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My 'dark chest of wonders' [DIY SimRig]

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On occasion of the 'Tamiya Simrig of the Week Contest' I thougt it is time to share my simrig with you. Like Shaun and Darin demanded, you'll get my whole story ;) . Feel free to skip to the building phase and enjoy the pictures. Have fun...

Prologe:
My name is Timo Reichensperger and I was born in 1984. I'm from Heidelberg, Germany and I've been interested in racegames since I got my first pc in 1995 (486er with Lotus Turbo Challenge 1.0). I progressed to a P3 machine later, so for a long time Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2 was the choice. Having played only arcade titles so far, my first laps of Gran Turismo 1 were a big step up. I tended more and more to console gaming, so after a while Gran Turismo 4 was my favorite game. Now I mostly play Forza 4, Dirt 2 and Dirt 3 Grid Autosports and WRC4. Maybe I'll switch back to pc-gaming in the future and evolve to some more serious racing. But for now I'm happy with my "wannabesimulations" on PS3 and XBox360.

 

My first contact with insidesimracing:
With the release of Gran Turismo 5 I decided to take my racing experience to a higher level. I afforded a Driving Force GT and was happy for a few weeks. I got the opportunity to test a g25 mounted on a Playseat Evo in Gt5... I was somewhat disappointed because of the flex and wobble of the Playseat, and also I was astonished that the force feedback of the G25 and of my Driving Force GT felt almost identical (It seems that its the gear drive that irritates me). I thought there must be something out there that fits my personal taste better. So it was time to search the web for other racing rigs and to have a look at Logitechs competitors. This is when i first came to isrtv.com... As you can imagine, I found every info I could have asked for...

Planing-Phase:
At this point I was sure that I needed a rig soon. I sadly have very limited space (one room appartment) and have to use my "living room" to race in front of my 50 inch tv. Most of the cool and sturdy rigs out there seemed to be no option for me because of different reasons. I needed a rig with a small footprint and I wanted to be able to hide away the gear a bit. After some sleepless nights and a few days of research it all came down to a simplifyed version of Racestar's ConvertTable. To keep the rig as small as possible, I first needed to know the dimensions of my upcomming hardware. The best way to get the needed info was to simply buy the gear and measure it myself. So I bought a set of bucket seats from fk-automotive (110 euros for the pair), a Fanatec GT2 and Clubsport pedals (there was no other choice as I wanted to race on xbox360 and ps3)...
After the stuff arrived and the outer dimensions were measured, it was time to make some sketches. I determined the distances between the seat, wheel and pedals in my car and used them as example for the seating position in my upcoming rig. Based on the sketches I bought some plates of 16mm and 22mm MDF-Board, some square aluminium tubing, aluminum flat material, screws, two sheets of acrylic glass, glue and some hinges. I spent about 700 euros at this point, inclusively the new Fanatec Hardware (and one spare seat).

Building-Phase:
In the basement of my parents house I could use a workbench and start the building phase. Armed with hacksaw, circular saw, sanding paper, files and a power drill I started the MDF-massacre. It took me about a week to come from rectangular MDF-Board to the side-plates you see below.

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I crafted the GT5 logo in both of the sides because I found the plain MDF to look to boring (Next time i'll go for stickers :roll: ). After that I worked on the mounting plate for the seat and on the ground plate of the rig.

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The first assembly put a smile on my face and it was clear that the work wasn't completely in vain.

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The mounting plate of the wheel was the next obstacle to take. First i took the aluminium tubing, put some holes in it, used some aluminium angle i had laying around and riveted it all together. On top of that rack i fitted a mdf-board with the wheel on it.

Through the holes in the tubing it later was possible to change the height of the wheel. The holes could also be used to brace the rack between the aluminium plates on the side-plates of the rig (i put some threads in them). I used the seat rail of the spare seat for my pedal plate, so they are adjustable also...

