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Guest RonB49

Novice: Using Autopilot

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I've changed my 'learning' aircraft from a Trike Ultralight to a Cessna Skyhawk so that i can use AutoPilot. But I'm finding it very hard to get the hang of it.Do I just click 'Z' to go into that mode? Does that freeze the speed, bearing and altitude at that instant? Or do I have to use the separate commands as well: Ctl+v to level wings, Ctl+z to fix altitude, Ctl+h to fix bearing. Whatever combinations I try, it seems to leave *some* response in the stick. But not full control. Is that correct behaviour?Most important of all, how do I know when I'm *in* Autopilot mode? Or if I have altitude, bearing or speed fixed? There doesn't seem to be any indication at all on the screen. Not even a brief message top right like you get when you change view.What I'm ultimately trying to do is1) Take off (from anywhere) and pause2) Change location, altitude and bearing using the Map window3) Switch to Autopilot so that I can fly automatically.(I'm basically using FSX to search the UK landscape.)Any practical advice would be much appreciated please.-- Terry, East Grinstead, UK

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Hi Terry,I'd suggest that you display the radio stack. Shift + 2 will enable it or press the icon on the main panel that looks like a broadcast tower. Once the stack is displayed, then you'll see the autopilot control head near the bottom of the stack and all of your questions will be answered for you. At that point you can continue to use the autopilot keyboard shortcuts on click on the AP buttons.R-

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If you are online I'd be glad to take you up in a shared cockpit and give the full demo. It's so much easier to show than to type, and you will understand a lot better. My username on Gamespy is Shalomar too. If you are interested PM or e-mail me to set up a time; I'm enabled.Best Regards, Donald T.:-waveFLYing? It's cool. Trillions of birds and insects can't be wrong.

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Thanks Ron, that's got me started. I have at least now managed to switch on AP (which I couldn't do when I tried previously in the virtual cockpit) and I am now flying in a straight line, i.e on a steady bearing.But at 400' I'm flying into hills! Pulling the stick back no longer seems to work - presumably because the altitude was set when I clicked that AP button? Do I have to come out of AP to increase my altitude?Also, is it possible from this 'Radio Stack', to follow a GPS course please?-- Terry, East Grinstead, UK

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Don,Thanks, appreciate your kind offer. May take you up on it at some future stage when I know a bit more! By 'on line', what exactly do you mean please? I have a broadband connection if that's what you mean. Know nothing about Gamespy. Not into gaming at all. FSX is my first 'game', and I'm aiming to use it mainly to support my walk planning/reviewing/mapping activities. I've added UK special scenery with that in mind. Of course, it would be good to learn to fly too sometime... ;) -- Terry, East Grinstead, UK

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A broadband connection is just dandy for multiplayer.Gamespy is the company Microsoft contracted with to man the servers we fly FSX together on. When you first start FSX you see the options available in the upper left hand corner of the window.HomeFree FlightMissions**MULTIPLAYER**With your mouse, click the "multiplayer" button once.On the screen that comes up, click "create account". (It's free)Your Gamespy User ID is the name others will see you as when you are online. My username is Shalomar, you have to pick a unique name. It can be your real name, a Tailnumber or anything unoffensive. If the name you want is taken you can try adding numbers to the end.Once your username and password are set you can sign in. Make sure the dot is to the left at Internet (Gamespy), not Network (LAN). (Walk before you run, we'll deal with LAN connections later.) Then click "Sign in".Depending on server load it may take a few times to get on; the generic message is that you may have logged in on another computer.You will start out in the Free Flight lobby, the most crowded one. To change lobbies click the down arrow to the right of where it says "Free Flight".The padlock icon to the left of a session name means you need to know a password to get in. Sometimes the password is included in the description.To join a session highlight it with your mouse and then click the "join" button. You might find it difficult to scroll thru the entire list of sessions (especially in Free Flight) because it refreshes. So click once on a the lowest session you can see and then scroll down if none of the sessions you see apeal to you.You will start out at an options screen, in the Aircreation.If you want to join someone else's aircraft, do NOT check "Shared Aircraft". If you want someone to join your aircraft then check it, and also enable "shared aircraft comunications".Once you are in a session if you have a mike you can press "Caps Lock" to talk. In some sessions you may have to tune your com radio to a specific freq. That is usually in the session description. To see the chat window, press enter.When I host a session my username is always in the title, "Shalomar".I have not been hosting lately because of problems with my connection speed, but I should have a new router by Monday that should fix that. I can join other people's sessions ok.If you have Messenger my contact name is dtraill at hotmail dot com. (Replace with computerspeak)Hope to see you soon!Donald T.FLYing? It's cool. Trillions of birds and insects can't be wrong.

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Sounds fun! I'll follow those instructions as soon as I feel that I won't make a complete fool of myself ;) -- Terry, East Grinstead, UK

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"But at 400' I'm flying into hills! Pulling the stick back no longer seems to work - presumably because the altitude was set when I clicked that AP button? Do I have to come out of AP to increase my altitude?"No. On the Autopilot control head there is a window which you can click on to set your altitude. If the ALT button on the autopilot has been pressed then you can increase or decrease your altitude by clicking on this window."Also, is it possible from this 'Radio Stack', to follow a GPS course please?"Somewhere near the top of the 172 VC there is a switch which reads NAV/GPS. You want to get the GPS light to come on, then you hit the NAV button on the autopilot to get the it to follow the flight plan entered into the GPS. You have to have a flight plan loaded into the GPS, of course, and you can do this by entering the Flight Planner from the Free Flight dialogue which will automatically programme the GPS. If you have a plan loaded into the GPS then you will see a magenta line on the moving map display which shows you the planned route.Mike.

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Have a look in the FS Learning Centre - there's a section on the autopilot, which explains all the different buttons and how they work, and how to make the plane do different things. And you can print it out for easy reference :-)A couple of general points to remember though:* Switching the autopilot on will normally just engage the wing leveller. You then need to press the HDG/NAV/ALT buttons according to what you want* Set the heading bug to the current heading (or your desired heading) before engaging HDG mode* Set the desired altitude before engaging ALT mode (or the autopilot will put you into a 700ft/min descent towards 0ft!)

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Mike, Tim: Many thanks for those helpful replies. Will experiment along those lines. Just so much to learn though!I have printed out all 8 pages of Learning Centre's Autopilot section. But to be honest I don't find it geared to my novice level. Tends to assume I already know the basics. Very little by way of step-by-step examples or practical advice. Such as Tim's 3 general points above, or Mike's key point that GPS has to be entered in Flight Planner.Have I now understood one fundamental point correctly: do you always have to switch on AP from the panel or radio stack? IOW, you can't use keystrokes as it seems to imply in the Keyboard Commands List? Under Autopilot it says "Master (on/off) Z""Flight Director (on/off) Ctrl+F" etc.So are those inoperative unless you've switched on AP in the radio stack?-- Terry, East Grinstead, UK

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>Have I now understood one fundamental point correctly: do you always >have to switch on AP from the panel or radio stack? No, you can use the keyboard commands. Z toggles the autopilot off/on and all those other keystroke work too. It is just hard to tell what's going on unless the radio stack is displayed. R-

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