tray.
  2. Press Dash.
  3. Press the drop down arrow in the Packet Rate.
  4. Select the packet rate desired.
  5.  As well you will notice now you can check the Enable Dash Output so it will now ready to send information via the Dash App.

 

Now that the packet rate is selected at any time you wish to stop or start the dash output it can be controlled by checking the Enable Dash Output box. And if it seems the Game Dash is not coping with the speed of the packet rate this too can be adjusted to a higher number in order for the Game Dash to cope better.

Setting a packet rate for Dash Out

SimTools Game Plugin Updater

SimTools Game Plugin Updater was created to make life easier for the end user to install a game plugin and not have to worry about were the files need to be place in order for them to work correctly.
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First of all make sure the Game Engine and the Game Manager are not running in the system tray or the plugin updater will not start and warn you that they are still running.

Now the plugin should be left as they were downloaded from the Resource Section of the website and do not need to be uncompressed in order for them to install properly.

  1. Make sure the Game Manager and Engine are not running in the system tray.
  2. Now double click on the SimTools Game Plugin Updater.
  3. Drag and drop the plugin into the Game Plugin Updater.

Plugin Updater

 

You now should receive a message stating the plugin was valid and installed. This game will now be able to be used in the game manager.

SimTools Game Engine

Home Screen

Here in the Home Screen we can set a picture of our simulator or a picture to make our setup look personal to our tastes.

  1.  Create an image with a size of 600 x 400 in any picture editor. Easiest to do complete it is the Ms Paint, but any drawing application will work just make sure the overall size of the picture is set to 600 x 400.
  2. Click on the Home button.
  3. Double Click anywhere in the Home screen then another dialog box should appear.
  4. Select the picture that you have previously resized to 600 x 400.
  5. Click Open.

Now your Home Screen should have your picture now showing and will stay this way until you either change this or reset it with:

  1. Press Tools .
  2. Press Clear Your Home Pic. 

Which will then clear the picture.

Axis Assignments

The axis used by the Game Engine are important to setup correctly as this will decide how your simulator will act to the input coming from the Game Manager.

You can gain access to these by pressing the button marked Axis Assignments located on the top line.

Looking at this page you will notice on the left hand side a list of Axis 1 through to 6; these are the Axis that you may setup to be used by the Interfaces that you will select in Interface settings. They represent the actuators/motors within you simulator as you may guess for a 2 DOF unit you will setup two axes and so on to a 6 DOF unit where you will setup all six axis.

In the center box is a list of DOF which allows you set the forces you wish to act on each axis and can be a collection of up to six allowing for a very complicated axis profile to be easily written. Along with just selecting the forces to use you can apply filters and the % of the total axis movement to be used by each force.

For now we will setup the default axis as this is the most important one to setup first before moving on and installing any game plugin.

Setting up your Default Axis

It is recommended that we first setup our Axis, to test the simulator before testing any game output. So when we actually test a game we only have to fine tune the result.

  1.  Open SimTools Game Engine
  2.  Press Axis Assignments

Now we can build an axis table that looks like this below. The default axis settings are used for any new game plugin that is installed later.

Setting the Default Axis

 

From this you can see that both axis pitches and move in the same direction to create a pitch down and up movement, and for roll they move in an opposite direction to create a roll movement.

Method for setting the default axis settings:

  1. Click on the Game List box and Select “Default
  2. To check what is set for the AxisRoll and Pitch, noting that roll has one axis is inverted.
  3. Click “Save Settings” to save the changes to the Sim Engine.

Now we have just set our Default (Base) axis for all new games that are added to the Game Manager but remember we can always come back and change these values for a specific game.

Now what we have actually set in the above Default Axis profiles is for our sim to use 60% of the actuators movement to Roll (Tilt left to right) and to use 60% of the actuator travel to Pitch(tilt forward and backward) and both Roll and Pitch act on both Axis(motors). Please not if only one Axis(motor) controls the Pitch and one controls the Roll you will need to change the Default Axis to represent this.

Due noted that we haven’t included any Surge (longitudinal) and Sway (lateral) or Heave (vertical) to our default axis settings this can be done as well by adding it to the default profile to create a true motion cue.

