Author Topic: A2A 172 Trainer  (Read 33800 times)

Doug

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A2A 172 Trainer
« on: September 09, 2013, 03:37:52 PM »
I really hesitated on this purchase ($49 US). I've always had a hard time starting up planes and going through all of that ... guess I'm just a "quickie simmer". The literature tells you about maintenance procedures you have to follow, mixtures to maintain, yada yada ... enough to scare you out of buying it. (I've got a couple of planes I can't figure out how to start them!). But alas, I bit the bullet ... and I'm glad I did. If you are like me ... wanting some realism, but not so much you can't close the door, then this is one for you too. What the lit doesn't tell you is that if you want to "bypass" all the special things, you can.  That's what I did at first, then I started  taking the steps and reading the manual, making my simming more complex, but making it far more realistic.

You can go through all the gyrations of starting up the plane, and it is relatively simple and fun. But there is also an "auto start" (CTRL-E does it too) and you are ready to go.  Also, the plane needs maintenance, new oil now and then, fixes for corrosion (which continues to happen even if you have the computer turned off). And it will "sputter and quit" if it is not maintained. Of course you can also wreck it and need all kinds of maintenance.  You can go to the maintenance area and look for what needs to be done and do it, a step at a time learning about that step, or just check "complete overhaul" checked will do it all and quickly, all done good as new in 2 seconds.  There's also a guide for a pre-flight inspection that is very interesting and fun to do ... making it more realistic.

So within this complex program are "quickies" to make things happen quickly, you can have the best of both worlds. The real fun of this software is learning the plane a page at a time and moving away from the "quickies" and into how a real aircraft functions. The manual for the A2A 172 trainer is TERRIFIC!!  You can get into all kinds of depth about how things work, and why, etc.  The avionics are coded after the real thing, so you can download the "real" manuals for those instruments and they act the same.

Are you getting pretty good at flying the sim and not wrecking the plane?  Well, you'll probably have a couple of wrecks if you fly this simulation like we fly the trusty Misty Beaver.  Stresses can tear this one apart. It will stall when it is supposed to.  It is "touchy" ... like the real thing. You know they've done a good job of programming the realism when you are a little "edgy" about making a turn (feeling like you're going to fall off the high wire?) ... somehow they've captured that with this software. 

Their forum is very helpful http://www.a2asimulations.com/forum/ and if you run into a problem, there are quick and accurate responses.

For me, I've been spending a lot of my time working on scenery packages and the website, so I have not taken the care and patience I should have learning how to "really fly" one of these things.  This software gets me there. Instead of hitting CTRL-E and pushing the throttle to the wall and taking off ... you kind of have to think more about what you are doing. If you mixture is wrong, you'll foul the spark plugs,  and the engine will run rough if you haven't got it right. (However when you hit CTRL-E, everything sets up perfectly). The avionics are tricky (and real).  I've got a lot to learn in this area, but again, the manual is right there helping you understand what you need to know. I've only scratched the surface, but this program has some depth.

The only problem is that is is only fixed gear, wheels. I am hoping they come out with an amphibian version soon so we could use it more at RTMM.  They have some nice repaints already, and I'm sure someone will be able to give us a Misty repaint down the line.

In summary, it is not "so complicated" you cannot fly it, yet it is complex enough to "kick you up a level" in your simming ability if you've become a little "sloppy" as I have. Taking this plane from cold/dark to altitude then landing safely and going back to cold/dark makes you really feel like you've spent an afternoon at the airport.  Again, for RTMM, it is a little limited without an amphib or float model. But I bet they'll have it soon.  Glad I spent the $49 ... worth it for me.  NICE JOB A2A!

Doug
« Last Edit: September 09, 2013, 03:52:57 PM by Doug »

stiletto2

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Re: A2A 172 Trainer
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2013, 03:58:39 PM »
Hi Doug,

That sounds pretty interesting.  Pretty cool!  Thanks for sharing.

Rod

jeff3163

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Re: A2A 172 Trainer
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2013, 11:12:28 PM »
Thanks for the review, Doug.  8)

I am downloading one now.  It sounds like alot of fun.  I am exploring England on Sundays, and this would be perfect.  If I can keep up with the maintenance and don't lose a wheel after takeoff.  :D

Ok, I am back from my first flight.  It's pretty cool!  It was raining at Homer, AK when I climbed into my new C172.  As I sat there figuring out the switches and knobs, the windows began to fog up.  I had to turn on the defrosters. 
There is a little too much "head movement" from "ezca" when I am rolling on the ground.  But I can probably adjust that or turn it off completely.  (edit-I turned it off!)
I won't bother to post a picture of it, because it looks like any other C172 you've seen already.  If you have the Piper Cub already, this is the same experience.  Except in a Cessna. 
It is fun, and not too complicated to operate and fly either.  I've figured it out without cracking a manual, so far.  I got it started, but didn't know how to turn on the generator.  I got a voltage warning and the engine died.  After that I found the popup menu for the electrical and other systems.  Now I can operate it just fine.

