Lightman Posted July 14, 2022 Report Share Posted July 14, 2022 Aircraft Review - AMD Alarus CH2000 by SimSolutions Introduction The AMD Alarus CH2000 is not an aircraft I had heard of up until SimSolutions released their model for X-Plane 11, so I was delighted to be given the opportunity to try it out. The aircraft itself is a single engine general aviation aircraft, with two seats, fixed tricycle landing gear, and was designed by the Aircraft Manufacturing and Design Co based in Georgia USA. It was in production from 1995 to 2011 and came in two variants. The civilian one being reviewed here, and interestingly, a military option, complete with state-of-the-art communications systems and an infrared multi sensor. For the civilian market, the aircraft was designed primarily as a low wing trainer, so if you are looking for an alternative to the more common trainers available today, this is well worth a look. The X-Plane 11 version of the CH2000 retails for $23.95 and is available via the X-Plane.org Store. It can be used on Windows, Mac and Linux, although as I am a Windows only user I can’t vouch for its performance in the other platforms. It is extremely easy to install, just download the 332MB zip file, unzip and drag into your Aircraft folder, and that’s it. No activation codes, no fuss, no hassle. In the download you will find a small pdf manual that accompanies the CH2000, and in here you will find all sorts of interesting information about the aircraft and some of the key features. There are brief descriptions of the navigation systems, such as the Garmin GNS430, the Bendix KR87ADF and the Garmin GTX327 Transponder. The very straightforward engine start procedure is also outlined, as well as other instruments and controls, such as the clock and the outside air temperature gauge, and there is also information on how to adjust the flaps using the switch in the center panel. In my opinion, it is well worth taking some time to read through the manual if you do decide to purchase the aircraft, as there are a few novel characteristics about this aircraft that may not be that obvious at first glance. One rather unusual feature is the lack of a parking brake in real life, so the developer has included animated and removable chocks and tie downs. The chocks can be easily removed by clicking on each of them manually, or by assigning a button to park brake which removes them all in one go. For the tie downs in Vulkan you still need to click on them individually or assign keyboard keys (External, Show/Hide ground object 1, 2, 3….) to do this. There is a slight difference here if you run in OpenGL compared to Vulkan, as when in OpenGL, both the chocks and tie downs are removed together when the park brake button is assigned. I believe the developer is aware of this as this is mentioned in the forum support page SimSolutions - X-Plane.Org Forum. I observed several recent posts responding to comments and observations since the aircraft was released in May 2022, and I also had cause to contact him directly as I found that the toe brakes were not functioning in the version 1.01. The tow brake issue has now been fixed I see as of version 1.03. It was nice to see a responsive payware developer actively working to improve their product. The CH2000 comes with six liveries, including the default white texture, and a mixture of USA (3), Canada (1) and the Dominican Republic (1), and I am sure having a white blank texture will allow any avid painters to use their creative juices to dream up all sorts of designs. Thoughts and Observations on the Ground My initial impressions were of a well-proportioned and well modeled sim aircraft. As it is a trainer, there is not a huge amount of detail to be seen if I am being entirely honest, however, what is there is well presented in my opinion. From the rivets on the aircraft skin, to the door handles on the gullwing cabin doors, to the landing gear, landing lights and through to the prop and radio antennae, they are all very crisp and clean in their textures. The same goes for the decals on the aircraft fuselage and wings. Both cockpit doors open by clicking on the door handles from the outside, or by assigning to a controller, and in my case, I used a couple of the switches on my Saitek TPM (this worked a treat). The aircraft surfaces have a nice but subtle shine to them, and the pilot is very well modelled and realistic. So overall, once I had the chance to view the CH2000 from the outside, I was quite taken with it. One thing to note is that if you are using your mouse to remove the tie downs, you do have to be very specific and click on the fastening on the aircraft, otherwise nothing happens. Once I moved inside, the cabin is very small as in real life I assume. However, it appears well-proportioned from what I observed from photos on the internet. The good news is that the instruments are large and easy to read, with the standard six panel dead ahead, as well as the RPM indicator and air suction gauge. The control yoke I really liked, as its design is a little different to that in other trainers I have used, and as with most aircraft, it can easily be removed if you would like an unobstructed view of the instrument panel. If you do decide to remove it, it is worth noting that this will remove the AVI Tab which nestles neatly on the control yoke. When you look around the cabin you will come across the navigation equipment to your right as well as the clock which shows sim time, and several gauges providing info on fuel, oil temp and pressure, battery amps and volts. There are two switches on the clock that allow you to change the sim time forward or back if you so choose. That can be handy and being able to do this from inside the aircraft rather than the sim menu is a nice touch. The gauges are all nicely textured and I found them easy to read. Moving down to the center console you will come across the flap switch, just a simple up down switch, and the trim wheel. Nothing fancy, but they both do what they need to. From there, if you firstly look to the floor, you will find the fuel selector switch. If you then look up, you will find the outside air temperature gauge above your head and the whiskey compass at the top middle of the windscreen. Located above and behind the cabin seats are two adjustable red night lights that will illuminate the cabin once dark, and the angle of these can be adjusted, which I thought was a nice touch. There is also a plethora of switches along the bottom of the instrument panel, and all are functional, although I had mixed success with my Saitek panels. It appears that a script will be required to get everything to align and sync, as although the Saitek switches did switch on an off the various external features like lights, the switches in the cabin did not all move. What was nice is for those with a Honeycomb Bravo throttle unit; the action of the flaps switch works very nicely with animation in the aircraft. The remainder of the cabin textures are well done, have the feel of a well-used aircraft with many hours of use. As far as the sounds were concerned, I would say there were just about OK, but not the best I have heard to be honest. The subtle click of the cabin switches was nice; however, it would have been nice to have sound associated with the cabin doors opening and closing. The engine start-up was abrupt and a bit on/off in my opinion, and from inside the cabin, there was no noticeable difference in engine volume when the doors were opened and closed. The volume did go up considerably when you moved outside the aircraft, however there was the same repeating noise within the engine sound, and this was most noticeable when the engine is at idle. I did like the actual engine sound and how it changed with changes in the throttle, however I just felt the overall sound package could do with a bit of improvement to bring it up to the quality of the rest of the aircraft. Thoughts and Observations in the Air With the engine running, I found the CH2000 very easy to taxi when using my Thrustmaster pedals, the toe brakes worked just fine, and I was able to move around the airfield with no issues (all very smooth). Getting airborne was very easy, in fact the CH2000 pretty much lifted off without much input from me, as all I had to do was keep it straight as I sped down the runway. Again though, the repeating engine tone when inside the cabin was a bit off-putting, and I feel this would really stop me from taking any kind of longer flight. From the outside it was less noticeable, however as I do spend most of my time in the cockpit, this was a little bit of a concern. In contrast, flying the CH2000 I found very enjoyable, and the aircraft responded well to my controls. Turns and level changes were smooth, and I particularly enjoyed the largely unobstructed view from the cabin. The wide curved windows provide a great way to do some VFR flying as you do get a good all-round view from either seat. If on the other hand IFR is more your thing, then the suite of navigation instruments can help you there. I liked the multiple functions built into the Garmin GTX327 Transponder, as in addition to just setting your transponder code, there are up and down count timers, as well as pressure altitude display and a Zulu time indicator. It is probably a good time to mention that although there is no mention of being VR ready in the supporting documents, I now pretty much fly all the time in VR with my Oculus Rift S, and I really enjoyed my time in the CH2000. With the relatively large windows to the right and left, as well as the curved windscreen, you get an all-round view from the pilot’s seat. The dials were all very easy to read, and I had a real sense of being onboard, and just how small the cabin is in an aircraft like this. You don’t get this feeling in 2 dimensions. The exterior also comes into its own in VR as you can get up close and check out all the details. At first glance, the CH2000 is understated, however once you dig a bit deeper there is a lot more to meet the eye. In VR I was able to manipulate all the various switches that I tried, and it worked well with my hardware, which consists of a Honeycomb Alpha yoke, a Saitek TPM and as I mentioned earlier my Thrustmaster pendulum pedals. I have been doing a bit of rationalization and simplification of my hardware now that I have moved to VR, and I am thoroughly enjoying the overall experience. It does take a while to get used to it, and long flights of more than an hour are still a bit of a challenge, however for aircraft like the CH2000 and short hops around the countryside, it really adds a whole new dimension to my flight sim experience. The feeling of the ground falling away below you as you head down the runway is something that I never get tired of. Overall The CH2000 from SimSolutions is just a little bit different to the multitude of trainers I have tried over the years and in my opinion is worth considering if you do want to try a different trainer experience. It is well built, looks and flies great and has several nice touches and features. If I am honest though, the only thing that detracts a little is the soundset, and in my opinion could do with a little further improvement just to add a cherry to a very fine cake. The team from SimSolutions have indeed done a pretty good job of bringing the CH2000 to life in X-Plane 11 and they already have a solid model there, and with the developer continuously upgrading and improving the aircraft, all bodes well for the future. Is it worth buying? As always this is a personal choice, and with so many fine aircraft available these days it is not easy to decide where to put your hard-earned cash, however if you are wanting to try out a trainer that is a little different to the many Cessnas and Pipers out there, then hopefully this review has been helpful. _______________________________ The AMD Alarus CH2000 by SimSolutions is available from the X-Plane.Org Store here: AMD Alarus CH2000 Price is US$23.95 Requirements X-Plane 11 Free Updates to X-Plane 12 (when available) Windows, Mac and Linux 4 GB+ VRAM minimum Download Size: 335 MB Current version: 1.0.3 (July 10th 2022) Review by Stuart McGregor 14th July 2022 Copyright©2022: X-Plane Reviews Review System Specifications: Windows 11, a Phanteks Evolve X ATX Case, ASUS Z390 ROG Maximus XI Formula Motherboard, Intel i9 9900K 3.6Ghz CPU, RTX2080Ti 11GB GPU, 64GB DDR4 Kingston RAM, 1TB Samsung SSD, 2TB WD HHD, Thermal Take Ring RGB 360 TT Cooler, Honeycomb Alpha Yoke, Thrustmaster Pendulum Pedals, SAITEK TPM and an Oculus Rift S. 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