Introduction: Precise Gaming Wiimote Steering Wheel

I guess everyone tried to use a Wiimote as a « virtual » steering wheel, and the experience itself can be so-so. It isn't very pratictal at best, and some games seemed not very responsive or precise.

Even if it's getting a bit « old » and less impressive now, the Wiimote still includes gyros and accelerometers that are really precise, and all that in a pretty cheap package. So why the pretty bad results most of the time ?

Well I'm no engineer, just a simple geek that thought my Wiimote, which was collecting dust for quite some time, could be put to better use. And one day, I had quite some free time and a few tools laying around. I knew something HAD to happen. That's how I somehow came up with a pretty low-tech yet effective Steering wheel !

Okay no more teasing, it's nothing incredible. Also I made an overall pretty crude job, but as I think no one posted something similar, I hope you can take some of the principles used here and make it more awesome. Seriously.

Before actually starting, let's just discuss a few facts to understand where we're heading, and why. So why those Wii remote wheels feel generally pretty bad ?

Well you could buy any super-class GT-5-style gaming peripheral, if you were waving it in the air, it wouldn't perform very good (Captain obviouuuuus!). The problem with the Wii Wheels aren't the precision of the Wiimote, but lack of a proper fixed support will only feel awkward and need some wider « margins of error » in precision to compensate for that. Which doesn't help.

So if we can make a simple and cheap system that could allow us to firmly support the Wii remote, we could bring out its true precision potential... Right ? Let's go then !

(I also advise you to read the entire thing first, check if you understand everything, and read the last step's notes to see what could be better and what isn't possible)

EDIT : added pictures with wiimote on it.

Step 1: Materials List

-2 x Roller wheels
-4 x Roller ball bearings (buy them separately even if your wheels go with them, they'll be of better quality)
- L-Shaped metal bracket
-1 x Long, 6 cm Bolt (Center Axis Bolt)
-1 x Short bolt (3 cm long)
-2 x Medium Bolt (4,5 cm long, 5,5 cm long)
-2 x Medium Bolts (no precise length required)
-Nuts ! I used 17 of them. Buy a pack.
-Something to make your wheel (I used some leftover wood, could use anything better)
-A cake.

Step 2: Make a (sorta) Wheel

Well it isn't looking very pretty, but mine is more of a prototype. I just googled for a F1 wheel, printed the image and used it as a guide to cut. Pretty self-explanatory. You could probably do a more elaborate job.

Someone could probably also hack one of the « wheels » that were sold or given with certain games and make them a bit bigger.

Step 3: You Know the Drill

First thing, we'll drill holes in the wheels. What ? Yeah, you'll see why in a moment. Two holes for wheel one, and three for the other, as pictured.
Might be a bit hard to be precise, as it's mostly plastic/rubber, your drill might have a hard time staying on the correct spot. Take it easy, take your time, and beware to not drill your fingers. Ouch.
But don't worry, even if it's slighlty off and/or not 100% straight, it's flexible material so it will be okay in the end.

For the first wheel (the one that has only 2 holes), this wheel will be connected directly to your wooden wheel (wow, hope it's not starting to get confusing) while the other will be fixed on the support L-thing.

Got those plastic things pierced ? Perfect. Next step !

Step 4: Nuts & Bolts

Time to put things together a bit ! You can now put the roller ball bearings in each wheel, 2 axis per wheel.

Let's focus on the first wheel (with 2 holes). Insert the 4.5 cm bolt in one hole and secure it with one nut. Before inserting the 5 cm bolt in the second hole, screw a nut on it and then put it on the wheel, using another nut to secure it. Let's call this thing a « limiter » Should end up like the second pic.

We'll then insert our main Long bolt in the first wheel and secure it with three bolts (you'll see why shortly).

Step 5: Meeting With the Second Wheel

Let's prepare our second wheel. Take your short bolt, screw a nut on it and put it on the second wheel, securing it with a nut. A feeling of déjà-vu maybe ? That's our second limiter. Then put two bolts in the two remaining holes. The bolts can be long, it doesn't matter. See the pic.

Then just combine all of this together, with a nut of course to secure it. When you turn the first wheel, the limiters should prevent you from making endless turns. It so happens that, the way they are placed, it matches pretty closely the steering limit of most games. Not bad, mmm ? If it's not for you, feel free to adjust it.
If you main « center bolt » is longer, just cut the excess.

As seen on the last pic, add a few nuts.

Step 6: Finishing on Hardware Side...

Now all you have to do is to screw that to the L-support, screw on your wonderful wooden wheel and voilà ! You have a steering wheel !

