Setup interactive ATC on FSX
Using ATC on your flight simulator is a important step to make your simulator very immersive. There are solutions that exist that allow you to talk to a real person and are very realistic, however when relaxing/praticing I tend to not want to interact with real people and just take the time to learn whilst in my zone (might be a personal preference :)
The ATC voices on FSX are fairly good actually and not robotic (compared to other flight simulators) which is why I still hold on to FSX as my primary simulator. On other simulators when I hear a robot reading my clearence it ruins my flying experience.
-> If anyone knows how to put real voices from the computer on other simulators please let me know your experience ?
This is why I developed a solution that allows to mimic ATC commands, and is very close to the real thing. It involves muting the pilot voice on FSX and only hearing the towered voice. The pause is still preserved so you can push a button and speak normally your request - and then wait for the tower to respond.
Obviously if you speak too slow the tower will then step on your words and if you read too fast there will be a long pause.... However for me I feel this creates pressure that is similar to talking to ATC at an international airport - There is pressure to make your ATC requests very clear and to the point.
-> Also by turning off the ATC log, this forces practice and to improve proficiency.
Uncheck the following:
Show message log in ATC menu: this will remove the log so it forces you to learn and speak the clearences with out help
Auto-Open ATC window: This will force you to listen for your call sign without any visual cues. If you ignore the tower will say "did you respond" so a very real experience that trains your ear. You can map a short cut key to your yoke to quickly open the ATC menu to choose the phrase to repond to tower (and after you click you speak the phrase that should be said)
Use a pilot voice: This ensures you do NOT hear the pilot voice, since you will be speaking the pilot voice yourself.
Save the settings
Mutliple sound locations
Another way to make your simulator more realistic is to route the towered sounds to a different sound card and keep the airplane sounds running through your main system.
Airplane sounds should have a lot of bass and rumble, however the ATC sounds should be like a telephone and very little bass. This prevents ATC commands rumbling your entire room.
In the Settings window choose "Sounds" and use the dropdowns to choose a different sound card for 'voice'
-> For example you can route your ATC (voice) to usb headset, so you keep that on your head and this way you get the mubbled sound of the airplane when using a headset.
You will also hear the ATC voices more clear similar to a real airplane experience.
Open ATC window
I leave the ATC window closed (~ to close)
-> Then when you hear your call sign, or need to initiate a command push the ~ (tilde) key to open
I use Spad.next to map a joystick key to this key (~ tilde) which makes the process very inituitive to open the ATC menu
I then have other joystick buttons mapped to ATC_MENU 1,2,3,4 etc. which allows to quickly push a button an initiate that command
After I push the ATC menu button I speak the command to ATC "Montreal Tower, this is FHNO ready to go 24 left"
-> After a couple of seconds you will then hear "FHNO cleared to take-off......."
After ATC phrase complete
After you complete your exchange you can then push the ATC window button which now closes the window and gives a very realistic full screen window.
And by leaving it closed it will force your ear to listen for your call sign
-> When you hear your call sign amoungst the other traffic you can quickly open the window and start over again.