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Thread: Active Sky Next Discussions

  1. #21
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    Continuous Coverage

    One of the unique bits of technology Active Sky as had for a few years is the ability to create continuous coverage all over the world, even where there isn't any nearby data.

    Why is this important?
    One of the strange artifacts of FSX's internal weather processes is when there is no new data after the aircraft has traveled roughly 60 miles from an area where there was data into an area where there isn't any, instead of just keeping the old data until there is new data, FS just dumps it and replaces it with the default calm theme. One of the more horrid ramifications of this is if the weather you were flying in was not calm and clear, the weather would suddenly become so which depending on the contrast could be quite disruptive. Even the wind layers you were flying in get wiped.

    Since there obviously isn't a real world metar station every 60 miles or less over the whole world, how does ASN avoid this problem?

    When the Hifi team introduced pseudo stations, they ingeniously solved a wide range of technical problems with FSX. Using interpolation of all nearby data in every direction they create weather stations all over the world so no matter where you fly, there is always synthesized weather themes to inject into FSX to keep it alive and prevent reverting to default behavior.

    Here is an example pulled out of the Pacific SW of Hawaii. This is just a spot in the ocean found in the map far from land and other stations:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    We can actually enter this station into ASN's current conditions screen and get another look at the data in a graphical format:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Notice that if you flew within range of this station, there would be rain, overcast and wind. In other weather generators, there would be nothing. In the freeware product FSrealWX Lite for example, you have a choice to keep the last valid weather station you flew through when out of range of valid stations. When flying over the vast oceans, this would mean you could fly for 5-9 hours or more with NO change in the weather, then when a valid station came into range, there would be a large weather jump as drastically different conditions loaded. Through this technique and others, ASN sees to it that all your weather transitions are smooth with no sudden wind, temperature and pressure shifts which are the long standing plague of other weather generators, especially the default Jeppeson. Of course, flying over oceans and seas are extreme examples, but don't forget, the FSX weather default substitution is only 60 miles and there are a LOT of populated areas of the world where stations are more than 60 miles apart.

    If ASN is just "inventing" weather around the world where there is no real world data, how well can we trust it? Amazingly, quite well.
    It's certainly a LOT better than flying through thousands of square miles of default FSX calm theme where beyond 60 miles from take off KSFO heading out over the Pacific, you suddenly lose the onshore flow and fog, reverting to clear when in the real world, you would be flying INTO the ocean-generated front causing those conditions, not out of it. This kind of thing REALLY irritates me and I lose interest in flying in FS. ASN not only allows my imagination to be satisfied with believable flying conditions, but keeps those conditions dynamic, changing as the real world does.

    Other weather generators may have one or two data servers, ASN has many, frequently added to and the program optimizes which server to get data from based on your internet connection. Further evidence that HiFi Technologies is putting the customer first in everything they do.

    Here is an example of an area of the world where ASN is doing a fair amount of area coverage synthesis, but there is a lot of real world, real-time data to work with too off the E coast of Australia and New Caledonia (just visible in the upper middle right.) Although Google Earth does not provide a 100% accurate satellite cloud image and it's not updated as often as ASN data is, you can still see from these images, that ASN is using data available to reasonably fill in blank spots. It might be hard to see, but all those dark dots are real world weather stations and in ASN, there are a lot of them. I'm only displaying the cloud coverage layer here so you need to know, it's just not clouds ASN is generating here.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Notice the lower thick generalized clouds being shown on the Australia coast which you also see in the Google image and North of New Caledonia there is another thick band as there is in the Google image. ASN is not using Satellite imagery to draw these conditions, but calculations based on data sets. The data analysis indicates ASN should create a weather front in areas where there *really* is one. Note: the lighter-thinner blotches of clouds are areas where ASN will generate sparse or few clouds when you actually fly through there. The very heavy-thick areas might contain thunderstorms. You only have to zoom into radar map range to find out. In other generators, the entire Coral Sea would have either totally fake weather with no relationship to current real world data or just default clear and calm.

    ASN allows us arm chair adventurers to wander away from home and really explore our planet from the nearly perpetual thunderstorms around Rio De Janeiro, Central Atlantic and S Pacific hurricanes, coastal storms, tropical paradises and Alaskan mega storms off the Aleutian Islands.

    -Pv-

  2. #22
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    Hurricane Norbert is approaching the Yucatan now with 90+ MPH winds if you want to check out ASN's severe storm handling. You'll want to stay far away from it in light planes if you want to stay in one piece.

    -Pv-

  3. #23
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    Flew through hurricane Odile over the S. tip of Baha today. Here is a short video near the middle or the storm in the FSX default BKA. Current wind speed are 85 knots in "heavy" CAT and cloud turbulence. All turbulence settings in the ASN UI are set to 100% and Enhanced Turbulence enabled.

