This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

DIY handbrake project [picture heavy, with sort of tutorial]

79 posts in this topic

Hey folks,

some of you have already checked out this DIY thread and left me some kind comments. Thanks for the flowers again. But now it's time to screw up this thread, since I want to have all the pictures in one post. I want to keep as much info as possible, still some of the latter posts may seem a little bit out of context. But you should find everything you need in the first post now. Like in my DIY shifter thread I want to encourage you to start a similar project on your own…

If I still left some questions open, feel free to ask. I'm glad when I can help. Always feel free to skip the text and go straight for the pictures. For the people that aren't already sick of my story, here we go again...

I play rallye games rather often and especially in some tighter hairpins I missed a handbrake. Pressing a button on the wheel was only a temporary solution for me, it was instantly clear that I wanted a “real” handbrake sooner or later. Since there are no cheap e-brakes on the market, I needed to go the DIY way once again.

While I was planning my shifter project I could “kill two birds with one stone” and made some thoughts about my upcoming e-brake. Like for the shifter I decided to mod original automotive parts. So I bought a cheap new handbrake (BMW) and a rotary potentiometer on eBay.


Preparing the digital functionality:
The handbrake itself has a simple but effective switch that engages when the leaver is pulled. So for the digital functionality I was nearly ready to go. I opened up my 911 Gt2 and soldered two wires to the B-button. So I was able to use the handbrake as an external switch easily.


Preparing the analog functionality (first attempt :???: ):
Since my Clubsport pedals have a spare port for an analogue e-brake, I wanted mine to be analogue, too.
I tried out how to connect the rotary pot to my pedals and after a while of fiddling I found the right connection.
But I had major problems to connect the pot and the handbrake mechanically. The e-brake leaver (or its axis) rotates about 20 degrees when pulled. But the rotary potentiometer has a turning angle of about 170 degrees. Since I wanted to use the e-brake on my consoles, I needed to align the turning angles properly. I played with some lego gears to get the proper transmission, but the high transmission ratio made problems. The resulting high torque twists the lego axles a bit and thus makes it impossible to get a proper, steady rotation of the pot.

Since I was stuck with my potentiometer problem for a while, I decided to finish my shifter project first. You can check out this topic {C}viewtopic.php?f=157&t=8147&p=58029#p58029if{C} you want to read a bit about my building progress..

After the shifter was done I progressed with the woodwork of the handbrake. I planned to build a housing that matches the one of my shifter. Also the shifter and e-brake should be mounted on a joint base-plate.


Since I thought about the rough design already when I built my shifter housing, it was easy for me to jump right into the work. I bought some pieces of 10mm MDF wood and again some birch plywood for the connector pieces. The general working process is equal to that of my shifter project, so I try not to go into detail too deep.

Again the cutting of the birch connectors had to be done first. After that I cut out the side plates of the e-brake housing. I had determined the overall height of the housing already during the planning phase of my shifter so I only needed to cut the wood into the proper length.



I've had some left-over aluminum plate that was predestined to be used as a cover plate. So it was time for drilling, sawing and filing once again.



After the cover plate was finished, I worked on the lid with the slot for the handbrake. I mounted the brake on a piece of wood beam and placed it between the two side plates. It was now easy to test the path that needs to be cut free. I then placed my aluminum cover plate on the lid and used it as a stencil for the slot.


After some woodwork I ended up with a lid that fitted nicely over the brake.




So I continued with the front plate. Like on my shifter housing, I wanted to add a grommet for the cable management. I did like before and used the grommet as a stencil. After a bit of sawing and filing, the front plate was done, too.
After that I went on with the cutting of the upper segment of the lid. I filed down the edge of the segment to get a seamless connection. Then it was time to cut the upper segment to the proper length and to trim the back plate.

Now all the wooden parts were ready for their finish. Of course I went for glossy black foil again to finish them up. Just in case you didn't know, there are some usefull youtube videos on how to apply self-adhesive foil on wood :lol: ...





The whole unit will be held together with some screws and washers, like on my shifter. With the leather sleeve of the brake and the aluminum cover plate it'll look pretty decent.

Preparing the analog functionality (second attempt, this time it worked out :D ):
The whole housing looked pretty cool already, but without a working interia it's all waste. So I had to pull myself together and start over again. Since the rotary potentiometer thing didn't work out I tried to connect a sliding potentiometer. It again was a tough task but with the help of some lego technic bricks I managed to build a working leaver mechanism.
Since I lost my notes on the proper way to connect the rotary pot, I started all over again with the testing. After two and a half hours of constantly fiddling with the wires and testing in RBR I finally found the right connection again :D. The sliding pot works fine and even FORZA 4 detects the connected pot as an E-brake (with full analogue functionality) :o... I'm pretty confident that the handbrake will work with other titles like Dirt 2 and 3 on XBOX360, but I will let myself be surprised. Sadly my playstation doesn't detect the ebrake when plugged into the pedals, but as you already know it will work as an external switch when connected to the wheel. I'm still thinking about how I could get it to work analog on the PS, maybe a sloughtered PS controller could help...

