Jump to content

The cheapest way (that I know of) to fly realistically on VATSIM


Clout
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hey everyone,

I think I have figured out the cheapest way to fly normal routes with STARs, SIDs, a proper flight plan, on VATSIM. 

I am a university student, and thus it's quite expected that I'm running low on money, especially money reserved for hobbies and games. I wanted to start flying on VATSIM, so I started looking into how I can get a relatively realistic experience with real-life data.

If your hardware can support MSFS, then I strongly recommend shelling out 10EUR/mo to get the Xbox game pass, which includes the MSFS base game. The price is low, and you may not need to get Navigraph charts because they still update the game's AIRACs. And the default aircraft AFAIK are not that bad. Not to mention the abundance of other games you get along with your subscription.

If you cannot run MSFS, then keep reading:

For people that are about on the same boat as me, here are what you need to pay for: FSX:SE which goes for 4.99EUR on Steam right now, and Navigraph Charts. I'm sure that anyone looking at this right now knows of these costs.

What I did is:

  • -Install FSX:SE as per normal
  • -Install FSUIPC unregistered and SimConnect, because you need to.
  • -Use FSXWX, for real-time weather
  • -Install vasFMC, as the current most realistic and VATSIM-compatible FMC/MCDU solution I have been able to find (Which does feature quite a lot of features that even the Fenix A320 in MSFS does). Something to note here is that this is the center of everything that will get you through your route, including their MCDU, ND, PFD,  FCU, and ECAMs. You will not be using the virtual-cockpit hardware if you use vasFMC.
  • -Install Navigraph FMS Data Manager, to get vasFMC to update their antiquated AIRAC to the current one
  • -Install FSX Navaids Update, to update the FSX itself to the current AIRAC
  • -Install any aircraft you may like. I use the Posky B737, you can use Project Airbus (or whatever else), you can even use default aircraft.

In case you want to go completely free(without Navigraph), you can also use the Honeywell FMC to fly. From what I have been able to see, you can forget using SIDs and STARs, which either means that you use headings from (Possibly old) charts you find online, or you request headings from TWR. Both of which personally classify as an un-authentic experience, given that it is not a regular departure/arrival flow. Not to say that, setting a direct-to for a waypoint literally removes the flight plan. Very, very frustrating.

Problems I've encountered with the vasFMC solution:

  • I cannot get vasFMC to work with virtual cockpit, though I have not quite worked on it that much. Maybe I'm missing something.
  • vasFMC is inherently designed for Airbus aircraft, as it is stylized to mimic Airbus' MCDUs. That makes it quite unrealistic as a regular B737 pilot.
  • I cannot get VNAV to function with vasFMC, but I feel that might be related to my not inputting all proper variables like block fuel.
  • A lot of airports are almost 20 years old at this point. I have seen certain airports that at their current IRL state have buildings built on top of the airport. This can be fixed by finding (freeware) airports which you can put in the sim.
  • Because of the above point, taxiing is very difficult. What I do is rely on the taxi charts on Navigraph to get to where I need to be. I may even be going through trees, but as long as it gets me to the runway in a way that does not disrupt other pilots/ATC.

If anyone has a similarly-priced alternative, please put it here. I'm really interested in getting a proper VATSIM experience with the lowest budget and the smallest PC requirements. 

Also, if someone has other ways they use FSX to fly on VATSIM at a budget, please let me know. This is my current solution which definitely needs work. Anything (airplanes you use, different FMCs, sceneries/airports), would be greatly appreciated.

Edited by Clout
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

 

On 9/26/2022 at 4:58 AM, Clout said:
  •  

In case you want to go completely free(without Navigraph), you can also use the Honeywell FMC to fly. From what I have been able to see, you can forget using SIDs and STARs, which either means that you use headings from (Possibly old) charts you find online, or you request headings from TWR. Both of which personally classify as an un-authentic experience, given that it is not a regular departure/arrival flow. Not to say that, setting a direct-to for a waypoint literally removes the flight plan. Very, very frustrating.