    Note: This video link will expire after a while.

    https://www.hightail.com/download/ZU...dVU5bEFFSzhUQw

    -Pv-

  4. #24
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    ASN SP1 Build 5391 is now official for both FSX and P3D 2.4:

    http://www.hifitechinc.com/7-hifi/85-asn-sp1-released

    One of the several enhancements to the manual weather mode, is you can now set the whole world to the variables you have set with one button click.
    -Pv-

  5. #25
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    May 2009
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    Arnhem, The Netherlands
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    One other thing to mention: All trial keys have been reset. So If you've run the 7 day free trial before you can again try it for free for 7 days to experience the improvements. (although I can't immagine someone trying it and than not buying it, that's how good I think it is )

    HARRO LIPPMANN
    Acer Aspire M5811,Intel [email protected],MSI GTX760 2GB,6GB DDR,Saitek Yoke
    Win7 Home Premium 64bit FSX+Acceleration,ASN,REX4,UTX,GEX,RC4,PMDG,Assorted Airports

  6. #26
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    Active Sky Next Turbulence.

    This is a complicated subject so there is a lot of information to absorb. First I'll make some general statements then provide some details.

    ---------
    General Preface:
    How turbulence affects the pilot's flying experience has a lot to do with another kind of pilot experience: Skill.
    This is why Active Sky Next (ASN) has two buttons at the top of the Settings screen labeled Easy Mode and REALISM mode.
    Realism is the default.
    This mode can be thought of as providing the weather environment the authors of the program believe should be encountered in the real world based on the real world data at any given time. Easy helps the relatively new pilot obtain a full featured weather environment with whole world coverage, but some settings have been toned down. Then there is Realism plus. For the Hard Core, you can move a few settings beyond real to purposely make life more difficult and challenging. These settings contain the description "Enhanced."

    NEW FSX pilots are often overwhelmed by many factors. Just learning flight dynamics takes time and concentration. Many new pilots believe aircraft should behave like cars in the air. We call this simplistic view "arcade" or "flying on rails" type of flight dynamics. I will talk about "rails" a bit more later on.

    New simmers also have to learn the FSX UI, frame rate management, widely varying aircraft models and capability. Navigation, radio communication, computerized flight controls, fuel management, on and on.
    Pilots at this level will probably fly in FSX's default clear weather theme for quite a while. Just controlling the plane and landing in one piece seems impossible at times.

    MEDIUM level pilots have the UI and all the basic skills locked in.
    They are also likely flying fewer or just one aircraft model and are really focusing on mastering these down to the fine points. Navigation is second hand. These pilots are also seeking the additional challenges of changing weather, flying long distances and over water using advanced navigation techniques. Rough weather is now just part of the flight and the pilot might actually seek out rough spots as an additional challenge. They have successfully installed a few key add-ons without persistent problems.

    HARD core pilots have been flying in FS and possibly several versions for many years. They have flown every kind of plane and in every kind of weather there is. The additional challenges of ATC, Multiplayer, storms, difficult cross wind and gusting landings on short runways surrounded by steep terrain are all water drops off a duck's back.
    They have all the FSX certificates and have flown nearly every mission adventure they can find. They have settled on several tried and true add-ons and their FSX is stable and reliable with consistently satisfying frame rates.

    For NEW pilots, even the slightest disturbance in the control of an aircraft is devastating. MEDIUM pilots are not bothered by weather at all but are still enthralled when they experience something new in FS.
    HARD core have seen everything and are often bored, looking for anything to get the spark back.

    MEDIUM pilots are starting to discover the default FSX online weather leaves a LOT to be desired. Many real world weather effects are completely missing. There are large areas of the world where there is no changing weather or is clear and calm all the time. Moving from one weather environment to another results in what I call brick wall experiences with extreme and sudden wind, temperature, and pressure changes which would not happen in the real world. Even light planes can plow right through the middle of a violent thunderstorm unscathed. The four default turbulence levels seem over simplified.
    These pilots have discovered ASN and using default realism mode are enjoying the new feature rich environment and real world accuracy only ASN can provide.
    --------

    Turbulence details:
    Turbulence can be thought of as any deviation from smooth and predictable airflow over the wings. These deviations require the pilot or autopilot to adjust the control surfaces suddenly to compensate.
    ASN has more of these kinds of disturbances than the default FSX is able to generate.
    ASN generates FSX disturbances and additional types including:
    -Cloud turbulence
    -Clear Air turbulence (CAT)
    -Terrain ridge lift
    -Crosswinds
    -Gusts
    -Aircraft Wake
    -Microbursts
    -Rotational effects
    -Wind Shear

    If you are a relatively new pilot, the Easy mode will reduce the intensity of all these effects. While your flight will not be smooth all the time, the likelihood your plane will lose control just from these influences are small.