I made a wiring diagram for the Clubsport Pedals (and CSR Elite pedals). This should safe you a lot of stress and time...


If you stick to the numbers/colours, you can't go wrong. The diagram shows the connection for a sliding pot and a rotary pot. You should connect only one of them of course. Check out this topic on GTplanet for further details on the circuit and how to connet everything properly:

Assembly of the e-brake unit
It was time to come to the more pleasant work and finish the assembly of the e-brake unit.






Worth the work, isn't it? :cool:

The fusion:
You've seen the sketch of a joint unit with shifter and e-brake. It now was time to transform the two modules into one unit for real. Again some woodwork and foliation had to be done, but luckily no need for rocket science anymore :lol:

Finished unit:
After some hours (or rather some days) of work I finished the whole project. Here's the whole unit in its "parking-position"




I slided out the board that fits under my seat...



Now the shifter and handbrake are ready to use. The whole unit is held in place pretty firmly by the board under the seat...




Still to do:
Cables are still a mess. Using the proper plug for the CSP pedals would solve that issue. It seems like the connector on the CSPs is a JST ZH 4 plug with 4 pins. Sadly have no clue where to get the proper jack for it. So for now a strip of duct tape has to do the job.
In the meantime I recieved a pair of ISR stickers (thanks Darin and Shaun). I'm uncertain if I should put them on this shifter/brake unit or if to put them onto my "Dark Chest of Wonders". As soon as I put them on I'll show you a picture...

I hope you had fun checking out the pictures and reading my story. Maybe this topic helps you with your own projects and I hope this was inspiring for some of you. Feel free to leave me a comment... ;)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi DerKaffeemann

You might be able to do something similar as Logitech pedals to get the right amount of

rotation on your e-brake potentiometer. The output shaft passes through a set of gears.

One thing to be aware of is that the Fanatec wheel has a detection phase when

you power it up to check if either standard pot based pedals or if the clubsport

"serial protocol" based pedals are connected. I know the extra port on the clubsport

mainboard is an ideal connection point for the ebrake but its not active "no code"

and wiring your e-brake pot to it or one of the other ports is not likely to work properly.

If you used standard pedals and tap into the clutch it would work but not ideal.

I like what you are engineering, this is an area of interest for me too. Building both

of these braking systems is on my todo list.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey s4cral, thanks for your info. I didn't know that the wheel has such a detection phase. I tested the pedals with the connected potentiometer only stand-alone on the pc. The fanatec diagnosis software showed four analogue axes and the pot worked liked it should. So I thought it should work with the wheel, too.

Do I understand you right that the fourth axis will be useless when I connect the pedals to the wheel? This would be sad but would save me some extra work. :?

I've tried to connect the pot via some lego gears, but as I wrote the mechanism didn't work as good as I hoped. Maybe I should give it another try and use some wood or metal instead of the plastic axes.

@all> Are there any other ideas? Maybe you know where to get pots with lesser turning angle or another way to solve the transmission problem?

UPDATE: I moved the pictures and project related info to the first post of this topic

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've not fully tested the standalone setup on PC for the V1 clubsport pedals.

I have tested the fourth port using the clutch sensor whilst connected to

the wheel but it does not function. There is no data changes in the protocol.

I've not tested it by connecting a potentiometer to it. So it could work ok.

The Fanatec wheel tries to communicate with the clubsport pedals when its first

powered up and if that fails it then falls back to reconfigure its AD converters so it can read the

voltages on the pots. If they engineered the fourth port to always use a pot then

you might be alright. I've only partially inspected the v681 firmware and the later releases

may manage the fourth port differently. I'll be looking more closely at this specific problem

very soon so I'll post any new info I find here. Give it a try anyway see if it works

nothing to lose. 8)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I just copy-paste part of my post on another topic, I'm too lazy to write it again.!!!

