Homemade racing game cockpit fabrication (Project Ghetto Playseat)

Discussion in 'Tech' started by tweakmonkey, Jun 24, 2008.

  1. tweakmonkey

    tweakmonkey Webmaster Staff Member

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    I have a Logitech G25 (the wheel with a shifter and a clutch) for Gran Turismo Prologue on PS3, and I realized I still had my old Driving Force Pro (the 900 degree wheel for GT4) ... so I need some kind of racing cockpit thingys. I figured since the game has split-screen this was the best way to go.

    I spent the last week looking for some seats, and checked out a few on Craigslist from used cars, but they were all pretty crappy. Then last night I scored big time... found two racing seats (one Corbeau bucket in vinyl and one regular style racing seat). I paid only $100 for BOTH seats, so I am pretty jazzed.

    I'm hoping to start gathering materials and welding this week and I want to have it up and running within a few weeks. I'm also going to integrate some cup holders and may try to put sliders on for when people come over so they are adjustable.

    I'll post pictures later when I get home. I figured I'd post this thread to get it started. :)

    slide.jpg
  2. tweakmonkey

    tweakmonkey Webmaster Staff Member

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    Some pics of the seats etc... from my iphone, sorry about the quality.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I haven't bought brackets yet, but hope to make some progress on this soon!

    I Christen Thee... Project Ghetto Playseat! But since I'm working quite a few hours, it'll take a while to build this whole thing so I'll just update as it goes.

    Progress was made yesterday! On the way home from work, my roommate pointed out a sweet score on the side of the road: a rusty old exercise bike from the 80s that probably didn't work! I didn't understand the beauty of it, but I figured if James pointed it out, it must be good for something. So when we got to the house, we grabbed my skateboard and picked the thing up (it was about 1/4 mile from the house) and rolled it home.

    It was heavy as hell. This thing was probably built in the early 1980s and had been used to burn sweat from fat dudes since around the time I was born... but I realized why James wanted me to grab it as soon as I saw it up close: it has a great frame from lightweight steel and aluminum tubing, sits very stable on the ground, and has a built in seat slider/adjuster. I had been looking on Ebay and Craigslist, and the seat brackets alone that I needed were going to be $50, minimum. Then I was going to spend at least $30-40 and several hours building something similar to this.
    [​IMG]

    Who could give away such a wonderful piece of machinery for FREE? :D

    [​IMG]

    Rusty bolts on a functional seat slider bracket:
    [​IMG]

    I love taking things apart, so I looked forward to getting home from work today. It took me about 30 minutes to strip the bike completely to its frame, minus the pedals which require special tools to remove (a Sawzall :)):
    [​IMG]

    There's a massive pile of old parts and wires in the side of my garage. Most of the rusty hardware that holds the various pieces of the frame together (which will be nice to use to separate it into pieces of storage in the future) will be replaced with stainless steel bolts when I'm done.

    If I was really ghetto, I would just use it like this:
    [​IMG]

    But I won't.

    So maybe now you're starting to get the idea? The next step is taking each of the major halves into the shop to cut the height down to where I need it and re-weld them in the right configuration. I'm thinking about 7" on the seat, 4-5" to the center of the pedals, and I think it's 22" to the wheel. But I will probably make the heights adjustable or at least do a lot of test fitting before I call it good. I'll also be cutting away all the bike pedal stuff and cleaning up the rusty bits that remain. Stay tuned for more! :p

    We had a little time tonight after work so we unloaded the seat and brackets from the van and did some work.

    The frame separated into two major pieces, front and back. We decided to handle the seat side first.

    [​IMG]

    We had to drop the height of the exercise bike, as it was not quite where you would sit in a sports car. We measured the height from cushion to floor in the two cars in our garage at home: a Porsche 914 and an Eagle Talon TSI AWD. The height we came up with was 7" to 9" from the floor.

    Looking around the shop, I found the perfect seat. I thought it would be funny bolting a Porsche Carrera GT's seat to a rusty exercise bike frame, but I found out they cost about $5000 each so this just wasn't going to fly. :(
    [​IMG]

    Alex mocked our project and kicked the pieces around. We were not amused.
    [​IMG]

    I suggested the Sawzall, but since he was cutting at the welds, James began using his abrasive cutting disc to reduce the height of the seat.
    [​IMG]

    Once the supports and original seat bracket had been separated, James used the disc to clean up the rust and edges, smoothing out the cuts. If we were going all out, we could really spend some time here, but this was good enough.

