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First few laps with a TX in Iracing impressions

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Preface:

 

Last week, I saw a TX used on ebay with a best offer option.  I made what I felt to be a lowball offer and to my surprise I won the item.  I had been holding out for a CSW2 or a custom servo wheel, but I've heard many good things about this wheel and was so inexpensive that I'm sure (as long as it doesn't fail) I can get my money back out of it should I decide it's not for me.  It arrived yesterday and I got around to mounting it up and giving it a whirl this evening.

 

A little about my rig;

 

My rig (prior to the Tx) consisted of a G25 I've had for 6 or 7 years which still works great.  I only use the wheel base so to speak and I have it fitted with a Grant 613-4 http://www.jegs.com/i/Grant/470/613-4/10002/-1, which is a pretty good facsimile of an OMP 10.5" formula car wheel.  The wheel has a custom button plate I laser cut with an SLI-M and 6 buttons (I will try to post a pic later).  For a cockpit, I have an Obutto O-zone cockpit with triple monitors, the acrylic table top and the articulating keyboard stand.  This is actually relevant to my experience with the wheel, so I apologize if the level of detail seems like minutia.  I also dispensed with the G25 pedals in favor of a set of CSR elite pedals.  I have the pedals mounted to a custom pedal plate I machined some time back.  I use headphones and I have 1 buttkicker gamer for haptic feedback.

 

Impressions of the wheel:

 

I can only really talk about the wheel base, I never took  the pedals out of the box and I never connected the "458 Italia" wheel.  I have to say just pushing on the brake with my hand with the pedals in the box, I felt that they were pretty crummy.  I feel that the stock G25 pedals are much nicer, but in fairness, I haven't used those in a long time either and I had a sort of diy Nixim mod in mine that made the feel of the brake much better.  The Ferrari wheel seemed of very poor quality IMO.  I have a real aversion to the toy like aspect of some sim gear and this really seemed toy like.  The diameter was too large to be formula car sized and too small to be GT car sized.  It had a very injection molded, plastic toy feel and the rubber on the rim was not a nice feeling material.  I have to say, while I ultimately replaced it, the stock G25 wheel rim is MUCH nicer.

 

The quality of the 458 rim and the pedals were ultimately a non-issue for me.  As soon as I purchased the wheel, I ordered a 70mm BCD wheel adapter from DSD.  I have had very good experiences with DSD in the past and this was no exception.  I knew this part was SLA and I was expecting the typical low quality rapid prototype parts that I'm used to seeing.  This piece was surprisingly nice and it threaded shockingly well in to the wheel base.  Very nicely done Derek!  My only criticism is that I don't necessarily trust the material to really hold the threads securely.  I used M4 screws to mount the wheel and the wheel plate and just let them self tap.  I think a better way to do this would be to epoxy a threaded insert in or at least run a tap down the hole.  For the price, I wouldn't expect it to come with the aforementioned improvements but I may take it upon myself to put in some inserts down the road.

 

With the new hub fitted, I found that my wheel plate didn't quite fit with the DSD wheel adapter.  I quickly redesigned it and blasted out a new one on the laser at work.  I decided to re-do the wiring and move the SLI-M up a little and get some buttons a little farther away from my thumbs, but that's another story.  A few hours later I had the wheel all mounted up and ready to go and it was time to install on my rig.  This is where things got a little unpleasant.

 

I don't want to sound like a broken record, but the housing and hard mounting points on the G25 seemed, well, better thought out.  There were 3 hard mounting points and the desk mount clamps could be utilized in addition to the hard mounting points very unobtrusively.  All minor, but it conspired with some other issues to give me a new project for tomorrow:  

 

The support tubes for the Obutto wheel platform are positioned in such a way that if you put the lip of the wheel so that it touches the lip of the metal mounting plate, the mounting holes intersect the support tubes preventing you from through bolting.  This isn't a fault of the wheel, but I'm just accounting my personal experience in the hopes that it may be useful to others.  To solve this issue, I remounted the acrylic Obutto table top 7/8" farther forward on the wheel platform.  I drilled some new holes and was able to bolt the wheel down.  The net effect of this was that the wheel now has significantly more leverage over the wheel mounting platform.  If you push / pull on the wheel in an up and down motion, the whole platform flexes and moves significantly.  The G25 always felt rock solid on the Obutto, this does not.  It's serviceable, but tomorrow I'm going to through bolt the back of the acrylic shelf to the metal platform in the hopes of stiffening things up.  I think a third mounting point near the back would help somewhat, but the issue is largely just an unfortunate incompatibility between an older cockpit and a new wheel.

