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Start ::  Pilot's Lobby ::  Suggestions/tips/comments ::  Favorite Flight Sim Addons
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Favorite Flight Sim Addons

jer029 Posted: 15.10.2014, 10:14

jer029

registered: Nov. 2011
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last visit: 23.04.18
Ok...so I thought it might be time to share some of the software addons I've learned about since I've been doing this a few years now - which still makes me a 'newbie' I guess compared to others here. Still, it might be great to compare notes on those things that enhance our simming experience so that we might have a combined benefit of that shared knowledge.

I'll go first :-) :

1. Orbx Scenery (all of the regional stuff).

This truly makes FSX come alive and is worth every penny! For now - I would suggest staying away from the FTX Global, because Nick Needham says it doesn't play well with other sceneries and therefore gives them a monopoly on any future scenery addons ( kinds of defeats the purpose of the FSX design allowing for the many addons that has made it such a rich simulator over the years).

2. Tongas Fjords - Like Orbx and a must have for Bush flying in that area - and it plays well with Orbx.

3. All this free Misty Moorings stuff that adds so much more discovery to the Orbx stuff. You can fly forever and never find all the hidden gems. Of course - it uses the Orbx Pacific Fijords Scenery which you should already have if you've followed tip #1 above.

4. EZDOK Camera - while outdated, this is still one of my most favorite camera tools for the VC of all my aircraft a button push will quickly glide from pilot-view to radios, GPS, L-view or R-view, even outside spot - and the ability to virtually zoom around the outside of your aircraft using the arrow keys - giving you a chance to explore that great Orbx scenery without taxiing the whole aircraft along with you.

5. Saitek Yoke with Throttle controls and rudder pedals. I swore I'd never get all this junk - but I was coaxed into it by #6 (the next in my list). The throttle and yoke and pedals really add to the fun, and throttle controls have button settings that you can link to the EZDOK Camera to quickly jump to different camera views in your VC without assigning valuable keyboard keys to them. My most frequently used (Pilot view, radios, GPS, and switches, also the overhead switches for the heavy metal fliers.

6. AOA Aviator90 videos and their Aviator-Pro videos (which isn't free like the Aviator-90 videos, but was great fun for a newbie simmer with no real world experience able to learn from a real IFR-certified pilot). Chris Palmer is great in what he's done with Angle of Attack (AOA) and the AV90 and Aviator-Pro video series are his best work I believe (also check out his free podcasts on ITunes - Great stuff!. His video series introduced me to many of these addons I'm mentioning here - including watching him use them during those video lessons. Like most newbies - I could hardly wait to jump into the 747 and take it for a spin. When I finally got my head back (and my body) back onto the virtual ground and looked into AOA, I never knew how much fun the humble Beech Bonanza could be. Besides the regional Orbx stuff, I ended up getting the Darrington airport to recreate the most beautiful sunrise flight Palmer makes (I think it might even be the AV90 free videos, but I get them mixed up), anyway - the cross-country flights in both those video series are great fun and should be watched and then flown by all new simmers.

7. Track IR camera - I know that Mike has mentioned this - and, yes it's used a lot by Palmer in his AOA flights, but like Plamer - I often fly just using the EZdok cameras. I think I might use the Track-IR system more often if I didn't have the 3-screen Nvidia Surround setup that gives me a reasonable wide-view. That and my EZdok has left my Track-IR system unused now most of the time. For most pilots who fly single-screen, the Track-IR would be a must-have, and combined with EZdok system, give you full command of your VC views. Just watch them in action in Palmer's videos.

8. ActiveSky Weather - This or REX weather addon is a must for really enhancing the weather beyond that of default FSX. I prefer AS over REX, but I think both are good. Check the forums and compare to decide which is best for your system. They (almost) do for weather depiction what orbx does for scenery.

9. GEX (Ground Environment Extreme). This or other related mesh addon is a great fill-in for those non-orbx areas - adding trees, buildings, roads and lights so that much of the ground looks much more realistic than the default FSX. I like GEX over UTX because I think I get better frame rates. Again - read and choose what works best for you.

