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Starting a wheel build. Tips/Suggestions?

Discussion in 'Sim Racing Hardware' started by Tom Moloney, Sep 7, 2010.

  1. Hey guys,

    I have decided to build a wheel from scratch. It will be based on this year's MP4/25 steering wheel:
    (apologies for the big picture)

    The couple of sticking points/questions before I start in mid/late October are:

    1. What kind of wood is best (if it is the best material-bare in mind composites are difficult and expensive)? Theoretically, it should be as light as possible, but also strong enough to take the force feedback of a G27, having been scalloped to accept an SLI-PRO and buttons etc.
    2. How would I best go about making the handles? Suede/Alcantara? Rubber/silicone? Leather?
    3. The USB wire from the SLI-PRO, how is this best managed? Is it possible to route it through the wheel body itself? If not, how should I work it?
    4. How easy is it to modify the paddles on the G27? If it is difficult, how hard would it be to make paddle shifters on the wheel?
    5. On the above note, I am very keen on clutch paddles. Does anyone have some kind of tutorial on making them work reasonably well with potentiometers?
    Cheers guys-it's a big project, and I look forward to sharing it with you all.
  2. I have never done one myself but I may be able to help.

    As for clutch paddles. I have never used them in real life so I do not know how they are supposed to feel. Either way, I would not go with potentiometers for those. Being on a wheel and have the amount of space limited, I would use Hall Effect Sensors. Not only would they fit better, you do not have to worry about wear, or gearing or anything. Just move a magnet closer or further away.

    For the paddle shifters. I am going to be making my own custom wheel very soon. Well, everything but the wheel I am making. Anyway, I am not even going to bother with the crappy paddles on the G27. For the paddles all you need is the paddle(obviously), a good hinge, something to limit the amount of travel, the best feeling clicky button you can buy, a spring of your preference, and some sort of rubber dampener. Do some digging for pictures of paddle shifter assemblies and you will see what I mean.

    As for the handles, are you one of those "hardcore" sim racers that wear gloves? Or do you just go bare hand? Suede will get kind of nasty if you go bare hand and will wear pretty quick with gloves. Alcantera feels really nice but personally do not like it wearing gloves. Leather is kind of slippery bare hand if you have sweaty hands. And rubber/silicone is what is actually used on those wheels so that might be your best bet. It might be the easiest too.

    As much as I love wood working, for this I might suggest HDPE or something similar. For one, it is strong as hell. They use it for cutting boards. Also, it is as easy to work with as wood. Standard wood working tools will do the job. Either way you go, it is cheap enough to buy a piece, test it and if it does not work for you, scrap it.
  3. The paddles seem quite complicated, especially the clutch. If I do decide to build them, it's going to be quite difficult to understand how to construct them. The issue with hall sensors is that the SLI-PRO doesn't have support for them, and it's the board I am using to connect everything to. I can see the basic principle behind the shifters (those springs with the ends that point out should do the trick nicely).

    I don't normally wear gloves, although if my hands are really sweaty then I'll put on my fingerless riding gloves. What has just struck me is bike handlebar tape-it's worth a test?

    How would I go about molding the rubber to the handle? Is it best to make a mold of my grip?

    I do appreciate your help on this-perhaps we could work through it together!


  4. Hall sensors will work with the SLI Pro as far as I can tell (unless this was specifically stated somewhere). The Pro has 2 analogs with +5v. A hall sensor is analog and runs off +5v. Reading through I did not see anything saying it will not work.

    As for the paddles, here is a really easy to look at picture I found helping me design mine. These ones are made by TSW. This seems to be a safe design to work off of.


    Handlebar tape might be worth a test. Or even maybe baseball bat tape for like little league and such. I have seen people also use bicycle tire inner-tube and wrap with that for similar applications.

    Other ways you may want to experiment with might be rubber dipping. I am sure with some clever taping off the wheel and dipping multiple times, you could get a decent finish. http://www.plastidip.com/

    If you want to make a mold, maybe you could do a 2 piece handle on each side. So do the front and back of the left and front and back of the right. Then you fit the front and back around the wheel and secure with some sort of glue/silicone. If you do this and have never made a mold before, you could try this stuff. http://shapelock.com/

    Well, hope I didn't overwhelm you. Most of that stuff can be tested without spending a lot of money. You could get a small can of the plastidip and test it on a piece of wood in different ways.
  5. I get it-that's rather clever. I'll probably make my own paddles, but that seems rather novel, doesn't it? You don't even need a spring too, which helps!

    Regarding the hall sensors, I understand they work through the relative strength of a magnetic field. Where is the best place to put the magnet on the paddle so as to have maximum travel to enable a reasonable use of a clutch? I can't work out a suitable solution other than have it on the end of the paddle, which would barely move.

    I don't think that plastidip stuff is available in Australia, from what I can work out, unfortunately. Would be pretty much perfect (albeit maybe too hard).
  6. The great thing about hall effect sensors is that you barely need any movement and yet they are still accurate as hell.

