Yep, you read that right. A tiny circuit board worth and a couple of other bits of hardware worth $200 can be used to turn the car you drive to work everyday into a controller for your favourite racing game. That’s cheaper than what you’d spend on a full simulator, or even just a wheel and pedal set.
The man who came up with the idea is Nishanth Samala. Half way through a race (IRL), the Subaru BRZ that he was driving conked out, and while he was waiting for a replacement engine to arrive, he thought he’d have a play. With a $98 Macchina M2 plugged into the car’s OBD2 port, he could measure the signals from his pedals and steering wheel to his laptop. He could then configure his laptop to change these signals into information a racing game could read as controls.
This wasn’t enough for the genius, so he set about doing the same thing but with his Xbox One which could play all of his favourite racing games. He set to work, and after some experimenting, he built a small interface that would allow the Macchina M2 and Microsoft’s Adaptive Controller to communicate with each other thanks to a number of 3.5mm jacks that could accept signals from foreign hardware.
Of course, you’ve then got the issue of needing to be sat in your car to play the game, so instead of moving the car to the front room, so with a screen balanced on the dash, he sits in his garage and races. This way, it provides the closest feeling of driving any game will give you – apart from feeling the G-forces of course – and as this guy really races his car, he knows what he’s doing.
Samala notes on his blog that you’d spend about $212 on this full setup, much less than a wheel and pedal set of the same standard, and it doesn’t stop your car from being able to be driven on the road. Simply unplug the hardware from the OBD2 port and you’ve away. Of course, you need a car in the first place… At least you won’t need to pay for a track day now?
This is what Samala says on the site that sells his circuit board:
What is it?
The Xbox Trigger breakout gives you 3.5mm trigger output to an Xbox Adaptive Controller. This lets you use CAN bus signals from your car to actuate the throttle and brake in any Xbox or PC racing game.
Why did you make it?
I made it to play Forza Motorsport on my Xbox using my car. The Xbox Adaptive Controller used in this hack requires 3.5mm jack inputs for the triggers. This breakout board lets me output those signals directly from a Macchina M2 plugged into the car.
What makes it special?
For anyone in grassroots, amateur, or professional motorsport, seat time is important. This hack lets you practice driving your car on virtual versions of real world tracks from home during the off season.