$20 DIY H-gate PC shifter for sim racing

Keep a log of a project build here. Be sure to include pictures and as much documentation as possible.

$20 DIY H-gate PC shifter for sim racing

Postby nikescar » February 21st, 2011, 10:49 am

This is a project that I have wanted to do for a year or so but never got around to doing. A couple weeks ago I spent a Sunday putting together this prototype.

Image

Materials used:
    scrap wood
    $5 usb gamepad
    $5 microswitches
    $5-$12 poly cutting board
    $1 cabinet door clasps
    artificial cork
    $1 spring
    some L brackets
    22 awg wire
    misc hardware

I built the base out of some scrap wood I had laying around. A few L brackets keep everything together and sturdy. The H-gate is made from a plastic cutting board I got as a set of three from Target for $12. They had singles but I actually needed some new cutting boards anyway. I made the shift gate pattern using CAD. After marking the cutting board it was a long process of freehand Dremel-ing. I wish I had access to a laser cutter.

I got a request for the H gate template so here it is: HERE

The shift lever is a 7" bolt threaded into an artificial cork that is pressed into a spring that is bolted to the base of the shifter. *whew* This setup give a lot of adjustability for changing how much play the lever has at the hinge point. Push the cork further down for a more solid feel and bring it up for a little more spring. The cork stays put once you thread the bolt into it.

Image

The part of this build that I think makes it work so well wasn't my idea. I was searching around the internet a while ago and saw the idea for the center mechanism on a sim racing website. I'm not sure if that person ever ended up making a shifter with it. I can't find a link otherwise I would give credit. This person's idea was to use two cabinet door clasps to accept the gear shift lever. These are mounted to a raised platform that pivots from side to side. This method allows for a much simplified shifter that doesn't need a single clasping mechanism for every gear. It works great. When I build the next version I am going to lower the platform just a bit to give more leverage so that shifts are a tiny easier.

Gotta love eBay! I found a $5 usb gamepad that shipped from the US. I scavenged the board out of that. Luckily I got a gamepad that shows up in Windows automatically and doesn't need drivers. I connected the wires from each gear to the corresponding button number of the gamepad. This would make it work with the shifter utility from Act Labs with a little editting. Instructions can be found HERE. I also ordered some microswitches, $5 for 10.

At first I used some hacked up safety pins as contacts for each shifter position while I waited for the microswitches to arrive from China. I mashed the ground wire from the controller between the cork and the bolt. When the bolt made contact with the pins it made a button press. This solution worked great except the safety pins didn't spring back to their original position after a while. With some real springs this method would probably be a really good way to go.

Image

When the microswitches arrived I wired them up and they worked great.

Image

This shifter works really well. You can slam the gear level from one gear to the next without fear of breaking it. The shifts give a nice positive clank feeling that reminds me of driving my long lost Saab 9000 Turbo.

WATCH VIDEO ON YOUTUBE

I've got more plans for this project a little later.

Here's a pic of where I race:
Image


FOR people having trouble with Act Labs ALShift software:

Part 1
- after plugging in the shifter go to the "start menu" and then "devices and printers"
- right click on the gamepad (or whatever you used) icon and click "game controller settings"
- make sure the gamepad is highlighted and then click "properties"
- shift through the gears making sure all the buttons are lighting up. Ideally you will have gear one wired up to "button 1" of the gamepad and so on with reverse being "button 8" if you have a 8 position shifter.
- close all these windows and move to part 2

Part 2
- in the start menu type in "regedit" and click enter
- click "Edit" and then "Find..."
- Type in "OEMName" and click "Find Next"
- mine was found in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet002\Control\MediaProperties\PrivateProperties\Joystick\OEM\VID_0079&PID_0011
Image
- Double click "OEMName" and enter "ACT LABS GPL USB Shifter" (no quotes) into the field and click okay and close Registry Editor
Image

Part 3
- Launch ALShift.exe
- You should see "GPL USB Shifter" under "Devices"
- Click "Settings". I use Standard layout and 7th for highest gear
- I use "Generic Support" with the following settings:
Image
- Now click "File" and then "Status Info..."
- Shift through the gears and you should see the fruits of your labor
- you can add a shortcut for ALShift.exe to the startup folder in your start menu to have it load automatically when you start you computer.

I got a request for the H gate template so here it is: HERE

There was also a question about where to solder to on the USB gamepad board. There's a pic below showing the locations. Just follow the board traces around to find the one that runs through all the buttons. That's the ground and you don't want to solder to that. Solder to the opposite trace. The gamepad board I used had handy bare copper circles on the traces for each of the buttons that made soldering easier. Green is where you want to solder and red is a no-no place.
Image
Last edited by nikescar on February 6th, 2013, 5:12 am, edited 5 times in total.
nikescar
 
Posts: 44
Joined: February 2nd, 2011, 12:08 am

Re: $20 DIY H-gate PC shifter for sim racing

Postby MS3FGX » February 21st, 2011, 11:37 am

Wow that's really clever. I didn't get how the whole thing came together (especially the cabinet clasps) until I actually watched the video.