As for the handbrake, I just saw your progress. I suppose you saw from the pictures above how my pedal is attached to the potensiometer. The thing is that if you use your axis set (pedals-handbrake-etc) on a PC you can set every axis indepentantly with DIView (you can also find it under "How to use" section on Leo Bodnar page.) The deadzone, the saturation, the starting/ending point of travel and so on. As i see your shifter & your handbrake are connected to your wheel & not on a seperate USB port. This is correct if you use your gear on other platforms except from PC as a matter of compatibility but you lose some of the analysis of the handbrake potensiometer. The one I use on the throttle pedal is a frex hallpot. I suppose it is "too much" for a handbrake because of the small movement needed for the handbrake axis. As for the mechanic gearing you need to adjust the difference of travel between the physical movement of your handbrake & the potensiometer travel I do not have something to suggest but I'll try to think of something!!!! On the PC the problem is easily solved byt DIView but on other platforms it needs some tweeking.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

UPDATE: I moved the pictures and project related info to the first post of this topic

Though I'm really happy how things turned out I've found some room for improvement. My sliding pot has a linear characteristic and a real e-brake has a more or less inverted logarithmic (exponential) characteristic. I'll do a little research if I find some anti-log sliding pots...

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

That is beautiful. Amazing work. If I can wrap my head around the wiring diagram you provided, I will attempt to follow your design one day and make my own. I don't know much/understand much about wiring electronics. Great work, I will probably be bothering you one day to explain how to go about doing this more in depth for me though. Ha. Thanks for sharing.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Boyerm35> Thanks for your comment. :D I won't go much deeper in the wiring thing, though. I've used a soldering iron for the first time on my shifter project, so consider me as an electronics newbie, too. If you are able to solder one wire to another, you will easily finish the wiring part. Just stick to the number/color scheme and you'll be fine. If you have further questions, always feel free to ask. I'll help as good as I can...

UPDATE: I moved the pictures and project related info to the first post of this topic

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey DerKaffeemann, great job. I wish to do something like this myself. If you don't mind, I would like to know what is the pin connector for the handbrake on the CSP?

I have looked around and I think it's a 4 pin Molex connector. This is what I found on amazon Am I correct, or in left field?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey publicsafety, I'm glad my DIY project is some sort of inspiration for you. I've checked out your link and I think this isn't the right pin connector. It seems to be too big and it has only two pins/wires. The socket on the CSP's PCB has 4 pins and you'll need 3 of the 4 cables to make the handbrake work.

I searched the MOLEX website and I bet this is the right pin connector: ... connectors ...

Sadly I found no german retailer that sells those connectors, so I'm still stuck with my cable mess. But I have at least a working solution, so who cares :oops: I wish you luck with finding a retailer that sells those connectors to private clients...

UPDATE: I moved the pictures and project related info to the first post of this topic

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Since there's such a large variation of connectors, you may want to take a nice, high resolution, close up picture of the connector against a tape measure and email it to the people at Molex. They can usually tell you exactly what you're working with. I've done this in the past several times. They're pretty good about communicating. When using a tape measure, it's usually best to use the metric side of it. I'm definately bookmarking your post incase I find myself with a set of clubsport pedals. Thanks for sharing. =0)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Publicsafety> Thanks for the info, you may be right. It seems like I should re-measure the pitch of the pins. I'll have to do some minor changes on my rig in the near future, as soon as I disassemble things I check out the CSP's plugs again.

One way or another I'm stuck with where to get those connectors. Every shop I checked out only seems to deliver to business clients...

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Publicsafety> I just had eyes for the connector itself, I didn't check out the site. Thanks for the hint :D But I don't get what you mean with the adapter. I thought I only needed a few crimps and the 4 pin housing (the plug). Could you give me links or a part number?

JogoAsobi> Thanks for the flowers. I'd be happy to check out your project as soon as you have something to show. Feel free to leave me a link here...

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

DerKaffeemann - I've had a look at your circuit diagram for using a potentiometer, but I was wondering which of the pins I'd need to connect up if I were to use a simple on-off switch (like you would find in, say, the sequential shifter)


I've noticed that both A-C and A-B run the same voltage when connected, but I figure only one of them will work.  do you have any suggestions, or would trial and error by bridging them temporarily with a piece of wire be my best solution?


Thanks in advance.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't pointedly tested which wires should be used for a switch solution, sorry. But I've connected each pin among themselves on the handbrake plug, from what I remember there was no wire combination that simply switched the ebrake on. From looking at the wiring diagram I would guess the first and third pin (a and c) connected should work.

When you attempt to test it out I take no response if you fry your PCB. Mine stalled a few times while fiddling with the wires, but it still runs fine.

I don't get why you want to connect a switch to the board when it's able to handle a pot/axis. I don't know which platform you are gaming on, but my tests showed that the PS3 didn't recognize the ebrake port on my CSPs at all. Can you explain me your plan? Maybe we could find a workaround other than hardwiring the switch to your wheel...

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites