This page will show you how to log on to VATSIM using ProController and Roger Wilco, and how to make the most of being an observer.
Before you start, make sure you have a VATSIM CID (Controller Identification number) and password, and have joined the UK Division. Details of how to do all this are on the "Getting Started" page.
Guidance for downloading and installing ProController and Roger Wilco are on the "ProController Setup" page.
|Logging on||Observing with text||Observing with Roger Wilco||Using Private Chat|
You now need to choose a controller to observe. The best position for a beginner to observe is a Tower (TWR), because these control all the take-offs and landings, and if there is no Ground controller available, they will also give the clearances and taxi instructions. You can also observe the Approach (APP) and En-route (CTR) controllers, who will be giving specific headings, flight levels and speeds for aircraft already in the air.
Look at your radar screen and identify any airports that look reasonably busy. If you have ServInfo, you can see how many aircraft are due to fly in and out. In ProController, use the dropdown menu from File, or right click the radar screen and left click Server to find "Who's online". You will see a list of all the controllers and observers within 100 miles of the central point of your radar screen. This will be London Heathrow (EGLL) unless you have changed the "centre on" setting.
What do those codes mean? The main airport codes can be found on the "Useful information" page. For example, Stansted is EGSS, and Luton is EGGW, so Stansted Tower is EGSS_TWR, and Luton Ground is EGGW_GND. Controllers using voice put a V in their callsign eg EGSS_V_TWR. Other abbreviations you may see are T(rainee), M(entor), (R)adar and E(xaminer).
Choose the controller you want to observe, and note the frequency in the right hand column (xxx.xx). eg the EGSS_TWR frequency is 123.80. To switch to that frequency, type //xxx.xx in the input line at the bottom of the screen. You will see the frequency change in the window on the right. Anything that is typed on that frequency by the controller or the pilot will appear in the Communications Window. As an observer, you will not be able to input anything yourself. You may not see very much text communication at all, as most pilots and controllers use voice, so it is worth setting up Roger Wilco as soon as possible.
You will get a better view of what is going on if you use the sector file for the airport you are observing. This shows the taxiways, runways, buildings and boundaries in detail. There are a limited number of sector files already in ProController, and if you followed our "Getting started" instructions, you will also have the Essex Radar sector file, which covers Luton, Stansted and London City. To open the Essex Radar file, click on File/Open, and then navigate to the Procontroller/Sector Files/Europe folder. To centre your screen on a particular airport, right click on the main radar screen, then "Centre on..." and choose the code for the airport you want.
All the Essex RAM sector files are available here. Other files can be obtained from the Downloads page of the Vatsim-UK website.
You can communicate privately with controllers or other observers using the chat-boxes. Bring up the "Who's online", right-click the name of the person you want to talk to, then left-click on Chat. This will open a private chat-box; again you type your input into the bottom line.
Most controllers and pilots use voice, as it is easier and quicker. However, please note that voice and text are given equal priority. Text is also used as a backup when voice transmissions are of poor quality.
Each controller uses a voice room, identified by the server IP address and the controller's callsign e.g. 126.96.36.199/egss_v_twr. To find out which server a controller is using, you need to read his ATIS (Automated Terminal Information Service). From ProController this can be done by typing .atis <callsign> in the input line. You can also get the ATIS by clicking on the callsign in ServInfo.
To connect to a voice room open RW and click on "Join". In the box "address and channel of the host" type <server IP address>/<callsign> as listed in the ATIS. Then click on "Join". You will be joined to the voice room, and will see a list of all the other people in the same voice room.
RW etiquette. The only people speaking in a voice room should be the controller and the pilots. Observers MUST maintain radio silence. The only exception is when there are no pilots in the voice room, when the controller may choose to use voice with an observer rather than text. This is highly unofficial, and if a pilot comes on frequency, must be stopped immediately.
Observers can communicate with other people online by using the Chatbox facility.
Receiving a call
Making a call