Thanks again for the heads up and review, Doug.  ;)
« Last Edit: September 10, 2013, 01:53:11 AM by jeff3163 »

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Dieter

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Re: A2A 172 Trainer
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2013, 04:10:31 AM »
I bought this aircraft the day when it was published.
This plane is not made for a fast and simple 30 minutes flight after "closing time". She requires particular attention.
Most important is to have all controls (stick/yoke pedals etc.) exactly calibrated! Otherwise you won't have fun.
I don't want to discuss the many problems and varying viewpoints of the many customers in our forum:

See here:

http://a2asimulations.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=107&sid=b36dd3e51eebb053e6296173e3810f5e
http://a2asimulations.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=108&sid=b36dd3e51eebb053e6296173e3810f5e

50 US$ is a quite a huge amount of money.
A2A is famous for their high quality products. I think they never expected these many problems reported in their forum.

The plane is well done so far but still needs some improvements.
Therefore you should read through the A2A forum and get your own idea about this plane. Personal views vary between "most excellent" and  "mega-bad".
You always have the many users who are "jubilating" just because the aircraft is flying and the very experienced simmers (who know all performance figures and want the aircraft to react like this) complaining about lack of reality in certain aspects.

Read the manual before buying and have a look at the two video that are published.

Manual:
http://a2asimulations.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=107&t=35614

Part 1:


Part 2:


But be aware that this aircraft installed on your computer must not exactly react like shown in the movies.

Dieter

« Last Edit: September 10, 2013, 05:55:18 AM by Dieter »
Many greetings
Dieter

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SkipperMac

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Re: A2A 172 Trainer
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2013, 05:40:37 AM »
Yes, the A2A C172 is a giant leap above anything else in our virtual hangars, at least so far as GA aeroplanes are concerned. It is the equivalent of a "systems simulation" like PMDG produce for the airliner world - the great advantage is that, even in real life, a 172 doesn't have complicated systems to learn, remember, get wrong, and try to learn all over again. There's a 'cold and dark' option which means you have to go through the proper procedures to get her lit up (including the pre-flight, which is so tempting to skip ... except that I'm wondering when one of those hinges or cables will show something dodgy happening ... or what the photo looks like when there's water in the fuel...), or you can click on a control panel thingy and have the fires already stoked and ready to roll.

There is a lot of discussion about how it is totally unflyable, but apart from a minor tweaking of my elevator response in FSUIPC I think she flies perfectly with more 'feel' than even a RealAir sim. On my first flight I was a bit high on final into Bonners Ferry. I threw caution to the wind and side slipped with the greatest of ease and so much less 'effort' than with the default FSX slipping. There's a smoothness to the dynamics I've never seen before and I actually find it easier to control than most others I've flown in about 25 years of simflying.

Then last night when I started her for a quick spin around in my new bright pink colour scheme (getting in touch with my feminine side  ;) ) I noticed clouds of blueish smoke from the exhaust. Again throwing caution to the wind I decided to take off anyway and see what would happen. After all, its only a sim :o  I should probably admit to being mildly disappointed that the engine didn't blow up and cover the windscreen in black oil, but happily continued to smoke until I rolled it into the hangar at the end of the flight. My favourite 'mechanic' declared her fit and healthy though, which confused me slightly and left me wondering if I should seek a second opinion. However, I'm now sitting here in work thinking I should have maybe got him to run a cylinder compression test...

Now that's total immersion for you (and I'm not even a Baptist)! Definitely worth the investment even though its only a 172 on wheels. Their next offering will be a Cherokee apparently, but I'm hoping that they'll tackle a real bush plane soon ... like a Beaver with all their bells and whistles!
SkipperMac

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Doug

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Re: A2A 172 Trainer
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2013, 09:29:33 AM »
Curious about the elevator tweak?   I have to agree with all that is said here.  I am enjoying this immersion, and I can get in as deep as I want to, on some like this I've had previously, you were all the way in and if you missed one switch, you sat there in a cold plane. This is not that ... but it "can be" if you want it to be.  I like that "choice."

