How to Enhance Your PMDG 737 NGX with WX Radar: A Step-by-Step Tutorial
How to Install and Use WX Radar for PMDG 737 NGX
If you are a fan of the PMDG 737 NGX, one of the most realistic and popular add-on aircraft for Microsoft Flight Simulator X (FSX) and Prepar3D (P3D), you might be interested in adding a weather radar feature to your cockpit. Weather radar is a useful tool that allows you to see the precipitation and storm activity around your aircraft, which can help you avoid dangerous weather conditions, plan your flight route, and enhance your situational awareness.
In this article, we will show you how to install and use WX Radar, a third-party software that adds a fully functional weather radar panel to your PMDG 737 NGX. We will also give you some tips and tricks on how to configure, interpret, and optimize WX Radar for your flight simulation experience. Let's get started!
What is WX Radar and why it is useful for PMDG 737 NGX pilots
WX Radar is a software developed by Reality XP, a company that specializes in creating realistic avionics and instruments for flight simulation. WX Radar simulates a Bendix/King RDR-4B weather radar system, which is commonly found on real-world Boeing 737 aircraft. It integrates seamlessly with the PMDG 737 NGX virtual cockpit, adding a weather radar panel below the navigation display (ND).
WX Radar provides you with real-time weather data from FSX or P3D, as well as from online sources such as Active Sky Next (ASN) or REX Weather Architect. It allows you to see the precipitation intensity, storm cells, turbulence, windshear, icing, and other weather phenomena within a range of up to 320 nautical miles around your aircraft. You can also adjust the tilt, gain, mode, range, and brightness of the weather radar display according to your preferences.
Using WX Radar can enhance your flight simulation experience in several ways. First, it can help you avoid flying into hazardous weather conditions that can damage your aircraft or endanger your passengers. Second, it can help you plan your flight route more efficiently by avoiding detours or diversions caused by bad weather. Third, it can help you improve your situational awareness by giving you a clear picture of the weather environment around you.
What are the requirements and compatibility issues for WX Radar
To use WX Radar, you need to have the following software installed on your computer:
Microsoft Flight Simulator X (FSX) or Lockheed Martin Prepar3D (P3D) v4 or v5
PMDG 737 NGX Base Package for FSX or P3D
Reality XP WX500 Gauge (included in the WX Radar package)
Active Sky Next (ASN) or REX Weather Architect (optional, but recommended)
How to download and install WX Radar for PMDG 737 NGX
To download and install WX Radar for PMDG 737 NGX, you need to follow these steps:
Go to the Reality XP website and purchase the WX Radar package for $29.95. You will receive a download link and a serial number via email.
Download the WX Radar package and run the installer. You will need to enter your serial number and select the PMDG 737 NGX as the target aircraft.
The installer will automatically copy the WX Radar files to the PMDG 737 NGX folder and modify the panel.cfg file to add the WX Radar panel.
Launch FSX or P3D and load the PMDG 737 NGX. You should see a new WX Radar panel below the ND in the virtual cockpit.
Congratulations, you have successfully installed WX Radar for PMDG 737 NGX!
How to Configure WX Radar for PMDG 737 NGX
How to access the WX Radar panel and adjust the settings
To access the WX Radar panel, you need to click on the WX button on the EFIS control panel, which is located on the glareshield above the ND. This will open a pop-up window with the WX Radar panel, which you can resize and move around as you wish. Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut Shift+5 to toggle the WX Radar panel on and off.
The WX Radar panel has several knobs and buttons that allow you to adjust the settings of the weather radar system. Here is a brief description of each one:
TILTAdjusts the vertical angle of the antenna beam. You can rotate it left or right to change the tilt value, which is displayed on the lower left corner of the WX Radar display. A positive tilt means that the antenna is pointing up, while a negative tilt means that it is pointing down. The optimal tilt value depends on your altitude, range, and weather conditions.
