As a fan of all things immersive, I like to try new things out in order to get the most realistic experience possible from my equipment. So I contacted Frank Rico to see if I could organise one of his D.I.Y. v2 load cell kits for the Logitech G25 and G27. Happily, he consented and speedily shipped me a review model to test for you here.
Probably one of the most important pieces of equipment in anyone’s sim racing set up is a good brake pedal. There are sim racers that swear by their hydraulic or load cell equipped pedal sets and others whom are just as content racing with a standard spring loaded pedal. Some of the fastest sim racers achieve alien times using bog standard equipment! So why a load cell? If you are into immersion as much as I am, a load cell can be a cost effective way to mimic the feel of a real world hydraulic brake and give you the immersion you are looking for.
So what’s in this D.I.Y. kit? Basically, everything you need to install the load cell mod is included in one small box, printed detailed instructions, load cell, PCB, spring with rubber stopper and three rip ties. Pictured, but not included is the drilled top half of my G27’s brake piston. Although there is no soldering involved in installing this mod, I still see it as a true D.I.Y. project. There are aspects that might put some people off, while others such as myself will really enjoy changing things up. So to each their own I say!
As with previous reviews, I like to begin by showing you guys which tools are required to enable you to install this load cell mod.
Pictured from left to right are, Allen key 2,5mm, Small Side Cutters, Scribe or pointy metal implement, Stanley Knife, Ruler, Needle Nosed Pliers and a small and large Philips Head Screwdriver. Not pictured, but very handy to have at the ready is a small dish or container to deposit all those removed screws.
Included in the D.I.Y. kit is a comprehensive printed instruction sheet, pictorially depicted with accompanying text. Alternatively you may like to view Ricmotech’s YouTube installation video which has some handy tips and hints included. I went ahead and read through the instructions before installing the mod, which in themselves are perfectly adequate. However, I ended up using the video as a reference for my install.
Disassembling The G27’s Pedals
The best way to prepare the G27 pedals for this mod is to have an old shoebox or similar to cradle the G27 pedals in an inverted position. This allows you to remove all of the 14 silver and 12 black screws from the underside of the base. Prior to this you will have to remove the brake pedal face from the pedal arm using a 2,5mm allen key.
A word of caution, handle the brake assembly with care when removing it from the housing. The wiring is quite delicate and easily damaged. In addition to this, when removing the clips from the potentiometer it is extremely important to exercise restraint whilst using your needle nosed pliers to grip the clips and gently remove them from their respective positions.
Load Cell Installed
With the load cell installed in the top half of the piston and the wire routed through the previously drilled 5mm hole, it was time to reassemble the brake assembly and get it back into the base.
The next step was to attach the new PCB and wiring to the existing potentiometer clips. Be sure to follow the colour sequence for reattaching the wires and clips. not forgetting to re-attach the ground wire to the side of the brake assembly by means of a small grub screw which was removed earlier during disassembly. Now follow this step by peeling off the self-adhesive backing and positioning the new PCB within the top section of the G27’s housing. Here is where I deviated slightly from the instructions and decided to have the PCB sitting slightly proud of the plastic moulding as can be seen here in the photo below.
This allowed me to have the wires which originated from the load cell itself, exit the PCB at a natural angle and loop back around to the self-adhesive side of the PCB. Here I firmly pressed the main wire into the self-adhesive material. This gave me a little more peace of mind that once everything was buttoned up, the wires were not going to move around and put pressure on the PCB’s connection point.
Additionally, I opted to swap the previously installed GTEYE springs out. What was the brake spring is now doing duty as a clutch spring and the clutch spring now regulates my throttle pedal. Because of the extra leverage I achieve with my seating position this turned out to be a good decision giving me the right amount of resistance in the other two pedals. Now with the tie rips holding the rest of the wiring at bay, it was time to close up the base and get it back on my rig.
