One of the fun aspects of Flight Simulation is flying to locations that are a challenge. This will definitely happen when there’s low visibility or mountains in the area. If you’re crazy enough to have both, then DB Sim’s Terrain Map comes as a great tool to help you live (virtually of course). It shows the terrain data relative to your position or as a whole and is highly accurate to show where you are now in relation to the terrain.
Installation and Documentation
The Installation of this program is performed like any other; short and simple with only a few clicks. The registration process is slightly time consuming in relation to other products. The details of the purchase of the program and your computer are sent in an email. The program generally does not work until you get a reply with the Activation code. Once the program is activated, using a few well explained steps, you are ready to fly.
Further gauge installation for specific aircraft is performed by starting a Flight Sim session with that aircraft and selecting the DB Sim Terrain Map. This comes up with a message saying that it is installed for the aircraft and once you re-select it, it’s as good as new and all ready to go.
The Documentation for this program is one of the easiest and simplest I’ve ever seen. It’s a mere 2 pages. Although it’s small, it’s straight to the point and explains all the features of the program. The size of the Documentation means that from the time you purchase the program, you can get it up and running in next to no time.
What does it do?
The terrain map is quite similar to a GPS except that the output information is different tones of color to represent the variation of the elevation of terrain. All the terrain that is under you turns a very dark color so only the curves from the mountains and valleys can be vaguely viewed. For the terrain that is above the aircraft’s altitude, it is a visible green with distinctions in color to show the varying elevation of the terrain.
What can you do with it?
With this program you can predict the location of Terrain past the nearby peaks, identify the width of a valley to make a turn, plan your path to an airport and if you know the area well enough, also use it as a little GPS type system to track the progress to your destination based on the formation of the valleys. It’s also a great tool to make sure you get your virtual passengers safely to their destination.
The Features that this gauge contains includes Power, Mode, Mark, Range and Brightness.
A basic power button is provided to start and stop the gauge.
The Mode button switches between two modes. Map mode and Peak mode. Map mode is when all the terrain data is displayed with its default color variations. This acts only as a map and does not change with the altitude of the aircraft. The Peak mode however blanks out all the data that is further than 300 feet below the aircraft.
This is used to Show and Hide the range rings provided on the gauge
This can be used to increase or decrease the range so the details of the map are what you want. If this is set the same as the Navigational Display from the aircraft, it is quite easy to mentally correlate the route and its waypoints with the terrain. This will be useful to determine if you’re next waypoint at your current altitude will cause a potential collision into terrain. The minimum range is 10nm and the Maximum range is 100nm.
The general brightness of the gauge is adjustable and is a great extra feature for many reasons such as flying at night.
One main insight required for such a program is the performance issues within Flight Sim. Using the default FS9 Frames Per Second (FPS) viewer (Shift+Z), it was noted that there was about a 2 – 3 FPS drop. The drop was very negligible in the general performance with my personal computer statistics and it should be noted that any user of this program might experience a different result, for the better or worse.
Since we didn’t have opportunities for many pictures through the review, a dedicated section goes out solely for screenshots for some eye candy and expectations of what it’s capable of.
Summary / Closing Remarks
My first impression from when I started using this program was wide open eyes and the “woo” shape of my mouth. It is one of the simplest yet most detailed programs I have ever used in my years of Flight Simulation. It is so easy to use and it is very effective if used properly and for the right purposes.As an example, during the testing stage of this program a flight into VQPR (Paro) was conducted with near 0 visibility and all of the maneuvers were performed without crashing. This wouldn’t have been the case without the Terrain Map. I have to say I am truly happy with this program and whenever I fly into an airport with terrain, it’s going to be difficult not to open up the DB Sim Terrain Map.
What I Like About Terrain Map
What I Don't Like About Terrain Map
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