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Older Motion Simulator Upgrades

Discussion in 'DIY Motion Simulator Projects' started by CrazyNuf, Jan 22, 2020.

  1. CrazyNuf

    CrazyNuf Road & open-wheelers

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    Hi All! First time posting so feel free to help

    This is a custom-made base and racing rig made by a guy in Virginia about 10-11 years ago. The lower base has two large actuator motors and independent motion controllers, set up to operate a single joint in the middle on a 2DOF design. The operating range is pretty remarkable and I will get a better grasp once it’s complete.

    The base has both motors and MCUs attached, the main pivot to the frame, a subwoofer, and power supply running 220v. I will get all the electric connections sorted out and try and get this running within the week. Also connected to the base is an older (2009 era parts) pc built into a rack mount case with an intel dual-core processor and ATI HD4650 1gb graphics card. Older stuff, but this was purpose-built specifically to run NASCAR 2003. It is pre-installed and ready to go for this purpose, with the arcade software and the MCU software as well.

    The frame is very similar to a legends car style rolled tubing and configured for single-occupancy. A seat adjustment rail is in it, but I will need a seat to go with it; thinking about putting in a gaming seat (gtomega RS9 or similar), or buying a real racing seat, since this does move and will use seatbelts.

    The racing components are probably the most confusing for me. I have a Fanatec Clubsport 2.5 and CSv3 pedals on my rig, so I’m used to loadcells and belt driven FFB motors, but these are much different. The biggest concern is the wheel configuration is an arcade-style (Happ, maybe?) 270deg lock-to-lock Motor with FFB and driven with a single ribbed belt; it is attached to a u-joint and spline which the. Connect to a full steering column, then another spline where the wheel is installed. Very beefy looking stuff, but older and certainly would like to upgrade to at least 360deg, if not 900/1080.

    The pedals look much more promising: they are all inverted, ceiling mount design and look very well made. The acceleration pedal is spring loaded and looks to be connected to a potentiometer; the clutch looks very similar. The brake is on a pressure plate of some kind and is VERY stiff. These are industrial-grade feeling and look to withstand thousands of hours of use.

    The monitor rack is welded to the upper frame and is the most sturdy I think I’ve ever seen, but there’s a catch: when installed, the monitors sit very flat to one another. I would rather have these mounted like my other rig, where a significant amount of angle exist on the side view monitors. I’m thinking I may have to mount brackets into the existing spots for the VESA mounts to make this work, which I worry will not be as rigid.

    I’m really looking for some help on what I can do with these good bones, knowing it will be quite an undertaking to get it ready for primetime. This will be a personal rig and not for commercial use, like I think was its intent. The biggest hurdles are the steering limitations and monitor configuration; everything else I think I can handle (I have modern PCs and have a decent mechanic background)

    Thanks for reading!

    EDIT: here is a link to other pictures of the components

    https://imgur.com/gallery/6UNZS4o
    • Like Like x 3
  2. Ads Master

    Ads Master

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  3. noorbeast

    noorbeast VR Tassie Devil Staff Member Moderator Race Director

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    My Motion Simulator:
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    When connected to a PC do the wheel and pedals register as regular usb controllers?
  4. CrazyNuf

    CrazyNuf Road & open-wheelers

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    My Motion Simulator:
    2DOF, AC motor, Motion platform
    the controllers are all connected by USB. I have yet to get it up and running (need to install a 220v receptacle first), but it should be a typical usb game controller setup.
  5. CrazyNuf

    CrazyNuf Road & open-wheelers

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    My Motion Simulator:
    2DOF, AC motor, Motion platform
    UPDATE: I have since gotten the simulator up and running, using the existing computer components and installing a new 240v receptacle in the wall of my garage. Due to the age of the components in the PC, I feel this needs an immediate upgrade to be relevant for modern games (I play mostly iRacing and F1 2019, atm), so I will be making the transplant asap. The biggest concern there is that the existing hardware runs Windows XP (RIP) and 32-bit software. The motion controller, InMotion, seems to be somewhat handcuffed to NASCAR 2003 for acquiring telemetry information. However, in its current state, everything works as intended.

