I think I have a masochistic streak when it comes to X-Plane and trying to break it. My sub-conscious plan seems to be to keep adding stuff until the PC starts burning like blow-torch thrown at a magnesium depot. My latest pain has been getting the following to all talk to each other:
http://pilot2atc.com/ Despite the crimes against humanity of the home page web design, behind that facade there is a really nice ATC and speech input/output tool. It provides the missing GA and IFR ATC communications so sorely missing in X-Plane. No more being routed into a mountain. I really enjoy jumping to IFR Route Analyzer - FlightAware entering a common route and then setting it up in Pilot2ATC. It’s good because it is nice at both ‘do some patterns at the local field’ GA plus the full IFR SID/J way transitions/STAR of the heavies. The speech recognition (all Windows stuff underneath) is great. I use it in VR via a button here - X-Plane VR Push to Talk and a general overview here - Pilot2ATC.
World Traffic I got fed up with empty skies and my system crawling to its knees with 3 AI flights. World Traffic takes a lot of setting up (a post of its own) but once using the AFRE Real traffic data pack here things look alive. More info here - World Traffic 3 for X-Plane
Active Sky XP | HiFi Simulation Technologies Active Sky XP was recently on sale, so I picked it up. I really only wanted it for the ability to do historical weather, but the feature that caught my eye was in being able to plan a route and have the weather transition better. It doesn’t really do this that well so far, but it is certainly an upgrade over the default clouds and winds.
So the goal is to get them all to play nicely. Here’s what I found out so far:
- Get Pilot2ATC To See World Traffic 3. One problem is that Pilot2ATC doesn’t know about the WT3 external traffic. To fix that you can add ‘dummy AI’ aircraft, that World Traffic 3 draws but X-Plane uses a tiny one line icon for. This allows Pilot2ATC to ‘see’ the aircraft, as they are X-Plane AI (minus slow drawing model) which means we get TCAS and routing. Yes, you can now sit at 26L and hear ‘You are number 6 for takeoff’ and ‘Traffic alert, 3 o’clock, 270 - do you have them in sight?’. To do this, click in the ‘AI Aircraft’ at the top of the flight planner:
Hit the ‘Add Aircraft’ button (here you can see I’ve done a few already, they seem very light on fps impact)
Look for the dummy ‘World Traffic’ type entry and use that.
…so now you have fast AI traffic that looks good and that Pilot2ATC can see and plan around. Cool!
- Pilot2ATC to see Active Sky Custom Weather. Pilot2ATC uses the default X-Plane weather and I had a bit of trouble finding out how to make it use Active Sky XP. This is important as the flight planning takes into account the winds and active runways, so getting the two out of sync is no fun. To do this, the setting of Pilot2ATC look like this:
The tricky bit was finding the Active Sky Weather folder. Here it is (use your own windows username of course):
- Pilot2ATC VR Usage. The last tip is that Pilot2ATC usually expects to be seen on a desktop on another monitor or something. In VR that ain’t happening (well, not after the flight planning stage on the ground), but you can use it with the help of some really important co-pilot options. These two settings make a huge difference, as you can push to talk, say a command verbally, i.e. ‘WS11 - Established on the ILS for 26R’ and then the co-pilot will read back any confirmation radio messages (plus change frequencies for you if you’re lazy like me). Makes it so much easier in VR that you essentially don’t ever need to see the Pilot2ATC window anyway (if you must there is MoveVR that does work, but it a real framerate drain - X-Plane MoveVR Plugin). The one downside is that you will need PDFs in X-Plane AviTab Virtual Tablet as the parking to gates help that P2ATC gives you won’t be there. Old school is good anyway.
Those three changes made a huge difference to how these things work together, and although I can see some steam leaking out of the PC now and again, does work well. Together with Zibo 738 and OrthoXP or Orbx we’re living in the future man.
Now what can I add to break this. Hmm, there is a MCE Co-pilot plugin I heard about…