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Ferrari wheel - Amalgam/SIM display SIMR-F1 project

Discussion in 'Sim Racing Hardware' started by Jessun, Nov 26, 2013.

  1. Hello friends of racing!

    I thought I'd share some thoughts on these two products and my experience of putting it all together.

    I started with the TM T500 RS, and fitted this with a SLI-PRO - it was a good learning experience to tackle the next project - the Amalgam replica.

    Amalgam.jpg

    The Amalgam comes fully fitted with switches, toggles and encoders, but all of a low end quality - and the rotarys aren't compatible with most modern displays anyways so it all had to go.

    It took quite a lot of work to rid the interior of the switches, as it was all glued in... I also had to drill down the hand grips to run the leads to the index finger buttons.

    I went for Knitters, as they most resembled the ones fitted, both in size and in feel. I find NKKs for instance are too heavy.

    As it started out as a hybrid, I retained the TM circuit board, and also installed the two thumb rockers in place of two ordinary switches.

    On the back the fake quick release was replaced with the one from the TM wheel to keep things simple.

    Initially I ran it with a SLI Pro, but just recently swapped that for the SIM Display F1. It is at present a mixed bag in terms of pros and cons, and I'll run through some here. It's not a full review as such, but will give you an idea.

    Simdisplay.jpg

    OK, the SIM Display F1 has the outlines, lights and digits very similar to the real deal - the McLaren PCU-6D which is used by all F1 teams due to regulations.

    The circuit board was about a millimetre too big to fit in the Amalgam enclosure - and it's also due to being a two board sandwich design slightly too thick as well. Then again, the Amalgam one is thinner than the McLaren spec sheet suggests by a few mm, so I have no real idea what is 'correct' here.

    The display features 15 shiftlights, 6 flag lights and next to the gear diplay, also two 4 digit starburst displays. Whereas the SLI-Pro fit fine on my wheel, I thought this one would more accurately represent the original.

    Let's kick of with some good points! The display housed in the plastic enclosure looks great on the wheel. The displays more accurately shows information as seen on real cars, and it comes with a Bronze license for MaxManager from EKSimracing. It registered automatically online so setup was really easy. The only issues I had was with the MaxManager3 software that didn't allow me to save settings from time to time. This problem is not fully solved yet, but is not related to the board itself, so I'll leave that for now.

    The board connects in a similar manner to the SLI Pro, in that all switches share ground and all external LEDs share the positive lead. The actual connectors to the board are different though so it's pretty much a start from scratch. It connects to the PC via a mini USB, or leads to solder to your liking. The mini USB faces to the rear so it's not accessible once the wheel is assembled. However it retains the 'look' once finished and was easy to use the mini USB whilst hooking stuff up for testing. I liked this solution.

    The rotary switches are different in spec to the ones Bodnar uses for the SLI Pro, so these need replacing as well. Both use three solder points only, so installation is easy.

    I use the wheel for Codemaster games only - so far - and the display really adds to the enjoyment. The display is very responsive, easy to read, and assigning Kers as the Quickinfo button shows the Kers counting whilst pressing the button for it. Really neat work between hardware and EK software.

    The display also benefits from a simple program to test it, and another to setup the encoders. Both really easy to use.

    On the positive side is a support side, second to none. I had a few questions and suggestions whilts swapping displays over and the response was a same day deal, every time. This is in my book worth a lot! It could be the deal breaker in the end even. I'll return to this below.

    Let's move on to the 'could benefit from improvement' bits!

    At present SIM Display only offer a plastic enclosure. The PCU-6D comes with an aluminium enclosure as do some of Bodnar's latest creations. So, it must be aluminium for the right look.

    The enclosure is just that tiny bit too big to fit the replica wheel. I had to file it down in some areas to enable it to squeeze in. It's also essentially white plastic with a black outer layer. It is greyish in areas too from delivery, so it needed repainting.

    The gear digit is red, but the side displays are amber or orange if you like. The real deal is most definately red across the board.

    The shiftpoint - usually flashing of certain shiftlight or external LEDs - is too quick, so it is sometimes actually hard to see that is flashing. For instance I have a red external LED assigned to rev limiter, an it's is hard to see sometimes whether it's on permanently or flashing. Basically the rate of the flashes needs to be slowed down a bit.

    With the plastic enclosure there is LED light leak to adjacent windows. It doesn't look quite right for the shift lights, and for the flags it's a miw really. The PCU-6D sports RGB LEDs I believe so all six will go blue for a blue flag etc. So, for such a use it works fine as the blue shines across the little triangular window, but for applications where you use the LEDs differently it makes them harder to spot. I solved this by cutting a black suction straw from McD in little pieces that I placed over each LED.

    Finally, contrary to the SLI Pro, when using active 3D glasses, the display digits flicker. I know this is not too interesting for most users, but I use a 3D projector onto a wall and the flickering is quite annoying.

    So, a mixed bag really, but let's revisit the 'bad' bits. As I stated the support is second to none and consumer input is most welcome. From my own exchange of messages I gather that a aluminium enclosure will be available once it's good enough. And the display digits will be red once they are sourced. The plastic enclosure does do the job, and once in a game what would you care, and being reasonably cheap, it's not a big problem to upgrade later. As for the digits, well, what is the real difference? For puritans, red it should be, but then everything else is also wrong, sitting behind a PC screen rather than inside a RB9... I appreciate that SIM Display will move to red one day, but I won't bother swapping for that reason alone.

    Final views on the display then!

    It really lifted my replica towards looking and 'behaving' like the real thing, and the only gripe is that it has a degree of flickering for my particular setup. Passive glasses would not have this problem. Can it be rectified as it is? Well, that is beyond my knowledge. Is active 3D glasses the future? No. Passive glasses, or none is the future. I'm just unlucky at the moment.

    The flashing for shiftpoint's / Rev limiter should be possible to address in a firmware update. These are points I haven't raised with the folks behind this display so I have no answer yet.

    So a wish list would look like this:

    Go all red on the digits to a non flickering kind.
    Make an aluminium enclosure - make it isolate each LED, and make it a tad smaller than the plastic in every dimension.

    Well, that's a short wish list! I love the display, and the support and dialogue with SIM Display has been brilliant. You can really sense the positive attitude to customers, and the will to listen to any suggestion. Others in this little industy are to be fair, a lot slower. A lot.

    Finally I'd like to share some on the TM T500 RS. It's really brilliant. It goes so far that the parts between the T500 and the Amalgam replica is almost exchangable. And sure, I haven't bolted my Lifeline quick release to the setup, but the original TM solution works just fine. The lead from the hub on the base unit is easily accesible inside as it connects to the main circuit board, so to make a straight through USB connection, PC to display is actually really easy. The only problem with my setup, playing Codemaster games is that the display board will not emulate keystrokes outside the actual gameplay, so menues etc have to be operated through the keyboard.

    Verdict: I am happy I made the jump to SIM Display, they're a bunch of true enthusiasts and will listen to any feedback. The display itself looks great and once the little issues have been adressed it's a real winner that comes at a really competative price.

    Needless to say I have no associations with any companies mentioned above. I'm just a dude with a sim racing passion.

    The pictures show the Amalgam wheel, the SIM Display F1 as painted by me, and it still has temporary switch knobs.

    /Jessun
     
  2. Freaking awesome, I was wondering how your wheel ended up :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Hi, I know I'm very late to this thread, but was wondering if you had any more pics to take a look at - particularly any from the inside? Would also like to see your QR replacement.