This also can easily be set by using the supplied presets or from a preset that someone has sent you. This can be handy when copying some else’s design and wish to use the same setting as they have. We will explain below how to select a preset and how to save your own if you wish to send it to someone to try and test.

Selecting a preset for Game Engine

To use a supplied preset:

  1. Press the button – Presets.
  2. Press the drop box under  Load a Preset.
  3. Select a preset for example  SimForceGT.
  4. Close this window with the  X.
  5. Press Save Settings to save these values to the Default.

 

Now we have saved the above settings from the SimForceGT profile to our default axis profile. To be a perfect world we would have a list of all types of profile preset to use but to be fair we are able to create our own and save this so that we are able to send them to each other to make our journey through SimTools a pleasant one.

Filters

You will also notice there is a button under each DOF – Flt which is used to create a filter for each force within the Axis Assignments and can be handy when you refine your axis assignments to improve the feel to your personal requirements.

Selecting a Filter for DOF

 

By pressing this button another window will pop up like this below:

Filters in the Game Engine

 

Smoothing – Will smooth the value, if a value seems jerky or not flowing this can be increased to add a smoothing effect by creating a mean value of the values coming in.

Washout – Is handy when we require a value to wash back to 0. i.e. like for a yaw axis that doesn’t actually turn a full 360 degrees. So to give the feeling to the rider that he/she is still actually turning.

Deadzone – Is for setting a deadzone in the middle of the movements i.e. around the 0, so if our Min Max in the tuning center is set to Max 10 Min 10 and we don’t want to feel 3-0-3 we can set a percent to represent this and take these values away from the equation, resulting in a deadzone on the middle of our axis movements.

Boundary – Is to make sure the single DOF does not use more than X amount of the available axis. In turn letting you have a very sensitive axis and will make sure it doesn’t take over the whole axis.

Create a new Preset Axis Assignment

This simple process allows you to save your Axis Assignment settings to allow it to be sent to another user to easily select and install to their SimTools.

After setting all the axis assignment settings correctly:

  1. Press Axis Assignments on the right hand side button bar.
  2. Press Axis Assignments on the top button bar just to make sure you are in the right place.
  3. Press Presets. You will notice a new window pop up.
  4. Press Create Preset.
  5. Now type in a recognizable name for your axis assignment preset.
  6. Press OK to save it.

Saving an Axis Assignment Preset

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You will notice by pressing Presets and then Load a Preset in the following window, the name of the preset we have saved before will appear in the list. Ok now we need to know where we can retrieve this preset in order to be able to post this onto the website for others or in turn be able to email this to a fellow builder who has asked you for it.

Ok to recover our previous preset in order for us to send it to somewhere please take these following steps:

  1. Press Tools in the right hand button bar.
  2. Press Axis Presets in the Preset Management group box.

Retieving a saved axis preset

 

A file manager window will open and you are free to copy the preset to either a post on the web site or an email attachment. Once the person who asked for this or someone who has downloaded this then can apply this to their version of SimTools with these steps:

3.      Simply drag and drop the file in question to the Preset Validator.

SimTools will validate it to be sure it is not corrupt and install it to the correct location and now can be selected by the user to use or just to check if they got theirs right.

Axis Limiting

Here we can simply set some safety limits in our axis, mainly used for SCN5/6 output as you don’t want the internals smashing against the outer shell which will result in early failure of the very expensive drivers and you may not be able to get a replacement on warranty.

  1. Press Axis Assignments in the right hand button bar.
  2. Press Axis Limiting in the top button bar.
  3. Now change the % of the axis to use by moving the slider for the axis that you wish to limit
  4. Once happy press Save Settings.

Limiting the Axis

 

Now this will limit the maximum distance the axis will travel if set right will never reach their internal end stop and damage them and this can be revisited and changed if required.

Interface Settings

The first time clicking on this button might not look like you’re in the right place. Here we can setup our Interfaces, i.e. Motor controller, SCN Controllers and Microcontrollers even set our Interfaces that are connect to the Game Engine PC via the network.

Allowing us to set them all up in one place.

In the top button bar you will notice we can setup six interfaces for the Game Engine to control therefore we can control six interfaces for a 6DOF simulator.

