Ash Brennan

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  1. And just to restate, stay away from ATI/Radeon cards if you are primarily running FSX/P3D, or other sims like DCS A-10C, Rise of Flight, etc., for that matter. The Radeons have never been able to properly digest things like clouds and transparencies in these sims, no matter what generation or model. I know people with $500 ATI 7950 cards that still get significant stuttering with heavy clouds in FSX. There are Shader 3 mods for FSX that mitigate this ever-present Radeon cloud problem to some degree, but it's really a band-aid approach to a larger conflict with either hardware shaders and/or driver issues on ATI's side. Also, ATI card prices are completely out of control right now in terms of volatility, and grossly inflated by retailers over the MSRP (can you say Bitcoin mining). Nvidia will serve you so much better on the rendering side in the sim and you won't have to play ATI's accidental but on purpose price gouging game as they essentially have now resolved to cater to Bitcoin miners instead of gamers. Can't wait for the bottom to fall out of this new business model. But yah, the GTX660 will serve you very well in FSX. Look for discounts, promo codes and sales. You can figure a base price of around $200 as of today for that card, but definitely find the best deal. Newegg, Amazon, B and H Photo, and Nextwarehouse are all reputable online retailers with decent inventories and regular sales/promos. Pays to shop around!
  2. Ash Brennan

    What real world 737 pilots think about PMDG

    FYI, all Afghan airlines are currently banned from EU member states. There is a reason for this. I'm sure in this particular case FSX is actually a valid training aid for those intrepid souls though. I think the late great Freddie Mercury said it best: EU directive is here:
  3. Ash Brennan

    What real world 737 pilots think about PMDG

    Probably, SWA pilots receive virtually all of their training from FSX. This would explain a lot....
  4. Ash Brennan

    Is FSUIPC absolutely necessary....?

    Really, if you don't specifically need FSUIPC for any kind of hardware management, I don't know why you'd pay so much for a simple add-on module. In the old days FSUIPC was the only way to tame the weather problems inherent in Microsoft Flight Simulator(s), and also the only way developers could interface with FSX via external controls. Today, however, the latest weather programs incorporate these features internally, and Microsoft's own Simconnect is now the universal standard for external module interfacing. FSUIPC can manage joystick and keyboard macros in FSX/P3D, but there are freeware utilities like Joy2Key that accomplish the same thing. Again, if you have a really complex, advanced hardware setup, FSUIPC is really helpful I'm sure, but if not I just don't see the need for average use simmers to pay so much for it (around $40, U.S.).
  5. Ash Brennan

    What real world 737 pilots think about PMDG

    "Jerry get in here! You don't wanna to miss this!!!"
  6. Ash Brennan

    What real world 737 pilots think about PMDG

    Reality check here: FSX is a GAME, for "entertainment purposes only." The PMDG 737 is a toy that works with your FSX game, but is also designed solely for entertainment. It's fun to pretend with these toys for grownups, but one must make a clear distinction here between fantasy and reality, along with the expectations from both. A bit like comparing a Matchbox toy car with a real Formula One racer and being disappointed by the toy's comparative performance. And no, the PMDG 737 doesn't adhere to the real 737's flight characteristics in accordance to the FCTM during landing flare or many, many other regimes of flight for that matter. Yet, for a $59 toy it's a heck of a lot of fun, don't you think?
  7. Reviewing the video, weather conditions depict low ceiling overcast conditions in mountainous terrain, along with inevitable restricted visibility. The rising terrain in the background is obscured by fog and low-hanging clouds. I'm thinking no pilot in his or her right mind would intentionally attempt a high speed, low altitude pass on a neighboring dragstrip in this circumstance.
  8. The aircraft had reportedly been placed in a holding pattern in instrument meteorological conditions west of the destination airport. For whatever reason, they lost altitude in the hold and subsequently impacted the ground at the dragstrip, and were thus not doing a low flyby and/or attempiting an emergency landing as first appears.
  9. Ash Brennan

    Experience with Activesky Next....

    Are you still flying out of Socal these days? I took a trip in a Citabra this past November from KVNY to an abandoned dirt strip in Amboy, CA (east of Barstow, way out in the Mojave). Google Roy's Cafe in Amboy sometime.
  10. Ash Brennan

    Experience with Activesky Next....

    Devin, I won't tap into any the above arguments by others in this thread about haze representation in the real-world vs. FSX. If I were to divulge my actual aviation credentials here with these aforementioned perceptions and accusations, I'm pretty sure I'd start an endless flame war. But you are absolutely correct about the haze layer at the surface not being visible from above in FSX; it simply disappears when you fly above it, creating an instant clearing effect when transitioning above the surface layer visibility ceiling. In real-world flying, the horizontal visibility most certainly does increase in a dramatic why when you fly above the haze/fog layer at the surface, but the ground below is of course still obscured. This is apparently not possible to simulate in FSX at present, but may be achievable with the new volumetric fog in P3D2. With AS2012, setting the surface visibility ceiling to 18000 ft or so mitigates the harsh visibility transition from the surface layer to the upper air layer when viewing the ground from above. This was the point I was trying to make.
  11. Ash Brennan

    Experience with Activesky Next....

