Creating a shell.ini file

This page was last updated on 09 February, 2014.

This section contains a short tutorial on what this mysterious file is and how to create it.

Many of the PNAs we use for navigation are based on the Windows Mobile operating system and all are designed to run a built-in car satnav program. The shell.ini file provides a way that we can make it run some other program, namely XCSoar or LK8000, from an SD card. The file contains the detail Windows Mobile needs to find and run the program installed on the SD card. When a PNA that understands shell.ini files (not all do) is ready to run its navigation program, it starts by looking on the SD card for a copy of this file. If there is one and it contains the correct name of a program, the PNA runs that. If there is no SD card in the PNA's card slot, it doesn't have a shell.ini file in its root directory, or the program reference in the file is wrong, the PNA will start its built-in program instead.

shell.ini is a plain text file that must contain a single line that gives the name of the program and says where to find it. The line must be exactly the same as shown for your PNA in the previous XCSoar or LK8000 section. It must not use special fonts, bolding, etc. and must have only one newline at the line's end. The following programs can be used to create the file:

Operating system Suitable editors
Windows Wordpad
Linux gedit, vi or emacs

Typical SD card installations for XCSoar and LK8000 are:

Program Installation method shell.ini content
XCSoar Create an 'XCSoar' directory and put XCSoar.exe in it.
Create an 'XCSoarData' directory to hold the maps, turnpoints, etc.
Both directories are in the root directory of the SD card.
Copy your data files into the 'XCSoarData' directory.
LK8000 Unzip the full LK8000 package onto an empty SD card. \SDMMC\LK8000\LK8000-PNA.EXE

Copy the shell.ini file into the root directory of the SD card.

Once you've done that, you should be able to put the card in the PNA, start its main application as usual, see splash screen of your program appear and prompt you to run it in Fly or Simulator mode using the default scenery it was supplied with. Choosing Simulator mode lets you explore and configure your setup indoors without being pestered about a lack of GPS signal, though you'll need to be in Fly mode to set the COM port and baud rate (see below).

Once you've run your flight navigation software this way (it will run on the default demo scenery), you can add the various UK data files and then use the setup pages to tell it to use them instead of the demo files.