There is also presets already setup and ready for you to just select and go, can save some time and this makes it easier for you if you have one of these supported interfaces. Alongside this too is where you select the type of Output, being Net – An interface that needs to be connected via a IP Address, SCN – for using the SCN5/6 from Mirai Inter-tech and last of all Ser – Serial connected device.

Setting the Interface Output Type

 

Setting up a Network Interface

Once you have selected Net from the Output Type box you will be given a screen that looks like this:

Setting a Net Interface

 

To explain all the areas:

  • IP Address – Is the IP address this particular interface is located on.
  • Port – Port that the interfaces uses.
  • Output – Bit Range – as it states is the range of values SimTools will send.
  • Output – Type – Is the format for the value needed by the Interface.
  • Startup – Output – If your Interface needs a specific set of commands to set it up. Plus on the end of this you can set a pause for the Interface to do its start up in time before any other command is sent to it – HW Start. IE the time it takes to centre or calibrate itself.
  • Interfaces – Output – Will be the format that SimTools will send Axis movements to the selected interface, and an axis is represented as <Axis1> and so on.  Again on the end of this there is another setting for setting the time needed for the interface to cycle through the command before it receives another Command – Packet Rate.
  • ShutDown – Output – If your interface needs specific commands to shutdown enter them here, as well again we have another setting on the end to allow the interface time to successfully shut down – HW Stop. 

Once you are happy with the interface please press Save to save the setting to the Game Engine. On another note it can be handy to Create a Preset with this existing settings in order to send this to another user who has the same device but not the knowledge on how it needs to be setup.

If more than one Net Interface is used you can then select from the top button bar the next Interface and continue to set it up like above.

Setting up a SCN Interface

Once you have selected SCN from the Output Type box you will be given a screen that looks like this:

Setting a SCN Interface

 

To explain all the area:

 

  • ComPort – Is the Com port the device is connected on.
  • Packet Rate – Is the speed needed for it to receive the commands at.
  • Assigned Axis – The axis that you wish for this actuator to use.
  • Speed – To set the maximum speed you wish to use for this actuator.
  • Acceleration – To set the maximum acceleration for the actuator in question.

Again please press Save in order to save these setting to the game engine, and if another one need to be setup, simply click the next Interface in the top button bar and continue to setup like listed above.

Setting a Serial Interface.

Once you have selected Ser from the Output Type box you will be given a screen that looks like this:

setting a Ser interface

 

To explain all the areas:

  • ComPort – Is the Com port the device is connected on.
  • BitsPerSec – Is the Baud Rate at which the interface needs to communicate at.
  • Databits – as it states is the data bits that are needed by this interface.
  • Parity – as it states is the parity that is needed by this interface.
  • Stop Bits – as it states is the Stop Bits that is needed by this interface.
  • Output – Bit Range – as it states is the range of values SimTools will send.
  • Output – Type – Is the format for the value needed by the interface.
  • Startup – Output – If your Interface needs a specific set of commands to set it up. Plus on the end of this you can set a pause for the Interface to do its start up in time before any other command is sent to it – HW Start. IE the time it takes to centre or calibrate itself.
  • Interfaces – Output – Will be the format that SimTools will send Axis movements to the selected interface, and an axis is represented as <Axis1> and so on.  Again on the end of this there is another setting for setting the time needed for the interface to cycle through the command before it receives another Command – Packet Rate.
  • ShutDown – Output – If your interface needs specific commands to shutdown enter them here, as well again we have another setting on the end to allow the interface time to successfully shut down – HW Stop. 

Again please press Save in order to save these setting to the game engine, and if another one is needed to be setup, simply click the next Interface in the top button bar and continue to setup like listed above.

Example of Setting a Jrk in as a Serial Interface.

For an example we will step you through an example of a preset supplied with SimTools, others may be added in the future when they show they will be used often enough to include, Developers of custom interfaces can provide a setting file in their post on the site to make this easier for new people to use their custom interface too.

Ok now to setup a Jrk as follows:

  1. Select the Interface Settings on the right hand button bar.
  2. Select the Interface Number you wish to set from the top button bar.
  3. Now select the Ser from the Output Type Drop Box
  4. Now select Jrk 12bit from the Presets Drop Box.