Cosmetics:
The rough rig was finished after about 3 weeks of work and it was time for some makeover. First I tried to paint the whole carcass in matte black. But I completely messed it up, painting is not my thing. So I had to go another way and decided to wrap the body with glossy black foil.
It was an annoying work, but i think the result looks pretty cool. Next step was to put some carpet in. I planned to use real car carpet but I was short on budget. Using black bedspread seemed to be a cheap and adequate substitute. I cut the fabric in fitting pieces and used spray glue to stick it all together.

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Upgrades:

Shaker:
After reading a bit about tactile conductors aka buttkicker, I wanted to improve my gaming experience with something similar. The buttkicker seemed to be unavailable at a reasonable price, so again it was time for some diy. I purchased a cheap and a mid-priced car hifi bass shaker and did a little modification on them.
I added a metal plate I got from the junkyard to inrease the moving weight (approximately 150gr extra). This lowers the frequencies a bit and adds more punch...

rimg0194.jpg

I also bought a cheap stereo amp to run the shakers and y-connected the unit to the lfe-signal of my 5.1 receiver. The mid-priced Shaker was mounted under the seat plate in my racing rig, the other shaker went under one of my sofas. For the late night gaming I can turn my normal subwoofer down and run with low volume tactiles and headphones...

rimg0220.jpg

I spent about 80 euros for the tactile setup. I never want to miss the shaker under my rig again and I only recommend you to invest that money, too...

New Wheel-Deck:
My adjustable wheeldeck was sturdy but still had some minor wobble and flex. I found that to be annoying, so I designed a new one. I never had used the adjustability in height on my old wheeldeck, so I discarded that feature and built the new one as a fixed MDF-frame. Now the wheel-deck is rock solid, no flex, no wobble. Sadly I now notice the flexibility inside of my fanatec wheel.

rimg0192n.jpg

Here I've climbed onto the wheel deck to test its stability (90 kilograms live weight). It seems as if this rig will survive world war III... :lol:
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Of course the frame is still foldable to pack the whole rig together. Another 20 euros went in the new wheel deck...

Adjusting the pedal angle:
I like my Clubsport Pedals a lot although the pedal angle was not optimal for me. So I did a little upgrade and tilted the whole pedal set about 8 degrees. To accomplish this I simply made some wedges out of a piece of wood.

rimg0191.jpg

Of course they were painted black to fit the overall look. It was a cheap and easy solution but the effect is huge. No more pain in the arch...

Modding my brake-pedal:
With the better angle of the pedal set did another minor upgrade. I shortened the throw of the brake pedal a bit and increased the resistance. I think it’s a common mod, so i won't go into detail here. I only want to tell you, instead of the official tuning kit you could easily use a piece of 12mm diameter steel or aluminum rod...

Shifter:
One of my sisters is also keen on simdriving, and she wanted me to design her some sort of race-stand. She also went for a 911GT2 with csr-pedals and she insisted on a shifter set. I didn't want to lag behind, so i also "needed" a shifter. I wanted a sturdy sequential shifter and so I borrowed the idea to use original car equipment. This is what I came up with. Looks nice and works flawless.

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For more info on the sequential shifter check out this topic: http://isrtv.com/forums/topic/5947-diy-sequential-shifter-project-picture-heavy-with-sort-of-tutorial/?p=48358

Handbrake:
I tested Richard Burns Rally and found out that I should get a handbrake to completely enjoy this game. So again I went for original car parts. I got a NEW BMW handbrake leaver for 6 euros at eBay that has a simple but working integrated switch.
I heard about the option to use analog handbrakes with my clubsport pedals, so I had to disassemble them and check it out. I bought a rotary potentiometer and hooked it up with the spare port on my csp's. After some hours of testing I found the right connection and got the potentiometer to work as the handbrake axis. (I'm a newbee when it comes to wiring and electronics). I prepared the cables on the clubsports and went for the preparations on my Wheel. I opened up my GT2 and hardwired a female ps2 cable to my B-button. Now I can connect the handbrake unit to the ps2 cable on my wheel for digital functionality and to another ps2 plug on my clubsports for analog functionality, depending on the game...

handbraketeaser.jpg

 

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Costs for the handbrake inclusively electrics, wood and foil ended up around 50 euros...

