There was a time when building realistic simulations of vehicles was the stuff of NASA and big corporations. Today, many people have sophisticated virtual cockpits or race cars that they use with high-resolution screens or even virtual reality gear. If you think about it, a virtual car isn’t that hard to pull off. All you really need is a steering wheel, a few pedals, and a gear shifter. Sure, you can build fans to simulate the wind and put haptics in your seat, but really the input devices alone get you most of the way there. [Oli] decided he wanted a quick and easy USB gear shifter so he took a trip to the hardware store, picked up an arcade joystick, and tied it all together with an Arduino Leonardo. The finished product that you can see in the video below cost about $30 and took less than six hours to build.
The Leonardo, of course, has the ability to act like a USB human interface device (HID) so it can emulate a mouse or a keyboard or a joystick. That comes in handy for this project, as you would expect. The computer simply has to read the four joystick buttons and then decide which gear matches which buttons. For example up and to the left is first gear, while 4th gear is only the down button depressed. A custom-cut wooden shifter plate gives you the typical H pattern you expect from a stick shift.
Continue reading “Four On The Floor For Your Virtual Race Car”
Hackaday editors Elliot Williams and Mike Szczys stomp through a forest full of highly evolved hardware hacks. This week seems particularly plump with audio-related projects, like the thwack-tackular soldenoid typewriter simulator. But it’s the tape-loop scratcher that steals our hearts; an instrument that’s kind of two-turntables-and-a-microphone meets melloman. We hear the clicks of 10-bit numbers falling into place in a delightful adder, and follow it up with the beeps and sweeps of a smartphone-based metal detector.
Direct download (~60 MB)
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Continue reading “Hackaday Podcast 066: The Audio Overdub Episode; Tape Loop Scratcher, Typewriter Simulator, And Relay Adder”
It seems that stick shift has become a sticking point, at least for American car buyers. Throughout 2019, less than 2% of all the cars sold in the US had a manual transmission. This sad picture includes everything from cute two-seater commuters to — surprisingly enough — multi-million dollar super cars built for ultimate performance.
But aside from enthusiasts like myself, it seems no one cares too much about this shift away from manual transmissions. According to this video report by CNBC (embedded below), the fact that demand is in free-fall suggests that Americans on the whole just don’t enjoy driving stick anymore. And it stands to reason that as more and more people live their lives without learning to drive them, there would be a decline in the number of teachers and proponents. It’s a supply and demand problem starring the chicken and the egg.
But giving up the stick is one more example of giving up control over the vehicle. It’s not something everyone cares about, but those that do care a lot. Let’s grind through the ebb and flow of the manual transmission — more lovingly called the stick shift.
Continue reading “Sticking Up For The Stick Shift”
Manual transmissions! Those blessed things that car enthusiasts swear by and everyone else pretends no longer exists. They’re usually shifted by using the gearstick, mounted in the centre console of the car. Swapping out the knob on the gearstick is a popular customization; you can have everything from 8-balls to skulls, to redback spiders mounted in epoxy, sitting proud atop your gearstick. It’s rare to see anything new under the sun, but [John Allwine] came up with something we’d never seen before.
[John]’s design leans heavily on the unique ability of additive manufacturing to produce complex hollow geometries that are incredibly difficult or impossible to produce with traditional subtractive methods. The part was designed in CAD software, and originally printed on a Makerbot in plastic. After this broke, it was decided to instead produce the part in stainless steel using Shapeway’s custom order process. You can even buy one yourself. This is a much smarter choice for a part such as a gearknob which undergoes heavy use in an automotive application. The part is printed with threads, but due to the imperfect printing process, these should be chased with a proper tap to ensure good fitment.
The design was eyecatching enough to grab the attention of a professional engineer from a 3D printing company, who worked with [John] to make the part out of titanium. It’s a very tough and hardy material, though [John] notes it was an arduous task to go about tapping the threads because of this.
It’s a great example of what can now be achieved with 3D printing technology. No longer must we settle for plastic – through services like Shapeways, it’s now possible to 3D print attractive metal parts in complex designs! And, if you’ve got the right friends, you can even step it up to titanium, too.
We’ve seen other takes on the 3D shifter handle, too – like this head.
Simple machines are wonderful in their own right and serve as the cornerstones of many technological advances. This is certainly true for the humble lever and the role it plays in manual transmissions as evidenced in this week’s Retrotechtacular installment, the Chevrolet Motor Company’s 1936 film, “Spinning Levers”.
This educational gem happens to be a Jam Handy production. For you MST3K fans out there, he’s the guy behind shorts like Hired! from the episodes Bride of the Monster and the inimitable Manos: The Hands of Fate. Hilarity aside, “Spinning Levers” is a remarkably educational nine-ish minutes of slickly produced film that explains, well, how a manual transmission works. More specifically, it explains the 3-speed-plus-reverse transmissions of the early automobile era.
It begins with a nod to Archimedes’ assertion that a lever can move the world, explaining that the longer the lever, the better the magic. In a slightly different configuration, a lever can become a crank or even a double crank. Continuous motion of a lever or series of levers affords the most power for the least work, and this is illustrated with some top-drawer stop motion animation of two meshing paddle wheels.
Next, we are shown how engine power is transferred to the rear wheels: it travels from a gear on the engine shaft to a gear on the drive shaft through gears on the countershaft. At low speeds, we let the smallest gear on the countershaft turn the largest gear on the drive shaft. When the engine is turning 90 RPM, the rear wheel turns at 30 RPM. At high speeds using high gears, the power goes directly from the engine shaft to the drive shaft and the RPM on both is equal. The film goes on to explain how the gearbox handles reverse, and the vast improvements to transmission life made possible through synchromesh gearing.
Continue reading “Retrotechtacular: We’re Gonna Have Manual Transmissions The Way My Old Man Told Me!”
If that stick shift just doesn’t feel right in your hand it’s time for a change. This hack puts a gaming joystick in the center console of your hoopty as a gear shifter.
[Ilias] used a joystick from about 1991 to replace the stock shifter. It jogs our memory when he mentions that this thing saw a lot of use playing X-wing vs. Tie Fighter. Boy did we burn up a ton of time playing that one too! He actually broke the stock part getting it off (find a shop manual for your car if you’re afraid of this). But once the grip was removed he was relieved to find the joystick fit perfectly. The two molded plastic halves of the joystick screw together. To join them with the shifting level he used epoxy putty.
The momentary push switch for that thumb button is still in there. But it doesn’t look like he hooked it up to anything. If we were to give this one a try we’d have to find some use for it. Got any suggestions? Let us know in the comments.
[Ben] bought a remote starter for his car but needed a way to make sure the manual transmission was in neutral when starting. He built this infrared sensor frame to detect the position of the stick. It uses four beam paths which will tell him the exact gear or neutral position of the shifter. For this project he just needs to detect neutral but exact gearing is apparently necessary information for his next hacking project. We initially were worried about sunlight interfering with the sensor readings but he’s building this to go under the collar that is used to cover up the mechanical joint at the base of the stick.