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ArjenVdv

Idea to make a weather radar possible

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Reading this title you would probably all "facedesk" (just like I always do when I see a weather radar thread in this forum :Big Grin: ), but I just came up with something really interesting.

 

During a flight today from Waterloo Well to somewhere else in Canada (can't remember the airport anymore lol), flying in really bad weather using the great OpusFSX weather engine, I was thinking: "Hey, if OpusFSX can download weather from the net and inject it into FSX really accurately, then it should also be possible for an FSX plane to download this exact same weather data, and show it on the ND, right?

I am fully aware of FSX' limitations as Ryan explained them many times: the precipation only exists within a small area of the plane, so precipation from a large distance cannot be measured directly from FSX itself, and therefore making a weather radar would not be worth it because it's not going to represent the real thing by far.

But what I came up with, works completely different. Actually, it's very much like the terrain radar in the NGX: it doesn't measure the terrain data directly from FSX, but it comes from a seperate terrain radar database. So, we could make a weather radar work in a similar way: live weather data gets downloaded from the internet and gets stored in such a database, and in this way the plane can show this data on the ND just in the same way the terrain data gets showed there.

Obviously, the data showed on the ND, will only match with FSX if you're using live weather, and preferably a live weather program like REX or Opus. But I don't see a problem with this considering that 99% of the PMDG users are using a good quality 3rd party weather engine anyway.

 

So what do you think? :P

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Well, you've just rediscovered NEXRAD and what you've described is exactly what existing weather engines do. However, it doesn't solve the basic problems involved with presenting weather 'radar' in FS. Weather data shows weather at a station in very broad terms with a time lag and will in no way present a 'real' depiction of conditions at any point within your view.

 

DJ

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That's an idea we've talked about in the past but it still has issues. For one, what's in FSX is never exactly what's there in the real world - I'm sure the Opus or AS2012 or REX devs would tell you that you're not going to see individual storm cells in exactly the same arrangement they are on a real life NEXRAD image for instance - FSX isn't capable of that level of granularity, it's much more general.

 

The other (arguably more important) issue with wx radar in FSX in general is that there's really no consequence for flying through weather - it's not going to rip the wings off your airplane, flame out your engines from heavy rain/hail, overwhelm your anti-ice systems etc. You can fly through the worst thunderstorm you can set up in FSX and you're basically out the other side of it in seconds with no ill effects. Until we have a sim that can actually make weather have the disastrous consequences it can have in real life, having radar is purely an academic exercise.

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The other (arguably more important) issue with wx radar in FSX in general is that there's really no consequence for flying through weather - it's not going to rip the wings off your airplane, flame out your engines from heavy rain/hail, overwhelm your anti-ice systems etc. You can fly through the worst thunderstorm you can set up in FSX and you're basically out the other side of it in seconds with no ill effects. Until we have a sim that can actually make weather have the disastrous consequences it can have in real life, having radar is purely an academic exercise.

 

I agree one hundred percent. I can't see the point in putting so much work into a feature that'll probably never get used properly and the bigger fact of the "problems" they display, aren't any problems for the aircraft in FSX.

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I still liked having it in the Maddog 08, it was a nice touch even if it only showed the general weather but I still deviate around cells that is visually spotted. The terrain map is a nice feature but its something I never have a use for since most of my flights are in and out of flat lands so the wx radar would get more use.

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That's an idea we've talked about in the past but it still has issues. For one, what's in FSX is never exactly what's there in the real world - I'm sure the Opus or AS2012 or REX devs would tell you that you're not going to see individual storm cells in exactly the same arrangement they are on a real life NEXRAD image for instance - FSX isn't capable of that level of granularity, it's much more general.

 

The other (arguably more important) issue with wx radar in FSX in general is that there's really no consequence for flying through weather - it's not going to rip the wings off your airplane, flame out your engines from heavy rain/hail, overwhelm your anti-ice systems etc. You can fly through the worst thunderstorm you can set up in FSX and you're basically out the other side of it in seconds with no ill effects. Until we have a sim that can actually make weather have the disastrous consequences it can have in real life, having radar is purely an academic exercise.

 

X-Plane 10 64bit, does and also has a weather radar that works. I've flown into bad thunderstorms showing red on the weather radar, in X-Plane and lost control of the aircraft.

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Realtime Nexrad raw data is available for free download. Someone at VATSIM (don't remember his name, but he's from France) was looking at incorporating it into VATSIM for ATC, but no mention of anything else. Not sure if European radar data is available.

 

 

Dave

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I guess Robert just answered my curiosity.

 

Tabs gives compelling reasons for us WXR lovers to "move on", but I have been wondering for a while as to wether it was possible to actually recreate live weather in any future simulation as the real world weather is never relayed in real time accurately anyway.

 

At least the discussions on both sides are always interesting.

 

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For one, what's in FSX is never exactly what's there in the real world.

 

The other (arguably more important) issue with wx radar in FSX in general is that there's really no consequence for flying through weather

Ad 1: as long as radar and outside weather use the same data the picture should be in sync; I could live with a time lag. But if the WX radar uses the same e.g. ASE/ASX data stream then WYSIWYG, isn't it?

Ad 2: all about eye candy then. Do I need people flow? They do not really load the luggage in my plane but hey look nice and hence I do buy from Orbx.

 

just my 2 cents

Phil

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The other (arguably more important) issue with wx radar in FSX in general is that there's really no consequence for flying through weather - it's not going to rip the wings off your airplane, flame out your engines from heavy rain/hail, overwhelm your anti-ice systems etc. You can fly through the worst thunderstorm you can set up in FSX and you're basically out the other side of it in seconds with no ill effects. Until we have a sim that can actually make weather have the disastrous consequences it can have in real life, having radar is purely an academic exercise.

 

I agree with Luke. Althouth I do not have time for the Virtual Airlines I do like to fly as realistic as possible espesially as I have a private ticket. One of my Carenado planes has the radar and I hardly look at it any more because it does not reflect what is outside the window and as Luke said I have yet to fly through weather as serious as it can be in the real world and I have AS2012.

Thanks,

Ron

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The other (arguably more important) issue with wx radar in FSX in general is that there's really no consequence for flying through weather - it's not going to rip the wings off your airplane, flame out your engines from heavy rain/hail, overwhelm your anti-ice systems etc. You can fly through the worst thunderstorm you can set up in FSX and you're basically out the other side of it in seconds with no ill effects. Until we have a sim that can actually make weather have the disastrous consequences it can have in real life, having radar is purely an academic exercise.

 

I agree with Luke. Althouth I do not have time for the Virtual Airlines I do like to fly as realistic as possible espesially as I have a private ticket. One of my Carenado planes has the radar and I hardly look at it any more because it does not reflect what is outside the window and as Luke said I have yet to fly through weather as serious as it can be in the real world and I have AS2012.

Thanks,

Ron

 

Explanation: I accidently deleted the Quote direction as I was trying to quote Ryan and agree with the remark that Luke had made.

Thanks,

Ron

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The other (arguably more important) issue with wx radar in FSX in general is that there's really no consequence for flying through weather - it's not going to rip the wings off your airplane, flame out your engines from heavy rain/hail, overwhelm your anti-ice systems etc. You can fly through the worst thunderstorm you can set up in FSX and you're basically out the other side of it in seconds with no ill effects. Until we have a sim that can actually make weather have the disastrous consequences it can have in real life, having radar is purely an academic exercise.

 

I can't agree with this, as someone else stated, we use GSX etc for realism on the ground, but we don't actually have passengers or cargo. Even though no damage can be sustained flying through a storm/hurricane, it would be nice to be able to re-route to avoid them and great training in the use of the fmc.

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Am I not right, when I say that Majestic are including a top notch weather radar in their dash?

 

IIRC, they have overcome many of the previously perceived FSX limitations that prevent a reasonably accurate rendition.

 

If so, I see no reason why PMDG couldn't do something similar, eventually.

 

Unless I'm missing something of course, which is always a possibility.

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I wrote this for a similar suggestion back in November. It should address some of the points, from a data availability standpoint:

 

Okay, here goes:

 

This is a problem in the real world as it is in the sim. A lot of the weather digests are just as backwards as the weather injection in Flight Sim. You'd imagine that the National Weather Service would have some sort of way to determine what the weather is at nearly any point in the United States, but they don't.

 

Here's what we have:

-Localized radar, but contrary to popular belief, there are gaps in coverage, and each radar has somewhat of a squelch feature. Ever see a blue cone around the radar site? Since there's no precip, the sensitivity has been dialed up to pick up lighter precip, which means the radar will pick up moisture closer to it, giving you the blue circle.

-METARs, but there are several gaps in coverage. For what radius is a METAR valid? What if there are two right next to each other with vastly different data? Does the change gradually occur, or is there a front 50/50 between them?

-Wind aloft reports (not going to help in generating a radar picture)

-PIREPs (not really going to help in generating a radar picture)

 

Here's an example of the radar "squelch":

mid_atlantic_201211011430.gif

 

The circles are over southern Ohio, all over Indiana, and in SE VA. Those circles don't necessarily mean precip, rather, that local station's sensitivity has been increased in order to see showery precip should it occur. So, using this method to infer precip in the sim isn't necessarily going to give you accurate precip, even when porting real Doppler into the sim.

(If the sensitivity thing interests you, research vcp)

 

So, while that method may be clever to generate a radar picture and then force trigger the rain effect in the sim, it's not as accurate as you'd like it to be, as it's a composite. The radar return from the NWS is a composite of the altitudes (again, see vcp here), whereas the returns on your sim radar would be at whatever angle you adjusted the radar to, based on your altitude. In other words, the NWS radar is multiple slices. Your sim radar would be a single slice.

 

Even in the real world, when we look at radar, we're only checking for precip and strength of precip. In order to come to understand real world conditions across the NAS, we all turn to digests of METARs, which is what the weather programs all do.

 

Here's the trick, though:

United's weather model is different from Delta's, which is different from Southwest's, which is different from the FAA's (they all built/contracted different programs - the FAA is trying to remedy this with a "common weather picture" initiative in NextGen). Just like your REX is different from my AS2012, which is slightly different from someone else's ASE. Granted, when you're simulating a weather radar in a sim, the weather in your sim is the only one that matters, but the issues remain.

 

Aside from radar, METARs are the only near-real-time data we have for various weather programs to digest into some semblance of a weather picture, but they are not a complete weather picture. They are occasionally incorrect (on my flight last weekend, the JYO METAR showed lightning distant and there was no chance*). Additionally, how do you determine weather en route with drastic changes? When I flew on my birthday two years ago, my original destination was reporting a ceiling of 400' and 3/4SM vis. The airport I went into instead was severe clear, and it is only 6.9nm away. They're both located in a plain, but SHD is closer to the Luray Valley, which was "spilling" valley clouds out over it (the airports are KVBW and KSHD, and you can see how the terrain affects them here).

 

Most weather programs mitigate this by interpolation for smoothing, but with such drastic changes some of them have difficulties. So, even with "real" weather injection through METARs (what we use currently), it's hard to generate an accurate picture. It's also nearly impossible to give any sort of upper air precip picture through digesting METAR data (remember, METAR data comes from ground stations, primarily reporting conditions on the ground, with limited other features like cloud altitudes). Granted, I'm not sure what other information these weather programs are ingesting, but there isn't much else out there.

 

*If you're bored, there are more videos here along with the narrative of the flight

Also, if you generally hate my guts, you can also see me getting punished by crosswinds in those videos :wink:

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Am I not right, when I say that Majestic are including a top notch weather radar in their dash?

 

IIRC, they have overcome many of the previously perceived FSX limitations that prevent a reasonably accurate rendition.

 

If so, I see no reason why PMDG couldn't do something similar, eventually.

 

Unless I'm missing something of course, which is always a possibility.

 

Yes, I've seen the Majestic Dash 8 having a weather radar on Youtube also most likely using live weather data from the internet. Of course, PMDG can do something similar. But PMDG are perfectionists, and great perfectionists. But when the real thing cannot be reproduced a 100%, doesn't mean you should not reproduce it at all.

The idea of taking weather data from the internet, might not be 100% accurate to what your FSX is showing, but I think 90% of the people wouldn't mind at all. Just having that image on there adds something new to the immersion, and at least you've got something more to do in cruise. For example, in the NGX you can divert from your route in cruise, but if you're honest, how many of you frequently use this feature? I don't, because I don't know what weather is in front of me. If a weather radar gives me a global image of what's in front of me, I can go around any potential storms.

I think PMDG should slowly start to realise that a weather radar is actually possible. Will it be perfect? Nope. Will it add something cool to their planes? Definitely.

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Right, but if you haven't read my post, here's the issue:

Weather isn't all at the same altitude.

 

If you're using RW radar images, you're getting a composite, which is slices of the weather at several altitudes. If the weather is all low and you're up at FL380, you may see weather that wouldn't even affect you. If more granular data existed, you could do it well enough, but as it exists now you're not going to pull that idea off very well.

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Solution: Inject hi-res GRIB data into the sim :P

 

Much easier said than done, of course!

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Just make a system then that looks at the FSX weather, and decides to "simulate" a storm cell out in front of you. Kinda like FSpassengers just decides to kill system on your plane at random. You can choose to go around it if you like, and if you do, you won't see it anyhow because you are trying to avoid it. If you fly through it because you don't feel like simulating weather avoidance, then no harm, no foul. Forget about trying to read all this real world data nonsence that is still subject to the pilot having a look outside and interpret it all.

 

I wish I knew how to program this idea.

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The idea of taking weather data from the internet, might not be 100% accurate to what your FSX is showing, but I think 90% of the people wouldn't mind at all. Just having that image on there adds something new to the immersion, and at least you've got something more to do in cruise. For example, in the NGX you can divert from your route in cruise, but if you're honest, how many of you frequently use this feature? I don't, because I don't know what weather is in front of me. If a weather radar gives me a global image of what's in front of me, I can go around any potential storms.

Using real world radar isn't really feasible. The coverage isn't global and as Kyle says it's from ground based radar, so not much use in the air. Also the amount of graphical data to transfer would be huge. Finally not everyone uses real world weather, and the simulated WXR would have to work for them too.

 

Any FSX WXR would therefore have to be based around the weather that FSX is presenting, based on the cloud types being presented and cloud coverage. FSX doesn't create rain anywhere except where the aircraft is, but which storm clouds have rain in them could be arbitrarily determined by the WXR simulation using OAT, dew point, etc to help make the modelling more realistic. It wouldn't be anywhere near exact to the real world but it would at least provide something fairly representative given the conditions.

 

As for there being no effects on the aircraft if you fly through a storm cell, there are two ways to look at this. One is to say "so what?", this isn't a training device. It's really silly to say because I can't do 100% of something I'm not going to bother with the 90% I can do. Someone watching the display could still fly round a storm cell on the radar and therefore the lack of effects is a moot point. There are lots of things in FSX that don't have real world effects if you ignore the warnings. The other way to deal with it is to back drive FSX weather special effects from the sim's relative position of the storm cells as painted on the WXR display. If you fly into such a storm cell the simulation would ramp in 100% turbulence, zero visibility and heavy rain. It wouldn't break the aircraft but it would be a good representation of why you should avoid the cell.

 

There are always ways to do things that appear impossible. It just takes a little lateral thinking. I do hope PMDG are beginning to move away from their very hard stance that it isn't possible to an acceptance that something can be done which would provide a representative WXR display for those who want it.

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I think OpusFSX people have big chances to make a very acceptable WX Radar, as they know what is being written on the Weather Themes depicted by FSX.

Bear in mind each cell is only 16 km x 16 km, and depending on its actualization's frequency, it may well detail as high as 8 km in front of an aircraft nose, which seems reasonable to me.

And as the entire system handles up to 64 x 64 cells, the area covered would be bigger than any WX radar can display.

To obtain the same precision, 3rd party developers like PMDG should be able to read the current wx theme, but this would be a difficult task as they'd have to continually check for new injections.

 

Tom

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I think OpusFSX people have big chances to make a very acceptable WX Radar, as they know what is being written on the Weather Themes depicted by FSX.

Bear in mind each cell is only 16 km x 16 km, and depending on its actualization's frequency, it may well detail as high as 8 km in front of an aircraft nose, which seems reasonable to me.

And as the entire system handles up to 64 x 64 cells, the area covered would be bigger than any WX radar can display.

To obtain the same precision, 3rd party developers like PMDG should be able to read the current wx theme, but this would be a difficult task as they'd have to continually check for new injections.

 

Tom

 

Read Ryan post on it above, think he sums it well its not going to happen

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Solution: Inject hi-res GRIB data into the sim :P

 

Much easier said than done, of course!

 

Opus uses this now.

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I can't agree with this, as someone else stated, we use GSX etc for realism on the ground, but we don't actually have passengers or cargo. Even though no damage can be sustained flying through a storm/hurricane, it would be nice to be able to re-route to avoid them and great training in the use of the fmc.

 

If this is what you want to do you can get a radar from NEXRAD and put it in your plane. But when you get close to that cell and go around it it won't be outside your window. For that matter you can change course on the FMC without the radar (reroute for a sick passenger lol)

 

Thanks,

Ron

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