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#1 Siddley

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 12:54

Hello all, first post here :)

 

I am beginning a semi-commercial project to replicate the controls ( gearchange mechanism, pedals ) of a 'generic' historic racing car for use with computer simulators. I haven't quite decided how they will work yet and need the help of some  knowledgeable people.

Firstly the gearshift. I'm thinking of producing this in two styles - a gated shifter with a mechanical lockout for reverse positioned on the gate  as seen on many Ferrari's and other sports car based racers. This should be reasonably straightforward - I am struggling to find good clear images of this style of shifter though - can anyone help ?
The second style of shifter is more problematic. It's the kind you would mainly see on open wheel racing cars, very often associated with a Hewland box.
As far as I can figure out there is what I'll call a torque tube which rotates to provide movement in the lateral plane and a rod running inside the tube that slides to give fore and aft movement. Am I right ?  I have managed to find more images of this kind of shifter than the gated type, but I cannot for the life of me see anything which would work as a reverse gear lockout. How was this performed ?
The final consideration for the gearshift would be its 'feel' - I have no access to any historic sports or racing cars and if there are any owners of this type of car who could provide input, or if anyone has links to online copies of roadtests I would be very greatful.

The pedals are a lot simpler, I'm looking mainly for as many pictures as I can find of the different style of pedal shapes, and the spacing between brake and accelerator. The simulator I personally use ( rFactor ) can be set up with a software plugin that requires heel and toe to match revs on downshifts, and a surprising number of people use this for the sake of realism. I have experimented to find pedal spacings that work well for me - but as I have limited movement in my ankle from a bike crash most other folks would find them a little awkward.

Finally I'd love to hear stories about from people who have driven, or own a historic sports or racing car, with regard to the feel of the controls. I want to get this right ( generic, but right :lol:  )

I can document the building of the shifter and pedals in the simulator section of the forum as a 'thank you' for your help...if there is any interest that is.



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#2 alansart

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 13:23

 

The second style of shifter is more problematic. It's the kind you would mainly see on open wheel racing cars, very often associated with a Hewland box.
As far as I can figure out there is what I'll call a torque tube which rotates to provide movement in the lateral plane and a rod running inside the tube that slides to give fore and aft movement. Am I right ?  I have managed to find more images of this kind of shifter than the gated type, but I cannot for the life of me see anything which would work as a reverse gear lockout. How was this performed ?
 

My only experience of Hewland Gearbox's is a Mk9 in a late 70's Formula Ford. Selection of reverse gear was protected by quite a strong spring. Reverse can be quite difficult to select especially seconds after a spin and when one's in a precarious position :)

 

See the exploded drawing and text on pages 16 & 17 of the attached. I think the spring is item 3.

 

http://historicformu...k9-27-01-10.pdf



#3 Siddley

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 13:45

Very helpful Alan, although it's making me doubt the suitability of this kind of shifter for sim racing. Sometimes the user will want 4 gears, sometimes 5, and people have their own preferences about where reverse should be and if 1st is on a dogleg. That can all be setup in the software, but matching it up mechanically is probably going to require a gate.
Best to find out now rather than after cutting metal :)

 



#4 f1steveuk

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 14:42

I'll add to the problems!! Ferrari I believe used an interlock, so you couldn't change down say 4th to 2nd, you had to go via 3rd, that's if I understood what I was being told correctly!!

 

Having worked in a motor museum, the older you go, the more the variation, but as a rule, most reverses seemed simply to be locked by a sliding gate, or a plunger lock, which meant operating the shift with one hand while holding open a spring loaded gate or detent with the other. Once the shift was pulled back to neutral, the detent/gate would snap back across, in the hope you wouldn't need it again!!

 

We used a sim' at FOM so we could drive each circuit to plan cameras, and my biggest complaint was always the feel of the brakes, and we partially solved this by putting a squash ball under the pedal, and then calibrate the pedal to take flat against full compression of the ball as "brakes locked up", so it would actually give a reasonably realistic "feel" to the brakes/pedal.



