ORBITER DOCUMENTS AND MANUALS:
ORBITER: INITIAL SETUP
The Orbiter Spaceflight Simulator has been installed on all computers in the lower lab.
STEP 1: iMac Initial Setup
The lab iMacs have native 1680x1050 screen resolution. Orbiter can run with this resolution in full-screen mode, but it tends to be at around 10 FPS, which is painful. I recommend using System Preferences, Displays option, to set the screen resolution to 1280 x 800. This appears to be a good compromise.
Since the Orbiter simulator makes extensive use of function keys, I recommend that you change the default behavior for those keys. Again, from System Preferences, Keyboard option, check the “Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys” checkbox. Orbiter also uses the Ctrl-arrow keys for display control, so you should disable the Mission Control shortcut keys under the Keyboard Shortcuts section.
You can make the screen dock appear and disappear using the option-command-D key combination.
STEP 2: Running the Simulator (Have You Done Step 1 Yet?)
The program file is orbiter2.app. You can find it in Applications or search for it.
When you run the program a small window appears, called the Orbiter Launchpad. This app permits you to set preferences for running Orbiter and select an initial simulation scenario. Every simulation session begins by selecting a scenario. You can save your own scenarios, but note that they are NOT saved under your personal profile. Every user of your computer will have access to the same set of standard AND CUSTOM scenarios. There is no privacy.
In the launchpad, select the Video tab. The 3D device, Direct3D HAL (DirectDraw HAL) should be selected. Click the Full Screen button and pick the 1280x778 screen resolution with 32 bit color depth. You may want to run Orbiter in windowed mode by clicking the Window button and selecting 1152 x 720, fixed aspect ration 16:10.
You can enable sound effects by selecting the Modules tab, then double click on Miscellaneous and check OrbiterSound.
If you wish to use a joystick with Orbiter (definitely NOT required!), enable it here. You must connect the joystick BEFORE running Orbiter, in order for the option to be available. I recommend setting a substantial deadzone (100 or more) to prevent accidentally activating thrusters.
Finally, return to the scenarios tab and select a scenario, then press the Launch Orbiter button.
If Orbiter should lock up and/or present you with an unresponsive blank screen, the Option-Command-ESC combination tends to be very helpful.
DO NOT attempt to select help while in-game. Command-F1 will bring up the help window, but nothing will get rid of it!
If you are using a Joystick to control your spacecraft, it behaves differently depending on whether your ship is in translation or rotational control mode (the / key toggles between modes and there is a control panel rotation/translation indicator).
While in rotation mode, pushing/pulling the stick will pitch you forward/backward. Moving the stick left/right will roll you left/right and twisting the stick will yaw you in the same direction.
While in translation mode, pushing/pulling the stick will translate (that means move without any rotation) you down/up. Twisting left/right will translate you left/right. Moving the stick left/right will do NOTHING. You must use the keypad controls to translate forward/backward.
Joystick control is immensely satisfying and makes control in the atmosphere somewhat easier, but it tends to complicate things in orbit, since accidentally bumping the stick can have consequences that aren’t immediately obvious.