GAINAdjusts the sensitivity of the receiver. You can rotate it left or right to change the gain value, which is displayed on the lower right corner of the WX Radar display. A higher gain means that more echoes are detected, while a lower gain means that less echoes are detected. The optimal gain value depends on your range and weather conditions.
MODESelects the mode of operation of the weather radar system. You can press it to cycle through three modes: OFF, STBY, and ON. In OFF mode, the weather radar system is turned off and no data is displayed. In STBY mode, the weather radar system is in standby mode and no data is displayed, but it is ready to be activated. In ON mode, the weather radar system is active and data is displayed.
RANGESelects the range of the weather radar display. You can press it to cycle through six ranges: 10, 20, 40, 80, 160, and 320 nautical miles. The selected range is displayed on the upper left corner of the WX Radar display. A smaller range means that more detail is shown, while a larger range means that less detail is shown.
BRTAdjusts the brightness of the weather radar display. You can rotate it left or right to change the brightness value, which is displayed on the upper right corner of the WX Radar display. A higher brightness means that more contrast is shown, while a lower brightness means that less contrast is shown.
TESTPerforms a self-test of the weather radar system. You can press it to initiate a test sequence, which will display various patterns and symbols on the WX Radar display. The test sequence will last for about 10 seconds, after which it will return to normal operation.
How to use the different modes and functions of WX Radar
The WX Radar system has three main modes of operation: MAP, TFR, and GC. You can select each mode by pressing one of the three buttons on the lower part of the WX Radar panel. Here is a brief description of each mode:
- MAP: This mode displays a map of your surroundings with your aircraft at the center. The map shows terrain features such as mountains, lakes, rivers, coastlines, cities, airports, etc. The map also shows weather information such as precipitation intensity, storm cells, turbulence, windshear, icing - TFR: This mode displays a terrain following radar (TFR) image of your surroundings with your aircraft at the center. The TFR image shows the terrain elevation and slope in different colors, ranging from green (low and flat) to red (high and steep). The TFR image also shows weather information such as precipitation intensity, storm cells, turbulence, windshear, icing, etc. This mode can help you avoid terrain collisions and fly low-level routes safely. - GC: This mode displays a ground clutter (GC) image of your surroundings with your aircraft at the center. The GC image shows the ground reflections and interference caused by buildings, trees, vehicles, etc. The GC image also shows weather information such as precipitation intensity, storm cells, turbulence, windshear, icing, etc. This mode can help you identify ground targets and landmarks more easily. The WX Radar system also has two additional functions that can be activated by pressing the buttons on the upper part of the WX Radar panel. Here is a brief description of each function: - WX+T: This function overlays the weather information on top of the terrain or ground clutter image. This can help you see both the weather and the terrain features more clearly. - ALERT: This function activates an audible and visual alert system that warns you of potential hazards such as severe weather, terrain collision, or windshear. The alert system will sound a tone and display a message on the WX Radar display when a hazard is detected. You can press the ALERT button again to cancel the alert. How to interpret the weather data and symbols on the WX Radar display
The WX Radar display shows various weather data and symbols that can help you understand the weather conditions around your aircraft. Here is a brief explanation of each data and symbol:
- Precipitation intensity: The precipitation intensity is shown by different colors on the WX Radar display, ranging from green (light) to magenta (extreme). The precipitation intensity indicates the amount of rain, snow, hail, or sleet that is falling from the clouds. The higher the precipitation intensity, the more likely it is to cause reduced visibility, turbulence, icing, or lightning. - Storm cells: The storm cells are shown by yellow or red circles with black outlines on the WX Radar display. The storm cells indicate areas of intense convection and thunderstorm activity. The yellow circles indicate moderate storm cells, while the red circles indicate severe storm cells. The storm cells can cause heavy precipitation, strong winds, hail, lightning, or tornadoes. - Turbulence: The turbulence is shown by white dots on the WX Radar display. The turbulence indicates areas of air movement that can cause bumps or jolts to your aircraft. The more dots there