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Tuesday
Oct062009

FSBreak 37: Palm Springs VOR Burger, Aerosoft Discus Glider X Review, Avsim Social, and More!

Hosted by Eric McClintock, Danton Berube, Brendan Farmer, and Mark Stewart.

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Aerosoft announces more details on: Aerosoft Flight Simulator 2012

Announced on Aerosoft forums on October 1st:

Gentlemen, I will make this a short and sweet post.


Last weekend we had a lot of meetings regarding the new possible simulator to be done by Aerosoft. Now first of all I got to state that we are NOT yet ready to say that there will be one. But I can say that the probability is a lot larger now. From 50% last week to 80% now. We are currently investing officially money in this project.


We are currently using the unofficial name Aerosoft Flight Simulator 2012. A brilliant name if I say so myself, we got our name (Aerosoft) in it, we got what we intend to do (Flight Simulator) in the name and we even got the release year in it. I do not expect this name to be used for the release btw, but for now lets call it AFS2012, okay?

Mathijs also mentions (Joking or not) Easter 2012 as a possible release date? Read all details, and participate here.

 

Related: Aerosoft Simulation4U Section

Okay, not exactly brand new. But we just wanted to talk about the new Simulation4U section at Aerosoft. What are your thoughts?

Avsim Chicago Social

  • Chicago O'Hare Hilton on Saturday, October 10th, 2009, at 6:00 p.m.
  • If you are under the age of 21 you must be accompanied by an adult.
  • RSVP with Avsim for entry.

Danton and Eric are also thinking about going... If you are going, let us know!

Also: Avsim File Library now accepting uploads!

Our tech team has been hard at work since the commencement of the AVSIM restoration to bring the website back to its previous state. We are happy to announce that as of today, our Library upload capability has been restored.


Your uploads will go through the same process as before, approved and edited by the Library Managers ans then placed on our electronic shelves for your access. Thanks to all of our Library users for their patience. Let the uploads begin....

http://avsim.com

$100 Hamburger: Palm Springs VOR

We highly recommend downloading the full document here, you will find screenshots and sectionals!

If you flew the two previous $100 Hamburger flights (Lost in Traffic, and the ZLA Swarm Event) you should now be a master of your COM radios and your Transponder. In this flight were going to learn how to use your NAV radios to navigate the airways using VORs.

What is a VOR? (VHF Omnidirectional Range)
I think this definition from the excellent website navfltsm.addr.com (Recommended by Danton) sums it up best:

 The VHF Omnidirectional Range navigation system, VOR, was probably the most significant aviation invention other than the jet engine. With it, a pilot can simply, accurately, and without ambiguity navigate from Point A to Point B.

 The widespread introduction of VORs began in the early 1950s and 50 years later it remains the primary navigation system in the overwhelming majority of aircraft.

 The basic principle of operation of the VOR is very simple: the VOR facility transmits two signals at the same time. One signal is constant in all directions, while the other is rotated about the station. The airborne equipment receives both signals, looks (electronically) at the difference between the two signals, and interprets the result as a radial from the station.

 The GPS, Global Positioning System, is making inroads onto the navigation scene and offers a flexibility unavailable with either NDB or VOR systems. However, it is supplementing these systems, not replacing them.

What is a DME? (Distance Measuring Equipment)
Aircraft use DME to determine their distance from a land-based transponder by sending and receiving pulse pairs - two pulses of fixed duration and separation. The ground stations are typically collocated with VORs, as shown in the picture above.

In short, VORs allow you to navigate to a specific location, from anywhere as long as you are in range. DME’s tell you how far away you are from a particular VOR Point.

The positives are pretty obvious over Dead Reckoning. Since a VOR transmits in ALL DIRECTIONS you can navigate to a specific geographic point from any direction. You are no longer relying on specific headings, and correcting your headings when you are off course. A DME is helpful, but not needed as we will learn in our flight.

