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The unofficial VATSIM Tip Sharing thread.

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Hi all!Back in the days of FS98, I used to fly on SATCO, before Roger Wilco made v-atc possible. Back then, I can remember getting very flustered with having to both fly the plane, and communicate with ATC without doing a nosedive on departure. Later, I got FS2K, and soon the voice use increased. This made it easier to keep my hands on the controls, while talking to ATC, but I can remember on more than one occasion where I botched my readback, because I was scanning instruments, and a number on one of the guages would replace the assigned FL or heading, thus making the controller repeat himself (no doubt with an understandable sigh and roll of the eyes. :))What I'd like to do is to see if some of you more seasoned online vets could share your tips on how to survive as the one-man pilot, co-pilot (and in some cases, flight attendant ;)) in the live and busy world of VATSIM.I'm in FS2K2 now, getting ready to take the plunge once more into online ATC. My sanity, the controllers' sanity, and the virtual lives of all my pax and peers in the sky depend on all the help I can get! Thanks!JonathanKATL

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Hi JonathanI can't rate myself as a vet on VATSIM but something that made a big difference for me was assigning the Roger Wilco push to talk button to one of my yoke buttons. That way I can transmit and steer at the same time while fiddeling with the mouse with my right hand.Another thing I'm playing with right now is a couuple of speech add-ons that will let me give orders to an invisible F/O. And she takes care of the stuff. For example I call the different panels by saying "Overhead" or "Pedestal". The voice recognition engines can be a bit unreliable though...A third thing that made a huge difference for me was putting a lot of peripheral programs on a separate computer. I run FS and AIBridge on one comp, and Roger Wilco, SquawkBox, ActiveSky on a second computer. Makes for a smoother flying experience.And last but not by any means least. I try to join once in a while with a friend of mine, who is also into flying. And with a couple of beers we go for a dual head flight. :-)Well... I hope other people share their idea on how to make the one man cockpit more workable. :-)Regards

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I use a joystick. (and I'm right handed) For me, buying the Saitek joystick where you can "hand" it to work well with the left hand made my life much easier, as I could use my right hand on the mouse. I assigned the button next to the Number 1 (top left of keyboard, under the Esc key) for push to talk in Roger Wilco. It's very easy to get to when you're flying on the Autopilot.RegardsSp.s. I must say I never found it a challenge to communicate and work the airplane at the same time.>Hi Jonathan >>I can't rate myself as a vet on VATSIM but something that >made a big difference for me was assigning the Roger Wilco >push to talk button to one of my yoke buttons. That way I >can transmit and steer at the same time while fiddeling with >the mouse with my right hand. >>Another thing I'm playing with right now is a couuple of >speech add-ons that will let me give orders to an invisible >F/O. And she takes care of the stuff. For example I call the >different panels by saying "Overhead" or "Pedestal". The >voice recognition engines can be a bit unreliable though... >>A third thing that made a huge difference for me was putting > a lot of peripheral programs on a separate computer. I run >FS and AIBridge on one comp, and Roger Wilco, SquawkBox, >ActiveSky on a second computer. Makes for a smoother flying >experience. >>And last but not by any means least. I try to join once in a >while with a friend of mine, who is also into flying. And >with a couple of beers we go for a dual head flight. :-) >>Well... I hope other people share their idea on how to make >the one man cockpit more workable. :-) >>Regards Sunil Mulay

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Hi Sunil,You don't say which Saitek stick you have but I would be interested in your 'left hand' use, do you mean you just turn the stick round or is there something more to it?I have the X36 combo and find it a good inexpensive control.I note you use the keyboard for your RW PTT. Have you thought about using one of the stick buttons?I use the missile launch button on top of the stick for my PTT and assign it using FSUIPC.

