• Welcome to the largest (sim) racing website in the world!
    Blurring the line between real and virtual motorsports.

Building a button box exclusively for VR. Looking for input.

Discussion in 'Sim Racing Hardware' started by RCHeliguy, Oct 2, 2019.

  1. RCHeliguy

    RCHeliguy
    Premium

    Messages:
    1,793
    Ratings:
    +642
    I'm thinking of creating 4 panels that can be removed and updated independently.
    This would fit on the left side of my rig. The main priority is making this so I can easily find any button or switch easily with my VR headset on.

    So far I'm using 41 out of 64 inputs the Leo Bodnar board allows. The board will be wired in the order General, Keyboard Navigation, Momenrary Block and finally Rotary block so that if the controls past 32 are not accessible to a game it isn't an issue. iRacing, AC, ACC will support all 64 inputs. There is room on the board for more controls, but I'm using larger controls

    Edit: Dirt Rally 2.0 also supports all 64 inputs.

    General ----- Keyboard Navigation
    |.
    Rotary Block
    |
    Momentary Block


    General (4" wide x5" tall)
    • Ignition switch, Start button
    • HMD Center button, Pit/Exit Recover button
    • 4 way joystick for seat Up/Down Fore/Aft
    Keyboard Navigation (7"wide x 5" tall )
    • 4 way joystick mapped to arrow keys
    • button ESC
    • button Enter
    • 4 Buttons for function keys.
    Rotary Block ( 4" wide by 4" tall )
    • 4 rotary knobs
    • 4 buttons
    Momentary block ( 4" wide by 4" tall )
    • 4 Up/Down Momentary switches
    • 8 Buttons
    The cardboard is cut to scale, still waiting for input devices to arrive, so I'm not rushing this at all.
    buttonbox_4325.jpg

    I'd love to hear any suggestions, comments or lessons learned from people who built their own button boxes.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
  2. Andrew_WOT

    Andrew_WOT

    Messages:
    2,454
    Ratings:
    +573
    Don't forget Braille labels for buttons.
     
    • Haha Haha x 6
  3. cirris

    cirris
    Premium

    Messages:
    34
    Ratings:
    +4
    There could be something to that though. some kind of tactile feedback corresponding to each button besides shape...
     
  4. RCHeliguy

    RCHeliguy
    Premium

    Messages:
    1,793
    Ratings:
    +642
    I am using concave and convex buttons of the same size which is sort of a binary approach to Braille.
    Otherwise the intent is to rely on placement of buttons around joysticks, knobs and switches to give me reference points assuming I know where something I want to press is relative to everything else. Past that just making the buttons so big there is very little room for mistake.

    I may even consider adding ridges to the panels if there is any ambiguity.

    My hope is that I can sweep the panel quickly without having to rub my finger on a button to know if I'm in the right place.
     
  5. Emery

    Emery

    Messages:
    1,915
    Ratings:
    +640
    Normally I'm fond of up/down momentary contact switches, but I think for a VR button box using them would be a mistake since they're far more likely to activate accidentally. Left/right momentary rotary switches would be less prone to accidental activation.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  6. RCHeliguy

    RCHeliguy
    Premium

    Messages:
    1,793
    Ratings:
    +642
    I could see that being an issue if the switches didn't have strong springs. I hadn't thought about it.

    I have up/down momentary switches on my current Derek Speares button box and over the last few months I've not experienced this as an issue, but they have strong springs. You definitely have to push them intentionally to get them to flip.

    I have two sets of momentary switches on the way. I'm hoping one set of them has strong springs like the button box I'm using. I have one set coming with plastic switch levers just so they would feel different, but they may turn out to be too weak for this. Thanks for bringing this up. I've focused mostly on differentiation, not accidental swiping triggers..
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. RCHeliguy

    RCHeliguy
    Premium

    Messages:
    1,793
    Ratings:
    +642
    FYI I'm finding that 22awg wire isn't very compatible with some of the screw tight attachments on these buttons. I may solder small pieces of solid core copper to the very ends since I'd prefer to screw tight vs. soldering especially while I'm prototyping. The joysticks want spade type connections. Some will require soldering.

    I'll try to rough in a couple 1/4" plywood panels tomorrow and start figuring out how the box will be shaped and how it will attach to the rig.

    Sadly all I've got left right now for vinyl covering is CF look red and silver. Almost all of my CF black is used up.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2019
  8. RCHeliguy

    RCHeliguy
    Premium

    Messages:
    1,793
    Ratings:
    +642
    Still roughing the design in. I could add an inch or two to the top and a cup holder might fit in the top corner if I sealed it well, but that could be an accident waiting to happen.

    20191004_090354.jpg

    Rough layout of left panel. The momentary up/down switches are not going to be used. Larger switches are coming. The switches upright represent switches, the 3 on their side represent rotary.
    20191004_120617.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2019
  9. Robert Bachmayer

    Robert Bachmayer

    Messages:
    238
    Ratings:
    +41
    Patent on name "the braile box"
     
    • Haha Haha x 2
  10. Jason Palmer

    Jason Palmer
    Premium

    Messages:
    214
    Ratings:
    +123
    Interesting project and as a fellow VR racer will be following your progress.

    One question though, where do you source your buttons from especially the little thumb stick style control.

    Thanks.

    Jason.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. RCHeliguy

    RCHeliguy
    Premium

    Messages:
    1,793
    Ratings:
    +642
    I was ordering a pile of different things to experiment with. Parts do take a while to get here.

    Please keep in mind that I haven't tested any of these yet to see if any of them have debounce issues with the Leo Bodnar input board. Hopefully they will all work well.