To get more info on the built, check out my handbrake topic: http://isrtv.com/forums/topic/6037-diy-handbrake-project-picture-heavy-with-sort-of-tutorial/...

 

Shifter and handbrake afer marriage:

I built a joint baseplate for the shifter and handbrake so that they won't move around during use. You find all infos on that in the seperate shifter and handbrake topics...

 

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Yet to come:

 

- As soon as I switch over to PC-Racing I'll want some kind of button box. I have an old USB gamepad laying around and there is much of space on/in the Shifter unit. Coincidence? ;)

- I'll need some kind of keyboard and mouse holder for the PC racing, too. I already have something in mind but space is an issue

- Cable manangement is another open wound I have to treat sometime...
I surly get other ideas in the future, so I consider the whole rig as still WIP...

Conclusion:
This is how my rig looks at the moment.

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It takes me, without a hurry, 76 seconds to make my rig ready to race (my girlfriend took the time). This includes: putting away the clothes that are usually laying on the lid of my "dark chest of wonders" :lol: , putting it into position in front of my tv, opening it up, folding out the seat, folding up the wheel-deck, screwing in the two bolts, connecting the plug, calibrating the wheel and sit down in it... No pit stop best time, but acceptable I think ;) The new shifter and e-brake unit add another 30 seconds to the pit stop time, but I use it rather seldom...

I hope you had some fun reading my story and maybe my rig inspires you for your own projects. I had tons of fun building it although there were some moments when I nearly went amok and wanted to refurbish the whole thing with a sledgehammer :lol: . I'm quite proud on my work I have to admit, especially because I only used "household tools" to complete it. Driving in this rig is a lot of fun, it is nice looking, comfortable and sturdy as a tank. With a cost of about 1000 euro (including all electronics) the whole project wasn't even that expensive. I'll update this topic occasionally to keep you informed my future builds and investments... ;)
 

UPDATE: I re-created my racing rig with the CAD-software Autodesk Inventor (students version) and I want to share the files with you. Here's the link: http://www.mediafire.com/download/krwxvewxjy4d4xd/DCOW.rar

There you can find a rar.container with a step-file of the whole assembly. Additionally, I have gathered all the parts and sub-assemblies in Autodesk .iam and .ipt file format in there.

 

Also I've created a complete set of Drawings. Here they are:

 

http://www.mediafire.com/view/7r9h4vh7wdbudnr/DCOW_Template.pdf

 

Also I've created a new topic for the plans, feel free to leave me some comments there:

 

http://isrtv.com/forums/topic/12029-dcow-racing-rig-plans-derkaffeemann%C2%B4s-converttable-style-chassis/?p=115820

 

Feel free to use and modify the files under one condition: The data in there is my intellectual property, so you aren't allowed to use it commercially.

It would be very kind if you share your results with the community. In case you feel obliged to give a little donation to me, just send me an e-mail or PM...

 

I'm looking forward to your comments...

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That is so wonderfully cool. Really neat job. Love the BMW based sequential shifter, which looks rock solid.

How long does it take to set up and pack away?

Looking forward to reading about your DIY handbrake in future too.

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wow !

really really nice job. Looks even better than this convertible table with the 5000 € pricetag.

The shifter is awesome. I am planing to make one for myself out of an old sequential as well now :-)

Please share your diy handbrake as well.

Congratulations for your great work !

Greetings from Austria

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That is so wonderfully cool. Really neat job. Love the BMW based sequential shifter, which looks rock solid.

How long does it take to set up and pack away?

Looking forward to reading about your DIY handbrake in future too.

Hey dishanm8, my rig is not even in the slightest "wonderfully cool", at least when compared to your dish-o-coque or to some other over-the-top rigs. I bow down to that...

I updated my post concerning the set up time. It takes me 76 seconds to make the rig ready to race, without a hurry. Tidy up doesn't take more time...

I hope to finish the handbrake until mid-Juli, but I still have to deal with the design of my sisters racestand first.

