ATC-pie installation guide

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Installing

Downloading

There are essentially two ways of downloading ATC-pie: one is to download a tarball to extract locally; the other is to clone the Git repository. The latter requires Git, but will keep you in sync with updates more easily. Your choice. In either case, you will have no compiling to do (make, etc.), but will require Python3 and its bindings to Qt5. The exact dependencies are listed in the README file in the downloaded directory.

Downloading the tarball:

  1. get the latest stable version from the project page;
  2. extract the files to the directory of your choice.

To clone the Git repository:

git clone git://git.code.sf.net/p/atc-pie/code ATC-pie

If you choose cloning with Git, you can update your software when a new release is announced with a single command from the downloaded directory:

git pull

More to install?

The above alone will provide you with a working program, but a few software pieces can further be installed to enable extra features. They are recommended for more realistic fun, but not required and can be installed later. These are:

  • FlightGear for tower viewing in airport mode (though it can be run on a separate machine, see feature note in the user guide);
  • the Python IRC library to enable the ATC full coorindation and text chat sub-system in multi-player sessions;
  • PocketSphinx for voice instruction recognition in solo sessions;
  • pyttsx for speech synthesis of pilot radio communications in solo sessions.

Again, see the README file for more notes on installation.

Running

Depending on your system and preference, you might be double-clicking, typing stuff or pulling your hair out. In any case what you must do is run a Python3 interpreter on the ATC-pie.py file from the downloaded directory.

Two program modes

Initial graphical launcher, with AD vs. CTR mode choice

On program start, a welcome launcher window should open, from which you may start a session in either airport (AD) or centre (CTR) mode, i.e. respectively with or without a base airfield.

The airport mode is for ATC positions like approach or tower control. In this mode, ATC-pie places the radar at the chosen base airfield, depicts its tarmac and runways, and enables features like tower viewing and runway selection.

The centre mode is designed for en-route control centre simulation. It disables all airport-specific features, and allows to place the radar anywhere on Earth. When selecting this mode:

  • The location code is a designator of your choice (excluding airport codes), under which to save your location-specific settings. A good idea is to use ICAO airspace designations, e.g. SBBS for the Brasilia FIR in central Brazil or LFFF for the Paris region in France.
  • The radar position field specifies the point on which to centre the radar. For example, LFPO>090,15 will centre the radar on a point 15 NM to the East of Orly airport. Click on the help button for a summary of valid point specification formats, or read the Point specification section in the quick reference for more detail.

You may also bypass the launcher and start directly at a given location with the following command, using an ICAO code for an airport, or a previously defined CTR position:

./ATC-pie.py location_code

Command line arguments

Besides the location code, the following command line options are available:

Option Effect and argument specification Default
--map-range=range Define the distance in NM from the radar centre up to which the map will be drawn and navpoints listed in the navigator (accepted values are 20..500). This option can only be used with a location argument. 100 in AD mode; 300 in CTR mode
--views-send-from=port Change the local UDP port number to bind for sending FGMS packets to views. This includes all tower and additional views, but does not affect the multi-player connection ports, chosen on MP connect. 5009

Getting started

Initial configuration

Things you will want to do when running ATC-pie for the first time.

  • To play multi-player, give yourself a "social name" so that others recognise you when using any of the ATC coordination/exchange sub-systems.
  • If you intend to use the radio like you should in FlightGear multi-player sessions, try an echo test from the System menu. If you have problems hearing yourself, read the resources/fgcom/Notice file and check the FGCom path in the system set-up. Also try a search for "FGCom" in the ATC-pie FAQ.
  • In the same dialog, if you want to use the internal tower viewing system, make sure you have the right paths set for your FlightGear installation.

A message pops up when opening a location for the first time, inviting you to configure the local settings. If you intend to play here or come back often, it is sensible to:

  • set things up in the location settings dialog, e.g. airport runway capabilities (necessary for more realisitc aircraft intentions in solo simulation), radar/communication equipment;
  • download the latest airport data file from the X-plane gateway and place it in CONFIG/ad.dat (see the Notice file there);
  • if playing with radar: create/import background pictures like terrain maps and useful procedure charts;
  • pin your preferred navpoints so that they are restored on every run;
  • create and name strip racks according to the service provided, they will be saved for future runs.

For more detailed and advanced configuration, check the CONFIG/Notice file for a summary of editable options.

Starting sessions

FlightGear multi-player connection:

  • callsigns for ATCs in FlightGear are expected to start with the ICAO code of the controlled airport or sector, and end with a hint on the provided service (twr, gnd, ctr...);
  • before choosing your callsign on MP connect, make sure it is not already in use;
  • you can connect more than one ATC-pie instance from the same computer, but must use different ports;
  • note that FGMS restricts callsign length to 7 characters.  :-(

Solo simulation:

  • wind will be randomised at start, but will be forced to blow in a favourable direction if an active runway is selected before start;
  • traffic is spawned with intentions according to the solo simulation configuration options (Shift+F11), so it is preferable to configure them before starting the session to avoid undesired traffic at start.