Bodnar V2 impressions

Philip Jansen van Resburng, also known as Beano, has been working lately with every DD solution out there. Now he has been testing and driving with a SimSteering V2 from Bodnar. This is the most expensive and refined ultimate gadget in a simracing career. And it is supposed to be the final stage in DD wheels. Here are some of his findings.

What is it, where to buy
Simsteering 2 is the successor to the original Simsteering wheels, and is developed with the focus on professional use. The wheel touts features such as a true linear response, high-strength FFB motors, as well as the ultimate in realism where FFB is concerned.

Being developed for professional use, these wheels are seen in public simulators, race car training simulators, as well as road-car training simulators.

According to their website, the system is used by a variety of teams participating in race series, including F1, GP2, F3, LMP1, LMP2 and WTCC.

For more info, visit here: http://www.simsteering.com/products.html

Components
My specific unit is comprised of:

AKM54G servo motor
Controller unit
Motor power and encoder cables
Emergency stop switch
USB cable

Specifications
3 different servo motors are available, based on your requirements:

AKM52G – 16NM
AKM53G – 20.5NM
AKM54G – 26NM

Installation
Mechanical installation onto my 8020 rig was relatively quick and easy – I had to remove my existing Lenze servo steering column, fabricate a new cross-brace to hold the AKM servo. Other than that, I am using my own mounting plate, as well as shaft coupler and 70mm adapter ring to bolt the wheel onto.

Electrical installation was painless, although I find the power and encoder connectors on the Control unit a bit fiddly, not the same quality as the AMP connectors on the Servo. With that said, they are still very decent and better than most out there though. The rest was connecting the USB B cable, and mains.

Setup
Setup is quick and rather easy, very similar to the DIY DD wheel (MMoS) interface – similar sliders and layout, but one feature I like about this one is the graphical animation, showing the recommended calibration window and center position of your wheel.

I also particularly like that the wheel doesn’t have to phase during startup, and no rotation to determine indexing is needed.

Settings and Options
The User Interface are available in simple and slightly more advanced options – I opted for the advanced one – it allows me to adjust wheel strength, Damping, Inertia, Friction. I will post a screenshot later.

Some comments on these in the section below.

First impressions
Well, the V2 is touted as the best DD FFB wheel out there – can it live up to the hype? According to earlier feedback on this, as well as many other forums, it is the best money can buy, and it is worth the premium you spent over other DD wheel technologies.

My take – I will highlight both the good and the bad:

The good:
The SS2 is a complete package, with (almost) all parts included to make it a complete DD wheel solution. Might be an idea, considering the cost of the overall package, to add the motor mount an shaft coupler as freebies, for those that want them.

The wheel response and tracking behaviour is top-class, I believe Leo has done wonders here in maximising the servo encoder (Smart Feedback Device) resolution what the control unit can accept, vs what Direct Input in Windows can accept. The controller unit is running at around 2million counts from the encoder, whilst this signal is stepped down to ~65,535 counts, the maximum windows can handle.

Numbers above theoretical and my deduction for what they might be, at least we know the SFD to be 2M counts.

Catching slides with the Ford GT3 around Monza was nice and easy, and natural, as you would expect in a real car. I could not fault the steering accuracy and response behaviour.

Both Damping and Friction worked very similar to how MMoS has implemented his, but the Inertia, WOW, that is on a different level – I played with the slider and could feel exactly what it was supposed to be doing. A big plus here, and you can definitely see what impact the high-resolution feedback device has on things like Friction, Inertia and Damping.

I suspect these features are residing directly on the controller unit, similar to the OSW, reducing latency and thus maximising the benefits and effects of these variables. Great job on this part, Leo, did I say Inertia felt really good? I also appreciated the fact that the results were applied as soon as you adjusted the sliders, no need to apply and wait (for Damping, friction, Inertia)

The Bad:
I suspect that Bodnar is applying a fair bit of filtering on the incoming FFB signal – I can understand why you are doing this, if it indeed is the case, which I hope, but you are filtering way to much.

Everyone was ranting and raving how the FFB felt like you were driving on real rubber – yes, this is true, it felt like rubber, but it is as if I am driving on soft under-inflated high-profile tyres, NOT on low-profile racing compound. It feels like you are averaging the raw FFB signal way to much, and whilst I am fast with your wheel, the experience is not that pleasant.

I know the first thing I will be told is to reduce the **Damping, Inertia and Friction – even when reducing these to 0%, the tyres are to soft under the car – I have done a bit of track-racing in my younger days, not much, but enough to understand what I am feeling here is to soft, I need a firmer ride, if that makes sense.

I settled on **Damping at 5%, both Friction and Inertia around the 8-10% level, this after 2-3 hours of experimenting.

The OSW is on the other extreme, the ride is harsher than it should be – somewhere in the middle between V2 and OSW would be a good compromise.

Main area for improvement:
(I renamed this as it was not really representative of what I was trying to convey.)

**Oscillation is one area where there needs to be changes to the fw and control-mechanism around this phenomenon should be investigated. To control oscillation, I have to run Damping at somewhere between 8-10%, Friction and Inertia at between 8-12%, then the wheel would behave itself very well, and no amount of enticing can induce oscillation.

But, at these settings, the damping is just killing the experience and the car feels even softer under foot, and not a pleasure to drive. Reducing the damping down to between 0-3% gives a somewhat better feel, but imho, still not close to ideal, but then, the oscillation reminds me of the old Argon controller I used in my first DD wheel.

Back then, I had to keep my hands on the wheel all the time, to prevent maniacal oscillations around center – it isn’t fun trying to catch a wheel going crazy when running 25+ NM torque. Enough already, this brings me to my next section.

Recommendations
As I am the proud owner of a SS2 wheel, naturally I would like to see it improved further, and I believe you can do just that, with a few additions to your existing FW and UI.

1) Please firm up the ride – whilst the rubber feel is superb, it is way to soft for a race-car – we need a bit ‘harsher’ FFB
2) Would it be possible to allow low-level access to some of these parameters? For those like myself, who prefer to tinker, you could allow us to reduce ‘filtering’ on the incoming signal to a level that suits us better.
3) Please look at what Tero has done with the IONI FW and add something like a notch-filter, which will allow us to control oscillations a lot more efficiently. It should have very little impact on wheel response behaviour, whilst allowing us to reduce Damping to very low levels, should we choose to do so.

More to come, thank you for reading my initial impressions, guys. I will add edits as time pas, and new things as they are discovered.

Below pictured the original, borrowed from Leo Bodnar website.

3703653_orig

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