    You could probably buy something similar to PlastiDip in Aus, or you could order from amazon and have it shipped.
  7. Hi Tom (and Evan:D)

    I'm pretty sure hall sensors will work with the SLI, but they arnt dear, so worth a try! I will do my best to help you, for a start, dont worry too much about paddles n sensors yet, thats all fairly easy. You need to think about the materials you want to use to build the basic wheel first!

    The hardest part will be the 'handles' on that design. Finding some thing that is rigid enough without adding too much weight is the hard part tbh. Plastics such as perspex are a fav of mine. I will look into it for you :)
  8. Interested in your progress, keep a diary if possible :)
  9. I will definitely keep a diary, they are a great way to keep my motivation up!

    I have decided I will make it out of two pieces of wood, with the buttons and wires sandwiched between the two.

    I have access to enough woodworking tools at my university to sink an aircraft carrier, that shouldn't be a problem.

    Cheers for the help Brian, it will likely be necessary.

    As I am based in Australia, companies who can ship parts here or have some kind of store here are a huge bonus-if you find one, do let me know.
  10. If worst comes to worse, I would be willing to ship things from the US to Aus if it was really necessary. My friend lives a little north of Sydney and I send him a lot.
  11. I found some very good buttons on eBay-don't worry too much.
  12. Tom

    Suggestions: Make the basic frame from wood if that is easier for you :) BUT I would cover or 'Skin' the front panel in a sheet of 2mm thick perspex. Its nice and flat and easy to cut / trim and will look great with a 'carbon' covering. Perspex sheet is cheap as chips and loads on e-bay! Also consider using perspex tube for the 'handles' rather than wood. You can bend it to shape easily with a little heat, it cheap and best of all light but RIGID! Pretty easy to cover after too :)

    Take plenty of pics pls and keeps some notes so you can do a Tutorial :) and just ask for help if your not sure about anything...
  13. I see no real problem in making the whole thing out of basically a sandwich of wood, including handles as part of basically the whole block.

    I will definitely get some of that 3M Di-Noc carbon fibre vinyl to cover the wheel with. Is there any reason that you would cover it with perspex, apart from looks? I will definitely be clearcoating the thing multiple times for the nicest finish possible.

    Regarding the handles, I'd really like to make them out of Alcantara or suede, and the amount of compound curves are ghastly. Short of removing the thumb holes and basically having two stalks as handles (which would be vastly easier to cover), how do you suggest I go about covering the handles?

    Pics will be taken aplenty, you can be sure of that, and a tutorial will most definitely be made. However, the difference in method you can use makes it slightly difficult to justify one-the number of different ways you can make the basic frame is endless :)
  14. Hi Tom

    I only suggested the front cover of perspex as it will be very flat, an ideal surface to cover and will look right (Plastic/carbon). Wood will be very difficult to acheve this :)
  15. It's a thought mate, it's a thought. We'll see how we go in terms of presentation-if I do work out that it is too hard to get a decent finish with the wood, then yeah, perspex layer it will be. I plan on covering the whole thing in carbon, so it should look pretty epic.

    I hope to be able to use the original paddles of the G27, as the wheel will be used for Gran Turismo 5 as well as PC sims-how hard would it be to modify those paddles to a different shape?

    I will be having a perspex window (like on the real wheel) for the SLI-PRO, as I feel that having a template is too risky in terms of stuffing it all up. Would a polaroid filter be a good idea here?
  16. Hey Tom
    Sorry I seem to have missed this post, ooops. Err, modding the paddles is easy tbh, wont go into it now, but nearer the time, when I have the details, I can show you best methods. dark tinted perspex is what i use, very cheap, easy and strong.
  17. I just had a look at my G25 and it doesnt look like it would be hard at all i haven't opened the thing yet soo it could be harder than im thinking but from the outside doesnt look like it would be hard the buttons for the gears are on the inside of the steering coloum soo the shape of the paddle shouldn't matter at all only on the inside of the steering coloum. but like i said i havent opened it up yet but from the outside seems simple enough.
  18. Ok, so:

    Current parts in possession:
    2 rotary switches
    1 set of maimed leo bodnar cables
    2 rotary encoders

    On order/Waiting for time to buy:
    Perspex (dad knows a bloke)
    7 switches
    3 more rotary encoders
    pot knobs
    carbon film
    Mercedes decal

    Regarding connection to the computer, I was thinking something along the lines of this:
    However, on the website watermarked, they are $29AUD+, which seems quite high. Any recommendations for other/cheaper solutions?

  19. That is dear for a 'curly' USB lead, but tbh, I'm struggling to find em with the right type of USB plug here in the U.K.!
  20. OK-perhaps heat up the cable that came with the display and then wrap it round something?

    Anyway, how easy is it to stick a decal or sticker to the carbon film? I'd like the Mercedes emblem there (despite NOT being a McLaren or Mercedes fan) because it would look sparse without it.

    Otherwise, I'm basically set for the time being-probably won't be able to make major inroads for two weeks, but what the hell-it's a decent project, it deserves time.