RCU Review: Hangar 9 FS One Flight Simulator

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    Contributed by: Jim Buzzeo | Published: March 2007 | Views: 77109 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon

    Review by: Jim Buzzeo Email Me

    I have owned and used several RC Simulators over the years, but until now they always left me wanting more. They never looked or felt quite right, always leaving something to be desired.

    Until now.

    The FS One RC Flight Simulator by Hangar 9 combines real world physics, aerodynamics and photo-realistic graphics producing an RC Simulator in my opinion that's in a class by itself. The models actually FEEL right, and they look right too. The combination of physics, aerodynamics and graphics produce a visual experience so fluid and realistic I often had to remind myself I was not watching a video of an actual model flying at an actual field. It's setup, installation and use are simple and straightfoward. You don't need to be a computer expert, or an expert RC flyer to begin learning new skills, to polish rusty skills or to just have a ball. I think that Hangar 9 has truly raised the bar with this program, leaving it's competition behind.

    Let's kick the tires and fly her around the patch.

    Name: Hangar-9 FS-One Flight Simulator
    Price: $209.99

    System Requirements:

    One thing that must be pointed out is that the FS One uses cutting edge computer technology for it's superior performance. As a result, it does require a reasonably new PC on which to run. The short version: if your PC is more than 2 or 3 years old, the FS One may not run properly if at all. This should not be taken as a shortcoming however, since any program this powerful would have have very similar system requirements.

    Additionally, the FS One will run best when it does not need to share the computer's power with other (unnecessary) programs. Applications such as e-mail programs, web browsers etc. eat up the computer's memory and processing power, making that power unavailable to the sim.

    The minimum system requirements are:
    • Operating System: Windows XP or Windows 2000
    • Processor: 1.8 GHz Intel Pentium IV or AMD Athlon XP 2500
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Hard Disk Drive Space Available: 4 GB
    • Video/Graphics: NVIDIA or ATI graphics card with 64 MB VRAM
      NVIDIA: GeForce4 Ti, GeForce 5000-series (5200 or better)
      ATI: Radeon 9000-series (9200 or better)
    The recommended system requirements are:
    • Operating System: Windows XP or Windows 2000
    • Processor: 2.8 GHz Intel Pentium IV or better or AMD Athlon XP3000 or better
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Hard Disk Drive Space Available: 4 GB
    • Video/Graphics: NVIDIA or ATI graphics card with at least 128 MB VRAM
      NVIDIA: GeForce 6000-series or 7000-series (6600 or better)
      ATI: Radeon X-series (X600 or better)

    The FS one comes with one of three interface options, FS One with Mode 1 Controller, FS One with Mode 2 Controller and FS One with no controller. All 3 include one key component: the FS One USB Interface cable. This cable plugs into your computer's USB port, and whatever transmitter you will use plugs into the other end of the USB cable. The TacCon controller is the FS One's transmitter itself. Adaptor cables are provided so you can plug your own transmitter into the USB interface. You can use any of today's popular radios from JR, Hitec and Futaba (round type only) with the included adaptor cables. An Airtronics adapter is available separately, and there is now a WIRELESS version for the Spektrum DX6 and DX7, available at www.spektrumrc.com.

    Upon opening the box, I found a total of 4 Install CD's. I popped the first disk in, answered the typical installation questions and clicked on next. Due to the sheer amount of data loaded, the installation process takes between 30 minutes and one hour. Not bad considering the capabilities of this program. Once finished with the install, I downloaded and installed the latest product update from the FS One Website. The update installation took a whopping 6 seconds to install. With the installation complete, I was ready to have some fun.

    The FS One comes ready for one or two player. (each player needs their own FS One USB cable and TacCon controller or transmitter.) I decided to start with a simple one player 'freestyle' setup to see how quickly I could get flying.

    I connected the included FS One USB Interface cable to the TacCon transmitter, plugged the other end into an available USB port on the computer and started the program.

    The initial start up and transmitter calibration went quickly and without a hitch. Following the calibration wizard's direction, I centered the trims, moved the sticks through their normal range of motion, flipped the TacCon's switches and knobs and and clicked on 'FLY'.