    Hi Kostas, Thank you for taking the time to make such a well thought-out and informative reply. I can tell you that I have tried all of your helpful suggestions and indeed, setting the number of cloud layers and draw distances does seem to help with the stuttering I've experienced. FSX on my installation still seems to 'feel' an extra load with AS Next running, and this is manifesting itself by a sort of microstuttering on a random but regular basis. The small series of stutters does not appear using the same weather report with AS2012 running, but the tweaking and refining settings to each individual's computer setup is of course part of the process with new software. I'll continue to experiment. Regarding visibility: I can tell you that I've experienced the phenomenon in several different locations under varying metar reports. Setting max upper visibility limits down to 60 miles does indeed help make the graduation from surface to upper atmosphere layers less dramatic, but I still feel AS2012 is much smoother and more realistic with it's stricter, user-controlled surface visibility ceiling setting. I do understand AS Next's philosophy of embracing an easier to use, less margin for error interface though. One aspect of surface visibility I think AS Next might have overlooked is the 10SM or greater Metar visibility in ICAO surface reports. For example, if the visibility in the Metar is listed as 10SM, this means that visibility is 10SM or GREATER statute miles, and almost always greater. Activesky Next appears to interpret this as strictly 10SM and sets the surface visibility far too low in the vast majority of circumstances. FSUIPC has a facility to random extend Metar surface visiblity maxima to get around this, and I use it with AS2012 with great results. As it stands now with AS Next being independent from FSUIPC, this option is of course no longer available and surface visibility seems far to low in the vast majority of circumstances. Again, thank you for your very helpful insight and Happy Holidays!
  12. I've been using the trial version of Activesky Next for the past couple of days, and I have mixed feelings about it so far. The interface is a lot cleaner and more organized than in previous versions, and the initial weather download/depiction time is much faster than with AS2012. The Good: Local weather themes with distant clouds on the horizon and the ability to fly into different weather areas, etc. (rather than global weather scenarios with previous versions) seems to be simulated really well. I would say Activesky is very close to Opus now in this aspect of local-type weather representation. Wind and temperatures changes seem to both be smooth at both the lower and upper parts of the atmosphere, and now the weather engine is completely independent from FSUIPC. The latter feature gives Activesky the ability to to control all configuration of the weather in a single interface rather than having to set different smoothing options, etc, in both FSUIPC and Activesky. I really like this 'one stop' feature instead of having to synch up both for the best weather representation as I do now with AS2012. The flight planning interface is well done and intuitive, and the new map interface is more polished than previous versions. The Bad: Numero uno, visibility. All of the later versions of Activesky 2012 depict both 'surface' visibility and 'upper atmosphere' visibility in two separate ways, and each of these two visiblity layers have individually assigned minimum and maximum values. For example, Activesky 2012 lets the user specify a specific altitude at which surface visibility will graduate into the specified upper atmosphere value specified in the configuration menu. If the surface visibility in AS2012 is set by local Metar report to 15 miles, you will get a 15 mile visibility limit until you reach the configuration menu specified upper atmosphere boundary, at which time the visibility will graduate from the surface visibility value to that upper atmosphere value limit. Again, AS2012 lets you define the altitude of this boundary, and it can be set at a high enough altitude so that the visibility graduation from the surface metar value to the upper atmosphere value would be fairly subtle and realistic. Activesky Next, however, does not appear to let the user specify this upper transition boundary between surface visibility and that of the upper atmosphere. One can still specify minimum and maximum visibility limits for each layer, but there is no longer an option to specify the aforementioned boundary altitude between the two. As a result, you fly out of surface visibility limits and into the upper visibility layer at lower, seemingly randomized altitudes. This has the effect of restricted visibilities at the surface suddenly clearing into a crystal clear sky at maybe 3000-4000ft AGL altitudes. You can thus depart an airport with a 7 mile visibility and have a very nice obscuring atmospheric haze around your aircraft until you climb above Activesky Next's random altitude boundary, then 'poof', the visibility magically clears to the upper limit value. This is very unrealistic and really a deal-breaker for me personally. Again, with AS2012, the user can specify the altitude of this upper visibility boundary and the visibility graduation will be much more subtle and realistic. I have mine set to 18,000 ft in AS2012 and it works out great. Activesky Next, by contrast controls everything internally in this respect and it just does not work out in my book - at present the visibility with Next simply pops in and out far too quickly, and far too much at once. I also experience about a 3 second stutter on my system, both on the ground and in the air, when Activesky Next updates the weather at 15 minute intervals. I've never had a problem with this happening with previous versions of Activesky. Perhaps one needs a beefier computer to more smoothly load the localized weather theme when Activesky Next updates itself. I'm currently running a AMD Phenom II Quad Core at 3.5 ghz, 4 megs DDR3 1600mhz RAM, and an ATI 1GB 4870 graphics card. Not exactly state of the art I know, but up until now I've never experienced weather update stutters on this platform with previous Activesky products. I'm grateful for the ability to evaluate this product on a trial basis and I wish more developers would follow this lead. Opus has a 30 day refund policy via Flight1's normal policy, so you can try out both products and contrast your own experiences between the two without spending too much cash.