Jump to content

These are my thoughts on VATSIM...what are yours?


Recommended Posts

I started responding to a thread where someone was asking about the current status of new audio codecs to be used on VATSIM to improve audio quality. I then however realized I was responding to a thread that was more than 1 year old. And I also realized I started derailing from audio quality discussions to other things as well.

 

So I figured the best thing probably is to create a fresh and new thread instead so here goes...

 

Interesting how there seem to be two camps here where one camp keeps claiming the audio quality on VATSIM is even better vs RL while the other camps claims the opposite.

 

I guess I'm in the middle.

 

I've been flying on VATSIM for many years and in my experience, the quality varies quite a lot. Sometimes you can barely hear the other guy and sometimes, the audio quality is just fine. What is interesting is how sometimes when I can't hear a guy, others report they hear him/her just fine. Or the other way around. That to me indicates an audio issue on the network rather than poor hardware being used. If it's a codec issue or something else on the network causing it, that I don't know.

 

I have no experience from RL but I do listen to lots of ATC-pilots communication on a flight scanner. Comparing that to what I hear on VATSIM, I would say RL is more clear in most cases. I also watch all streams made by a RL airline captain calling himself flightdeck2sim on YouTube. He has complained numerous times about the bad audio quality on VATSIM compared to what he's used to IRL.

 

So, to sum up I guess the audio issues on VATSIM are caused by a mix of network/ancient codec issues and low quality hardware being used. The first one will hopefully be addressed in a not too distant future while the other one will be tougher to address. It's not like you can force people buying high quality equipment to fly/control online. What maybe could be done though is to more actively and officially encourage people to use high quality gear. And to explain why that is important to give everyone on VATSIM a more enjoyable experience.

 

Finally I think pilots who don't respect proper aviation communication rules should be warned and if still not complying, be banned for x amount of time. Allowing them to spend that time learning how to properly communicate. One of the most common mistakes caused by lack of knowledge, common sense or pure ignorance is breaking in before the other pilot were able to finish his/her communication with ATC.

 

I know you need to do some tests in order to act as ATC. I think the same thing should go for acting as a pilot. It doesn't need to be any hard tests. Just enough to show you do have the basic knowledge before you're allowed to go online. And not just how you control your aircraft in certain situations, but also, or maybe even rather, how you communicate on the network both with ATC and other pilots in a polite and professional manner.

 

VATSIM shouldn't be seen as some kind of a playground where you can fool around. There are lots of other alternatives for that kind of behavior. VATSIM should instead be a network where people who have a genuine interest in aviation come to learn and enjoy flying in the most realistic environment possible. At least that is how I see it. And I do think I share that view with quite a number of people. Or at least I hope so...

 

Another great thing with tests for new members before being able to connect to the network regardless if applying for acting as ATC or pilot is how that would get rid of low-life's such as the one seen in the clip linked below starting at 2:17:30

 

 

When I see these kind of "people", I feel embarr[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed on behalf of VATSIM and all of us allowing this on our network in front of a RL airline captain who is kind enough to not only join us to make our environment even more realistic having real airline pilots flying with us, but also sharing all his knowledge with us.

 

Online flying to me is probably one of if not the most important ways how you can simulate flight as realistically as possible.

 

So, here's me wishing all of us will help and do whatever we can to make VATSIM into an even greater online network to enjoy and to be proud being part of!

Richard Åsberg

Link to post
Share on other sites
I've been flying on VATSIM for many years and in my experience, the quality varies quite a lot. Sometimes you can barely hear the other guy and sometimes, the audio quality is just fine. What is interesting is how sometimes when I can't hear a guy, others report they hear him/her just fine. Or the other way around. That to me indicates an audio issue on the network rather than poor hardware being used. If it's a codec issue or something else on the network causing it, that I don't know.

 

I can't say I've experience the issue where I can't hear someone that others can. I have experienced the opposite a few times, but that can easily be explained by poor hardware or low volume on the part of those who can't hear the person well. In any case, this situation is extremely rare in my experience, compared to the case where everyone is having a hard time hearing someone.