    I'm not one who is easily impressed by something like an RC simulator. I'm a former Corporate and Military Pilot, and am currently an IT guy. I have more than a couple of hours inside a proper full scale, full motion simulator. However, when I experienced the graphics of this program, combined with the feel of the 'airplane' I was absolutely speechless. Not a cartoon. Not a jerky, twitchy 'stop action' movie. A fluid, accurate vision of a model airplane flying at a flying field, fully controllable in real time in real dimensions. I was so taken by the images on my screen that I forgot I was flying. I realized that the model was headed directly at me and when it went past I FLINCHED. Then I smiled. Then I took off again, telling myself 'ok, lets fly a couple of approach patterns then take a break, it's late and I'm tired'.

    Five hours later, it was 3AM and I still had that same grin plastered on my face, and I was still flying the trainer that was within the capabilities of my 5 year old son.

    Over the next few days I concentrated on utilizing the sim in the way I had hoped I'd be able to: Becoming proficient with advanced maneuvers that had eluded me in the past flying season, specifically the Torque Roll and the Rolling Circle. These were both maneuvers I was capable of doing, but I was not satisfied with my level of proficiency. The Torque Roll was doable, but I simply did not get enough practice at the field for me to be truly comfortable with the maneuver, particularly at less than 30 feet of altitude. The Rolling Circle had given me similar trouble: the maneuver was doable, but not with the consistent, reproducible symmetry that builds confidence.

    I selected the Edge 540 model, since I happen to own one and it's my current favorite for aerobatics. After quite a short period of time, I was torque rolling the 540 a foot off the grass. The number of crashes was decreasing as well. I switched to the E-flight Tribute since I also own one and within an hour I had that one nailed too. The next time I flew my 'real' Tribute, I spent 30 minutes on the sim making sure I hadn't 'Un-learned' the maneuver before going out to the field. On the second attempt I had the Tribute settled into a hover half a foot off the ground as I calmly chatted with some spectators that had arrived. I was a happy camper.

    A large part of why this particular sim works so well for me is it's combination of quick, simple 'Plug And Play' setup (so I could quickly start just having fun) and the advantage of being able to use my own transmitter with my own settings and my own model for more 'serious' practice. The sheer realism of this program from start to finish truly needs to be experienced to be believed. I've 'flown' a lot of simulators over the years and this one left me stunned at it's capabilities. The models can be set up to fly exactly as their 'organic' counterparts, or you can set them up to be very easy to fly if you need to work on rudimentary skills (or anywhere in between).

    The FS One comes with over 30 Airplanes and 11 Helicopters preconfigured and ready to fly. It also includes a Scaling Wizard/Aircraft Editor that's been used to create over 70 additional airplanes. This Wizard scales the model size, mass, propulsion system, aerophysics, etc. The Wizard is automatic, but you can selectively override the auto-scaling and change the airplane weight, motor, propeller, etc. so you can match a known model or create an entirely new airplane.

    Every model's size, power and numerous other parameters can be adjusted using these tools. This means you have a virtually limitless number of variants for any given model, each with completely unique flight characteristics.

    The FS One's Special effects and capabilities include:
    • Realistic Damage Modeling Effects of impact with ground and other objects modeled
    • Pieces of aircraft break off in crashes
    • Realistic Ground Handling
      • Grass and pavement surfaces modeled to produce different effects on handling
      • Aircraft can cartwheel and tumble

    Special sailplane stuff

    • Hand launch
    • HiStart (bungee line)
    • Winch
    • Tow plane (tow up the sailplane)
    • Variometer support
    • Thermal soaring
    • Slope soaring
    • Dynamic soaring

    Realistic 3D flight behavior

    • Extensive high-alpha (high angle of attack) 'post stall' effects
    • High-fidelity aerodynamic modeling that accurately depicts the effects encountered during 3D maneuvers, such as:
      • Hovers
      • Harriers
      • Blenders
      • Torque Rolls
      • Walls
      • Elevators
      • Parachutes
      • Waterfalls
      • Rolling Harriers
      • Knife Edge/Knife-Edge Spins
      • Spins
      • Lomchevaks
      • Realistic-stalls, including tip stalls
      • Engine/propeller torque and gyroscopic effects
      • Ground effect and propwash effects

    The FS One includes 25 'panorama' flying sites and 5 '3D' sites to choose from. You can enhance all of the 3D flying sites with over 40 different photoreal skyscapes to fit your flying style. The FS One comes equipped with just about any type of flying site you're likely to encounter including Indoor venues (hangars, gymnasiums, etc) Fullscale airports, Slope soaring beaches and small parks. Grass and pavement surfaces are modeled to have appropriate friction effects. It even has night flying venues.

