Special Aircraft Service

the SAS Hangar => The Lounge => Topic started by: Flanker27 on December 04, 2019, 11:22:58 AM

Title: Track IR
Post by: Flanker27 on December 04, 2019, 11:22:58 AM
im thinking about getting a track IR system but they all seem to be well over 100$ is there another system other then the one Microsoft sells for cheaper or is it a cornered market thing?
Title: Re: Track IR
Post by: Gubi on December 04, 2019, 12:07:28 PM
Title: Re: Track IR
Post by: SAS~Storebror on December 04, 2019, 12:10:03 PM
they all seem to be well over 100$
You get what you pay for.
There are other solutions trying to cover the same thing, but TrackIR is the one that comes hassle-free and does a perfect job.
Plug&play, no issues, all smooth and dandy.
And yes, it's 193 EUR here right now (which is already 17% off) - you will want to have the "pro" set with the active LED clip, trust me.

Title: Re: Track IR
Post by: sniperton on December 04, 2019, 12:10:43 PM
What you basically need consists of three parts:
- a camera (must be bought anyway)
- an IR hat or clip (can be either a commercial product or a DIY one for less than 10 bucks)
- a software (OpenTrack is a widely used free alternative to Natural Software's TrackIR)

Here you have the full range of options:

Title: Re: Track IR
Post by: Koi on December 04, 2019, 03:19:53 PM
 I  stumbled across this on Amazon. Its a  new tracker  similar to the  Natural Point Tracker IR so
if you  don't already have a tracker IR yet take a look at this one on Amazon, look for " S18 OpenTrack Camera plus the clip". It list for $79.28 Canadian 

 If you do have one and need a replace the  NP tracker IR clip you have held together with tape then look at this it a "S18 - TrackIR  Clip".  One can use it with the  Track IR 5 or 4. As I already own the Natural Point Tracker IR and IR clip. I just bought the IR clip arm to replace the broken Natural Point one. It only cost me $39.76 Canadian including shipping which is a good deal as the  NaturalPoint clip is listed at $125.00 Canadian.

These can be ordered either as a complete set  of tracker clip and Camera or each separately.
  I ordered the  clip on Nov 17  and  received it yesterday Dec 3.
When I Compared it to the Natural Point Tracker IR Headset clip the first thing I noticed was that it is much stronger, being made of  solid heavy plastic  one quarter of an inch thick. The LEDs are attached to an arm that, unlike  the in NP Tracker IR ,dose not move and therefore is more durable and not subject to easy breaking.  Like the NP tracker clip it is  shaped like a capital letter "Y" but has a flange off the stem. It is this flange that is used to attached it to the  headsets. The flange  is a sturdy flat plastic  plate with two slots running it's length through which two thin Velcro strips are provided for use to attach it to a head set.  I found, however that a couple of wire twist ties work better and are less fiddly to use.

It is a USB plug n play devise and worked no problem first time.
So the up shot is that I think its a winner and a much better deal than the in NP one.
Title: Re: Track IR
Post by: K5083 on December 04, 2019, 05:15:58 PM
Good tip, Koi.  I just ordered one.  My passive TrackIR reflector clip generally works perfectly, but sometimes gets confused on bright mornings when strong light comes through the window.  This should cure that.

The power can be furnished by one of those cheap phone chargers rather than have the wire run to your PC and take up another USB port.

Title: Re: Track IR
Post by: SAS~Storebror on December 04, 2019, 11:02:59 PM
a camera (must be bought anyway)
...A camera with removed IR filter to be precise.
Not everybody will consider himself capable of removing the IR filter of the camera which he "bought anyway", and definitely not everybody will be happy with the impact on normal webcam operation.

Trackhat is a commercial competitor product to TrackIR and that site only offers products by Trackhat.
It's okay to link it, but promoting it as a site that lists "the full range of options" is a bit misleading.

As I said: You get what you pay for.
If you buy TrackIR 5, you've cut it all.
It you buy Trackhat, you've cut most of it.
If you buy something from 3rd party source (Amazon, ebay, whatever), you probably cut most of it, but you rely on the quality of someone you don't know.
If you decide to try a DIY solution, you save money in exchange for your own contribution - it depends on your abilities then.

Title: Re: Track IR
Post by: sniperton on December 05, 2019, 01:36:25 AM
Trackhat is a commercial competitor product to TrackIR and that site only offers products by Trackhat.
It's okay to link it, but promoting it as a site that lists "the full range of options" is a bit misleading.

I linked it only as an example for a site where all needed components can be got either individually or as a complete set.

Most alternatives to TrackIR use the PS3 camera as it provides you with a resolution of 640 by 480 @ 60 FPS. For best results, the removal of the IR filter is advised, but if the LEDs are strong enough and the environment is not too bright, a piece of exposed photo film in front of the lense suffices.

The most cost-efficent way is to buy a PS3 camera (preferably with the IR filter already removed), and to make a cap or clip yourself. A cap is the easiest to do, but a clip is more handy if you use a headset.

