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vATIS: Intermittent Voice Broadcast & Outdated METAR Information


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Over the past several months, we have seen several examples of inconsistent behavior from vATIS. This seems to affect controllers at all levels and at multiple facilities within ZBW. We routinely get reports from pilots and need to restart vATIS on a fairly regular basis over the course of a long session.

The issues are as follows: 

  1.  After an hour or so, it seems vATIS will stop broadcasting the "voice" portion of a non-recorded ATIS. The "TX ATIS" button remains selected and the "TX" light is on, but nobody can hear the audio (myself included). A restart of vATIS is required to re-enable the voice functionality. 
  2.  vATIS will occasionally update to a METAR from several hours ago. For example, ATIS is currently A. vATIS updates to ATIS B but with a METAR from 12 hours ago. A few minutes later, vATIS updates again to ATIS C with the correct time and weather. 

I've seen a few of these reported here and there across these forums and have heard a variety of answers from "it's a server issue" to "it's an AFV issue" to "it's a vATIS issue". I am hoping that @Justin Shannon and/or the VATSIM network team is already aware of these two points and can identify for us whether a fix is in process. Or, if these are new/unreported issues, I'd be happy to help with troubleshooting.

As always, I'm very appreciative of the work that volunteers do to maintain our network and provide great ATC clients for our use. I hope this post helps to consolidate a few issues and perhaps points us on the right track to resolution if in fact these issues affect other controllers.

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Evan Reiter
Boston Virtual ARTCC/ZBW Community Manager

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 10/12/2020 at 6:26 AM, Evan Reiter said:

After an hour or so, it seems vATIS will stop broadcasting the "voice" portion of a non-recorded ATIS. The "TX ATIS" button remains selected and the "TX" light is on, but nobody can hear the audio (myself included). A restart of vATIS is required to re-enable the voice functionality. 

I’ve personally have not experienced this while using vATIS. However, I will see what I can do about detecting if the voice drops and appropriately restarting it. I have no estimate of when this will happen, however.
 

On 10/12/2020 at 6:26 AM, Evan Reiter said:

vATIS will occasionally update to a METAR from several hours ago. For example, ATIS is currently A. vATIS updates to ATIS B but with a METAR from 12 hours ago. A few minutes later, vATIS updates again to ATIS C with the correct time and weather. 

Out of sync or expired METARs is a network problem, not a vATIS problem. 

Controller (C1), Los Angeles ARTCC
Developer: xPilot, vATIS

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Thanks Justin! 

@Dhruv Kalra 1182570tells me "ATIS voice dropouts are a known issue with AFV servers - that issue isn’t isolated to vATIS. Euroscope has the same issue. That’s high up their fix list, but afaik the AFV dev team hasn’t been able to nail down the issue as yet."

Perhaps you are already aware but I thought I'd pass on his note.

23 hours ago, Justin Shannon said:

I’ve personally have not experienced this while using vATIS. However, I will see what I can do about detecting if the voice drops and appropriately restarting it. I have no estimate of when this will happen, however.

I think that would help tremendously. For what it's worth, it isn't immediately obvious that the voice drops. You would have to be monitoring it and/or have a pilot report that the voice isn't working. In my case, when I'm on position for 2-3 hours, I'll occasionally monitor the voice ATIS through AFV toward the end of the session and that's normally when I see it's dropped voice broadcast. 

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Evan Reiter
Boston Virtual ARTCC/ZBW Community Manager

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Controlling in LSAS i can agree to both issues. But as far as i could reconstruct it, it has few to nothing to do with vATIS. 2) is proven to be serverside. As ES itself downloads the wrong METARS every once in a while. I didn't have this issue with either ES nor vATIS in the last few sessions.

1) *could* have partially to do with vATIS, but, again, i highly doubt it. Whenever vATIS stops working i fall back on ES ATIS. I can not say this for a 100% sure, but my observation is, that, whenever the vATIS wont voice-out, neither will ES ATIS.

and it has most probably got to do with VATSIMs TTS daemon for some reason (which i have no clue at all, i'm just a user 🙂 ) not doing what it should.

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