HOWTO: Add Heli-X to SteamVR game menu

Installation and usage on Windows / Installation unter Windows
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Joined: 01 Apr 2023 01:42

HOWTO: Add Heli-X to SteamVR game menu

Post by ElHeffe »

First, I like to thank the Heli-X developers and community for an amazing product. Heli-X is by far my favorite helicopter simulator and the only one I use on a regular basis. Additionally, thank you for investing the time and effort into making Heli-X work with VR. Additionally, thank you Michael for your email support to a few issues I had along the way.

I recently bought my first VR headset (Pico4). There was a steep learning curve (with many dead ends) in getting Heli-X setup where it was easy to launch within SteamVR. I wanted to write this guide as way of sharing the knowledge I've gained along the way and hopefully to help others in the community. Where possible, I've tried to link to the articles helped me achieve this. It is my hope that others in the community will find this useful or perhaps the developers can take pieces of this to enhance an already amazing product.

The Heli-X Facebook page lists the directions for running Heli-X in VR as the following:
1. Install SteamVR
2. Start SteamVR so that your glasses work in SteamVR (you can see the standard world there.
3. The start the HELI-XVR icon.

Reference: Heli-X Facebook Page

The issue I ran into is that I don't always have SteamVR running on my PC. There are times where I use Virtual Desktop (which allows you to do other VR things in your Desktop) and not SteamVR. Additionally, there's no native way to run Heli-X from within SteamVR, which can require you to either put your headset in passthrough mode or temporally put your headset on your forehead to launch Heli-X with your mouse. We're about to fix this!

Disclaimer: These directions are provided as guidance only. Please only attempt if you're reasonably comfortable making minor modifications to your PC. I assume no liability. While this procedure is relatively safe, please proceed at your own risk. Additionally, I've done my best to proofread but minor errors may be present and need to be corrected. Feedback is welcome.

Issue 1: Calling the runHELI-X_VR.bat file has issues running inside an .EXE wrapper (I'm not a .BAT file programmer so I can't explain why. More details in the reference if you're curious.)


Click Start, Run, type CMD within the start menu but don't hit enter. Select the "Run as Administrator" option as you'll need Administrator permissions within the HELI-X program directory
In the CMD window, type: cd "c:\Program Files\HELI-X10" (this puts you into the Heli-X program directory)
In the CMD window next type: copy runHELI-X_VR.bat runHELI-X_VR2.bat (this creates a copy of the stock .BAT file that we'll change slightly)
In the CMD window next type: notepad runHELI-X_VR2.bat (this opens the file in the Notepad editor)
Within the notepad editor: We'll want to remove the following two lines:

for /f "tokens=2*" %%a in ('reg query "HKLM\Software\HELI-X\HELI-X10\Settings" /V Path') do set HomePath=%%b
for /f "tokens=2*" %%a in ('reg query "HKLM\Software\HELI-X\HELI-X10\Settings" /V ExePath') do set ExePath=%%b

Replace them with:

set HomePath=C:\ProgramData\HELI-X10
set ExePath=C:\Program Files\HELI-X10

Within Notepad: Select File and then select Save. If you get an error when saving, it's because you didn't run Notepad as Administrator.
You won't need the CMD anymore, so you can Click the X in the upper right corner or type: exit (enter) to close it

Issue 2: Adding a non-Steam game to Steam only supports .EXE file extensions. We'll get around this by creating a small .EXE file which calls the modified runHELI-X_VR2.bat we created in the previous step

Reference: ... t-to-a-exe

In your C:\Windows\System32\ folder, there is a file called iexpress.exe.
Right-click it an Run as administrator.
Select "Create new Self Extraction Directive" and click Next
Select Create Package
Select "Extract files and run an additional install command" and click Next
Enter "Heli-X VR" as a Package title and click Next
Select "No prompt" and cick Next
Select "Do not display a license" and click Next
Select Add and browse to the C:\Program Files\HELI-X10 directory and select runHELI-X_VR2.bat and click Next
On the next screen enter the following information and click Next:
Install Program: cmd /c runHELI-X_VR2.bat
Post Install Command: <none>
Select Default (recommended) and click Next
Select No Message and click Next
On the next screen enter the following information and click Next:
Target Path: C:\Program Files\HELI-X10\run-heli-x-vr2.EXE
Options: Uncheck "Hide File Extracting Progress Animation from User
Check "Store files using Long File Name inside Package (you may get a notice about Windows 95 compatibility. It's ok!)
Select "No restart" and click Next
Select "Don't save" and select Next (you can optionally save this if you'd like to edit it in future but hopefully you won't need to do this again)
Click Next
Click Finish

If done correctly, this will create a run-heli-x-vr2.EXE in your c:\Program Files\HELI-X10 directory. You can verify with File Explorer if you wish

Issue 3: Since Heli-X isn't native to Steam, it has to be added as a non-Steam game

Reference: none

Start your Steam Client and navigate to your "Library" tab (up top) and select "Home" under the Libary menu
In the lower left of the Steam Client, there's a "+ Add a Game" link. Click it
Select "Add a Non-Steam Game"
Click the Browse button
Navigate to This PC > OS (C:) > Program Files > Heli-X10 and select "run-heli-x-vr2.exe" and click Open
Click "Add Selected Programs"
You'll now see "run-heli-x-vr2" under your Installed Locally Steam games!
Right click "run-heli-x-vr2" and select Properties
Select the checkbox by "Include in VR Library" and click the X in the upper right. It should save automatically

Congratulations! You'll now be able to start Heli-X natively inside your SteamVR Home!

Lastly, my impressions. Heli-X in VR can be outright amazing but it depends on the nature of the flying! If I'm doing drills mostly in front of myself where the heli stays within view and the heli stays within the sweet spot of the Pico4, it's everything you'll think it will be! AMZING! On the other hand, if you're flying large circuits or even doing figure 8 drills, the VR experience is a bit like a cartoon character watching a game of tennis. I'd like to suggest that the Heli-X offer a form following the heli within VR (like the desktop version does) to cutdown on this. This can be can option as some might prefer the "realism" but I do not. This is my only criticism of the VR experience. The limited FOV (field of view) of most current VR headsets leads to quite a bit of neck movement. If I had a headset with a wider FOV, I'd expect this to be less of an issue but I still feel that adding the option would make VR less tiring for me personally, so please consider my suggestion.
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