Clip with 3D printing (https://www.stlfinder.com/3dmodels/freetrack/):

Clip without 3D printing:

Title: Re: Track IR
Post by: whistler on December 05, 2019, 02:07:38 AM
I have been using EDTracker Pro Wired (https://www.sas1946.com/main/index.php?topic=55417.0) for longer than two years now. Stick the little box to your headset or cap and you are good to go. No cameras, no worries about lighting condition. 3 degrees of freedom only by default but you can get pseudo 6 degrees of freedom with some work.

TrackIR 5 is probably the best (I never tried it) but when/if my EDTracker Pro fails, I will just buy EDTracker Pro Wireless without a second thought.
Title: Re: Track IR
Post by: SAS~Storebror on December 05, 2019, 02:39:55 AM
Probably one of the biggest caveats in threads like this is the fact that only a very few users can actually compare results with different head tracking solutions.
You pick one, you're happy with it, so you stick to it and never worry about any other solution.

I can't say anything about EDTracker or Trackhat either.
I can say something about FaceTrackNoIR compared to TrackIR 5: They don't compare. FaceTrackNoIR is crap compared to TrackIR 5 and any money and/or time you spend on it is gone to waste.

Title: Re: Track IR
Post by: whistler on December 05, 2019, 03:20:22 AM
You can't go wrong with TrackIR 5 and it is option number 1, if you have funds, yes. No doubts. It's the "industry standard" for a reason, I am sure. I was looking for a non-camera based solution and EDTracker just 'does it' for me, as Mike hints.

Just like with any hardware, some components and peripheral will take you there just fine while other, often the more expensive the better, will excel at it. My previous DIY solution never truly worked right and I grew tired of it, therefore don't go the DIY route if you are not used to electronics/craftsmanship.
Title: Re: Track IR
Post by: Mick on December 05, 2019, 03:40:30 AM
... X'Mas is approaching, time to add a TrackIR 5 to your wish list ...  :P
Title: Re: Track IR
Post by: Flanker27 on December 05, 2019, 08:35:14 AM
I think if i tried to make my own while it would work i would prob end up looking like one of the borg from star trek because of all the wires going every where
Title: Re: Track IR
Post by: K5083 on December 08, 2019, 08:31:10 AM
I received my LED clip yesterday from the link posted by Koi.  Here are a few thoughts on it.

It shipped and arrived promptly and was well packed.  The frame is 3d printed on a consumer-grade printer, so a little rough looking, but well designed and sufficiently strong.  The USB cable is a good length.  I agree with Koi that twist ties are a better attachment solution than the included velcro.  Rubber bands might be even better, but two twist ties, mounted near the top and bottom of the slot in the frame, do a good job of keeping it steady.

The current TrackIR software read it immediately as if it were a TrackClipPro, no issues there.

In use, it did not solve the one issue I had hoped it would solve, which is isolation of the tracking signal from other light noise.  On sunny mornings I fly next to a glass patio door and have direct sunlight on me at the 10:30 position just above monitor level, creating hot spots that hopelessly confuse my passive TrackClip.  The LED clip is equally confused.

I tested it for range and precision against the passive TrackClip by wearing both at once and switching between the two modes in the software.  I found no difference in the precision of the units at any angle.  The LED unit tended to lose tracking when looking up and "behind,", i.e. at an extreme side angle, unless it was tilted downward by tipping my headphones forward at an angle that I find slightly uncomfortable. 

Overall, I found no advantage relative to the TrackClip, unless you don't like wearing a hat.  Personally, I often prefer not to wear headphones, and mainly use them when others are around who might be bothered by the PC speaker sound.

Further disadvantages are that it makes your headphones more awkward to store, and when using it, you have another cable hanging off your head. 

I will still wear the LED unit for a while to see if it has some yet undiscovered advantages, but I think I might eventually just keep it as a backup in case my TrackClip breaks. 

Title: Re: Track IR
Post by: RIBob on December 08, 2019, 06:15:38 PM
I went for the full-up TIR kit on amazon.  It came with both the hat (reflective) clip, and the LED clip that attaches to one's headphones.  The LED method is incomparably better than the reflective method.  Simple as that.

Mine uses cables.  They don't bother me very much once I have sat down and "assumed" the game-playing position.  My headphones have cables, so what's a couple more?  Easily dealt-with, IMHO.

The as-supplied LED clip is very fragile, and although I've not broken it YET, I sent away for a bendable metal LED rig from Delan Engineering in the UK.  IIRC $58, shipping from UK included, for a plug-and-play metal clip with LEDs, and an adjustable nylon head band to wear if headphones are not used.

I try to use TIR on any and all sims as I play them.  It's surprising at the number of vintage sims will allow TIR, when using mouse-emulation mode, as configured in the provided TIR software.  One has to try out each and every sim; some are TIR-friendly, some are not.  TIR home site has a list of known sims that are TIR-friendly, but not all such sims are included there.   I don't know if other software providers have such a mouse-emulation feature.

TIR MUST be user-configured.  No getting around that, but your pedals and joystick must be user-configured for best results.  Read the manual, and spend 1/2 hour playing with it.

Flying without TIR is like flying with blinders.  The difference with, and without, TIR is akin to flying using only the keyboard, as opposed to using a joystick.

