I've always wanted to make my own steering wheel to save a few dollars, so after reading a few sites I decided to finally do it. It'll also have a set of brake/accelerator pedals and will be heaps sturdier than the plastic ones you can buy.
Ernie was quite interested as well so we're making two!
To see what we're trying to do, visit Lew Wiegand's Lew's Wheels . We're modelling ours on his because it's the simplest but best looking wheel I've found. He uses many of the more clever design ideas that others have incorporated into their wheels. Another site, and probably the biggest, is Wally's World. Check out his photo gallery because it looks like EVERYONE sends their designs in there!
Our biggest problem so far has been the bearings and steering column. We tried skateboard bearings at first but they're too small and looked like being too loose as well. Lew uses a 1/2" (12.7mm bloody Americans!) coach bolt with thread all along its length, pushing through a couple of bearings with a similar inner diameter. I couldn't find anything like this in the regular hardware stores, and wanted to keep the overall cost down so I looked around my shed. Lucky for me I'm a terrible hoarder! I found a couple of old ceiling fans that had 2 half inch bearings and a short shaft that they mounted on - perfect. We've had to drill the shaft out to fit a 5/16" thread rod through it but it looks like the go.
Another problem. Win98 won't recognise the wheel. It won't even detect my (very) old standard 2 axes joystick and the newsgroups are alive with joystick Win98 related problems. Hmmm...
Want some pics of the prototype??? Check out THE PICS PAGE!!!!
My father-in-law had my drill last night so I tidied up the shed instead of working on the pedals :(. But that got me wondering:
Is anyone actually reading this?
Does anyone really care?
If they do, should I make all this up into a proper set of pages showing you step by step how to build the wheel and pedals?
I've been so busy working on the wheel and pedals that I forgot to update the site!! DOH! I now have a complete prototype up and running. The pedals took a few nights to get going and I'm still not happy with the mechanism for rotating the pots, so I'm changing it at the moment. Calibration of the pedals was also a bit screwy so hopefully it'll be different once I redo them. Another interesting thing that happened was with the bungy cord I used. Initially I put thin stuff on the wheel and thick on the pedals, thinking my feet/legs were stronger than my arms. As it turns out though I had to reverse it! Weird, maybe something to do with the length of the bungy (longer on the wheel). Have taken some photos but we're only up to about 12 on the film.
Last night I put the bungy (ocky strap) on the steering column and my wheel now self-centers! The design for the wheel I got off Lew's site was a bit wonky so I've redrawn it tonight. Gonna log off now and do some work on the pedals.
IT IS ALIVE...MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA...
Rewired the pedal pots to set it to a standard 2 axes setup and Win98 recognised it!!! But I couldn't calibrate because I don't have a button wired up yet :-)
Ok, I've progressed to having the whole mechanism wired up and running. I cut out the middle wheel wafer (5 ply) and mounted it on the column to test. Unfortunately Win98 problems have stopped me from proceeding. It all works fine with DOS based calibration software though! Cut and set up a prototype set of pedals to get an idea of size. The ones on Lew's site were a little to big for me. You know how it is though, prototypes often end up being the final product!
The next phase of the project??? :-)
Cut out the base plate and drilled the holes for the bearing mounts last night. Also cut out the dashboard. It looks like I have to change my ideas for the centering mechanism so that the wheel can turn further.
Last night I spent a couple of hours in the shed marking out the steering wheel base and dashboard. I'm using craftwood from a bunch of old kitchen cupboards I got from someone for the base and 5 ply for the dash. I also marked out the inner piece of the steering wheel. The wheel is a sandwich of wood - 1 layer craftwood, 1 layer 5 ply, 1 layer craftwood. Glue them together and we'll have a thick wheel that can be shaped as we like. Oh yeah, I also ripped apart the second ceiling fan for Ernie's bearings and shaft.