    I have installed a Kirkey racing seat and tested the components on several tracks through NR2003 (Charlotte, Daytona, Watkins Glen); it is a genuinely entertaining setup, with several limitations. The 2DOF motion is not nearly as bad at simulating road travel, accel/brake, and even traction loss as I was inclined to believe. Granted, this is circle track stuff, mostly, but it seems to have a pretty incredible range of motion and effects.

    The three upgrades I intend to make with an immediate impact are as follows: I have a buttkicker LFE I will install, most likely at the lumbar section of the aluminum seat's rear (the cabling and amp mount are already prepped); One of the three monitors is fixed with no angle to it (I believe this was to make for easier access in an amusement environment), so I mounted two fixed VESA mounts to each other to create a 15-30deg adjustable angle; I have a shifter and button box, both of which I plan to install beside the seat (shifter on right, USA; box on left, preferably at the upper rail directly below the left monitor). I think these three installs will greatly improve the functionality and immersion quality.

    The biggest concern I now have is the PC. The motion controllers function with the older tech. How will they do with a newer, win10/64-bit OS and newer components? I plan on using an older fx-9590/titan X/16GB DDR3 build I have with a solid state drive as the replacement PC, hoping to run iRacing and F1 on this system. Once I can prove that it will work, the next step is to build on the function of the controls themselves.

    The pedals work, but not as well as I'd hoped. The accel pedal is the worst of the three, relying on an old potentiometer that appears to be finicky at best, so I will look at getting a replacement sent (only about a 4 dollar part on amazon). The brake pedal is on an older style, but still perfectly functioning, load cell, so no immediate concern there. The clutch is on a toggle, and unless I find I don't like it and want to go to a variable one later, is fine for now as well.

    Lastly, the steering wheel works, but as stated before is an older arcade-style belt driven FFB motor/gear; I would like to modify a direct drive unit to work with the steering shaft and spline setup already present. I know that accuforce uses a wireless wheel for the buttons and paddles, but I think an OSW like the ones from sim-plicity could also be an option.

    Any tips or ideas are appreciated!
  6. CrazyNuf

    CrazyNuf Road & open-wheelers

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    My Motion Simulator:
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    I have since gotten the system up and, yes, the controls all respond as “immersion steering wheel w/clutch” on usb game controllers. The functions all auto-calibrate by extend their range and returning to neutral.
  7. noorbeast

    noorbeast VR Tassie Devil Staff Member Moderator Race Director

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    My Motion Simulator:
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    Keep in mind that SimTools does not support Win XP.
  8. CrazyNuf

    CrazyNuf Road & open-wheelers

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    My Motion Simulator:
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    I appreciate the response! I understand pretty much nothing works with XP anymore. That’s why I plan on upgrading the PC before all.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. CrazyNuf

    CrazyNuf Road & open-wheelers

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    My Motion Simulator:
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    UPDATE: I hope I’m doing this right and people can see my posts...here goes!

    I have the simulator up and running! It is currently operating without issue on a Win10 64-bit OS and more modern hardware than it came with (FX-9590 8-core and GTX Titan X GPU, solid state drive).

    Video below:
    https://imgur.com/gallery/Vb35qfQ

    I can currently only run Nascar 2003, since the software I have is game-specific. The software it is using acquires telemetry directly from the game and I don’t have any other way to do this.

    All the hardware installed is working. However, I am looking into a few things that I think will significantly improve its capability, such as a direct drive ffb motor w/wireless wheel buttons, load cell and new potentiometers for the pedals, and a mounting bracket (either hanging from the dash or floor mounted) for the button box and h-pattern shifter. While advice on these is appreciated, I’m more requesting help with the motion simulator aspect.