 

So, to sum up I guess the audio issues on VATSIM are caused by a mix of network/ancient codec issues and low quality hardware being used. The first one will hopefully be addressed in a not too distant future while the other one will be tougher to address. It's not like you can force people buying high quality equipment to fly/control online. What maybe could be done though is to more actively and officially encourage people to use high quality gear. And to explain why that is important to give everyone on VATSIM a more enjoyable experience.

 

I've often wondered if we'll still notice a wide variance in readability due to poor quality hardware, even after the new voice infrastructure is in place. However, when I look at (or rather, listen to) other group audio systems (not just on other flying networks, but also TeamSpeak, Discord, etc.) I don't see the same issue of varying hardware quality affecting readability. For this reason, I am hopeful that the new voice system will improve that situation for VATSIM. I get the sense that a better codec will help level the playing field in terms of hardware quality. In other words, I think that more modern codecs are more tolerant of poor audio hardware. I'm not a digital voice expert, so I could certainly be wrong, but that's the general sense I get.

 

And as I've said before, I truly think the number one issue with VATSIM's voice system is the latency. It constantly causes people to unwittingly step on each other on a busy frequency. "Unwittingly" is the key word, here. Most of the time, people are not doing it on purpose. Most of us have a grip on basic radio etiquette, including the controllers, yet every last one of us (including the controller) is susceptible to stepping on others without meaning it. It even happens in the real world where there is functionally zero latency, so it is obviously going to happen more on a network with 500+ milliseconds of built-in latency. Getting that number down to something more reasonable will pay huge dividends.

Developer: vPilot, VRC, vSTARS, vERAM, VAT-Spy

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the valuable input!

 

Let's hope what you say will prove to be correct and as for people unintentionally stepping on each other's toes, I know exactly what you mean.

 

As long as it's caused by latency issues it's fine although annoying. Especially in a very busy situation with lots of traffic such as a fly-in event.

 

What isn't fine is how a pilot for instance breaks in right after ATC gave another pilot a clearance before the first pilot had a chance to read the clearance back. This could of course be because the 2nd pilot just joined the frequency and didn't hear ATC giving the clearance.

 

But it certainly happened to me more than once how that has not been the case and where the second pilot has already been heard on the channel and knows exactly what has been said and still decides to brake in.

 

Which takes us to my suggestion to introduce tests also for pilots where they need to show they understand these basic rules before they are allowed to connect to the network.

 

What do you think about that?

Richard Åsberg

Link to post
Share on other sites

In my opinion / experience, voice quality on VATSIM seems to be affected more by background noise than hardware quality. With engines roaring in speakers, pilots are rendered unintelligible over the network while still crystal clear over TeamSpeak or Discord. The difference with high-quality mics is that they're better at filtering out background noise. You'll sound fine on VATSIM using a $10 headset if you don't have other noise mixing in.

 

Hopefully an updated codec will fix that. And reduced latency will help with the channel chaos.

 

I'm firmly in the camp that some level of pilot competence should be mandated, but I know that opinions differ widely on that. I spent three and a half years trying to go above & beyond by helping others learn what they needed to fly cooperatively on the network, but I've handed that torch off to others at this point.

Cheers,

-R.

fvJfs7z.png

Link to post
Share on other sites

I honestly never understood why there haven't been mandatory tests for pilots already from start in the same way they've always been there for ATC.

 

I do understand how acting like ATC does require more of you directly from start vs taking off in a C172 doing a lap or two. Still though, I do think everyone would benefit from having basic tests for everyone on the network.

 

And as a bonus as mentioned in my initial post, it would also help defeat those connecting simply to make life miserable for the rest.

Richard Åsberg

Link to post
Share on other sites
But it certainly happened to me more than once how that has not been the case and where the second pilot has already been heard on the channel and knows exactly what has been said and still decides to brake in.

 

Which takes us to my suggestion to introduce tests also for pilots where they need to show they understand these basic rules before they are allowed to connect to the network.

 

What do you think about that?

