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[FM3] Force Feedback steering wheels (Xbox360)


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#1 Meerman

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 05:50 PM

Hola!

Lots of people on here have asked one and the same question in the run-up to Forza 3's release: "Should I buy a steering wheel for FM3, or not?" This thread is to help determine which wheel would be best suited for you. First we need to set a few things straight, because you need to take into account a couple of things before you decide to take the plunge:

The criteria:
  • A passion for racing games (so you may use the wheel for other racing games as well)
  • General racing know-how (braking points, racing lines, manually shifting, etc.)
  • Some space to set it up (consult with the missus, where applicable!)
  • A fairly heavy/solid table to attach it to (for maximum FFb effectiveness)
If you can tick most of the boxes above, you can safely purchase yourself a steering wheel, which raises the next question: Which ones are there, and what do they cost? There are currently 3 FFb steering wheels for the Xbox360 from 3 different manufacturers; Logitech, Microsoft and Fanatec.

The Logitech DriveFX wheel is the budget choice, with a price around £30. It's good enough if you don't play that many racing games, but want one regardless without spending too much money on it. In that case, this would be the perfect step-in model. Comes close in quality to the official Microsoft 360 wheel, but feels a bit cheaper because most of its parts are made of plastic. Its FFb isn't actually true FFb either, but surrogate, by guesses FFb by using rumble signals, which means you won't feel steering resistance when there's no rumble going on. It has no wireless* connection, as it connects to the Xbox 360 via USB.

The Official Microsoft wireless Xbox 360 steering wheel is where it's at if you take your racing games more seriously, and you're looking for a wheel that offers affordable quality, for a price around £70. The wheel itself is better built than the Logitech one, with stronger (true) FFb and the pedals feel nice and springy, although a tad light. In all, it gives you a great racing experience. It connects to the Xbox 360 wirelessly*.

The Fanatec Porsche Turbo wheel is the wheel to end all wheels. Or something. Forza Motorsport 3 has been designed with this baby in mind, and it is the only one that comes with a clutch pedal. You think Forza 3 will take over your life? Got money to dispose of? Play loads of racing sims? For around £400, this beauty is yours. Some say it feels incredibly well made, which you may expect for that price. It connects wirelessly* to the Xbox 360 as well. Here's the full feature list:
  • Original Porsche 911 Turbo steering wheel design
  • Licensed by Porsche Lizenz- und Handelsgesellschaft GmbH
  • Authentic metal Porsche logo on wheel
  • Hand stitched leather wheel manufactured according to Porsche quality standards
  • Also compatible with PC and Playstation 3 (all games which support ForceFeedback wheels)
  • 6+1 Speed gear stick with realistic shifting feel
  • Additional exchangeable sequential gear stick included
  • Wireless pedals with + 100 hours battery life time (low battery warning on display and optional power supply cable for simulators)
  • Realistic clutch pedal with declining resistance
  • Diameter of wheel is 300 millimeters
  • Gear sticks are interchangeable and can be mounted on the left or right side
  • Turning angle can be adjusted in the wheel to 900°, 360° or 180° or in 1° steps by software
  • Play with table: Strong table clamps with quick release, special non-slip rubber pads, and Velcro strips on the pedals keep everything in place. Integrated nuts allow the strong fixation on a gaming cockpit
  • Play without table: Attachable lap wings and the attachment of the gear sticks to the wheel allow comfortable gameplay in the living room without the use of a table
  • Illuminated button symbols switch automatically between PC and Playstation
  • Powerful Mabuchi RS 550 Motor as used in RC cars delivers extra strong ForceFeedback effects
  • Additional 2 ForceFeedback actuators in the wheel simulate motor vibrations
  • Extra smooth and silent belt drive without mechanical dead zone
  • High resolution wheel sensor
  • TUNING functions with LED display
  • Saves up to 5 wheel set-ups
  • Adjust ForceFeedback strength during game play
  • Adjust sensitivity independent from the game
Got more questions? This is the place to ask. :facepalm:

*All wheels need to be connected to the mains for the FFb to work. The official MS wheel works on batteries as well, but at the loss of FFb.

