Sunday, 29 January 2017

Thoughts on a farewell to iRacing

I went through a final iRacing uninstall tonight.

It's a final uninstall because the three month membership that is due to expire at the end of this month was intended to be another look at the sim after a year away from it. I had been a member for about five years before that break.

I decided not to renew for two main reasons, and I think those reasons are a cogent argument not just for leaving, but also for not supporting the sim in general.

In the past I have defended iRacing in terms of cost. You could never argue that it wasn't expensive; it has always had a high subscription fee, and high DLC costs. Assetto Corsa has highlighted the latter.

But you could reduce those costs through sales, participation credits, and bulk purchases.

Of course, sales, credits, and bulk purchases, are still available.

However the Black Friday deal, which was necessary to bring the subscription down to a minimal level, has been reduced from a 50% to a discount. And that's on an increasing subscription fee.

That rise can only be justified if the simulation itself is moving forward. But what core improvements have really been made in the last five years? You could argue that the track surface model has improved, and that dirt is in development.

I have no interest in dirt, so whatever happens with that doesn't matter to me. The surface model hasn't made that much of a difference.

What does matter, are the things that iRacing have discussed, even announced, but which haven't been implemented, and sometimes even just quietly forgotten.

When moveable cones were added, iRacing stated that was a precursor to a new damage model. That was about five years ago. The new interface that was periodically showcased - what happened to that?

Endurance racing, without a day/night cycle. Formula One cars, without different tyre compounds.

The simulation is missing so many features that would make it a true, fully rounded, simulation. And there is no sign that will change in the forseeable future.

What has changed, what iRacing has without question improved upon, is DLC. The quality and turnaround time for new cars and tracks has improved considerably.

But what is that, but an opportunity for iRacing to continue to develop revenue?

The title itself simply isn't keeping up with DLC production. iRacing has become a DLC factory.

What is keeping it going is current members invested in their historical content purchases.

I'm one of those members invested in the service. But I won't continue to ride that revenue train.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

DCS A-10C Tutorial 5 : ILS Approach and Landing

You can use TACAN to help locate the runway. It can be thought of as an ILS approach without the glideslope.

But the glideslope becomes more important in bad weather, or at night. With the glideslope we can become established on the correct descent, with a high degree of confidence.

In this video we look at how to set up and execute an ILS approach.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

DCS A-10C Tutorial 4 : TACAN Approach and Landing

You need to know where to land.

That might seem obvious, and the obvious solution, when dealing with modern military aircraft, is to place a waypoint, or steerpoint, on the airfield.

But even so, that doesn't set up an approach, it merely puts you above the runway.

TACAN provides a reference point that you can work from.

In this video I explain how to prepare and use a TACAN approach. In a previous video I explained how to tune to a particular TACAN channel. Here I explain how to use a bearing to the TACAN to set up an approach.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

X Plane 11 Tutorial 4 : Carenado King Air B200 VOR Navigation and Autopilot

Navigation can appear daunting at the outset.

But like most things, once you understand how it's done, the process is simple. And that's certainly true of VOR.

In real world flight VOR is being gradually replaced by GPS. And there are good reasons for that to happen. But there is something particularly satisfying about planning a VOR route, and executing it in an efficient and predictable manner.

We have learned how to start the Carenado King Air B200, and how to taxi and takeoff. In this video we continue from where we left off, following the published takeoff procedure, and we will then turn the aircraft over to the autopilot, having set the navigation parameters.

X Plane 11 Tutorial 3 : Carenado King Air B200 ATC Startup

The first look at startup covered a non-ATC situation, and therefore avionics were turned off after the engines were started, and the generators were online.

But when working with ATC it's important to request permission from ATC before starting the engines. How do we use the avionics without generator power? With the battery.

In this video I explain the process of filing a flight plan, requesting clearance, and permission to start the engines. It should then be simple to integrate these steps into a complete startup.

X Plane 11 Tutorial 2 : Carenado King Air B200 Taxi and Takeoff

The learning process continues with the Carenado King Air B200.

Now that we know how to start the aircraft, it's time to taxi and takeoff. The X-Plane 11 beta is, as its name suggests, still a work in progress, and therefore elements of the process are subject to change, most often in a subtle form.

The aircraft now rolls at idle power - which is another good reason to remember to set the parking brake before starting the engine. Whether or not this is realistic is open to discussion.

Taxi is simple - once the wheels start to move maintain a reasonable taxi speed and, of course, know where you're going. The HSI also displays ground speed for reference.

Takeoff is more of a challenge. The aircraft doesn't seem to want to roll straight, and a careful dance on the rudder pedals is required to maintain centre line, or as near as you can manage.

Power also lags noticeably, so it may take a while to quickly find the right level, but as the aircraft doesn't require much runway, it doesn't hurt to take your time building up speed.