Talking about F1 Simulators, it’s impossible not to talk about Sim Steering Wheels, and the difference between Direct Drive Wheel VS consumer Steering Wheel.
What is a direct drive wheel?
For those who do not know, and that maybe they have just approached the Simulator world, the direct drive wheel it’s a wheel that doesen’t have any belt or mechanism to simulate the FFB (force feedback) like the consumer wheels from the cheapest to the expenseve ones.
This type of steering wheel using an industrial servomotor to which is attached directly to the steering wheel. No gear, no belt, all connected directly to the motor shaft. These motors have a high torque and speed, an almost perfect linearity and a very low inertia.
The chances nowadays, to get one of these babies, are substantially 3:
Simsteering by Bodnar (4,000 € approximately)
Accuforce by Simxperience (about € 2,000 including taxes and shipping in europe)
OpenSim Wheel – DIY (from 1,000 to 3,000 € according to your needs)
The characteristics of these direct drive steering wheels are similar, that departs a bit more is the Accuforce that uses a motor of lower type than the other 2, but which has a management software of truly immense effects, which could pleasure or less.
Different direct drive wheels
OpenSimWheel is an open source project in part born out of virtualracing.org Germans. You can buy online all necessary components and assemble them at home, you just need a little knowldege with welding and electrical cables, at least in theory, in practice it is a little harder, but nothing exaggerated. All projects are online and on the iRacing forums you can find all the documentation, but if you know the German you can go directly to the source.
It is possible to get more or less complete kits of all assembled components, the price can go up very logical based on your choices and needs.
For example, an OSW with the smaller engine that generates torque 20nm part from 1000 EUR of components to which you need to add a steering wheel from attack.
Most engines used for this project are at least 4, and the difference between them is given by the torque generated by the encoder and precision.
I assure you that the smaller engine with torque 20nm is more than enough for anyone, just think that the CSW of Fanatec in the first version and the second version was 5nm 7,5nm and G27 should have about 2.5Nm of torque. Think about the engine size of your steering wheel, a Direct Drive wheel’s motor is bigger and weighs more than 10kg.
The nice thing is that it increases or decreases the forces, a direct drive motor generates no clipping in the games, the effects are always transmitted without being completely covered by the excessive force generated.
The feeling with a direct drive wheel
The immediate sensations you will receive are those of immense strength and absolute accuracy, even using the engine less expensive and less refined. The FF effects have never felt cleanliness and level of immersion we really earn a lot. You will not be faster, maybe at first you will be slower, but after you get used you step into another world.
If you are interested in changing the wheel and are considering investing € 1,000 for a Fanatec CSW, think well before completing the purchase, for a very similar figure you can get hold of a jewel that has nothing to do with any other “normal” steering wheels
All glitter is not gold, remember that I will have to build for that amount, to a figure just higher there is a kit for sale, but the wait can be frustrating since there is a very long line. For an even higher figure (1500-3000) there are already assembled ready to use kit, you just have to decide which engine go with it.
The direct drive steering wheel generating strong electromagnetic emissions, it is almost certain that with a OSW will have problems with all other devices attached to the PC, marches coming from the sun, pedal that goes crazy etc..For solve these problems, there are some precautions that should be taken, nothing extravagant, but you could lose a lot of time to solve all the problems that are generated randomly.
If you are keen on DIY, take all pieces on the internet and do it all yourself, and you will save doubly pleased at the end of the project. As I wrote before, based on how much work you want to do, you can spend from 1000 to 3000 €, is up to you.
Of course, on the threshold of 3000 euro I would go on Bodnar.
An OSW from 3000 euro equals as sensations and performance at a Bodnar, using the same engine, but Bodnar will be a guarantee of a product sold and produced in series, is already shielded against electromagnetic emissions, you will not understand how strange flashing firmware such as the current settings have to be applied to the engine to make it work properly and do not burn all, Bodnar is a plug & play system at the highest level.
From the reviews of those who have tried all the steering wheels, it seems that Bodnar and OSW (depending on the chosen engine) are equivalent, the Accuforce is a step below.
Know that those who speak of these differences, says the notice them only using the wheel one after the other in a direct comparison, the differences are minimal but still exist but whatever your choice, you will have in your hands an awesome wheel.
Let me know your impressions about this fantastic piece of engineering.