A2A PA28 Cherokee FIP Gauges

Topa28_s-tec_30_resizem Tsui’s excellent set of Saitek FIP gauges continues to grow, now with a set for the A2A PA28-180 Cherokee. This is the sim aircraft I use when I’m practicing for my real-world flight training, which I do in a PA 28-161 (and the 180 is plenty close for me). While I most of Tom’s new gauges are for the six pack (for which I use generic general aviation gauges in RemoteFlight on the iPad) it’s great to have an accurate RPM gauge, and I know the engine gauges are soon to follow, as is the turn coordinator with autopilot. Thanks again, Tom!


Tom Tsui Does It Again


As I noted in this post, Tom Tsui has been working on FIP engine gauges for the A2A 172 and 182. They are now done, and this mean Tom now sells a full set of gauges programmed to work specifically with these A2A aircraft. The noise you hear is the sound of many A2A / Saitek simmers simultaneously praising Tom, the Lord, The Universe, or whatever deity they favor, for the existence of FIP gauges that correctly read the data of these highly accurate yet custom-programmed aircraft. Thanks, Tom. You do really great work for our community.

As for me, I’ll be grabbing them ASAP. I’ve eagerly awaited a manifold pressure gauge for the A2A 182, and now thanks to Tom, I will have one (and can now properly fly this airplane simulating appropriate throttle / prop settings).

You may get them here.

AVSIM Prepar3d Guide Now Online

Rob Ainscough, P3D beta tester and AVSIM moderator, has put online at AVSIM a user guide for Prepar3d. It’s already getting great reviews, and it’s free. Get it here, and here’s the description.


thumb-82fdc290dcfb168b64c903c90aeb34e3-avsim-logo1This AVSIM Prepar3D Guide will cover the following topics to help users get the most of Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D platform.  Some of the information in this guide is applicable to prior versions of Prepar3D (V2.x and V1.x), however the primary focus of this guide will be for Prepar3D V3.x onwards:

  •           Installation and purchase
  •           Updating to a more recent Version 
  •           Configuring Graphics Settings
  •           Working with Configuration Files
  •           Configuring 3rd Party Add-Ons
  •           SimConnect
  •           Troubleshooting
  •           Hardware, Overclocking, Performance
  •           Input Control Devices (TrackIR, Yokes, Throttles)

The basic flow of this guide will take you thru; basic purchase and installation process, how to update your Prepar3D installation when new versions are released, configuring your graphics settings, exposing what settings increase process loads, adjusting you 3rd party products configuration settings to improve performance, some Prepar3D configuration settings (often called “tweaks”), setup of SimConnect (used by many 3rd party products), working thru compatibility with older FSX products, a quick guide to basic overclocking, and finally setting up input control devices (controllers).

This document will assume limited computer experience, but it will cover both easy and advanced topics.  Parts of this document will expect users to understand how to use a text editor (like Notepad) to edit/modify content in text files.

Hopefully there is some information to be gain in this document for the new user and the experienced user.



Here’s a link worth following: www.pilotworkshops.com. PilotWorkshops runs an online proficiency center to provide professional training to general aviation pilots. With my membership to AOPA I get free access to their Pilot Proficiency Portal, but there are a number of free resources on the site as well, and many more for those who register. I look forward to using the site as I continue my real-world training, and many of the resources there would be a real value to any simmer interesting in making it “as real as it gets” with their own simulated pilotage.

A2A 172/182 FIP Nav Gauges


A follow-up to this post: Tom Tsui has now released the Saitek FIP nav gauges for the A2A 172 and 182. Get them here. The engine gauges are next, although Tom says it may be a month or so before they’re available. If you’ve not used his FIP gauges, I highly recommend them. They look great, work perfectly, and his support is top notch. Getting FIP instruments that work correctly with the A2A LNAV set has been a problem for some time, and Tom has fixed it. Great job, Tom.

ForeFlight 8

ForeFlight 8

While I was away ForeFlight released version 8 of its great iPad and web-based electronic flight bag. I had a chance to play with it some over the past few days, and it’s a real upgrade of an already great product. I won’t go into the details here, as Sporty’s iPad Pilot News has an extensive summary online that’s well worth reading, but it’s worth the look for both your real-world and simulated flying. This is even more true with the recent updates to ForeFlight 8 on the web, which make it an online flight planning tool at least equal to SkyVector, especially now that the route you plan online immediately syncs to your iPad.

Oh, and how does one connect ForeFlight with Prepar3d or FSX? Via the FSXFlight plugin. It costs a few bucks, but it works seamlessly.

Basic Basement Sim Dimensions

Hi everyone. The basement sim is starting to get a fair numbers of followers over on YouTube, and one of the common questions I’m getting is about the dimensions of the sim. I used Google Sketchup as a basic CAD program in the design, but made some modifications so the original Sketchup file isn’t ready for sharing. So today I just got out a ruler and made some measurements, and drew the attached. I hope it’s helpful to those thinking about building their own GA cockpit, and I’ll try to get the Sketchup file posted eventually.

Here’s the basic dimensions, all in INCHES. You may click this to make it larger or right-click to download it.

Basement Sim Dimensions


If you would like a PDF of this, you may download one here. And if you would like the real-world-sized PDF of the Cessna 172 panel that I used for the panel, you may download it here. I hope this helps.

A2A Repaints

I came across this very long list of A2A aircraft repaints. Very cool. I’d like to get this one for the Comanche (but first I need the Comanche!). (Also, original source is here.)


Flight Debriefs With CloudAhoy

After my flight lesson yesterday my CFI did something cool. During the debrief he asked me to look at a website with him, CloudAhoy. This site apparently links to an app on his iPhone that, when activated, tracks our flight and uploads it to the CloudAhoy servers. I know ForeFlight does this, but what’s cool about CloudAhoy is that it reads the data of the flight and tags it for debrief purposes. It automatically detects the sections of slow flight, stalls, steep turns, etc., and overlays it on Google Earth imagery of the terrain (or VFR sectionals
or IFR charts) so you can debrief the different sections of your training flight. It also can overlay the wind vectors, which is helpful for checking turns around a point, pattern work, etc.

Here is the overhead image of yesterday’s flight. He turned the app on after I had done IFR work with the foggles on, so the track doesn’t include the first third or so of our lesson. Like all the pics I post here you can click it to see it full-sized. The red sections are stalls, the spaghetti section in the middle was steep turns left and right, and the circles were turns around a point.


The controls at the bottom of the screen allow you to replay the flight in real time, or at faster or slower speeds, and the segments on the left allow you to skip to particular parts of the flight the app has tracked. Very cool. Even more cool is that CloudAhoy can render the flight track in 3D. Look at this …

CloudAhoy 2

Here’s my landing pattern, with a few hitches from where the app probably lost GPS or cell tower contact on the approach:

CloudAhoy 3

Finally, you can replay the flight from the cockpit, with a view like this:

CloudAhoy 4

I just replayed this part of the flight and monitored my speed on the approach. I did pretty well. Was still around 83 knots or so on base, but was through the 70s on final and right at 63 (the indicated landing speed for this airplane) over the threshold. I can see this is going to be a valuable tool in my instruction. You can see the flight yourself by clicking here.

There is a free version of the CloudAhoy service, but it’s limited in what you can debrief and share. The full subscription is $45 per year, and it immediately seems worth it to me as a student pilot. I’ll be signing up. And finally, you can connect the service with X-Plane, FSX, and Prepar3d as well. I’ll try this today, as it would be cool to track simulated training flights from the basement sim.