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Observations from a 737 hard workout

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    Observations from a 737 hard workout

    Last weekend was a major UK Vatsim event, Midsummer Madness XVI, and one I have flown PMDGs for for all 16 years. A seriously busy single runway event at EGBB that involves much Holding, lots of rapid vectoring in tight airspace, lots of frequency changes and sharp changes in SPD, HDG SEL and ALT plus very, very late landing clearances. Very little downtime in the cockpit and you need to be totally on your game and accurate; it's not for the feint hearted. This was my first year with the MSFS 737 after 15 years on previous versions and these are the differences I noticed from several jaunts over the weekend.....

    LNAV worked perfectly throughout when you can't afford to wander off course. Hold entries went beautifully, the best I've ever seen. Previously you needed to "encourage" the entry on HDG SEL then LNAV but not any more!

    VNAV doesn't play a big part once you reach approach control as your Hold level constantly changes on the way in so you use the MCP.

    The MCP was MUCH slower to operate when dialling big heading changes (e.g. turns of up to 270 degrees), these took for ever to dial in. Similar with ALT changes, also MUCH slower.

    Radios: setting up your standby frequencies took for EVER to scroll through, really slow and not helped by having to look away using CTRL-4 to switch views then back. Then switch again to changeover.

    Overall it was a cracking weekend and she flew perfectly BUT the workload seemed an awful lot higher than previously due to the slow changes of settings and frequencies.

    Questions
    1. Will we ever be able to UNDOCK the radios and CDU and drag them elsewhere like we could previously? This would help a LOT.

    2. Is there a way to speed up MCP and radio changes other than using Shift-scroll (I didn't often have a spare hand!)? They don't seem to 'accelerate' like they used to.


    Much kudos to the MSM XVI team and other pilot oiks.
    Bill Casey

    #2
    Regarding the radio control: I fully agree. Those tuning knobs are fiddly as frick, and even the slightest bump causes you to switch from the inner to the outer knob or vice versa, thus messing up the digits before or after the decimal point you’ve just set. And I swear most controller handoffs involve a frequency change of around .500 MHz (121.700 to 118.200, for example), maximising the time you need to dial in those decimals.

    I haven’t found a solution yet to this particular problem.

    Aa to the MCP controls, however: you can map most of them to controller buttons using the regular MSFS bindings. I’ve mapped altitude, speed and heading to three sets of joystick switches, and this greatly speeds up the process of changing those settings. In fact, it’s almost too fast, because MSFS is using the keyboard repeat rate as its rate of change, so it’s easy to overshoot. But much better than using the mouse wheel when you need to make a big change.

    I haven’t looked yet into solutions like FSUIPC and Axis & Ohs, but I’m sure somebody will chip in shortly and tell you all about them. 😀

    Comment


      #3

      Pilot2Atc has an dockable MCP control panel and you can change frequencies much easier
      Rudy Fattal

      Comment


      • Moach
        Moach commented
        Editing a comment
        As much a fan as I am of Pilot2ATC, I don't think this really helps with the issue brought up here as the OP did mention the problem became most evident on VatSim....

        P2A does have a lot of nifty features that help "equalize" the workload to something more like that of a 2 person crew (rather than one poor guy trying to do it all himself) - Alas, by the very nature of the matter, none of these features will help you on VatSim

      #4
      Re the radio controls - I recently got an inexpensive Logitech radio panel and boy is that thing convenient. It does not directly support display of the third digit past the decimal point for voice frequencies, but it’s still very quick and easy to tune (just needs a quick glance down to be sure you’ve got that .xx0 or .xx5 dialed in correctly when required. Head tracking is great for quick glances but the radio click spots really are fiddly.
      Herb Schaltegger - Father, husband, lawyer, engineer & getting too old for this $#!t. Do Not Taunt Happy Fun Ball!TM.

      Comment


        #5
        If you didn’t already know this - hold down shift and you can speed dialling things up by about 3 times.
        Thomas Allensworth,
        KCRQ
        Carlsbad
        Cessna 310R and PMDG enjoyer

        Comment


        • Max Rate
          Max Rate commented
          Editing a comment
          …which is why he wrote: “Is there a way to speed up MCP and radio changes other than using Shift-scroll?”

        #6
        I've assigned MCP speed, heading and altitude among other things to buttons on my controllers (Warthog HOTAS) and found that the speed of the MCP changes were so great I had to assign a second set of buttons to a script that injected pauses to slow things down.

        The custom camera feature in MSFS works perfectly at being able to precisely define views such that that along with a tap on the hat switch to pan gives me complete control on how to view everything from the center console, to the overhead to even out the side windows.
        Dan Downs KCRP
        i7-10700K 32GB 3600MHz 3080Ti

        Comment


          #7
          What I find the most annoying is setting high altitude minimums. It takes forever even when holding down shift. Anything above 1000ft is a real pain in the neck.
          - John Svensson

          Comment


            #8
            Originally posted by Swezam View Post
            What I find the most annoying is setting high altitude minimums. It takes forever even when holding down shift. Anything above 1000ft is a real pain in the neck.
            Set the DA/DH during your pre-descent flows, which typically begin around 80 nm before TOD. This gives you all the time you need to set the mins.

            The interesting thing about this topic is the 747/777 have a different kind of mouse action that better mimics the real knob, which rotates to change values faster. However, the users hated this feature because they didn't understand how it worked so PMDG provided an option to use the old method used in the 737 instead of the realistic option. Never satisfy everyone.
            Dan Downs KCRP
            i7-10700K 32GB 3600MHz 3080Ti

            Comment


              #9
              Originally posted by DDowns View Post

              Set the DA/DH during your pre-descent flows, which typically begin around 80 nm before TOD. This gives you all the time you need to set the mins.

              The interesting thing about this topic is the 747/777 have a different kind of mouse action that better mimics the real knob, which rotates to change values faster. However, the users hated this feature because they didn't understand how it worked so PMDG provided an option to use the old method used in the 737 instead of the realistic option. Never satisfy everyone.
              It’s not about not having the time to set it. I plan ahead and always make sure everything is set up before T/D. I just find it irritating that I have to spend minutes upon minutes scrolling the knob to get to my minimums altitude no matter how fast I scroll.
              - John Svensson

              Comment


                #10
                I just click and hold the mouse button pressed. Then it changes much quicker than using the scroll wheel.
                Espen Torgersen

                Comment


                  #11
                  Originally posted by DDowns View Post
                  The interesting thing about this topic is the 747/777 have a different kind of mouse action that better mimics the real knob, which rotates to change values faster. However, the users hated this feature because they didn't understand how it worked so PMDG provided an option to use the old method used in the 737 instead of the realistic option. Never satisfy everyone.
                  Dan, are your referring to the current option regarding PMDG or MSFS mouse use in general? Or is this specific to the DA/DH question?

                  Ref head tracking as an option: I have tried that and it plus my varifocals end up in a fight (varifocal users move their heads a lot) and it gets rather unpleasant. Using the views with the HAT switch which I do often do (I have a smooth pan up/down/sideways set to HAT) isn't accurate enough quick enough for an event like this but switching using key combos while accurate needs a "third hand" because one is constantly at the ready to key the mic in such events. My easily accessible controller buttons are limited for hand flying tools like trim etc too.

                  I just hope we get a positive answer on undocking panels soon? That would help with the radios immensely.
                  Bill Casey

                  Comment


                  • DDowns
                    DDowns commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Specific to mins setting.