10. UT2 (Ultimate Traffic 2). Again pick your favorite traffic addon after doing some research, but I like this one because it plays nice with my ATC addon (see #11). It's great arriving at the airports and seeing the wonderful liveries of Alaskan Air and the many other recognizable airline liveries other than those boring generic fSX defaults.

11. VoxATC - Without a doubt, currently the best ATC addon (with RC4 a close second in my opinion). For those of us too weak in our ATC skills to attempt VATSIM, this addon is the next best thing. Yep - you actually can listen to ATC on your headset and respond to them on your headset mic. (And they answer you!). This is not a perfect system, as it's really pushing the envelope of voice recognition and while trying to play nice with all the various FSX addons, but considering all of that 3rd-party software coordination - it can work really well (and it seems to do very well on my system). I even invested in some nice headsets to complete my flight deck (oh...and I added the Saitek radios as well - no worthy of a number on my list here, but it adds some extra color and complexity to your flight deck, and is great for changing channels without fumbling around with the mouse and your small dials on the VC. As mentioned in #10, UT2 can be configured into VoxATC - this allows VoxATC to add all those wonderful liveries into it's traffic control - which it handles exclusively - disable FSX default traffic and UT2 (Voxatc only uses the files - not the program). Set up correctly, VoxAtc will handle all the surrounding aircraft taxiing and landing, preventing the annoying runway incursions that other addons or default FSX traffic causes. Unfortunately you still have to deal with the FSX default ground traffic crossing your path

12. FSPassengers – Another old and I believe no longer supported addon, this still works with most of the aircraft addons and is great fun for those longer flights that can get a bit boring. With FSPassengers you can interact with your passengers – give them food, drinks and show them movies – all of which affects their satisfaction rating – including your flying skills. Yep – go into a steep dive or land hard and they will cry out in fear (and no matter how drunk you get them by serving drinks – they never forget what you did to them at evaluation time). The flight attendant who keeps entering the flight deck to flirt with the pilots is also a real hoot.

13. Aerosoft FS Flight Keeper (FSFK) – this is a very versatile utility that does many nifty things. It can operate as an ACARS window while flying – show a Nav map including flight plan and elevation danger similar to the RealityXP GPS (another great addon covered in the Palmer’s AOA series). FSFK stores your flight log on your local computer and can upload your ACARS information automatically to your VA if the VA is configured to work with FSFK – and it can import FSX flight plans!. I have just developed an upload utility for automatically filing PIREPs to SPA using FSFK and I’m currently beta testing it. If any other pilots have or acquire this software and wish to upload their pireps with it to SPA let me know and you can try it.

Wow...that’s 13 addons and I haven’t even covered the many aircraft options. I’ll touch on that briefly here by saying that much of it depends on what types of flights you like to make (my favorites currently are the bush flights and the short commuter hops). Planes that I find suitable and my favorites currently are as follows: Aerosoft Beaver and Quest Kodiak for bush flying. I like the Beaver for the more realistic feel while flying it, but the Kodiak is faster and has more power for climbing those mountains. For my short-hop commuter flights I’m absolutely hooked on the Majestic Dash-8 Q-400. This plane is great fun to fly.

Where to start? Well, I would recommend the Palmer’s AOA video series (and the AV-Pro is worth the money too). Particularly concentrate on the cross-country flights in each series if you want the “quick start”. Also note the beginning sections of the two pdf manuals that come with the training. They cover the addon setups he uses – so if you like what you see in the video, he covers the addon installs and the various aircraft he uses. Then the Orbx stuff is a must – rather than buying it all at once, get the really useful stuff first (areas used in Palmer’s cross-country flights that you want to replicate, and most certainly the stuff that is used with RTMM so you can make these wonderful Return to Misty Mooring flights and add all their free scenery over the top of the Orbx and Tongas Fjords scenery.

In every case keep in mind the limits of your pocket book and your computer system, and research the various forums to see what others are saying about the addon your interested in. After that – it’s really up to your personal taste as to how you want to configure your system. There are really a lot of wonderful options to choose from and I’ve only touched on some of my favorites. Feel free to share your own favorites, and comment or question about those listed. The sky is virtually the limit - or perhaps the virtual sky is the limit.

