Introduction: DIY Cardboard Steering Wheel

Build a simple cardboard steering wheel rig for your smartphone or tablet! The project is quite simple and only requires easy to find materials.

Watch My Full YouTube Tutorial:

Step 1: Materials Needed


- Cardboard Box

- 1" PVC Pipe (2x)

- 3/4" PVC Pipe (2x)

- Smartphone/ Tablet Case

- Plastic Plate

- Glue Gun

- Packing Tape

- Screws (4x)

- Yarn/ Rope - Sand

Step 2: Seal Your Box

Start of by finding an old box for this project. I suggest using a tall and slender one.

Use packing tape to seal your box. This should prevent it from falling apart.You'll need to seal it well from the outside, since we're going to add sand inside later.

Step 3: Cutting a Hole for Steering

Grab your cutter and cut a hole with a 1 inch diameter. You can use a ruler and compass to easily find the center.

Do the same for the other side.

Step 4: Axle & Sleeve

For this project, you'll need a pair of 1" PVC pipe and a another pair of 3/4" PVC pipe. We'll be using this simple combo as our steering mechanism.

Step 5: Insert & Hotglue a Pipe

Grab a 1" pipe and carefully insert it through box. Use some hot glue to secure it in place.

Step 6: Hot Glue a Pipe on Top

Grab another 1" pipe and carefully align it on top of your box. Then again, apply some hot glue on both sides to secure it in place.

Step 7: Build the Steering Wheel

Now let's make a steering wheel. You can use an actual steering wheel, but to keep the cost low, i decided to use plastic plate or tray. Grab a 3/4" PVC pipe and hot glue it to the center of your plate. Make a hole for a screw and use your screw driver to force screw it. Later on you'll see why this screw is very important.

Step 8: Build a Device Holder

Now let's build a smartphone or tablet holder for your rig. You'll need a case for it. Apparently the tablet I'm using is quite new and is a review unit from Huawei. The only case I have is this keyboard case. I didn't want to ruin it so I built a tablet holder using some cardboard. It was difficult for me to find a cheap case other than this so I decided to build my tablet holder using a bunch of cardboard. You can just buy a ready made case and proceed to the next step.

You can easily locate the center by drawing diagonal lines from each end of your case. The intersection of those lines would be the center. Use compass or stencil to draw a guide for your pipe. Grab another 3/4" inch pipe then add a screw. Grab your pipe and hot glue it to the center of your your case. Be sure to add a lot if you're using a heavy device such as a tablet.

Step 9: Install the Holder & Wheel

You can now install your device holder and your steering wheel on your box. Try to spin the shafts. Both should rotate freely with minimal friction.

Step 10: Screw Stoppers

Remember those screws. You'll need to add another screw on the end of your pipes as well. Those screws are used for preventing your inner pipe from getting dislocated from your rig.

Step 11: Build the Pulley Mechanism

Find a roll yarn, wire or rope. We'll be using it for our pulley system. Using your yarn, make a loop on your screw, and make another loop around your pipe. Do the same thing for the steering pipe. Loop your yarn to the screw and make another loop around your pipe. Once done, you can tie your yarn. be sure to add an extra amount of tension to make your steering wheel as responsive as possible. The lack of tension would create a lagging effect that would affect your gameplay.

Step 12: Sand As Weights

Cut a hole on top of your box then make an improvised funnel using paper. I poured some sand into the box to add weights. This would prevent your box from tumbling down when you're using it.

Step 13: Insert Your Device

Insert your tablet to your holder. I made a bendable metal clip using a fastener to prevent my tablet from slipping off the case.

Step 14: How to Brake?

Be sure to go to your game's settings and enable the tilt mode. You can't brake using this rig so you'll have to enable the braking assist. Well actually you can, you'll just have to buy one of those $3 Bluetooth joystick controllers for the throttle and braking.

Step 15: Enjoy!