Introduction: DIY Sim Racing Button Box
This is my first indestructible, I would appreciate any feedback possible.
If you have an old PC controller sitting around doing nothing, give this a try!There are a few tools you need: Soldering iron, drill, saw, screwdriver, razor blade, rubbing alcohol, and some Q-tips.Before you start, take a look at your controller, note the number of buttons, and see if you have joysticks. This will determine how many buttons you get and if you get to add knobs.
The picture above is the controller I used. I got 16 buttons and 4 potentiometers (knobs). (The Joysticks use 2 potentiometers for the 2 axes [x and y] on each control stick). Now determine how many toggle switches you want and what you want each button to be. (Before you go buying your toggle switches, please read further).I went with four toggles, 12 buttons, and four knobs. After we have this figured out, let's look at the simulator you are using. Determine if you have a "Hold" option for the items you want to assign to the toggle switches. If not, we have to do a little bit of electronic magic. Make sure to buy "Single Pole Double Throw" two-way toggle switches, or "Double Pole Double Throw" two-way toggle switches.
Now let's get to the build process.
Step 1: Pulling Apart the Controller.
I have included two possible types of controllers in the images above.
If the button pads are not metallic and use a "capacitive material," you will be unable to solder to them. (You will have to use the test points to solder to. In some cases the metal is covered by a capacitive material. This will require a razor to scrape it off to expose the metal for soldering.
The other pad without the conductive rubber will make it easier to solder to the button pad locations.
For this project I had to solder to the test points and had to make sure to use thin wire so I that wouldn't pull the fragile test points off of the board when bending the wire.
From here I started with the potentiometers. After determining the ratings of the potentiometer, I ordered some new ones with the same ratings (B10k) from Amazon. This may differ depending on the controller you're using.
I connected up the potentiometers by jumping into the original connections and not de-soldering the original control stick potentiometers. After testing them, they worked as expected.
Step 2: The Prototyping Board.
You don't have to make a Proto-board, but it's pretty and keeps things organized.
You can see the Relay (the square things) connected to the capacitors. I also used terminals to connect the wires from the controller board to the toggle switches. I also later added terminals for connecting the USB power and ground to the toggle switches. You can use the diagram below for how to wire the switches. I found the diagram and instructions here.
Once I had the proto-board finished and the USB power and ground connected, I tested the circuit with the toggles and connected to the controller board. This worked great.
Step 3: Connecting the Buttons
Now that all the hard parts are finished, you can connect all the wires to the button pads (or connect them through the terminals as I did.) Connecting the wires through the terminals makes it easier to disconnect and troubleshoot a connection. There is a downside that you're adding another link in the chain to troubleshoot, as well.
I have a list of videos here showing the process of testing through to the finished product.
Please ask any questions you may have, and I will be happy to answer. JonesyBoy