• Review: FS Instant Help

    FS Instant Help

    Publisher: FSInventions

    Review Author:
    Bill Stack

    Suggested Price:
    $14.95

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    FS Instant Help by FSInventions

    Image by FSInventions

    FS Instant Help is a utility for Microsoft Flight Simulator® by FSInventions. It provides instant spoken and written help for more than 30 aircraft and navigation operations, and it works with versions FS2004 and FSX. I reviewed its application with both programs.

    The developer, FSInventions, says FS Instant Help is based on the "just help me please idea that we could all use from time to time." FSInventions refers to FS Instant Help as an onboard flight instructor.

    Using FS Instant Help

    All pages of this program have icons at the top for accessing the four major page groups: Information, Settings, Credits, and Disconnect.

    Information Group: The first screen that appears when FS Instant Help launches is an information group with four pages: Quick Start, Controls, Warnings, and Flight Mapping.

    • The Quick Start page shows several easy steps for starting FS Instant Help, particularly that the simulator must be running and a flight must be active. FS Inventions provides a sample flight from Chicago, Illinois, and Green Bay, Wisconsin. The most important requirement is that either FS2004 or FSX must be running for FS Instant Help to work.
    • The Controls page provides an overview of what FS Instant Help does, basically that it helps users get familiar with switches, dials, buttons and so forth in the cockpit. "Sit back and enjoy as you hear the voice of a friendly assistant who explains the role of the device you operated, immediately, in real time, with text captions so you can read the advice too," this page explains.
    • The Warnings page provides further information about FS Instant Help, particularly that it warns pilots when "something serious happens." One example is this stall warning: "STALL! Nose forward. Level wings. Lots of power!" Users can turn off the voice and read the textual message, and vice versa through the Settings page.
    • The Flight Mapping page explains how to use Google Maps with FS Instant Help to see details of the aircraft's location. The manual and the program screen say that a button labeled "Save & View Google Map of Flight" is displayed after the Disconnect button is pressed or a flight ends with a landing. But I never saw this button after pressing the Disconnect button or after completing a landing. Consequently, I was unable to see the flight-mapping feature.
    • Links buttons at the bottom of each information page enable users to access other functions: View Manual, Show Tips, Discuss FS Instant Help, and Tweet FSInventions. I describe the manual later. The Tips of the Day are helpful. The "Discuss FS Instant Help" button opens the user's default internet browser and accesses the FSFlyingSchool forums page. FSInventions and FSFlyingSchool have different web addresses, but the relation between them is unexplained. The Tweet button opens the user's default web browser and goes to the page Twitter sign-in page. The user's benefit of tweeting FSInventions is not explained in the program or manual.

    Settings: This page is divided into areas with various user options such as simulation folders, help options, and sound-card setup. Users can choose whether they want in-flight spoken tips, inflight warnings, displayed captions, and other options. The Settings page also reports status of FSUIPC, which I explain later.

    Credits: In addition to names of seven people who contributed to FS Instant Help, this page provides a link to the FSInventions' website and the input fields for registering the product.

    Connect/Disconnect: This button does not access a page group even though it is among other page-group icons. Instead, it connects and disconnects FS Instant Help with MSFS via FSUIPC. FS Instant Help will not work at all unless it is connected to MSFS via this button. The connection enables FS Instant Help to know when the flightsim pilot has done anything to trigger a help or warning message.

    FS Instant Help by FSInventions

    Information Group

    FS Instant Help by FSInventions

    Settings Group

    FS Instant Help by FSInventions

    Credits Group

    Screen Shots by Bill Stack