Applied Computer Simulation Labs

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Sun, Earth, and Moon (S.E.M.) Software Guide

for Software Version 1.4


Welcome to the ORI Applied Computer Simulation Labs' Sun, Earth, and Moon (S.E.M.) software. S.E.M. is an advanced virtual environment simulation program designed to help orthopedically challenged individuals study how the phases of Earth's moon operate. Although the software is designed to be easy to use by orthopedically challenged individuals, it is a unique learning tool for any individual who has a desire to better understand the basic mechanics and physics of of Earth's moon as it relates to the changing phases of the Moon we see from Earth.

The S.E.M. software is part of a research grant funded by US Department of Education that officially ended on October 1, 2000. The goal of this research was to determine the effectiveness of using simulation software and virtual reality technology to help orthopedically challenged individuals learn to apply the scientific method with the assistance of virtual science teaching software.

Although the research for this project is officially completed, we invite any interested science teachers to implement this software in their classrooms. We are especially interested in how it helps orthopedically challenged students learn scientific concepts, and the scientific method, but we recognize it as a valuable learning tool for any science student, and we would like to know how well it works for you.

The software installer for the S.E.M. Software is free for noncommercial use, and requires about 1.1 MB of storage space when installed. The S.E.M. software is developed by the Oregon Research Institute Applied Computer Simulation Labs. Our address and contact information is shown below.

Oregon Research Institute
Applied Computer Simulation Labs
1715 Franklin Blvd.
Eugene, OR 97403-1983

Hardware Requirements:

If you want to run the S.E.M. Software on your own computer, the minimum system requirements are listed below.

  • 200 MHz Pentium or compatible processor
  • 64 MB RAM
  • 3-D Graphic Accelerator Card (NVidia GeForce 2 or better recommended)
  • Windows 95, 98, ME, or 2000

Installing the S.E.M. Software:

1) Locate the installer application for the S.E.M. Software and double-click it.

2) Choose the options you want, or just leave all of the default options checked, then click "Next."

3) The installer will indicate the directory the files will be installed within. It's best to use the default file path. Click "Next."

4) The installer will copy the necessary files to your hard drive. When it's finished click "Close," or click the "X" in the upper right corner of the window.

The S.E.M. Software is now installed.

Using the Sun, Earth, and Moon Software: The S.E.M. Software supports a standard computer gaming joystick for easy accessibility by orthopedically challenged persons, and makes extensive use of the keyboard. The keys used by the S.E.M. Software are shown in detail below.

Keyboard Shortcuts:

Esc Quits the program.
Spacebar Show / Hide the options menu.
Arrow Keys Rotate your point of view, or select items from the options menu.
A Accelerate forward into space .
Z Accelerate backward in space .
1 - 9 Keys Set time scale. 1 = Stop Time, 9 = Fastest Time.
F1 Activate the Help screen.
F2 Display the splash screen.
F3 Toggle the view of the Frames Per Second the computer is drawing.
F4 Toggle the Earth poles and equator lines.
F5 Toggle the Earth orbit line.
F6 Toggle the Earth pointer line.
F7 Toggle the Moon orbit line.
F8 Toggle the Moon pointer line.
E Earth reference. Tethers your view distance to the Earth's motion.
M Moon reference. Tethers your view distance to the Moon's motion.
S Sun reference. Tethers your view distance to the Sun's motion.
I Save an image of what's on the screen.

Performance Adjustments :

The Sun, Earth, and Moon (S.E.M.) Software draws 3-D graphics very efficiently and should run well on almost any computer manufactured since 1998. However, if the program runs too slowly on your computer, you can edit the "opengl.cfg" file, located on your C: drive in the ORI- ACSL directory (folder) and change the graphics settings.

For the fastest performance on a slow computer try setting "Quality" to 0, "BPP" to 16, and "ZBuf" to 16.

You can also run S.E.M. in a window, rather than the default "Full Screen" by setting "FullScreen" to 0.

The default settings for S.E.M. are shown below, as they appear in the "opengl.cfg" file on your computer. The computer reads the configuration file so it knows how you want it to draw the 3-D graphics in the S.E.M. simulation space.

#Configuration file for graphics settings

FullScreen 1 # set to 0 to run in window, anything else to run full screen
width 1280 # window/screen X resolution
Height 1024 # window/screen Y resolution
BPP 32 # Bits Per Pixel
ZBuf 32 # Z-buffer depth
HiResTextures 1 # NYI, must be 1
Quality 1 # Set to 0 for slow computers/cards, 1 for best quality.

The "FullScreen" setting determines whether the S.E.M. Software fills the whole screen when it runs. A setting of "0" (zero) will cause S.E.M. to run inside a window having a width and height that you define by typing in the "width" (X-resolution) and "Height" (Y resolution) settings lines that appear below the "FullScreen" line.

The "BPP" setting adjust the number of "bits per pixel" the graphics are drawn. 32 is the normal setting.

The "ZBuf" setting adjusts the Z-buffer bit depth. You most likely won't need to change the default value of 32.

The "HiresTextures" setting should be left at a setting of 1.

The "Quality" setting adjusts how accurately the graphics are drawn. The more accurately the graphics are drawn the slower the frame rate. The default quality is 1.