    He set the inverted/severed legs onto the support to figure out where to drill so he could bolt the seat slider directly to the frame, then used his stepped drill bit to put a couple holes into the frame.
    [​IMG]

    After marking the holes with a center punch, he used CRC cutting oil on the bit and holes to be sure he didn't eat away his pricey bits.
    [​IMG]

    He cleaned up the holes with a file until some fresh bolts fit (which were just long enough to thread through both sides of the bar and into the seat slider frame). He used a regular drill bit to cut through the other side so it would match then cleaned up the holes with the stepped bit. Finally he used a square ruler with a marker to measure and mark, then drill the holes for the other side. Now he could bolt the two pieces together.
    [​IMG]

    James test fit the bent seat frame to the race seat, then drilled through the back of the seat, which he determined would offer the best support and driving angle.
    [​IMG]

    Bolts were put through the seats from the inside-out with washers, then secured to the frame with nuts.
    [​IMG]

    The cushions were reinstalled and the height was tested. About 8" off the floor: just where we wanted it!
    [​IMG]
  3. bigwill51534

    bigwill51534 Saint, Church of Ryanism

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    Awesome job, Dan! I'm looking forward to updates! I will definitely do a mock rebuild, as I have the same needs as you. I just gotta get ahold of a nice racing seat! As for the exercise bike frame, there are plenty of 'em here... Too many Navy wives failing at working out and losing weight for their husbands returning home!

    ~Will Courtier~
  4. randomtask

    randomtask Chimp.

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    looking good
  5. pk_volt

    pk_volt Junior Member

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    awesome work!

    Where did you find those seats? I've always wanted to build my own cockpit.

    I've been following DIY cockpits for quite a while now, and I'm definitely glad to see you came up with a fresh idea of scavenging used parts, especially for free!

    don't forget to post your work in the DIY Racesim Community Forums at Building your own Cockpit, Wheel etc... - RaceSimCentral Forums
  6. funkgab

    funkgab Junior Member

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    haha looking cool, i remember i read somewhere, some guy did it with an rx7 interior, and used outsim to get the gauges working in LFS
  7. tweakmonkey

    tweakmonkey Webmaster Staff Member

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    I found the seats on Craigslist. I bookmarked the search results for $10 to $100 with the query "seat" in Auto Parts and checked it each morning until I found something suitable. I'd add the "S" to seat (to make "seats") after running that search. I repeatedly saw aftermarket race seats for less money than factory car seats, and looked at some car seats in person -- race seats are usually much newer, better condition, lighter, and more sporty. I would avoid all factory (Honda, Chevy, Ford etc) seats unless you get a hell of a deal.

    When it's done I'll probably submit it somewhere. Since I have two seats I'll make two completely different playseats. :)

    That's really cool - I think once I've got the shifter and pedals mounted I'll be pretty happy, but I know some people take things apart and build heavier shifters, more realistic hanging pedals, etc.
  8. freeridemusik

    freeridemusik Yep.

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    Awesome project Dan... keep up with the postings. Sounds like your having some fun down there!
  9. funkgab

    funkgab Junior Member

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    ya alot of people mod their g25's as well with real handbrakes
  10. tweakmonkey

    tweakmonkey Webmaster Staff Member

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    Today we decided to start on the pedal and steering wheel side of the cockpit.
    [​IMG]

    First we removed the pedals, then cut away the large stalk that originally held the bike's handle bars. We set this piece aside as we knew we'd want it later.
    [​IMG]

    We test fit the pedals into the main support piece and determined where it should be located to allow about a 5'3" to 6'3" driver, and realized the notches could be enlarged, giving it a nice place to secure to -- we'll clean this up, and weld a plate in for its mounting bolts later.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    We cut the upper piece of that bracket down a bit more once we realized how little room we'd have with the pedals there. Then we cut off the support that held the pedals to the handle bar stalk.
    [​IMG]

    With the correct angle, it was clear now that the handle bar stalk could be used at this back corner and would easily clear the pedals.
    [​IMG]

    We took turns sitting in the seat and holding the wheel where it felt comfortable and accurate, then the other person measured the height from the floor to the center of the wheel and the length required of the original handle bar stalk if used at this angle. We averaged our two results together and came up with about 21" to the wheel at a 90 degree angle, and this required the stalk to be 28-29" to the mounting bolts on the steering wheel.
    [​IMG]