 

Driving with the TX:
 

After installing the drivers, updating the firmware and setting the gain settings to Darin's recommendations, I took it for a quick sping.  I've only done a dozen or so laps in the SRF at the Glen (cut) with the wheel.  In spite of some of the short comings I mentioned above, this thing is impressive under power.  I set the force setting in Iracing to 35, which is way higher than I ran my G25.  I was shocked at how much energy it took to move the wheel.  It felt pretty darn near 1:1 with my real race car.  I actually turned it down as it was too violent for my liking.  I ended up at 10 which felt much firmer than the G25 at the same strength.  It is really fast, it feels very precise and agile.  Despite having a lot of force, it is very quick to react which makes it feel very direct.  It felt more in sync with the haptic feedback through the butt kicker / simvibe setup when compared to the G25.  It is also very smooth, it doesn't have any sort of grittiness that you get through the geared drive line of the G25.  In spite of all these positives, I'm not sure if I like it better, at least not at this point.  I am going to give it a long try because I think I just need to get used to it.  Right now, the G25 feels more nuanced, but that may just be me being able to read its feedback better than the TX.  I suspect I just need time for my brain to catch up and make meaning out the new different sensations provided by the TX.  All and all, very impressive and technically clearly a big step forward from the G25.  I think with some time I'll prefer it.

 

Final thoughts:

 

I think for the price, even at a full retail price, this is a good buy if you are looking for a wheel only.  A good friend of mine has a T500, out of the box, it is way nicer.  The stock GT rim is much nicer than the 458 wheel and the pedals are a good sight better as well.  Still, he ended up dispatching with the stock wheel in favor of the F1 wheel on his T500 and kept his load cell modified G25 pedals in favor of the T500 pedals.  I would be inclined to do  the same in his position.  In my case, the pedals and stock wheel didn't matter as I wouldn't use them anyways and what I ended up with was a more economical path to Thrustmasters best wheel base.  With a half way decent set of pedals, a good shifter and a real steering wheel rim, the TX punches way above it's relatively modest price point.  The pedals and Ferrari 458 rim will be on ebay tomorrow, along with many others likely from owners like me who just wanted a good brushless wheel base.   

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Tell your friend to try skateboard bushings ala basermod on his T500RS pedals. I preferr mine over the clubsport V2 for various reason.

 

Did your G25 wheel fit on your DSD adapter without modification to the rim?. Is it as light as the F458 Italia? I get better force feedback with that rim then my real rims tbh because it weight less.

110 % toy look and feel when not attached to the base but it may feel better when racing when you don´t have time to look at your gear. 

 

Just try everything thoroughly before selling there is no hurry :)

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Tell your friend to try skateboard bushings ala basermod on his T500RS pedals. I preferr mine over the clubsport V2 for various reason.

 

Did your G25 wheel fit on your DSD adapter without modification to the rim?. Is it as light as the F458 Italia? I get better force feedback with that rim then my real rims tbh because it weight less.

110 % toy look and feel when not attached to the base but it may feel better when racing when you don´t have time to look at your gear. 

 

Just try everything thoroughly before selling there is no hurry :)

 

I'm not planning on selling the base, just the 458 rim and the pedals.  I really like the CSR Elite pedals I have a lot and I think other than adding a hydraulic shock, the only thing I would upgrade to are a set built from the Wilwood MCs.  To answer your other question, I had the chilicoke billet adapter on my G25 which was a little crudely machined but worked very well.  The Grant knockoff of the OMP wheel including the  buttons and plate is actually lighter than the stock ferrari rim or the g25 rim.  I'm pretty married to using the rim because it's the same as what I use in real life and it makes it easier to transition in to the real car.  

 

As I'm writing you, my arms are actually tired from wrestling the stronger FFB.  Guess I need to go to the gym!  I think the base is a winner, I just wanted to make it clear in my review that if I were expecting a quality pedal set and a quality rim, I would be disappointed.  I wasn't so I'm not.  One thing I'm not liking is the hard mounting setup, the more I think about it, the more I feel there are shortcomings there.  I may supplement with the clamp and see if it makes any difference.  I also feel the wheel is a touch too vertical.  I could fix that with some shims, but I don't want to introduce anymore flex.  I'm on my way to the Home Depot to buy supplies to through bolt the acrylic top at the back of the wheel platform to see if that improves things.

