I have been quite absent from here lately. The holidays were a time to focus elsewhere, and with the new year my aviation interest was focused entirely upon preparing for my checkride. Since then I have been flying to remain proficient, have started my instrument training, and am busy with work. But today I’m answering questions in the Q&A section, and if you had posted one there, thank you for your patience.
This is not a post I wanted to write. X-Plane has been a great experience for me, even with the betas. But now it is a mess, and has been since around RC4 or RC5 of the 11.3 beta. The physical cockpit has been virtually unflyable. For a while things worked well until I touched the throttle, at which point I’d get a total hardware crash – to reset, not to desktop. I tried all the standard steps: pref deletion, cache deletion, removal of all plugins, and even a clean and separate install. No joy. I thought I’d isolated the problem as a customized aircraft file, but even with default aircraft, clean install, no add-ins: crashes. Less predictable, and no longer tied to the throttle, but crashes nonetheless. And there is nothing useful in the logs. (And graphic performance in the physical cockpit, with it’s 3-4 monitor setup, has also not been great in 11.3, with me getting about the same performance in 11.3 with my 1080ti as I used to get in earlier releases with my 980ti – but I’d gladly trade lower settings for a stable system.)
So today, after another crash in the physical cockpit, I thought I’d try VR. I had moved away from my VR setup and back to the physical sim to make practice easier for my real-world instrument rating, but thought I’d run with VR and see how it goes. And it was a different story. Graphic performance was excellent – a solid 45 frames and smooth, even with high settings. And with AviTab and my Navigraph sub I was using charts in the VR cockpit without difficulty as I simulated an IFR flight from KSNA to Carlsbad. And then, about half way to the Oceanside VOR from KSAN, crash. At least this one was to desktop. Again nothing informative in the logs.
I will note that I am now running 11.31rc1, hoping that the beta had squashed some of the prior bugs. But as of now, my sim is not reliably flyable. This is very disappointing, especially after several years of excellent reliability from X-Plane. And reading the forums, I’m not the only one. This is a buggy release, in my view, and I can’t wait until they have moved passed it.
But there is good news: in VR I found that if I looked down just at the instruments the experience was very similar to wearing foggles whe simulating instrument conditions in the real-world. So I have that going for me …
This morning I downloaded and for the first time used the new Ortho4XP 1.3 (download links are in Oscar Pilote’s signature line here). It has several improvements over version 1.2, one of which is smoothing that allows you to have sloped (and not flattened)) airport runways. I watched this YouTube video on how to use it, and the steps there worked perfectly. Also, as he does in the video, I went the extra step in creating mesh and overlays from the HD Mesh 4 package, and downloaded zoom level 19 tiles for several of the airports in the tile.
The results are great, and I’ve attached some screen captures below. Note the nicely sloped runway and airport environment in the last shot. (And you can click any of these images to see larger versions.)
My settings here:
- ZL 16 as the base zoom level using Bing maps (set in the settings)
- ZL 18 within three kilometers of each airport using Bing maps (set in the settings)
- ZL 19 over each airport itself using Google maps (set in with the zoom level screen)
- Water masks of 300 yards (which is probably too far given how the ortho imagery works in this area)
- Mesh from HD Mesh 4
- Overlays from HD Mesh 4
Also, I’m nearly done with my new Gateway version of Albert Whitted / KSPG. You can see that here, too, in the first several images. Overall, I think the result is fantastic, and I look forward to building a bunch of new tiles.
The new Gateway KTPA I’ve been working on …
KTPF Peter O Knight …
Look at that beautiful runway slope! ->
A few weeks back I rebuilt the sim panel (this is now version three of the panel). Here’s a video review of the finished product.
Note that at the time I shot this video I had not yet updated the firmware for the RealSimGear GNS units. They work great now after that update.
I haven’t been very disciplined about posting archived YouTube streams here, but here’s one: a transition of the LAX Bravo airspace via the Coastal Route transition, in the home cockpit with the new panel, on PilotEdge. Learn more about PilotEdge ATC here, and learn more about LA Bravo transitions here. The Coastal Route is pretty straightforward — to and from the LAX VOR on specific radials at an ATC-assigned altitude.
I came across a new resource for X-Plane users today, Threshold. Forums, downloads, articles, reviews, editorial, and more, including a nice “getting started” page for X-Plane. The site lacks a thorough “about” page, but it appears an intentional alternative to other X-Plane ecosystems. Check it out.
In October of 2016 I wrote a post titled How To Get Started With X-Plane 11 (For Those Coming From P3D Or FSX). I recently received an email from a reader who’s new to X-Plane asking if I’d updated it, and I had not. I did so today (it’s here as well as in the How To menu at the top of the page), and I will continue to do so on a regular basis. It was amazing to me how much has changed — for the better — in two years.