Feb. 16, 2015 | By Simon

Anybody who has an interest in both gaming and 3D printing has without a doubt come across at least a few gaming mods that have only been able to be realized thanks to affordable and accessible 3D print-based manufacturing methods.  So far we’ve seen everything from modified and custom gaming controllers to modified gaming consoles and even entire gaming systems themselves (with a little help from microcontoller boards such as Raspberry Pi and Arduino).  

Although traditional gaming consoles such as the Playstation and XBox are more widely-used, the growing niche of gamers who like to build and modify their own custom racing simulation pods has been growing exponentially.  Naturally, those with some 3D modeling experience have been active in creating their own affordable 3D printed modifications for their simulator set ups.  

Among other gamers who have modified their racing simulators is Aritz Aramburu, who after using other gear shifters decided that there had to be a way to create his own low-cost solution that was both simple and featured everything necessary for controlling the manual transmission features in racing-based video games.

Starting with an original shifter design, Aramburu wanted to create a solution that could easily convert from an H-Pattern shifter to a sequential mode with ease.  Using Smart ABS material, Aramburu designed and successfully printed “SHH – the first 3D printer made Shifter for Sim Racing”.

Working independently from the steering wheel (some pre-existing setups for virtual racing combine both the wheel and the shifter into a single unit), the Shifter operates directly through a USB port and is detected by a Windows PC as a 10-button joystick - a commonly used PC gaming hardware device.  To create the modified “joystick”, Aramburu programmed the Shifter to have nine of the button functions embedded into the actual movements of the shifting mechanism, which features both six shifting locations as well as a reverse and up and down sequential mode.  

Perhaps what is most interesting about the shifter though is that it is a great example of how a “Maker” is able to design and produce their own product at a cost that is significantly lower than major manufacturers - not to mention speaks to an ever-expanding market of ‘open-source’ users who would rather support open product development rather than closed-loop manufacturers.  For $75, somebody who purchases Aramburu’s Shifter design is paying roughly half the price of a similar product by a major manufacturer.  In this case, it is the TH8RS or TH8A shifters from Thrustmaster.  Additionally, the custom-manufacturing business model allows for a user to customize the shifter to their own color (and even materials, theoretically) in the case that they have a neon orange or other color scheme for their own racing simulators.  Additionally, the user has the option to brand their own logo or text into their custom shifter design.

While the 3D printed shifter offers more customization options for the end user, it is also not without it’s own design improvements.  Rather than having to switch out a plate with hex screws to switch between H and sequential shifting as seen on the Thrustmaster shifters, Aramburu’s Shifter design allows for a user to switch between the two at the flip of a switch.  

Anybody who is interested in Aramburu’s Shifter design can purchase a unit for $75 or 65 Euros with the option to customize their design and pick from a variety of shifter knobs over at the SHH Shifter Facebook page.          



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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