- Observer's Guide
(version 1.2 - November 2003)
This page will show you how to
log on to VATSIM using ASRC 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
Guidance for downloading and installing
ASRC and Roger Wilco are on the "ASRC
Setup" page. The combined Installation and Observers
Guide can also be downloaded in Word format as ASRC
- Open ASRC.
- If you have voice enhancements
enabled Roger Wilco will open automatically. If you are not already
online RW will open your dialler dialogue. When you connect you
will be connected to the internet, but NOT to Vatsim.
- If you do not have voice enhancements
enabled the dialer will not appear until you reach the OK button
in the ASRC connections box.
- In ASRC select File/Connect.
A dialogue box will open.
- Enter your callsign. When you
are controlling this will be the callsign of your position, but
as an observer you can choose your own. It is recommended that
you choose something by which you can be recognised online, such
as your initials or first name, followed by _OBS. eg RUTH_OBS,
- Leave the Tag box blank.
- Set the Rating box to your official
Vatsim rating. If you are just starting out this will be Observer.
You can only log on at a higher rating when you have passed
the appropriate exam. Observers can watch and can take part in
private chats, but cannot communicate on ATC radio frequencies.
- Enter your real name in the
- Choose one of the servers from
the drop down menu to log in. If you only have the default list
of the US and UK servers you will need to have updated the list
- The easiest way is to use the
ServInfo programme. Use File/Export ipaddr.txt and save the file
in the ASRC root directory (where your asrc.exe is installed).
- If you do not have ServInfo
you can obtain a recent copy of ipaddr.txt from the ASRC/resources
page on the Essex website.
- Facility should be set to Observer.
- Enter your CID and password.
- Press OK, and you will be connected
to VATSIM. If you are not already online, your dialler dialogue
should pop up automatically.
- You will now see aircraft positions
appear on the map. You have successfully logged on!
a controller on text
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 ASRC
the Controller List is in the upper right section of the screen.
This lists the active controllers and observers in your visibility
range. This will be centred on London Heathrow (EGLL) unless you
have changed the "centre on" setting. The visibility
range is set in the Options/Settings menu.
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).
- In order to observe a controller
you need to connect to his ATC frequency using the VSCS (Voice
Switching and Control System).
- Click on the controller's callsign
in the controller list. In the CRD (Computer Readout Display)
in the bottom right hand corner of your screen, the controller's
details will appear in the middle RA (response area) box. On
the first line will be the controller's callsign and the ATC
frequency e.g. EGSS_V_TWR 123.800. Make a note of both.
- Open the VSCS by pressing TAB
or using the drop down menu. The grey boxes are called "frequency
buttons", and each can be set to one ATC position.
- Click on BUTN CNFG on the bottom
line, and then on the first available grey box.
- In the dialog box enter the
frequency (eg 123.800), the name you want on the button (eg Stansted
Tower or EGSS_TWR), and the RW Channel (normally the same as
the Callsign eg EGSS_V_TWR). Click on OK.
- The box will now turn white
and will be labelled with its name. Click on the box to open
- There are three coloured boxes.
From left to right these are Transmit, RW connection, and Receive.
Green means ON, and black means OFF. At the moment only the right
button (receive) should be on. Anything that is typed on this
frequency by the controller or the pilot will appear in the transparent
textbox at the bottom of the screen. As an observer, you will
not be able to input anything yourself.
- You can check you are connected
correctly by looking at the bottom of the screen. The frequency
you are connected to is displayed in yellow text (receive mode
only) surrounded by a red box (voice mode off). 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. If you followed our "Getting started"
instructions, you will also have the Essex Radar sector file.
To open the Essex Radar file, click on File/Open, and then navigate
to your sector file folder. To centre your screen on a particular
airport just type the four letter ICAO code and then press the
- All the Essex RAM sector files
are available on the Essex
website. Other files can be obtained from the Downloads page
of the Vatsim-UK
using Roger Wilco (RW)
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. 220.127.116.11/egss_v_twr. You can only observe a
controller on voice if you are connected to the same voice server.
Most UK controllers use the UK2 voice server (18.104.22.168).
If you followed the instructions above this is what you will
be connected to. You can see which voice server you are connected
to by looking at the Options/Settings menu.
- To find out which server a controller
is using, you need to read his ATIS (Automated Terminal Information
- Type .atis <callsign>
(the . is important).
- You will see the callsign in
the Controller List start flashing. Click on it and press the
Controller Select (csel) key. If you haven't changed the defaults
this will be the \ key.
- A grey box will appear near
the bottom of the screen with the ATIS in it. If it scrolls past
too quickly, use <pageup> to scroll back. You can
turn the grey box off by pressing \ again.
- Make a note of the IP address
and RW callsign; note the latter is sometimes different from
the text callsign.
- If you are connected to the
same voice server you can join the voice room. If not you will
need to change to the correct server (see section 4 below). To
join the voice room:
- Open the VSCS (drop down menu
- Use the BUTN CNFG to check that
the RW callsign is correctly entered in the third box of the
- If the frequency button is closed
(the box is white) click on it to open it.
- To open the Roger Wilco channel
click on the middle box which will turn green.
- At the bottom of the screen
the box surrounding the frequency will change from red to green.
You are now connected to the voice room and can listen to the
controller and pilots talking.
- Make sure the left xmit (transmit)
button is black (off), so that you do not accidentally transmit
on the controller's frequency.
- To change the voice server
- Open the VSCS (drop down menu
or TAB), and close any open voice connections by ensuring that
the middle boxes of all the open frequency buttons are black
- If any are green (on), click
on the relevant boxes to turn them off, or close the frequency
- Change the Voice Server in the
ASRC Options/Settings menu. If you have left any voice connection
open, the voice server box will be greyed out and you will be
unable to change it.
- You may now connect to the new
controller's frequency (see section 3 above).
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.
Consult the manual on how to use VSCS to transmit.
Observers can communicate
with other people online by using the private chat facility.
- If you have an incoming message
the letters "CL" at the top of the controller list
(top right of the screen) will flash yellow, and the background
behind the caller's callsign will flash grey.
- To view the message, click on
the callsign. You can also select the callsign by typing the
two character ID to the left of the callsign and then pressing
the controller select <csel> key. This will be \ if
you haven't changed the default setting.
- A grey text-box will appear
near the bottom of the screen with the incoming message displayed.
The identity of the caller will be displayed in the RA (response
area) box at the bottom right of the screen. The currently selected
individual in the controller list will have a white box around
- The chat-box must be grey in
order to type in it. To reply just type your answer in and press
<enter>. If you press <enter> without
typing anything in, the box will turn black. To turn it grey,
press <enter> again.
- To change to another person
you already have communicated with, just click on their callsign.
- To close a chat-box, press the
a text call
- To open a chat-box with anyone
in the controller list type the two character ID to the left
of the callsign and then pressing the controller select (csel)
key. This will be \ if you haven't changed the default
- The grey chat-box will appear.
Anything you type will then be sent to that individual.
- Their reply will appear in the