 

A basic tutorial on how to tune to a VOR and navigate…
First and Foremost…
Select an aircraft you are comfortable with flying, and are fairly familiar with where the instruments are at and how to operate them.

NAV Radio

VORs are activated by entering the provided frequency into your Navigation radio (In this case, NAV 1 is just right of COMM 1, and NAV 2 right below NAV 1). The Navigation radios are activated  by clicking the “Nav 1” or “Nav 2” buttons.

After tuning either of the NAV radios to a valid frequency, you will hear a Morse Code tone with the VOR’s station ID. These codes can be found on the sectional chart for that particular VOR.

It is a great idea to tune the frequencies you will need while on the ground.

 

Omni Bearing Selector (OBS)
After you have tuned your NAV 1 radio to the correct frequency, you will need to use your OBS knob (In the photo above, the lower left knob) to narrow on to the VOR, this is done by rotating the knob until the Arrow is pointing to your VOR. This process is done after takeoff past 1,000 feet, as VORs are only line of sight.

­­

Here is an example of a tuned OBS. In this case the VOR is facing 12 o’clock in front of my airport. This can face any direction, as long as the arrow is straight:

You will follow the OBS similar to how you would follow your heading indicator.  You may need to keep on tuning the OBS while in flight, since your orientation may change. The goal is to keep the arrow straight.


Distance Measuring Equipment (DME)
If you aircraft has DME, and the frequency you are tuning has both VOR and DME capabilities, you will see the distance away from your VOR:

In this case, we are 12.1nm from the VOR we are tracking. If the frequency does not have DME capabilities, you will not see any information here. 

Our Flight
If you were up with us during the Swarm 2009 Event, you will find this flight fairly familiar. We will be taking off from Van Nuys (KVNY) and landing at Palm Springs (KPSP). We will not be using any headings for this flight, instead you will be provided with VOR frequencies. You will need to key them in to your Navigation radio, and follow the VOR using the OBS Gauge.

Cruise Altitude: 5,000-6,000ft

Aircraft: A Single/Double Prop Aircraft that you know well

Weather: Real World Weather (15 Minutes)

-Depart: KVNY Runway 16R (Or Active Runway)

-Fly EAST, POMONA (POM) VOR/DME – Frequency 110.4

-RIVERSIDE (RAL) VOR – Frequency 112.4

-Fly through Banning Pass (Slightly North after passing RIVERSIDE VOR) while tuning to PALM SPRINGS (PSP) VOR/DME– Frequency 115.5

-Land: KPSP Active Runway

Flight Notes

1. Watch what happens when you get close to the POM VOR. You will notice that as you get closer, you will be fine tuning it more and more. Since you’re nearly on top of the VOR station, it will get very touchy when you are near it. At some point you will need to give up on fine-tuning the OBS knob and pass the VOR, I found the cutoff distance around 1.5nm or so away. When you pass the VOR, you will see your arrow flip, as the VOR is now behind you.

Remember this behavior because the second VOR (RAL) does NOT support DME, so you will need to use the sensitivity of the OBS Arrow to determine how close you are to the VOR, and when you have passed it.

2. Through the Banning Pass, you will need to adjust your altitude as needed.

3. Near the PSP VOR in real life there are many Wind Turbines. If you look up the sectional, you will see the highest windmill is 1980ft MS

Sectionals
I would encourage everyone to use the tools we have recommended over the past months such as SkyVector.com and create their own flight map.

However, here is one that you can use just to make sure you have the right idea when making your own. I’ve covered up the Headings that SkyVector puts in with their flight planning tool, as navigating using just headings would make this learning exercise worthless! This burger flight is designed to introduce you to the Nav Radios, the OBS, and the DME on your aircraft, and how to navigate using VORs, and how a VOR acts differently from a VOR/DME.

When You're Done...

Share your results in the forums!!

