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Monday
May252009

FSBreak 18: AVSim.com Update, Addons for addons, Free AOPA, and more!

Note: If you downloaded the podcast before Monday at 8:30PM Eastern and got the incorrect download, please download again. Thanks!

Hosted by Eric McClintock, Mark Stewart, Marty, and Rafael.

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Followup From Last Week

From the comments from last episode: The landing gear "bug" you talked about in the Catalina is not a bug. That particular model is a non-amphibian model and that is a non-retractable gear that was clipped on by divers so they could take the Catalina ashore. I should also add that the gear was strictly for beaching purposes only and would not have been strong enough to be landed on (they would have obviously been removed once the Catalina was returned to water).

Avsim.com Update

It looks like Avsim.com has put up a placer page on their website with more information on the situation. Here is the latest status report from Tom, as of Saturday May 23rd:

"Our team at the NOC are reporting that the contents of WWW.AVSIM.COM may be recoverable. Data for *.net (the library and the forums) and *.org are still to be determined. What this means is that the web site and its reviews, history, and all of our hosted sites may be able to be brought back online sooner than we had anticipated. I am still concerned about the forums and the team is working on the library. Everything depends on how much damage was done to the NAS."

He comes back later and says:

"I have just received some very good news. With a lot of help from individuals pulling together from around the world, including experts in data recovery, we have been able to confirm that the web site will be brought back and so too will the forums. We are transferring data, as I write this, to a temporary storage unit and that process will take most of the night. Once we have the data in the storage system, we will then transition the entire web site and forums on to the new servers."

Tom has also stated in the temporary forum that the 2009 Avsim Fancon scheduled later this Summer is still a go for all attendees and vendors. They have set up temporary pages for members and vendors to sign up. [Link]

FlightSimulatorXWorld.com Reopens

picture-9

Patrick Ashley Writes:

After a ruinous crash 2 years ago, I was so devastated I just moved on; but some interesting personal things came together that made me think again about reviving FSXW. That was some 5 months and several hundred man-hours ago! That's all in the past! The new FSXW has features no one else has! We have awesome, animated tutorials, insightful opinion pieces, and product reviews which include movies! You can also make comments on just about any article. Of course, a library that has some great features - including several large screenshots, fine searching parameters, you can even rate and review the files! On the lighter side, we have online flight games, the BEST FSX videos from around the net, and more. The basic features of FSXW are free - news articles, forum, on-line games, movies and even the library - download as much as you like without speed restrictions! Special features, including the animated tutorials, opinion pieces, and Celebrations are available for only $4.99 a month! We also have a yearly membership for $39.88, which is a 33% savings! You may cancel your membership at any time.

Have a look at flightsimulatorxworld.com!

777-HD Addon for MyTrafficX

777-HD for MyTrafficX is a new flight simulator add-on offering brand new and highly detailed texture replacements for the MyTrafficX 777 AI Aircraft. Main Features:

  • Completely redesigned from scratch, all textures are supplied in both 1024×1024 and 2048×2048 resolution, allowing you to see even greater detail and step even closer to your favorite 777 airliners.
  • All textures made from a specially designed HD template, featuring many additional aircraft details previously unseen. Includes visible panel lines, new fuselage, tail and engine details, highly realistic turbine fan blades, true to life wheels and more!
  • Recent additions to the 777 family included, such as Jet Airlines, TAM and Virgin Australia.
  • While an independent product, 777-HD was made in close cooperation with MyTrafficX. All textures use an enhanced 777 model made especially for them.

