HiFiTech – Active Sky Next

ASN-0ASN-1Active Sky Next is the latest of a line of products developed by HiFiTech Inc. for more than 12 years now.

Usually known as AS (Active Sky), the weather injectors of this line are accepted as some of the best available for FS9, FSX and Prepar3D. ASN (Active Sky Next) is presently available only for FSX. After the initial release, the HiFiTech team is already testing internally a version for Prepar3D v2. It will be released as soon as possible as a free extension for ASN users.

The base price for the full version is $49.99 (USD), and it can be used in FSX and also in Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3d V2 when the installer for that simulation platform gets released any time soon.

You can get an upgrade discount for $29.99 (USD) if you already own AS2012, ASE, ASA or ASX. There is also a 7-day fully functional trial allowing you to test the program, without area limitations, for a week.

The installer is delivered in a ZIP format file of 119 MB, and after the installation it occupies around 121 MB in your disk. This version does not come with alternative cloud texture themes, or any other of these enhancements that were available for instance with AS2012, but you can use AS2012, or other products, to get your skies painting tuned to your liking.

ASN-10ASN-9You will find the manual linked through the “Help” menu, but it’s easily found on the installation folder. Make sure, just as usual with flight simulator add-ons, to install Active Sky Next into its own folder, and preferably do not point it to the FSX installation folder or to any system or Program’s subfolders!

A weather injector application like ASN can run on the same computer where your simulator is running or on a networked solution. Some other applications for flight simulators are also designed that way, so you can use a sort of an application server, dedicated to all of those applications, and free your simulator PC from the burden.

ASN-2ASN allows basically for three types of weather generation and injection into the simulator: real-time, historical or manually defined.

The most widely used is surely the first, with simmers looking for a replica of real world weather to fly their short, medium or long haul flights in the simulator. This can be particularly challenging if the weather condition enroute and at departure or destination is tricky. ASN’s Historical weather allows users to find the replica of the weather reported through a period of up to two years in the past! If you were not near your simulator on that day, at that hour when those severe weather conditions hit a given zone, get ASN running (which should preferably always be started before FSX), start FSX and place your aircraft at the right spot and under ASN’s Historical weather menu choose the date and time. ASN will fetch the necessary data from its servers and inject it into FSX giving you the chance for a differed weather depiction for that date!

Speaking of Weather Servers, it’s good to know that ASN fetches the weather data from a multitude of sources in the cloud, including Worldwide METAR and TAF reports, SIGMETs, AIRMETs, SPECIs, PIREPs and access to weather modeling suites that allow it to get data for winds, temperatures and turbulence aloft at various flight levels. It then pre-processes all of this data, for perfect integration, before making it available to client ASN applications.

ASN-8ASN-5ASN-13Altogether, this allows users to experiment in the simulator the closest to the real thing in terms of weather.

You can also “Search for trouble” using the Search Menu, and find areas to fly at various levels and types of turbulence, precipitation type and rate, visibility, wind speed, minimum cloud ceiling and thunderstorms and also look in more detail to the textual reports of weather near a chosen station.

The quality of the algorithms developed along more than two years for ASN, considerably changed the way this weather injector now does its job. Compared to previous versions, ASN brought some outstanding features such as precise localization of severe weather effects, like those caused by huge convective clouds or systems and their associated thunderstorms and gust fronts, tornadoes and cyclonic systems, etc. It also places the water meteors as precisely as never before in MSFS. The Weather Radar can be used to accurately depict the cloud layers and their associated types of precipitation.

ASN-3-AASN-3-BWith ASN, “what you see is what you get” promptly applies to the weather depicted in the simulator. If you further enhance it through the use of the Weather Radar gauge, then you can, just like pilots do in real life, avoid the hazards of some weather systems, including zones of potential wind-shear or even microburst encounters.

ASN-3-CASN-3-EVarious forms of turbulence, and a never before available, simulation of rising and sinking air currents, can make your life rather difficult, even as a virtual pilot. Be prepared for microburst encounters on short final, and forget about those huge cumulus clouds posing no problem in FSX as you cross them. With ASN and depending on the type and dynamics of the cloud it can easily bring your flight to an end, earlier than expected. Wake turbulence effects, as well as CAT (Clear Air Turbulence) are other types presented to you according to the weather conditions or based on real life SIGMET data.

ASN-4ASN-11You can find out, in real-time and on-the-fly, what is “over” your aircraft, and this is particularly easy if you’re running ASN on a 2nd monitor. Simply move the cursor over your aircraft symbol on the Map view, and get that data. Of course the Weather Radar also allows for the choice of different layers of information, like winds at various levels, visibility and clouds, significant weather, etc.

Smoothness was other focus of attention of the ASN developer’s team. Those rather annoying cloud pop-ups are history, and even on long flights, traversing various weather systems, you can rest assured that these unfamous phenomenon, so common to FSX weather injectors will not harm you. Smoothness is also a constant in what refers to winds aloft variation, in intensity and direction, as well as temperatures. Those show-killer S-turns that used to force you to tune down, or even completely disable, turbulence and or wind variability effects are unknown to ASN users!

ASN-5ASN-6Just as with former products of the AS line you will be able to import a flight-plan. ASN can even be configured to automatically load whatever flight-plan is loaded in FSX. The same applies to exporting winds and temperatures aloft data for specific add-on FMCs (Flight Management Computers).

ASN-7Because not every user has the same standard of hardware, the Option menus allow for various types of adjustments to better suite your needs and your PC. You can fine-tune the weather effects such as turbulence and wake, down-drafts and updrafts, cloud depiction, visibility, audio effects, etc.

ASN is a must have for those who want to have accurate and stable/plausible weather injection in their simulators, being it real-life, historical or manually defined. The HiFiTech Team is continuously listening to their customers and updating their products to add new features and fix any bugs.

More details can be found here.

You can find a FAQ here.

The User’s Guide can be downloaded from here.

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