Setting a Jrk in the Interface

 

You will notice it will fill in the fields below as needed but is not totally complete. You still need to change a couple of things. As noted below:

  1. Set the Comport to the command port that the Jrk is using
  2. Set the BitsPerSec to the baud rate that the Jrk is set to, if you have not changed this in the Device Manager in Windowstm its 9600 by default.
  3. Set the Packet Rate in the Interface Output to the same as the PID Period in the Jrk Utility , an important one or SimTools will send extra commands when the Jrk is still actually calculating the PID to move the motor to the desired location, may cause lag in movement if set wrong.
  4. In Interface Output set the <Axis> to the axis you wish this Jrk to use from the Axis Assignments.
  5. Click Save to save these setting to the Game Engine. 

Once happy with all your settings click Save to save the settings to the Game Engine. You can do the same as above to set another Interface if more than one Jrk is needed noting that you need to select the next interface and not overwrite the one you have just done.

Saving an Interface Preset to send to someone to use.

This simple process allows you to save your interface settings to allow it to be either sent to another user or to be posted on the web site so they can easily select and install to their SimTools.

After setting all the interface’s setting correctly:

To Create an Interface Preset

 

  1. Select Create Preset.

Another window will appear and then:

To Save an Interface Preset

 

  1. Type in a name for the preset.
  2. Click OK to save. 

You will notice the new saved preset will now appear in the Presets drop down box.

Ok now to retrieve this preset and send it to someone that may need it:

Retieving a saved interface preset

 

  1. Press Tools on the right button box area.
  2. Press Game Engine on the top button box area.
  3. Press Interface Presets from the Preset Management area. 

Now a file manager window will appear and the preset that you have saved will appear here, this then will allow you to copy this or attach it to an email to send to someone who may need this.

They in turn just need to drag and drop this preset to the same area as where you opened the directory and place it in the Preset Validator, from there Sim Tool will take over check that the format is correct and then moves it to the right place that is needed. Then the user can continue back to the Interface Settings and now can select the preset that you have sent or posted on the website.

Output Testing

Now this is an important phase of setting up, you will need to test the output to the interfaces so that you know that the directions do as they were applied and match what is needed by the Game Plugins in order to move your sim in the correct way.

  1. Press Output Settings in the left hand button box.
  2. Press Turn On.

Using the Output

If your settings in the Interface Settings are set correctly your interfaces should show they are receiving data and most will come to their center positions and await the next command. Now there is actually two options for testing the output and are explained below:

Testing Output via DOF

This is the default option already selected and as it actually looks this allows you to simulate the roll, pitch, etc. as if it was receiving these values from the game plugin, and please note it uses the default axis settings from the Axis Assignments and if you have not set the Roll there the roll here will not affect the sim at all. Now by moving the sliders you can test the directions and make sure that they match the direction set in the SimTools Co – ordinate System. Please note that the clr button resets the value to 0 which should be your center.

The second option can be found by selecting it from the Output Type drop down box.

Testing Output via Axis

This will allow you to test each axis individually and is handy to make sure each axis is moving to its correct limits and can re center itself properly and repeats this.

Once you are happy that it actually moves in all the correct ways simply Turn Off to exit.

Virtual Axis

The virtual axis can be a very handy tool to check that the data coming in from the plugin is actually moving the track bars in the right manner to what is set out in our Co-ordinate system.

If you find that they do not comply please post a polite comment to the developer listed with in the plugin so that they may change to this, if this co-ordinate system is not followed it will make it hard for people to make sure their Axis Assignment’s for each game are correct.

A note to existing and new plugin developers, please make sure your plugin match the Co-ordinate system that is in place, makes it so much easier for everybody else.

You need to use with the game running and is better with the game running in a window on a single screen system:

 

  1. Press Output Testing from the right button bar.
  2. Press Virtual Axis on the top button bar.
  3. Press Turn On in the resulting window.
  4. Now drive or fly in the game keeping one eye on track bars to make sure they are moving in their correct directions.

