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Motion Hardware Series

Discussion in 'Sim Racing Hardware' started by Brian Clancy, Jan 24, 2011.

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  1. Brian Clancy

    Brian Clancy

    A Guide to Motion Sim Hardware with Berney Villers

    I am very proud to announce today the start of a brand new series on motion sim hardware at Racedepartment bought to you by myself and Berney Villers of SimXperience. We aim to bring you lots of ideas, some inspiration and the technical knowledge to 'de-mystify' what many consider the 'black art' of motion sim technology. We would like this series to be as interactive as possible, so to this end, I have made a questions/comments thread HERE in the SRHF forum and a Sticky thread HERE that will contain all the series articles. If you have EVER wondered about motion simming, NOW is your chance to get your questions answered and get the low down from a real expert in this field!


    Here is an introduction from Berney.......... Enjoy

    For those of you who don't know me, I am Berney Villers of SimXperience also known as (bvillersjr) in many forums. First, let me say thank you for the invitation to present the concept of DIY Sim Racing here at Race Department.
    The goal of this article is to familiarize you with motion simulation and some of the options that are available to you for assembling your own motion simulator.
    Rather than bore you with a technical explanation of motion simulators and motion simulation theory, I’ve prepared a few videos of my simulators configured for different purposes here: http://www.simxperience.com/Videos/tabid/301/language/en-US/Default.aspx . You can also find videos of DIY simulators at www.X-Simulator.de
    Traditionally, motion simulation has been a luxury reserved only for the elite few with deep pockets and ranged in price from $15,000 USD to $50,000 USD. Several recent developments have changed this and are making motion simulation cost effectively available to all. These developments are mainly, the X-Sim motion simulator software and the DIY Motion Starter Kits offered by SimXperience.
    So, just how much does it cost to build a motion simulator and what do you need to know? The answer to these questions depends largely on your skillset, available time, desired functionality and what components you already own. Typical DIY motion simulators range in cost from $1300 USD to $6000 USD and are typically purchased modularly. Which modules you need will depend entirely on your skillset. To illustrate this point, we can consider the SimXperience Motion Starter Kit and Seat Base products pictured below.


    If you have metal working skills and some mechanical engineering capability, you can build the seat base yourself and save some money on your simulator. If you have some electronics and wiring capabilities, you can build your own motion starter kit and purchase actuators individually. In short, every component that you need to assemble your own customized, world-class motion simulator can either be bought or built and the information for how to do so is readily available.
    In some upcoming articles we’ll discover just how easy it is and digger deeper into the components that make up a simulator:
    -Software for extracting physics data from games and sending it to actuators or motors
    -Actuators / motors and motor controllers to make your seat move
    - The cockpits themselves

    This is a great opportunity to learn more about motion sim technology and I would like to thank Berney for taking the time to write this series. Remeber, we want this to be as interactive as possible for everyone, so if your a complete novice to motion sim rigs or already an owner looking for more info on upgrades etc, get involved!
    Its YOUR Sim Hardware forum........ be part of it

  2. Brian Clancy

    Brian Clancy

    This is the second instalment in the sim motion series with Berney, enjoy...........

    In the introduction to this series, I mentioned digging further into the components that make up a racing simulator. In this article, we’ll discuss the software aspects of simulation. It is important to note that this information is provided for enthusiasts and the knowledge shared in this series is not necessary to enjoy motion simulation.


    SimXperience offers a complete line of Plug-N-Play / Install-N-Drive solutions for the motion simulation enthusiast. The only knowledge required to operate a simulator is related to game configuration such as installing a game and mapping your wheel in the game settings. If you are able to perform these simple tasks, then you have the skills necessary to enjoy DIY motion simulation. Having said that, I’m one of those people that must understand what goes on under the hood and if you’re still reading this, I’ll assume that you are as well.

    Racing simulation begins with a game that has the ability to output “motion data”. This motion data is then translated via a “motion profile” into simulator geometry specific instructions for actuators or motors. These instructions result in the movement of your simulator.

    As I mentioned in the introduction to this series, free software named X-Sim exists to perform this very task. X-Sim is a community project led by German engineer Martin Wiedenbauer. X-Sim is extremely flexible and is capable of powering a wide variety of simulators via a wide variety of actuators and electronics.