are, the stronger the turbulence is. The turbulence can be caused by wind shear, thermal currents, mountain waves, or jet streams. - Windshear: The windshear is shown by white arrows on the WX Radar display. The windshear indicates areas of sudden change in wind speed or direction that can affect your aircraft's performance or stability. The arrows point in the direction of the wind change, while the length of the arrows indicates the magnitude of the wind change. The windshear can be caused by frontal systems, thunderstorms, or microbursts. - Icing: The icing is shown by blue dots on the WX Radar display. The icing indicates areas of supercooled water droplets that can freeze on your aircraft's surface and affect its aerodynamics or systems. The more dots there are, the higher the icing potential is. The icing can be caused by low temperatures, high humidity, or precipitation. - Range rings: The range rings are shown by white circles on the WX Radar display. The range rings indicate the distance from your aircraft to the edge of the WX Radar display. The range rings are spaced at 10% intervals of the selected range value. For example, if you select a range of 80 nautical miles, there will be eight range rings spaced at 8 nautical miles each. - Heading bug: The heading bug is shown by a white triangle on the top edge of the WX Radar display. The heading bug indicates your current heading direction relative to true north. You can adjust your heading bug by using the heading selector knob on your autopilot panel. How to Use WX Radar for PMDG 737 NGX in Flight
How to plan your flight route and avoid adverse weather conditions
One of the main benefits of using WX Radar for PMDG 737 NGX is that it can help you plan your flight route more efficiently and safely by avoiding adverse weather conditions. Here are some tips on how to do that:
Before you start your flight, check the weather forecast and the WX Radar display to get an overview of the weather situation along your planned route. Look for areas of high precipitation, storm cells, turbulence, windshear, or icing that might pose a threat to your flight.
If possible, adjust your flight plan to avoid flying through or near those areas. You can use the flight planner tool in FSX or P3D, or an online tool such as SimBrief or SkyVector, to create and modify your flight plan. You can also use the WX Radar display to measure the distance and direction of the weather hazards from your aircraft.
If you cannot avoid flying through or near those areas, prepare yourself for the possible challenges and risks. For example, you might need to request a different altitude, speed, or heading from the air traffic control (ATC) to avoid a storm cell or a windshear. You might also need to activate the anti-ice system, adjust the engine power, or use the autopilot to cope with the icing or turbulence.
Always monitor the WX Radar display and the ATC communications during your flight. The weather conditions can change rapidly and unexpectedly, so you need to be alert and ready to react accordingly. If you encounter any severe weather phenomena that endanger your flight, report them to the ATC and request assistance or clearance to divert to a safer location.
How to monitor the weather changes and update your flight plan accordingly
Another benefit of using WX Radar for PMDG 737 NGX is that it can help you monitor the weather changes and update your flight plan accordingly during your flight. Here are some tips on how to do that:
Keep an eye on the WX Radar display and look for any changes in the weather data and symbols. For example, you might notice that the precipitation intensity, storm cells, turbulence, windshear, or icing have increased or decreased in size, shape, color, or location. You might also notice that new weather phenomena have appeared or disappeared on the WX Radar display.
Compare the WX Radar display with other sources of weather information, such as the ATIS, METAR, TAF, or online weather services. This can help you verify the accuracy and reliability of the WX Radar data and identify any discrepancies or errors. You can also use other sources of weather information to get more details or forecasts about the weather conditions along your route.
If you notice any significant changes in the weather conditions that affect your flight plan, update your flight plan accordingly. You can use the same tools and methods as mentioned in the previous section to adjust your flight plan. You can also consult with the ATC or other pilots for advice or suggestions on how to deal with the weather changes.
If you update your flight plan, make sure to inform the ATC and other relevant parties about your changes. You can use the radio communication system in FSX or P3D, or an online network such as VATSIM or IVAO, to communicate with the ATC and other pilots. You can also use the FMC (flight management computer) in your PMDG 737 NGX cockpit to enter and execute your updated flight plan.
