• Review: FSXWX Flight Simulator Weather Engine

    Review: FSXWX Flight Simulator Weather Engine

    By Bruno Esperanca

    For this review, I used a "fresh" copy of FSX:SE, REX4TD and REX Soft Clouds.

    Introduction

    Let's talk weather engines. If you're serious about your flight simming, you have probably tried or at least considered trying a third party weather engine. If you haven't, this review is for you. And if you have... well, this review is also for you. Weather is an enormous part of flight simming. It is not by chance that the FAA Pilot Handbook has a full chapter dedicated to meteorology. A huge part of accidents in aviation, especially in GA, are due to poor atmospheric conditions, combined with lack of preparation or poor decision making from the pilot.

    Having said this, it's obvious that having good weather depiction on our simulators is an important part in our preparation to become good pilots. Even if you're not interested in becoming a pilot, you will want your simulator to depict weather as realistically as possible, otherwise you wouldn't be interested in a flight simulator.

    The Default

    FSX:SE comes with a weather engine. You are able to choose between different types of weather, like fair weather, for VFR flying, cold fronts, major thunderstorm, etc. And you can also choose real-world weather, which will be the focus of this review. Now all we need to do is find a couple of places with "bad" weather. By the way, one cool site to find a certain type of weather around the world is www.badbadweather.com. So if you feel like finding a challenging place to fly, give it a try.

    And today it seems we have an interesting weather phenomena in Los Angeles, CA. Let's load it up and see what the default weather engine looks like, on a completely fresh, vanilla, FSX:SE.

    FSX default weather     FSX default weather

    It's actually not too bad. We can see weather in the distance, which is better than weather engines in other simulators (yes X-Plane, I'm looking at you). But it's not feeling very immersive. Also, for a stormy day, the takeoff was unrealistically smooth. You're not able to "see" this from the pictures, but trust me on this. So now what? Are we doomed to have this "bland" weather engine forever? Thankfully, no, we're not.

    Introducing FSXWX

    OK, before I found out about FSXWX and tried it, I was already using another weather engine. Let's call it weather injection tool, rather. Because I am an active member at IVAO (if you don't know about this, you should), I was using IVAO's real weather, as it was recommended. And I was happy with this for a while, but I kept seeing those wonderful screen shots with beautiful weather from other people everywhere, so I started looking into this. And this is how I stumbled upon FSXWX. It just might be the best freeware weather engine add-on out there (might even beat payware weather engines), and if you're still using default, you definitely have to try it.

    FSXWX web site home page

    On the upper side of the home page you will find the links to your simulator of choice (FSX or P3D). Unfortunately it is not available for FS2004 or X-Plane. By clicking on your simulator, you will get to a very detailed, step-by-step guide on how to install this weather engine. The installation process is relatively long and it will take patience. But if you follow the steps very carefully, the rewards will be beyond belief. Unfortunately, I was not able to use the free Pablo Diaz HDE texture add-on (there's a link at the end of the instructions). For some reason my sim was crashing when trying to load these textures. Feel free to try them, or any other texture pack, freeware or payware. However, keep in mind that, whenever you install a texture pack, you need to reapply the textures from step 4. Here are a few screen shots with default clouds (except for the cirrus textures from step 4).

    FSX default weather     FSX default weather


    11 Comments
    1. oldcrusty's Avatar
      oldcrusty -
      I downloaded and installed this program today. I am impressed and satisfied, it does what it claims to in a no fuss manner. The trial I gave it was into a really high texture environment, that is huge amound of cloud, rain, turbulence etc into a large city, Vancouver. None of the halts and bad stutters that would be usual and on my very standard system it went well. I too use REX but now only the textures, I have always found their interface with the sim to be a problem and a memory hog.

