Being one of the first guys doing something has some disadvantages and some rewards. When I started OpenSimWheel (with an IONI controller) I was already knew it was going to be difficult. One of my main concerns was related to steering wheel itself, the rim, button plates and paddles. At that time, Martin Ascher was (he still is) one of the finest, and one of the few, making paddles. I contacted with him and ask for a complete solution. That was not possible at that moment because Martin was installing and designing his later well known commercial solution yet. He led me to one of his most trusty contacts: Carsten Filmer.
Carsten, also known as FiTech, has been creating some of the most detailed custom solutions for simracers during these last few years. That means, yep, it is expensive, but top quality. If you wander through his website you can see a wide range of projects and gadgets linked to the simracing world; from pedals to displays.
After a simply request, I got a list of prices and materials to be used in my steering wheel. I choose carbon fiber for the plates instead of aluminum, it should be lighter.
In last August I received my customized Sparco P310 from Carsten with Martin Ascher paddles. a couple of pictures before to be delivered:
A very good description of the used materials is available at FiTech site:
- The enclosures are made of SLS 3D printing PA 2200. After the manufacturing process the enclosures are sandblasted and colored with a high end finish in black. To make them as strong as possible we use aluminium inserts to around the fixing holes. The result is a lightweight but stiff enclosure. For motorsport applications we can also print the enclosure in even stronger materials like Aluminum, Carbon or even titanium.
- Our button and back plates are CNC milled and we can supply two different materials. You can choose between 100% real PrePreg carbon fiber or black anodized aluminium. On both types of panels we can add custom engravings for labeling your buttons, or add your logo to the wheel.
- The shifters and clutch paddles are both manufactured by Martin Ascher, who is well known for his high quality magnetic carbon shifters. We are now working with him since more than one year and we never got disappointed.
- All wires we use are also based on automotive standards and can stand tough environments. The standard connection of a wheel to your PC is done via an USB connector, but there is also a premium option available.
Those on the pictures are knitter buttons, one of the most expensive kind of switches out there. Not bad.
With everything in site, I noticed some irritating problems. Due to OSW DIY nature, I didn’t properly ground my installation and I was suffering ghost clicks in the steering wheel. They were usually buttons and almost never paddles, but there was an underlying problem. Carsten saw the EMI problem and grounded all his next steering wheel rims. I got over it and kept racing.
After some months of rewarding and pleasing use, I started to notice intermittent USB disconnections. It was driving me crazy; USB extenders, OS drivers, OS formats, different cars, different sims, several different situations. I opened it with the remote Carsten advice but I couldn’t see anything wrong. One of these test finished with an unstuck paddle (one of the little magnets) and that was the definitive signal. I had to send it back.
Carsten saw a USB broken core and recommends me to use his new premium wiring solution to avoid future USB breakages.
He also properly grounded my wheel and installed the new model of Martin Ascher paddles.
Since then, everything is working as it should and the wheel feels better than ever before. No ghost clicks, no electro magnetic interference, no more USB problems, so I could say it is a happy ending. Good news are invaluable knowledge about these annoying problems is already settled and none of you should found them anymore.
Despite mentioned problems let me make it clear, this steering wheel is an authentic simracing masterpiece, some of those things you will be proud to own and it is worth every cent you spend in it. Customized it, make it yours and you’ll love it.
Note: Picture in front page is not my steering wheel, similar model plus SLI display.