Review: Aerosoft's Discus Glider X

Product Information:

  • Fully professional development (over 20 months).
  • Ten high detail models (for example just the VC of the BT model has 146384 polygons, more than double of what FS2004 could compile) using all the FSX options.
  • Highly advanced flight models that are accurate even in spins and other no standard attitudes.
  • Over 100 non standard sounds (like flying with open windows, side slips, pending stalls etc) all triggered by FSX variables and conditions using Aerosoft Sound Control.
  • Full working water ballast system.
  • Two Static ports (with selector) to avoid problems when using the auxiliary engines.
  • Dozens of non standard animations, up to elements that move under high G load.
  • Very realistic flexing wings created with a new technology.
  • All instruments accurate, including TEC and NETTO variometers. Not like this simplified gauges in the default glider in FSX.
  • Real usable yaw string that will make coordinated flight a lot easier.
  • All models include a highly realistic C4 Flight Computer that allows then pilot to calculate ideal speeds and routes.
  • Includes a licensed copy of Winch X! .
  • Designed with full support of Schempp-Hirth, SDI Variomers and the SOAR online glider community.
  • Includes a FSX manual (English) and the actual 'real' manuals for the gliders and C4 Flight Computer (English and German)

Click for more information on the Discus Glider X from Aerosoft.

Written review by Eric:

Introduction
This product sparked our interest because at the time there were no payware gliders for FSX, so we were naturally intrigued when the Discus Glider X finally made its appearance.

We are not extremely knowledgeable in Gliders, so we are all entering the Discus with fairly clean slates when it comes to how a glider acts, and how it should fly.

As you would expect from any commercial payware, the installation process was very straightforward. Included is a copy of WinchX, a freeware program that improves FSX’s default winch system. Without WinchX you can not winch any aircraft with an engine, which poses a problem with towing two of the three discus models which have small onboard engines.

WinchX installs automatically after Discus Glider X does, and no additional configuration is needed.

Aerosoft also recommends two additional freeware programs, Cumulus X and Sim Probe which both improve the way FSX calculates thermals. It would have been really nice if Aerosoft were able to include these two programs the same way they did with WinchX – But this could be due to technical or licensing reasons. The install process for these two programs does require some configuration, but everything is outlined in their respective ReadMe files.

The Model
Three main models are included:

  • B – A traditional glider with no motor.
  • BT – A glider with a small motor included. You will still need to use something like WinchX to get airborne, but the motor can be deployed for getting you between thermals, or to get a little extra boost when you’re a little short from the airport.
  • BM – A glider with a larger motor included. This motor is powerful enough to take off under it’s own power, and does not need a winch to get airborne. However, with WinchX you will get to your desired altitude much faster than using the motor. The documentation mentions that the “BM” model is very rare, and only 10 of these models were actually made.

It should go without saying, but don’t expect much from either the BT or the BM motors... It is a glider after all, and the motors are only designed for getting you back to the airport in one piece.

The motors are activated via a switch in the cockpit, and specific instructions must be followed to start the motor. These procedures are outlined in the product manual, and differ between the BT and the BM models.

I found the flight model itself to be truly “as real as it gets”. A lot of attention was put into creating a realistic flight model, which is extremely important in a glider as you are relying on a true to life glide ratio, and control surfaces performing as they should. The Discus Glider X has been flown and real Discus pilots have verified the flight model.

Testing the model, you can tell when the glider is performing well and when it isn’t. If you jerk the rudder left or right, you will almost feel the jerking motion in your chair as the glider violently jerks, and then side slips. It is a similar situation to the Ailerons and other control surfaces.

One thing I would love to do if given the opportunity is to fly this model with a good quality force feedback stick. If force feedback is supported, it will nearly take the amount of realism over the edge... The model behavior is so well, it is a shame that when you feel the aircraft struggling you aren’t able to feel it in your joystick.

The Sound
I would normally put the sound under “The Model”, or just stick it in a sentence somewhere... But I think the attention to detail in the Discus Glider X is deserving of its own category.

