A few months ago we showed you the construction of our new Fast Track Sims T1-RC racing simulator chassis. Now that the chassis is built and off being powdercoated, we wanted to take a closer look at some of the components that make the simulator work.
A lot goes into racing simulation. It is far from simply being a video game, Mark Lutes at Fast Track Sims packs loads of technology into his simulators, ensuring the most realistic feel and experience when it comes to sim racing. After all, many of these sims are used for real-deal driver training!
Components must be chosen to complement each other and to perform well in the intended application, in this case, iRacing.
Aside from the chassis, the heart of the simulator is the computer. Nayden Naydenov of Crimson PC explains what makes a gaming computer different, “Unlike regular gaming PCs which can be fast, reliable, cheap (pick any two), a sim-racing PC presents a tougher challenge. It also needs to be portable, resilient to heavy use in commercial environments, and built to excel in a particular game. A PC that runs a first-person shooter very well may be subpar in iRacing and vice versa. Even two sim-racing titles may have quite different requirements. Considering that people rarely work with unlimited budgets, putting together a proper sim-racing PC is a fine balancing act that takes lots of research, trial, and error.”
He continues, “Every component in a PC should be there for a purpose. Nothing should be left to chance. Components must be chosen to complement each other and to perform well in the intended application, in this case, iRacing. Processors are strictly Intel, as iRacing performs much better on them. They are unlocked K-chips in order to be overclocked. Overclocking is the process of making a computer or component operate faster than specified by the manufacturer. iRacing is heavier on the CPU that a lot of other sims and benefits from processor overclocking, especially in triple-screen configurations (which our sim will have). In order to overclock a processor, very good cooling is required. Coolers can be air-based on liquid-based. Air coolers are effective, more reliable, but can be too big, especially when building a small portable machine. Water coolers can perform better (in the high-end spectrum, not necessarily at the entry level) but can be finicky to maintain and sometimes develop leaks. Another requirement for overclocking is a motherboard that is designed for it. That means solid power delivery with a larger number of power phases, extra heatsinks to cool various motherboard components, and a well established BIOS. So far we have only covered CPU overclocking and partially cooling and motherboard choice. There are about a dozen other components in a PC and each of them needs careful consideration. Get one wrong and you can affect several others in a negative way.”
Driver interaction is also a huge factor when it comes to simulators. The steering wheel and shifter are two components that the driver physically connects with. For this we went to Thrustmaster, which supplied us with a T500RS force feedback steering wheel. There is no other gaming steering wheel that more accurately simulates the feel of racing a car. Thrustmaster also sent us one of its TH800RS shifters. This shifter can be configured in a six-speed H-style pattern, or in a sequential configuration.
Beyond the wheel and shifters, Fast Track Sims has developed its own line of brake and clutch pedals for simulators
Beyond the wheel and shifters, Fast Track Sims has developed its own line of brake and clutch pedals for simulators using real Wilwood racing components. We touched on this in the last story, and since then, the system has evolved to use rear racing calipers and even a real clutch to accurately give the real feel of a race car.
We are also told a real Hurst shifter might be in the works, but it is early in the development phase.
We are extremely excited to see our simulator starting to come together. Look for more on the completion of the sim in an upcoming issue of CT.