Checking the Virtual Axis in Output Testing

 

Tools

Provided with the Game Engine is a set of simple tools that make doing certain tasks a lot easier and contains three sections. These sections can be each selected from the top button bar and are listed as the following:

  • Game Engine – Tools related to the Game Engine which is split into three categories.
  • Interface – Which you can set up a button to run an application needed for setting up or testing your interfaces with third party applications or any other program you run with your sim.
  • Disclaimer – Just a legal note, Please take the time to read this, Thank you.

Some of these tools have already been detailed above and we will only detail the ones that were missed.

Manage Interface Tools

As the name states this allows us to set Windows Shortcuts that may help us to setup our interfaces and may include motor driver applications and specialized dash board application, or any other application that you want to run with your Simulator.

Please to make things easier send shortcuts to the desktop of the application you wish to include on the possible eight buttons then add them with the following steps to SimTools:

  1. Open the SimTools Game Engine.
  2. Press Tools on the right hand button bar.
  3. In the group Other Tools, Press Manage Interface Tools.
  4. Now just simply Drag the Windows Shortcuts to the directory that appeared from step 3 and Drop.
  5. Then Close the Directory.

Managing Interface Tools

 

Now how do we use the previously installed Windows Shortcuts ?

The Shortcuts become buttons with in the SimTools Game Engine’sTools section.

Now these buttons will automatically update themselves and can be changed any time by simply redoing the steps above.

To gain access to these Buttons we:

  1. Press Tools in the right button bar.
  2. Press Interface in the top button bar.
  3. Now we can click the button that is now marked with the Shortcut’s name to start our application.

Accessing our interface tools

 

A nice easy way to access our extra stuff from within SimTools.

Tuning Center

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Tuning the Min/Max values of a game for your simulator ensures that the motion you output to your simulator is the best it can be! Right click on the Game Engine Icon in the system tray and then select Tuning Center from the popup menu. You only need to do this once per game.

The tuning window allows you to set the Max and Min values that will be used by Game Engine to calculate how much of the axis is used. It does this by comparing the incoming value with either the Max or the Min value and then calculates the correct percentage needed for output.

Each game plug-in allows for up to 9 DOF’s (degree of force) to be sent and used for output to your simulator. Roll, Pitch, Heave, Yaw, Sway, Surge, Extra1, Extra2 and Extra3. Each of these 9 DOF’s that’s used for the specific game plug-in should have a corresponding Max/Min value.

Increasing the Min/Max values to higher numbers will result in less movement, i.e. will seldom reach its max or min value resulting in less overall movement but will have more range or output. Decreasing the Min/Max values and we end up reaching those Min/Max settings a lot quicker resulting in faster and snapper movements but with less overall range for output.

To capture new Max/Min values with the Tuning Centre:

Start the game you want to capture new Max/Min limits for. I would suggest that if you can, used a medium car on a medium track.

  1. Press the Capture Max Min button.
  2. Press the Reset button. (Clears the current settings – step not shown)
  3. Drive around the track carefully not to bump walls or hit anything that will skew the results. You should see the new Max/Min values being captured in the Tuning Center window.
  4. Click pause on the game, if you want to alter any of the setting by hand now is the time to do it.
  5. When you are happy with your new settings click the Save New Settings button. And the new Max Min will be applied live while the game is running.
  6. Press Stop Capture if you are finished altering the Max/Min limits.

Tunning Centre v2

If at any time you feel like you want to start over, simply install the original plugin again with the SimTools Plugin Updater.
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Co-Ordinate System

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With credit to Value1 he has set in place a Standard Co- Ordinate system for our game plugins. For example all game plugins should move the slider in the same directions.

All information is taken from:

http://www.xsimulator.net/community/threads/plugin-api-for-simtools-3-0.4612/

Conventions for Game Plugins

Nomenclature of movements in SimTools

Pitch is the tilt of the car forwards or backwards in [°]
Roll is how much the car is dipped to the left or right in [°]
Yaw is the heading of the car (north, east, south, west) in [°]

Surge means the acceleration of the car in longitudinal direction [g]
Sway means the acceleration of the car in lateral direction [g]
Heave means the acceleration up and down [g]

Axes

Directions of Movement in SimTools

Accelerationpitch slider moves to left, surge slider moves to right
Deceleration (braking) → pitch slider moves to right, surge slider moves to left
Right turnroll slider moves to left, sway slider moves to right, yaw slider moves to left

Turn right

 

Left turnroll slider moves to right, sway slider moves to left, yaw slider moves to right.