How to use WX Radar for situational awareness and safety
A final benefit of using WX Radar for PMDG 737 NGX is that it can help you improve your situational awareness and safety during your flight. Here are some tips on how to do that:
Use WX Radar as a complement, not a substitute, for your visual observation and judgment. While WX Radar can provide you with valuable information about the weather conditions around you, it cannot replace your own eyes and brain. You still need to look out of the window and scan the horizon for any signs of danger or opportunity.
Use WX Radar as a tool, not a distraction, for your flight management and decision making. While WX Radar can help you plan and execute your flight more efficiently and safely, it cannot make decisions for you. You still need to follow the rules and regulations of aviation, respect the authority and instructions of the ATC, and exercise your pilot-in-command responsibility.
Use WX Radar as a friend, not an enemy, for your flight simulation enjoyment and learning. While WX Radar can challenge you with realistic and dynamic weather scenarios, it cannot ruin your fun or progress. You still need to have a positive attitude and a learning mindset when using WX Radar. You can also adjust the settings and options of WX Radar to suit your preferences and skill level.
Tips and Tricks for Using WX Radar for PMDG 737 NGX
How to optimize the performance and accuracy of WX Radar
WX Radar is a complex and realistic software that requires a lot of computing power and data to run smoothly and accurately. Here are some tips on how to optimize the performance and accuracy of WX Radar:
Make sure that your computer meets the minimum system requirements for running FSX or P3D, PMDG 737 NGX, and WX Radar. You can check the system requirements on the official websites of each software.
Make sure that your internet connection is stable and fast enough to download and update the weather data from online sources such as ASN or REX Weather Architect. You can check your internet speed on online tools such as Speedtest or Fast.
Make sure that your FSX or P3D settings are optimized for the best balance between graphics quality and performance. You can use the built-in settings menu in FSX or P3D, or an external tool such as FSX Booster or P3D Tweak Assistant, to adjust your settings.
Make sure that your WX Radar settings are optimized for the best balance between weather detail and performance. You can use the Reality XP Configuration Tool, which is included in the WX Radar package, to adjust your settings. Some of the settings that affect the performance and accuracy of WX Radar are:
Data Source: This setting determines which source of weather data is used by WX Radar. You can choose between FSX/P3D, ASN, or REX Weather Architect. Each source has its own advantages and disadvantages in terms of realism, reliability, and compatibility. Generally, ASN and REX Weather Architect provide more realistic and dynamic weather data than FSX/P3D, but they also require more computing power and internet bandwidth.
Update Rate: This setting determines how often the weather data is updated by WX Radar. You can choose between 1, 2, 5, 10, or 15 seconds. A shorter update rate means that the weather data is more current and accurate, but it also requires more computing power and internet bandwidth.
Scan Rate: This setting determines how fast the antenna beam scans the weather around your aircraft. You can choose between 1, 2, 4, or 8 revolutions per minute (RPM). A faster scan rate means that the weather data is more responsive and smooth, but it also requires more computing power.
Beam Width: This setting determines how wide the antenna beam is. You can choose between 3, 5, or 10 degrees. A wider beam width means that more weather data is captured by the antenna, but it also reduces the resolution and detail of the data.
How to troubleshoot common problems and errors with WX Radar
WX Radar is a reliable and stable software that rarely causes any problems or errors. However, if you encounter any issues with WX Radar, here are some possible solutions:
If you see a message saying "WX Radar not available" on the WX Radar display, it means that the weather radar system is not powered on or connected properly. To fix this issue, you need to check the following things:
Make sure that the MODE knob on the WX Radar panel is set to ON.
Make sure that the avionics master switch on your overhead panel is turned on.
Make sure that the electrical system on your aircraft is working properly.
Make sure that you have installed the Reality XP WX500 Gauge correctly.
If you see a message saying "WX Radar not compati