@all> Thanks for your positive comments, I really appreciate it :D. I'm grinning like a Cheshire cat at the moment...

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Hey dishanm8, my rig is not even in the slightest "wonderfully cool", at least when compared to your dish-o-coque or to some other over-the-top rigs. I bow down to that...

You are selling yourself short - it takes an ingenious mind to package those parts as well as you have done.

In reality, my rig is just a repackaging of someone else's components. You on the other hand have gone to the extreme of making your own racing hardware! I bow to you sir!

It takes me 76 seconds to make the rig ready to race, without a hurry. Tidy up doesn't take more time...

That's quicker than I thought! Neat 8-)

I'm grinning like a Cheshire cat at the moment...

Deservedly so :D

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Sir you are a genius, 5 star.

It look really professional and classy, If I had something like this, my gf would definitely approve. It is not over engineer with exposed wires, and ugly shape design. simple yet efficient. It should definitely be feature on the show. Any future plans, such as ading a BMW dash cluster with live working gauges :)

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pjdatechy> I of course thought about addings some more original car parts and other fancy stuff. But there are some reasons not to do so:

First and most important, I'm still a console-gamer. That means sadly there is no support for button boxes, rev-meters and other "nice-to-have" equipment. Also, the space in my 'dark chest of wonders' is very limited. Fitting a rev-meter would be no problem, but adding a whole dashboard is simply impossible (and it would most likely ruin the sleek look :D ). Also the functionality to completely fold down and put away the equipment is a key feature for me, so adding more components is always difficult. The shifter- and e-brake console i'm still building is already a sort of compromise concerning the modest look of my equipment. :lol:

Why not building your own 'domestic peace' rig? It took me some time and nerves to build it, but technically it wasn't rocket science...

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That's beautiful ...and what's more, your sister should benefit from your experience and efforts when you build her a rig. :)

I have a limited spot as well but with all the gear attached for pc racing I don't have much choice.

My rig has now become the "elephant in the room". haha Fortunately husband doesn't care.

BTW, you mention you didn't paint but used black foil, is that similar to the carbon fiber like peel and stick, heat with a gun stuff I've seen?

From the pics it looks very nice, I kinda of doubt paint would have had the same effect.

Very classy rig, nice job!

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Thanks for your comment lopsided:D . My sisters "rig" will be more of a wheelstand, so it only holds the pedals and wheel. She wants to play racegames while sitting on her sofa. Lets see how long it takes 'till she wants to upgrade :lol: .

Maybe I show you all the design when I have them ready. It will be simple shaped and easy to build (with only few tools needed) as she wants to build it herself according to my plans...

The folitation is exactly that type of peel and stick that you mentioned. You can get "budget" foil in your hardware store like I did or you can go for premium products with really cool colours. I first thought of getting dark brown metalic foil that resembles my car's paintjob. But keeping the costs low was the priority, and that glossy black is nice also...

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sister races while "sitting on the sofa" ...tell sister to trade the minivan in for a race car. lol

In the 80's my wheel was mounted to a small table that was just about the right height and i had to sit in a kitchen chair in front of the tv. it was still a thrill, but i got fatigued easily due to the sitting position. i also found out quickly that it was a bad idea to put a glass on the table while racing. oops.

all that matters is the fun. and she's lucky to have a brother that wants to help!!

about the foil...i first saw the carbon fiber wannabe on ebay and thought there HAD to be something i needed to cover it with. it looked really cool.

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lopsided> I've told her to go for the "race car" but her problem is the limited space. But as you said, all that matters is the fun. :D

I'm not the biggest fan of fake-carbon foil, I think it lacks of optical depth that carbon weave usually has. But i've seen a foil-wrapped CSR rim that actually looked pretty cool. If you badly want to use that foil somewhere, you could maybe do something similar. Wrapping the housing of the wheel might look nice, too... ;)

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Thanks for your comment tummelisa083, appreciate it. But I'm pretty sure my rig needed no more craftsmanship than yours. :D... At the very most I had to improvise a bit more ( cuz I have no router/shaper or other fancy tools)...

