Recently, I made a few improvements to my 2×4 sim rig in order to give it more of a car-like feel. Here’s the rundown.
Most simulator wheels are much smaller than the steering wheel in your car. I’m not sure why this is, but they tend to be around 10-11″ while cars are 13-14″. For reference, the stock NA Miata wheel is 14″. The wheel in my Yaris is a cheap eBay wheel measuring 350mm or about 13 3/4″. I want my sim rig to be as similar to a car as possible, so I bought another eBay wheel. These things run about $35 and the quality is good enough for racing. For another $35 you can get an adapter that will allow you to mount a standard 6-hole steering wheel onto a Thrustmaster base. You can buy a Thrustmaster base without a wheel for about $200, so $270-ish for a high quality wheel is a good deal. The only downside to this is that you won’t have a bunch of buttons on the wheel or paddle shifters. That’s okay because I don’t have those on my real vehicles.
Since I lost some steering wheel buttons, I wanted to replace those with a button box of some kind. What do you use a button box for? Ignition, windshield wipers, lights, pit requests, etc. While you can use a keyboard for that, it’s usually not within easy reach while driving. For that reason, many sim rigs have dedicated button boxes mounted like a dash. I salivated over button boxes like the one below from DSD. I even contemplated building my own using a USB chip from Bodnar (I’ve done that before for flight simulation).
In the end, I let my frugal side win and bought an external numeric keypad from Amazon for $8.99. I put a RAM mount on this and position it just left of my wheel.
I wasn’t sure if I would like a hand brake, so I ordered one from Amazon because they have a convenient return policy. I was expecting it to act like an on-off switch, but it outputs a range of values when operated. You can mount the handle horizontally or vertically. Mine is horizontal, like in most cars. Is it worth $90 for a hand brake? If you do a lot of rally driving, yes. Otherwise, no. Since DiRT Rally is one of my favorite titles, the answer for me is yes.
I’ve had a Logitech G25 shifter for a while, but it isn’t always connected to my rig. I started using paddle shifters when I got my Thrustmaster wheel, and they take up less desk space. But now that I don’t have paddles, I have to go back to the shifter. I don’t have that much of a preference either way. I feel like the shifter is the least important part of a sim rig.
In the picture below, you can see the current setup. The curved monitor is 2560×1080 at 144hz. There’s also a tiny 1280×720 monitor below on the left. I use that with DashPanel to monitor tire temperatures and such. Just below that, behind the steering wheel you can see the numeric keypad. Both the mini-monitor and keypad are attached with RAM mounts because I mount everything with RAM mounts. The hand brake is visible at the bottom.