The Logitech G27 and SRW-S1, possibly a match made in heaven?
Some of you might remember that not too long ago I posted a review on the SteelSeries SRW-S1 steering wheel (you can read it here) and while as a standalone product I didn’t think overly high of it, I did point out that this would be the perfect thing to try and mod onto a traditional steering wheel base. It seems I wasn’t alone on that idea and soon a number of video’s and sites popped up demonstrating varying people’s solutions and implementations of them mounting SRW-S1’s to G2X bases. Truly fabulous stuff.
Fast forward a bit further and I myself took the plunge of attempting a similar mod. My first attempt was a little crude but for all purposes did exactly what I set out to achieve, and that was to have a F1 style steering wheel mounted to my Logitech G27 for minimal cost.
Fast forward further still and with the release of products like the Fanatac Clubsport and Thrustmaster F1 replica wheels my simple mod suddenly seemed grossly inadequate. It was then I made the commitment to go about creating a V2 of my mod that would be more functional and aesthetically pleasing than the original. I posted up a small build log on our forum and a couple videos on youtube and thought that’s that. What I wasn’t ready for was the bombardment of emails, PM’s and video comments asking me to go into more detail regarding the build. Turns out that this is quite a popular mod that plenty of people seem interested in replicating themselves.
So fast forward all the way to today and I thought it was about time to go into a bit more detail with the mod so as to answer some of the questions I’ve been asked as well as give a bit more information about how I did it.
Before we get started I want to point out that this won’t be a tutorial on how to build this exact mod. There will be some sections that will be very tutorial like that provide steps that can’t be done any other way (such as dissembling) however the large majority of this is simply an overview of the process I used to achieve the end result. My emphasis will be on details to answer questions that I’ve been getting constantly since I first posted my mod. I hope that this will be more of an aid for people who want to do this mod themselves and give them ideas of how they might tackle it in their own way.
Lastly and obviously is the warning to use this information at your own risk. I won’t be taking responsibility if you brick your SRW-S1 or your G2X. You’ve been warned!
I guess we start here:
This is a picture of the original mod sitting in my old cockpit. Functionality wise this did pretty much everything you wanted. In fact it worked so well that I don’t think I could ever go back to the original G27 wheel. At least not in open wheel racing sims etc. So the question is if it worked so well why the desire to do another one? Well there are a few shortcomings:
- It’s semi-permanent. While you can return it back to the G27’s wheel it’s not a quick swap in swap out.
- The USB cable hangs out the back and dangles down. This really isn’t a big drama, you can curl it up underneath the G27 and I used to wind it around the clamps out of the way but obviously you probably want to be able to hide it.
- The LED’s on the front don’t work. Well ok they do work but only if you’re playing Sim Raceway (which the SRW was specifically designed for). In every other situation the G27 LED’s take priority over the ones on the SRW-S1 and since you can’t see them anymore it basically means no LED’s. I’m sure there is a clever software person out there that could change that but hardware wise I couldn’t find a solution.
- All the buttons work great, but now I had 3 rather nifty toggle switches that did nothing. These toggle switches controlled the internal driver aids and sensitivity of the motion sensors which obviously we weren’t using.
So as you can see there are a few shortcomings of simply bolting on a SRW-S1 to your wheel. So let’s now move onto the new mod itself.
Here we have a fresh brand new SRW-S1 ready to be moded:
If you’re interested in knowing the dimension of the SRW-S1 for your mod, then here they are (roughly):
240mm (W) x 150mm (H) x 30mm (D)
First things first, we need to remove the front and get inside. First thing to do is remove the 3 dial switch caps. This is pretty straight forward, just get a flat head screw driver and gently leaver them up. They are not glued in anyway, but may be very stiff, so go slow and be gentle. If you don’t plan on using any kind of covering on the wheel be careful here not to scratch the top as the plastic used is a little soft. Once they are off, you’ll be left with just the nubs sticking out.
First things first, we need to remove the front and get inside. First thing to do is remove the 3 dial switch caps. This is pretty straight forward, just get a flat head screw driver and gently leaver them up (figure 2). They are not glued in anyway, but may be very stiff, so go slow and be gentle. If you don’t plan on using any kind of covering on the wheel be careful here not to scratch the top as the plastic used is a little soft. Once they are off, you’ll be left with just the nubs sticking out.
Flip your wheel over and now we’ll remove 7 screws holding the front on.
You should be able to remove the front now. Word of warning, the buttons will fall out if you remove the top facing up. I would suggest turning it over so the back is facing you so the buttons don’t go everywhere. You should now be looking at the inside.
As per figure 5 there are 6 screws that hold the PCB and 2 of the bottom buttons in place. Lastly there are two screws and a smaller PCB that hold the rotary dials. Remove these two (figure 6).