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Hi Jonathan,First off let me say that voice ATC makes life a lot easier than using text.My on line flying has all been done since voice was implemented but voice restrictions are/were in place in various divisions I have had to cope with text only controllers; OK in cruise but a nighmare on approach:-erks As landing is probably the most intensive part of the trip my best advice is get configured as early as possible or at least know what your landing speed and flaps should be. That way you can concentrate on ATC instructions and operate flaps, gear and speed when required.I use the A/P rather than manual control of the aircraft in response to ATC instructions, that way you only have to set the numbers in the MCP and you should not get 'excursions' when you inadvertantly move the yoke/stick.Even on manual T/O you should be able to manage comms & fly, especially if you assign a yoke/stick button for your PTT.As for flight attendant, I still don't know of virtual ones that serve coffee etc. :-lol If you do need to leave the flightdeck for any reason, just advise the controller that you have to leave for a short while and when back in the seat just call up and advise that you are back in command; of course this is best done in the cruise and not on short finals :-lol Have a pen and paper handy to write down your clearance so you know what squwak code to set and any initial altitude restriction.For hand-offs I usually remember the frequency - my brain can't cope with controller AND frequency :-lol - it is then easy to look up the frequency in the ATC directory and double click to change RW & COMM1.HTH And enjoy getting back in the skies with real ATC, especially as a new era starts on VATSIM with the new ATC s/ware just released, and any body's guess when the new SB will be ready.

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Hi VulcanIt's the Saitek Cyborg 3D Digital... I think its "old" technology now, anyway you can swap the throttle over to the right hand side using a simple alan key. and turn the hand supports on the handle over so that it supports the left instead of the right hand. (no, I don't simply turn the joystick around.. might make it a bit difficult to fly that way....... :) )I find it easier to assign a keybard command for PTT, because most of the flight is hands-off (using the autopilot). I only need to use the joystick on the ground and during takeoff.RegardsSunil>Hi Sunil, >>You don't say which Saitek stick you have but I would be >interested in your 'left hand' use, do you mean you just >turn the stick round or is there something more to it? >>I have the X36 combo and find it a good inexpensive control. >>I note you use the keyboard for your RW PTT. Have you >thought about using one of the stick buttons? >>I use the missile launch button on top of the stick for my >PTT and assign it using FSUIPC. Sunil Mulay

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This brings up a good point .. They almost always train new controllers in this order .. Ground,Tower,ApproachCenter.New controllers have to be voice certified before they can go voice .. this means that more often then not you get a newbie doing text only for tower.Tower is the last place I wanna go text. I think they should strive harder to get the ATC voice certified before they let them leave ground.Just me 2 cents.

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HiThis has been brought up earlier on this forum. I think only the VATSIM-US has these rules as I never came across it in Europe. I think they should be voice certified before they go controller certified. Voice is essential for a smooth ride for the pilots, especially on the stressful moments at t/o and landing. i.e. TWR and APP.And these are my

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In Australia/Pacific region, Voice and Controller rating are hand in hand :)The only time you encounter a text only controller is when either::Roger wilco servers are mucking up or: after midnight, Australian time when the controllers don't want to be talking anymore... though this is unlikley now, cos usually they just log off around then :(

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I think like real flying, the key to a successful virtual flight is good organization and planning. This takes only a few minutes but can really make a difference. For example, familiarize yourself with the departure and arrival airports and route before the flight. This can be as simple as looking at some charts to get a good feel for the layout of the airports and reading the flightplan to really know the route well. Next, have all your charts (if you use them) in order, from departure, enroute, arrival. Also read over those DP's/STAR's before you go so you also know them well. I actually do like the airlines and have a clip on my yoke and put the chart right there. Lastly, it is important to use tools like airspeed bugs, altitude alterters, etc. I can't remember how many times when I first started FS and online flying I would fly straight through my assigned altitude, or turn right past the heading... :-)Some may think that spending time planning is boring and a waste, but I guarantee if you spend about 10 minutes ahead of time you'll have a lot more fun during the flight.Cheers,Marchttp://vatsim.pilotmedia.fi/statusindicato...tor=OD1&a=a.jpg

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I agree. Voice ratings should me mandatory for Tower and above. Nothing like being on a 5 mile final and going from a voice approach controller to a text tower controller while wanting to do a manual approach! The trick I came up with is when I know I am going to a text only controller, I type in "with you for 25L" in the text box while still with the approach controller. When handed off to them, all I need to do is put my cursor back into the text box and hit enter instead of having to type it out.

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There are a number of posts in this thread about use of voice and voice rating for controllers.Each of the posts seem to have missed one very important fact, text, and not voice, is still the default method of communication on Vatsim so you should never see a controller barred from any position just because they don't have a voice rating.So 'Voice ratings should me mandatory for Tower and above' will not happen unless Vatsim change their policy on the method of communication.