This model includes more than 100 non standard sounds. Going back to the previous section, when you make hard movements on the control surfaces, in addition to feeling it in the behavior, you can HEAR the glider slipping in the air, and it is all integrated perfectly with the aircraft model.

Considering a glider is designed to be flown without an engine (BT and BM models can obviously be excluded) you aren’t listening to the buzz of an aircraft engine... You’re hearing the wind over the wings, and your rudder, ailerons, and elevator interacting with the air racing by. The combination of the excellent flight model, and the Aerosoft sound system is a perfect match.

The Cockpit
Believe it or not, a glider is a lot more advanced than you’d think! They can have sophisticated flight computers, and gauges not typically found in your standard C172. In addition to all of the instruments, the Discus Glider X features a fully functional ballast system.

The model (B, BT, or BM) you choose dictates which virtual cockpit layout you get, and which gauges you get. But overall, you get the following gauges with the Glider X:

  • Compass
  • Airspeed Indicator
  • Altimeter
  • C4 Competition
  • PDA/GPS
  • TEC Variometer
  • Electrical Netto Variometer
  • Engine operation switch/Hobbs meter/RPM Meter
  • Yaw String

Without going into each and every gauge, I will just mention that they are all very well modeled, and look realistic in the Virtual Cockpit even zoomed and at high resolutions.

The C4 Competition flight computer can surprisingly be a very complicated instrument; Aerosoft actually includes the actual manuals from the manufacture, which can be followed with this gauge.

The last gauge I will touch on is the compass... I know you’re probably laughing right now, asking Who Cares! It’s a compass... But I think that such a simple instrument is usually overlooked in most payware models, and the one included in the Discus Glider X is phenomenal. The slight movements of the aircraft are reflected in the vertical and horizontal movements of the compass while in flight... And frankly I’ve never seen anything like it in FSX – You really have to see it to appreciate it.

Documentation
As with every Aerosoft product, the documentation is overall pretty good. It goes into the functions of most of the more advanced instruments and gauges with the model – Which for anyone not familiar with some of the specialized instruments for gliders will need to read to understand what their purposes are.

Aerosoft provides basic “Getting Started” documentation – Which is about 15 pages of material not counting copyright and title pages. This is well labeled, and has many screenshots, which I found very helpful. Also provided are full flight manuals for the “B” and “BT” models, C4 Competition Flight computer, and WinchX.

However, one item missing altogether in the “Getting Started” documentation is any information on the Water Ballast system. The Flight Manual probably includes information on this – But you will have to find it in the 177 pages. There is also very little information on the C4 Competition computer system in the “Getting Started” documentation, just a paragraph on what the computer is and its basic function. While the full manual IS included, it could be a little overwhelming for new pilots.

There is also a pretty good Easter Egg in the documentation... Nice!

Nitpicking...
In my testing of the Discus Glider X, I did notice one item that could be improved on. This is in no way a deal breaker... But I think it should be mentioned..

Cabin reflections not in sync with what they should be!
See below, the reflection looks great, right?

 

Now if I take out the GPS/PDA, the reflection does not show this change:

...Nothing major, but it would add a little extra bit of realism if the reflection textures were refreshed for major changes – Such as the PDA and the pilot (The pilot can be toggled off and on depending on your preference). I don’t expect a different set of reflection textures to be made for every single movement in the VC (Such as moving the throttle or ballast lever), but for major changes like those mentioned above, it would be a nice addition.

Taking a couple steps back though, this model has been in development for 20 months, and the flight model was completely re- written several times... So if it comes down to putting extra time into the flight model, or the reflections, I would choose the flight model. But it would be a nice change to put in a service pack maybe? If you’ve made it this far though, and you’re interested in the Discus Glider X, don’t let this tiny bug get in the way.

