The Invite-Only Beta is almost upon us, so it is a great time for another development update!
Pending final bug fixes, we will be sending out the approval emails to the invited users soon. If you are lucky enough to get one, you will be authorized to access our software at the time you receive the email. Those who make it into Phase 1 will receive invite codes for Phase 2 to distribute at your discretion, but those codes will not be immediately available. We will keep you posted on when they become available to distribute.
Here is a quick recap on the original plan for Invite-Only Beta, Phase 1 and what may or may not have changed since the announcement was first released:
Pilots will require an invite code and subsequent approval in order to participate
Status Update: This is still the case. All available invites have been distributed and those who received an invite are patiently waiting for the approval email, which will come soon.
- Status Update: This is still the case. All available invites have been distributed and those who received an invite are patiently waiting for the approval email, which will come soon.
ATC will be hand-picked by POSCON staff and will be required to sign an NDA
Status Update: This is still the case. One thing to note, however, is that we will most likely be very slowly implementing ATC. In fact, the first couple of weeks will most likely see little to no ATC coverage on the network as it still requires some additional dev work.
- Status Update: This is still the case. One thing to note, however, is that we will most likely be very slowly implementing ATC. In fact, the first couple of weeks will most likely see little to no ATC coverage on the network as it still requires some additional dev work.
Operating times will be schedule limited
Status Update: This is no longer true. We plan to have the server up and running 24/7 as we have separated our development and production environments. We will inform everyone of scheduled down times when we make updates to the production servers.
- Status Update: This is no longer true. We plan to have the server up and running 24/7 as we have separated our development and production environments. We will inform everyone of scheduled down times when we make updates to the production servers.
Number of users was planned at between 500-1000
Status Update: This is still the case; we have invited between 600-700 users to Phase 1.
- Status Update: This is still the case; we have invited between 600-700 users to Phase 1.
NDA is not required for Invite-Only Beta, Phase 1
- Status Update: This is still the case. You are not required to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) unless you are hand-picked to be an ATC. We will continue to maintain a select group of NDA pilot beta testers to test new features in our development environment.
Having said all that, now I want to take some time to outline features that made it into this phase. I think outlining these features is an important part of the process of managing expectations.
One of the main blockers that prevented us from releasing POSCON sooner was the decision to completely rewrite our voice system. Six months ago we were using the TeamSpeak 3 SDK for our voice infrastructure, but we decided using TeamSpeak 3 would limit our technical growth into the future. As a result, we opted to get rid of TeamSpeak completely before any sort of public release. Over the past few months we have worked tirelessly to develop our very own custom infrastructure and I am happy to report that it is now completed. Our voice will have the following features at Invite-Only release:
Voice Server Supports:
- Many simultaneous connections.
- Ground-based transceiver locations; there are currently 4,667 locations entered into our database.
- Propagation of transceiver locations to the Radar Client.
Option for separate PTTs per radio (e.g. VHF #1 and VHF #2), separate volume controls per radio, and separate audio devices per radio.
- The server supports this, but the pilot clients do not support this yet.
Voice Effects Supported:
Full VHF simulation including:
- 8.33 kHz and 25 kHz spacing.
- Terrain line-of-sight processing.
- Beat simulation.
- End-of-transmission popping tones.
- Wavelength simulation.
Website & Administration
Another factor that prevented us from releasing POSCON sooner was the decision to build out a custom Single-Sign-On or SSO. It became apparent, as we added new products and technologies to our software suite, that the generic open-source or even payware services would not meet our needs. I am happy to report that our custom SSO has been completed and is fully functional. Here are some additional web features we will release with:
- GDPR compliance.
- A support system.
- Basic flight statistics.
ICAO 2012 formatted flight plan form:
- An integrated help tutorial is provided on the page.
- The form validates while entering data.
- Feedback and generic points system.
Live Map used to view online traffic (updates every 2 seconds).
- Users can leave feedback about each other using the map.
- Moderators can initiate ghosting, disconnects, and bans using the Live Map interface.
- Pilot Client Web UI, which can be accessed on any device with an internet connection (see below for more details).
Pilot Clients, Pilot Client Web UI, & Pilot Server
The Pilot Clients are by far the most completed products that we have in our software suite. They have been closely designed in parallel so that the features remain consistent across the various platforms. Once you have logged in to the network, the Pilot Client will send information about your plane’s location, altitude, attitude, as well as a number of the plane’s parameters such as gear and flap deployment, engine RPM, state of various beacon and navigation lights, transponder mode and code, etc. The Pilot Clients also receive similar information from the network about aircraft that are within range of your plane. This information is used to draw 3D models of the aircraft at their correct position and orientation. The information is also used to populate various datarefs so that your aircraft’s TCAS system will be aware of nearby planes.
In addition to the aforementioned features, the Pilot Clients also feature:
- Enhanced ground-clamping using various methods for a smooth experience regardless of differences in terrain.
Model matching. Here is how we handle model matching with the various platforms:
- For X-Plane, the models are distributed with the pilot client itself and contain custom model matching logic.
- For FSX/P3D, we have integrated the FLAi model set through our Launcher Client application (see below for more details).
- ICAO equipment and airline code validation.
- Accurate ground speed monitoring (X-Plane Only).
- VHF push-to-talk activation indications.
- AI model sounds and controls (X-Plane Only).
- The ability to control the maximum number of AI planes that will be displayed.
- In-game notification of ghosting and disconnects with explanations.
- The ability to manually toggle ghost mode or request to unghost.
- Automatic detection of change in aircraft.
The Pilot Clients will automatically ghost for:
Sim rate increase, entering slew mode, using replay mode, or deliberate pausing (this can also sometimes be triggered by accessing a sim menu).
- If you are on the ground and not moving, pausing is allowed.
- Connecting on or re-positioning to a runway (through a menu) will prevent connection or disconnect the user as applicable.
Pilot Client Web UI Features:
- Some functions of CPDLC (Controller-Pilot Data Link) will be operational such as the login function and automatic squawk code assignment.
Real world D-ATIS (Digital Automated Terminal Information Service) broadcasts are integrated and can be requested in real-time by pilots.
- The voice portion of D-ATIS is not working yet, only the text portion.
- METAR and TAF reports can be requested in real-time by pilots.
- Radio syncing.
- Ghost and unghost toggle.
Pilot Server Supports:
- Many simultaneous connections.
- A variable update rate based on range. When in close proximity to other aircraft, models will update 15 times a second for a smooth visual experience.
- Airspace awareness. The server can determine a planes position in relation to defined airspace boundaries (both vertical and lateral). This is a very unique feature not implemented on any other network. In the future, this will enable POSCON to build many other features using this core server functionality.
The Launcher Client is the centralized hub to keep you up-to-date on everything related to POSCON. This product was designed around the idea of "platform software" similar to what Origin, Steam, and other gaming platforms offer. The POSCON Launcher Client mirrors the content contained in the POSCON HQ, but with enhanced functionality:
- The ability to download, install, launch, and update all available network software.
- The ability to switch between development and production environments (for NDA testers only).
- Token authentication. Once you enter your username and password once, the Launcher Client will take care of the rest.
That's it for now, we hope you enjoyed this update. In the near future we will post a list of frequently asked questions that should help first-time users when accessing the network. If you have any questions you think would be a good addition to this list, feel free to comment below!
Thanks for all the support over the last few years, it continues to keep us motivated!