Custom Arduino steering wheel adds F1 functionality to racing games


While steering wheel peripherals for PC and console are abundant, they just didn’t offer maker Ivan López exactly what he wanted, so he created his own based off of those seen in Formula 1.

The standout feature here, aside from the unique shape of the wheel, is the 3.2″ LCD touch screen in the middle of the unit. This displays the RPM (both as a bar and a number), speed, current gear, current lap time, last lap time and best lap time.

Making this possible is an Arduino Pro Mini running code that allows it to work as a game controller when connected to a computer. All those additional buttons can then be assigned to functions in the game, specifically Codemasters’ F1 series of titles.

As this is only the wheel with none of the components to actually steer something in a game, it is made to replace the standard one off of a regular USB setup offered by Thrustmaster.

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The final version of the project can be seen in the video, operating just like a retail product we could see from a large manufacturer. This is impressive considering the fact that it only took three months to create from inception to completion.

López tells us that, at 27 centimetres in diameter, it’s very comfortable to use and should work fine regardless of your hand size or driving style. He’s also made sure that all those buttons, and the paddle shifters on the back, are easy to use while racing.

Aside from the electronics there’s some appropriately exotic materials used in the construction.

There’s a few laser cut stainless steel parts for rigidity and a carbon fibre finish.

While a vinyl wrap was intended here, applying it turned out to be  a problem. Instead, a carbon fibre board was milled out on a CNC machine with the finished pieces used instead.

Working in Fusion 360, López spent around a month putting in three hours every day to make the model perfect for his needs.

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Printing took around 55 hours between the different parts. The grips, paddle shifters, Thrustmaster mount and the case all needed to be printed and assembled around the internal components.

After alternating between painting and sanding the parts until they were smooth, the plastics were covered with black leather.

If you want to try your hand at making your own version of this project, the files for the 3D printed parts are available on Thingiverse.

There you will also find a list of all the components used as well as links to buy them from eBay.

While this is intended for F1 games, we’ve been told it should work with other sim racing titles.

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