Sunday, February 12, 2012

GT5 SIM Racing Setup for under $400

I received GT5 as a gift, a couple seasons ago, and truth be told, most of what you're about to see is also a gift. Thanks Ron and Jo. It was then that I set out to build a racing cockpit for a reasonable amount of dough. With a little ingenuity, and some manual labor, and a few power tools, I'm ready to practice. Practice for what you might ask? You're going to have to continue reading to find out.

Here's where it starts:

Gran Turismo 5 - PS3, a driving simulator which has been getting better and better each version. This for a while was the only game I owned for a long time, as I don't really have time for other games.

Along with receiving that for a Christmas gift, I also got the Thrustmaster Ferrari F430 Force Feedback Racing Wheel.

Its in my opinion the best value of racing wheels out there. Yes there are better ones like this, and this, and maybe they're a lot better, but I'm not going to blow my whole budget on just the wheel and pedals. The Thrustmaster works well with GT5, has decent force feedback, comes with pedals, and a Ferrari logo. Its not designed specifically for the PS3, but you plug it in and it works, no configuration necessary. All the cars I want to drive in GT5 have paddles in real life, and no clutch, so I have no need to row my own, and the third pedal. If you do, I'm sorry to tell you that once all cars go electric, you won't find a shifter.

To test it out, I put the pedals on the floor and strapped it to a table, and I was off, and it was awful. Pedals were all over the floor and the table wasn't nearly the correct height. Off to the depot!

I'm not going to get into many details about the first attempt at a cockpit/chassis, as it was eventually scrapped. Here's what the final product looked like:

Plywood, 2x3, about $20 worth of hardware, and ~2.5 hours, mostly sizing. It worked great, weighed a ton, looked terrible, and only cost me about $75. The seat cost me $30 from a local boneyard, and came from a late 80's Acura. Unfortunately the seat got moldy from hanging in a basement so I had to toss it, and too much moving around and this thing would eventually be destroyed.

Fast forward a year, another christmas, and another gift, this time in the form of a Bob Earl MKII Virtual Racing Chassis. Sweet.

The chassis itself, sans seat, and shifter holder, is a very reasonable $175. The seat is pricey, but I knew that I was going to get my own and modify it to fit the chassis. Time to go get a seat. Another trip to the bone yard, and I've got a drivers seat out of something, not sure what, but it looks cool, and only cost me $75. Odd, its a very sporty seat, but has no power movement, which means it was from a cheap version of a sporty car.

First step was to remove some of the unnecessary parts from the seat, like the adjustment mechanism, and the seat belt clip. This was a fair amount of work, required drilling out a couple of rivets on the sliders, and drilling out three rivets on each side of the frame of the seat base to remove all the parts that get in the way of the bolts. It took one of these:

...a metal bit, and some elbow grease.

Once all that was complete I matched the chair up to the chassis, and found I would need to get some extra hardware to mount it. If you do this yourself, you're going to need to wing this step, and its likely your seat is going to match up differently.

I had to buy a couple of M8x1.25 bolts that were 40mm in length because my bolt holes were further away from the chassis holes in the back. In the front of the seat, I had to get a couple of self tapping bolts because the holes in the seat were no where near the holes in the chassis. A trip to the depot, and $4 later, seat is now attached to the chassis.

Make a few adjustments, and mark where the pedals should go..

Make a template for drilling holes..

Line up the template and drill. Unfortounately the only place I could put the pedals causes the bolt hole to be off the edge of the chassis a little. I thought it would still work, and it probably would have, but the pedal holes for the bolts didn't seem to be tapped correctly, and I don't have a tap set, so I forced one in on one side, and velcro-ed the other with the volcro that came with the chassis.

Using the hardware that came with the chassis:

Pedals attached..

Here is the velcro jobbie..

Next, create a template for the wheel, drill the holes, and mount using the same hardware.

I also used the clamp that came with the wheel for good measure.

Now that everything was starting to come together, I started the process of loading GT5 onto the PS3 for faster game play. That took the better part of 45 minutes.

For the foot rest, I trimmed out part of the foam so it fit better with the pedals in place.

Ta da! Finished product!

..and from the back..still loading.

The best thing I can say about having to download all the updates and wait for the game to install is that it gave me plenty of time to clean up.

The wrapup:

Total Cost: $399


Full Setup


  • Would have been nice if thrustmaster had provided the bolts with their product. Bob Earl provided bolts, but I think they were meant for the seat, lucky for me they fit anyway.
  • Also would have been nice if thrustmaster had provided what size bolt, then I wouldn't have had to bring it to the hardware store the first time.
  • Bob Earl makes a great product for a great price. Though I wish there was a less expensive option versus the $200 seat. I'm not actually racing, I don't need an actual racing seat.
  • Would be nice if there were more bolt patterns on the chassis and if it extended a bit more to the right.

Finally what am I practicing for....THIS.

The Exotic Driving Experience at Walt Disney World Speedway where I've already booked a trip in June to drive the 458 Italia, 6 laps around a road track. Paddle shifters, 562 hp, pure automotive artwork.

Here is a videos of the driving action. Enjoy.

1 comment:

Ronja said...

Wow! Super cool. Just please don't get that close to other cars when you are actually driving in FL :-)