Posted in: FSX, Reviews Tags: , ,

Review: DBS Studio’s Airport GPS

This is a built-in GPS for planes, just like the one you have in your car.  If you are like me you can never understand the instructions from ATC on how and where to taxi to, then this is for you.  You are not following anything you are just following a typical GPS unit which you have installed in your plane.  The more complex the airport, the more you need something like the DBS GPS unit.  Due to the nature of the product this will be a mini-review, well nearly!

DBS STUDIO – AIRPORT GPS — The Magellan Review

Installation:

A zip file, which when extracted to a small exe file installs automatically.  Installation may be quick but activation is another matter.  Once extracted and when you open FSX the DBS GPS is accessed via the Add-on tab in the Sim.  On the first opening, you are presented with an activate button, pressing this button gives you the option of activating “ONLINE” or “OFFLINE”. Filling in your purchase details and pressing “ONLINE” gives you immediately a pro forma email with a complex set of figures and numbers which you email to DBS who then send back to you an activation code.  Pressing “OFFLINE” is similar except you save a registration file, email this to DBS with a return email that they can send to, and they respond with an activation code.  I messed up badly here thinking that the pro forma email was the activation code and wondered why I couldn’t activate the product! Duh!!  Read the manual!!

Figure 1 DBS Airport GPS installed in the default C172

The Manual

There are two small “manuals”/information Sheets; a three page user guide and a two page activation guide.  I found that the activation guide to be confusing and complex and it really needs a review of the English used to make it easier to follow.  Having said that, it does cover everything you need to activate the product.  The User guide is brief covering the basic operation of the GPS unit.  Being 3 pages long it is the shortest manual I have ever seen, but it covers most of the features of the software.  It has excellent pictures of the features but the text is poorly formatted and if corrected it would be much easier to understand.

In the Sim

After activation on opening the Sim in the Add-on Tab you have 3 choices:

  • Route;
  • Add to Panel:
  • About

You need to choose “Add to Panel” first to add the DBS GPS to your aircraft panel.  I tried several panels, both payware and FSX standard and did not experience any issues.  The GPS unit is a pop-up unit which is accessed via combination of SHIFT + # key usually around SHIFT + 7, etc.  You have to add this to the panel of any aircraft that you wish to use the GPS unit in.

Once you have used the “Add to Panel” function (first), annoyingly, you have to re-load the same plane again to ensure that the GPS panel has been installed.  You do need to check that the GPS unit has been installed.  On several occasions I thought that I had installed the GPS gauge but kept wondering why I couldn’t choose a route.  If you try to install the GPS gauge in the same plane, you are informed that the gauge is already installed and do you want to remove it.

Figure 2 DBS Airport GPS SHIFT + Number Options

The Route tab then gives the option of which runway (helipad) that you wish to taxi to; there are also options for taxing to:

  • Parking
    Small
    Medium
    Large
    Cargo
  • Gate
    Small
    Medium
    Large
  • Military
    Cargo
    Combat
  • Other
    Dock
    Fuel
    Vehicle

Pretty Comprehensive, but no amphibians!

Figure 3 DBS Airport GPS Choose Route

Note: until you choose a route the “Calculate Route” is greyed out.

Figure 4 DBS Airport GPS Calculate Route

Note: Now that you have chosen which runway to taxi to the “Calculate Route becomes available”

Once the route is chosen it is now displayed on the pop-up DBS GPS unit giving details of the route you have to follow by means of a magenta coloured line.  On the GPS you get details of Runways, Taxiways, your Aircraft symbol, this is displayed on a simple plan view of the airport.  It works seamlessly with all of the default airports.  I have the Imagine Sim San Jose on computer and it is compatible with that software.

Figure 5 Route to taxi

Figure 6 Close -Up of the route

Note: The grey lines are taxiways and dark yellow lines are runways. There are

plus and minus signs on the right side of the GPS and pressing one or the other zooms the picture in or out.