What do you expect: its many year olds (like VASFMC) and probably is not supported anymore

 

(also why is your name "clout") 

 

Sorry if this seems blunt and harsh,I

 

Edited by Malcolm Fernandez
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/29/2022 at 8:25 PM, Malcolm Fernandez said:

What do you expect: its many year olds (like VASFMC) and probably is not supported anymore

I understand that, and I'm fine with it. In fact, the people developing it stopped support in 2011 and even took down their forums. I know most things are outdated but there is a surprising amount of people still trying to make botches to the software to get it running. The link I gave to vasFMC has a pretty good guide about getting it up and running, including all installation software needed. Plus, since you quoted the point about HoneywellFMC, I thought I would include the 2 (currently standing) major players in addon FMCs. And I specifically mentioned that because I tried using the HoneywellFMC since it's more Boeing-like, but realized the functionalities are just not there.

By the way, you need FSUIPC and SimConnect to use FSXWX, because it injects the weather into FSX using both of them. And they're free and frequently used for other Aircraft/mods.

And about what you said about getting the Xbox Game Pass and using that to play MSFS, it's actually a good recommendation which I will promptly add to the post above. But, personally, I am also limited by hardware, given that I am using my university PC (Laptop-adapted 1050-level Quadro) and an old off-brand PS3 controller to play the game. So, for people with the specs but without the game, it's actually a great recommendation (for 10EUR a month including an abundance of games that are included), but it just isn't viable for my hardware. It still is a great recommendation though, and thank you for adding that, especially given that the AIRACs are relatively up to date (maybe 3 months old at the longest), which means you don't really need the Navigraph subscription.

Thanks for the comment!

Edited by Clout
Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 hours ago, Clout said:

I understand that, and I'm fine with it. In fact, the people developing it stopped support in 2011 and even took down their forums. I know most things are outdated but there is a surprising amount of people still trying to make botches to the software to get it running. The link I gave to vasFMC has a pretty good guide about getting it up and running, including all installation software needed. Plus, since you quoted the point about HoneywellFMC, I thought I would include the 2 (currently standing) major players in addon FMCs. And I specifically mentioned that because I tried using the HoneywellFMC since it's more Boeing-like, but realized the functionalities are just not there.

By the way, you need FSUIPC and SimConnect to use FSXWX, because it injects the weather into FSX using both of them. And they're free and frequently used for other Aircraft/mods.

And about what you said about getting the Xbox Game Pass and using that to play MSFS, it's actually a good recommendation which I will promptly add to the post above. But, personally, I am also limited by hardware, given that I am using my university PC (Laptop-adapted 1050-level Quadro) and an old off-brand PS3 controller to play the game. So, for people with the specs but without the game, it's actually a great recommendation (for 10EUR a month including an abundance of games that are included), but it just isn't viable for my hardware. I'm actually using the Navigraph subscription of a family member which I play with, so my total cost has come to 3.99EUR, since I only bought the game on sale. It still is a great recommendation though, and thank you for adding that, especially given that the AIRACs are relatively up to date (maybe 3 months old at the longest), which means you don't really need the Navigraph subscription.

Thanks for the comment!

Personally,FSX is not a sim I would recommend in this day and age...(regardless of budget)

Also using someones else navigraph subscription is aganist the Terms of service of navigraph.

1.2. Personal Account
Your Account is personal and must not be used by anyone but yourself. Further, you may only register an Account as a natural person, and not in the name of a business, organization, association, any other form of legal entity or similar.

 

 

I am honestly curious and I understand FSX has many freeware options and lower system specs needed 

Edited by Malcolm Fernandez
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not quite a place to be 

22 hours ago, Clout said:

I understand that, and I'm fine with it. In fact, the people developing it stopped support in 2011 and even took down their forums. I know most things are outdated but there is a surprising amount of people still trying to make botches to the software to get it running. The link I gave to vasFMC has a pretty good guide about getting it up and running, including all installation software needed. Plus, since you quoted the point about HoneywellFMC, I thought I would include the 2 (currently standing) major players in addon FMCs. And I specifically mentioned that because I tried using the HoneywellFMC since it's more Boeing-like, but realized the functionalities are just not there.

By the way, you need FSUIPC and SimConnect to use FSXWX, because it injects the weather into FSX using both of them. And they're free and frequently used for other Aircraft/mods.

And about what you said about getting the Xbox Game Pass and using that to play MSFS, it's actually a good recommendation which I will promptly add to the post above. But, personally, I am also limited by hardware, given that I am using my university PC (Laptop-adapted 1050-level Quadro) and an old off-brand PS3 controller to play the game. So, for people with the specs but without the game, it's actually a great recommendation (for 10EUR a month including an abundance of games that are included), but it just isn't viable for my hardware. I'm actually using the Navigraph subscription of a family member which I play with, so my total cost has come to 3.99EUR, since I only bought the game on sale. It still is a great recommendation though, and thank you for adding that, especially given that the AIRACs are relatively up to date (maybe 3 months old at the longest), which means you don't really need the Navigraph subscription.

