The first addon for a DCS module has come out and is somewhat of a surprise. The DCS NS430 is only available for the Mi-8 but that may change soon.
An addon for a module, you say? Isn't that like... Inception or something? It sure sounds like it, doesn't it? So we get something to add to something that we already added to something? My head hurts.
(Bad) jokes aside, the NS430 is the first addon that you can use on a DCS module. In this case, the Mi-8. This is something that has stirred the waters of the community as some members believe ED is going through a weird, dangerous path.
Some memes have surfaced where things such as landing gears or flaps could appear in the future as "addons" for other products as well, clearly showing how concerned people are about this (and perhaps how surprised as well).
Personally, it makes sense to me. The NV430 is Belsimtek's version of a Garmin GNS 430, one of the best-known and most used GPS in the aircraft industry, and one that FSX, P3D and X-Plane users know very well as it's counterparts for these sims are the stock/default GPS units.
But, the NV430 is not something you need in order to use your Mi-8 (or its oilfield campaign pack); it's more of a nice-to-have. Something that's cool to have in your Mi-8 but not a necessity for you to fully enjoy the main product.
The DCS NV430 is very complete. It's actually more complete than the models you find in FSX/P3D/X-Plane. Here's the official list:
- Display of precise geopositional data, with an aircraft indicator on the moving map and a coordinate display on the information page of the instrument;
- uick setup for navigating to a selected destination from the current location;
- Creation, editing, selection and activation of flight plans;
- Creation of custom WPTs;
- Indication of flight parameters with a graphical representation of the aircraft's deviation from the flightpath of the specified route;
- Creation of a three-dimensional flight profile to ensure accurate vertical navigation;
- Calculation of fuel consumption;
- Obtaining information on air traffic;
- Creation of reminders;
- Access to flight checklists;
- Setting up countdown, arrival and enroute timers;
- Obtaining statistical data on flightpath stages;
- Sunrise/sunset time estimation
- Tuning of radiofrequencies for radio communication and navigation for equipment compatible with the instrument.
As you can see the list is extensive. You'll need some time to learn the ins and outs of every single function. Knowing how to operate the 430 in the above mentioned sims will help you a lot, of course.
To learn all about the NS430, you have a very nice 80+ pages manual, which you can find inside the [...]\DCS World\Mods\aircraft\NS430\Doc folder.
I need to say that one of the coolest features is the ability to add custom waypoints. This is something I wish the stock units in the other sims did as well.
In my case, I had a key that I had to bind to my account. After that, I just had to enter DCS. I got a warning that I had an addon to download, which I did.
The first thing you'll notice when you enter the Mi-8 for the first time after you install the unit is that it will not be in your panel. So you might have a "what the...?" moment there.
Well, hit the "2" key (or rotate the camera to the right) and you'll find your brand new GPS unit in your co-pilot's panel (don't forget the Mi-8 places you, the pilot on the left seat.
And, by now, you'll find another supposed problem: the darn thing is way too small! How in the hell will you be able to fly your helicopter (and on the right seat, nonetheless) and have a good look at that thing? Even worse: how will you operate it?
With the nose stuck in the panel, of course! Well, not really. Don't get pissed right away. There's a solution.
You see, the NV430 comes with its own key settings, which allows you to control the unit using keys (or the joystick or whatever you use in DCS).
One of these keys allows you to "undock" the unit and have it float in the screen. Not only it will be bigger -- and with a much better readability -- but you will also be able to use it a lot better.
I've tried to find locations that would not be part of the map (such as airports in other countries) and, of course, I couldn't find them as they don't exist in the database -- I still had to try it, right?
Adding a custom waypoint is not too hard either. Just enter the map and use the right knob to move the cursor. Click on it and there you go. It's easy and it can be handy if there are locations that are not in the database where you fly a lot.
I will not go into too much detail as there's a lot to cover -- it's a very complete rendition of Garmin's 430. I have tried a few approaches and some general navigation and couldn't find anything wrong with it. It behaved very well and I had no issues whatsoever.
One thing that I was curious about was the procedures page, where we can select the standard approaches, arrivals and departures. Unfortunately, the database is empty as well.
The whole unit seemed flawless to me. I could operate the different pages and perform the different operations that we are allowed to without any issues. Granted, I did not use all the features yet -- and probably never will -- but, overall, it looks rock solid to me.
Sometimes, in these initial releases, you find a quirk or an issue or some nasty bugs. If they're there, I was lucky enough not to find any. I'm not saying they're not there, but I couldn't not find anything that would strike mas an issue or a bug. What I do wish, though, is that Belsimtek not only adds support for the GPS in their Huey but that they also add data to its database.
Right now, it's a good product with great potential. I hope it keeps on being updated. For the price that's being offered, it is quite nice and the rumors out there indicate it should be available on the Huey sometime soon.
I do wish all the features could be used. I couldn't get the checklist to work, for example, as only an empty set appears. The procedures database is also empty which, although I was kinda expecting it, was a bit disappointing.
All in all, I do like the unit and I have fun with it, but I get the sense that's lacking something. I believe Belsimtek will eventually update it and build on top of the features the NS430 brings.
Should you get it?
This is the question a lot of you are probably asking. It's not an easy one to answer.
You see, like I said before, this is not something that you require to do anything in the sim. Nothing depends on it, which is good. But, at the same time, you have no need to get it. Is it cool? Yes and it will help you locate some airfields or areas that you probably didn't see yet. That alone, for me, makes it worth it.
And, don't forget: rumors indicate it will soon be able for other aircraft (such as the Huey) soon enough.
- Very complete GPS unit, better than the ones we are used to in sims like FSX, P3D and X-Plane
- Not excessively priced
- It should come as a standard unit in DCS
- Although there are a lot of functions, the database is very empty, not allowing for the usage of procedures, for example
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