PS. Do not play racing games with the FFb wheel on your lap. It may result in uncontrolled bouncing.
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#2 Meatball

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 06:23 PM

Just to clarify, does the Logitech wheel actually have proper FFB that tugs the wheel side to side like?

Reading a couple of reviews, they are saying it has "Axial" feedback whatever that means and not FFB :facepalm:
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#3 amorenod

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 06:38 PM

The Drive FX is not really a FFB wheel, but a 360 pad in disguise (Logitech is licensed to make 360 pads, but not 360 FFB wheels). The force feedback in this wheel is faked and based on the 360 pad rumble.

Reviews out there suggest it does a good job anyway, and the price is unbeatable.
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#4 stefcha

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 08:38 PM

Can you explain this "Do not play racing games with the FFb wheel on your lap. It may result in uncontrolled bouncing", does it mean bouncing on the knee and making things a bit tricky to control? I must admit, I'm very much an external car view auto gears arcade racer type at heart, but I love driving, loved the Forza 3 demo and the FOV changes plus steering wheel really is tempting. Gah, what to do!
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#5 Meatball

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 09:17 PM

Yeah, the force feedback yanks the wheel around as you go over kerbs and stuff so it can get pretty physical so it really needs to be mounted to something solid for those forces to act against. If you just have it on a little lightweight table, or your lap the force feedback will just bounce it all over the place.

Look forward to seeing you on track stefcha :facepalm:
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#6 Dimahoo

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 09:31 PM

When you buy a wheel to race at the level we do in Forza you must have back support and be comfortable.

You need to place the wheel at somewhere between your chest and gut.
You chair must not move (its easy to think you'll get an office chair only to find it on Castors)
The pedals must not slide (woodern floors cause problems but grip can sort this out cheaply but you must have enough weight to hold them down but not so much as to push them away).

Meerman uses a table and sofa whereas i use a wheelstand pro -
a heavy table will usually offer better support but it must be the right height OR you should be seated so that it becomes the right height.

The Logitech FFB is not as harsh as the MS one as its axial feedback (not FFB) but they amount to the same thing - they will both draw and pull your car about in Forza but the MS wheel will be stronger.

It's good enough if you don't play that many racing games


Eh?
Its good enough regardless. Its as good as the Logi GT wheel in so far as actual control - but suffers from lack of FFB on the PC just like the MS wheel.
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#7 Meerman

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 10:18 PM

Its good enough regardless. Its as good as the Logi GT wheel in so far as actual control - but suffers from lack of FFB on the PC just like the MS wheel.

I meant that it's good enough for a step-in wheel, if anyone is wondering what you'll get for that low price. Not fully FFb then? I'll update the first post with that info tomorrow, and add some more to it. :facepalm:
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#8 Throbin Hood

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 10:36 PM

I have the skills to design an adjustable stand myself but don't want to make too many plans before I get the wheel. Are there blueprints / design drawings with measurements for one online? I would want to look it over and see what adjustments I could make to better suit my environment. If not I could make one up myself and put the plans here for anyone that would want to copy them. It should cost less than 20 in materials and take less than a couple of hours to build. If the plans in my head work it will fold almost flat.

