View Full Version : [Project] USB control of Real Gauges (for racing sims)

05-25-2009, 02:47 AM
Firstly, I am a ECC novice. I have done a ton of research into the field of trying to replicate this

YouTube - Demo 3 , Outgauge usb device and Real Gauges

YouTube - RSIM v2 Controlling new hardware

Real car clusters working with outputs from racing sim games. Live for Speed, Rfactor, GTR, etc

For anyone unfamiliar with the task of making real gauges work there are 3 constant links that I was lead to in my searching.

http://forum.rscnet.org/ (which is down for an unknown amount of time)
http://outgauge.net (which is down for an unknown amount of time)
and finally

http://www.betainnovations.com/ (which was open selling what I need until September)

This is what they sold at BI

It essentially controlled 8 air-core gauges (the type in real cars) (http://www.mikesflightdeck.com/diy_aircore_instruments.htm) and a 4x20 character screen and a shift light and gear indicator all through USB, all configurable in windows.

Since BI has closed. You can no longer buy the easy solution to control gauges. I am not looking for anything as complex as the BI nitro board. The 4x20 display is a bit overkill.

I have seen several stepper motor controlled gauge setups but those are not helpful in my case.

I have also attempted to contact Leo Bodnar who makes a very handy USB input controller for making custom joysticks http://www.leobodnar.com/products/BU0836/
who released this little project page http://www.lbodnar.dsl.pipex.com/gauges/index.html to no avail.

So there is a hole in the world where the ability to make this happen has become rather difficult.

Being impulsive I purchased a set of Porsche gauges on ebay through a miracle find on page 26. They are rather expensive and don't want to rip them apart for this project and would like to connect through the 32 pin connector on the back of the gauges. I have a couple posts up on porsche forums asking for a wiring schematic for the gauges.

http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y136/F12Bwth4/Guage%20Cluster/th_IMG_6653.jpg (http://s4.photobucket.com/albums/y136/F12Bwth4/Guage%20Cluster/?action=view&current=IMG_6653.jpg)http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y136/F12Bwth4/Guage%20Cluster/th_IMG_6657.jpg (http://s4.photobucket.com/albums/y136/F12Bwth4/Guage%20Cluster/?action=view&current=IMG_6657.jpg)http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y136/F12Bwth4/Guage%20Cluster/th_IMG_6661.jpg (http://s4.photobucket.com/albums/y136/F12Bwth4/Guage%20Cluster/?action=view&current=IMG_6661.jpg)http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y136/F12Bwth4/Guage%20Cluster/th_IMG_6663.jpg (http://s4.photobucket.com/albums/y136/F12Bwth4/Guage%20Cluster/?action=view&current=IMG_6663.jpg)http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y136/F12Bwth4/Guage%20Cluster/th_IMG_6664.jpg (http://s4.photobucket.com/albums/y136/F12Bwth4/Guage%20Cluster/?action=view&current=IMG_6664.jpg)

If anyone thinks they can help with this project please post or PM me. If a solution is found and it is easily reproducable I believe the boards could be sold or used in the production of sim racing gauges and sold in small quantities.

On a side note all the BI windows software is still availible for download so if a custom board could be built I am sure the Nitro control software could be used to handle it removing the need to code from scratch. http://www.betainnovations.com/support/secure/support.html

05-25-2009, 11:50 AM
Sorry this fell into the moderation queue. It's still being dialed-in.

Approved and posted now though. Welcome to the forum - fun project!

05-26-2009, 11:54 AM
Good luck. You are most likely not going to get any schematic or information at all about those gauges. Other vendors don't release that information, and I doubt Porsche will. In addition, even with a schematic, you would still need the protocol used between the ECU and the cluster itself to communicate with it.

Your best bet might be to disassemble the gauge cluster and figure out how to drive the cluster's needles (most likely an analogue voltage per coil). Then you will need some sort of micro to talk between the usb port and the DACs (or whatever) driving the cluster.

05-26-2009, 12:18 PM
The wiring diagram and schematic will be in the service manual. What Porsche did they come out of? I have shop manuals up to 2001 for the Porsche from 1986/87 forward. (I've owned my share of Porsches over that period, and raced a handful of them)

I agree though - protocol might be tougher.