Thanks for the comment!

Not the place to be admitting to sharing a Navigraph Account. 

ALEXANDER HYMAN
VATSIM Virtual Airlines Audit Manager & Developer      

##

 [email protected]

Facebook Twitter

Instagram

   
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
On 9/27/2022 at 2:14 AM, Lars Bergmann said:

FlightGear is usable on VATSIM and is available for free 🙂

Flightgear is a great product but it has it's drawbacks like lack of 3rd party add-ons ,no payware airports, it's sceneries and navdata are pretty outdated , it's okay to fly maybe VFR to and from small airports but would be a nightmare if you wanna fly jetliners,wish they can update it and welcome payware developers someday.

Cheapest way to fly on vatsim,I think, is Xplane.One purchase (maybe from steam and during discounts for lower rice) and you get updated global airports, abundant high quality freeware aircrafts like the amazing zibo/Levelup 737,Kingair EVO ,etc. You can fly on vatsim enjoying payware level freeware aircrafts and updated airports without paying for anything other than Xplane itself and of course navigraph subscription,one trick is to subscribe through discontinued monthly subscription.Skip one month if there's no obvious changes and you save 8Euros, subscribe again when there's a major change 🤪

Edited by Anna Tiffany
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On Steam, X-Plane 12 can be legitimately purchased for 15-to-17 USD if you are in (or have access to steam payment from) a country that benefits from Steam's regional pricing; which is a similar price to FSX Steam Edition. https://steamdb.info/app/2014780/

I personally think X-Plane is a good choice for those who are budget-sensitive, since you can fly realistically and "live on" freeware alone (aside from the simulator itself) if you really want to. Default scenery is generally kept up-to-date and the texturing looks decent compared to other simulators, if you have enough storage you can load your sim with ortho4xp satellite imagery and OSM data to get a pretty outstanding result if done properly, and there is a vast plethora of freeware aircraft catering to different tastes that are vatsim-worthy - e.g. Zibo 737-800, Shenshee 720, timber61's Bell 429, and all of Felis' beautiful Russian/Soviet creations.

Matt/Memet
C3 Senior Controller
Indonesia vACC - VATSIM South East Asia
Co-Founder of Garuda Virtual
Bord_icon_whiteblend_32.png.8c50fc1151ecd70c301983017a84f593.png

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello everyone! I would like to add to this thread by describing how I fly realistically on VATSIM, for the grand total of zero, zilch, nil! 😀

£0: FlightGear is the first piece of the puzzle. It's free and open source software, and has an almost complete database of navaids, fixes and airports. The scenery is generated automatically from OpenStreetMap data (this same feature was released almost at the same time in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, but FlightGear managed it with a fraction of the financial resources!) As for aircraft, there are quite a few high-quality jetliners:

  • five different variants of the Airbus A320, all of them with working MCDUs and realistic autopilot (plus Airbus 'laws' and the like),
  • civilian, military transport and AWACs versions of the Boeing 707, complete with a fully working Flight Engineer's panel,
  • the Tupolev Tu-154b, which even simulates the navigation systems that were unique to the Eastern Bloc.

There are quite a few more that I haven't tried yet. The only surprising omission, in my opinion, is the Boeing 737 MAX, but then again, I have more than enough trouble keeping straight and level as it is, thank you very much...!

£0: Swift as the Pilot Client software for VATSIM. It's a bit fiddly to set up, and only supports the 'Edge' or 'Nightly' versions of FlightGear right now, but it's very reliable.

£0: SimBrief and SkyVector for flight planning. I usually plan my flight visually with SkyVector, then copy the route into SimBrief for AIRAC validation and fuel calculation.

£0: ChartFox and FltPlan for 'Terminal Procedures Publication' style aeronautical charts (STARs, SIDs, approach plates etc.). ChartFox has data from a lot of countries, but FltPlan is useful when I'm flying to or from Canada, as the Canadian CAA don't publish the charts themselves.

There we go £0 + £0 + £0 + £0 = £0!

Hope this is of interest to you, @Clout, and anyone else who might be interested in a similar setup. 😄

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...