Falcon BMS is a flight simulator based on a technology that is now around fifteen years old. Fortunately, the Benchmark Sims group have combined today's technology with the old to give us a very nice flight simulator that emcompasses realism with it's advanced avionics and aerodynamics and it's majorly improved graphics and special effects.
With it's advanced avionics and graphics, you can imagine that a powerfull computer is necessary to operate the simulator.That is partly true except that I have seen someone fly BMS with a Pentium 4 processor on a laptop. Of course the frame rate was horrible but he could fly.
But let's be realistic and look at this in a reasonable manner. Of course you can go and by the biggest computer on the market and you'll get an excellent FPS, but a basic quad computer (Intel I3 or I5 processor) should give you a more than satisfactory response, with a minimum of 2 gigabytes of RAM and a good graphics adapter. This last one is probably the most important. I you don't know where to invest most, that is it. A good graphics adapter will make all the difference.
If you listen to everyone who wants to give you advice, you will probably way over spend. Just be realistic and you can go with a middle of the road processor with a good graphics adapter.
So basically, not being a technological genius, I have relied on a few good friends who helped me make a better choice than if I had listened to the store clerk who was just trying to make a sale. And with my friend's help I managed to build myself a nice machine. My framerate never falls under 30FPS and that is with all the graphics settings maxed out with 1920x1080 screen resolution.
Intel I7 950 Processor
12 Gigabytes dual channel Corsair Ram (4G would be more than sufficient)
NVidia GTX 460 1G graphics adapter
ASUS 24“ HDMI monitor
2 Western Digital 500G 7200RPM drives
Throttle and Joystick
Now that you have bought yourself a monster machine to drive the sim, you need controllers to enable you to control the aircraft. there are quite a few models of HOTAS (Hands On Throttle And Stick).
The one that every veteran pilot seems to want is of course the Cougar by Thrusmaster or the new Warthog from the same company. But the Cougar is an actual replica of the F-16 Throttle and Stick. There is a rumor that Thrustmaster will re-issue this model in the near future. The only draw back on the Thrustmaster Products, apart from the fact that they only make top of the line stuff wich is very expensive. Like I said, the only draw back is that parts are hard to come by in Canada and those potentiometers, brakes and gimbals don't last very long. Of course the casings are built with metal and not plastic, so the major parts last forever.
I personnaly use the Saitek products. They are much less expensive and they last a good longtime with the right care.
They are also easier to Program. Plus the action on the joystick is much smoother than the stock Cougar stick except maybe for the X65F wich is based on the FSSB force sensing technology.
The Saitek HOTAS X-52 is the one I use at the moment and I am very satisfied. I also own a Cougar Thrusmaster. I hate to say it but I had to go back to my Saitek for lack of parts. But Of course if you own a Thrustmaster Warthog or a Saitek X-65 you are on another level of precision.
So basically, shop around, ask questions and decide on the amount of money you are prepared to spend, cause this endeavour could cost you anywhere from about $100 dollars to well over $1000 dollars.
Head tracking devices
So, we have covered the computer and the sim controller. Only one last device is needed with Falcon BMS and that is the head tracking device. You could fly the simulator without one, but then you wouldn't be able to enjoy the scenery around you. Plus the new cockpit is on the way to making the use of a head tracking device necessary.
Fortunately, anyone can get one of these devices today. They are many and they are becoming less expensive than ever. I will not cover this subject in depth yet, but I will name a few brands that are more popular.
First, the legend. The Track IR from Natural Point. It has been around for quite a few years and they are widely used in the gaming community. Personnaly, this is my prefered brand. They have great support, both hardware and software, updating their drivers with new computer advances.
There is also, the less well known Freetrack at Free-Track.net. It is an open source free software that was developped around 2010. It works very well, I personnaly know quite a few pilots who use it. But if your like me, the fact that you have to build the head device is a deciding point.
And the last one I will talk about here is the Face TrackNoIR that you can get from factracknoir.sourceforge.net. This one seems very promising. Based on capturing an image of your face and tracking your head movements with the use of your desktop computer camera. It is like the previous device, you download software but you don't have to build anything. If you already have a computer camera, you can use it and won't have to by anything else.
That about covers the basic requirements to enable you to start your virtual pilot career. Enjoy the many hours you will spend on the learning curve. Take your time and enjoy the simulator, you will have plenty of time to learn about the other gadgets later.
See you up there!