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Old 08-05-2019, 12:56 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Italy
Posts: 94
Default VRK - a virtual reality enabled kneeboard with touch and ink support

What is VRK?
Given the latest improvements of VR hardware, the most limiting factor for VR flight simulation in VR is the inability to access the documents and taking notes.
So, the name says it all: VRK or VR Kneeboard is a kneeboard application for flight simulators. It designed to be used in the VR environment where accessing paper and taking notes is annoying to impossible.

How does it work?
The application generates an overlay in the VR world that can be placed and sized at will. When focused (looked at) the kneeboard can change its transparency and size to increase readability.
The kneeboard is divided in tabs that can be created at will. Each tab can contain either:
  • An imported PDF (useful for charts, frequency tables, briefings, etc.).
  • An empty Notes tab, single or multiple pages per tab is supported.
PDF and Notes can be used with a pen (digitizer or pen tablet) to take notes either on existing documents or on the bank sheet.
Scrolling and zooming are controlled by touch swipe/pinch, gestures or physical tablet buttons.

What about the immersion?
After some months of use, the best configuration to use VRK is the standalone mode with a pen tablet.
In the end, the lack of touch support on the pen tablets is compensated by the presence of the tablet buttons.

The original client/server mode will be supported for users with proper tablets and the ones willing to test the application.

Supported tablets are:
Wacom (all Intuos line is expected to work in WinTab mode)
Huion (using the custom driver, see Appendix A of the Quick start guide provided with the installer)

Reported working models:
Wacom: Intuos S, Intuos M (both BT and USB version)
Huion: HS64, H640P, H950P

XP-Pen devices are not working with VRK.

What else?
Here are some plans for this tool for the future:
  • Use the tool during my squadron activities
  • Fix bugs!
  • Support for native OculusVR APIs (under study)
  • Android support: I know that affordable Windows tablets w/ pen are like unicorns
  • Support for VR controllers: attaching and controlling the panel with them

Supported platforms
The tool has been developed using OpenVR (SteamVR) which, to my limited understanding of the VR APIs is the only platform supporting external overlays into applications “out of the box”.
The good news for Oculus owners (like me) is that SteamVR is complatible with Oculus devices too. It is just required that your (flight) simulator is compatible with SteamVR and can be forced to SteamVR mode.
In case of DCS this is done by adding a command line option ( --force_steam_VR ) or by using Skatezilla DCS Updater.

Both Pimax 5k and HTC Vive have been tested. All the other models of the family are expected to work as well.

Where to download the tool?
Like DCSMP and the other tools I designed for flight simulation, the installer is hosted by my squadron website:
VRK Installer

Any comment and suggestion is appreciated, just consider that I write code and support the tool in my very limited spare time.

Example videos:

Changelog (relevant items only)
[NEW] DCS: hooks to detect mission loading and aircraft type
[NEW] Support for keyboard and joystick/HID control
[NEW] Brightness control

[FIX] Mousewheel not interacting with zoom/pan anymore
[FIX] Default Alpha changing Default Width
[CHG] Supersampling revisited to improve image quality at low zoom
[CHG] VRK window will not stay topmost anymore
[CHG] Config window will not automatically reset seated position (button added)
[NEW] Bookmarks
[NEW] Configurable tabs and bookmarks location
[NEW] Config Apply function
[NEW] Load directory and DCS miz files
[NEW] Automatic load of DCS multiplayer session Kneeboard (preliminar)
[NEW] Automatic restore of last layout (save on close)

[NEW] Custom driver for Huion pen tablets
[NEW] Zoom Out function
[NEW] Configurable delay in transition from focused to un-focused mode
[NEW] Clickable page change buttons

[CHG] Removed buttons functions for switching Note Mode
[FIX] Windows width calculation should not happen in maximized mode
[FIX] Crash on startup if SteamVR is installed but no HMD connected
[NEW] WinTab support for tablet not complying with relative buttons mode
[CHG] Dynamic cursor size switching
[NEW] UcLogic (Huion, XP-Pen) custom driver
[NEW] VR on/off functions
[NEW] VR sizing mode switch function

Known bugs and limitations ( ):
  • Kneeboard is not visible from the bottom side. Pay attention to rotations when re-positioning the thing, if the kneeboard disappears, put back the default values.
  • XP-Pen devices are not supported by Custom Driver
  • DCS: Automatic selection of aircraft does not work in single player mode
Attached Thumbnails
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Author of DCSMP and VRK
Ryzen 5 3600X - 32GB DD4 3200C14 Win10 64 - Geforce GTX 1080Ti
Hotas Warhog + Virpil T-50 base - Saitek Combat Rudder Pedals - Cougar MFCDs - Custom head tracker
35" UWQHD main display + 22" MFCD/Helios display / Rift S
2x256 GB SSD - 2Tb Caviar Green

Last edited by AMVI_Rider; 10-24-2019 at 11:25 AM.
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