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Hi guys, I'm very new to Soaring, and I'm trying to work out what's best to use for the weather. I've tried CumulusX that everyone in these forums rave about, but I can't seem to get it working properly. I was wondering if Active Sky Evolution was any good for soaring? The write up about it says it's capable of thermals and ridge lift etc. Has anyone used it, and can say if the ridge lift works okay?

I've got some nice scenery for Hawaii, PNW and Australia, but being from the UK real world weather doesn't really work too well because of the time difference, so I tend to do most of my Soaring in the UK, where I can use real world weather. Not much use for ridge lift where I am though rolleyes.gif

I've read a lot of posts picking up tips here and there, but haven't seen anything for multi player around here. Not interested in FSHost, or FSInn, so I've been looking for multi player on GameSpy without success. These forums don't seem very active for soaring either. Do any of you regular guys still soar?

I have the Discus X, and a handful of what I classed as the best freeware gliders, and everything seems to be working fine. I've done flights of 1 1/2 hours on several occasions, and could've stayed up in the air for hours if it wasn't for the fact I was on my own and bored biggrin.gif I've tried just soaring around one particular area, aswell as going across country from airfield to airfield, not sure what I prefer yet. I had visions of flying around mountains, but can't stay in the air long enough, hence the questions on ridge lift.

Any answers would be greatly appreciated, thank you.


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...I've tried CumulusX that everyone in these forums rave about, but I can't seem to get it working properly...

Don't know anything about Active Sky. As far as I know, CumulusX! seems about the best, most realistic soaring weather, does thermals and ridge lift. FSX ridge soaring require someone to add the ridge lift objects, either in an addon scenery, or in a mission, which is going to be limited to wherever they have place the objects, and only works for certain wind directions, etc. The beauty of CumulusX! is that it works anywhere in the FSX world, without having to add anything to the scenery.

What problems are you having with it? Have you made a post in the CumulusX! forum?:


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from my experience the lift generated by Active sky evolution is not strong enough to be used for soaring. What I do is use active sky together with Cumulus X. Active sky gives me the realistic weather conditions and Cumulus X produces the lift accordingly.

A problem with active sky is that it can generate wind shears and and wake turbulence that can make the airtow very difficult.

Hope that helps.

Kind regards


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Thanks for the replies guys.

@Bulau: The Problem I'm having with Cumulus X is, it only seems to work when it wants to. One minute it will work fine with a given set of criteria, and the next minute with the same set of criteria, it decides it ain't gonna work. I got so frustrated with it, I ended up un-installing it and reinstalling it FOUR times. I gave it enough chances, followed numerous tips, and settings from the author, but found it to be not reliable enough on my system for some reason.

No I didn't post anything in the Cumulus X forum about it, simply because I'm sick and tired of analysing, trying different things, and basically testing stuff that doesn't work because of one reason or another. My thoughts are there is something I have installed and being used by FSX that for some reason prevents a reliable result.

@ManuelL: So the lift generated is not strong enough? That's a shame.

I use REX for the clouds and other textures, but their weather doesn't generate ridge lift either. I don't really see the point in buying something that won't fit my needs. Having realistic weather is all well and good, but as I can't get Cumulus X to work reliably (see above), I wouldn't gain anything by buying Active Sky. Never mind, it was just a thought ;)

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Tigerclaw - CumulusX was built specifically for soaring (unlike Active Sky which as more general appeal) so the thermals are much more accurately programmed and CumulusX has ridge lift which Active Sky does not.

It's unlikely the CumulusX lift is sometimes working, sometimes not - more likely sometimes you find it. I've a couple of suggestions:

1. open the CumulusX debug window to check the thermal and ridgelift strengths so you know the lift is out there

2. do a lot of ridge flying before worrying about thermals too much - for various reasons the ridge lift is easier to exploit.

I'm assuming you know the effect FSX weather/time settings have on CumulusX lift generation.


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Hi Peter, Hi B21,

I'll answer peter first I think.