How strong is the FFB? I am thinking in particular in regards to how many braces to include, their location and the mixture of building materials (wood but more than 1 variety, heavier for the base, lighter for the table clamp). I am tempted to use a brace at the bottom as a lift for the pedals to change their position, do the pedals you guys have a flat base?
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#9 amorenod

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 11:08 PM

This DIY effort is recommended by Turn 10 no less. Design PDF included.

http://forums.forzam...stand-info.aspx
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#10 Throbin Hood

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 11:33 PM

I saw that but ruled it out due to the way my front room is set up. I am going to build something similar to a Wheel Stand Pro that can fold away but with 2 sidewalls instead of a single inner stand. That will give me more stability and strength and I can make a brace across the bottom to adjust the pedal position. If I measure it right I will have enough leg room both length wise and width wise. My big conundrum is the type of hinge at the bottom and whether I want it to have a few fixed positions or be completely adjustable. I saw a really good design in a very similar style to what I want to do but can't find it now or find if there are any plans for it.
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#11 stefcha

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 12:21 AM

Look forward to seeing you on track stefcha :lol:


If I wasn't unfortunately unemployed I'd likely have FM3 preordered and be caressing a wheel already (the MS ones are reasonably priced at CCL up the road!), as it is I'm looking at picking as many holes as possible in order to put myself off.

You chair must not move (its easy to think you'll get an office chair only to find it on Castors)


The other criteria I can cover, but a non-moving chair on top? Jesus, how much FF and resistance do the pedals give!? As far as the pedals go, how are they intended to be used, is it like a real car where one foot operates both or is it necessary to have one foot on brake and the other on accelerate?
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#12 Dimahoo

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 06:32 AM

It depends on whether you use a stand. If you use a table you can use your pedals like your car, but with a stand the bar seperates your feets as it sits in the middle and both the MS and Logi wheels are two pedal set ups.

Not fully FFb then


Well its does have full FFB but its not called that because theres a legal issue with Microsoft apparently.
They can't call - it that so its there, but they use axial feedback instead - which owing to the way it works isn't at strong in terms of how it effects the wheel.
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#13 DarthSquirrel

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 07:57 AM

Are there blueprints / design drawings with measurements for one online?

If anyone has a lot of time/money on their hands - NFS Shift Arcade-style Cabinet. The (very detailed) guide might be useful for the measurements and diagrams!

On that stand on the Turn10 blog he hasn't cut out a hole under the pedals has he? I guess that's some left over carpet from that is the same as his surrounding room but makes it look like a hole. It's not very clear from the photos.

I kept saying i'd post pics of my Tablemate II + MS wheel setup in the F3 Discussion thread but hopefully i'll get around to taking some at the weekend and posting them in here. It works very well and you can build/fold it away to flat very quickly.

Re wheels generally - is the best advice to say get the best one you can afford otherwise you'll regret it? Or does anybody prefer the Logitech to the MS wheel?
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#14 Dimahoo

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 08:49 AM

Jesus, how much FF and resistance do the pedals give!?


None really - its you pushing against them that causes the problem - any chair with wheels gets pushed back unless you can lock the wheels. To get comfy you have to be fairly low down so your pushing horizontally - not vertically. The only way around this is to angle the pedals so you push down on them. But thats very akward.
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#15 spatular

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 08:56 AM

Well its does have full FFB but its not called that because theres a legal issue with Microsoft apparently.
They can't call - it that so its there, but they use axial feedback instead - which owing to the way it works isn't at strong in terms of how it effects the wheel.


i think the motor(s?) inside the wheel will work the same as a force feedback wheel, but the logitech one uses the rumble commands to fake/guess the force feedback, whereas the proper force feedback wheels get commands from the game specifically for force feedback, which should make it better for games that support force feedback well, like forza. i've never used the 360 logitech wheel mind, but i do have some other logitech wheels and they are all really good.

also i use an office chair with castors, but on carpet, so it doesn't move that much, guess it depends on the type of castors/carpet though.
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#16 Meerman

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 11:04 AM

Well its does have full FFB but its not called that because theres a legal issue with Microsoft apparently.
They can't call - it that so its there, but they use axial feedback instead - which owing to the way it works isn't at strong in terms of how it effects the wheel.


i think the motor(s?) inside the wheel will work the same as a force feedback wheel, but the logitech one uses the rumble commands to fake/guess the force feedback, whereas the proper force feedback wheels get commands from the game specifically for force feedback, which should make it better for games that support force feedback well, like forza.