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Just to add to this last point. Even with voice controllers,it is important to stay on their freq for text back up whenvoice is either garbled or stepped on by other pilots.If a pilot is unfamiliar with an Intersection often it iseasier for both the controller and pilot to type it in text rather than spell it out phonetically when the pilot is busyflying.BlayneM.

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Well I never wanted to say that voice be mandatory. I think it would be nice as part of common practice for VATSIM to encourage controllers to get voice certified before proceeding to Approach, and Tower. Mind you I'm not a controller, nor do I have any experience in that position. I'm relating my experiences from the other side of the mic. I just wonder if Center in an area with light traffic wouldn't make more sense as the next step for a new controller, especially one without voice certification. Roger Wilco can be spotty, if you can't get text you aren't talking to VATSIM anyway, so I understand and agree that "Text is the default communication for VATSIM". That doesn't mean we can't try to make things better.Two address two other points brought up.I love the planning, its probably for me as much fun as the actual flying. I like looking at the charts, and picking my routes. Right now I'm evaluating FSNavigator, and trying to decide if I want to spend money on that, or get all the real charts, or both.I try very hard to be prepared, flying as close to reality as I can (given that I'm sitting in my living room on a folding card table). :) I usually do try to put into the clipboard "Pegasus 514 with you to land Runway 25R" so I only have to paste it in at the right moment. Sometimes things go wrong; just Saturday I was flying into Seattle, when things went wrong on approach. I couldn't have my pre-canned text ready, all I had time to type was "Landing". :) Luckily things went well .. it was actually a fun approach, and landing. Was the first time I've ever been put into a pattern around an airport online. :)Oh and back on track with the forum my tips (similar to ones already stated): When coming into a tower without voice, put your contact into the clipboard (type it up, use shift arrow keys to highlight it, and hit ctrl-x to file it away). That way you can type to approach if needed and not lose it, and just hit ctrl-v to bring it back. Get ServInfo, and put the ServInfo gauge on the panels of your favorite planes. It gives you an ATC directory, and lets you quickly change both RW, and Radio right there in FS2002 even in full screen mode.

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Dear Jonathan,Before you fly in VATSIM, do some exercises offline. First try some "by-the-book" ILS approaches. This helps you to make a standard for your operations. After it, make some very tight visual approaches thinking the communication phrases at the same time. This gets you into quick reaction with the standard learned in the ILS exercises and helps you to know what's coming next. Then fly some other non-precision approaches (ndb and 2ndb approaches are nice to fly with A320) by the standard learned in the ILSes and by communications learned in visual approaches. I believe this helps you in the problem. I supposed that you have at least adequate skills in VFR operations already. If you don't have any skills in VFR, please take a Cessna and practise them first. And if the speed is too much for you, you can always take some other plane than Boeing 747.For (virtual) aviation safety and controllers' reality, please don't forget flight planning. FPL does include something else than route, too. I understand that the most of VATSIM pilots are not so interested in flight planning, but for me it usually takes from 10 minutes to four hours. It's better to think of a route in briefing room, not in the cockpit.Hope this helps you forward.Regards, Matti.

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As simple as that !If you do not, then it causes problems on the voice channel you're in.It is irrelevant with your actual Internet conection speed.RogerWilco->ADJUST->CONFIGURE->NEXT...->ConnectionSpeed > SLOW MODEMKyprianos Biris :-cool[link:avsim.com/greece/hvacc]Hellenic vACChttp://vatsim-eur.org/images/VATSIM-EURs.gifhttp://vatsim.pilotmedia.fi/statusindicato...tor=OD1&a=a.jpg

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Mats,regarding using voice recognition for controlling commmands, I also used to do that with some sims. However, I used to get funny looks from my neigbours before I realized I should use headphones only and not speakers too. With so much background noise the voice recognition engine had a hard time picking up the vocal commands. So I ended up repeating the commands over and over, more or less shouting (remember I used headphones so I didn't realize I was shouting) and also trying to pronounciate them in different ways...Finally a puzzled neighbour asked me what I'm doing up in the middle of the night shouting "flaps...FLAPS...flaaaPS...FLAPS FLAPS" or the corresponding for "gear" and other commands. :-lol/KristerMariehamn,