      Thanks for the recommendation I can only support it, worthwhile installing.
    1. flightsimg's Avatar
      flightsimg -
      The same for me. FSXWX is worth the try. I am prizing realism in flying with FSX -- I have a website about that at http://flightlessons.6te.net -- and I found that free weather engine much useful! Some discrepancy exists in terms of the clouds layers altitude compared to METARs, but that's voluntary to procure a immersive experience according to the authors
    1. BasHope's Avatar
      BasHope -
      Quote Originally Posted by oldcrusty View Post
      I downloaded and installed this program today. I am impressed and satisfied, it does what it claims to in a no fuss manner. The trial I gave it was into a really high texture environment, that is huge amound of cloud, rain, turbulence etc into a large city, Vancouver. None of the halts and bad stutters that would be usual and on my very standard system it went well. I too use REX but now only the textures, I have always found their interface with the sim to be a problem and a memory hog.

      Thanks for the recommendation I can only support it, worthwhile installing.
      You're very welcome, glad you enjoyed the review and the add-on. Cheers!
    1. Lieuallen's Avatar
      Lieuallen -
      Totally agree -- this is absolutely one of the best add-ons for flight simmers, and it's FREE!!!
    1. btwallis's Avatar
      btwallis -
      I tried it some time back.
      I use REX Direct + Soft Clouds and REX OD for the launch engine and I find it to be superior than the freeware version.
      However, if one does not want to spend the money and finds it does the job for them then nothing wrong with that.
    1. oldcrusty's Avatar
      oldcrusty -
      Quote Originally Posted by btwallis View Post
      I tried it some time back.
      I use REX Direct + Soft Clouds and REX OD for the launch engine and I find it to be superior than the freeware version.
      However, if one does not want to spend the money and finds it does the job for them then nothing wrong with that.
      I am not down on REX as such, I have all their products since the beginning. My issue has been that on my system (other users may be different and probably are), the way REX interfaced with FSX has always been a pain. I will continue to use REX textures etc, they do really nice stuff but this little program works so much better with my system. Now my system is a bog standard dual core desktop with 4GB of RAM on WIN7, so it works hard for a lot of stuff, but it has a good drive, a good video card (INTEL) and it is nicely tuned and up to date. I found that frequently in the middle of an approach into a major city with very heavy weather (that is lots of textures, autogen etc), REX real time weather updates would bring the system to verge of OOM CTD but basically always ruined the last 10 minutes of what had been a nice flight in the sim. Now I don't have that problem.
    1. Elvensmith's Avatar
      Elvensmith -
      Although you mention the built in real world weather of FSX and predecessors, is it not the case this no longer works - any agreement between MS and Jeppensen presumably having lapsed long ago?
    1. DrawyahGames's Avatar
      DrawyahGames -
      I've heard of this program, but never really looked more into it. To be fair, looks like I missed out on quite a bit!

      I now use ActiveSky 2016 which I am definitely happy with (other than the odd gaps where METAR data doesn't exist such as over oceans and DPR Korea), but before then I was using FSOpenClouds which only gave me coverage in the UK as a freeware.

      I might play around with this later and see what happens. I'll most likely stick with the HiFi Tech program, but you never know with these freewares.
    1. GermanPilot's Avatar
      GermanPilot -
      This little tool is awesome -- finally found a replacement for the good old Microsoft weather engine, just what I was looking for. The only part that seems strange to me is that in FSUIPC I cannot set the things as it is mentioned in the How-To. Nevertheless, it is working as it should anyway.
    1. BasHope's Avatar
      BasHope -
      Quote Originally Posted by Elvensmith View Post
      Although you mention the built in real world weather of FSX and predecessors, is it not the case this no longer works - any agreement between MS and Jeppensen presumably having lapsed long ago?
      Can't talk for FSX, but it's working fine in FSX:SE.
    1. ssowry's Avatar
      ssowry -
      Howdy folks,
      I just installed this earlier today and I did notice a slight jump in performance. The tips they give on installation are good to go. I like the new weather injection and the new cloud textures look great. I flew a 29 from P-cola to Houston Hobby with real weather on and the rendered storm conditions were great. Installation is easy.....just follow the quick set up steps 1 through 6, and your good to go. I recommend this for all FSX'ers using the default FSX weather engine!!
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