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Author Topic: Simbrief vs topcat, pfpx  (Read 355 times)

thecrazedlog

  • Join date: Apr 2016
  • Posts: 41
Simbrief vs topcat, pfpx
« on: Wed, 13 Jan 2021 08:19 »
Greetings all:

I'm considering moving to FS2020 from XPlane and, in true style, if you're going to spend $150, why not spend more?

I'm considering TOPCAT/PFPX. What are people's thoughts of these vs Simbrief? Is it much of a muchness or is one clearly better than the other?

Thanks

Anthony

jcomm

  • Join date: Dec 2011
  • Location: LPMT
  • Posts: 1557
Re: Simbrief vs topcat, pfpx
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 13 Jan 2021 09:10 »
I bought MFS for a lot less than $150 ( €60 in this case ). Honesty I believe the standard version is still the best option because what you get with the more expensive ones brings you nothing that can easily moded to something worth the use while ASOBO can't find the way to fix the problems with their core code regarding flight dynamics and systems modelling... and if you're using MFS primarily as a visuals generator for PSX then you even need less what's offered by the non Standard versions of MFS...

Regarding PFPX / TopCat, I  bought it for years but have opted for the free and excellent SimBrief. Never used TopCat although I bought it once :-/ to no use ...

Some years ago PFPX was the only tool integrating weather data / models. You now have that in Simbrief and it's good enough to use with PSX IMO.

I believe ( not sure ) one of the freeware apps for PSX also offers TopCat-like functionality ? ( BACARS ? )

thecrazedlog

  • Join date: Apr 2016
  • Posts: 41
Re: Simbrief vs topcat, pfpx
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 13 Jan 2021 10:23 »
Oh I meant $150 by the time I get FS + WidePSX. $150 is a little high but I can't be bothered to do the maths :P

Will

  • Join date: May 2009
  • Location: Chicago
  • Posts: 2137
Re: Simbrief vs topcat, pfpx
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 13 Jan 2021 17:22 »
I'm a fan of PFPX and TOPCAT, but one caveat is that while support is still available on the Aerosoft forum, development has ground virtually to a halt. So, you can get your questions answered by some helpful people on the forum, but you shouldn't await any new features that the program doesn't already have.

I can't comment on Simbrief.
Will /Chicago /USA

Will

  • Join date: May 2009
  • Location: Chicago
  • Posts: 2137
Re: Simbrief vs topcat, pfpx
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 13 Jan 2021 18:59 »
Actually, I just went to play around on SimBrief's site and the service looks pretty interesting.

At first glance, it seems to have the same support of the PSX .route file that PSX does. Let me explain... one of the strongest features of PFPX was that it exported PSX-compatible FMC routes with the lat/long of every waypoint, meaning that the .route file contained everything needed for PSX to display the route properly.

The advantage here is that it doesn't matter if there is a discrepancy between your PSX navigation database and the flight planning database. If one or the other isn't current, it doesn't matter, because PFPX exports a fully flyable route for the PSX FMC to use.

Looks like SimBrief does the same thing.
« Last edit: Wed, 13 Jan 2021 21:04 by Will »
Will /Chicago /USA

thecrazedlog

  • Join date: Apr 2016
  • Posts: 41
Re: Simbrief vs topcat, pfpx
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 13 Jan 2021 20:04 »
Its starting to sound an awful lot like they both do much the same thing. Maybe I'll donate some money to Simbrief instead....

Captain_Crow

  • Join date: Aug 2017
  • Location: Berlin, Germany
  • Posts: 122
Re: Simbrief vs topcat, pfpx
« Reply #6 on: Wed, 13 Jan 2021 20:53 »
PFPX misses to update the option to send the OFP direct to VATSIM since VATSIM changed the URL. So I use and donated to SIMBRIEF, PFPX sleeps on the disc..

Best
Steff

Will

  • Join date: May 2009
  • Location: Chicago
  • Posts: 2137
Re: Simbrief vs topcat, pfpx
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 13 Jan 2021 22:53 »
SimBrief doesn't have a sophisticated takeoff performance calculator, so it won't adjust performance for flap settings, packs, derates, or assumed temperatures.

So even with SimBrief, there may still be a role for TOPCAT if you have it.
Will /Chicago /USA

Sebastian

  • Join date: Nov 2016
  • Location: ZSPD
  • Posts: 20
Re: Simbrief vs topcat, pfpx
« Reply #8 on: Thu, 14 Jan 2021 11:11 »
Call me crazy, but I do use both, Simbrief and PFPX - in parallel.
The nice thing about Simbrief, it automatically calculates a good Cost Index for the cruise - something, you'd have to be guessing in loops over at PFPX (or did I miss any special setting at PFPX that can do so?). Furthermore, it has a variety of different routes available that you can choose from.