 

I personally haven't been negatively affected by newbie pilots as much as others seem to have been, but maybe I've just been lucky, or I'm numb to it. Given that so many people think that increasing pilot quality is a top priority, I acknowledge that it's a problem that we should do something about. We just need to strike the right balance so that we don't scare off tire kickers that could turn into well-regarded members of the community if given a chance. In other words, we can't turn into an elitist group.

Developer: vPilot, VRC, vSTARS, vERAM, VAT-Spy

Senior Controller, Boston Virtual ARTCC

Link to post
Share on other sites

I hear you and I'm happy you'll take it under consideration.

 

I also understand it's a delicate question which needs to be handled in a respectful manner. But I personally don't think asking people who would like to participate to show they understand the basics has anything to do with elitism. Rather common sense.

 

In the end, I guess it mainly comes down to what VATSIM wants to be - a playground for people who likes to fool around or a grown up community for people seriously interested in aviation and flight simulation.

Edited by Guest

Richard Åsberg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Richard, >>One of the most common mistakes caused by lack of knowledge, common sense or pure ignorance is breaking in before the other pilot were able to finish his/her communication with ATC.<<

 

Thank you!!!

 

Pilots when switching frequencies need only to wait 2-3 seconds and make sure there isn't communications being given. Then check-in. I agree with you and it is definitely aggravating to say the least.

 

Michael


 

1.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites
Pilots when switching frequencies need only to wait 2-3 seconds and make sure there isn't communications being given.

It's not just that, but, when you hear ATC give an instruction or a clearance -- WAIT FOR THE PILOT TO READ IT BACK before jumping in!

 

That's going to become a HUGE problem, I predict, if a new voice system with realistic radio range limits is implemented. You think this is bad now, think how bad it'll get when a new pilot might not be able to hear that readback, but still has to know to allow space for it to be done...

Cheers,

-R.

fvJfs7z.png

Link to post
Share on other sites
Pilots when switching frequencies need only to wait 2-3 seconds and make sure there isn't communications being given.

It's not just that, but, when you hear ATC give an instruction or a clearance -- WAIT FOR THE PILOT TO READ IT BACK before jumping in!

 

+1.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all great input guys!

 

Apparently, it's not just me who has seen this a bit too many times. Hopefully, this topic can serve as a hint and reminder for VATSIM management it's time to do something about it. Such as introducing the mandatory tests for pilots as suggested.

 

And again, that would have nothing to do with elitism but pure common sense. Asking people to show they understand common sense and comply with certain rules and regulations created for everyone's sake won't make you a bad person.

 

And again nr 2, introducing such mandatory tests would also get rid of all low life's signing up for multiple accounts just to act like idiots on the network as seen in the stream linked in my initial post.

Richard Åsberg

Link to post
Share on other sites
Pilots when switching frequencies need only to wait 2-3 seconds and make sure there isn't communications being given.

That's going to become a HUGE problem, I predict, if a new voice system with realistic radio range limits is implemented. You think this is bad now, think how bad it'll get when a new pilot might not be able to hear that readback, but still has to know to allow space for it to be done...

This may not be the right place to be asking this question but the radio range limits is definitely going to be a m[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ive problem with the new voice system from what I've heard, and I'd be curious as to know how VATSIM plans to deal with this. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the new system, and the whole "stepping on other pilots" issue is probably my biggest pet peeve at the moment. In fact, I don't think I've ever controlled without having this happen at least once (ok ok... I admit that's an exaggeration but it's not all that far from the truth). HOWEVER, as Rob said, will a new system fix this? Or will it just make it worse?

 

If VATSIM plans to introduce a mandatory entrance test for all pilots the best time to do so would likely be around the time the new voice system is released. It will probably help to deal with this issue (and others mentioned in this thread) but it is definitely NOT going to be a magic cure to all VATSIM's problems.

 

Anyways that's my 2 cents

Cheers!

Josh Jenk

CZVR S3 controller

TRHzE8k.png

Link to post
Share on other sites
Pilots when switching frequencies need only to wait 2-3 seconds and make sure there isn't communications being given.