#5 Michael Ferner

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 17:37

What will be the setup of the pedals, brakes in the middle or on the right?

#6 Siddley

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 17:42

Interesting you mention the interlock Steve, I have seen a video of Martin Brundle driving a Lotus 49 and he mentioned the gearchange being sequential in that respect.
If I sit down and have a very hard think I might be able to come up with a way to replicate that. Maybe... I'm not sure the added difficulty would be a selling point or not...

The brake issue is a very real one with sim racing pedals. There are some weird and wonderful schemes involving real hydraulics, pressure sensors, load cells and dual rate springs. My own solution is pretty close to yours, involving rubber under compression. It doesn't look trick, in fact you can't even see it - but it works well enough.
The clutch is another issue, but less important. All the mass produced pedal sets I am aware of just use a simple spring, so there is no feeling of the clutch engaging and disengaging. I have solved that problem with a falling rate linkage.



#7 Siddley

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 17:53

What will be the setup of the pedals, brakes in the middle or on the right?

 

The pedals will be individual units that bolt to a common frame, so having the brakes on the right would be an option. I don't think there are any cars available for rFactor or GTR2 that used that configuration though...



#8 f1steveuk

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 18:47

Yes, the clutch is another problem, finding the bite, backing off, hitting the revs and dropping it, very satisfying! Of course there then comes another problem, once moving, I rarely used the clutch (unless it was something like our 1926 Bentley (throttle in the middle)), but I'd guess that could be done as part of the program? If the clutch pedal registers no movement, but the throttle is "blipped" correctly, it changes smoothly and quietly, again, enormously satisfying!!!



#9 Siddley

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 22:37

You can't use the normal cues to determine when the clutch bites, there being no seat of the pants sensation ( unless you have a motion platform ) but in practice it's not so hard to do. It's OK for sim racing, but you wouldn't want to do a hill start with it :)

The plugin which simulates gear and clutch interaction is pretty clever though. It does a quick calculation involving road speed, revs, gear being selected, the 'compression' of the engine and if the clutch is being used. Then it'll decide if the gear change is allowed or not. If it decides the change isn't possible then you'll hear a grinding noise and the box drops into neutral. It works very well and allows clutchless upshifts.
The down side is that your change isn't baulked, so you can have the lever in the 2nd gear position, but really you are in neutral.

One interesting feature though is that the software outputs a 'missed shift' signal which can be read over your computers serial connection and linked to an electro-mechanical gubbins which could physically prevent movement of the lever, or bounce it into neutral. I haven't heard of anyone taking advantage of this by building the hardware yet though.

Getting gear changes right is very satisfying in the sim, although probably a LOT less satisfying than doing it in real life with a 1926 Bentley :)



#10 hillsprint

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 22:40

From my experience of Hewland Mk8 and FT200, the mechanism has no centring spring in the 3rd / 4th plane , as in a modern 5 speed box, the gear lever flops about on a Hewland, and it takes a bit of experience to know where all the gears are :) , whereas the Logitech G25 that I used for Sim Racing has a fully sprung 5 & R gate, far too easy !! So make sure you have some well used garden hose between the lever and the selection mechanism to make it's truly authentic :)

#11 Bloggsworth

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 22:56

In a Mk9 Hewland you could change from 4th direct to 2nd, or even 1st if you wanted to. In my Merlin reverse selection was prevented by a lift-up tab. The use of reverse wasn't recommended as the idler gear shaft was only supported at one end.