Lastly the only thing keeping the PCB still attached to the wheel will be three connectors, one for the brake and accelerator and one for the USB connection (figure 7). At this stage if you plan on keeping the PCB you should carefully remove the connector pins holding the USB connecter. You don’t have to worry so much for the brake and accelerator as you won’t be using those. Use a needle nose plier to do this and take time, if you break the USB connection, its game over. Having said that if you don’t plan on keeping the PCB, then go nuts and just rip it out.
Once the PCB is out, you’ll be left with the paddles on the back. At this point if you’re keeping the PCB, you can if you want leave the gear paddles on and use those to change gear rather than the Logitech G2X ones. If you choose to do this it means removing the G2X paddles as they will get in the way. Having said that I would highly recommend removing the paddles from the SRW-S1 as they are nowhere near as good as the ones on the G2X. You definitely need to remove the paddles for the brake and accelerator as you will not be using these.
Lastly as a tip, if you are going to use the paddles from the SRW-S1 you can swap out the brake and accelerator paddles to the top for the gear changing paddles as they are larger.
If you are choosing to keep the SRW-S1 paddles, then this is basically where we leave each other as the rest of this mod requires they are gone. You can if you want fast forward to later in this article on how I attached my wheel to my base, but even that would be compromised if you kept the paddles. My advice would be to ditch them.
You should at this stage if your still following us be here (figure 8):
No paddles and the PCB removed. For my mod, I wanted to replace the LED display with one that is a bit more functional. After some searching I found this excellent one from Leo Bodnar. His products are used in many custom wheels and rigs and software wise is well supported.
Here is one of my vids demonstrating the SLI-M in action.
They make two models, the SLI-M and the SLI-Pro and while the SLI-Pro offers better functionality, it will not fit in the wheel.
Here is the SLI-M sitting in the wheel and as you can see it just fits (figure 9).
Next I made a bracket for the SLI-M to sit in (figure 10,11). At the time when I did this there was no template to go off (not even from the manufacturer’s website). I choose to make it out of 3mm MDF which you can purchase from any hardware or supply depot. Why MDF? Well it was easy to work with and because I had no template I could make subtle adjustments to the holes. You could easily do this out of something else like aluminium or plastic, or really any material.
Or, you could get yourself this:
This will take the guess work out of making your own tho a word of warning if you do use this you may need to make some subtle alterations, because it doesn’t quite fit. However it’s handy to get if you want to use it as a template at least.
I then covered the above with a vinyl carbon fibre look alike wrap (figure 12). If you jump on ebay or check your local automotive stores you should be able to get it quite cheap, it’s only a few dollars for an A4 sized sheet and you should only need one. Tho it doesn’t hurt to have two just in case you stuff the first one up.
One tip for the vinyl wrap is that for any hole you need to create try and cut it with a sharp utility or craft knife rather than poke a hole in it. Will make it much easier to avoid things like bubbles and the vinyl lifting.
Next we move on to creating a home for the SLI-M in the front panel. Because the fit is very tight and I’m using a bracket for it to sit in, it means that we will lose a few buttons. For some of you that will be a big deal, for me it really wasn’t. I lost 6 buttons, which you can see from this picture (figure 13) however we still have 8 plus rotary so really if anything the wheel will look cleaner. Cutting the PVC plastic was difficult as I only had a jigsaw with a fine blade. If you had a scroll saw that probably would be better however no matter your method you will probably have the same problem I did. The plastic melts really easily caused by the friction of the blade. I found that in some cases the cut I was making was being instantly re-joined with bits of melting plastic hardening as I passed. The key was to slow the blade down enough that it would cut but not to slow that it bit and made it difficult to cut. Of course unless you have a variable speed jigsaw then you may not have much choice on the matter. The other alternative could have been a hand saw that probably would be slightly cleaner but difficult to maneuver. Either way it’s fairly straight forward to get yourself some sand paper and smooth out the edges. I used a craft knife to lower the only LED mount holes that are slightly raised.
So here is the bracket and SLI-M sitting in the SRW-S1 (figure 14,15).
Next we wired up the bottom buttons. These are fairly straight forward as they have their only little PCB which you can just directly soldier your cables onto. You can see my first efforts here (figure 16).
Do yourself a favour and get some decent wire. I used what was lying around and it wasn’t ideal. It was too thick and made it difficult to manoeuvre into position. Any decent electronics (Jaycar in AUS or I guess Radio Shack if you’re in the US would help you out here).
The top corner buttons are a bit more complicated as I had to cut them off the PCB. Don’t cut too much off as it will make it difficult to put back. My efforts you can see here (figure 17).
