Fans Add Reality To Virtual Driving

A few decades ago you might have been satisfied with a crude wireframe flight simulator or driving a race car with the WASD keys. Today, gamers expect more realism, and [600,000 milliliters] is no different. At first, he upgraded his race car driving chair and put on VR goggles. But watching the world whiz by in VR is you can’t feel the wind on your face. Armed with a 3D printer, some software, and some repurposed PC fans, he can now feel the real wind in virtual reality. You can see the build in the video, below.

The electronics are relatively straightforward and there is already software available. The key, though, is the giant 3D printed ducts that direct the airflow. These are big prints, so probably not for some printers, but printers are getting bigger every day. The fan parts are from Thingiverse, but the enclosures are custom and you can download them from the blog post.

Turns out the cheap motor controllers sometimes are DOA, so it apparently took a few iterations to find one that would drive both motors to 100%. An Arduino works as a bridge between the PC and the fans. How does it work? Looks windy to us.

The next project is haptics and we’ve seen that before. If you want to build a cockpit on the cheap, check out the junkyard.

16 thoughts on “Fans Add Reality To Virtual Driving

  1. Now that is slick. What I don’t understand, though, is why the fans have to be steered. Doesn’t the wind always come at you head-on, no matter which way you’re going? It seems like the only time this wouldn’t be the case is when your vehicle is not traveling in the same direction it’s pointed. Which is generally a bad time.

    1. The yaw angles of cornering have up to 30 degrees of difference in the angle of the car, and the airstream.

      F1 car aero is designed around this yaw to have better downforce under this condition.

    1. Strictly speaking, I don’t think it ‘stimulates’ any aspect of driving, so if you want to get technical about things, pay attention and stay technical for the whole comment.

  2. ” But watching the world whiz by in VR is you can’t feel the wind on your face. ”


    I have a very luxurious car. It has a very expensive and rarely fitted accessory to keep wind out of my face. It’s called a wind shield.

  3. Apparently, some commenter peoples find it too difficult to follow the project’s link to read the Why section and would rather just criticize instead. I’ll alleviate some of that effort and bring forward this from the project site:

    “Lots of people ask why you would want a Wind Simulator. The more you race in VR and the more you race open cockpit cars, the more use and benefit you will find out of it.”


    1. Dr Evil: ” ” ” Authenticity ” ” ”

      I don’t know what bare skin you’re meant to feel that on, you’re fully swathed by the time you’ve put on your nomex turtleneck undershirt, your nomex balaclava, the helmet and your hotwheels onesie, ooops, racing overalls.

      Unless you’re doing 1950s, leather helmet and goggles, bugs in the teeth open wheel, then you also need a modified paintball gun shooting june bugs at you, and probably something that supplies a fine mist of dirty oil if it’s front engine.

  4. Now off to the hardware store for ducts and big turbo floor drying fan for a flight sim. Maybe over in yard maintenance a dozen electric leaf blowers might do the work! Starting with the Wright’s design and on up to a Breezy, or maybe be Superman? Just a stick and instrument cluster in front of you, goggles and scarf needed. That’s flying.

  5. Major Hardware on YouTube prints fan blade designs, some of them can make noise that unintentionally sound like beastly engines revving. Would be nice to pair this up with fans that can dynamically generate noise to emulate the sounds and rumble of tires on the road and engines revving.

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