… Well, I must say I also made little holes in the wooden wheel so I could hold the Wiimote in place. Feel free to design something better. Plus, how exactly will this thing stand on its own... got a point ! Well my computer desk isn't really very expensive, so... Yeah, I just drilled two small holes and screw it in place when I want to use it. A bit shameful but efficient. Plus it gives you a +5 bonus in Charisma. Well, Geek Charisma.

So, if you don't want to/can't mess up your desk, you'll have to be more creative than me ! (which shouldn't be difficult)

Another side note, the limiters weren't designed only to be limiters. Originally, I put 2 strong elastic bands on it to add some resistance to the wheel. Might seem ridiculous but wasn't that bad. Of course you'll need pretty strong ones for this to be effective.

But I used them somewhere else, so no pictures sorry.

Step 7: Code Monkey

Well I won't cover the whole connecting-a-wiimote-to-your-pc thing. If you read this instructable, it means you are an awesome person. So an awesome person already knows how to do it.

Well if you don't know, you're still awesome enough to search another instructable that others awesome people have made, that clearly details the process. Awesome, isn't it ?

I'm a nice guy so I'll share my GlovePie Script with you. It's also because it's actually so simple, and you know what ? You don't need something complicated. Here it is.

All the instructions are contained in the script files. In case you don't read them, you have to first do an initial calibration for it to work at its best. you also have to use PPjoy. Then, there a few adjustements possible.

Included in the script are also : lighting up of the Wiimote's LEDs depending on your acceleration (nice little touch), rumble feature (but finally the wooden wheel absorbs almost everything so you don't feel it. Too bad.), plus debug informations which shows battery levels, and the different values so you can check real-time if something's off.

Please let me know if you have trouble with the script, it's been a long time since I used it but never had a problem with it.

Step 8: Bonus Features and Bor... Interesting Talk

-> So what are the results ? Well they were very good for me, I hope they were for you too. I could do a video but I'm too lazy for the moment, plus I don't have any racing sim installed right now on my PC. If someone is willing to share his experience, please do.

Are there downsides ? Well I only do awesome things so I think it's just awesome, but there's still something that is a bit frustrating : you can't bend the L-support to make your driving position more comfortable. Why ? If the Wiimote is tilted, it will mess up your sensors readings. It will behave strangely, almost not turning then suddenly making a tight turn, being very imprecise, etc. That's just a limit on how the gyros works, I guess.

-> Also, the way I did the wooden part, the wiimote is sticking out. It's not only bad looking, it's impractical if you wanna use the wiimote buttons. That's why I guess using one of those little plastic wheels meant for the Wii and hack them could be a good idea. Don't hesitate to surprise me.

-> What isn't pictured is, I added some little bits of foam taped on the limiters to smooth the "clac" sound it made when reaching the limit a bit fast. Also taped the center part of the wooden wheel so the sharp end of the bolts and nuts wouldn't scratch my wiimote.

-> If you looked at the GlovePie script, you can see I mapped joystick axes on a second wiimote and nunchuk. Why ?
Originally I had plans to do also the accelerator and brakes pedals. But I got lazy. Still, using the wiimote's buttons was impratical. So I came up with a lazy solution... Put on a second pair of socks, and put a second Wiimote in one, with its Nunchuk in the other ! Then putting a very big book under my feet to act as a support.

It doesn't seem ridiculous, IT DEFINITELY IS ; but it works. If course it will be tiresome very quickly, but for me it's a good thing : this way I won't play too long... I wouldn't recommend it on the long term though. But do it just once for the lol factor.

-> A friend also asked why I used roller wheels and axis. Well, getting good quality, precise and fluid axis can be expensive. Roller ones are pretty cheap and can be found easily in sports stores.

Then the roller wheels ? Well it's true you could use something else, it's just a support... But the advantage is that it's also easy to find, and it's just made to fit perfeclty our bearings. Securing those tighlty with something else could be tricky.

I think I talked enough, don't have much more to say. If you are so bored that you actually start to build this, share a pic !


mdog93 (author)2011-11-19

The things you refer to as "roller axis" are called ball bearings or rolling bearings.

Earlack (author)mdog932011-11-20

Ah yeah ! Now that you say it... Thanks. I'll correct this.

mdog93 (author)Earlack2011-11-20

I don't know whether I am just being stupid, but where does the wii remote get mounted and how?

Earlack (author)mdog932011-11-20

Na, it's me that stupidly didn't include a picture with a wiimote mounted. It's nothing incredible though, only used those... erm... plastic straps I guess it is ? I updated the 'ible with pictures on the first step. Please let me know if you have any other question.

mdog93 (author)Earlack2011-11-22

You mean a zip tie?

Earlack (author)mdog932011-11-22

...Yeah ^^ barrier language can be fun.

mdog93 (author)Earlack2011-11-23

Yes I can imagine it is. At least your are trying to learn though, and are open to corrections which will help you use correct terms and broaden your vocabulary :)

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