Real BMW dash cluster for your racing games

Here’s a cool add on that could making racing games just a little more engaging. How about a real instrument cluster? [Herctrap] has written up the schematics and shared the code to get a real car’s instrument cluster to be driven from x-sim. It is a slightly different approach than we’ve seen before, but really not too complicated.While this is still just another accessory sitting on his desk, it really seems to add a considerable amount of feedback to the game. Next he needs to build a motion rig for his seat!

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Racing with Dyson’s spare parts

When it comes time to unwind at the Dyson design facility these engineers know how to do it right. Recently, the company challenged their engineers to a grown-up version of the Pinewood Derby in which they raced their own cars powered by a Dyson motor.

The video after the breaks shows a large collection of these time trials on a track made from upturned wooden pallets. Most of the vehicles are made from parts which we don’t recognize. But some of them are very familiar like our favorite hand dryer ever (seen above) and the iconic goldenrod manifold from the Dyson ball vacuum cleaner.

The course ends abruptly, as you can see in the last run of the video. There is one entry that included a human rider and he seems to be going nearly as fast as the riderless carriages are. The video cuts away before he hits the wall, but we can’t image he had the time to include brakes in that design.

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Driving game steering wheel controller without the wheel

For some reason this project makes us think of the Light Cycles in Tron. You know, the bike forms around the rider after they grab onto the wand that makes up its controls? Certainly you’re not going to see a car form out of thin air, but this driving controller let you grab onto nothing to control a racing game.

You can see that it uses a Kinect to map the body of the player and convert your movements into motion control. The demo video embedded below the fold shows the calibration step, followed by the available control options. Pushing the steering wheel forward turns on the nitrous, leaning forward or back accelerates and brakes, and a few arm signals let you navigate the game menus.

This works by mapping gestures to keystrokes. [Rajarshi Roy] tells us that there’s a very raw code package available in their repository but the plan is to clean it up this weekend. They will also work on a Wiki, documentation, and a tutorial on teaching the software new gestures.

We just don’t know what we like better, seeing the kinect extended as a gaming controller like this one, or using it in robotics like that quadcopter.

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GPS lap timer from secondhand parts


Hackaday forum member [nes] was training for an endurance race, and rather than having someone verbally call out his lap times, he wanted something he could keep in-vehicle to help keep track of his performance. With the race budget running dry, he and his teammates needed something cheap, if not free, to get the job done.

He scored a “broken” GPS receiver on eBay for a measly £4 and found that the receiver worked, but corrupted software prevented the unit from mapping routes. Since he didn’t require routing functions to keep track of his lap times, he splayed the GPS receiver open and started hunting around for a serial bit stream. He found what he was looking for after a bit of probing and hooked it up to his computer to see if the data contained NMEA sentences.

He cut the receiver down to the necessary parts and then started work on the lap timer itself. The timer uses an ATMega32 to run the show, displaying relevant time and location information on an LCD panel he scavenged from the trash bin.

He admits that the wiring is a bit questionable, but says that after about seven hours of rough use, everything is still intact and working great.

MIT’s eSuperbike takes on the Isle of Man


While the Isle of Man typically plays host to an array of gas-powered superbikes screaming through villages and mountain passes at unbelievable speeds, the island’s TT Race is a bit different. Introduced in 2009 to offer a greener alternative to the traditional motorcycle race, organizers opened up the course to electric bikes of all kinds. In order to entice participants, they even put a £10k prize on the line for the first bike that completes the race with an average speed of 100 miles per hour or faster. While no one has claimed the prize just yet, that didn’t stop the MIT Electric Vehicle team from tossing their hat into the ring this year.

Their entry into the race is the brainchild of PhD student [Lennon Rodgers] and his team of undergrads. They first designed a rough model of the motorcycle they wanted to build in CAD, and through a professor at MIT sourced some custom-made batteries for their bike. Through a series of fortunate events, the team found themselves in front of BMW management, who donated an S1000RR racing bike to the project. After a good number of alterations, including the addition of an Arduino to control the bike, they were ready for race day.

While the team didn’t take the checkered flag, they did finish the race in 4th place. Their bike managed to complete the course with an average speed of 79 mph, which isn’t bad according to [Rodgers]. He says that for their first time out, he’s happy that they finished at all, which is not something every team can claim.

DIY Racing Sim shift box


Ask anyone who has ever owned a car with a manual gearbox – in real life and in video games, nothing beats stick shift. Rather than shell out gobs of money to purchase a pre-made shift box, forum member [nikescar] built his own for about $20.

Using some scrap wood and a plastic cutting board, he went to work building a prototype. The “H” shift pattern was designed in CAD and laid over the cutting board, which was hand-cut with a Dremel. Using some tips found online, he constructed a simple shifting mechanism, then wired in a cheap USB game pad found on Ebay. Using safety pins as temporary micro switches, he ran a few laps, and was quite happy with the results. Once the switches arrived, they were fitted to the shift box and it was off to the races.

[nikescar] reports that the shifter works extremely well, allowing him to row through the gears with the greatest of ease, sans any fear of breaking things. Keep reading to get a better look at the shift box internals.

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Racing sim cockpit stores inside an ottoman

[Lyscho] built a racing simulator cockpit based on a PVC frame but it took up a lot of space when not in use. His second generation is built inside the frame of an ottoman, meaning it can be stored right under your feet.

The pedals are fixed in place, with some padding below to rest your heels on. The cockpit chair and steering wheel are both adjustable to suit different drivers. They use a routed groove along with wing nuts and bolts, making it easy to slide them for adjustments. The ottoman itself is [Lyscho’s] own creation, which just needs power and USB when in use, and has a padded top when not in use.

If you can’t use a real car as the simulator this is fantastic alternative.

[via Make]