• nDAC By Navigraph

    Navigraph nDAC

    By Chip Barber (13 October 2006)

    As I've said before, every now and then you come across something really cool. Now, this is not to say that what I've come across is something that without which, say, I'll die of boredom (OK you guys, pipe down. I saw you starting to applaud). No, this is something that has certainly been done before. And, it is something that is readily available online, free of charge. And, it's something that is not critical to your flight simming experience. So, why are we here?

    Well, for one, it gives me the opportunity to sit in the air conditioned room, frosty bottle of Molson sweating and .... Oh geeez, dripping on my keyboard. Be right back...

    Sorry. Where was I? Oh yes, for another, well, I just really like this product, and figured I'd tell you all about it as maybe you'll like it, too.

    Presenting... http://ndac.navigraph.com Taa Daaaa!

    OK, I can tell by the yawns that you are completely underwhelmed. Well, don't be. While yes, this is another chart product, and while yes, you can with a little effort, grab most of the charts you may need online, this is different. And better. See, the guys who developed this know all about the freebies and the other products, too. That's why what they've done is gone about developing their product from a different direction. It's a little bit fuzzy (hitting the Percocet again, so maybe it's just me...) when you first visit the web site, but after a little bit of nosing around, I got the hang of it.

    So, what happens is you download the demo, which will include credits sufficient for you to acquire three charts from their rather extensive and ever growing list of offerings. Perhaps the hardest part at this point is deciding which ones to get. I chose two airports that I know well, and frankly, ones for which I already have charts. If I'm going to shell out some of my hard-earned cash, I'm going to give this thing a workout, and I figured the only way to do that is with charts I already know.

    So you've got the icon on the desktop, you open the program, get your charts and then go flying. Choosing your departure and arrival (being certain to pick the ones for which you've just downloaded charts, duh...), you are presented with this screen:

    On the left, you see the geographical areas and individual airports I've downloaded from the site. As we're sitting at Innsbruck, we'll click on that one. Now, below on the left is the entire list of charts pertaining to Innsbruck International available for your reading pleasure.
    Having been assigned RWY 26 for departure, in the midst of our frantic flight deck preparation, we take a moment to click on the lower left the entry, SID RWY 08/26. Quick as you can blink (slow blink), this chart appears. The program compresses the files on your Hard Drive in order to save space, and it takes a moment to uncompress them for viewing. The chart is movable, can be switched to full screen, scrolled, rotated, zoomed and printed. Frankly, they are so clear and easy to read (they really are, but my screenies don't do them justice), I don't really find the need to print them anymore. I used to print them all with my other methods of getting charts.

    For you retentive purists, no, these do not look quite like the "Real World" charts the "Real World" pilots use. For one thing, there are neither dog eared nor coffee stained. For another, they don't take up any space on your desktop! These charts are much sharper, they print sharper (I tried one), they have cool colors and for the aging among us, are easier to read. Even zoomed in completely, they images are sharp and clear.

    Look ma, no glasses!

    Here's another cool toy: Check out the Routes tab:

    Knowing my departure and arrival (what kind of a sim pilot would I be without knowing at least that?), I have pre-saved this route. Now, a simple click on each listed airport will bring up in the box below the list of all available charts. This is quite handy when you find yourself below minimums and have to scramble for the STAR for your alternate. It could not be easier and faster than with Navigraph nDAC 2.0.

    Now here's a little something for those of us who like to fly in new areas, but are stuck trying to find adequate alternates, or have a departure airport in mind, but need to limit the distance to the arrival. Clicking on the Airport Index tab, you can have the program search the download database for all airports within the radius you choose, and even further narrow the search by specifying the runway length!

    Here, I'm looking for any destinations within 175 miles from KPHL, with a runway long enough to slow me down. I have most of them already installed, but there's a couple I may download, just for variety. Finding a specific airport is a snap. Either scroll the entire list (which is listed by country) or type in the ICAO. If the airport is included in their data base, it will appear. Whether you're looking for someplace new to fly, or for a reasonable alternate, this program fits the bill perfectly.

    Of course, the use of this program requires you to maintain an open window. For those of us fortunate enough to have enabled two monitors, this window sits nicely on the side. If you are still in the Stone Age and working with only one monitor, the window sits nicely behind all others until you need it. In either case, I have not noticed any frame rate hit at all.

    So, what we have here is a nifty chart program that gives you charts that are much more sharp and clear than any others I've used, easily found, opened and manipulated, particularly once you get the hang of using the Route function. And perhaps most importantly, you will download and install only those charts that you really need/use. With other products, I've got a hard drive full of maps from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. Yes, there are charts on the site from these places, and tons more, but as I never fly there (or at least I haven't yet), I just don't need them taking up space on my system.

    I like this chart program. I don't use charts every time I fly, to be sure. But when I'm wearing my Captains outfit and hat, and am playing the part of the "serious" flight simmer, I find the charts and program by Navigraph nDAC to be invaluable. I won't use any others! I hope you find this program as much fun as I do!

    Three Green!

    Chip Barber
    rfbarber@optonline.net

    http://ndac.navigraph.com