Functionally it sees more or less perfect already. Looks like it wouldn't take much more cosmetic work to make it look like a real shifter. Use the knob off of a real car and build it into a center console looking box. In fact, you could probably go to the junk yard and get the center console, shift lever, and shift knob out of a suitably sporty car for pretty cheap. At that point, you are well on your way to making a whole sim cockpit.
MS3FGX
 
Posts: 356
Joined: January 25th, 2011, 10:47 pm

Re: $20 DIY H-gate PC shifter for sim racing

Postby jim » February 22nd, 2011, 10:45 pm

Has anybody tried using magnets instead of a clasp?
jim
 
Posts: 19
Joined: January 31st, 2011, 4:16 am

Re: $20 DIY H-gate PC shifter for sim racing

Postby nikescar » February 22nd, 2011, 11:15 pm

@MS3FGX
I'm getting a shift knob for it and I would love to setup a whole realistic cockpit. Unfortunately it might be tough to talk my lady into dedicating a room of our house to one. She's all for the idea of an arcade cabinet though.

I am working on designing a 2-in-1 transforming arcade cabinet/racing cockpit. Autodesk Inventor is making this process a lot of fun.

@jim
Magnets would pull the shifter into place and you need to be pushing it. I suppose there is a way to have magnets to the side that you would have to push past but that would require having a polarized shift lever. I'm not sure you would get the positive shift feel even then.
nikescar
 
Posts: 44
Joined: February 2nd, 2011, 12:08 am

Re: $20 DIY H-gate PC shifter for sim racing

Postby Arrangemonk » February 23rd, 2011, 5:13 am

i think, thre is a much simpler approach to do a gearbox

one 2 axis joystick with removable knob, and an extension in the preverred lenght attached to the screw for the knob (i mean one of them arcarde cabinet stick tings)

and the switching template (would only support 5 gears + rewind) mounted very narrow to the base of the stick
-> up left = gear 1, up down = gear 2
mid up = gear 3 mid down = gear 4
right up = gear 5, and right down = rewind

therefore only the switching template and the stick extension has to be don on its own
and probably a microcontroller to convert the input to usb
User avatar
Arrangemonk
 
Posts: 48
Joined: January 27th, 2011, 10:02 am

Re: $20 DIY H-gate PC shifter for sim racing

Postby nikescar » February 23rd, 2011, 10:31 pm

All the hard work is done to convert a FFB joystick into a shifter. Find the software HERE.
nikescar
 
Posts: 44
Joined: February 2nd, 2011, 12:08 am

Re: $20 DIY H-gate PC shifter for sim racing

Postby qhus0100 » March 8th, 2011, 4:18 pm

Hello,

I really liked this project. Completed the Mechanics in 90 minutes (I don't have a dremel but used a zig zag wood cutter :( ) Couldn't find a single microswitch at the local stores, so I decided to use the capinet clippers instead. The finished project feels good. And I have you to thank for that nikescar.

However, I ran into a problem !
I can't seem to get the ALShift program to recognize my USB gamepad. I edited the registry entry but still not working ! I adjusted the name then the data, then both but nothing. I tried an older version (v2.2) and still nothing. I am STUCK, otherwise I won't bother you with my problem. Please, help?

Any advice ? I don't want to turn my H-gate to a "straight" gear shifter !


[img] G:\Internet\HOME Gear Shifter\Capture.PNG [\img]
qhus0100
 
Posts: 3
Joined: March 8th, 2011, 3:59 pm

Re: $20 DIY H-gate PC shifter for sim racing

Postby qhus0100 » March 8th, 2011, 4:21 pm

Hello,

I really liked this project. Completed the Mechanics in 90 minutes (I don't have a dremel but used a zig zag wood cutter :( ) Couldn't find a single microswitch at the local stores, so I decided to use the capinet clippers instead. The finished project feels good. And I have you to thank for that nikescar.

However, I ran into a problem !
I can't seem to get the ALShift program to recognize my USB gamepad. I edited the registry entry but still not working ! I adjusted the name then the data, then both but nothing. I tried an older version (v2.2) and still nothing. I am STUCK, otherwise I won't bother you with my problem. Please, help?

Any advice ? I don't want to turn my H-gate to a "straight" gear shifter !


Image
qhus0100
 
Posts: 3
Joined: March 8th, 2011, 3:59 pm

Re: $20 DIY H-gate PC shifter for sim racing

Postby nikescar » March 10th, 2011, 4:16 pm

Sorry it took so long to get back to you. I wish I would have looked at your post a little closer.

The registry entry's name should be "OEMName" and only the data should be "ACT LABS GPL USB Shifter". See my edited original post for details.
nikescar
 
Posts: 44
Joined: February 2nd, 2011, 12:08 am

Re: $20 DIY H-gate PC shifter for sim racing

Postby nikescar » March 10th, 2011, 5:10 pm

I posted the pattern for the H gate and a pic explaining where to solder to on the gampad board to the original post.
nikescar
 
Posts: 44
Joined: February 2nd, 2011, 12:08 am

Next

Return to Project Logs

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: ramim, Yahoo [Bot] and 2 guests