I’ve recently tried running the freeware Flying Model Simulator in order to practice flying RC helicopters. It is supposed to be pretty decent for a free app. But one of the problems with the application is that it is difficult to get it to run on Vista. I took me a while but I finally got it running. Here are some tips if you are having problems getting it to work on Vista:
Problem: You get a message saying “D3DRM.DLL cannot be loaded”. This dll is and old file that was removed from Vista. You can download the file from here: http://www.dlldump.com/download-dll-files_new.php/dllfiles/D/d3drm.dll/5.1.2600.0/download.html. I’m always wary about downloading files from strange websites because of potential viruses, but that file has worked fine for me. Download the file and copy it to the directory where you installed FMS: Vista x64 default: C:\Program Files (x86)\FMS Vista 32bit: C:\Program Files\FMS.
Problem: You get a message saying “fms.exe has stopped working”. This is probably because FMS expects you to have a serial port installed on your computer. Modern computers usually don’t come with serial ports anymore. To work around the problem you can create this registry entry: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\HARDWARE\DEVICEMAP\SERIALCOMM and FMS will start working.
Problem: Your controller won’t work correctly. I have a gamepad plus this RC controller: http://www.xheli.com/e4chflsitrki.html. Somehow FMS has a problem with this and I wasn’t able to correctly configure the controller. To solve it go to the Windows start menu and type “Game Controllers”. Click the game controllers icon at the top of the menu. Now click the Advanced button and select the device you want to use. This will make that controller the default in FMS and it will be able to configure it correctly.
Problem: FMS runs but the screen has horrible flicker that makes FMS unusable. This is probably caused by modern nVidia graphics cards. To fix it in FMS go to the Graphics menu and uncheck Textures. The graphics don’t look very nice when you disable textures but at least it works. I’m not aware of any solution to running with textures in this case.
As you can tell FMS has a lot of problems. If you want a simulator that just works I recommend checking out Clearview which is available here: http://rcflightsim.com/. They have a demo you can try and if you like it you can buy it for $40. It actually works and is a better simulator that FMS anyway.