Sunday, 26 November 2017

First Officer & Swiss Army Knife: Tea, Coffee, Biscuits & Other Duties

Here is a short reminder of a few rather excellent freeware do-it-all utilities available for MSFS and/or P3D platforms.

Do note that all of these run outside of your flight simulator, and install no files whatsoever inside your sim platform. All require FSUIPC to connect. 

1. Flight Simulator First Officer

This is one of those superb freeware add-ons that once you begin using it, you end up wondering just how you previously managed without it.

It's uses cover an enormous range of advisory and/or automatic interactions with your flight simulator including customisable checklists and a huge variety of call outs such as speeds and lighting, all via the ubiquitous sim mediator, FSUIPC.

A forum for support can be found here, but since FSFO is a few years old, the forum may or may not still be manned. 

Many payware aircraft these days feature similar configurations built into their systems, but for those that don't, then this could be what you are looking for.

The only thing it won't do is load the mailbags for you...

2. Prepard3D Multi Tool:

This impressive beast of an application provides an unbelievably huge array of functionality, from head-tracking to headshaking, so the best way for me to relay to you what it is capable is to list Avsim’s file description:

Multi-Tool Prepar3D v3.2 is a collection of tools, a number of them unique, extending the capabilities of P3D. New features in v3.2 : - Adjustable Horizon/Aircraft banking - Bug fixes/Improvements on previous functions Previous features include : - Custom Flybys, user defined camera flyby paths. - Roaming Flybys, computer generated camera flyby paths. - Active Observers views placeable by clicking on a top-down view - Find My Way Home random aircraft positioning. - 3D Native Stereoscopic Output. - Head tracking additions: Ordinals, Take off lock, View switching by head movement , Spot up/down tracking. - Camera Shake + Vibration : Turbulence, G, ground roll, side slip, spoilers. - Easy 2D & 3D custom cameras definitions. - XYZ Position (Eyepoint) Mouse Move similar to the Mouse Look pan function, i.e. hold down a key and reposition your eyepoint with your mouse. - POV conversion to multiple controller buttons. - Keystroke macros to perform menu functions. - Landing lineup with runway camera. - Multi screen VC setup. - Save/Recall view setup by aircraft. - Recallable position autosaving. and more....

The headshaking component of P3DMT is second-to-none, and provides users with a fully configurable visually realistic head movement. Imagine watching your VC shudder as the aeroplane taxis over surface bumps or flying through clouds and turbulence to see your VC jump around! 

I have often said that headshaking is a key missing ingredient from our simulator platforms, simply because flight isn't always smooth - as you hit bumps, you move around, the aeroplane moves around, things in the aircraft move around, and so on, but remember that this movement is not in unison with other things as it is relative to everything around you.

Imagine driving along a bumpy road whilst trying to change radio station by reaching out a fingertip to the radio buttons, but it's not always straightforward as the car's movement will induce motion within your arms, hands, and fingers. Similarly, when in turbulence, pilots cannot always easily reach those buttons and knobs.

3. CrewSounds V2.1

Have you ever wished for a truly simple get-up-and-go generic flight crew and passenger sound package for your flight sim?

CrewSounds is possibly what you've been looking for, as it will provide automatically timed passenger and crew sounds all the way from boarding to landing and arrival at the destination gate.

It's pretty bullet-proof really, you just start it, select the single "standard" sound profile that it comes with and press "Go" (the default profile includes English and German speech, for instance the Captain's welcome on board speech begins in German but then as in real life, he goes on to give the same message in English).

It comes with a comprehensive PDF manual which details how you can fully configure your own immersive CrewSounds package in order to create bespoke profiles.

To begin with, CS insists on having an open passenger door, which is fine unless you happen to be flying a PMDG airliner in which case it simply will not recognise the state of your doors; for this reason, I created a profile imaginatively called "No Door" which will ignore door state and noisy passengers and goes straight to the crew manager calling for doors to automatic.

OK, most of us have been positioned in the passenger compartment, so we may well be used to the general noise and atmosphere of passengers chatting, crew talking, intercoms messaging, and people walking up and down the aisles (yes, it has subtle toilet noises too!) so in using CS you will be able to add this general hubbub to the sounds of your flight deck immersion. 

Once positioned in your VC cockpit, perhaps this general din shouldn't be that obvious (use the volume controls), but do try it, as it will likely bring a smile to your face as if you were jetting off somewhere sunny.

One last thing; CS media files are in the somewhat unfamiliar format ".ogg", and should you choose to create your own sounds, then you can do so using a freeware sound utility such as "Audacity" which supports ".ogg" file types or perhaps you could convert existing sounds files.

4. Lorby P3D4 Addon Organizer

Only for P3D V4, this marvellous utility allows you to manage your scenery library by activating or deactivating scenery areas. 

What it also allows you to do is to automatically convert scenery library package entries from the familiar scenery.cfg style to the new XML standard that P3D V4 will soon adhere to (and insist upon).

It does a lot more than that too, and here we see my scenery library mostly displayed in "red", and that's because I ignored it's warning to not start whilst P3D was running; for the record, the two in "green" are already XML encoded scenery areas. Sometimes we all need the advice of experts!

So, if you want to simplify this entire process, point your browser to Lorby website where you will find a startling list of free goodies to download, as ell as link to his payware products including "FireFighter X" and "CropDuster X".

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