05-26-2009, 08:29 PM
Well I came here because I know its difficult. The Guages are from an 2006 911 Carrera so your manuals probably wont help. The audi cluster leo bodnar is using here>>>

Leo bodnar's USB Guage Control

Looks to be connected with as few as 5 wires from his little USB controller. 12V power would be separate. Granted I am not sure he hasn't just ripped the back apart.

Someone must know something about the porsche wiring. I promise if that person exists I will find them!

05-26-2009, 09:11 PM
As I Sienna pointed out, and I agree - it's not about the wiring. Go buy a shop manual. Wiring problem solved. It's about the protocol from the ECU.

05-27-2009, 12:03 AM
While this simmers on the back burner I had an Idea and I KNOW you guys can help elaborate the specifics of it.

I want to make a controller for a 12V Fan that spins it at varying speeds dependent on how fast you are driving in a racing sim. I am sure I can find the output for that data but what hardware would be used to control it?

Fan I would buy if it works. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835706015

05-27-2009, 12:17 AM
Not the absolute most cost effective, but for future expansion, my choice would be here:


mated to this:


Now you can control up to 32 PWM devices from a single serial port and control that motor with speed.

Then you could slap microservos on the needles in a gauge cluster, and control them from that same servo controller. And anything else that you want to control that way. Later you could even use the SSC32 as the brains behind a fully articulated simulator cage.

If you just want to burn a port to solve that one problem though, it's probably less expensive to throw one serial motor controller at the problem and call it done.

05-27-2009, 04:20 AM
Interesting. Its a pretty large layout of cash for such a small project. Plus I would need a serial-usb adapter http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812156003

I wouldn't commit to that setup until I found someone familiar with the outputs of rFactor to tell me what I want is 100% doable.

05-27-2009, 06:09 AM
The wiring diagram and schematic will be in the service manual. What Porsche did they come out of? I have shop manuals up to 2001 for the Porsche from 1986/87 forward.
Porsche must be nicer then Mazda then. All my service manual seems to have is pinouts for the harnesses, but no schematics or anything. (Well, no detailed schematic of any green board, just an indication of a resistor or two on a wire)

But I haven't read my service manual cover to cover so I could be wrong.

05-27-2009, 09:43 AM
No, no greenboard schematics. That'd be silly. Don't need that to build a car. ;)

05-27-2009, 09:43 AM
I wouldn't commit to that setup until I found someone familiar with the outputs of rFactor to tell me what I want is 100% doable.

Have you tried rFactor's forum?

05-27-2009, 12:07 PM
Have you tried rFactor's forum?

Just, Waiting for a reply. Which I know that site and it could take decades for a useful one.


06-21-2009, 12:19 PM
Just to keep everyone informed, RSC.net has come back up and already it leads to some excellent resources.


Here in poor english is someone who recently took on a very similar project to mine.


I am hoping to contact this person for the detailed specs of his unit.

On another good note I have attained a 90's Pontiac Grand Am cluster that I could give a rats ass about. But thats a good thing.

http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y136/F12Bwth4/Guage%20Cluster/th_IMG_2641.jpg (http://s4.photobucket.com/albums/y136/F12Bwth4/Guage%20Cluster/?action=view&current=IMG_2641.jpg)

I am going to look up air-core specs and see what they are looking for on their 4 contacts.

http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y136/F12Bwth4/Guage%20Cluster/th_IMG_2637.jpg (http://s4.photobucket.com/albums/y136/F12Bwth4/Guage%20Cluster/?action=view&current=IMG_2637.jpg)

02-25-2013, 11:45 PM
This has been a useful thread for myself as I have been trying to conquer the same exact thing, as an EET student this last post you made has shown the parts and diagram in order to control two types of clusters! awesome job finding these. Here is our project that we are going to make a cluster for, hope you enjoy!


02-26-2013, 12:07 AM
What a bump.. I appreciate the video. Maybe someone with more knowledge will see this mega bump and resurrect a dream of mine. I have had those Porsche gauges in a box for four years apparently.