 

My final thoughts are that if at full strength the wheel is too powerful to me, what if anything am I missing from a direct drive AC servo motor.  Long before the Open Sim Wheel project, I had thought about going this route as I have some extra drives and servo motors out of our CNC machines at work.  The programming aspects exceeded my knowledge level significantly, so I never pursued it.  I suppose there are benefits they could have beyond the raw strength of the feedback, but I'm curious to know if the other improvements are very noticeable.  Perhaps another user of both could chime in.  I plan on generally using the TX between 10-15 strength in I racing and maybe bump it up to 25 to get ready for real car races (SCCA, nothing fancy).  Thus the monster strength of an accuforce or DIY servo wheel may be lost on me.  

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So related to my first post, after less than an hour of use today, the M4 screws pulled right out of the DSD hub. I may just go up a screw size, but I'm a little frustrated!

EDIT: I contacted Derek and he kindly informed me that there were included 10-32 screws that I completely overlooked. I'll swap them tomorrowNd hopefully that will resolve the issue.

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Yes you are planning to sell the Italia rim but have you actually tried racing with it? I was just suggesting you try and play with everything it´s fun afterall and then decide. I think the Itaila rim is a hard sell also because people are put off by the plastic look and paperweight feel in the hands :)

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Just a quick update.  Despite using the recommended screws with the DSD adapter, i had a repeat of my stripping out issue.  It is possible that threading them initially with the 4mm screws took some bite out of the sla plastic, but honestly I feel that relying on a 10-32 screw self tapping in to this very sort of dusty plastic is less than ideal.  I ended up machining away material on the back side of the hub flange so that I could through bolt the rim on which works quite nicely.  Regardless, I feel a little disappointed in the product.

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Bad luck. Did you use bolts supplied with the rim and not the DSD screws? I am not 100 % sure but I believe I just used those for the start then drilled the rest with the bolts I wanted to use.

 

I think it would been better to use allen bolts so you can tighten them more. I find this really vital I had to use elongated allen keys to get my rims to fit as tight as possible. Make a clear difference in ffb as even when I couldn´t nudge the wheel by hand I got much tighter vibrations when I really hang on my allen keys and tightened until I almost broke it :)

 

I have got three adapters. one was drilled wrong so it wouldn´t center but got that replaced without much hassle thankfully. Have not had the issues with the bolts on any of them though.

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Bad luck. Did you use bolts supplied with the rim and not the DSD screws? I am not 100 % sure but I believe I just used those for the start then drilled the rest with the bolts I wanted to use.

 

I think it would been better to use allen bolts so you can tighten them more. I find this really vital I had to use elongated allen keys to get my rims to fit as tight as possible. Make a clear difference in ffb as even when I couldn´t nudge the wheel by hand I got much tighter vibrations when I really hang on my allen keys and tightened until I almost broke it :)

 

I have got three adapters. one was drilled wrong so it wouldn´t center but got that replaced without much hassle thankfully. Have not had the issues with the bolts on any of them though.

 

 

I used 10-32's with allen heads.  They just didn't bite well enough in to the plastic.  Again, I previously had threaded through 4mm screws, so that could be a factor.  I just kissed the back of each screw hole with a 1/2" end mill and machined away about 3/8" of material so I could stick nuts and lock washers to secure the wheel.  I already modeled most of this thing in solidworks to design an updated button plate around, I'm considering finishing it and sending one out for SLA that has hex shape cavities for captured nuts, I think that would be ideal.  What I have now does work.  I do need to figure out what I'm going to do for paddle shifters though, I'm using a stick now as I'm currently racing the SRF in Iracing.  At some point, I'd like to make a real go at the Star Mazda and paddles would be nice for that.

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My DSD Adapter pretty much is stripped out too, but more from having installed and uninstalled wheels on it a hundred times. I just slide a small zip tie into the holes before I drive in the mounting screws and trim off whats left and it holds tight. I also have had an issue where the plastic on the front edge was a little brittle and I lost about an inch of it, but it didn't change how it worked so I just let it slide.

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