    All the sim parts are older, but working, so I intend to use them until I can find reason to improve them. I would like to figure how or if I can use sim tools with what I have. The software it works with now costs 3-5k per game to upgrade, so that’s going to be a hard pill to swallow.

    Any tips and advice are appreciated as always!
  10. noorbeast

    noorbeast VR Tassie Devil Staff Member Moderator Race Director

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    My Motion Simulator:
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    Is your long term plan to upgrade control hardware and use SimTools, or focus on adding just upgraded peripherals?
  11. CrazyNuf

    CrazyNuf Road & open-wheelers

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    My Motion Simulator:
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    My long term goal is both. I want to first make it where the system can be proven to work with other games, which will then incentivize me to upgrade the other components. It works as is, but there aren’t any other options besides NR2003 at this time.
  12. CrazyNuf

    CrazyNuf Road & open-wheelers

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    My Motion Simulator:
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    UPDATE: Going to meet a guy and get an AccuForce DD steering system and hydraulics with better sensors for the pedals, so I’m excited to get a more modern feel for the peripherals!

    I’ve tried sending out requests for information to SimTools but maybe someone can help me; will the software work for my purposes? I wouldn’t mind paying for the license and plugins access straight away if I knew it would work for my purposes. I have reason to believe what I’d be operating isn’t much different than if I had anything else, but I’m not certain enough to just pull the trigger...
  13. noorbeast

    noorbeast VR Tassie Devil Staff Member Moderator Race Director

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    My Motion Simulator:
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    You can use the demo version of SimTools to test it, as the included Live For Speed plugin is fully functional, specifically for testing purposes.
  14. CrazyNuf

    CrazyNuf Road & open-wheelers

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    My Motion Simulator:
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    UPDATE: I now have an AccuForce DIY kit replacing the old 270deg arcade system, having dismantled the old mechanism and drilled new holes to fit the motor (was snug and worked out perfectly). With that done, I’ve decided to hold up on replacing the mechanism for the pedals, as they work well enough for testing until I can get the rest sorted out.

    The current issue I’m running into is software related. As stated before, I can get the system to work with a proprietary program made by InMotion simulations, but this program only works with nascar 2003. I’m trying to find a workaround so I can get the hardware to work with other games (assetto, project cars 2, iRacing, etc.).

    I have tried talking with a guy at SimTools but he hasn’t been very helpful or doesn’t seem to understand my inquiry. The correspondence we have had led to him asking about how I’m communicate with the controller, which I responded that I can, and then he asked if I could “write some code” for the controller to operate. I don’t know how to do that, so I’m at a loss.

    I really want this to work but I need some real assistance. I’m ultimately stuck on trying to get some solution to this other than NR2003 as my only playable game with motion.

    the controller is a DMC-2122 from Galil. I have it properly communicating with my hardware, using an Ethernet/network connection to my pc and the controller set to 192.168.1.50. The two programs, GalilTools and DMC Smart terminal, both connect and are communicating with the controller. The motion software, InMotion program with embedded telemetry acquisition for Nascar2003, works as well once these are connected. This means to me that the InMotion software is obviously sending some set of commands directly to GalilTools and making the controller do its thing. So, to me, there must be some “code” already being administered I should be able to use.

    Any ideas?

    Also, here are some pictures of the controller (DMC-2122) and the modification I did to the steering system.

    Attached Files:

  15. CrazyNuf

    CrazyNuf Road & open-wheelers

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    My Motion Simulator:
    2DOF, AC motor, Motion platform
    UPDATE: After the previous update, I have since installed my “upper” components, so the non-motion simulation experience is vastly improved: replaced the arcade 270deg belt drive motor with direct drive; installed a shifter onto the frame; installed a button box; got the RevBurner working with my autometer to register proper revs in certain games.