    Once we determined the angle, we decided to cut the original handle bar mount from the stalk and cut it to the correct angle, so the wheel would not be tilted like a bus.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    We kept the plate, as it was just the right size for mounting the G25. It would require a little work though. Looking at the bottom of the G25 wheel, there were only two threaded holes into metal for mounting it to a secure surface with bolts. We removed a few screws from the bottom, and found that several threaded into metal -- so we found longer bolts to fit into those screw holes to assist in supporting the wheel. Now it will be supported with four bolts instead of just two.
    [​IMG]

    I put a piece of paper over the bottom and pushed through the paper with a center punch into the holes. Then I center punched the exercise bike's plate, and drilled four holes to mount the G25.
    [​IMG]

    With the length and angle determined for the stalk, I went back and cut it to the right length. I then used the grinding wheel to clean up the rusty areas, or cut edges that were sticking up:
    [​IMG]

    It's hard to see what progress was made, but this was the biggest "work" part of the job probably. Now we need to weld the stalk back onto the frame (which will have multiple weld points thanks to the construction of the original exercise bike), weld the plate to the top of the stalk, and weld a bar across for the pedal support. We have discussed the shifter and final steps for assembly, but that will have to wait until later for now. :D
  11. MSP

    MSP Haunting a dead forum...

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    Truly, this is what Tweak is all about. Keep the pics coming!
  12. tweakmonkey

    tweakmonkey Webmaster Staff Member

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    We had a little time today, so we cleaned up all the surfaces we needed for welding. I was showered by sparks with my shorts and tshirt, but I wore face protection! :)

    After 30 minutes of grinding or so, the first welding was done. James used a Lincoln Mig welder. He held the stalk to the frame, then tacked it in place on the bottom side. Once it was confirmed to be straight and exactly where we wanted it, he completed the weld. Then he welded the top plate for the steering wheel to the stalk.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Keeping the lower frame in one piece, we were able to weld in two places, making the stalk extra sturdy.
    [​IMG]

    To secure the pedals to the frame, the G25 has six holes (in two rows of three) designed for mounting. We cut up some scrap metal pieces to make two support bars, one for each of the rows. I marked a template with a piece of paper, center-punched the support bars, then drilled them out just large enough for the bolts I was using. I drilled through to the other side, where I drilled it much larger to allow the bolts to be installed and removed. Then I cut them down with the Sawzall and filed the edges smooth.
    [​IMG]

    I then used the grinder to tear all the old welds/paint from the sections of the support bars. This would ensure a clean weld. I notched the frame again for the support bar, and screwed the pedal base into the bar for a test fit. James hooked the welder up and while holding the pedals in their desired position (checked with a level), he tacked them into place. We removed the pedals so the would not be damaged from the heat of the welder, then completely secured the upper support bar into place.
    [​IMG]

    Once it cooled down, we reinstalled the two support bars to the pedals and test fit to the final position. There was a 1" gap or so between the base and the where the lower support bar would fit, so we put a remaining piece of scrap metal under it to a tight fit. James tacked them into place, then we removed the pedals and he completed the welds.
    [​IMG]

    After we installed the pedals, seat, and steering wheel:
    [​IMG]

    Now we just had to mount the shifter. The options were either to the seat frame, on our right (like in a car) or next to the steering wheel (like a race or rally car). We opted for the latter because the seat would take less space in the living room, and would of course be a hell of a lot easier to fabricate and wire (we can eliminate one long wire that would either have to go through the frame, around the pedals, or be in the way).

    We found a square beam of aluminum in our scrap pile, which would work well for the stock screw-type mounts of the G25 for the wheel and shifter. We drilled out the aluminum and bolted it in two places to the top steering wheel plate. We used a counter-sinking bit, so the hole would be tapered, the bolt's head would fit flush and a nut could be secured to the other end without problems. We used lock-nuts, then cut down the aluminum to a good size.
    [​IMG]

    The shifter could now slide along the aluminum to move either further or closer to the wheel if the driver wanted. The bar is very solid and both of the shifter's mounts and the right mount of the wheel all squeezed it together.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Finished for today (it was getting late), I took the whole thing apart at its modular seams, removed the seat, and removed all the old rusty bolts so I could replace them with fresh hardware. Can you guess what's next?
  13. Torx

    Torx Indigenous Nudist

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    damn, that came together real nice..

    now all you need is some up close and personal speakers in your ears and in front.
  14. MSP

    MSP Haunting a dead forum...