    Several key factors set X-Sim apart from competing motion engines:
    • Low Latency Data Delivery Rate (Instructions get to the actuators faster)
    • Large Number of Supported Games
    • Capable of Vehicle Specific Motion Profiles (More accurate motion)
    The ability to rapidly obtain motion data from a game and apply it to the actuators is a key factor in preventing lag which would result in an “immersion break”. In generic terms, an immersion break can be defined as any movement or untimely effect that does not seem natural and causes you to focus on the inaccurate effect and not on racing.

    The following may help you to better understand the benefits of vehicle specific motion.

    Vehicle Specific Motion Profiles
    • Maximum braking G-Forces are accurately defined and fine detail such as wheel hop can be detected by the user.
    • Bumps, Cornering G-Forces and Road Surface detail are accurate in any vehicle that you have a motion profile for.
    • No immersion breaks exist and motion quality is consistent throughout the driving experience.
    One Size Fits All Motion
    • Maximum braking G-Forces are unknown to the motion engine resulting in lost detail
    • Maximum cornering (Lateral G’s) forces are unknown resulting in extreme movements in some vehicles and miniscule movements in others.
    • Motion engine is constantly attempting to rescale and determine the maximum force values resulting in a constantly changing feel and at times almost no motion at all after being bumped by another vehicle or rubbing a wall
    Vehicle specific motion is one of the key differences between a professional simulation experience and simple gaming movements.Later in this series, I will give you a sneak peek out our upcoming Sim Commander 2 software and some video demonstrations of how easy it is for anyone to build and tune a vehicle specific motion profile.
    For now, we’ll keep with the overview concept. The next article will discuss the actuators, electronics and motors that receive the data from the X-Sim motion engine software.
    Remember, you can ask Berney questions etc HERE in the special Q&A thread in the SRH Forum :)

  3. Brian Clancy

    Brian Clancy

    This is the next facinating instalment of Berneys guide to motion sim rigs....Enjoy

    In the last articles, we discussed a bit about simulation software and the motion engine software that extracts physics data from the games and turns it into instructions for actuators or motors.
    In this article, I’ll be offering an overview of motion control adapters, motor controllers and common actuator / motor options.
    The motion control software typically communicates with a motion controller or motion control adapter via USB or serial communications. The X-Sim motion control software provides interfaces for both.
    Deciding between linear actuators or DC motors is often the most difficult decision for most DIY sim builders. DC motor based solutions (such as wiper motors) offer a much lower entry price but also a far greater level of complexity and inferior performance in most cases. However, if budget is a primary concern; a power supply, DC motor controller, H-Bridge and DC motors are a viable option.
    These components can be either bought or built. At the moment, there is no off-the-shelf Plug-N-Play DC motor solution for simulators. If you choose this route, be prepared for wiring, soldering and reading circuit diagrams at a minimum. If you’re up to this type of task and budget is the driving factor in your sim build, checkout Pololu.com. They offer reasonably priced motor controllers and H-Bridges. You’re then a power supply and some wiper motors (or other DC motors) away from being able to move a simulator.
    Please note that one could write a book on DC motor control and choosing an optimal combination of power supply, controller, H-Bridge and motors. This article is intended to be an overview and I am intentionally not writing that book.
    The next option is linear actuators with stepper motors. This option is commonly used on most professional simulators. Linear actuators provide excellent performance and lend themselves well to simulation use due to their high speeds, granular movements and ability to rapidly change direction.
    In recent years, linear actuators have become affordable enough for home simulation use. The Dyadic SCN Series of actuators are proven performers in the simulation arena and currently have the best price/ performance ratio. These actuators can be obtained for approximately $505 each.
    In a typical implementation, these actuators would be connected both to a DC power supply and RS485 serial adapters. USB to RS485 serial adapters and DC power supplies are available in a wide variety of online stores. If you have an interest in wiring these up yourself, you can refer to the following diagram. In this diagram, I used USB to RS485 adapters from a company called Devantech.

    [​IMG]After witnessing many DIY sim builders improperly wire their actuators and permanently damage them, I set out to develop a simpler and better performing option. The result of these lessons learned is the SimXperience SX-3000 Motion Starter Kit.

    [​IMG]This kit is truly Plug-N-Play and coupled with the included Sim Commander software it is fully Install-N-Drive capable.
    You simply plug it in to the wall, connect the USB cord to your PC, install the software on the included CD and drive.
    At this point, we’ve covered obtaining data from a game and getting it to actuators or motors. I hope that this has taken some of the mystery out of the motion portion of motion simulation.
    I didn’t want to bore everyone with too much technical detail. If you have further questions or comments, please ask in the forum.

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