John


jer029

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Westcoast Posted: 15.10.2014, 17:14

Westcoast

registered: Jan. 2006
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Great stuff John, thanks for posting. I have tried almost everything you mention, except FSFK and EZDOK. I'm still having the FSACARs problem I posted about for longer flights, so I'll have a look at FSFK. I have an old version of VoxATC which I used before I started with RC4. I've gotten a little bored with RC4, so maybe I'll give an updated VoxATC a try.

I did install FTX global and it did some good things, but it does seem to have populated my urban areas with an array of things that look like black billboards, probably evidence of the conflicts you refer to. It also appears to be allergic to my extensive MegaScenery Earth files for all of California and Arizona. I haven't had the time to investigate the problem yet, but it may also be a conflict.

The only thing I would add to your list is FS2Crew. At least for the PMDG 737NGX, I regard it as essential, as it gives you a copilot with whom to work the checklists. For some inexplicable reason I prefer bringing my aircraft up from a "cold and dark" initial state and I have done it with and without FS2Crew and there is simply no comparison. With FS2Crew, I can be ready to taxi inside 30 minutes, something I could never do without it. I am waiting to buy the PMDG B777 until the FS2Crew package is available and I may buy it for the Majestic Dash8 Q400 as well.

Mike

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Yoland Posted: 15.10.2014, 17:52

Yoland

registered: Jul. 2008
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Well John and Mike, I guess that we are using almost the same toys, except that I havec removed all these heavy aircrafts such as all PMDG, etc. Passengers is also in my "museum" and I am really into small passengers props aircrafts and scenery addons. As a matter of fact I am very happy with the FTX Global, Global Vector and all the regions sceneries. I also use Open LC Europe, and all the NZ, Australia, England etc ORBX sceneries. This lead me to also leave in my cellar my older GEX and UTX programs which are not really usefull anymore and can even interfere with what I am using. I must say that presently I mostly use Prepare3d V.2 simulator and all these ORBX sceneries work very well with nice frame rates. I also really appreciate the Misty Moorings add-ons and the Tongass fjord which add a lot of fun and interest to bush flying in this part of Alaska.
One important point when dealing with a lot of scenery add ons is to understand what they do exactly and to set the priorities accordingly if you want to really benefit from what they are supposed to add to your enjoyment.
John, as soon as it is ready from your side, I am going to test FSFK with P3d... and if it does not work, I could still use it with FSX.
Thank you John and Mike for your contribution. It is always very interesting to know what other pilots are using for their hobby.

Yoland Grosjean - SPA 348
CEO St Paul Airlines VA
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jer029 Posted: 17.10.2014, 09:31

jer029

registered: Nov. 2011
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Mike - yes, I'd give Voxatc another look if I were you. For me it's a lot more fun than RC-4, but I miss the flight critique. Still I can get that from FSPassengers and now from FSFK.

FSFK is a nice utility that does lots of things but is kind of spendy. So - if pilots are only looking at this for another ACARS substitute, I would hold off. I'm currently looking at Satavirtual FSACARS as a free alternative FSACARS upload option that is still supported and compatible with other addons for flight plan imports than is the moribund FSACARS utility we currently use.

jer029

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Westcoast Posted: 28.10.2014, 18:07

Westcoast

registered: Jan. 2006
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Well, I think I've tracked down my problem with the "black rectangles" in my urban scenery since I installed Orbx FTX Global. Apparently it's a conflict between Orbx Global and DX10. The problem involves the night lights in Global and thus appears in cityscapes where there are street lights. Unfortunately, the fix proposed in the forums doesn't seem to work for me. Orbx is alledged to have been working the issue, but I haven't been able to confirm that there is a solution available yet.

Westcoast
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SPA031 Posted: 21.04.2015, 15:55

SPA031

registered: Jan. 2006
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I am looking for opinions on this:

http://www.reality-xp.com/flightsim/gns530/index.html
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