The addon runs for 8 EUR, ~10 USD. [Link, From FlightSimX.co.uk]

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

 

RealScenery Photo Real TN Scenery for X-Plane

The State of Tennessee scenery contains incredibly detailed imagery covering over 42,000 square miles / 109,000 square kilometers. This new scenery package contains over 17,700 individual ground textures. Tennessee is home to the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Appalachian Plateau and the mighty Mississippi River. Downloadable demos are now available. RealScenery's state packages run for $40, and the state of Tennessee will require 10.4GB of bandwidth, or for an extra $5 you can get it on a DVD. [Link, from SimFlight]

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

 

Sikorsky S76 Pick From Mark

The development of S76 Spirit began in 1975, the first of four prototypes flew in 1977. The goal was to create a civil aircraft for offshore, ambulance and passenger transport service. The first version in mass production was "A", later versions "B", "C" has improved engines and avionics. Having concentrated almost exclusively on military aircraft thus far, Sikorsky announced plans in January 1975 for a twin-turbine helicopter for the civil market. The company had carefully evaluated the needs of potential customers and, after having examined various solutions, had already acquired a number of options. Building of the four prototypes began in May 1976 (the designation S-76 was chosen to mark the American bicentennial). The project clearly showed the experience gained with the S-70 combat helicopter. The second prototype was the first to fly, on 13 March 1977, complete with IFR avionics. From the outset, the aircraft was equipped for all-weather operation, as one of its main roles was intended to be the servicing of offshore oil rigs. The four-blade rotor of this aircraft is exactly like that of the S-70. The blades are built around a strong titanium spar; the leading edge is also titanium, while the trailing edge has a fiberglass and nylon honeycomb structure. The rotor hub is made according to the latest techniques to minimize maintenance: the normal bearings have in fact been replaced by elastomeric ones needing no lubrication, and special dampers virtually eliminate vibration. The power plant is installed above the fuselage behind the drive shaft and consists of two 650shp Allison 250-C30 turbines.

This FS9 only helicopter runs for $32.00 and can be found at Nemeth Designs. [Link]

We also recommend taking a look at some of their Freeware choppers and the Eurostar EC135 for FSX.

Video of startup Procedure:

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


Related: Add Autopilot to any chopper in FS2004

This autopilot helps on stretching the legs of your helicopter flights. Your leg won’t cramp up holding in anti-torque pedal and you won’t have to constantly make corrections on the cyclic as you do in the real bird with the stick. To keep in in reality, you should make sure the helicopter has this type of autopilot, like the S76, the majority of light helicopters don’t.

[Download (May Require FlightSim.com Login)] PS, Mark wants to say that this does NOT have auto hover.

Eric's MyTrafficX Review

Since Mark's review last week covered the traffic side of MyTrafficX pretty well, I am going to focus on some of the extra features you get with MTX. Most notably the Traffic Editor. Before appreciating the features of MyTrafficEditor, lets review the MANUAL process of creating FSX AI flight plans:

    • Install FSX SDK
    • Update FSX's dll.XML file to load the Traffic Explorer.
    • Create each individual flight plan in a text file. The flights must be done in a specific format, using a specific order for the different variables of the flight.
 typeKey,tailNumber,trafficDensity,repeatEvery,flightRules
{
departureTime,destinationAirportId,flightLevel[,flightNumber][,circuitEndTime]
departureTime,destinationAirportId,flightLevel[,flightNumber][,circuitEndTime]
# enter as many departures as required
}
typeKey = one of the typeKeys from fs10.AircraftTypes.csv
tailNumber = unique aircraft tail number
trafficDensity = minimum traffic density required (1 to 100)
repeatEvery = ONE_HOUR, TWO_HOURS, FOUR_HOURS, SIX_HOURS, EIGHT_HOURS, TWELVE_HOURS, ONE_DAY, ONE_WEEK
flightRules = IFR or VFR
departureTime = DHHMM, where D = optional day of the week (0=Monday, 1=Tuesday, etc) and HHMM = zulu hour and minute of the day
destinationAirportId = destination airport ICAO identifier
flightLevel = the flight level, for example 20 = 20,000 feet
flightNumber = optional airline flight number
circuitEndTime = optional time to stop flying circuits at the destination

Each different flight will need to be put in as a separate entry. Afterwards, you need to put the file in the correct directory and compile the scenery through a command prompt entry:

 TrafficDatabaseBuilder /Output=testtraffic0.bgl /AircraftTypes=fs10.AircraftTypes.csv /Countries=countries_regions.csv /Airports=fs10.Airports.dat /Schedules=custom.dat /AutoSchedule=No /log=log.txt

Lastly, drag over the compiled BGL file into your FSX's addon scenery folder. This is just to show you the labor involved in Manually creating flight plans, if you really want to learn more about this method, check out my tutorial [Link].