    If you are an experienced pilot, the Realism mode will set all these disturbances to levels the ASN authors believe real world aircraft can encounter. This includes the possibility these effects will cause total loss of control. Anyone who pays attention to aviation accident news knows even large and advanced aircraft can be brought down by weather. Add to this poor decisions by the pilot when these effects occur can make flying in the relatively safe FSX simulation hazardous.

    The over-riding philosophies behind ASN design is accuracy to real world data, smooth transitions from one local environment to another, and hazard avoidance.

    Hazard avoidance means the sim pilot pays a price for taking risks a pilot in the real world would not do. Not only would these activities risk damaging thousands or millions of dollars in equipment, but would violate laws and risk injury or death.

    Many sim pilots through their maturing process begin to seek out various kinds of discipline as a challenge. Fly with human ATC, They'll learn complex FMC interfaces, fly only real world flight plans, join a VA with strict rules and license progression. Add airline management tools like passenger experience rating and flight efficiency rating and more.

    ASN is another in these perfection steps. If the sim pilot is taking risks a real pilot will not take if it can be avoided, ASN will make the sim pilot pay for that risk through varying levels of control instability and loss.

    I'll briefly mention here some turbulence effects default FSX does not provide, so are new and sometimes undesired experiences in ASN.

    Wake turbulence is the disturbed air directly behind and close to an aircraft ahead. Those pilots who rarely or never fly with AI enabled or online in multiplayer, will not experience this.
    ASN manages the level of these effects based on aircraft size which in an over-simplified way looks like this:

    LEADING AIRCRAFT -> TRAILING AIRCRAFT
    Large(heavy) -> Large: Effect = minimal
    Large -> Medium: Effect = moderate
    Large -> Small: Effect = Extreme

    Based on the above, you can imagine other aircraft size combinations and their effects. Two small aircraft will produce a moderate effect.

    The two most important rules for Wake turbulence is stay a long distance behind and stay above. If you are on the runway behind a departing aircraft, this would represent the most likely wake disturbance if you took off too soon. Not only would you get too close to the plane in front, but you would be lower and flying into the sinking disturbance of the climbing plane.
    If you want a real world air dynamic environment, Realism mode will cause you to pay the price for following too close and below an AI or multiplayer aircraft. If you follow real world aviation rules, you will never encounter this effect. If you do have this happen to you, the effect has been made strong enough to get your attention and correct your behavior. Turning the effect off defeats the purpose of learning real world flight rules and discipline.

    Two other effects which default FSX pilots have not seen before are microbursts and wind shear.
    In ASN, these are more likely to occur when the general environment around your aircraft is unstable. You don't have to be flying inside a thunderstorm cloud to get these. If there are TS nearby, or there are high winds with gusts, ASN may randomly generate sudden wind speed and direction changes which cause degraded control. These can be anything from a short shake to continuous pitch and roll, to extreme changes in altitude.
    This is why ASN comes with extensive and powerful planning tools built into the ASN UI and map. Real world pilots not only have carefully planned and scheduled routes to follow, but working together with national weather services, do everything possible to avoid extreme weather. The long lists of cancellations are evidence airlines and pilots take weather risks seriously and don't even try to fly under extreme conditions. The planning tools in ASN are powerful enough and yet simple, you can make a very accurate (though not perfect) assessment of the weather risk along your route. If you see high winds and gusts near your departing or arriving airport, you can be assured ASN will make you pay for flying there in one way or another. If you are getting a good shake on approach and you hear the "Wind Shear" warning and you don't take the industry proven countermeasures, the likelihood you'll land in one piece is greatly reduced. Rather than blaming this on Active Sky, you should be seriously considering what would have happened in the real world if you had been the pilot.
    1) You should not have made the flight at all.
    2) You should have flown a larger plane with more stability.
    3) You should have diverted to an alternate airport.
    4) You should have gone around rather than landing in the wind shear.

    If you got lucky, applied the correct power changes just in time and landed with a lot of bouncing and fish tailing, you'll be thinking about just how much luck you can count on when real people's lives are at stake.

    I'm going to talk about "rails" for a bit now.
    The idea that aircraft are just cars in the air or an elevated train is amazingly enough one of the most popular misconceptions among new and learning FS pilots. Traveling on air is not and never has been 100% stable. Default FS in clear weather however can give the new pilot the impression air is like a railroad track. In default ASN, this illusion is busted wide open. Flight is now unpredictable, unstable, and often times downright tricky even in relatively calm weather reports.
    The idea that you purchased ASN for its real world data and realism, but when you get "realism" you also get thrown around and blame it on ASN is just not sensible. If you plan your flights around unstable weather, you can have reasonably trouble free flights. If you IGNORE weather planning and just go anywhere because you can, then get unexpected loss of control, you only have yourself to blame.