It is a little difficult to control. When I put a passenger in the right seat, the plane slowly drifts to the right.  I noticed I was sort of flying sideways at 1200 feet yesterday ... there was a 30 knot wind from starboard.  So you have to "pay attention" when flying this plane. Landing my Misty Beaver is a piece of cake ... landing this plane takes care and planning.  It is unforgiving for errors in judgement.  And for that, this plane can be a real "pain".  I can see why it is getting complaints. (And I'm also agreeing there are some improvements they should make ... and they will I'm sure).

But for me, it is "upping" my pilot stewardship. We (I) get pretty lazy "simming."  When I'm making the scenery locations, I quickly fly from here to there, sometimes using 4X speed. When I get close to what I'm looking at, I often "slew" to look at a different angle, etc.  That's not "flying" that is "slewing around."  I've got a gauge (avail in Misty Air Taxi) that I pick an altitude, and the plane flies there, period. With the avionics on this plane, you have to "fly it" to the altitude then once steady, set it. If you are not "steady" it will porpoise.  I guess what I'm saying is, for me, this plane MAKES ME pay attention.  And for one who hasn't paid attention for years, I find it refreshing to get a little "white knuckled" on a landing or even a tight turn.

Dieter is correct, read the manual ... this is a "big" expense ($49 US) ... and the manual will tell you what you are getting. It is VERY well done.  You can literally spend an evening just reading it like a book. I'm not a pilot, so again, from the niche I'm coming from, this is teaching me a lot and giving me a better respect for what the "real world" out there must be like.  It isn't for everyone (hardly anything is), but it is fun for "my niche".

Doug

UPdate: Aha! It wasn't the passenger, I was drawing all my fuel from the left tank, hence carrying all the fuel on the right, the plane dipped to the right.  See, this is what I mean by learning.  Silly, simple stuff for real pilots, "aha" moments for the novices like me.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2013, 09:51:33 AM by Doug »

SkipperMac

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Re: A2A 172 Trainer
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2013, 05:15:58 PM »
Curious about the elevator tweak? ...

But for me, it is "upping" my pilot stewardship...

UPdate: Aha! It wasn't the passenger, I was drawing all my fuel from the left tank...
First off, the 'elevator tweak' is a matter of adjusting the FSUIPC elevator response curve downward to -5. Work for by making the 'neutral' portion of the yoke travel less sensitive.

Secondly: On your imbalance problem - that's what checklists are for!!!

Happy flying ;)
SkipperMac

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Doug

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Re: A2A 172 Trainer
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2013, 09:32:27 AM »
Norman (SkipperMac) and I have been chatting "off line" about the 172 Trainer.  I was having a problem with it tracking an ILS ... I'd have it set up (the way we usually do) and it would just fly off on it's own direction.  Norman found the answer and it is something we should share here on the forum:

=======================================================
There's a FAQ on the A2A 172 Tech Support Forum which has this info:

2. VOR / Localizer tracking does not work correctly

Basically for all modes that involve the use of CDI (NAV/APR/REV) you have to set the HDG bug to match OBS setting (NAV) or ILS course. This is because the HDG bug is the only source of plane heading AND course reference. The autopilot doesn't get that signal from the OBS gauge. The flashing HDG after you arm one of those modes is a reminder for that.
For example if you are following VOR radial 250, but you have your heading bug at 330, the autopilot will think that the desired course is 330, but will still try to match the CDI which is set for radial 250. This will cause completely erratic behavior.
It's a limitation of an KAP autopilot coupled with simple directional gyro. If we had a HSI installed, it would work more like the other autopilots you are used to. But that would be boring, wouldn't it?

So the key is setting the heading bug to match the ILS Localizer heading!

And this is presumably why my Alt hold was way off:

6. The autopilot has intercepted the altitude, but it's off by couple hundred feet.

The autopilot has separate barometric pressure entry, it's not connected to the altimeter on the main panel. Press the BARO button and set the correct pressure there.

Here's a link to the thread for your convenience:

http://a2asimulations.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=108&t=35837
========================================================

Our thanks to Norman for finding this for us (hiding in plain sight? :-)

So, for us "non-pilots" ... the learning curve gets steeper!  As Norman says, we don't shoot a lot of ILS landings at RTMM (but the one at PAKT is fun).  So this won't be a problem for many of our folks, but it is nice to have the information on how this thing "really" works.