#12 Siddley

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 00:11

Interesting stuff guys, please keep it coming  ;)

 

Hillsprint - my setup is a G25, but I doubt Mr Logitech would recognise it now after all the modifications it's gone through :lol:



#13 Manfred Cubenoggin

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 00:29

I frequently do sim racing(GPL and rFactor primarily)and use a Logitech G25.  Quite a few years on it, in fact.  While the steering wheel is the 8th Wonder of the World in terms of feel and robustness, the pedals have always been a disappointment.  In my real-life racing experience in FV's and FF's, pedal travel was always minimal and force high.  With DS11-spec pucks in my Crossle, it was all I could do to muster the force just to brake normally let alone lock 'em up.  It's just the opposite with the Logi unit; lotsa travel with minimal force.  Sure wish we had FFB in the pedal cluster.  :)

 

Good Luck in your endeavours, Siddley.



#14 Siddley

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 02:17

I frequently do sim racing(GPL and rFactor primarily)and use a Logitech G25.  Quite a few years on it, in fact.  While the steering wheel is the 8th Wonder of the World in terms of feel and robustness, the pedals have always been a disappointment.  In my real-life racing experience in FV's and FF's, pedal travel was always minimal and force high.  With DS11-spec pucks in my Crossle, it was all I could do to muster the force just to brake normally let alone lock 'em up.  It's just the opposite with the Logi unit; lotsa travel with minimal force.  Sure wish we had FFB in the pedal cluster.  :)

 

Good Luck in your endeavours, Siddley.

If you use rFactor then you probably heard of the Historx mod team ? I was a member for a while, working on a 3d model for them. I originally had an idea to build a replica of a certain 60's Porsche prototype racing car as a real vehicle and showed them the CAD files. They asked me to join them in bringing it to rFactor but it proved really difficult for me. I had reverse engineered ( as best I could )  the 908 using Solidworks and it doesn't translate too well to a model for a game. They are two very different concepts and two different skills. Then we emigrated from the UK to rural Spain, stuff happened, and my part of the project stalled. Along the way I lost all the work I had done in a hard disk crash :cry:

The Historx guys are real enthusiasts who live and breathe classic race cars, I can't praise them enough.

Thanks for the kind words :)



#15 Bloggsworth

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 10:07

A quick sketch of the gearchange mechanism in my Merlyn & Nomad FF:

 

Gearchange.jpg



#16 f1steveuk

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 11:01

Would that black ball be a lovely bit of wood, polished over the years by use!!??

 

Siddley, I admire your determination to gt it right, can't help thinking your in the right place here!!



#17 Manfred Cubenoggin

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 12:22

I neglected to mention in my post above that while the steering wheel of my Logitech G25 is superb and the pedal cluster so-so, the shift lever pod is/was junk.  The six-speed, H-pattern affair failed soon after opening the box.  :(

 

I'm forced to use the paddle shifters which is far less satisfying for historic mods, including the most excellent HistoricX offering.



#18 Bloggsworth

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 12:24

Plastic with a threaded brass insert, available from almost anywhere...



#19 f1steveuk

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 13:13

Plastic with a threaded brass insert, available from almost anywhere...

Oh well!



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#20 Siddley

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 14:22

I think ( I know actually ) that I'm a frustrated racing vehicle constructor. I say 'vehicle' because motorbikes are my first love. I can look at something like a BRM engine or a Honda RC166 until the cows come home. What actually made me aware of this forum was the cutaway vehicles thread.
Sadly I don't have the financial resources to build a real classic racing car or bike, so I'll have to stick with the sim racing for the forseeable future.

Manfred - Logitech supply the G25 gear shift unit as a replacement part. It's about £35 UK pounds but as you have found out it's a truly miserable device. Internally it's over complex and fragile. It's a real shame you have to use the paddle shift for Historx...

 

Bloggsworth - thanks for the drawing, it's pretty much as I had guessed.

 

Another question - were truly sequential shifters used on racing cars before, say, the 90's ? 

 



#21 f1steveuk

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 14:33


 

Another question - were truly sequential shifters used on racing cars before, say, the 90's ? 

 

Well Keith Duckworth designed a sequential gear change for the Lotus 16, late 1959, early 1960s I believe, otherwise known as the Lotus "queerbox". This is from memory, so it stands to be corrected, but the gearchange was a simple forward for up, backwards for down, that I recall.