    To new pilots, FSX seems like a new and sometimes exciting adventure.
    To Hard core pilots who may have been flying in FS for 10 - 30 years, the "rails" got old many years ago prompting a lot of aggressive input to the HiFi developers to make FSX weather more random and exciting. While I personally don't always agree with how this randomness is implemented (I'm one of the 30 year old-timers) if you understand what is happening when you are flying in what appears to be a calm weather location and get some period of turbulence, this is in response to years of Active Sky customers asking for this feature. The basis behind this is reasonable though when you consider riding on air with the complexities of the whole world influencing local conditions everywhere is under lying principle.

    The smaller your plane, the stronger all these effects. In a heavy you might drift through a stormy landing with only moderate disturbance while a small plane in the same conditions might become unflyable.

    The most highly variable consideration however is the elephant in the room. Aircraft Models.
    They are not all created with the same attention to detail, accuracy to real world specifications or modeling skill. This detail throws a wrench into the whole flight sim environment. Simmers can dumb down the realism values in FSX making even the most extreme weather in ASN seem non-existent prompting mountains of cries to HiFi for more intense settings. Even at FSX realism settings, models can be made so stable, they don't even flinch in conditions which would destroy them in the real world. Add to that, 99.99 percent of the models available were never developed for or tested in the enhanced ASN environment but only tested in default FSX weather. Most models have been abandoned by their developers who are not changing their models to respond properly to the more risky and dynamic ASN environment.

    In all the above, I've made an attempt to help the new ASN user to understand the design decisions made by the HiFi team. I also focused on the importance of flight planning if one of the goals in flying is to learn real world pilot skills. Also, I mentioned all your careful planning may still result in some bumps along the road because of random events and ASN weather all over the world is constantly changing.
    Meteorologists don't always get their predictions exactly right even a few hours into the future. ASN's projections are using these same weather predictions. While ASN's Easy mode will greatly assist new pilots in keeping their planes flyable while they learn and still get ASN's incomparable world coverage with temperature, wind and pressure smoothing, graduating to REALISM mode is when you are learning what it's like to take on the responsibility of protecting property and lives in one of the riskiest careers an average person can have.

    -Pv-

  7. #27
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    Active Sky Next SP2B is out now with full support for P3D and FSX:SE

    http://www.hifitechinc.com/news/91-asn-sp2-released

    P3D 2.4 not supported.

    -Pv-
    Last edited by pvarn; 04-09-2015 at 10:47 AM.

  8. Default

    Tried the demo but hate the nagging window asking if I want "as_srv\as_btstrp_config_manager.exe" to load every time I start FSX

  9. #29
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    To make that message go away (which is caused by FSX not ASN) while ASN and FSX are closed remove all the lines containing "as_srv\as_btstrp_config_manager.exe" from the [TRUSTED] section of FSX.XFG and save.
    This will cause FSX to ask the question again.

    It's important you respond properly. If not, FSX will keep asking you every time you start FSX. This is a feature of FSX which enables you to OK the add-on permanently, disable it permanently, or OK/refuse it each time you start.

    Removing the item and starting the process over gives you the opportunity to get out of the loop and answer the question correctly the first time.

    First Question (Select RUN):
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    Second Question (Select Yes)
    Name:  trusted_man.jpg
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    If you select No at this point, FSX will keep asking you every time.
    -Pv-

  10. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by pvarn View Post
    To make that message go away (which is caused by FSX not ASN) while ASN and FSX are closed remove all the lines containing "as_srv\as_btstrp_config_manager.exe" from the [TRUSTED] section of FSX.XFG and save.
    This will cause FSX to ask the question again.

    It's important you respond properly. If not, FSX will keep asking you every time you start FSX. This is a feature of FSX which enables you to OK the add-on permanently, disable it permanently, or OK/refuse it each time you start.

    Removing the item and starting the process over gives you the opportunity to get out of the loop and answer the question correctly the first time.

    First Question (Select RUN):
    Name:  run_conf_man.jpg
Views: 1002
Size:  34.9 KB

    Second Question (Select Yes)
    Name:  trusted_man.jpg
Views: 1002
Size:  31.4 KB

    If you select No at this point, FSX will keep asking you every time.
    -Pv-
    Hi, this came in handy for me too, so thanks.

    One question though: how many times shoulf these be in fsx.cfg?

    Asking because I installed ASN, it told me there was an update, decide to go get it, ASN closed, downloaded the update and installed it, and checking now I have 2 entries for the manager and also 2 for the .dll.... Is this right or should there just be one of each?

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