By Ross Carlson 887155
#441876 Hello all,

Now that vSTARS is available for download, I want to take a minute to highlight some of the key differences between vSTARS and VRC in terms of how it is set up for use at various facilities on VATSIM.

The most important concept to understand is that configuring vSTARS is not a trivial undertaking. You cannot expect to simply fire up the software and start controlling. vSTARS is designed to be set up by someone who knows the facility very well. Many ARTCCs have one or more facility engineers (FEs) who are tasked with creating sector files, maintaining the position and alias files, etc. Each facility wishing to use vSTARS should have a facility engineer responsible for creating and maintaining their vSTARS facility configuration files. These file can then be downloaded and imported by all the controllers in the facility if they want to use vSTARS.

In other words, controllers who are not facility engineers will need to exercise a measure of patience, and wait for their facility engineer to get the facility configuration files created and made available for download.

Obviously, anyone can take on the role of facility engineer ... it's not like there's any special VATSIM rating requirement. So if you just can't wait for your FE to get things set up, or if your ARTCC doesn't have an FE, then you can certainly set up a facility configuration yourself. Be sure to read the Facility Engineer's Guide which is included with the vSTARS download.

The absolute bare minimum configuration required to create a usable facility is to have at least one video map, or else you won't be able to see where the aircraft are. As mentioned in the Facility Engineer's Guide, vSTARS includes a small utility program for creating video maps from sector files. In addition to creating at least one video map, you'll also need to set the center point of your airspace. After setting your CID, password, and audio devices, you'll then be able to connect and start using the software.

Also note that vSTARS does not have the user-friendly right-click menu for working with aircraft like VRC has. (This is because the real STARS system has no such feature.) So you will need to review the Controller's Guide and the Command Reference so that you'll know how to work with aircraft.

Again, please be patient and give your FE time to get a thorough facility configuration file created, complete with radar sites, CRDA configurations, MSAW altitudes, etc. Only with a decent facility configuration can all the features of vSTARS really shine.