RC Helicopter Simulator: AccuRC 2
First impressions and experiences
Team AccuRC contacted us, and asked us to try their simulator. We took the opportunity, and after receiving the license provided, AccuRC is now installed, we are using it on daily basis and testing on two different computers. There is still a lot to discover, but we have got the first impressions, it is time to share. And it is now promised, this is not going to be the only content about AccuRC, it deserves more.
List of possibly good simulators is quite short to RC helicopter pilots and beginners. One of these simulators on our list is AccuRC. However it is always risky to accept a request of the owners to test their product and to promise a write-up without knowing the subject, like AccuRC. What if, it doesn't provide what we expect, what if, we don't like it? One of the most important principal at rchelicopter.hu is the trust. We never lie, even if it was easier. Well, this is not the case now luckily, we like this software.
It is also hard to set up an objective opinion, especially if you have got your previous favourite one, which was good, standard, but became discontinued sadly. Yes, this is PhoenixRC, but their servers for multiplayer mode or downloads are not available now, so time to move on.
Long story: where we are now
I expected something similar like PhoenixRC, and this is how I approached the question, which was a big mistake. What worked well there is not the way to choose here. For example: autozoom. Auto zoom was a "must switched on" in Phoenix to most of us, simply because the rendering shrank the model too fast on the screen and your 700 heli turned into one pixel quickly. In AccuRC this is not required. Somehow the viewport is good, even if the model is farther from you, but easy to loose the orientation and feeling density with auto zoom switched on. This is personal opinion, but AccuRC feels really accurate with no auto zoom. And you have no auto zoom at the flightline in real life anyway. At the end of the day, I had to approach the question again without expecting PhoenixRC behaviour. This is really important, otherwise you will get disappointed as this simulator is quite different.
AccuRC is available on Steam. You can purchase your license at AccuRC.com and using your Steam account just download it with redeeming your code. The software is available in demo version as well. Demo is as big as the full (approximately), but you are allowed to use only one model, and the flight time is limited, then you have to restart the simulator. Save your time, go for full version. Its price is not that high as it costs £39.99 only, which is way cheaper than few competitors, you wont regret it.
AccuRC installs silently in Steam taking 6GB space from your hard drive. No tricky additions, no tuning, no hacks it is just there. We are using Futaba transmitters as game controllers installed, that is a bit trickier, than any other connections, like interlink or Jeti/USB, and I had to spend few minutes to configure it in AccuRC as well, but it is not a rocket science.
AccuRC is an RC simulator, so it supports even cars next to drones, airplanes or helicopters, but I think it is designed for helicopters primarily. And it does the job pretty well. It was obvious at the beginning, simulation of forces is accurate indeed, however the control wasn't so sensitive. This is because the default FBL settings in my case, which was beginner. I had to change the FBL configuration to Aerobatic at least, but I moved up to 3D later on. Rendering was also good but the environment was a bit ugly compared to PhoenixRC. This caused an ambivalent feeling, because the model was really sharp, the environment was really blurry. I tried to find a reason apart from programming issues, then I found that this is not disturbing during the flight, what more simulates the feeling you have in real life. You are focusing on the model in real life, and you don't see the scenery really. This looks ugly only, when you are watching it.
Then I created this video about comparing PhoenixRC and AccuRC. Right after uploading it I was told from AccuRC, this is not how it should look. So I started to play with the graphics settings. To be honest, AccuRC is installed on laptops now, and neither of them is gaming computer, that's why I wasn't bold enough to set everything to maximum. But let's give it a try. And the final result was amazing. 1920×1080 resolution, ultra high rendering are set. Motion blur is medium, and AccuRC runs with 60FPS with no lagging or freezing. PhoenixRC feels like an ancient game from Commodore ages now. I like it indeed, Antonia is not so confident yet, but when I'm asking "which simulator do you want to use", she chooses AccuRC.
AccuRC requires tweaking in many cases, but the time spent on settings rewards itself. Final outcome is great. I mentioned earlier, appropriate zoom and no auto zoom works the best for me, it feels like I am at the flightline indeed (as much as a simulator can reproduce the feeling). Helis behave as real ones, except the flybar ones. They are much more direct, than in real life. And this is why our expectations after PhoenixRC will be different again. We got used to it, each manoeuvre learnt in Phoenix had to be transferred to real life.
You might remember, there wasn't FBL in early times, so PhoenixRC didn't support it at all. We were shocked and almost crashed all FBL models in reality, because the control was so direct and there wasn't any FBL model in simulator to get experienced before. If I remember well, FBL models got available in PhoenixRC with version 3. But they behaved differently from real ones. This was because the engine doing the math was flybar based still, just all values were pulled up to maximum to simulate something similar to flybarless.
By my experience AccuRC is slightly different. It has got both simulations, but the flybar one is not so realistic. No flybar heli can react as quick as in AccuRC, flybar by its nature reacts a little bit slower, because swashplate controls flybar, flybar controls blades, and it takes time to get all forces through via this chain. I'll try to play with the settings at the workbench. It is true, this is less important, because flybar time is over, I don't think so any model among the new ones is available in flybar version nowadays, so this should not be a problem.
Flybarless helicopters, like Mikado Logo 600SX, Align T-Rex 700E, Align T-Rex 600 (even nitro) give the reality back pretty well. Now I can imagine, the manoeuvre I've just learnt in AccuRC can turn into reality almost promptly, because all factors are simulated well.
Environment calculation is not so accurate, so it is possible to fly through few objects, but this is funnier than annoying. And as a developer, I would not care too much about all tiny details in collision simulation taking expensive processor time unnecessarily. This is less important, it can be funny, but I would not declare it as serious problem.
There are not too much models available yet, but there are many most recent ones, and as far as I know, the model selection is expanding continuously. This is also true to sceneries, few of them are totally useless for helis, but they are supposed to use for other simulations like cars. Let's not forget that, this is still version 2. I've experienced few control glitches, when I had to restart AccuRC, but this is pretty rare. It has never crashed so far and never became unresponsive, unlike PhoenixRC even with version 5.5 (to be honest 3D landscapes in PhoenixRC are not working in mine ones, the software just crashes simply when I want to use one of them).
Average hardware with a better graphics card is enough, so you don't have to spend the price of a 700 class helicopter on a computer just to run AccuRC.
This is too early at this point. AccuRC has got many good features so far, although I miss few well known and useful functions from PhoenixRC. I had no chance to test the online mode, I could not test the workbench deeply so far. I had no time to test the fine tuning and so on. This is going to be in the next content. We will return to this topic soon.
Verdict: absolutely positive
It is bad to approach AccuRC with any prejudice or expectation based on other simulators. Approach it from real life, and you will not get disappointed. Is it good? Yes, it is indeed. Not bug-free, but which software is free of bugs? There's no critical or showstopper bug, which is important. Some features can be better, some features can be improved or refactored, but as a complete simulator, it is absolutely recommended indeed. It worth that £39.99. So go to accurc.com, find the details there, get a Steam account, and get on it.
Have a good flight, have a good landing... with AccuRC!