The Arrow makes it’s VATSIM Debut!

After getting my headset working well, I thought it was time to get the Arrow online on VATSIM.   Squawkbox 4 installed, fired up at Wigram and headed off to Birdlings Flat for some aeros…

Christchurch Tower was online, so I requested a “practice ILS” while a Dash 8 landed, then missed approach and back to Wigram.  0.7 in the logbook, and a successful test!

 

Big News! Sim Performance boost!

I have managed to secure replacement FS PC’s for all three sims!  The old Core2 Duo’s bite the dust, to be replaced with nice near-new (and done very little work) i7’s.  This may lead to the Skyhawk going FSX/P3D with TacPack for much shooting happiness!

Arrow technology update

My medium-term plan for the Arrow is to get it online on VATSIM.  To do this I need to add a few IO items:
– Transponder Mode Switch (STDBY and ‘C’).
– Transponder IDENT button.
– Radio Push-To-Talk
– Working Headset interface.

First part to arrive was this awesome headset interface from Flight Sounds which acts as a separate sound device, and connects to my aviation headsets, or to my helmet/mask setups.  It works  so well that I am pretty sure I’ll be buying them for the Skyhawk and 737 projects!

Since the IO requirements for the Arrow don’t warrant the use of one of the Leo Bodnar boards, I bought a cheap joystick controller off Aliexpress.

This is a simple enough board, with 12 digital inputs, which all share a single ground, making them capable of operating with rotary switches.

It also has 2 sets of “joystick” inputs, for use with microswitch style joysticks, but show in windows as axes which move to full travel when clicked.  Could be useful….

 

Today is Old School IFR day

Today I re-located the Arrow and Skyhawk to Christchurch, from Ohakea.

First up I took off in the Arrow in pretty awful weather, and headed South flying old fashioned IFR, via Ferry, Cape Campbell, Kaikoura, Woodend, then visual from the New Brighton Pier, around the city and in to Wigram for a touch and go, circuit and landing.


The awesome South Wairarapa coast.  From Robin Corn’s Wellington scenery


Turning short finals for a touch and go, runway 03 Grass, Wigram

Then later this evening, after having fun (well, hung-over fun!) flying IFR in the Arrow, I decided to do the same in the Skyhawk.

The weather at Ohakea had improved dramatically, but from Wellington South it deteriorated rapidly!  This time the route was via Paraparaumu, Wellington, Kaikoura, Eyrwell, Burnham, then ILS02 into Christchurch,  Challenging crosswind approach and landing, ending up with the stick all the way to the left on the roll out to stop it toppling over!


Magnificent weather at Ohakea in the morning… this was just about the time I was taxiing out in the Arrow!

Cruising along at FL310, M0.85 and such a strong crosswind from the right (North West) the flightpath vector marker is right off the left side of the HUD!

Old School… like I said.  Good old enroute chart for the trip down the East coast


And finally, the big Nor-West crosswind on approach!

All in all a pretty great days flying.  I had no reason to bring the Sims South today… and who knows where they might head next!

New Playground for the Arrow

Calvin sent me a video of a landing on a mountain strip in Puerto Rico which looked like a lot of fun!  So… after a quick (well, quick-ish) visit to www.freewarescenery.com I downloaded about 500Mb’s of scenery for the island ready to install and start exploring!

Gottfried Razek, of Blue Sky Scenery did an FS2004 photoreal for the entire island, so I should have a great VFR exploration!

And finally;  BluePrint Simulations do a Free San Juan scenery!

 

More Comms work

Another evening of experiments and testing.  I now have a rough “fold back” happening in the Skyhawk so that pilot and instructor can talk on open mics, then by activating a push to talk (from either cockpit) both mics transmit to the other sims via TeamTalk.


Now we have pilot and instructor in the Skyhawk, pilot in the Arrow, and the Laptop upstairs in the ManCave…

TeamTalk v5 is an awesome, light weight VOIP/Conferencing package which works really well, and has features which really work for my sims!

BearWare – Home of TeamTalk

Comms system check

Nathan and I spent some time this afternoon repairing, configuring and testing headsets and helmets in the Arrow and Skyhawk sims. The Skyhawk pilots helmet needed a bit of rewiring and re-soldering, but is now working well.   Sadly my GA headset adapter didn’t work, only providing a “buzz” when the mic was touched. Swapped the headset and adapter out with my old faithful PC headset and it all worked beautifully.

Final testing was successful, with Skyhawk pilot and instructor as well as the Arrow pilot all being able to communicate well.  Nathan and I went flying and tested the system in “action” 🙂


The helmet also got some TLC and a clean, and had the visor cover removed.  Without the cover it looks a bit like an Alpha, so maybe it will stay like that… not sure

Back in the Arrow

After all the recent work on the man cave and 737 it was nice to spend the evening back in the Arrow for a night IFR cross country.  I took off from Gisbourne at dusk, and flew down to Napier, battling strong headwinds all the way.  A quick refuel and a drink, and off to Ohakea.  More strong winds, cloud and bad turbulence made it a challenging flight!  DME arc on to the ILS, which wasn’t working, so it turned into a VOR/DME approach….

A great challenging flight!

Rotorua

The combination of real weather and quality scenery makes the fightsim experience something quite special!

Nathan and I flew the Arrow from Galatea to Rotorua, and the combination of scenery and weather made for a spectacular arrival.

From Rotorua we flew up to Tauranga, meandering aimlessly around NZ again 😉