    4 way stick ( make sure to select 4 direction momentary HKA1-41Z04 )
    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/734180123.html

    Large Ignition switch
    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32976630820.html

    Red Pit/Exit/ Recover button
    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32819222628.html

    HMD Center button
    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32990056627.html

    Large Green Start button
    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4000049460117.html

    smaller colorful metal push buttons
    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32904307225.html

    Momentary Toggle switch
    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32836152448.html

    50 sets of 2 pin cables for wiring to the controller.
    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/33000216316.html

    I'm going to do an ultra simple flat board to test the larger controls. I keep moving things around for ease of access, logical groupings and to try to make it so I don't accidentally touch the wrong controls.

    Left side
    Seat - Pit/Exit/Recover
    IGN - Start
    Neutral - HMD Center

    Right side
    F3 - F4 - F5 - F6 ( something like that)

    Enter - Arrow keys (U/D/L/R) - Pause
    ESC

    So far I think the oversized controls will work well, however I think the start button may be a bit unnecessarily large.

    20191005_085525.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2019
    • Like Like x 2
  12. Jason Palmer

    Jason Palmer
    Premium

    Messages:
    214
    Ratings:
    +123
    Brilliant thanks for that as it gives me a starting point for my own searches to see what might suit my requirements.

    cant wait to see your next update mate.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Jason Palmer

    Jason Palmer
    Premium

    Messages:
    214
    Ratings:
    +123
    I notice you have not used any rotary dials which I find very easy to use when in VR.

    also would the 4 way thumb stick be seen almost like a couple of momentary toggle switches for wiring purposes?

    thanks.
     
  14. RCHeliguy

    RCHeliguy
    Premium

    Messages:
    1,793
    Ratings:
    +642
    I haven't gotten the rotaries yet. I have two extremely high quality rotaries on my Precision Sim Engineering steering wheel and I haven't used them for anything yet. I'll get some eventually.
    The rotaries I was planning to use are the CTS rotaries that Leo Bodnar sells and Derek Speares recommends.
    https://www.digikey.com/products/en?vendor=0&keywords=288T232R161A2

    I haven't figured out what I want to use for a dial. I saw one I liked and someone shared an STL file for it, but I don't own a 3D printer yet and since he sent it to me privately I assume he didn't want me to share it with the world.

    The joystick is 4 individual switches. 2 wires each although you could use a common ground and I probably will. (Edit: I did wire a common ground on one side of each 4 way switch. The other side will correspond to Up/Down Left/Right) These switches only allow one switch to be active at a time.
    20191005_131556.jpg

    The reason I started with the section I chose was because at the moment it's all I need and I wanted to test out the software that maps keyboard keys to the button box. I'd like a better game plan before I build out the rest. I may add an Alt K button for iRacing, but at the moment I'm not adjusting ABS, TC, or Brake Bias in races, never mind DRS, etc.. I'm not ready for F1 yet. However I would likely get a dedicated F1 wheel if I really got into that.

    I currently have two way momentary switches mapped to Volume levels, but I've never used them.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2019
  15. EsxPaul

    EsxPaul
    Premium

    Messages:
    449
    Ratings:
    +245
    I'm keen to see how this turns out, Mark.

    I've got an old Ignition Controls button box that could do with a rework of the switches and controller board. It's currently using a PCB from a Lenovo keyboard and a rotary switch that's far too oversensitive. I've toyed with the idea of changing some of the switches and swapping out the PCB for the Bodnar board but have zero experience with this type of thing.

    Seeing what you've planned has given me a bit of motivation to look into this a little more.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  16. RCHeliguy

    RCHeliguy
    Premium

    Messages:
    1,793
    Ratings:
    +642
    @EsxPaul The Bodnar button box just works as it comes for switches that you assign in a game. Just plug a USB - B connector into the back and plug it into your computer.

    There is additional software you need to run when you are setting up a rotary.
    There is additional software that allows you to map keyboard keys to ANY button box.
     
    • Beer Beer x 1
  17. RCHeliguy

    RCHeliguy
    Premium

    Messages:
    1,793
    Ratings:
    +642
    If anyone has important functionality on a button box that I'm missing, I'd love to hear about it and the hardware that you used with links to parts ideally.

    Thanks!
     
  18. RCHeliguy

    RCHeliguy
    Premium

    Messages:
    1,793
    Ratings:
    +642
    The Leo Bodnar 64 input board has 3mm mounting holes. You don't need to use stand offs, but they look clean. I'm using 3mm lock nuts, stand offs and screws to mount mine.
    20191005_123244.jpg
     
    • Like Like x 2
  19. EsxPaul

    EsxPaul
    Premium

    Messages:
    449
    Ratings:
    +245
    Thank you. I've just been having a browse of the Bodnar site and I think all I'll need is the BBI-32 board, a rotary encoder and some wiring to do the upgrade :thumbsup:
     
  20. RCHeliguy

    RCHeliguy
    Premium

    Messages:
    1,793
    Ratings:
    +642
    You can order your rotary encoder and a knob with board from Leo Bodnar. One stop shopping :)

    32 inputs are recognized by all games. So far I know that iRacing, AC, ACC recognize all 64 inputs, but past that I will need to test. Some people use two 32 input boards if they have lots of controls to make sure they are accessible by all games. I saw the difference in price between the 32 and 64 which was minimal and thought I would plan for the future. At the moment I believe I have about 42 inputs planned. However if the software that maps keyboard buttons to button box buttons can handle the higher 32 inputs, that covers 11 inputs and puts me under 32 for everything else ( for now ).
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2019
    • Beer Beer x 1
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.