Driving a Formula 1 in your living room…
…or have your kids use it as a roller coaster
Car racing is a fun but also very expensive activity: even simple go-carts rental places can be cost-prohibitive if you are an addicted visitor. Being driven by passion but limited by budget, I decided to build my own home-made motion simulator to serve as a racing platform. True, it is not the same as the real thing, but it gets close enough in terms of fun, and it wins hands down for convenience and cost.
A wooden frame as base, four plastic wheels as decoration, and two powerful synchronous motors as actuators, provided all is needed for a simple but exciting simulator with two degrees of freedom: front and backwards leaning when braking and accelerating; lateral bending for those high-g turns at Monza or Spa. I kept the gear-ratios low, to maximize accelerations and give that great feeling when crashing into a Red Bull, or better into a wall…
The motion algorithms are very simple and run on an industrial controller, which cyclically receives lateral and longitudinal forces from the videogame’s UDP server, and controls the motors accordingly. The game runs on a normal PC and shows on a screen in front of the car. A VR headset would have made the whole racing experience much more immersive, but it would have also greatly exceeded my budget.
After completing a few races and seeing how much fun I was having, my daughters were in line for the driver’s seat. However, driving a Ferrari is not trivial and I quickly realized we needed something easier for them. We swapped the F1 game for a roller coaster simulator and the excitement went over the moon. With lots of free rides to select from and no lines to wait for, my roaring racing car was quickly transformed into a screaming amusement park.
Here you can find a video of the racing car and roller coaster simulator: