HE guys, Sven and Niels, sent me their sequential shifter a few days ago. I’ve been testing it though I usually drive with paddles, and I must admit, I like it a lot.
Heusinkveld Engineering is a small dutch company making simulation hardware and software achieving a very high quality. Right now, we could say they are the reference here in Europe and every product released is sold out in a few minutes. Just need to remember what an Ultimate pedals batch last on stock, less than an hour.
They have an impressive list of clients with a bunch of professional racing drivers. Their customer service is also worth to mention solving all possible issues with their products. Even they appeared on some dutch business magazine as a successful start-up companies in the north of Netherlands.
HE Shifter at first sight
Unboxing process starts with a greeting card and a brief note with the content of the package. Here I miss a third note with the instructions to mount the shifter. Anyway, you can browse to the following address to see why is not included, too long and different mount possibilities.
Inside the box you should see the following content:
- 3 levers/shafts
- 3 knobs
- 1 M10 nut
- 2 M4 screws
- 1 M8 table clamp screw
- Rubber table clamp spacer
- Micro USB cable
Sequential shifter looks and feels like other products in the company, solid and well engineered. A very small box of stainless steel CNC laser cut contains all the electronics and the ball spring resistance system. One of the sides has the PCB, well covered, with USB and molex-style connections.
Mounting the shifter
Mounting and fitting the shifter is probably the toughest job. Why, you ask, because there is no standard cockpit or rig design which fits perfectly and you have to figure it out how to solve your particular situation. HE has foreseen three cases
- Using M4 bolt holes to attach it to a flat surface, thinner than 0,3 cm. You’d need to drill.
- Using the mounting plate. It needs to remove and attach both bolts on one side. Don’t remove bolts on both sides simultaneously because this could move internal pieces and damage your shifter.
- Using the table clamp. It was my choice.
Getting some pine wood lefts to simulate a table width did the job and I could use the table clamp. It was a little difficult because you have to tighten the nut with a 13 mm wrench and I hadn’t enough space to do it. I bought a fixed wrench to finish it. Once is properly tighten we can up-shifting and down-shifting confidently.
I suspect people with 80/20 aluminum framing system cockpits will find easier to fit it using the side mounting plate.
Knobs and levers
Bear in mind, using shifter is not easy to match your usual paddles lap times. You have to reach the knob to shift and that distance is larger than using paddles where a virtual 0 distance is operational. The closer the better; take a look to these real cockpits and see where the shifter is.
Taking into account the above considerations I needed to use the long lever and the long knob. These combined are like 14 cm, according HE specifications, leaving them close enough to my right hand. There are existing combinations, knob and lever, going from 7,5 cm up to mentioned 14 cm.
Knobs and levers are very easy to mount and demount, with two distinct threads, and allow to change easily your configuration. To attach the lever to the shifter you’ll need a wrench.
I don’t recognize exactly what kind of resin or plastic material has been used to made the knobs but the feeling is very similar to the pool or snooker balls. They feel good and very well made.
Plugin it to the computer
Simple. Use the micro USB included cable and Windows will recognize it instantly. No need to install anything or configure something. The device is recognized as HE Sequential Shifter and has two buttons. You can try it on the Control Panel. HE also has added a molex connection to let us connect the shifter to a pedals controller board and manage pedals and shifter like a single integrated device.
Using it on your sims
Very straight forward to configure. In my case iRacing, going to the options window, gearbox button and configure up-shifting (pulling) and down-shifting (pushing). That’s all. I’ve tested it on LFS also with a great feeling. I guess it is more or the the same in the rest of sims of the market.
It took me no more than half and hour to get used to it once I put it close enough. I mean, to match my paddles lap times, which is surprisingly a very short period of adaptation. I am not a very slow driver so my hand needs to be fast on the shifter but this longer travel also means a better planning on the track. This planning period of your actions has a beneficial effect over your driving style by removing instantly some bad habits, like over driving the car or locking brakes, and helping you to calm, to anticipate some events. You feel a little less brave which isn’t very bad at all when races are so long and your head needs to be cold.
I specially enjoyed the shifter feeling in big down shiftings when the internal mechanism makes that characteristic sound and the car’s slowing down smoothly to let you hit the apex. And a last very good point I noticed doing this; blowing your engine up, is now highly unlikely.
HE shifter has been a relatively new addition to the company catalog but it feels polished for decades. The feeling is wonderful and it works like you’d expected, without failure. Its external aspect follows the usual guideline in the company being a rock solid stainless steel piece closer to the profesional racing hardware rather than commercial simracing hardware. There’s no doubt it will be a great addition to any simracer’s cockpit looking for better immersion without excluding best quality.
I would like to thank Svend and Niels for answering some doubts about shifter internals these days while they were busy with the website migration.