Using coloured MDF would have been possible, but that stuff is pricy as hell. Also it is only available on order. If I remember correctly it costs about 3 times the price of the regular non-coloured MDF... So the foiliation method may be the more annoying, but it is the bigger bang for the buck. Also you still can see some brighter wood fibres in the coloured mdf, so the result after waxing/oiling and polish would be a more or less dark grayish colour...

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I didn't realize that the colored MDF was that expensive :o , so your approach makes sense.

Yes, tools help but it is not everything. A lot of things can be done differently and simpler and still be as good, however it is more fun with power tools :P (everything covered in sawdust.... :!: )

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On your Sequential shifter there is a T shaped aluminium plate, is that for moving back to "automatic" mode? Could one do it with just a simple straight slot instead and only use the sequential part of the shifter? I don't have a unit in my hand so just trying to imagine how it would work mechanically. The electrical part is probaly very simple with 2 microswitches, cables and a connector to fit into the Fanatec wheel.

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tummelisaß83> Yeah working with Mdf produces an enormus amount of annoying fine dust. Especially sanding should be done outdoors if possible :lol: Nevertheless, MDF is cheap, really solid, heavy and easy to work with. So it is a great material for such projects...

You suggested I could make a seperate topic with a little "how to" tutorial concerning my sequential shifter; I like that idea.

@all> Are there other users that would like to read such a topic? I have some further pictures from the building phase of the shifter, but they aren't really revealing. :roll: So the "tutorial" would get rather text heavy...

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Hmm, I hoped there would be some feedback, seems like nobody is interested in a bit more detailed info about my DIY sequential. But I don't care, you'll get the info anyways, whether you like it or not... I'm already authoring the topic :lol:

But first you'll get some info on my sister's racestand. I've made a rough design I want to share with you.

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Hope you like the teaser pics. ;) The wheel, pedals and shifters are roughly modelled after my sister's fanatec gear, so the outer dimensions are pretty similar to the original equipment...

We may alter the design a bit when we actually build the rig. You will know it soon, as we are going to start the building-phase this weekend. I'll open another topic on that as soon as we have something to show off. You can expect to find a heap of pictures and some detailed plans there. I'll post the corresponding links here, so it might pay off to check this tread sometimes...

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Hi brother, now I'm registered, too.

I showed this thread to my neighbour, he was quite impressed :-)

did you already start writing about my wheelstand?

I could hardly await using it :-) hopefully we'll finish it soon

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Sorry tummelisa083, I've completely overlooked your question from Sun Jun 17, 2012 6:58 pm... You are absolutely right, the sequential works with two simple microswitches (and an easy but effective spring mechanism). So a single straight slot would have been absolutey sufficient. But I wanted something like a neutral position and a type of "movethistoengagethat" feature. In the neutral position (or more precisely in the original automatic mode) the shifter knob points straight upwards. You have to move it to the left to enter the sequential mode. If you move the shifter knob to the left, at a certain point it snaps into the sequintial mode by spring power (standard feature of the shifter assembly).The knob then points a little to the driver, like the bent GT rod of the DSP sequential. This, in my opinion, sounds, looks and feels nice. So I wanted to keep this feature...

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It's time to give you a little update on my sisters racestand. We did the shopping and already started some woodwork. As imagined, my sis wanted to alter the design a bit. She insisted on a more organic shape and we determinded the colour design. We go with white for the body, pink for the wheel plate and shifter holder, and some pink accents on the body-parts. The pink parts will then get a sparkling finish with metallic flakes. Maybe we "pimp" the white areas with glitter-spray, too.

Here is the current status of the design:

sonineuesdesign1.th.jpg sonineuesdesign2.th.jpg

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And here you see the side plates and bottom plate after the rough cutting.

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My sister did the sketching of the outline free style, thats why the shape didn't turn out completely like in the design. But she is happy with the result, and that is what counts. I think the rig will look awesome when it's finished, but as you see there's still a lot of work to do...

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