Monthly Archives: March 2018

Condor2: My 1st cross-country glider flight and initial impressions

Making a video of this, my 1st cross-country glider task using Condor2, was a rash choice, because it has been more than three years since I last flew in Condor. So you may as well say that I am a newbie with this sim.  Thus my first cross-country flight was marred somewhat by my lack of experience with this simulator. I stopped using Condor because I found that the wealth of high quality add-ons for the ESP based sims (FSX and P3D) provided a more satisfying and immersive experience for cross-country soaring than could be achieved with Condor. I did purchase one good quality photo-realistic scenery add-on for CONDOR, but it was still not as well suited to low altitude flying as the Orbx FTX global and regional sceneries are in FSX and P3D.

Moreover, the sound effects in Condor have always been reminiscent of cheap arcade games in my opinion.

On the other hand, Condor has always excelled at glider flight modelling, soaring environment modelling, and provides multiplayer competition features for online events that are second to none. So it is not surprising that Condor is very popular with real-world glider pilots and virtual cross-country glider racing enthusiasts in general.

Since it has been such a long time since I last used Condor prior to the release of Condor2, I decided not to attempt  to compare the two versions. Instead, I treated this as a new gliding simulator and any comparisons tend to be with the ESP based simulators (FSX and P3D) or X-Plane 11. Also, I did not attempt to test the multiplayer features in this initial look at the new release. Nor did I test the task creation features.

My test task was the default task with default Slovenia2 scenery.  I decided to fly the  Avionic Diana-2, a 15 m water ballasted racing sailplane.  This is a flapped glider and I neglected to get hold of a flight manual for this glider, so I may not have been using the flaps correctly.  Also, I was having major problems elevator trim range at typical cruise speeds and I could not find any range adjustment in the settings. This meant that I had a lot of trouble controlling my speed on this task, although the trim worked quite well at low speed when thermalling.

CONCLUSIONS:

Out of the box, the default scenery is not overly bad, but I really expect something a little better from a product released in 2018.  Also the ESP based simulators (FSX and P3D) and X-Plane 11 have the advantage of worldwide scenery coverage, whereas Condor2 only includes scenery for Slovenia out of the box. Obviously there will be other freeware or payware add-on scenery areas available, but I suspect that you can only load a single scenery area for any given flight.  This could be a limiting factor when designing tasks.

You cannot directly import real-world weather into Condor2, although I was able to approximate some historical weather manually.  The weather user interface is very crude in functionality and rather simplistic compared to other flight sims like FSX , P3D and X-Plane 11. Most annoying to me was that could enter settings such temperatures, wind speed and wind direction using the keyboard  – I had to drag graphic objects to change the associated values, which is awkward and imprecise.

On the other hand there was a reasonable assortment of settings to control the characteristics of thermals. although you still could not use precise values. Also, you cannot define a detailed wind gradient in terms of speed and/or direction. There is one upper wind settings but this is mainly to set the amount of wave lift and presumably is locked in direction to your defined surface wind.

There is a setting for the height of a single inversion layer but this seems to be restricted to placement above the cloud base and controls the height of cloud tops and the width of cloud base.  There is no prevision for an inversion below cloud base such as we have in the CumulusX! add-on for FSX.

The cloud texture in Condor2 looked quite reasonable and they dynamically adjust their textures to the cycles of the associated thermals. So I could watch clouds form at the top of new thermals and then fade away as the thermals reached the end of their life. In general, the modelling of thermals is the best I have seen in any simulator I have tried so far.  I did not test the wave lift, nor the ridge lift in this task because the wind that I chose for this specific task was too light (only around six knots).

The flight model for the Diana-2 glider seemed convincing to me, although I have never flown a single seat high performance glider similar to this in real-world.  On the other hand, I was troubled by the modelling of turbulence and stall vibration, which seemed too harsh and very hard on my eyes – I am not sure whether that is a limitation in my sim PC performance or not. Also the modelling of turbulence seemed too simplistic with not enough variability in amplitude and frequency.

I was not able to get the elevator trim axis to work with my Logitech Joystick slider – the trim ran out of range above about 60 knots, which made speed regulation on the cruise segments of the test task very difficult.  Also, I could not get the elevator trim axis to recognise my GoFlight trim wheel, so I had to fall back on using the Logitech throttle axis as trim control.  Thus,  I have some more testing and work to do to sort this out. I might have to to revert to using indexed trim control using up and down buttons, which is not ideal for gliding.

There does not seem to be any support for the GoFlight LGT II gear lever.   Condor2 seems to only provide a gear toggle option, which caused no end of trouble for me when I tried to map it to the 3 position gear lever on the GoFlight LGT II.

I have not seen any mention of VR support for Condor2, which is a big concern to me because I am intending to purchase a VR headset soon.

Overall, I think that Condor2 has a lot of potential for virtual gliding enthusiasts, and if I can work out some of the issues mentioned, then I will likely be using this simulator for some of my future gliding adventures.

 

MY CONDOR2 SETTINGS FOR THIS INITIAL TEST TASK:

Setup options are available from the “SETUP” button in the main menu:

Condor 2

 

I chose to use windowed mode but otherwise used the highest available graphics settings.  I initially tried to use fullscreen mode, but my display monitor blanked the display and showed a configuration error. This error may be due to the fact that I feed the video signal through a pass-through on a video capture card – I will have to do some more testing to confirm this.

Graphics

 

I left the sound settings at defaults. I hindsight I should have reduced the vario volume slightly because it was a bit too loud for video recording.

Sound

I do not have a force feedback stick, so I unchecked that. Also I added some non-linearity to my rudder pedals, based on experience with other simulators.

Input

 

I think these settings are for multiplayer use, so I ignored them.

Network

 

I set my units to “Australian” because I like to have speed in knots and height in feet. Also enabled the NMEA GPS output for future use with XCSoar or TopHat glide computers., but I did not attempt connect my XCSoar , nor the TopHat glide computers for this test task.

Options

 

MY TASK CONFIGURATION:

I used the default task in Condor2, but I changed the date and time to: 5th August 2017 at 13:00 local time, because according the historical weather in Active Sky, this seemed to be a good day for thermal soaring.

Task

The following screenshots show my weather settings, which were based on historical weather downloaded from Active Sky 2016:

Weather

 

Thermals

 

Waves

 

Upper level clouds

 

My choice of aircraft was the Avionic Diana-2:

Plane

 

I decided fly without water ballast for this first test task because the task is quite short. Note that on my second attempt, I changed the C/G to be 3 cm forward towards the nose in an attempt to improve the elevator trim range (adjustment is not shown in this snapshot.)

Plane settings

 

I left these settings at default, except for Aerotow height, which I increased to 3,000 feet AGL.

 

NOTAM