Doug

jeff3163

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Re: A2A 172 Trainer
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2013, 09:59:04 AM »
Thanks for this.  I did notice these problems while flying, and was cursing and shaking my head.  I don't agree that a correctly and simply working AP would be boring.  It doesn't work right, and a user shouldn't have to try to figure out what the hell is going wrong.  Why can't I lock onto an altitude or track the gps!  Those are basic functions.  I don't give a crap about ILS approaches.  I just want the plane to fly straight and level in a certain direction that I choose.  Is that so much to ask?  I will be modifying my planes KAP style autopilot asap.  In my opinion it was a boneheaded decision to use it.  Is that how a REAL C172 autopilot behaves?  'cause that sucks!  >:(

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Doug

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Re: A2A 172 Trainer
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2013, 10:03:25 AM »
Yes, I'm agreeing with you, Jeff. Maybe a "real" pilot will come up and let us know if this is the way it really is in a 172.  I am enjoying the "realism" but, like you, when you can't get the thing to fly in a straight line from A to B, it gets frustrating.  Looks like we need to put it in the hanger and work on some of those modifications you are talking about.

D

jeff3163

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Re: A2A 172 Trainer
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2013, 11:06:19 AM »
Ok,  I am settled down a little now.  I went to the A2A forum and re-read the part about the autopilot.  I will try it one more time, to see if I can deal with their system.  They say they've spent hours tuning it to get it just right.  So maybe I shouldn't monkey with it. (yet).  I have my C172 warming up at Juneau.  I am going to see if I can get anything working the way they want it.

There are other people who want the HSI system as an option too.  So maybe A2A will come around and add it as a patch.  (I hope).

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SkipperMac

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Re: A2A 172 Trainer
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2013, 11:40:34 AM »
Thanks for this.  I did notice these problems while flying, and was cursing and shaking my head.  I don't agree that a correctly and simply working AP would be boring.  It doesn't work right, and a user shouldn't have to try to figure out what the hell is going wrong.  Why can't I lock onto an altitude or track the gps!  Those are basic functions.  I don't give a crap about ILS approaches.  I just want the plane to fly straight and level in a certain direction that I choose.  Is that so much to ask?  I will be modifying my planes KAP style autopilot asap.  In my opinion it was a boneheaded decision to use it.  Is that how a REAL C172 autopilot behaves?  'cause that sucks!  >:(
Jeff, I think you're missing the point! And I don't think A2A deserve this. They have chosen to fit a real world autopilot which behaves like a real world autopilot. Yes, its basic, but so is a Cessna 172. If they had fitted something "easier" they would also have had to fit an HSI and then we would have a 172 less representative of the average 172 out there (I presume). And, presumably also, they have modeled it on the 172's they've been using in their flight testing.

By all means retrofit a generic autopilot - that's your choice - but I really don't think A2A should be blamed for giving us the most realistic 172 ever. With the most realistic autopilot which, so far as I'm concerned, is MILES better than the FSX one.
SkipperMac

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jeff3163

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Re: A2A 172 Trainer
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2013, 01:55:28 PM »
I like A2A.  They did a great job of creating a replica of their C172.  But, there are C172's that have HSI systems out there.  They just said it's pretty expensive to buy one, so most pilots don't get it.  Well, this being virtual reality and money being no object, I want the choice to have one.  I want it to track the GPS. 

I can get it to hold the altitude of my choosing now, and I can get it to hold a straight line.  But when the course changes, the AP does not.  That's ok, I guess I can guide it along at every turn. 

I will just fly some other plane when I want to "track the GPS".

(It's ok, I'm not gonna change anything on my A2A C172.   ;)

I guess I'm upset at Cessna for not using the HSI system in their planes in the first place.  :o
« Last Edit: September 13, 2013, 02:14:45 PM by jeff3163 »

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SkipperMac

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Re: A2A 172 Trainer
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2013, 03:46:17 PM »
Jeff,
I'm fairly certain the first time I used the autopilot it was tracking a GPS route. Do you have the GPS/NAV switch in GPS mode and the autopilot in NAV? I'll check again though, but I'm fairly certain it tracks the track.
SkipperMac

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jeff3163

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Re: A2A 172 Trainer
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2013, 03:48:43 PM »
Ok, I am back from my flight.  I took off from Juneau and went to Skagway and landed.  Then I went to Carcross, following the rails.  I landed there and hung out, checking the equipment and stuff.  I took off and climbed out to 4,500 and then 8,000 as the terrain demanded(using the AP for all course and altitude adjustments).  After clearing the mountains, I entered a "Direct-to-waypoint" to PAGY and switched to GPS Nav mode.  She tracked the course just fine. 
All I did was add a "Navstack" panel to the panel.cfg entries.  The navstack is used for the boats navigation when we go up the rivers.  It works and I am happy now.  All is right with my virtual world.   ;D

Coming into Skagway.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2013, 04:33:05 PM by jeff3163 »

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