All Back Together And Ready To Go
Now that all the steps had been followed and the G27 pedals were whole again, I was very eager to hard mount them back into my rig and feel the results of what this 35 to 40 minute project had in store for me! As you can see, I do not have a standard G27 set up. My self built rig is based off of a HyperStim design which calls for Formula-style pedals. The G27’s pedals do not have these as standard, of course, me being me, I made my own extensions to offer the desired near vertical foot position once seated in my rig.
Time To Brake!
With the mod installed, the first thing I wanted to do was feel how hard the pedal had now become! Soft-soled slippers or shoes are the first thing you will need when pressing on this brake, it is hard with a capital H! With a short 20mm of travel and 35 kilos of pressure before you hit that wall of stiffness, you know you have just installed a heavy duty mod! The amount of travel that is built into this mod brings the brake pedal almost exactly parallel with the throttle when at its rest position. Heel and toe is the order of the day, ladies and gentleman, exactly what I was hoping for as this is my favourite way to drive those hairy chested race cars from the not so distant past!
Racing With The Ricmotech Load Cell
Down to business then, after recalibrating the pedals in Assetto Corsa, I went straight for my favourite combo, the Mazda 787b and the incredibly technical Nordschleife. Out on circuit, the immediate sensation was, ‘’Whoohoo, I can brake as if I were in a real car!’’ With ABS turned off and now being able to actually feel the amount of pressure required to threshold or trail brake, as well as the point of where I would be locking the brakes, I wanted to see how much quicker I could be?
Back down to Earth after that initial moment of euphoria, it was painfully obvious that I was not going to be quicker any time soon. There is a whole new learning curve for braking with a load cell. Thankfully, it is not that steep and after a few hours of practice and adjusting my braking points I got to within six hundredths of a second of my best Nordschleife time of 6:16,223. However, I expect to break this time after a few more hours in the Mazda.
EDIT 03-09-2015: I was right, my best time has now become 6:15,855, nearly half a second over the full Nordschleife is not too shabby!
EDIT 10-09-2015 New PB is 6:14,346 WhooHoo
On shorter circuits my times have improved rapidly! I can say with 99% certainty that the load cell is solely responsible for my improvements. It is a huge help to me to know I can really jump on the brakes and not get instant lock ups, dabbing them now brings the nose into the apex much more accurately and the weight transfer of the car I am racing is much more perceptible. I would class these as very positive improvements indeed. Not forgetting the immersion level, which for me has just been taken up a few notches!
Pricing And Shipping
These prices were correct at the time of publication, September 2015. All prices were taken from the official Ricmotech website and include sales tax where applicable. For shipping costs, please check the website here. All prices quoted are subject to fluctuating currency rates.
Price for this review model, Load Cell Conversion for Logitech G25 and G27 (v2) item #: RMT-LC27
Euro € 115,47 / USD $ 129.95 / BP £ 84,75 / AUD $ 184.60 / CND $ 171.31
Ricmotech have produced a great mod which is compatible with PC and consoles alike, so any console owners wishing to create more immersion, you are covered guys! Frank Rico offers excellent customer service and is only too happy to answer any questions or queries one may have regarding his sim racing products. On top of that, he is a genuinely good bloke and it is a pleasure to deal with him.
Is this load cell mod for every G25 or 27 owner? Honestly speaking, maybe not. It comes down to what you would like to get out of sim racing. If you are like me, realism is important and I can appreciate what this load cell mod does for the way I race. The mod imparts the feel of a race car’s brake, that is, very little travel and a decent amount of your energie is required to operate it optimally.
Also, there are alternatives out there such as the the GTEYE spring set, Perfect Pedal mod, (which have more travel and a softer feel), or even fully hydraulic set ups which can run over a thousand dollars. Others may not want a hard pedal feel or find the price point too expensive. Whichever way you choose, if you are into realistic immersion and your budget allows for it, it will be money well spent.
To me, the immersion, performance and time gains I am now able to enjoy justifies the $ 129.95 price tag!