Racing game enthusiasts know very well the allure of a racing simulator rig. Having one will definitely make your matches feel more immersive, but those custom-made, off-the-shelf racing peripherals aren’t cheap. Starting from just the chassis such as the Next Level Racing F-GT will set you back around $499, then Logitech G923 wheel and pedals go for $399, and it’s still not counting other bells and whistles like monitor and seat that will make the cost skyrocket to thousands of dollars! However, few resourceful people choose to build their own from scratch. One of them is Tom Tilley, a geeky assistant professor from Payap University, Thailand (via Hackaday).
As the headline suggests, this racing simulator rig is certainly not a high-end build by any means. It doesn’t even have a “real” steering wheel. But for the price of some PVC pipes, $3 third-party knock-off controllers, and “a few evenings,” Tilley was still able to simulate a proper arcade experience by plugging the do-it-yourself racing peripheral into a PC running Daytona USA. According to his test, it also works well with Need for Speed: Carbon (it doesn’t support split-screen on PC, though).
Tilley has also made a bunch of other gaming and pop culture-related DIY projects. From a Guitar Hero guitar made with bug-zapper, an aquarium from arcade cabinet, to a number of custom-made motorcycle helmets. You can read more about the detail of how Tilley made the PVC racing simulator and links to his projects here. Meanwhile, watch the video below to see the cost-effective racing rig in action.
The racing simulator project basically started when one of the Payap University students suggested the idea after trying out Tilley’s Tron bike controller. Since he already worked with PVC pipes before, he chose the trusty media again to make the frames and the components. To imitate the workings of a steering wheel (which he admitted looks more like a “yoke from a plane”), various adapters and a potentiometer were used, with a humble rubber band used as the centering mechanism. The pedals were fitted with microswitches and rubber bands to replicate the analog feeling of the real deal. Tilley said that, even though they’re simply on/off switches, most playtesters believed that pushing the pedal harder really made their car go faster.
Later, six Thai engineering students helped him build another version of the rig. In total, Tilley made three revisions to this DIY racing simulator rig and has used them for many occasions, including his son’s birthday party, International Day at Payap University, Science Week in local schools, and to entertain kids at Agape AIDS Orphan Care.
Have you seen other budget DIY peripheral for your favorite game? Or have you made one yourself? Share your stories in the comments!