@Peter: didn't say I couldn't get it working, I said for ME for some reason it wasn't reliable. I'll try to explain when I answer B21.

@B21: Yeah I realise Cumulus X was specifically designed for soaring, that's why I was interested in it. I am led to believe that Active Sky does indeed have ridge lift of a sort. I think it's simulated rather than real though. Anyway, I decided not to go ahead with that, I can't justify the expense for what little I'd gain, unfortunately.

Now to this problem of sometimes it works and others it doesn't: I read a post from a person who was having trouble finding lift, and Peter, I think it was, or it may have been you B21, went into quite some detail on how to set it all up to test lift conditions. I followed these instructions to the letter, and low an' behold I was able to find the lift. Yes I checked the debug window, and it gave some figures for thermal lift. I tried again to test everything was working, and did EXACTLY the same as before; place, time, weather, and Cumulus X. But this time the debug window showed no lift of any kind. All I did was "End Flight" and start a new one with the same criteria as the previous one.

So that takes care of the first suggestion yes? I couldn't work out what was going on, and got frustrated and gave up. There isn't many ridges/hills/mountains where I was testing, so I can't say if ridge lift was working. I must admit, I'm not 100% sure how to set that up to test anyway. Yeah I know the theory, but not the geography of the terrain :) So I'd guess I'd have to go into the sim, find the "mountain" and decide what direction I need the wind to come from.

Your last sentence: I think I know. That is to say, I know that theoretically I'd get thermals in the summer between 12 noon and say 3pm, but wouldn't get any in say December at 7am. The instructions I followed were along the lines of; set to summer, 2pm, fair weather, no wind, and automatic in Cumulus X. I don't know if any addon scenery, mesh,or land class would cause problems or not, but I didn't change any of those things between tests anyway.

As I said in my original post, I'm very new to soaring, I only have about 25 hours. I don't pretend to know anything about soaring, but I think I've grasped the general theory behind where to look for thermals. One time I was heading toward a cloud that wasn't that far away, and when I reached it, it just disappeared. I headed to another cloud, again reasonably close by, and as soon as it was in front of my canopy looking up, it disappeared again. and again, and again, and again. Every time I approached a cloud it just disappeared. I think that's why I gave up in the end. It wasn't a dissipating cloud either, these were "new" clouds. The manual showed what new clouds, mature clouds, and dissipating clouds looked like.

I didn't know what to do next to be honest. I'd done research to make sure I knew what to look for, but it just wasn't happening reliably. So I just went back to boring old default FSX thermals, and started to look around for alternatives. Hence the original post. But if anyone has any suggestions how I can find out what the conflict is, I'd listen and try to sort it :) I've just spent all evening researching the Condor Simulator, but I'm not impressed with the amount of scenery, or quality there of, that comes with it. So I won't be bothering with that one. Besides, I won't be able to use my Discus in that sim :)

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Tigerclaw, the high fluctuation of thermals without depicting the lifecycle phases you mentioned happens if there are rapidly changing weather conditions. This might be due to some external weather tool, but maybe too, if the weather changing rate is set to anything higher than minimum at

Tools-->Options-->Display/Weather tab.

Maybe you have a look there.

The normal lifecycle depictions of the clouds are bypassed in this situation.



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Okay, I had a look at that Peter, and it is USUALLY set to medium, but I recall that instruction post saying set "no change" so at that time it was set at no change.

Update on my situation: I reinstalled just this morning, and set a flight in Australia with real world weather, the temps were very reasonable there right now. Cumulus X was working just fine, I found thermal after thermal and no problems at all. I have now just this minute set up a flight in Austria, but the winds are too low for ridge lift. I can see a thermal cloud right in front of me, so I'm going to give that a try. It all looks fine right now though.

Will update if there are any problems :)


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CumulusX ridgelift kicks ass - if you want to try it set the wind at 310 degrees (i.e. from the NW) 17 knots from 0..7000 feet, set a 3/8 cumulus layer at 6000 feet (not essential for ridgelift, but it tells CumulusX where to put the thermals up to..) and take off from Mifflin County Airport, code KRVL. With a NW wind, the wind is hitting the ridges to the *South* of the airport, so just fly over there and get down to ridgetop but stay on the airport side (i.e. stay on the NW side of the ridges)

Active Sky made the mistake of referring (I think) to ridge lift in some of their product literature, but this is misleading for soaring pilots. If you fly *along* a ridge, Active Sky cannot detect the windward slope and hence no lift is generated. Active Sky will briefly generate lift as you fly perpendicularly towards a windward ridge, as Active Sky detects the rising ground beneath the aircraft. Those developers tried to do *something* with only a single sample of elevation immediately under the user aircraft, but the approach is fundamentally limited for ridge soaring.

Thermalling in a glider is relatively hard work, and the limited view from FSX makes finding the core of thermals tricky too. Ridge soaring is simple once you've got the hang of it and you'll find many FSX soaring pilots cover a lot of ground that way.

Re Condor - the scenery and graphics are not as good as FSX, but Condor was designed from the ground up to be multi-player where FSX is very poor in that regard, so neither is perfect. The as-yet unscheduled "Microsoft Flight" is the multi-player platform of the future from microsoft, but each release of flight sim from MSoft typically knackers the soaring capability and there's a lull while add-on developers work around it.


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...I've read a lot of posts picking up tips here and there, but haven't seen anything for multi player around here...

Sorry, Tony, I didn't notice this 'till now. I, and a couple other guys have been doing multiplayer FSX every other Tuesday at 8:00 or 8:30pm EDT. I realize, for you in the UK, that is not a good time slot, but you are welcome to join us if you're able. We also have a Teamspeak3 server we use.

I have in mind to host a multiplayer event, but I'm still wrestling with some issues that we have encountered in our Tuesday sessions:

1. Occasionally, a player's towplane will not start and takeoff.

2. Can't force an airborne start in multiplayer session using distributed Free Flight files. (works with FSHost, but we aren't using it)

3. Occasionally have had different CumulusX! thermals between different players. I'm almost certain this is because one player has UTX scenery installed, but we are going to test this further.

In an attempt to force airborne starts, I'm looking into using Multiplayer Missions. This will also circumvent the non-starting towplane issue. I'm a novice at Mission building, but intend to use only a small number of Mission features for the task. This coming Tuesday, the 19th is our Condor night, but the plan for the following Tuesday, the 26th April, is to test the the Multiplayer Mission idea and see how it goes. The distributed Mission should contain everything needed, including the .FLT, .WX, .PLN, .CMX as well as GPS-NAV.dat and LNAV_polar.dat, so people can use the FSX instruments or the CAISet instruments for navigating. Since a couple of us are also using XCSoar, I will probably include the task file for that as well.

If I do ever host an event, I will schedule it on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon EDT, which should make it convenient for both North Americans and UK/Europeans to participate, i.e. late afternoon EDT should be early evening Europe, give or take.

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@B21: Thanks for the ridge lift and active sky info. much appreciated. I tried to set up for some ridge lift earlier, but my PC decided to spike all over the place. Probably because it was trying to handle too much information. I'll have to look into that a bit further, and maybe adjust some settings to compensate.

@Bulau: Thanks for the multi player info, but my evenings aren't free I'm afraid. Not to worry, Once I get into this a bit more, I'm sure I can enjoy myself with the time I can fly :)

Because of the PC problems I'm having at this time, I can't fly for more than an hour without a PC restart anyway. Quite a low end system really, I'm amazed it runs FSX at all. Now I've just added yet another module for it to cope with, and I'm sure it doesn't like working that hard :)

I tested Cumulus X again later this afternoon in the Lake District UK, and again there were some thermals about. Not too many, but then I didn't expect many because the temps weren't very high today. But it was still working, and that is the main thing.

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