 

Somewhere in this forum is a chap that built a very very good, full size Tyrrell P34 tub, in wood and MDF, for his sim, well worth looking for!!



#22 Charlieman

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 14:50

Ankle operated pedals come in two forms -- pendant style and organ style. The pendant style has its pivot point above the foot. The organ style usually has the pivot point at ankle height. Ergonomically, they provide different behaviours as the ball of the foot slides across the pedal surface.

 

There is also the leg operated pedal where greater force is required (eg some clutch and rear brake pedals before 1919).



#23 D-Type

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 15:36

~

 

Another question - were truly sequential shifters used on racing cars before, say, the 90's ? 

 

Some cars, e.g. the Smith-Climax F2 car from about 1957-58, used motorcycle gearboxes which I think are sequential.  I think a preselector gearbox such as the used in ERA and Connaught operates sequentially.



#24 Peter Morley

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 15:38

The Lotus 49 with a ZF gearbox did have a sequential shift - e.g. you could not skip gears.

The mechanism for it is entirely internal (to the gearbox), the lever itself has no gate, lockout mechanism or anything like that (I could post a picture if the forum would let me!)

 

Lotus Queerbox (12, 15, 16, 18) was sequential with the lever moving forwards/backwards.

Lotus 77 or 78 re-introduced a similar type of gearbox but that was also replaced by a conventional gearbox - around that time Lotus also experimented with a button on the gearknob to work the clutch.

 

Most of the 500cc F3 cars would have had sequential changes since they used motorbike gearboxes!

 

Apparently the Cisitalia race car designed by Mr Porsche had a sequential change and was possibly the first race car with one?

 

1989 Ferrari 640 seems to be the first F1 car to have had paddle shift, by 1995 everyone did!



#25 f1steveuk

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 16:20

OT for a second. We had a Ford Y Type single seater at the museum, two pedals only. Right was throttle, left was; with the toe, brakes, with the heel, clutch, and bloody hard work it was too!



#26 NPP

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 19:16

I frequently do sim racing(GPL and rFactor primarily)and use a Logitech G25.  Quite a few years on it, in fact. 

 

I do remember your name from RSC in around 2000!

 

I neglected to mention in my post above that while the steering wheel of my Logitech G25 is superb and the pedal cluster so-so, the shift lever pod is/was junk.  The six-speed, H-pattern affair failed soon after opening the box.  :(

 

I'm forced to use the paddle shifters which is far less satisfying for historic mods, including the most excellent HistoricX offering.

 

same here, unfortunately. Therefore, I applaud Siddley's efforts!



#27 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 22:40

Is there two vehicles with similar controls? Most 60s 70s even 80s open wheelers were vaguely similar. But prior to that pedals, gearlevers, number of gears were all different yet alone  archaic things like T model Fords and the like. That on cars that were extensivly raced. 

Having driven a few odd bods over the decades as road cars with centre go pedals, right hand column changes yet alone left hookers makes a huge difference.  With racecars there was very little similarity between a Vee and FF [or a 5000 that I sat in once] yet all the controls were nominally similar. With tin tops my HQ was column shift, most are conversion floor shifts. Having done some testing one day at Mallala with my Sports Sedan Torana, 4 speed more or less where a road car would have it, pendulem pedals, basically standard seating position, then a space frame Commodore, left hook, sitting back almost in the back seat with the engine alongside and the gear lever [5 speed] on top of the engine cover. And floor mounted pedals. One hell of a contrast and really made me think. That is yet alone the feel of the cars, one very nervous and twitchy with tap like horsepower and a very solid brake pedal [and a lot of effort] and the other  far more forgiving with a grunter type engine with smooth power delivery and a less than ideal 'spongey ' brake pedal. 

Two incomparable cars that actually did very similar lap times.



#28 Siddley

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 23:41

I reckon there's enough commonality for generic controls Lee, but it's a good point you are making nonetheless.

