Frequently Asked Questions

How much does XSquawkBox cost?

XSquawkBox does not cost any money; you do not have to pay for XSquawkBox to use it. The network for which it is intended (VATSIM) also does not require payment.

XSquawkBox does come with legal restrictions, however; please read the EULA carefully before downloading it. In particular, you may not redistribute XSquawkBox; other users who want XSquawkBox must download it from this site.

What Version of X-Plane can I use XSquawkBox with?

XSquawkBox currently works with X-Plane 10 and 11 on Windows, MacOS and Linux systems.

What networks does XSquawkBox work with?

XSquawkBox works with the VATSIM network only. While it was initially used for IVAO, that organization has developed their own client and XSquawkBox is no longer used.

How do I use voice-over-IP with XSquawkBox

You must either be using XSquawkBox 2.0 (or newer). Follow the instructions in the user manual to configure your audio devices and get your controls set up. Voice features will work automatically as you tune your radios and operate the audio panel such that you can communicate with other users using voice on the network, ATC and Pilots alike.

What ports do I have to open in my firewall to use VATSIM?

In all cases, your firewall must permit outbound connections on TCP ports 80 (http) and 6809.  For voice to work, your firewall must also permit outbound connections via TCP port 443 (https) and UDP.

No assistance can be given with how to specifically configure your router or firewall for use with SquawkBox.

Can I use XSquawkBox’s voice-over-IP capabilities with networks other than VATSIM?

No – the voice system in XSquawkBox is specific to the VATSIM network.

Can I extend XSquawkBox or make add-ons for it?

Yes. XSquawkBox supports interplugin communication. By writing your own X-Plane plugin you can communicate with XSB. If you are a programmer, please refer to the developer page.

My friends and I don’t want to fly on VATSIM, can we just fly by ourselves?

Yes and No. XSquawkBox is only designed for use with VATSIM at this time, as such, XSquawkBox cannot be used in this way.

That said, if you only want to fly with your friends, you can use X-Plane’s integrated multiplayer support for that without the need for XSquawkBox.

The Frequency’s in Who’s Online don’t match VATSpy (or other source)

There is a long standing VATSIM bug that saw ATC clients truncate frequencies to 10Khz intervals incorrectly, despite the network protocols reporting with 1Khz resolution.

Previously, we would just blindly ignore the problem because the closest frequency you could tune was the right one, but with X-Plane 11 permitting 5Khz stepping with the radio, it’s now possible to tune impossible frequencies, such as the ones reported incorrectly by ATC. (Frequencies 1xx.x20 and 1xx.x70 don’t exist, even in the 8.33Khz environment).

Also compounding the issue is that AFV expects us to use the correct frequency (ie: 1xx.x25 instead of 1xx.x20).

In the stable release of XSB 2.0, we now have an option that enables the correction of these frequencies on the fly when reported by the network to us.

In either case, with X-Plane 11, please don’t tune .x20 or .x70 if it will let you – they will behave unexpectedly.

I don’t like the aircraft lights – Can’t you fix them?

The aircraft lights are a holdover from the “legacy CSL” support and are unlikely to be “fixed”.   CSLs developed using “new-style” models (which use the X-Plane’s standard OBJ8 format) do not use these old lights and generally look a lot better.

Further to this, “legacy CSL” models are now deprecated, and support will be removed in XSB 3.0.

Why don’t I see the right airplanes out the window.

This generally comes down to one of a few specific issues.

  • Your installed CSL set has to have a suitable model with livery installed.
  • If there is no direct match available, you need to have a good “related” model set defined.
  • The other aircraft has not set their type code correctly.

The absence of useful models to match with can be dealt with by installing third party CSL libraries. No support can be offered for these however.

With regards to the related models table, as it’s not practical for CSL model sets to cover every imaginable model of aircraft out there (there’s simply too many of them!), it relies on “related” type matching, where an aircraft is matched based upon other, similar, models. As there’s no standard way to say what a “related” model is, XSquawkBox ships with it’s own table which groups similar looking aircraft together, and that will be used to find an acceptable match when a perfect match cannot be found. You can read the related.txt file in your resources directory (it’s an ordinary text file) to see how to configure it. If you feel that you can propose a change to the standard related mappings that will improve the simulator’s behaviour, feel free to let the developer(s) know via the VATSIM XSquawkBox support forum.

As for pilot setting invalid (or incorrect) type codes – that one is out of our hands. We currently do not have a way to override somebody’s reported type.

Some aircraft appear to float above the ground.

This is a combination of other users using obsolete pilot clients and differing terrain elevation data between X-Plane and FSX/P3D.

The terrain elevation data differences arise from the relative age of the simulator data – X-Plane uses fairly recent, very high quality terrain elevation data, whereas the FSX data is quite old and low resolution.  

Where possible, XSB 2.0 will use ACCONFIG information to correct the displayed altitude of aircraft reported by other ACCONFIG capable clients. If an old client is still in use, such as FSInn, ACCONFIG information will not be available and there may be some uncorrectable elevation error present, resulting in aircraft hovering above the ground.

VATSIM weather is not up-to-date/not conducive to flying? Can I use another weather source?

Yes.  If you set the weather update interval in XSquawkBox’s settings to 0 first, XSquawkBox will stop trying to control the simulator’s weather.  From there, you can use the real-weather support, or a third party weather plugin.

These days we highly encourage users to use a source that supports proper interpolation of weather between locations, such as the real world weather source (integrated into X-Plane), or an external plugin such as the NOAA plugin or ActiveSky. No support can be given for alternate weather sources.

Is XSquawkBox open source?

The client as a whole is not, and due to the large number of past authors involved whom we have no real means to contact, we’re not capable of changing the license as a whole, but parts of it (mostly bits written in the past 2-3 years that are sufficiently standalone) are.

In particular, the voice-over-IP code for XSquawkBox 2.0 and newer (AFV-Native) was released under the BSD license.  Similarly, libxplanemp, which handles the rendering of CSLs, is available under a BSD-like license.  There’s also some miscellaneous source code from XSquawkBox which is available under an open source license.

Previously, the old VATSIM Voice Library (VVL) audio driver and socket code was made available publicly, but this code is not recommended for use in any new software development. We advise if you require audio code to consider rtaudio or portaudio. If you require a socket abstraction, consider using libevent, libuv or Boost.Asio.

XSquawkBox also uses a large range of open source libraries directly:

  • libevent
  • libpng
  • json.hpp
  • zlib
  • OpenAL Soft (on Windows only)

and via AFV-Native:

  • portaudio
  • libopus
  • OpenSSL
  • libcurl
  • msgpack-c