The Process with MyTrafficX...

NOTE: MTX REQUIRES the FSX SDK in order to compile the BGL files for your AI. You can find the SDK on the FSX Deluxe disk, be sure you also install all SDK updates (May be found on multiple DVD's). Unfortunately, if you only have FSX Standard Edition you will not have the SDK files needed by MyTrafficEditor.

  • You'll need to closely follow the instructions for properly copying the Traffic Builder Compiler from the SDK so MyTrafficEditor can use it.
  • It is also helpful to follow the manual when creating your first few AI flights.

Basic Operation & Features

  • You are able to create your own Airline with up to 4 different Hubs.
  • You are able to designate the types of airspace your airline flys in - Domestic, International, Touristic, and Forbidden Destinations.
  • You can also select specific aircraft types used by your airline.
  • The process of importing custom aircraft is fairly straight forward. It does however require going in to the aircraft.cfg file and pasting in the "title" Parameter. This seems like it could be streamlined.
  • Once you create a custom aircraft TYPE, you are able to specify individual aircraft registrations for that type.
  • For actually creating schedules, MyTrafficX features a completely automated algorithm that schedules flights all over the world based on logical conditions. This feature is work the price of MTX alone.
  • You also have the option of manually creating schedules using a GUI with the departure and arrival airports, times, frequency, etc.

Process for creating a complete custom Aircraft/Airline

  • The process is not very initiative without reading the manual, especially since a lot of the screens look very similar, however it is very functional..
    • Create a custom Aircraft Type
    • Create individual registrations and tail numbers for your aircraft type.
    • Create the airline with Hubs, assign the aircraft types or individual registrations for that airline.
    • Next you can either manually schedule each flight, or use MyTrafficEditor's automatic scheduler. The processing for the auto scheduler takes approx 10 minutes.
    • Lastly, create the flight plans based on the schedules. MyTrafficEditor automatically executes the command to compile the AI flights, and puts the BGL file in the proper folder for you.



MyTrafficBoard

MyTrafficX also includes MyTrafficBoard, which is a complete solution for monitoring AI traffic status and even allows you to interact with it. Features:

  • Stand Alone Program uses SimConnect API to interact with FSX.
  • Sort by Arrivals/Departures/Both at specific airports near you, or at ALL airports near you.
  • Board Displays: Schedules Departure, Scheduled Arrival, Airline Name, FLight Type (VFR/IFR), From Airport, To Airport, Departure Remarks, Arrival Remarks, Departure/Arrival Gate & Runway, Aircraft Type, Aircraft Registration, FSX Flight ID, Current Status, and Flight Category.
  • Board can be sorted by all of the different types of categories above, and by the airport you choose.

You can also right click each individual flight, and set yourself up to view the flight in FS or chase the flight in FS. MyTrafficBoard is a welcome addition to the MTX addon, my only complaint is that it is a stand alone program, and can't be accessed without Alt+Tabbing out of the sim.

Overall...

Overall, given that you are getting one of the best possible AI flight packages in FSX history with MyTrafficX, you also get a decent traffic editor. While the editor application certainly can use a redesign, and perhaps be made to work a little more intuitively (IE, without requiring reading an instruction manual), it does what it does, and it does a great job of that. I think that ability to plug in a custom aircraft and airline and AUTO generate flight plans is well worth the cost of MTX alone. MyTrafficBoard is a great tool for managing all of your AI flights too. MyTrafficX can be found at SimMarket for EUR 39.27, or about $45 USD. [Link]

More Free AOPA Material: Online Courses

picture-10

Take the incredible AOPA on-line aviation courses & test your knowledge. See just how much you know and how much you need to know. There are 32 courses all together. This makes a great learning exercise and will help if you plan to get your PPL and even if you are a pilot as a great refresher. You will see the sign-up under the log-in (right side) to get your free access to these courses. You do not need an AOPA membership. Courses are interactive, fun and presented via a colorful flash driven presentation with sound and animation.