I managed to get my little milling machine installed today, after it sitting in storage for a year. Hopefully I'll have something to show soon. I'll post that stuff in the simulation section though.

I hope I can make shifters and pedals at a reasonable cost, but each unit will be hand made and I'm looking at durability as being a key construction point - no short cuts. I rarely cost my time, because machining is something I like to do - but I still have a wife, 5 rescue cats and a huge Rhodesian Ridgeback dog to feed :)

 

I'll probably make a limited edition titanium shifter. A customer of my gunsmithing business back in the UK owned an aerospace metal supply company and paid me in exotic materials rather than cash, so I have a fair amount of 6ALV grade titanium. I drew the line when he offered to pay me in Inconel though, how the hell was I going to work the stuff ? :)



#29 f1steveuk

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Posted 05 March 2014 - 11:27

I'm really looking forward to seeing this "in the flesh"!!



#30 Charlieman

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Posted 05 March 2014 - 22:48

As I implied at point 22 above, you do not understand the problem sufficiently to provide a solution.

 

The driver's foot (or pedal ball) operates against a pedal, commonly used for operations using ankle muscles. Some pedals depend on leg rather than ankle strength. 

 

In cars, the pedal operates a lever which is pivoted above or below the ankle, a pivot in the human body. Relative height of the pivot point is important and arc of the lever might determine whether the car stops.



#31 Siddley

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Posted 06 March 2014 - 01:51

I'm an engineer Charlie, I've got half a clue about levers  ;) - maybe three quarters of a clue on a very good day :)



#32 reynard883

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Posted 06 March 2014 - 06:17

To make an 80’s F3 car brake pedal/clutch pedal arrangement authentic you have to do the following:

When the brake pedal gets long you need a bias cable across the front of the throttle.  So the harder you brake the more it pushes the throttle down!  Which is great at the Mallory hairpin.

 

A well put together H pattern Mk9 Hewland can be a joy to use.  Its when the knuckles in the shift bar get worn it’s a problem.



#33 Siddley

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Posted 06 March 2014 - 12:07

A major issue with the brake pedal is that it's a brake pedal for a racing sim - unless you are lucky enough to own a motion platform there aren't the same amount of physical cues to tell you how close you are to locking up the wheels.
Another issue with most pedal sets is the accuracy with which it senses the position of the brake. Taking the hugely popular G25 as an example, the total pedal arc available translates to about 1/3 of the travel of the potentiometer used as a sensor. Once you remove most of the pedals travel, so it feels like a real pedal and doesn't sink so far that it's impossible to heel and toe, the potentiometer is moving through an even smaller amount of it's total range. The voltage provided through the pot then gets converted into ( probably ) a 10 bit digital value.
Ideally what you want is to use the full range of the potentiometer. I'm going to deal with that by gearing the pot to the pedal shaft. The G25 does actually use gears, but they are for packaging reasons and the ratio is 1 to 1. The ratio I have in mind is 5 to 1
This should give a better "resolution" of the pedal position, and help somewhat.

I'm taking my own post off topic here :) but I thought I owed you all an explanation of how things work with the sim, and the difficulties which arise when trying to give the 'driver' better control. I'd love to know something about the simulators used by modern F1 teams, but I expect they are just as secret as everything else in F1

 

Now back to the drawing board ( literally - I'm using pencil and paper to design things nowadays )



#34 Bloggsworth

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Posted 06 March 2014 - 13:13

How about using a strain gauge instead of a potentiometer? This would measure the force being applied by the foot without, if so chosen, the pedal moving very far at all - I always liked a pedal which was near enough rock hard, squidge was the enemy! If the pad you put the ball of your foot on connected to a plunger you could adjust "feel" by stacking Bellville washers, while the strain gauge was operated by the arm, thus the output from the gauge would be exactly proportional to the force applied, rather than the distance of arc travelled by the pedal. If the plunger were square, then the pad wouldn't revolve if that is a consideration, just choose washers with a hole large enough to clear the diagonal.