Turn left

 

Driving downhillpitch slider moves to right

Downhill Slider Pitch

 

Driving uphillpitch slider moves to left

Uphill Slider Pitch

 

Tilted to the leftroll slider moves to left

Tilted left Slider Roll

 

Tilted to the rightroll slider moves to right

Tilted right Slider Roll
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Remove WordPress.org link in meta widget of WordPress > 3.6

You have to edit one of the core files of WordPress to get rid of the WordPress link in the widget box or you have to use any of the custom meta widget plugins which are available.

Use the core method:

Go to /wp-includes/ and edit default-widgets.php

Search for “wordpress.org” and you find the corresponding line. You have to comment out the complete line like this:

<?php /*echo apply_filters( 'widget_meta_poweredby', sprintf( '<li><a href="%s" title="%s">%s</a></li>',
esc_url( __( 'http://wordpress.org/' ) ),
esc_attr__( 'Powered by WordPress, state-of-the-art semantic personal publishing platform.' ),
_x( 'WordPress.org', 'meta widget link text' )
) ); */?>

Everytime you update your WordPress installation you have to repeat this step as WordPress overwrites your changes, so its recommend to use the second method:

Use the plugin method:

Get a custom widget plugin here:

http://wordpress.org/plugins/custom-meta-widget/

How to Connect SimTools to SketchUp


SimTools can be used to animate a model in
SketchUp. What you need additionally is SketchyPhysics to draw joints and motors in your model. I wont go into the details of how to draw a model in SketchUp/SketchyPhysics. There are lots of better tutorials available on Internet. (Although I have to admit SketchyPhysics is less than intuitive and sometimes a pain.)

absatz

Preparing the Model

Once you have your model, make sure it moves as expected with the sliders and save a copy.

Sliders

Select one of your servos and click on “UI” to show the SketchyPhysics Inspector:

UI

Under “Controller” you will find something like “slider(‘servo4205’)”. Replace this with “$axis1”. This is our new global variable, that will be used to drive the servo instead of the slider. Repeat for all servos and replace the slider names with “$axis2”, “$axis3”, etc. When all done the SketchyPhysics Control Panel should be empty (or at least no liders for your servos) when clicking Play/Pause. Save the model and close SketchUp.

Preparing SimTools

In GameEngine setup your interface to Output Type: NET. When running GameEngine and SketchUp on the same computer enter 127.0.0.1 as IP address (otherwise the IP address of the PC that runs SketchUp) and Port 3157. Output – Bit Range shall be 8 and Decimal. In the Interface – Output field enter the axis you want to assign to the servos in SketchUp, separate the axis with “;”. Then click Save.

SimTools_Interface

Here my axis settings for the model attached:
Axis Assignments

Preparing SketchUp

Now to send the data from SimTools to SketchUp we’re going to use the Ruby API of SketchUp. Again, I’m not going into the details, as there is plenty of material available on the net. What you need though is a copy of socket.so of Ruby version 1.86 as this is what SketchUp works with. Other versions most probably will not work. Put this file into the SketchUp plugins folder (C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Google SketchUp\Plugins). Create a text file in the same folder with the ending .rb. Copy the following code into this text file and save it:

Code:
require 'socket.so'
socket = UDPSocket.new
socket.bind("127.0.0.1", 3157)
timer_id = UI.start_timer(0.01, true) {
    message, sender = socket.recvfrom_nonblock(100)
    message1, message2, message3 = message.split(";")
    $axis1 = message1.to_f / 256.0
    $axis2 = message2.to_f / 256.0
    $axis3 = message3.to_f / 256.0
}

Get the fun

If not done already start up GameManager and your game of choice. Check if everything works to your satisfaction and open the SketchUp model. The Ruby script is automatically loaded at the start. So click on Play/Pause and see your simulator model dancing when driving your car!

Easy, isn’t it?

If you want to try immediately I have attached a file containing a SketchUp model and the Ruby script to the resources. You also need to install SketchyPhysics from here.


Thanks to James Bradwell, who has inspired me to set up SketchUp with SimTools!