However, many times, I catch myself not being happy with those provided ones, so I revert to PFPX and copy of the many routes I created myself into Simbrief, i.e. I found that CPA uses a much northerly route on their flights to Europe almost overhead Beijing (!), than what's usually provided over at Simbrief.
Whenever I need to create a route by myself, I do that with PFPX.
Nice thing of PFPX, if you have several routes available for a flight, you can select them all (or just a few) for compiling the OFP and by that you can choose the route with the least time and/or fuel requirement - sure, the calculation time gets longer, but the feature is really nice! So with that I choose the route to fly for the leg.

I operate on a system of 5 PCs, 3 for PSX, 1 for Scenery, 1 for Flight Planning and Navigation (Charts). In PFPX I have set all the various folder locations on the cloud, for the PSX-route file, the P3D route file, the XP11 route file etc. With 1 click on export, it directly stores the respective files. Some addons can handle the cloud location, some I do need to manually copy, but I can accept that.
Another thing that speaks for PFPX, I have bought several real world schedules from over at VA Systems, that can be downloaded in PFPX format and imported into it. So, if you want to follow those schedules, you just look them up at PFPX, select the flight, and it copies some of the data incl. DEP/ARR times into the planning (sometimes buggy though, as the arrival time and thus the flight duration isn't correctly transferred).
Big disadvantage of PFPX in my opinion (besides what has already been mentioned by fellow members before), the North Atlantic Tracks are part of a paid annual subscription, whereas on Simbrief you don't need to worry about that. Same for Notams.
And, besides the bug in the scheduling-thing above, there are a few bugs with PFPX, that probably won't ever be solved.

For PFPX you can choose from the magnitude of performance files by Steve Bell (thanks again for that, and for keeping them updated all the time!!!) and with a little time, you can create your own performance files - for example, an ER-variant with the RollsRoyce Engines - never built, and not originally available on PFPX, but on PSX. There's a chance of uploading a JSON-format Performance File into Simbrief - never done that...

TOPCAT, I believe there's really no way around it. If I remember correctly, even BACARS relies on you having a valid TOPCAT license. In conjunction with PFPX, you can have your TOPCAT calculations done directly in PFPX.
Downside of TOPCAT, you can't fully work with ER-Models as there's no way to set the MTOW to 412t. So, for any TOW above 396t you'd have to manually workaround it though, by having it "print" a runway table. That can go up to 430t and you would guesstimate your derates etc.

I was having high hopes for the ProjectFly V4 which was supposed to be a comprehensive tool with use of real world systems for flight planning (?). I just realized it's out since last June, gotta have a look at that. An earlier version V1 and V2 utilized Simbrief for the OFP generation.

So, the actual used OFP I create with Simbrief, but for route creation, manipulation and export and for schedule finding I use PFPX. And TOPCAT.

Best Regards,
Sebastian

Will

  • Join date: May 2009
  • Location: Chicago
  • Posts: 2137
Re: Simbrief vs topcat, pfpx
« Reply #9 on: Thu, 14 Jan 2021 14:39 »
Sebastian,

Thanks for that. I'm new to SimBrief, just looked at it for the first time yesterday. When you create your OFP in SimBrief, do you type in your TOPCAT takeoff performance data, like in a comments section or something? Or do you just have it written down somewhere?
Will /Chicago /USA

Sebastian

  • Join date: Nov 2016
  • Location: ZSPD
  • Posts: 20
Re: Simbrief vs topcat, pfpx
« Reply #10 on: Fri, 15 Jan 2021 01:40 »
Will,

yes, that could be done. But I actually only enter the route identifier with which it is saved in my routes folder. The TOPCAT window is open at all times on the navigation PC, so I can quickly switch over.

Best Regards,
Sebastian

Will

  • Join date: May 2009
  • Location: Chicago
  • Posts: 2137
Re: Simbrief vs topcat, pfpx
« Reply #11 on: Fri, 15 Jan 2021 02:36 »
I see. Your navigation computer is like an EFB, electronic flight bag.

Another thing, I'm not exactly sure what you meant when you said that "there's no way to set the MTOW to 412t" with TOPCAT. I've managed to get OFPs in PFPX to accept 747-400ER takeoff weights, but I confess I haven't looked to see if TOPCAT takes the increased takeoff weight into consideration. Just to be clear, you are able to set MTOW to 412t in PFPX, right? Just not in TOPCAT?
Will /Chicago /USA

Sebastian

  • Join date: Nov 2016
  • Location: ZSPD
  • Posts: 20
Re: Simbrief vs topcat, pfpx
« Reply #12 on: Sat, 16 Jan 2021 01:56 »
Yes, I use it as EFB.
The TOPCAT profiles you can choose in PFPX are all non-ER profiles. Sure, once you start the performance module on PFPX it will takeover the MTOW that you set in your PFPX aircraft profile, but if you try go any higher than 400t with those you'll receive the error message "Takeoff not authorized: BRAKES limited".