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I'm certainly no vet either, but I would also like to stress the importance of planning ahead. For example:Use Servinfo to check out the ATIS for the destination airport even before you leave the ground (of course you have to verify if they have been updated by the time you approach the airport)Listen to the communication between other pilots and the stations. They provide you with information on what to expect (runways, SID/STARS etc) and also teaches you the correct way of communicatingBefore you start talking, make sure there is no other communication going on between other pilots and stations. It's driving me mad when you are reading back your clearance and then some other guys jumps in in the middle of it with total disrespect. And just because someone isn't talking at the moment doesn't mean it's free to talk - perhaps someone just received clearance from ATC and is about to do the readback, let him/her do that first.Check the ATC directory of Squawkbox and write down the frequencies and callsigns of the stations you will encounter when leaving/approaching an airport, usually Tower, approach and radar.When it's working properly, there's a gauge in the cockpit put there by Servinfo that is incredibly useful. It opens an interface from within the cockpit where you can change comm-frequencies in Roger Wilco and also read the ATIS. /Krister

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I'm not sure how it's supposed to be in other countries, but as a controller I've experienced too many un-necessary position reports ("This is ABC123, we're crossing XYZ VOR at FL350"). We can see this perfectly fine on radar, so all it is doing is creating extra radio chatter that is not needed, especially in busy times. Just keep this in mind next time you're flying in the US.Another point is navigation...we can't do it for you. Understand your route clearance, fly it, and don't deviate unless instructed to, or its absolutley necessary. If you don't understand the DPs or STARs for an airport, don't file them and put "NO DP/STAR" in your comments section of your flight plan. We'll work with you, but if you make us do something that's not in our job description, we're not happy.

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What's the policy or advice for position reports when switching from freq to freq (ie to a new controller) I usually say something like " Is at climbing to " ie having just taken off and now contacting Approach/Departures I would say maybe "Sydney Departures, Oscar Golf Uniform is climbing 5000 through two thousand one hundred."or maybe"Melbourne Centre, Oscar Gold Uniform, level at Flight Level 360"Anything more than this is just going to be clutter, unless specifically asked for a pos report or doing one in Oceanic Airspace... when required... ie "Brisbane Radio, Qantas 22 was overhead waypoint ANULI at time 2210Zulu Flight Level 360, extimate APOMA at time 2231 ZULU And MYLUV next. Temp is minus 5 3 and Wind 270 at 32. Qantas 22"

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>What's the policy or advice for position reports when>switching from freq to freq (ie to a new controller) I usually>say something like " Is at> climbing to " ie having just>taken off and now contacting Approach/Departures I would say>maybe "Sydney Departures, Oscar Golf Uniform is climbing 5000>through two thousand one hundred.">or maybe>"Melbourne Centre, Oscar Gold Uniform, level at Flight Level>360"And possibly where you are routing to next (or if after take off the SID you are flying) or if you are on an assigned radar heading from ATC you should give that too.i.e. "Melbourne, Oscar Golf Uniform, passing 2100 feet for altitude 5000 feet direct XXX," (or "Radar heading 220")If you are given a radar heading that differs from your flight plan and then given a frequency change, the controller should give you the instruction "Oscar Golf Uniform, contact Melbourne approach on xxx.xx with the heading" And now for my Soapbox bit!I also think that pilots should require an RT rating on VATSIM as ineal world aviation. I fly in Europe and one of the reasons I stopped flying so much on VATSIM was because of the constant chatter of people asking for messages to be repeated because they didn't write down the instruction or just weren't listening properly or just had a basic poor command of English. I know that Roger Wilco is nowhere near perfect but you get spoilt in the real world with good radio reception (generally)and pilots who know what they are doing. There's nothing worse than trying to get a word in and and not being able to. I found myself constantly shouting "SHUT UP" out loud (not on the radio of course!)I don't think I am alone amongst real world pilots who do not suffer fools gladly! I know and appreciate that new pilots have to learn but I don't think that talking to a busy "London Director" controller (for example) at a peak time is the best way of doing it and believe me I have heard it! It's not fair on the controller, the other pilots or the new pilot either. Just my 2cents worth and wholly my personal opinion and not meant to offend anyone. RegardsTimFull time commercial pilot and part time VATSIM pilot (and one time controller)

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