Pitlanes team member Jason has been busy messing about with a selection power tools and some choice language to build himself a new sim racing rig and bellow is his story.
The idea started to come about after buying a Simxperience Accuforce direct drive wheel a few months ago which really began to highlight some long standing issues i was having with my very old and abused rSeat Evo rig, which had served me well for many a year but really needed replacing.
So the search began for another sim rig from the main players in the field, but it soon brought up the old problem which i had when trying to find my last rig which is the size and layout of pre built rigs.
You see i am the harry Potter of the sim racing world as my rig needs to fit within a cupboard under the stairs in the corner of my living room !
This gives me a maximum size of 130cm x 90cm to play with which does not sound to bad but within that needs to go all the other things required to be a sim racer, such as a PC, monitor and other smaller peripherals which all eat into that space.
Then I also had to take the price of some of these rigs into consideration and even though i had brought some fairly decent sim gear over the years a lot of it was second hand or brought using funds from selling other items so add cost to the lack of rigs that would be suitable size wise I put the plan on ice for a while.
A little while later I was able to secure a selection of wooden roofing trusses and some MDF panelling for nothing and the rig build was back on, if it was type of material was going to be able to support a direct drive wheel and load cell pedals. I figured there was only one way to find out and that was to build it and see, all I was going to lose was a weekend of cutting and screwing so i thought it was worth taking a punt.
I did buy some decent 6mm wood screws and some proper wood glue to help make sure once it went together it stayed together and those bucket seat mounts came from eBay, but i would need these even this build didn’t work out and i looked at possibly using Aluminium extrusion instead. So that was about £30 with only a tenner being sunk into the wood rig its self.
I fitted the bucket seat mounts first and I used this as a minimum dimension guide which came out at 42cm. I did know i had a maximum of 50cm to play with so this influenced the next decision which was to set the seat within the wooden frame.
The first cuts were then tentatively made and the basic wood frame was built giving me the outer size of the rig which was 128cm x 50cm.
I then fitted the uprights the seat would be fitted to giving me the point of reference for the height and distance for the wheel deck. The next major point on the build.
You see the wheel could not be mounted higher than 76cm other wise it would not slide under the stairs at the rear of the sim racing cupboard. On my old rig i had to modify the wheel base mounting plate so it hung under the rig arm rather than on the top so it fit.
Now this meant i lost a lot of adjust-ability in height and angle and also meant i would pull down on the rig arm eventually leading to some small cracks to appear at the base of the arm.
I knew that now I had the chance to build a custom rig I could make sure I could put this right this time round.
I took the whole original rig mounting plate off and was going to use this on the new rig. So this meant I then knew the total height of the wheel and mount and could then work out what height the new rig frame would need to be to stay under the 76cm limit.
The frame is 50cm high which then gave me a total height of 74cm allowing me to have a bit of room to adjust wheel angle for a more comfortable driving experience. The wheel deck frame as also made of timber that was twice the thickness of the rig frame to allow me to have a greater surface area to glue and screw it together with and would be less prone to twisting in the future. As you can see as an added precaution i fitted two brace sections to help make sure this section of the rig was as sturdy as possible.
So far so good and everything seemed to be going as I kinda thought it would and although I didn’t have a detailed plan as such I had a basic idea in my head of what I wanted, but then disaster struck throwing the whole project into jeopardy as I suffered what can only be described as a major and what I thought debilitating injury !
It turns out after checking with the wife that it was nothing too serious that a small plaster and cup of coffee couldn’t fix ! I took a quick break to settle my nerves and regain my composure and the build resumed, phew !
Now I had the seat and wheel position sorted it was time to deal with the pedals. I was not to sure at first how i was going to tackle this part of the rig build as I want to have an angle to my pedals but wanted to make sure I did not have the issue of flex i had with my old rig. and that it fitted under the stairs.
So I originally I mounted them to the rig frame at the rear with a thinner section of wood as the front mount. But this was not great and I did not feel comfortable at all with them fitted in this position so time for a re think.
I used the original rig as inspiration and build a pedal plate which would allow me to adjust pedal position until I found the ideal spot for me. This worked out to be a success and after some tweaking I have now found the ideal distance and angle for me and I am happy with that final part of the main rig build.
I wanted to lessen the impact of building the rig out of wood and find some way of softening the rather basic look of it just being a frame and that’s where the MDF panels came in.
I placed the MDF against the side of the rig and used the rig itself to make a template and then added some extra detail to help cover up some of the joins and simple shape. Its still fairly basic in design but I was ok with the way it turned out so I added some sections along the seat base to hide the wooden sections that it sat on and I think it now looked less hostile to the eye.
The last piece of the puzzle was the shifter and how to fix that to the rig. Once again a bit of old kit came to the rescue in the form of an old rSeat shifter arm from an unknown rig from their now most likely discontinued range.
The base of the mount just, and I do mean just, fitted in between the frame and the seat base. So I added an off cut of wood behind the MDF panel and drilled through and bolted this arm to the rig frame via this new hidden wood mounting point. I was glad this worked out ok and it certainly saved a lot of head scratching on how I was going to do this, it also shows the importance of never throwing odd things out as you never know when they might be used again !
It was then time to double check rig would fit into cupboard before making a start on anything else with the build.
Thankfully rig fitted ok and door could be closed behind it without any issues, which meant all my measuring had worked for once.
As the rig has to slide in and out of the cupboard I went with a tried and tested method of gluing some off cuts from a carpet runner which makes it easy to not only pull the rig and out of the cupboard but it does not mark the wood floor either.
Now I have got to this stage it was time to start testing the rig to see if it would actually hold up and work.
So far I have fired up a selection of sims and done a few hours of racing and after checking and re checking to make sure nothing has come lose, cracked or split all seems ok and it seems to handle the forces from my sim gear without any flexing or twisting which i can tell you i am very relieved about.
Here is a quick video clip showing the rig sliding in and out of the cupboard after its first test – https://www.instagram.com/p/BwmzQcQlUqH/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
I am now going to wait before I do any more finishing work for a few days while I make sure everything holds up but I do plan on covering the MDF panels in carbon fibre wrap and the rest of the rig will be painted black as I have a new pot of that paint sitting on shelf.
In total I have been working on this rig for about three days and probably spent about £25 on odds and sods after getting the wood for nothing, if you discount the seat mounts which i would of brought if i had got one of the many other commercially available rigs anyway that is, but if you do include them I am still on the right side of 50 quid which is not half bad in my book.
My first experiences with the rig have been very positive with the first thing I ended up doing is turning down the overall FFB value of my wheel down as I am now feeling a lot more of what a DD wheel has to offer now its held in place securely and my wife has noticed how much quieter my racing is now with no creaking or clunking sounds my old metal rig produced.
I will be documenting how I get on with my new rig on the Pitlanes Discord Group so if you want to find out more then please come and join in – https://discord.gg/qZmYnAQ
I hope this story has inspired you to have a go at building a custom sim rig and if has then please share your experiences with us in our discord group.