Button Boxes | Useful Or An Unnecessary Indulgence?

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For new cars, most of the settings in sims boil down to "set it and forget it." Have never felt the need during an AC SRS race to monkey around with TC or ABS settings. G29 often has more than enough buttons even for intricate stuff like KERS, DRS, or hybrid management. Half of our sims don't even have rain or night time racing so why TF do I need to map extra buttons for wipers or lights?

That's a strange opinion with current sims. While I'm certainly not a very gifted driver, even I have to use a lot of the controls especially in endurance races in ACC. I will need to change TC, ABS and brake balance during the stint because otherwise my talent would run out pretty fast. And that's without weather changes, add that to mix and I will need a lot of additional switches from lights, wipers, engine map and so on.

You may be right for just 20min quick races, but as soon as it gets a bit more serious more buttons are extremely helpful.

Also I like to use my button box on different game genres like ETS2/ATS, ED and x-plane, it's quite versatile all around.
 

RCHeliguy

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I guess grabbing in that fan while searching your buttons blind might speed up learning that muscle memory a lot! :)

I only have one button box, but couldn't live wihtout it in VR, It's the only way to get enough buttons by touch, so I'm with you.

I assume you are joking since I would have to lean forward to purposefully reach past the top of my steering wheel to get into the fan. My wrists rest on the top of the steering wheel when my arms are straight.

But yeah, feeling for controls in a real car while your eyes are on the road, is that same as feeling for controls in VR while your eyes are on the road.

Even if I were in the cockpit of a plane with controls that have digital readouts and knobs or buttons next to them, I don't have problems reaching for a control that doesn't match up in space with what I see. I would still rather feel the button, switch, toggle, knob, joystick. That tactile feedback means a lot.

FWIW there is a Mech Warrior type game I have that uses hand controllers and a completely virtual interface. I could use it, but it drove me crazy just holding my hands out in space on virtual controls. They finally relented and added support for HOTAS and button mapping which feels much better to me.

However I applaud them for having a completely virtual interface for people without rigs or a full HOTAS. It allows many more people to play the game.

In that same way, People obviously can race without a button box if they want to. I consider a button box a convenience and nice to have. It improves my experience, but I'll never tell someone they absolutely have to have one. Whatever works for you.
 
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jimortality

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I have a button box and it's become a necessity especially as I play Euro truck a lot. I paid £40 from Bryan Davidson button boxes, definitely a good purchase for me.
 
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81JWWfyexKL._AC_SL1500_.jpg


Mine is obviously the best.
 
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the wheel button plates can only do so much, and if modeled after the real car, it is best. not just immersion, but practically al the settings should be there.
my problem is going from Oval racing to touring car, the wheel has to change, so i have compromised and have a custom buttom plate on my rim (larger 385mm) i don't have accessory boxes any more, other than my keyboard, which isn't ideal in LMP or formula races
 
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Button boxes are totally useless :roflmao:





Just kidding :D

I probably have more then the average simracer, but i need every one of them

I just love the ability to live tune my motion and tactile hardware. So besides all the obvious things like brake balance, wipers, reset, menu controls and pit controls. I use my button boxes for:
- Move seating position up/down, backwards/forwards
- Reset VR position
- Change volume
- Live tuning of my SFX of every single effect, but most of the time intensity, belt tension offset, bel tension intensity
- Change intensity of wind simulator
- Change intensity of Simvibe
- Change the strenght of the AccuForce FFB
- Change the display on the center console
- Voice control button for Crewchief
- Voice control button for SC4

The streamdecks are awesome for launching macros and displaying live tuning values, but with heavy motion it's very very hard to press the right button. In VR it's impossible to hit the right button on a stream deck.

So for me the streamdeck or a touchscreen with never replace a physical buttonbox
 
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Stan

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I custom designed a button box that would work well in VR and I love how it works. I may be biased it is my design.

The buttons, switches, joysticks, toggles and rotaries are all easy to find in VR. I made use of edges and different controls that makes it very easy to find what in need by touch and of course muscle memory.

A Stream deck would be completely useless to me because it is featureless.

View attachment 462630

View attachment 462632

And if something like this looks interesting to you, all the Fusion 360 files are shared on Thingaverse so you could start with this design and take it in a direction you prefer. It's modular, so individual front panels can be modified to take different controls.

It utilizes a Bodnar 64 input USB board and all the 3D printed two color labels have 5x2mm neodymium magnets holding them in place, so you can remap the controls for different games and just keep a picture of each set of mappings and labels.

the shifter and handbrake modul you also build by your own?
kind of overkill your rig but it looks amazing and think it will great fun to use.

so many nice details like the huge TCS knob, which material they are? Also printed ones? if it is printed how you make the letters and arrows on them? by printing aswell?
 

RCHeliguy

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the shifter and handbrake modul you also build by your own?
kind of overkill your rig but it looks amazing and think it will great fun to use.

so many nice details like the huge TCS knob, which material they are? Also printed ones? if it is printed how you make the letters and arrows on them? by printing aswell?

Overkill is relative, but I like it. Links to the controls below.




The knobs were 3D printed with a filament change to white for the top layers with lettering and arrows.

 
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Stan

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Overkill is relative, but I like it. Links to the controls below.




The knobs were 3D printed with a filament change to white for the top layers with lettering and arrows.

the housing for handbrake and shifter I meant, it looks like metal
 

RCHeliguy

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the housing for handbrake and shifter I meant, it looks like metal

Ahhh...

I just drilled some holes in a chunk of 1/4" aluminum plate for the H-pattern shifter. It has 2 corner braces under it and 3 bolts go into the piece of 80x40 supporting it.
plateInstalled_4957.jpg


I've since replaced the aluminum trackball mouse mount, but under that is a piece of 1/4" aluminum angle supporting a couple 8020 pivots so the hand brake alignment lines up with the natural angle of my arm.

holesHandbrakemount_5850.jpg
 
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I've got 2 of the gamer version, but they don't fit directly out of the box as the PS Challenge metal tubing is too thin, so you need to use something like rubber tubing, or other material to place between the clamps and the tubes.

As to am I satisfied? Well yes on the whole I am, but I only use them for immersion purposes - road feel, kerb feel and bumps, rather than informational stuff like US, OS, TC and ABS. I've got them set up in stereo, so left and right, and it does work very well. At first I was a bit meh about them, but honestly I wouldn't drive without them now (well I would, but... you know what I mean). You do need something which reads the sims realtime telemetry like simhub for them to really function. Just relying on the bass signals from the audio output just doesn't work.

On the whole they're a nice and relatively cheap way of getting an extra bit of tactile immersion without going the costly, and IMO disappointing (based on said cost), full motion route,.
Thank you for the information, I'm going to investigate a bit more. 2 buttkickets are a 500 euros, investment though. Simhub seems to be a great tool!
 

Slapped

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Thank you for the information, I'm going to investigate a bit more. 2 buttkickets are a 500 euros, investment though. Simhub seems to be a great tool!
You don't need 2, one will be just fine. I just wanted to try a second one to see if I could get a more positional effect (left and right). While it does do that, it's not a significant enough improvement to really warrant the extra cash.
 

RCHeliguy

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You don't need 2, one will be just fine. I just wanted to try a second one to see if I could get a more positional effect (left and right). While it does do that, it's not a significant enough improvement to really warrant the extra cash.

I agree that left/right information is marginal at best, however front/rear information is very useful.

I have transducers under my pedal deck that let me know when my front end is starting to slide and a more powerful transducer on my seat that lets me know when the rear end is starting to slide.

I have other effects as well that help with immersion, but the front / rear slide information is actually helpful in a race.
 
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