Cockpit Lessons learned from rig building

Discussion in 'Sim Racing Systems & Troubleshooting' started by pb1, Feb 15, 2020.

  1. pb1

    pb1 Rookie

    In a former life I was a boilermaker (heavy metal fabricator) and one day I decided to make my own rig for driving and flight sims. I went to U-Pull-It, found a seat which wasn't naffed (passenger side are the "cleanest"), grabbed some RHS (Rolled Hollow Section; yes, the square stuff is rolled from a reem of flat steel), and built it from the ground up armed with an angle grinder, an inverter welder and a crayon sketch drawn with my mind's eye.

    The gallery (some pics have notes):
    (yeah, I built it in my old kitchen because there was no chance I could make that piece of 70s poop worse :D)

    What works
    • Offset pedals for comfortable left foot braking. Clutching is rare, and when you're driving a car which needs it, having it a bit further off to the left is no biggy because you don't need much force to push the pedal. Having a proper throw for your braking foot is far more important, especially in races where you don't get respite for a couple of hours.
    • The steering wheel axis of rotation being inline with, or just below, your shoulder blades. You can get best wheel leverage without over extending while turning; you'll notice most RL cars have chosen a middle ground with their wheel placement to suit as many heights as possible, or they provide wheel adjustment.
    • For what it is it's reasonably compact. It could be better, but with the seat fully forward and pedal plate stood up the base frame is the maximum length with no overhang.
    • A wheel mount which can be moved out of the way. Getting in and out of the rig was a small oversight when I was making it. If I have the keyboard/mouse plate mounted with HOTAS left and right, it's a bit hard to get in and out of. Next rig will drop the wheel further out of the way so you can comfortably stand with the wheel attached to its base.
    • The screw in feet; flat floors aren't..
    • The little plastic stick on clip things you can use to organise the cables. Having these as plastic means they'll break when you inadvertently kick a cable. I personally prefer those little suckers breaking over damaging cables.
    • Having an 8port USB hub mounted under the seat. keyboard, mouse, wheel, pedals, phone, track-ir etc.
    • Passive gas struts to cussion the wheel mount as it tilts back to rest.
    What doesn't work
    • ****ing galvanised steel, it can **** a ****. Welding it is like pouring water on hot oil (do not try this, you will hurt yourself and others), just use regular untreated mild steel. Once you're done, prep post production for primer and paint.
    • The seat sitting flat with your legs straight ahead (no kink in your knees). I had to do a mod soon after I made it to tilt the seat back to induce a knee bend. This makes it a little luls when you pull the seat forward/backward adjust and you roll backwards. This conveniently makes it much easier to get out of the rig..
    • Being so low to the ground. The problem here isn't what you expect, it's because my TV is above the magic OH&S height, so you tilt your head back to see the whole screen which seriously fatigues your neck. You can tilt the seat back and adjust that way, but it's not ideal for race distances. This is one of the main reasons i've not driven for a while; the neck/back pain over time is too much.
    • A seat with no lumber or pitch adjustment. Everyones kinematics are different, you need to be able to fine adjust the seat because everything else on the rig is almost literally welded in place. I toyed with getting an electric seat, but didn't/haven't purely because trying to find one in good nick is a bit hard. Peugeot 406 from 2001 has them, but I was unable to find one which didn't look like a tramp had "used" it..
    • Faux bucket seats, the seat I have wraps around by your shoulder blades which pushes your shoulders forward instead of just supporting your mid torso. This is another cause of back pain from extended drives.
    • People use tube because it can be lighter for similar physical properties (frame twist resistance); 25x50x1.6 RHS is.... robust and excessively adequate.. Next time I think I'll use 25x25 for most of it, but the wheel mount needs to be strong because you can crank some serious torque through the wheel when trying to get out of a tank slapper.
    • Mouse and keyboard at a decent height when the wheel is mounted. Moving the rig in and out of position is hard, so I use a coffee table to my right for the mouse in regular gaming. See previous point about OH&S ergonomics.
    • The gear shift mounting. I chose to hang it off the seat rail, which is functional, but it's not really sturdy enough for slamming the H pattern around.
    Things not to compromise on
    • Get the best seat you can. Comfort is key.
    • Ergonomics. The OH&S stuff you're fed in an office environment is real. If you have to in any way over extend, or you have to compromise your seating position to fit your surroundings, you're going to ultimately be sad; trust me..

    So, yeah, that's my rig. I hope my story has been of benefit and you got something from it. I just thought I'd share because it's kinda fun getting back on the tools :)