FMS

A free radio control model flight simulator.


Yes it is hard to believe it but this is a pretty good model flight simulator, and it is free to download!
 
Download the program from:-
http://simulator.home.pages.de

Once installed (easy) the program provides a useful, and fun, way of practicing model flying. The biggest problem for most people in learning to fly models is orientation when flying towards yourself. Using the FMS simulator is a good way to practice this and to keep your edge during layoffs.  It may lack some of the sophistication of the commercial programs but remember it is free. I'm not convinced that the very expensive simulators are worth the cost, they are still just computer games after all and may be worth 30 but not 100+! Just my opinion!
 
One observation is that the different planes that come with the FMS program all fly in a similar way, I have downloaded others from the web, there are some great add-on models and scenery available from:-
 
http://www.rc-sim.de/
 
Some of the Japanese models fly very well, my favorites are the Seduction Fs and the GTrick 90. The Thunderbird 4 ship formation is fun too! I find the Swiss scenery great too, the mountains provide a useful height reference.
 
One quirk is that if you fly the planes fairly slowly inverted and touch the ground/runway the plane instantly turns the right way up and rolls along the ground undamaged! Now if my real models could do that it would really turn heads! It is not really possible to  accurately trim models out and the ground detection after landing is a bit iffy but these are side issues and don't detract from the overall 5 star performance. ***** 
 
To make it a useful practice aid you need to make an interface for your own transmitter. Easy to follow, illustrated, instructions are given at:-
 
http://www.heliguy.com/rcheli/home.html
 
I built mine in less than an hour and had no trouble constructing it at all, I'm a modeller not an electrician but had no difficulty following the excellent instructions.
 
I live in the UK and obtained all my components from Maplin, you can even buy the components online:-
 
http://www.maplin.co.uk/
 
The Maplin part numbers I used are:-
 
HH29    6 pin DIN plug (Fits Futaba buddy box socket) 0.42
A10K    Resistor pack (10) 0.27
UH54    2N2222a transistor 0.50
X551    50 Ohm Cable 2 metres 0.84
YQ48    25 Pin Plug 0.84
CA22Y    Alloy shield for Y48 3.99
Total    8.06
 
For a total cost of less than ten quid what are you waiting for?
 
If you don't fancy making your own interface, Phil Olsen at
 
  http://www.clonepac.freeserve.co.uk  
 
will sell you one for 10, including postage, which is excellent value.  (Incidentally, Phil also sells "clonepac" plug-in memory modules for Futaba FF8 &9's which give you an extra 8 model memories. They also cost 10  and work very well (recommended!))