Collimated Visuals

Visuals are such a big part of a flight simulation experience for most people. So today we look at collimated displays and why we so often mention them in our Featured Reviews.

At last …

We have finally got round to starting a blog for Simulator Review; and it’s about time. We have been busy in building the site, adding simulator businesses to the database (as of writing it’s now over 220 simulator venues) and producing reviews from the businesses we have visited. So its been a rather absorbing few months since starting and a blog post series has been on the to-do-list since January.

It then had to be decided who was going to write said blog post … a rather quiet moment at that planning meeting then ensued … rather like tumbleweed passing by as everyone looked at their meeting papers or took that much needed sip of coffee. My recollection of what happened next is rather hazy, other than one ended up with the bog writing duties. If you would like a different writer please email Elliott or Alexis to get them onboard.

Having now completed ten reviews, with Delta 5 Simulators in São Paulo being our latest, we did notice we often referred to whether a particular simulator was collimated or not (for example with our friends over at Simfest); and then without really going into what collimated visuals actually are and why they are desirable on a flight simulator. So the purpose in this, the very first, post is to provide a brief background as to what collimated visuals actually means and why we refer to them in our reviews.

Collimated what?

When we refer to a simulator being “collimated” what we are a talking about is the visuals system and how light is projected onto screens and then seen by you, in the pilot’s seat. Normal projected light beams tend to be a bit all over the place, not projecting out onto the screen in a nice orderly parallel manner. What this results in is the divergence of said light beams as it propagates out and in a flight simulator this means the pilot in the left seat sees a slightly different picture to the one in the right seat.

So what some rather clever people did a few years back was to get these rays of light to behave themselves by traveling in a more organised parallel manner so they wouldn’t disperse or spread out with distance. What this enabled for our budding pilots is the the picture from both seats ends up looking almost the same, with little distortion in the picture that meets their eyes.

This of course has many benefits, the most obvious of course being that a simulator can then be flown from either seat and in particular when on or nearing the granite the picture will look pretty much the same for both pilots: so they both will see the same image of yes we are going to make a nice stable landing or no, perhaps a go-around would be best number one!

Of course to achieve this requires some pretty clever optics and projection of these clever beams of light onto a curved screen. These two essential ingredients means that the reflected light beams from the curved screen meet both pilots eyes at about the same time, from the same angle, and with a similar distant focal.

In the flight simulator world they refer to all of this as the same “out-the-window” view or experience.

And this is why you see curved screens on multi-crew simulators and flat screens on single-pilot and/or instrument rating (IR) units. For example on our recent visit to Delta 5, yes I did write that review so its the one I know the best, you will see on their Baron 58 simulators a flat screen and on the King Air a curved screen. They generally use the Barons for IR training and the King Air is used to bring the students up to standard for multi-crew turbo-prop operations. Although just to add, although the King Air’s visuals are not collimated, a curved screen still helps in generating a more consistent picture.

And that is about it for collimated visuals for flight simulators. We trust this helps you to understand what they are and why we often refer to this part of the visuals setup in our reviews. If there are any topics you would like covered in our blog series going forward please go to our Contact Us page or drop me an email.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on tumblr
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *