adyfoot

P3D v4 ATC Add-On

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Hi everyone,

I'm interested in any feedback you might have around ATC add-ons for P3D v4.  It's something I think it missing from my simulator experience and I'm not a big fan of VATSIM or IVAO.  I understand there are a few options but I'm not sure on the pros and cons of each and would appreciate your thoughts.  Do any of the existing add-ons even support P3D v4?

Thanks in advance!

Ady

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For instance:

The problem with your question, as can be seen in any topic about ATC (and there are a lot of them), is that everyone will say his or hers favorite is the best. In the end you will have to read reviews, watch video's, read various topics, etc. to make your own decision. Some of the ATC addons do have demo's afaik.

I myself have used ProATC/X and liked it. Thought it was the best. But others will promote others. (I am not using any ATC right now because currently I only fly GA and for that the default P3D ATC does the trick.)

One thing is for certain though: the perfect ATC addon doesn't exist yet. :happy: (But well, so doesn't the perfect sim so what else is new... :laugh: )

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Pilot 2 ATC is the one that I use. It has a 10 day demo, I believe.

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17 minutes ago, J van E said:

For instance:

The problem with your question, as can be seen in any topic about ATC (and there are a lot of them), is that everyone will say his or hers favorite is the best. In the end you will have to read reviews, watch video's, read various topics, etc. to make your own decision. Some of the ATC addons do have demo's afaik.

I myself have used ProATC/X and liked it. Thought it was the best. But others will promote others. (I am not using any ATC right now because currently I only fly GA and for that the default P3D ATC does the trick.)

One thing is for certain though: the perfect ATC addon doesn't exist yet. :happy: (But well, so doesn't the perfect sim so what else is new... :laugh: )

Hi Jeroen,

I found that article after posting and just came back to see if I could remove my question.  I understand that everyone has a different view on things but I'm most interested in why you don't think the perfect ATC add-on exists yet.  What do you think is missing from the current offerings?

Thanks,

Ady

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Well, for starters, the voices are often problematic. Quite often they sound robotic or just bad. Imho the default P3D ATC still sounds best.

Secondly, a lot of ATC addons require a lot of manual input. I liked ProATC because it can do a lot all by itself: it can be as simple as telling it your departure and destination and ProATC does the rest, including creating a flightplan, assigning SID and STAR at the appropriate time, etc. Some addons require you to input almost everything which totally kills the idea that actual ATC is talking to you: you only hear what you program into it.

Third: there often are limitations to what you can change on the fly. Things maybe fine when you follow the exact flightplan but when you change plans things go wrong. You might not have all options you'd want during a flight to change things.

Some addons also require some sort of control strip on screen, which I don't like. Again, ProATC keeps it simple here: you can do almost everything by just pressing a few basic number keys. 

Not all ATC addons can handle VFR properly which is another shame. 

Now I haven't tried all available options. I read quite a bit about them and watched video's and for me ProATC is the best whenever I fly airliners. But I have to say that I don't look forward to install it and to set all options. ATC addons aren't the easiest addons to get going. When I get my airliner for P3D v4 I probably will try some demo's of other developers. But because I am used to ProATC it may be hard to switch...

As I said for simple GA and VFR flying default ATC is good enough, if not the best, so for the time being I am good.

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Pretty happy with Pro ATCX myself. I like its features, but that doesn't make it the best, just my preference. I will admit it is a bit of a PITA to set it up, but once it is up and running it's pretty good although I would say it is probably leaning toward being more suitable to airliner flights than pottering about VFR. If you like VFR, I would say Vox ATC is probably about the best choice.

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I have PF3 and VoxATC and here is a quick summary of both:

PF3 - Of all the ATC add-ons, this one requires probably the most intricate setup of the flightplan. You have to key in all the information including end of a SID and start of a STAR along with all altitude restrictions. The effort is significant especially if you want to account for different runways based on weather (You need to key in all the SID and STAR data for all the runways along with TAs and FAFs for the airport). I am not sure why the developer did not choose to use navdata to simplify this part but this is where it stands today. Though the vectoring has been ok on most occasions, it has been a hit and miss for me at least on some ocassions when I add a STAR to the flightplan. Your sim still controls the AI but it does come with a conflict monitor on the ground which does a good job of preventing AI from getting into your path while taxiing (freezes them). On the plus side, you have a very responsive developer, regular updates to the application and decent support through their forums. The other plus is also a rich voice set which adds to the immersion while flying through different regions. I think you can also talk to it instead of using keyboard shortcuts through MCE add-on though I don't own this so I don't know how good it is.

VoxATC - This one adds realism through actually speaking to the controller by default. One unique feature is that it generates its own AI traffic from your traffic files and controls in the sim. The advantage is that you get a very realistic experience as right from clearance to landing, the ATC is able to handle all aspects with AI. This works reasonably well as long as you set the traffic percentage in Voxatc to a realistic level (around 30% or so). It does use navdata so it can assign you the SID and STAR automatically providing you have some of the waypoints in your flightplan. Vectoring is good though you do have minor hiccups. It does handle VFR as well. Another interesting capability it has which none of the other add-ons have (I think ProATC may have though not sure) is that it is terrain aware I.e. it shouldn't vector you into mountains and should know the safe altitudes around you (though in real world this is the pilots responsibility to not scrape metal, it still is a nice feature especially if you don't use the airport chart or a STAR). On the flip side, currently the latest version (7.4) is quite buggy and is due for an update from the developer. The developer does respond if you mail him with the bugs but the updates are not as frequent as PF3. You can check the forum here for the info on bugs. Also it has a limited voice set (uses TTS) as compared to PF3. 

Both the add-ons work with all sims from FSX to P3d v4 and support network capability. Also they do have a generous demo/trial of their add-on so you should get a good idea if it is suitable for you or not.

As previously stated, there is no perfect add-on as of date. Each add-on has its quirks but also developing a realistic ATC addon is not that easy. Some do better than others in certain areas so it boils down to your personal taste. In my opinion VOXATC comes quite close to being a very comprehensive add-on but it is a bit difficult to recommend without any reservations as the current version has a lot of bugs that need to be ironed out.

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I am gonna go to Pilotedge already started to save for it.  That is my next addon/service.  

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Having been an en-route air traffic controller for 40 years my voice goes to Pro ATC-X, no contest. Not perfect, but the closest you can get.

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I have Pilot2ATC (I bought it mainly for X-Plane). It uses Windows text-to-speech voices and sometimes words are pronounced incorrectly. You can use it without a microphone.

It has a fair share of problems. I have had ATC forget about me, not give me take-off clearence, ignore my STAR and not even recognise my callsign even though I'm not using a mic. Also sometimes exporting a plan causes a crash (in fact certain SID's will crash it everytime). It expects your aircraft to have the deceleration of a sports car and if you don't slow down quickly enough you get nagged every 15 seconds or so (you can set it to ignore speed restrictions below 10000 ft, but that only applies to the 250 kts restriction - if the flight plan demands, say, 200 kts you will get nagged if you are above and that can make descents awkward). The TOD calculations are usually wrong.

Many of the taxi waypoints are incorrect so you have to taxi over grass. (There is an editor so you can fix this, but it's a PITA and something the dev should really be on top of). It also require a decent internet connection for downloading map/satellite data and a second display is highly recommended. I haven't noticed any performance hit using it.

But when it does work, it's quite good and as someone said earlier, there's a 10 day demo.

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1 hour ago, FlightSimmer68 said:

I have Pilot2ATC (I bought it mainly for X-Plane). It uses Windows text-to-speech voices and sometimes words are pronounced incorrectly. You can use it without a microphone.

It has a fair share of problems. I have had ATC forget about me, not give me take-off clearence, ignore my STAR and not even recognise my callsign even though I'm not using a mic. Also sometimes exporting a plan causes a crash (in fact certain SID's will crash it everytime). It expects your aircraft to have the deceleration of a sports car and if you don't slow down quickly enough you get nagged every 15 seconds or so (you can set it to ignore speed restrictions below 10000 ft, but that only applies to the 250 kts restriction - if the flight plan demands, say, 200 kts you will get nagged if you are above and that can make descents awkward). The TOD calculations are usually wrong.

Many of the taxi waypoints are incorrect so you have to taxi over grass. (There is an editor so you can fix this, but it's a PITA and something the dev should really be on top of). It also require a decent internet connection for downloading map/satellite data and a second display is highly recommended. I haven't noticed any performance hit using it.

But when it does work, it's quite good and as someone said earlier, there's a 10 day demo.

Remember that P2A is in beta so there are going to be issues. The developer is as engaged with his users as any I've encountered.

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1 hour ago, FlightSimmer68 said:

But when it does work, it's quite good

LOL After reading your post this brought a smile to my face. :happy:

5 hours ago, SierraDelta said:

Having been an en-route air traffic controller for 40 years my voice goes to Pro ATC-X, no contest. Not perfect, but the closest you can get.

Well... now you hear it from someone who knows about it! This is the best promotion ProATC can get. 

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That is a ridiculous comment. The RELEASE version is 2.0 - the beta version being worked on is 2.2. And, regardless, not saying it is a beta would not be dishonest.

I suggest you rethink your comment.

Vic

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36 minutes ago, vgbaron said:

That is a ridiculous comment. The RELEASE version is 2.0 - the beta version being worked on is 2.2. And, regardless, not saying it is a beta would not be dishonest.