The best way to remount them back on the wheel is to use superglue or in my case a hot glue gun to reposition them back. It’s critical that they go exactly back in the correct position otherwise the micro switch will not line up with the button and you will have a button that doesn’t work properly!
So I guess the next question is obvious. Why use the existing buttons? Why not get new buttons? Well a few reasons. Finding new buttons that small is really difficult I found. The buttons were either too big, or too long. The buttons used are micro switches and while you could certainly get new ones, you still need to mount them back in the same manner. Meaning you’d have to make another mount or customer plate. Might as well reuse what’s already there! (Edit: Having said that if anyone ever finds normal monetary switches of the right length and size by all means drop me a line or comment below.)
So basically after a frustrating afternoon of soldering and wiring I got to this stage (figure 18).
Now I’m sorry that I’ve skipped to this point, so I’ll try and explain a few things about the above. As you can see I cut the PCB basically in half keeping the DPAD, and 5 buttons. All with their separate wiring back to the SLI-M. You’ll notice that there is only 2 rotary dials in the above image. I had to remove one as it just didn’t fit anymore. In later images you’ll notice that I kept the button and glued it on more for aesthetics. You could easily leave it off you want, or if you manage to fit it back in still keep the rotary dial. I struggled and really I don’t need 3 rotary dials. Honestly I don’t really need 2 but hell might as well leave it there.
So now the wheel is electronically complete we can now move onto the cosmetics and mounting it to the G27.
So next I covered my faceplate with the vinyl wrap (figure 19). I should note that I made a dog of the first attempt (which is actually what the photo is of). I’ve since recovered it but you get the idea. Use a craft knife I can’t stress that enough. My original thought was I could simply poke holes in it and it would be ok. It will bubble and look crap. You can fix it up using a hair dryer a bit tho for any small imperfections.
So what does it look like with all the buttons now attached? (figure 20)
As you can see we’ve lost not much functionality, added the LED grid and gear display and for all purposes looks pretty good.
So I guess we now come to the biggest question I get all the time. How do you mount this to your G27? There is no one specific solution my way was crude but did the job. Now I know I earlier had plans to implement some sort of quick release system, but when I started doing research into the cost and the hows, it quickly dawned that you could not do this cheaply. My goal of this mod was not to make the ultimate wheel, but to make something functional and cost effective. So if you plan on going the full monty I suggest taking a look here:
You’ll need to scroll down a bit (and it’s in Spanish) but you’ll get the idea. The cost of the clamp is about 90 Euro which is about $115 AUD or $120 in USD. That’s almost the cost of the entire project so I leave this up to you.
So how is mine attached? It’s directly screwed to it using the same Hex screws that the original steering wheel was attached with. I used 3 when I did mine. This picture probably best describes it (figure 22):
I have a plate that I made from MDF that mounts to the back of the SRW-S1 that aids in both attaching the wheel, and making it stiffer (you lose a lot when you take out the PCB). See the below image (figure 23)
For those who want to know I created the template in Google sketch. I will attach a copy of the file below for those that might want to modify or even print this out.
You can make your plate out of anything you want. Mine was MDF, you can certainly do aluminum or some other metal. Wood was easier to work with and since I covered it with vinyl wrap anyway it didn’t need to look pretty.
Next question I get is ‘what did you do with the USB cable’. Well I know I said I’d put it down the steering column but it’s not straight forward and at the last moment I chickened out. The reason is that you need to basically disassemble your G27 which isn’t a major issue, the hard part is making sure you don’t screw it up putting it back together. There are a number of sensors you have to make sure don’t get moved or miss aligned or else you might bin your G27. If you check the above link there is a youtube video demonstrating the procedure. So back to me, as I said I chickened out and put the USB cable out the back and underneath the G27. You could if you want make it a really short USB cable with a USB adapter so you can unplug it easy.
Lastly I’d like to quickly address a question I get asked multiple times and that’s ‘what device controls what?’ The G27 handles all inputs. That is you’re using the G27 for all steering and pedal inputs while the SRW-S1 handles only button inputs. The motion sensors in the SRW-S1 are not used at all. Really the mod is best described as simply changing the wheel with the SRW-S1 and using its buttons. That’s it.
So the end result you can see below. I know the above isn’t really a ‘guide’ or tutorial on what to do, and it was never supposed to be. The purpose of this mod was to really see if a poor man’s F1 style wheel can be accomplished on the cheap with the relatively popular G27. Those that do attempt their own mod, post about it on the forum, leave a comment below or send me an email, I’d live to read about or hear of your experiences. Better still if you happen to take the plunge and buy off the shelf some of the awesome mods out their let me know. I’d be keen to know how those work out to.