Recommendations

Marty: Real Environment Extreme [Link]

picture-111  

 

Mark: Inside Passage Scenery for X-Plane: With it's dramatic mountains, islands and fjords, Canada's left coast is a scenic paradise for all types of pilots. Inside Passage's 75+ airports and seaplane bases are ready for your next X-Plane adventure, be it IFR or VFR. Take a tour of the entire coast of British Columbia, enjoying over 600 miles of uninterrupted custom scenery from Vancouver up to Prince Rupert. If bush flying is your thing, challenge yourself to some of the packages more demanding destinations, from high mountain lakes to glacier runways. Heavy metal pilots will find Vancouver International faithfully reproduced, as well as numerous smaller regional hubs stretching all the way to the Alaska border.

But this scenery is something you really need to see to believe:
View the videos here... [Link] Photo Albums... [Album 1] [ Album 2]

Price: Only $25! [Link]

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

Eric: Adding custom scenery to library in FSX using Vista or Windows 7 bug...

  • Problem: When you click "OK" to add that directory to the library, it just opens the folder and WILL NOT add it to the library!
  • Solution:
    • Uncheck the "Read Only" check box on the folder of the custom scenery.
    • Right Click on an empty spot in the scenery file browser when you are in the folder you wish to add. A weird fix, but it fixed my problem!!

Source: Avsim Forums [Link].

Voicemails & E-Mails

Hardware question from Michael



I am a Mac user due to my work in design and media. As a result I have a Mac Pro 2.8 8 core, 4GB ram 8800 GT 512 Card, 1650 x 1080 res. I have been getting visual stutters with FSX Acceleration under Windows XP and Vista. I have tried forums such as Avsim and others, and no-one has been particularly helpful. One person Nick N told me it was because my machine has a server architecture and is not great for FSX. Whilst I know that, it should still work quite well. I can set the Frame Rate to 30 or 60 and get pretty smooth operation, but then suddenly I’ll get a jerky skip in frames, which is very annoying. You sometimes have to look hard from them, other times it’s obvious. If I go to an outside view and look sideways at the plane, scenery seems to move in a choppy fashion I was wondering what frame rates your panel get on average? I would like to know if any of you experience these sort of things, is there such a thing as totally smooth fps in FSX?!! My X-Plane 9 is so smooth in comparison, but I do enjoy FSX...

Our Recommendations: Try Adjusting your traffic settings, or turn everything down. If you're still having stuttering, it could be an issue with drivers, possibly RAM. Eric has also seen this problem with his iMac's 8800 card, any listeners have any ideas for Michael?

Recovering Avsim

One of the IT guys where I work has a machine that can recover data from hard drives. He told me that contrary to popular belief data is still recoverable after three formats. He has a machine that can recover data from drives. He told me that data is still recoverable after a dozen formats. It sounds insane to me, but he has had more experiance than I. As long as the patters aren't busted, it sounds like they should be able to recover. Assuming they have or want to spend that kind of money. Great show, keep up the good work, Joseph Aldred

That is right Joseph. For software formats typically off the shelf software (or some free stuff) can recover the data. It gets harder when you format and re-write though. Not impossible, but harder.

Using the Amazon Kindle as a flight tool?

I was reading Gizmodo today and came across this article about the new larger Kindle. Take a look at the second image down. Would certainly be an interesting use for simmers and real world pilots alike, albeit a very expensive one. http://gizmodo.com/5242671/kindle-dx-what-works-and-what-amazon-still-needs-to-do

A cool toy, not a replacement for paper charts, but still a cool toy... Would you trust a Kindle as your only charts in a real plane? Here is that screenshot Marty was referring to...

2009-2-10_2-48-29-755

Here is Eric's screenshot that he was offered money for...

foxlightning

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