Introduction: Racing Sim Seat
Many (or most?) DIY project costs more than just buying something, but we LOVE making thing. However, the motto of this project could be: Make your own Sim Seat 10 times cheaper than a store-bought one or LITERALLY buy all the tools and equipment needed!
And I mean literally. No, I don't compare this project to a $5000 seat (which is still just a car seat with some bent steel tubes). The average adjustable sim seats start at $4-500, and we will make it for much cheaper!
The frame is made out of steel, and I bought here it for less than 9000 Ft / $30. Anti-corrosive all-in-one black metal paint (750 ml) with special paint thinner + 2 brush: 3000 Ft / $10.
For the adjustable parts I used M6 nuts - and for practical reasons - screws with "builtin" knob. The Logitech G29/G920 uses M6 screws too. The car seat used M8. All the screws and nuts cost about 2000 Ft / $7.
And that's basically it! Oh, the seat. That could be tricky - but this is where you can save a LOT. If you search for a while, you will find a great deal. Mine was 3000 Ft / $10, because the airbag was open and replacing it would cost a lot, but I don't have to.
So, the total is $57 so far if you have the tools. And for tools, you will need:
- Welder, stick welders start from $100, including everything you need, even gloves.
- Bosch Blue angle grinder: $39
- Drill: about $50
- Miter saw starting from $150 or an angle grinder stand for $30
- Sawhorse: $45
- Clamps, about 8-10: $60
- Magnetic square (2-pack): $13
So even buying EVERY part and tool is about $350-400. Let's get started!
- 25 x 25 x 2 mm square steel hollow section, 6 meter x 2
- 20 x 20 x 2 mm square steel hollow section, 6 meter x 1
- M6 long nut
- M6 screw with knob
- M6 screw
- M8 screw with nut
Step 1: The Right Dimensions
First of all, we need proper dimensions for a project like this. Copy an existing seat? Luckily we don't have to do so - literally the first result for "sim rig dimensions" was a detailed image with everything we need! No one can tell us that we stole their idea! (source: https://pinterest.com/pin/188658671875641545/)
For this project, I used the following sizes:
- 1500 mm 2x
- 600 mm 5x
- 400 mm 4x
- 220 mm 4x
- 650 mm 2x
- 200 mm 2x
- 150 mm 2x
- 85 mm 2x
- 400 mm 4x
- 500 mm 2x
How to get these? Either the store is kind enough to chop the steel or you cut it with an angle grinder/miter saw. If you do it at home, at least get an angle grinder stand, you will need the precision. And WEAR GLOVES.
The guys at these kind of shops may expect you know their customs, like they don't cut stuff shorter than 1-2m, or you can't just buy 5460mm long steel, you have to buy the whole 6-7-12m long rod - and take it home! Go prepared!
Step 2: The Treatment Every Part Deserves
Cut all the metal? Good! Now you can drill all the holes we need. Some of them are needed for the actual wheel/pedal, so if your joystick doesn't say Logitech G29 or G920, check the mounting holes. The others are for the adjusting screws and the seat, they should be fine. Details in the pictures.
Now all the metal parts have sharp edges. (Did I tell you to wear gloves?) The holes need some chamfering from the outside and filing on the inside - the 20x20 goes inside the 25x25. 5-5 milimeters would be a lot of room, but the hollow section is 2 mm thick, on each side. We are left with 1 mm room, and those sharp remains will scratch and mess up everything, especially paint. We want smooth sliding stuff.
Filing is slow, grinding is fast. The outer edges can be smoothed with almost any grinder, even an angle grinder does the trick.
You may noticed, that your hands are pretty dirty. (Did I tell you to wear gloves?) It doesn't look THAT dirty, but they are coated in grease. (so that's why they are not rusty) Go degrease it, because you don't want to get even more dirty. Also paint won't stick to oil/grease, but to clean metal. They are not sharp anymore, so degreasing should come last, otherwise it's painful, annoying and/or dangerous.
Step 3: Pedal Assembly
Some of the parts need to be assembled before others. The pedal carriage (Is it the proper name?) should be done before most of the parts. Prepare the 220 mm long parts! All 4 of them.
The carriage must be adjustable. 3-3 vertical holes for mounting the pedal, 2-2 holes on the side for adjusting screws. Maybe 2 would be enough, just be on the safe side. Also we won't need the added strength of long nuts (we don't want tons of force) but they are much easier to align and weld properly!
Step 4: The Main Frame
The next logical step is the main frame. Both 1600 mm long parts and 2 600 mm ones are needed.
Just a simple rectangular shape, nothing fancy, just make sure that 90° are 90°. Measure not just twice, but much more!
And now decide, which part is the top. Go with the "this side has better looking welds". Maybe start welding the bottom and finish the top.
Step 5: Pedal Meets Frame
Get the 500 mm 20x20 "rails" and one 600 mm 25x25 rod. Using the pedal carriage and some clamps, align the rails to the top and weld it a little. (we will need the space because of the adjusting knobs)
When the top part of the rail seems OK and the carriage can travel the whole way, get the 600 mm "bottom" part. Don't get the carriage off, it's hard to insert it after the rails are closed! Align and weld one of the rails and make sure that the carriage runs decent. We will paint it later, make sure it has enough room! Welding can (and will) distort the perfect dimensions. Mine ran smoothly at both ends but stuck in the middle! 🛑,🔨⏰ to resolve the issues.
After double-checking, you can weld everything well.
Step 6: The Steering Wheel
Another adjustable part. 2 600 mm and 4 500 mm parts, and the small 80 mm ones. This will be the "desk".
Make 2 big U shaped parts. You can (and should) use the main frame to ensure that the legs are parallel. The keyword is: clamps. And nuts, don't forget to weld the long nuts for the adjusting screws!
After that, weld the 80 mm sections. Keep everything square as possible - 4 legs gonna meet 4 20x20 rods, max 1 mm tolerance per leg! The legs must be parallel.
Now insert the 400x20x20 rods in the legs, and fix them with the adjusting screws. Align them in the middle (the trick is: clamp the 25x25 table legs to the 25x25 frame), ensure 90° with a square, weld one 20x20 leg at a time, adjust, repeat. At the end the table should be adjustable after loosing the screws. (oh, don't forget to loose the screws while adjusting for the welds)
Step 7: Sit Somewhere
Here comes the seat. Sadly - this part will be greatly different for everyone.
But first: why buy a car seat? The "racing" seats look so cool! I know. But a car seat has 3 major advantages:
- much cheaper
- adjustable back
- adjustable position
And I'm too old to sit in an uncomfortable position for hours. No, the adjustable pedals are not enough! Since the steering wheel's frame can only move vertically, adjustments must be made for both the pedals and the seat. And it's easier to use an adjustable car seat than welding for another 2-3 hours to make the frame adjustable both horizontally and vertically. Oh, and you can push back the seat when you try to get in or out!
This seat used M8 screws for mounting, so 10 mm holes are used. And yes, you are correct: something is not square, one rail is longer than the other! The front holes are adjusted to be parallel, but the rear ones needed some trick. Having the rear hollow section a bit diagonally is totally fine, just make sure the holes are centered.
Step 8: The Not So Optional Options
These parts are optional, but highly encouraged.
First, manual shifter. I know, no one uses manual anymore. Still, it's fun to use!
The 200 mm and 150 mm parts come here. A steady place to mount the ultimate experience. It seems no more welding left!
But still, we will drill some holes. If you plan to "spare" some nuts, you can tap a thread. Why tap? Well, it's pretty awkward to reach the far end with any tool to hold the nut. 2 wheels on the front and you don't have to lift the stuff anymore!
Step 9: Final Steps
The frame is technically ready, now make it look good! All you need is some paint and 1-2 hours. I don't have a painting booth, so spray painting is not an option, but it certainly makes a better surface than painting with a brush! I had to paint it indoors, so the room was heavily ventilated. (I could still smell the paint thinner days later, but painting in the rain was not an option) If I had Subaru blue paint... But black is fine too.
Plastic end caps, or blanking plugs. You don't want to leave those holes open, right? Now it's much better.
Screws - ready! Mount everything. Don't tighten the plastics too much, they won't come off, I promise. Broken plastic is bad for your warranty. But the seat - get a wrench and make sure you never take it off! 🔧🔩
Now loose the adjusting screws and make sure it's comfortable as possible, it will take some time, but giving up now? It's ready to run! Or roll, whatever. If everything seems OK, tighten the screws and don't let anyone mess with your adjustments, it's your setup! Take it for a test run.
It's ready. Or is it? Here are some upgrade tips:
- maybe a monitor stand (we have some leftover 25x25 and some pretty long 20x20 "inserts" wink-wink)
- custom speedometer and other sim stuff, I'll try to make some cool instruments
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