 

 

Brake_Pedal_2.jpg

 

The red bit is the strain gauge/load cell, which could, of course, be positioned anywhere you like it.


Edited by Bloggsworth, 06 March 2014 - 23:17.


#35 Siddley

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 23:43

How about using a strain gauge instead of a potentiometer?

 

The red bit is the strain gauge/load cell, which could, of course, be positioned anywhere you like it.

That's brilliant Bloggs. I really appreciate the time and effort you took to come up with this.

Strain gauges have been used for sim racing pedals ( and are used inside the real world F-16 joystick ) but most of the non-potentiometer solutions now seem to be using load cells.
I think it's because load cell technology is an easy and cheap off the shelf solution ( i.e. made in China :| ) due to it being incorporated in bathroom scales.

I should be getting an Arduino microcontroller in a few days which I can use for interfacing different kinds of sensors. I'm a bit of an electronics novice so hopefully I won't blow it up before learning something useful :)

I'm now in the cutting metal stage of the gear shifter project so I'll post updates in the simulations part of the forum.

 

Thanks again.


 



#36 Bloggsworth

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 11:57

No problem - It keeps my 69 year-old brain from atrophying. I assumed that you have a lathe in your workshop so you can turn a thread on one end of a square bar. You can buy load-cells with a USB connection, or Load-cell/USB converters.



#37 Siddley

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 18:44

I have two lathes, but no square bar :lol:
Living in rural inland Spain has a lot going for it - the weather, the peace and quiet, the amazingly friendly people - but it's not a great place to source engineering materials unless they are somehow connected with growing olives...
I'm sure I can figure out an alternative plan though.

The Arduino arrived today, so I'll get to work on learning about that and how to interface sensors. It's possible to read data out of the sim so I'm thinking about building a generic 60's style racing dashboard with a chronometric rev counter and oil and water gauges.



#38 Bloggsworth

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 20:01

You could try the square bar connecting the two handles in a door; abailavle* at all good Spanish hardware stores.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Quite deliberate, you are in Spain after all...



#39 f1steveuk

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 15:48

There you go Siddley, the P34 cockpit I mentioned

 

http://insidesimraci...eplica-cockpit/



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#40 Siddley

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 00:46

There you go Siddley, the P34 cockpit I mentioned

 

http://insidesimraci...eplica-cockpit/

 

Gracias amigo, just after a quick look I think I'll need to up my game if I'm going to compete with that kind of work :)

 

Currently I'm still working on my gear shifter. I tried a shortcut using springs to give it the right feel and it wasn't good enough. A lot better than the Logitech G25, but nothing to write home about. Essentially what I'm doing now is designing some cams which provide a 'snick' to the change and positive engagement. I'm documenting it in the racing simulation part of the forums, but there isn't much to see yet. My production methods are pretty old school, paper drawings and manual machinery. It's not the most efficient, but I like it that way.

 



#41 Bloggsworth

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 16:01

A suggestion. For cupboard closures one can get large spring loaded balls to mount in the door edge, which click into a plate, with a hole in it, mounted in the side of the cupboard. If you mounted some of these in the appropriate array, one could indent a piece of rod which should then click past them most satisfactorily.



#42 f1steveuk

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 18:18

Gracias amigo, just after a quick look I think I'll need to up my game if I'm going to compete with that kind of work :)

 

Currently I'm still working on my gear shifter. I tried a shortcut using springs to give it the right feel and it wasn't good enough. A lot better than the Logitech G25, but nothing to write home about. Essentially what I'm doing now is designing some cams which provide a 'snick' to the change and positive engagement. I'm documenting it in the racing simulation part of the forums, but there isn't much to see yet. My production methods are pretty old school, paper drawings and manual machinery. It's not the most efficient, but I like it that way.

 

No problem, just thought you'd like to see it. :up: