Active Sky Next (ASN) is an add-on weather engine by HiFi Technologies, Inc. for Microsoft Flight Simulator X (FSX) and Lockheed Martin Prepar3D.
ORDERING / PRICE (in US Dollars)
$50 – Purchased online at the SimMarket website – Jan 2014.
SHIPPING / PACKAGING
This item was delivered digitally so no shipping was involved. The installer file is in ZIP format and is approximately 116 MB in size. SimMarket allows you to download the product as many times as you chose.
DRIVERS / MANUALS
No drivers are required. Once installed, the User Manual and API Guide are created in PDF format inside the installation folder you chose. They are concise, full color, and cover the installation and operation well.
ASSEMBLY / INSTALLATION
No assembly required. Installation is pretty straightforward. Run the setup, enter your registration code, and then it should detect your FSX/P3D installation and do the rest on its own.
INTEGRATION / OPERATION
Active Sky Next (ASN) runs externally to FSX/P3D and should be started before. To get into it fast, there is a quick start method consisting of three steps:
- Configure your Weather – Choose Live real-world weather, Historical weather within the last 2 years, or Manual and pick your own weather.
- Plan your Flight – Load a pre-made FSX/P3D flight plan or create your own within ASN.
- Fly – Start up the flight simulator and go!
For more detailed operations, ASN supports looking up current weather at a specific airport by ICAO code, searching for specific live weather conditions such as thunderstorms or snow, and using a map to display weather radar for a specific location.
Weather cloud creation can be controlled via many options such as, the number of cloud layers, cloud draw distances, turbulence, and icing levels. Wind creation can be controlled as well such as, maximum surface wind, turbulence, wind shear, wake, and downdraft/thermal rates. These options and more can all be adjusted via sliders in ASN to find the perfect balance between performance and quality for your specific computing/visual setup. ASN also allows the user to tune to three specific radio frequencies in FSX/P3D to hear voice-based ATIS-type weather announcements. These include the closest airport, and if a flight plan if loaded in ASN, the destination airport and the weather along the rest of the route. These voices are currently played in 6 different dialects based on aircraft location: USA West, USA Mid, USA East, Canada, Germany, and Sweden. Once I got it all setup, I was simply blown away by how much better the weather is now. The clouds rarely pop in and out if at all. The transitions between weather conditions are seamless and the wind direction/speed is not nearly as abrupt. Even the way the cloud layers are built and drawn is beautiful.
The variety of cloud textures used by ASN (thanks to my REX4 | Texture Direct software) and where they are placed is incredibly realistic and really gives a feel of distance and altitude.
Turbulence feels realistic, and for the first time, going through clouds fades in and out obscuring the view both inside and outside the aircraft!
ASN even has the ability to model hurricanes and does this brilliantly as I flew above 2014’s Hurricane Andrew near Florida and saw the massive formation including the eye. Because of all this, I find myself always looking for interesting weather before planning flights to make them more immersive and visually appealing.
Active Sky Next support is provided via their direct Support site. I have never needed to contact the developer as the product performs as advertised.
HiFi Technologies Active Sky Next is one of THE best add-ons for Microsoft FSX and Prepar3D. It has single-handedly improved my flight simulator experience in ways I can’t even measure. It is not just the realism factor or the detailed weather experiences of turbulence and wind shear, but the in-flight visual environment out the window is second to none especially for high flyers piloting airliners like myself. For these reasons, I give Active Sky Next a score of 10 out of 10.
NOTE: Since this page was written, version SP4 was released. I am using it and ASN still runs great.
Active Sky Next imagery by HiFi Technologies, Inc. my737NG.com is not affiliated with, maintained, authorized, endorsed, or sponsored by HiFi Technologies, Inc.