Virtual reality has come a long way but some senses are still neglected. Until Smell-O-Vision happens, the next step might be feeling the wind in your hair. Perhaps dad racing a sportbike or kids giggling on a rollercoaster. Not as hard to build as you might think, you probably have the parts already.
Off-the-shelf devices serve up the seeing and hearing part of your imaginary environment, but they stop there. [Jared] wanted to take the immersion farther by being able to feel the speed, which meant building his own high power wind generator and tying it into the VR system. The failed crowdfunding effort of the “Petal” meant that something new would have to be constructed. Obviously, to move air without actually going on a rollercoaster requires a motor controller and some fans. Powerful fans.
A proponent of going big or going home, [Jared] picked up a pair of fans and modified them so heavily that they will launch themselves off of the table if not anchored down. Who overdrives fans so hard they need custom heatsinks for the motors? He does. He admits he went overboard and sensibly way overbudget for most people but he built it for himself and does not care.
Nice guy that he is, [Jared] priced and spec’d out both the system he built and the system most of you would want to build instead – Arduino, PC fan, PC power supply and other junk from your partsbins. His personal selection was a T-Rex robot controller, BlueSMiRF bluetooth and twin O2Cool fans – $163 right there and nearly $500 by the time he was done. If you want to imitate his build exactly, [Jared] took photos and detailed each and every step of the process.
If you are like us, your first thought was “That’s nice, but it’s useless unless the games are built for it.” Turns out, with a plugin suite they already are. The software is the second hack of this build and it was already written.
[Jared] was surprised too, but the 3d party software he found is called “SimTools” and it works as advertised for speed and many other in-game variables. They claim 95% of new racing and flight titles are supported by SimTools, nearly a hundred are listed so far. Some titles you might recognize: Dirt, 8 years worth of Need For Speed, Microsoft Flight Sim X, Elite:Dangerous, and No Limits Rollercoaster. Sadly, the wonky payment system encourages forum spam to “earn” coins or a per-game annual fee is required. Weird or not, it does offer both cash and contribution options, so, it is hard to fault the developer too much.
The project log serves just as much of a tutorial and lacks nothing for a novice. Everything a beginner would need to make their own wind generator is covered in his extensive walk-through.
Check out the videos below to see a very happy little girl on her imaginary rollercoaster and a now-with-wind demo of the racing game Assetto Corsa.