On the left hand side of the GPS is another nifty tool in which you can move the picture up, down, left and right and pressing the middle restores the picture to your aircraft focus, ie the direction that your plane is travelling:

Figure 7 Pressing the centre button orientates your plane

Figure 9 Picture shifted right

The display also shows you where you turn left or right:

Figure 10 Cross the Runway and turn right at the arrow

When you reach your destination you see a “chequered” flag sign as below Figure 11:

Figure 11 The Chequered Flag — You have arrived

Warning: The GPS gauge does not give out traffic warnings so you need to keep looking around to make sure that you don’t hit something, which is pretty difficult when you have a gauge of this size that does obstruct your view.  There is no resize option built in that I could find.  There is a cryptic comment about a “special interface” with which you can, apparently “customise for different tasks”, “implement the DBS GPS unit into the simulator GPS” (whatever that means, and “adapt to custom panel”!  There are no instructions on how to achieve any of these features!

Miss the turn

What happens if you miss your turn?  Well, the software just creates a new route to get you to the right spot:

Figure 12 Route as dialled in before overshoot

Figure 13 New route calculated after overshooting turn

The Mystery

There is a hourglass that appears see Figures 12 and 13 and rotates as you move along the route.  What is it?  What does it do?  There is no mention of it in the manual!  Mystery solved — a quick email to DBS reveals that it is a “hourglass” that appears when the route is loading and sometimes as you along the route to your destination.  Great service!

?? = OK







Integration

There is no integration built in to the default ATC program, so if ATC gives you an instruction to taxi to a specific park or runway the DBS GPS may give you a different route to that one issued by the default ATC.  Also at KSJC I was directed (after requesting) by ATC to park in the “West” parking area but as such this does not appear in the DBS GPSW.  True every parking spot at KSJC is included in the DBS GPS but by number, so you would have to know which numbers applied to those areas used by the default ATC.

Airport Boundaries and In-flight

The DBS GPS does not work whilst the plane is in the air and only begins after you have landed (or are taxiing), and it only displays items, such as ramps, gates, etc within the airport boundaries.

New Airports

If you add a new airport there is a desk top icon that allows you to update the DBS GPS database — very useful.

Uninstall

There is no method given to uninstall the software correctly if it does not meet your needs.  However, there is an entry in the Control Panel\Add or Remove programs, but again not documented.

Sounds

None that I heard.  This would be a useful addition. “Take the third exit at the roundabout ahead!”

DX10 Preview Mode

DBS GPS runs fine in DX10 Preview mode which is a big bonus in light of the fact that the default “progressive taxi”  FSX option doesn’t work in DX10 Preview mode.

Support:

By email and is excellent — by return usually.  I used it several times and although it was basically my own fault that I was trouble, I was dealt with in a very professional manner.

Summing Up

This software comes into its own after dark (see Figure 14) and at unfamiliar large airports.  It’s a great idea and will prove useful to many simmers both GA and heavy iron.  Obviously it will be most useful at larger airports and least use of all at grass airstrips.  In my opinion the manual and activation process need some more work, but I believe that as this software is developed further it will be invaluable to us all.  Out of the box it works with all the default airports, and I did not notice any drop in performance using the software.

WOW Factor: 7½ out of 10.

Peter Hayes, Australia
January 2010

In the Dark

Figure 14 Follow the Green lights – easy!

Table of the Important Bits:

Publisher:

DBS STUDIO

Supplier:

Simmarket by direct download.
http://secure.simmarket.com/dbs-studio-airport-gps.phtml

Download
File Size:

ZIP file 2 MB

Installed File Size:

1 Folder 4.5MB

Simulator Requirement:

FSX  ( no mention of SP1, SP2 (or Acceleration/Gold)

There is a FS2004 version available that works basically the same, but was not tested.

OS Requirements:

Win XP, Vista and/or Win 7;

Testing System:

Intel E8600, 4GB DDR 800 RAM, Vista 64 SP2, nVidia 9800 GT, 182.50 Driver;
FSX SP1 + SP2; 750GB SATA II Seagate 7200 HDD. 
No Tweaks all standard and no over-clocking.

Scenery:

FSX Default; FS Genesis, UTX USA/Canada; GEXn; X-Graphics.

Installation:

Installation: Extract the ZIP file and click the resultant self extracting exe file.  Should be installed with Admin rights — VISTA right click “Run as administrator”.

Manuals / Documentation

Two manuals: User Guide and Activation Guide.

Support:

www.dbsim.com

Forum:

N/A

Updates

N/A

5 comments to Review: DBS Studio’s Airport GPS