    Here is where the problem lies: motion. I really need a solution for how to either get SimTools to work for my project, or I need to find a solution elsewhere. I have figured out all of the programmatic commands required to get the system to communicate and operate through the Galil software (GalilTools and/or DMC smart terminal; both use a terminal to issue commands to the hardware). I have tried to continue correspondence with the guy at SimTools amd have received no response. He requested this information and said a plug-in could be created with it, so I am waiting for a solution.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!
  16. noorbeast

    noorbeast VR Tassie Devil Staff Member Moderator Race Director

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    My Motion Simulator:
    3DOF, DC motor, JRK
    Perhaps @Thanos could give some advice, as he is pretty good at jail-breaking commercial rigs to work with his controller, which can interface with SimTools.
    • Like Like x 1
  17. CrazyNuf

    CrazyNuf Road & open-wheelers

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    My Motion Simulator:
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    At this point, I feel like I am so close to the finish line and just can't cross it...I know how to communicate with the controller, I've figured out what functions make the motors work within the Galil software, I know what each function does and yet, I am still not able to figure out the last steps to get a plugin that works with knowing these functions. It seems like a solution is there, and I just don't know enough about what the "code" that is needed for the plugin or commands with the SimTools software is required. I don't want to think that a motor controller and software that works needs replaced simply because the solution isn't right in front of me.

    Here is a text file showing all the commands that go into the Galil Terminal to get it to operate. Any help would be great, and I'm happy to explain in detail what each argument means (BG for begin, X and Y being the axes that it operates, etc.)

    I'm really trying here and I feel like a solution is within reach!

    Attached Files:

  18. noorbeast

    noorbeast VR Tassie Devil Staff Member Moderator Race Director

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    My Motion Simulator:
    3DOF, DC motor, JRK
  19. Zed

    Zed VR Simming w/Index Gold Contributor

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    My Motion Simulator:
    2DOF, DC motor, JRK
    I looked at the CODE .txt file and if I read that right, the different sets of numbers for forward, back, right, and left are described as speeds in Hz and not as positions?

    Code:
    MOTOR 1 IS X, 2 IS Y
    JG COEFF ARE Hz SPEED OF JOG
    In that code.txt file, is that something you can send to the controller where if those numbers are changed the rig goes to different positions, or does it go to the same positions (the various extremes of travel) at different speeds?

    The forward/back/left/right stanzas are all 515.54 with only the sign changing. What I’m wondering is if the control is proportional where you can send it to specific positions? Are you able to make the rig move using that text file somehow?

    I’m trying to sort how the thing works and what tests can be done to better understand the control scheme. What I’m afraid of is that it’s a throw you around at different rates kind of control and not servo positioning control.
  20. CrazyNuf

    CrazyNuf Road & open-wheelers

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    Hi @Zed ! Thank you for your response.

    Yes, the values after JG ("Jog" in the 2-character code that Galil responds to) represent the speed variable (in this case, 515.54 roughly translates to about 1Hz on the motor); however, the absolute positions can also be sent via the PA (Position Absolute) command with values for X,Y following (as shown in this document for the "Center All" command, which shows them being sent back to 0).

    Considering the InMotion program shows Forward/Revers limits of the encoder counts at +/-4800, this would mean the absolute limits are within this range. Thus, a value of 2400 would be 50% of overall limit, 480 @ 10%, and so on.

    I believe the system can work as both a speed variable or absolute, but once the InMotion software acquires telemetry from NR2003, there are no longer feedback commands being presented, so I wouldn't know which of the two that particular program is using. There is absolute positioning too, however, so I would assume that could also be used if necessary.
  21. Dirty

    Dirty Well-Known Member Gold Contributor

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    Hey :)

    I'd love to help out, but DCS is pretty much the only software I have any considerable experience with, sorry :(
    Hardware-wise I am totally happy to see that @Thanos AMC-AASD15A works like a charm, so that I don' have to worry about that myself,...

    I would use SimTools or Mover to get motion data out of games, send everything to the AMC AASD15A and let it move the rig with two AASD servo motors to drive the rig. Wouldn't that be possible?

    Dirty :)
    • Like Like x 1