                  #12
                  Originally posted by espn74 View Post
                  I just click and hold the mouse button pressed. Then it changes much quicker than using the scroll wheel.
                  This. For small changes use the mouse wheel, for big ones press and hold button. Even setting minimus doesn't really take very long (it feels a lot longer but it's really just 30 seconds or so to go several 1000s of feet). I think that anything that has to do with switching and turning knobs in the cockpit works much better in MSFS than it did in P3D. Granted, I fly VR and I kept the MSFS method, so it might be different for me.
                  André Hansson

                  Comment


                    #13
                    I am personally not so much affected by these difficulties due to two quite specific reasons:

                    A StreamDeck with most of the fiddly things conveniently mapped to buttons ready at hand;
                    A MX Masters Mouse with an automatically disengaging mouse-wheel ratchet that can be flicked to spin until stopped again (then the ratchet re-engages)

                    I'm thoroughly aware though, that none of these great usability enhancements are "factory standard" - So there definitely seems to be lots of room for some ergonomic improvements there.

                    I'm pretty sure that no one-size-fits-all solution would really suffice, or even remotely succeed at "fitting all".
                    Instead, I'd greatly recommend adding a new options page (on the FMC, along with the others) to configure the specific details of operations to various knobs and how fast these should move/accelerate in response to pilot inputs. Perhaps even going as far as isolating some known fiddlesome knobs with their own individual settings, as many of these have very unique usability requirements that will often be greatly different to those of other dials.

                    That might be the only way to truly find a solution that really does work for everyone, that is, let us configure those knobs to respond however best suits our setup
                    G. A. "William" Falanghe

                    Comment


                      #14
                      Originally posted by espn74 View Post
                      I just click and hold the mouse button pressed. Then it changes much quicker than using the scroll wheel.
                      Thanks! I’ll give that a go!
                      - John Svensson

                      Comment


                        #15
                        Originally posted by espn74 View Post
                        I just click and hold the mouse button pressed. Then it changes much quicker than using the scroll wheel.
                        I have just tested this on a decent flight and yes, it is MUCH quicker when you get it going! I never knew you could press *and* hold like that. Thanks for that one


                        I'd still like undockable radios though, at least!
                        Bill Casey

                        Comment


                          #16
                          Originally posted by Swezam View Post
                          What I find the most annoying is setting high altitude minimums. It takes forever even when holding down shift. Anything above 1000ft is a real pain in the neck.
                          If you have a mouse with a free wheel scroll option then it literally takes seconds to set even the highest baro. I didn't realize this and was as frustrated as you. My mouse actually has the free wheel capability although not all do.
                          Daniel Anziano

                          Comment


                            #17
                            Originally posted by Flypops View Post
                            If you have a mouse with a free wheel scroll option then it literally takes seconds to set even the highest baro. I didn't realize this and was as frustrated as you. My mouse actually has the free wheel capability although not all do.
                            Unfortunately, I know of no trackball mouse that has this capability, and I can't use a regular mouse without causing more injuries to myself.
                            Captain Kevin

                            Kevin Yang

                            Comment


                              #18
                              Originally posted by Captain Kevin View Post
                              Unfortunately, I know of no trackball mouse that has this capability, and I can't use a regular mouse without causing more injuries to myself.
                              Both my trackballs have the middle scroll wheel. It's a little cylinder about an inch wide that can be spun with a finger or palm. Hold left click down is still faster.
                              Dan Downs KCRP
                              i7-10700K 32GB 3600MHz 3080Ti

                              Comment


                                #19
                                Originally posted by DDowns View Post
                                Both my trackballs have the middle scroll wheel. It's a little cylinder about an inch wide that can be spun with a finger or palm. Hold left click down is still faster.
                                What mouse are you using.
                                Captain Kevin

                                Kevin Yang

                                Comment


                                  #20
                                  Originally posted by Captain Kevin View Post
                                  What mouse are you using.
                                  P.I.Engineering L-Trac Trackball. My older one is same type but by Clearly Superior Technologies whom were bought by P.I.Engineering. These are solid professional trackballs, not to be confused with the cheap crap put out by Kensington or Logitec.
                                  Dan Downs KCRP
                                  i7-10700K 32GB 3600MHz 3080Ti

                                  Comment

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