I suggest you rethink your comment.

Vic

Hey Vic -- don't you believe everything you read on the Internet? :)

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Actually, it says beta in the bug reporting forum on this site. Regardless, the software is updated monthly if not sometimes weekly, so I'm missing your point.

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Every time i read a thread like this, i think that there's potential for a developer who could create the "perfect" atc addon to be very successful if they could pull it off...

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4 minutes ago, regis9 said:

Every time i read a thread like this, i think that there's potential for a developer who could create the "perfect" atc addon to be very successful if they could pull it off...

If you could take every ATC program that has been written and combine them, you might be fairly close to a perfect program. None of them are perfect and a lot of it comes down to the service that the developer provides after the sale.

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Agreed.  Frankly I'd be happy with a modified default ATC that allowed you to fly sids/stars, did a better job of vectoring you, used a shorter downwind leg, and changed between FAA and ICAO terminology/procedures (ie FL changes) depending on where you are.  The voices in the default ATC are still by far the best out there to me in terms of sounding natural and being easy to work with to create new phrases.

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Always been a big fan of VoxATC for my VFR flying and occasional IFR flights in my light aircraft (A2A C172, Cherokee etc). One of the main features with VoxATC, the fact that it generates its own traffic can also be a pain I have noticed. The aircraft often do not behave like you expect, they can suddely just dissapear and although VoxATC base its traffic on your realistic AI flightplans the proportions can be way off. Say that 10 airlines traffic an airport and there are 5 parking spaces. Many times it could be that VoxATC places the same airline at all five gates. This might not be a problem at larger airports but having 5 Air France jets occuping all five gates at Tahiti airport is a bit unrealistic :)

Anways, lately I have returned go good old default ATC and for those VFR flights its not that bad and espcically with EditVoicepack 5, a voice recognition software and a headset. 

 Mike    

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22 minutes ago, mikced76 said:

Always been a big fan of VoxATC for my VFR flying and occasional IFR flights in my light aircraft (A2A C172, Cherokee etc). One of the main features with VoxATC, the fact that it generates its own traffic can also be a pain I have noticed. The aircraft often do not behave like you expect, they can suddely just dissapear and although VoxATC base its traffic on your realistic AI flightplans the proportions can be way off. Say that 10 airlines traffic an airport and there are 5 parking spaces. Many times it could be that VoxATC places the same airline at all five gates. This might not be a problem at larger airports but having 5 Air France jets occuping all five gates at Tahiti airport is a bit unrealistic :)

Anways, lately I have returned go good old default ATC and for those VFR flights its not that bad and espcically with EditVoicepack 5, a voice recognition software and a headset. 

 Mike    

VOX ATC always sounds to me like a  robot in a 1950's movie. 

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I use PRO ATC X and have done for a year or so, never had any problems with it and has been spot on, very impressed with it. Plus regular updates and support. If SierrsDelta approves of it that's a good endorsement in itself. :happy:

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"Plus regular updates and support"....

No news since May beta release. My main problem now is the in flight save that does not work on P3dV4. And now, I'd like support for FSL320 integration. 

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15 minutes ago, Bobsk8 said:

VOX ATC always sounds to me like a  robot in a 1950's movie. 

Hi Bob, VOX ATC just uses the Windows text-to-speech (TTS) engine, so it will sound like whatever TTS voice or voices you have selected. Any program that uses TTS, flightsim or otherwise, is in the same boat.

So firstly, it's not fair to single it out for specific criticism - it's just the nature of the technology, that it still sounds a little different from recorded vocals. The upside is that the range of spoken phrases that can be used is very wide. With human-recorded ATC, it's not like it necessarily flows smoothly when sentence fragments are combined,

The second point that should be clarified regarding this comment is that TTS voices vary massively in quality, and some of the modern ones are really excellent. Go to http://www.deskshare.com/text-to-speech-voices.aspx and download on of the Ivona voices to hear an example of what good TTS sounds like (you can get a one month free trial from this site, to test the TTS voices out).

I use a combination of Ivona voices and Cereproc voices with VOXATC, and the results are excellent. Note that I'm pretty new to VoxATC, and was sceptical prior to trying it for the first time a couple of weeks ago.

Cereproc voices actually sound the best, but there's no free trial. But if you download Emma from Ivona, you'll get a good idea of what you can achieve here (you can only borrow her temporarily, she's my normal FO so I need her back!).

As for the OP:

- I previously used RC4

- I now use VoxATC, and am very pleased with my purchase. But I also needed to buy a few extra voices, which does get expensive. As noted above, the standard windows TTS voice and the free voices available from VoxPOP for use with this program are pretty average.

- I use PilotEdge for GA flying when I want to talk to a real controller.

 

 

 

 

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