Overall...
Overall, you have to ask yourself if you are a glider person or not. If soaring through the skies, riding the thermals with maybe a little bit of aerobatics tossed in sounds like a great time to you, then I would recommend the Discus Glider X without hesitation. If you have been interested in the default glider included with FSX, you will find this to be MUCH improved and a more realistic aircraft.

After flying the Discus Glider X for a few days, I went back to the default glider included with FSX – The difference is night and day. After flying this model, the default glider feels completely disconnected from the control surface, and the cockpit to be very basic at best.

I would recommend some great scenery to go with it though. A unique experience with a glider is that you have almost a full range of vision. Unlike a small GA aircraft like a C172, you don’t have the engine & prop in your vision, nor do you have the wings or passenger seat. You have uninterrupted vision from the front, side to side, and vertically. If you’re looking to explore a massive scenery expansion (Like Tongass Fjords, Switzerland Pro, Orbx FTX, etc) this glider is perfect to do that. You are able to get lower, slower, and closer than you can with any other aircraft out there.

There are a few small things that in my opinion could be tweaked (Such as the basic documentation and the reflections), and would keep me from giving this a “Perfect” rating... But it is still 99% there.

Pros:

  • Top notch flight model
  • Detailed, and real to life VC and instrumentation (No 2D Cockpit)
  • WinchX is almost necessary, and included with this
  • Sound system = Excellent
  • Overall, good documentation is included
  • No performance hit noticed, FPS friendly

Cons:

  • Basic documentation could have been more in depth about the C4 Competition, and does not mention ballast system at all.
  • Reflection issue

System Reviewed on:
Intel Core 2 Duo 3.06GHz
4GB DDR2 RAM
nVidia GeForce 8800 512MB
FSX & Windows 7

Thoughts from Danton...

Soaring in Australia
Eric, Brendan, and I take the Discus up for a joint flight around Ayres Rock in central Australia.  After winching up from the nearby airport, we circle around Uluru and then race back.

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

Cross Country Innsbruck to Salzburg in Austria Professional X
Flying the Discus BM model, I make the cross country trip from Innsbruck to Salzburg, beginning with a long winch tow. Despite having an engine, I take advantage of thermals and ridge lift to gain the range I need for the journey. I start to get some sense of how the C4 computer works in conjunction with the GPS and a flight plan, at least to the point of estimating my altitude at my destination to know when I have climbed high enough. The Alps are beautiful, but I am glad my glider has an engine.

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer


Salzburg City Scenery in Austria Professional X
I return to Salzburg for some more gliding in the non-motorized version. Crossing the Salzach River, I pass over the Altstadt or “Old Town,” which is UNESCO World Heritage Site. The addon scenery is very nice. I dump my water ballast and make my way towards the Salzburg airport. On final, however, I am a little high and fast, so I deploy my speed brakes. They do the trick and get me into the proper glide slope. When flying the Discus, I recommend following Aerosoft’s advice of setting the throttle level to control the speed brakes, giving you much finer control.

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer


Miscellaneous
I found two additional visual curiosities with the Discus. First, when panning inside the cockpit, some views show the pilot after what appears to be an extremely close shave. Second, in the unfortunate event of a crash, even the non-motorized Discus B sometimes explodes in a fireball, causing you to wonder whether the ballast tank may have been filled with avgas (although the attached screenshot doesn’t really capture the occasionally huge conflagration).

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

Recommendations

Eric: VFR Sectional Chart Symbols
Also IFR and IAP Chart Symbols

Brendan: Carenado Stationair Panel Upgrade

Danton: "Soaring with Flight Simulator X" Glider Resources

Bman's Home Cockpit

 

A huge thanks to Bman from the forums for sharing his home cockpit setup with us, check out his entire post here.

Danton is also thinking about using an LCD TV as a monitor for flight simulator, have you tried this, or have anything to say? Let us know!!

Reminder: Mission Design Contest

Just as a reminder, we are still taking submissions for the mission design contest, find out how to enter here.

 

Enclosure

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