As of late I has been thinking about what is my hobby about and how it relates to the 99%. I am not a pro or and intermediate, I am a weekend warrior that flies basically on the weekends when I have time. This last year has been a really rough year for me and now that things are looking up I am considering on changing things up for my hobby. I am going to be looking at a lot of things over the next few weeks and starting to make some huge changes I think. My goal is to finally be able to get my stick time with less excuses. Things have to change or else I should not have this as a hobby. Sit back and watch as the onion blooms.
As everyone may or may not know simulators are really a great gateway to the flying hobby. It has the ability to save you a ton of money vs countless crashes on a 130x or MCPX which are expensive little birds to fly over a period of time. Some folks are not read to take a plunge of $400 USD to find out its not for them and then struggle to make back 70% of the money spend on the kit. This is where the simulator shines. Lets get into the big names and see which one(s) I like or which one you like. I am not going to make a bold statement as the best in this article, that's for you to claim.
If you’re new to the hobby then the first simulator you may have found is one made by Horizon hobbies, Phoenix. I will tell you I never used it and never really had the drive to use it. As I said earlier it is produced by Horizon Hobbies at the time when I started in the hobby the planes and helicopters were not separate entities as they are today. The software was originally geared for planes and not some much helicopters. One thing for sure is that it worked and still does does. Back around 2015 2016 there was a huge issue with the 5.0 update. It was the worst update ever and created a bunch of headaches for people. Despite the time it took to work out the company got it fixed and working. I said that to say this, your upgrades were/are free. Again I do not follow this title so things may have changed. If not then hey your upgrades are free.
Models on this sim at one point were e-flight and horizon hobbies specific. Post 5.0 upgrade they have added non e-flight models to the title. This opened the door to many new heli pilots especially those who wanted to fly goblins and synergy. Today I am sure they have many new advances that I am not aware of. So please so go looking for yourself and find out. Personally I never considered Phoenix because I was on RealFlight 7 and flying a 130x in a sim was just not my cup of tea.
Controllers were a big deal way back then. You almost had to use a DX series radio. Hobbyking did however created or stole a usb dongle that turned an RX in to a wireless connection. This meant that Futaba users could use the sim. Today I am sure just about any radio will work as long as you are willing to make it work. Keep in mind Horizon Hobbies needs to sell their product what better way than to make it so only their radios work. It’s the nature of the beast with this company. Most beginning fliers have an old DX6i or the newer DX6 (Black edition) so this want be much of an issue.
Final thoughts on this simulator are generally good but it depends on what you are looking for in a sim. It’s also been brought to my attention that this sim has been discontinued but can still be bought used. This means that at some point it will not work in the windows environment.
This is the sim I started out on and stayed with from 2012 through 2015. I stuck with it for quite some time. Great Planes kept the sim current with models and the knifedge forum had a bunch of 3rd party aircraft. This sim had its pros and cons also. This was normally known as the go to sim around the hobby. RCHN would talk about it like it was the standard for heli pilots. Over time I was slowly turned off this sim.
Upfront the sim for a budget guy was out of reach for most. Every major update had a fee involved and you never knew if they were changing the hardware requirements: i.e. supplied radio, the link cable or whatever. When I purchased RealFlight 7 i got the dongle/cable version or the supply your own radio. At that time I was a FlySky TH9X flashed with openTx. It was not as straightforward as one would think, then again it was not a typical radio. In the end I got it to work. Life was grans because I could fly anytime I wanted. Another aspect of this sim was that you got everything needed to connect to Futaba or Specktrum radios out of the box. This was a god send since a majority of the pilots had either of those two radios.
As of version 7.5, the last version I used; it supported all air vehicles to include quads and the failed Curtis Youngblood 3D quad. There were so many different models it was hard to choose which to fly. I had all the Goblins from Gronimod, a couple Snyergy Aligns Gaui and the list goes on. Flying fields were endless with all the user made add ons along with the stock fields. At one point I think it even had a couple of Blade products in it.
If this sim was my only option vs buying a new one; I would stick with RF 7.5. Even with the pay for updates I cant argue that it really does deliver on the experience. Since this is not the case I have moved on to a new sim.
This sim took me a while to get on the bandwagon with. I heard about it on RCHN and I figured I had a few dollars. I bought it based solely on what I heard from the podcast. At this point I had already bought my VControl and figured it can’t be that hard. Truly it was a simple as pugging in the USB cable and setting the radio to sim mode. That’s it no muss no fuss plug in run basic setup and fly. What I really love about the sim is that it is Mac and Linux friendly natively. Once you buy the sim that’s it no more purchases unless they changed that in the two years. I can update it just fine with having financial connection. In my head I see this as a no brainer for a beginner or a budget person.
This sim has all the models you will ever need in the areas of quads and helis. At one point, I believe; they were trying to get airplanes incorporated into the sim. With everything they have in the way of models you will not be left wanting another. There is nice selection of Goblins with various color schemes, Gaui X3 X5 and R5. I can’t name everything they had available just know there is something for everyone.
Flying fields can be a bit sparse for some. While there are a few stock one can download additional fields through the sim. Not many are US flying fields except Muncie Indiana. For me this little down side is not a deal breaker. I am not on the sim to tour the world. My goal is to build the skills needed to fly and that’s it. I don’t really have a lot to say about the sim other than it works for me. I can fly anytime I want, Crash as much as i want and that’s it. For what you pay for and what you get it definitely performs the way I would want a sim to.
Now there is one sim I should throw out there and that Is accuRc. The only reason I did not cover this one is because i know nothing of it other than you need a supercomputer to use it. I don’t need to change my servos, or my blades or anything All I want is to practice. This sim really distracts me from just that. If you are looking for that video game feel then this is your sim. It is not for me
In closing of this I want to reiterate that I am at a crossroads in the hobby. I am feeling out what it is I want from it and what I am willing to spend to keep with it. My goal is to express where I am coming from and hopefully show the new guy that it really does not take much to get started and maybe shine a light on a new aspect of the flying hobby. This is just my view of what works for me and what I am not changing at this point. neXtRc is the sim I have, I use it and it does what I need to. I didn’t pay top dollar for it either but my top dollar radio works with it. If you have any questions on the topic of sims just post up in the sim section and ask away.
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- This article is part 1 of 3 in the series Reflecting on My Hobby.
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- This article is part 1 of 3 in the series Reflecting on My Hobby.