There’s a saying; one must first use the right tools if they want to do a good job, and that’s a rule that applies to all pursuits in life, even the incredibly fun ones. With e-sports now considered a legitimate profession, the industry has been flooded with competition-focused equipment designed to give athletes the edge they need. The best part of all that R&D is that this equipment isn’t solely the realm of the one per cent at the top of the pile — us mere mortals can just as easily get our hands on some incredible technology that, while no doubt improving our performance, also provide an incredibly immersive gaming experience.
For many, sim racing is perhaps the genre most deserving of big investments in hardware — no matter whether you are a fan of Formula 1, drift, or rally sims, a full-blown pro-level sim rig completely changes the experience, and it certainly doesn’t hurt the aesthetics of your games room at home, either. While it is possible to go out and buy a pre-configured package, the best option when it comes to setting up a new sim rig is to build your own. For those who are thinking about getting involved and taking their racing to the next level, the custom setup shown here could be the perfect inspiration.
This stunning custom sim racing cockpit is the project of a long-standing fanatical automotive enthusiast. The chassis used is the P1-X from Sim-Lab – one of the best rigs available – and upgraded to accommodate a wider range of adjustability. It’s paired with the Fanatec Podium Wheel Base DD1 (more on this remarkable direct-drive hub later) but also works perfectly without a direct drive and is available as a front mount or wheel deck version. The pedal tray has been redesigned and now handles various seating positions and pedals sets, while the rigid frame features connector plates that lock the uprights firmly into place, even when high steering forces are at play, with optional feet brackets can be added for extra stability. The shifter/accessories side mount can be used on both the left and right sides.
The heart of this rig is of course the Fanatec Wheel Base DD1. This incredible hub takes force feedback realism to the next level, and is powered by a custom-designed outrunner-type motor that can achieve a huge 20 Nm peak torque, rivalling the torque output of power steering-equipped real-world race cars. Having cables flying around when you’re desperately trying to save a tank slapper can be a huge pain, and can actually damage the hardware, but with the DD1 system used on this setup, all data and power is transferred to the steering wheel wirelessly. Equipped with a quick-release system with an expandable rubber damper, the hub is compatible with all existing Fanatec steering wheels, while the option to upgrade to a new QR system that allows for more wheel choices will be available in the near future.
At the front of the plug-and-play DD1’s housing lies the 2.7-inch OLED display, which provides real-time motor and force feedback data that includes power output, force feedback clipping, temperatures, and torque curves.
The right grip feel is incredibly important when selecting a simulator steering wheel. The combo here is made up of Fanatec Podium R300 Rim, Podium Advanced Paddle Module, ClubSport Button Cluster Pack, and Podium Hub, with an additional Podium Button Module Endurance thrown in for good measure. With brushed and anodised aluminium covered in smooth leather, the 30cm R300 wheel uses premium materials just like any top-grade race wheel. The paddle module option is one of the most authentic out there, with a cage made of CNC-machined aluminium and paddle plates crafted from 3mm-thick carbon fibre. As if that’s not good enough, the paddles also cover four different modes, including an F1-style clutch bite point mode, clutch/handbrake mode, brake/throttle mode, and a mappable axis mode for different driving situations.
Adding the Podium Button Module Endurance provides extra motorsport-inspired aesthetics and features, as it’s a full-scale replica of the actual GT3-class endurance button module — the number of buttons and positions on the switches say it all in terms of the level of controls permitted. The carbon fibre front plate is lush, with LED lights surrounding the OLED display that provides instant vehicle information, while the electronics are contained within a rubber-coated, glass fibre-reinforced backplate for guaranteed stability.
Completing the setup are the pedals, shifter, and handbrake from the Fanatec ClubSport line. A good set of pedals is an absolutely crucial part of any competent sim rig — in addition to instant reactions and feedback to inputs, these components also need to be incredibly durable in order to put up with a beating during long stints. The Clubsport Pedals V3 feature magnetic and contactless sensors on the accelerator and clutch, while the brake pedal is pressure-sensitive, allowing for precise control when it counts. This pedal box also offers maximum adjustability, allowing you to modify the position of the pedal plates in all directions and angles, as well as change spring strength on the throttle, and sensitivity and travel on the brake in order to ensure everything feels just right.
Unlike many other shifters on the market, the ClubSport Shifter SQ V1.5 is completely made of metal for the most realistic feel possible. It features both a seven-speed H-pattern mode and a sequential mode, which is easily switchable. The shifter knob is made of solid polished aluminium – something that’s more commonly seen on high-end vehicles and really helps to tie everything together for a more realistic feel. Paired with the fully analogue ClubSport Handbrake V1.5, sliding through corners and performing the perfect sideways hairpin turn feels incredible close to the real thing.