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    Awesome! Looks like the shifter needs to come back some though.
  15. tweakmonkey

    tweakmonkey Webmaster Staff Member

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    I haven't tried it yet for a game, but it feels pretty good up there - like a WRC car or something. If I move it later all I need to do is build an angled bracket that bolts into the seat (which is already drilled on the side, too). But it's quite a bit of work. I think I may just try it out for now and see how I like it and possibly move it down there later. I'll look into it today if I have time and extra scraps laying around.
  16. Undertaker989

    Undertaker989 New Member

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    HOLY SHIT! thats all I have to say.
  17. funkgab

    funkgab Junior Member

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  18. WoodButcher

    WoodButcher just me

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    Nice work Dan, did you catch a little sunburn welding in shorts and sleeves?
  19. tweakmonkey

    tweakmonkey Webmaster Staff Member

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    So I moved the shifter to the side, where it'd be in a normal car. The cool thing is it bolts to the seat, so it could be moved back and forth if desired.

    I used a 3-foot long piece of 1" steel tubing, which I cut to a length that would allow the shifter to mount in front of the seat slightly, and to the right. I spaced it out about 1.5" from the seat using other pieces I cut from the same piece of steel tubing. Then I cut a piece that will attach at the front end, making it perpendicular to the seat, so the shifter is facing the right direction.

    I drilled out the holes for the mounts on each side, then made the outside holes larger so a socket could fit into the tube. I learned to weld (5-minute crash course) then welded the four pieces together. After tacking it in place I welded all the way around, then cleaned it up and filed it smooth on the edges. It fit perfect: I did a good job I think! But it's still not quite ready to bring to my house.
    [​IMG]

    It's hard to see from the pics, but the angles were good: all 90 degrees.
  20. tweakmonkey

    tweakmonkey Webmaster Staff Member

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    Since I had the whole seat disassembled, I figured now was a good time to prep and paint the parts. I looked around the shop for any paint that wasn't being used, and found two cans each of Rust-oleum silver and blue.
    [​IMG]

    The silver was a "hammered" finish, meaning it is extra durable and can go right over rust. I figured this finish would cover most of the defects as well. I cleaned all the parts with brake cleaner and paper towels, then shot it with primer really quick.
    [​IMG]

    I also took the seat itself apart, and was careful to tape up all the remaining cloth and cushions that could not be removed. I cleaned the stickers off with a heat gun, but the residue would've come off easier with gasoline or WD-40.
    [​IMG]

    I sprayed all of the parts with silver, then I used the blue to cover the seat so it would stand out a bit. While the paint dried between coats, I ran to the hardware store and bought some new bolts and washers to avoid using the old rusty ones I had removed earlier. I let the paint dry overnight, but it was still a bit soft, so I put everything into the shop Volkswagen Eurovan with the windows up (it was 75F outside or so) and let it all bake like an oven in there. When I removed the parts several hours later, they were completely dry. Now I could finally put it all together!

    The bike frame's aluminum center pieces that connected the modular components had large fins, or spaces between them, allowing wiring to be tucked away inside the frame. I bought a serial extension cable at Fry's ($4) to allow the shifter to reach from the seat. I ran every wire through the frame. The power adapter is tucked inside it, and the only external wires are the power cord and the USB cable to plug it in, both of which come out in front of the pedals where they can not be a problem.
    [​IMG]

    The order we had to use when assembling was specific since the wires were all run through the frame. The serial extension cable had to be grinded slightly, and even then there were a couple close fits. The plates and holes we had cut and welded all lined up perfectly with no surprises. (I guess that was the surprise)
    [​IMG]

    As I finished it up, it was clear that not only is this frame very solid, but it actually looks pretty dang good. The front could be coned off with a fuselage type nose or a plate could be welded in place of the front mount, but I am very happy with the results.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The only things I may change in the future are to add a cupholder, lift the shifter up slightly, and to make the wheel's height adjustable. Currently the seat to pedal height and the wheel height are just about exactly where I fit into the shop's 997 GT3 RS (a car many people to consider to be a great driver's car), but the shifter is a teeny bit lower down (maybe an inch). It will work well for the projector at the house, and I will take some pictures when I bring it home tonight.

    Thanks for reading. :D
  21. ninefivezero

    ninefivezero infinite resolution

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    Great work man.
  22. demonizeZ

    demonizeZ Junior Member

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    damm man awesome job on fabrication of the whole thing from ground up.
  23. Mr. Ali

    Mr. Ali Junior Member

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    wow, not so ghetto after all.
  24. tweakmonkey

    tweakmonkey Webmaster Staff Member

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    Thanks guys, it was a lot of fun, too! I have another seat at home and another wheel, so the next time I find an old exercise bike you can bet your ass I'm building a second one. :D
  25. b00gerflick3r

    b00gerflick3r Old School "Lurker"

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