    You can also adjust your environment by changing wind speeds, wind direction and adding thermals.

    FS One comes with incredibly detailed models of some of RC's most popular airplanes, sailplanes, helicopters and park flyers.

    Visual features include:

    • Moving control surfaces
    • Landing gear and wings that flex under load
    • Photorealistic textures
    • Reflective surfaces
    • Smoke and exhaust effects
    • Colors, trim schemes and decals you can customize with most any graphics editor

    FS One's extensive array of user-friendly view commands and situational awareness tools let you enjoy the action from almost any perspective.

    Views include:

    • Walking Camera: 'Walk' yourself to any spot on a 3D flying field and fly from there.
    • Padlock View: Lock the airplane view onto other aircraft or ground objects.
    • Leashed Camera View: Drag the camera along with you as if it's on a tether.
    • Multiple On-Board Camera Positions: Multiple views available, including rudder view, wing tip view and more.
    • Shifted Elevation View: Keeps the horizon in sight without slowing frame rates or losing perspective.
    • Fly-by View

    FS One also makes it possible to maintain complete situational awareness from any viewpoint or evaluate your performance with handy flight aids, like:

    • Map
    • Variometer
    • Spot Landing Tool
    • Compass
    • Radar Gun
    • Multi-Function Timer
    • HUD
    Besides advanced aerodynamics, thrilling visuals and exciting aircraft, FS One has other features that make it the most thoroughly equipped RC sim right out of the box.

    Features such as:

    • Flight training modules and tips by world-class RC pilots
    • Flight Recorder
      • Save your greatest FS One moments and share them
      • Multiple aircraft playback support
    • Fly with recorded aircraft
    • Extensive video playback controls
    • Built-In Gaming Features
      • Bomb Drop?Hit aerial or ground targets with bombs or bottle rockets.
      • Pylon Racing ? Go head-to-head against another pilot in two-player mode, race against the clock or race recordings of your best laps.
    • Built-In Two-Pilot Capability

    I'll say it again I am not easily impressed by software and computer technology, but the FS One Simulator managed to impress me just the same. It's seamless blending of stunningly realistic imagery, aerodynamics and physics combine to make this THE definitive RC Flight Simulation Program today. This simulator can help you to gain proficiency, keep your skills polished during inclement weather, learn to fly with far fewer mishaps, master the basics of virtually any type of RC flying or simply to have a ton of fun, all without risking your precious stable of 'real' models.

    At the street price of $209.99 I was expecting a great deal from this Simulator. I was expecting it to be simple to set up and use. I was expecting it to have a wide variety of today's popular models. I was expecting it to have plenty of realistic flying sites. I was expecting the 'models' to 'fly' with reasonable similarity to the way the 'real' models do. I was NOT expecting this simulator to exceed those expectations by such a large margin. I was also not expecting the entire experience to be SO lifelike that I could actually work on advanced maneuvers (airplane, sailplane and helicopter) and have complete confidence that I'd be able to reproduce those maneuvers at the flying field.

    FS One's unrivaled end user support is such that in the unlikely event you run into any difficulties with the product you'll never be left to figure it out on your own. If you only make one purchase of an RC product this year, make it the FS One. Your wallet, your models, your flying buddies and the guy that owns the cornfield next to your flying field (the one you keep depositing balsa and fiberglass into) will all thank you for it. My hat is off to the people at Hangar 9 for developing what is in my opinion the single RC Flight Simulator to own.

    It's 9 PM, 5 below zero, blowing horizontal snow. I think I'll go practice the nose in hover, inverted this time.

    Watch more Videos from the FS One Gallery

    Distributed through Horizon Hobby
    4105 Fieldstone Rd.
    Champaign, IL 61822
    Phone: (217) 352-1913
    FS One RCU Forum/

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    The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.

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