It's not just that, but, when you hear ATC give an instruction or a clearance -- WAIT FOR THE PILOT TO READ IT BACK before jumping in!

 

Agree 100% Rob. That is why I'm a huge advocate of PDC's. I do realize they do not work in every pilot's situation, i.e. GA pilots, but it does open the channel significantly for controllers working airline type pilots. And kudo's to most controllers in that if you request it they will likely provide it.

 

Michael


 

1.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

The biggest problem I have with audio is related to the number of pilots (and less often controllers) who fail to properly set up their microphone. I don't know how many I've heard lately who sound like the mic is inside their mouth or perhaps just encased in plastic wrap. Don't know if it's just me, but I simply can't understand what those people say.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't chime in on these forums much but I decided to speak up on this-

 

I've been a VATSIM pilot since 2010 and have am[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed nearly 3100 hours flying on the network, and almost 250 hours controlling ground and tower. In the real world I fly light aircraft in fairly busy airspace around (and into) cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] B and C airports often... I only say that to preface where I'm coming from with this post. -- The two things that are like nails on a chalkboard for me about VATSIM have been mentioned in above replies, but I wanted to expand a little.

 

In reference to the pilot training / basic info thing, I think this is something that needs some serious thought and action. The other night I was flying out of an airport on the east coast and BOS_CTR was online. He had a TWR at BOS and that was it, and he was really busy. He was doing an excellent job with what he could dealing with IFR clearances and routing changes for folks, plus he even allowed an emergency by a 777, but there was one person who literally had such a low level of understanding that they continually were asking the controller "What do I do now?" and "I don't know what to do, can we just text it?" and taking up quite a bit of airtime. For a CTR guy that has dozens of airplanes, I can only imagine the workload this puts on the controller and it is frustrating for me (and others I'm sure) to listen to. The guy filed a route he couldn't fly, he didn't know even the basics about the instructions he was given, and I just felt really bad for the controller dealing with this plus the m[Mod - Happy Thoughts] of other airplanes. I've never done this before, but I sent a very nice message to the pilot and just told him I suggested he practice at a quieter location, with a smaller airplane, and that this was a very busy place that night... of course it made no difference. This seems to happen every time I fly in a fairly stacked airspace and I feel as if it happens more now than it used to. I know we all had to start somewhere, but at least a basic knowledge of "I shouldn't fly into JFK on a busy night if I know zip about IFR flying" and "I should wait a few seconds before transmitting on a new freq" and "I should wait for the airplane to read back the instruction" should be [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ured.

 

In reference to the voice thing (and I suppose it applies to the training thing) I think flying in the airspace system in the real world has spoiled me. The second or two delay that I get when transmitting on VATSIM has caused me to step on controllers and other pilots many times, and it just should not exist with modern voice technology. The number of repeat transmissions make smooth flowing of instructions and responses difficult. It is so nice in the real world to push a button and talk instantly, and listen to controller/pilot comms with a quarter to half second (or less) between each side's transmission. Yes, stepping on a controller or vice versa happens frequently in the real world too, especially when a controller is covering multiple frequencies. You may hear them transmit to a particular airplane and never hear that airplane because it is on a total different frequency, likely because the transmitter is in a geographically better location for the airplane they're talking to. Speaking of hearing, I have never had a problem hearing anyone in terms of quality on a radio, except if they are very far away and the transmission is static. The real world audio quality, especially when in the air, is surprisingly clear... even for the guy flying a twin Cezzzna with a [Mod - lovely stuff]py headset and both engines droning away in everyone's ears. I have personally found that the biggest irregularity for me on VATSIM is the volume of controllers- some I can hear with no issue, and some I have to mute all sim sound just to hear them. I am hopeful the new codec makes it much easier for everyone on both sides to communicate more efficiently and clearly. Anything is a great improvement over what we have now.

 

Sorry for rambling- as I said, I felt like I should chime in with my thoughts on those two topics. Hopefully I didn't sound too much like a bummer

 

FDX016 - Nick

Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...