Disclaimer: no financial connection to any vendor/mfr mentioned above.
Title: Re: Track IR
Post by: K5083 on December 09, 2019, 08:52:19 AM
Interesting. In what way do you find the LED clip better? I find that reviewers of the systems are divided on whether it is better at all. I want it to be better since I spent money on one, but so far it just isn’t. Maybe some detail around how the LEDs are better will help me make use of it.

To be honest the passive hat clip works so well under most conditions that I don’t see much room for improvement.

Title: Re: Track IR
Post by: SAS~Storebror on December 09, 2019, 09:05:35 AM
LED clip is less prone to solar irradiation.
LED clip gives you a wider range of head movements.
LED clip precision is superior to reflector cap clip.

Title: Re: Track IR
Post by: K5083 on December 10, 2019, 07:34:23 AM
Huh.  So far I find LED equal in precision and resistance to light interference and to allow LESS range of head movements in "head-to-head" (really I'm using the same head!) trials against the clip.

So I think there ought to be a Your Mileage May Vary disclaimer with all these comparative statements - including my own, of course.  But it would be good, for the sake of users still choosing, if we could isolate the conditions under which LED is an improvement and those under which it is a waste of money.

I speculate that there might be a range of ambient light conditions in which LED is better at resisting light interference.  My own conditions of use tend to be either very good for IR or awful.  When they're very good, the hat reflectors work with nary a hiccup; when they're awful, nothing works.  Some of you may have in-between conditions where there's a difference.

Range of movement might also relate to personal preference and settings.  I have my TrackIR profiles set to where I don't use the full range of movement to look behind me.  I know I'm giving up resolution in doing that, but it's a comfort thing.

I don't buy the greater precision; there's not even a theoretical argument why that should be the case.  Maybe if the LEDs painted a smaller image on the tracker it might, but you can see in the TrackIR screen that they don't.

Title: Re: Track IR
Post by: cbradbury on December 10, 2019, 08:52:46 AM
I'm with you on this, August. Although I accept that everyone's individual lighting conditions are different, I have used both and find the supposed difference between the Pro and the hatclip are illusory, at least for my physical location and lighting. I bought the Pro originally. then guess what - it broke. I never considered replacing it.

Even Naturalpoint's marketing manager confesses in their forums that the differences are 'subjective'.

Here is a link to what I feel is a very balanced and fair review for anyone who is considering the options:


Title: Re: Track IR
Post by: SAS~Storebror on December 10, 2019, 09:13:01 AM
I can just speak from my own experience.
With the reflector clip the up/down head movements are by far more limited than they are with the LED clip.
Maybe you simply have to adjust your camera correctly to see the difference. I've got mine right on head level, but off center to the left, directly facing the LED clip. That's what gives absolutely superior results for me.
Add to that, there's a window to my left facing east.
In summer times, flying with the reflector clip at daytime is absolutely impossible.
Won't track, simple as that.
With the LED clip and with sensitivity reduced to the bare minimum, I get the only viable solution to daylight flying.

Title: Re: Track IR
Post by: cbradbury on December 10, 2019, 09:18:49 AM
I do agree that it is so much based on individual experience, Mike. That's why I like the review I linked to, as the reviewer suggests buying the hatclip first, then moving on to the pro if the former proves unsuitable.
Title: Re: Track IR
Post by: WxTech on December 12, 2019, 12:56:14 AM
My TIR5 kit uses the basic reflector clip. I don't like wearing hats, and so attached the clip to my headphones. But here's the neat bit.

A piece of hanger wire is firmly attached to the top of the headphone band, and extends forward about 25cm or so. The clip is attached to the forward end, meaning the clip is located farther out in front of my face that it would be if attached to a hat brim. And in spite of this it's still high enough to not be seen against the monitor's screen.

I sit no more than 60cm from my 32" monitor (with reading glasses on for eye relaxation and a further 10-15% in magnification, mainly so that I enjoy a large apparent angle of view that gets me close to a 1:1 image scale when flying with my default 105 degree FoV.) This means the clip is only 30cm or so from the TIR camera!

The advantages:

1) The nearness of clip to camera means a somewhat stronger signal in reflectance. (But for me it's not an issue because I have good blackout curtains for daytime use anyway.)

2) The clip sweeps laterally even if my head is rotating only, which simulates the natural way our eyes track through an arc in space as our head swivels, particularly when looking more than 90 degrees away from straight ahead.

3) The range of angles that the clip sweeps through as seen by the camera means more of the camera's field is utilized without having the player make larger movements himself.

4) This utilizes more of the camera sensor's area, thus helping to improve pointing precision.

As noted, one tends to like what one actually uses (provided it works well enough), and so is likely to extoll its virtues. :) In this case I'm in that same mode, I suppose. In any event, I've never had reason to even once consider the 'upgrade' to the LED clip.

A further note...

The larger spots produced by the reflector patches than formed by the smaller LEDs induces no real loss of precision. That's because the software is calculating the centroids of the splotches, which results in a smoothness essentially as good--perhaps a tad better, even--as if the sources were tiny pinpoints.