So it's FFb, but not proper FFb? I'm confused.
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#17 amorenod

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 11:09 AM

Spatular is correct, it's guessed FFB.
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#18 Karzee

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 12:22 PM

Cheers for this guide, Meerman! I'm gonna go hunting for one this afternoon.
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#19 Meerman

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 02:07 PM

Spatular is correct, it's guessed FFB.

When I stop the car, and turn the wheel, it feels rather heavy doing so (as in real cars). When I accelerate again, steering is becoming lighter. I take it that the Logitech doesn't do that, as it doesn't register the rumble that it needs for the FFb effect to take place? because just steering doesn't generate rumble.

Do I make any sense?

Cheers for this guide, Meerman! I'm gonna go hunting for one this afternoon.

Yo, no problem. :)

Can you help us out in Flashpoint again, tonight? Harry needs to do mission 3.
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#20 Meatball

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 02:33 PM

Do I make any sense?

Rarely :)


But yeah, I get what you mean.
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#21 amorenod

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 03:36 PM

When I stop the car, and turn the wheel, it feels rather heavy doing so (as in real cars). When I accelerate again, steering is becoming lighter. I take it that the Logitech doesn't do that, as it doesn't register the rumble that it needs for the FFb effect to take place? because just steering doesn't generate rumble.

Do I make any sense?


I've never tested the Drive FX, so I can't tell you how it feels, perhaps Dimahoo can.

When a few weeks ago I decided to buy a wheel, I searched for the reason why the G25 doesn't work with the 360, and found this very interesting post in the Logitech forums, by a Logitech member:

http://forums.logite...m-p/82706#M2324

Basically, it explains why current Logitech wheels don't work with the 360, why they never will, and the real deal about the Drive FX.
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#22 Karzee

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 03:47 PM

Can you help us out in Flashpoint again, tonight? Harry needs to do mission 3.

Love to, just let me know a time to be online.
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#23 dan_tm

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 04:31 PM

The Logitech FFB is not as harsh as the MS one as its axial feedback (not FFB) but they amount to the same thing - they will both draw and pull your car about in Forza but the MS wheel will be stronger.


They don't really amount to the same thing at all though. Seeing as this is a thread especially about recommending wheels and what the advantages/disadvantages of each available option are it's probably worth clarifying what the difference really is...

The official Microsoft wheel has force feedback technology built into it. The game, in this case Forza 3, can be developed to take advantage of this force feedback standard, which sends signals directly from the game to the wheel telling it when and how to give you particular types of feedback. This is much like other standards such as Dolby Digital, which would send audio signals from the game telling your speakers what to do to create surround sound.
For example, as Meerman suggested, the turning resistance of the wheel may have been designed to be higher when travelling at low speed, the game can tell the wheel to do that using force feedback.

In contrast, the Logitech wheel has no ability to understand the force feedback signals coded into the game, it merely 'guesses' what feedback should be applied to the wheel whenever it receives a standard 'rumble' signal from the game. In practise, I assume it will just apply a force to try and centre the wheel (so a force opposing the way you're trying to turn) whenever it receives a 'rumble' command from the game. That would be a good guess in the majority of situations I would imagine, but it's not perfect and wouldn't know anything about what the game/car is actually doing. It wouldn't be able to accomplish Meerman's suggested situation for example, as there's no way for the wheel to know what's going on on screen.

Going back to the Dolby Digital example; you could probably think of the official MS wheel as being the real thing, i.e. a full Dolby Digital 5.1 DTS surround sound system - whereas the Logitech wheel is just Pro Logic (it's still surround sound, but only 'guessed' from a stereo signal).
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#24 Meerman

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 04:43 PM

Wow, Dan. That's great reasoning there. Well explained. :)
I'll add that to the first post soon.

Rarely :P

That's it! You're my bitch now! :lol:

:hat:

Love to, just let me know a time to be online.

At about 19:30 UK local time? Thanks!
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#25 amorenod

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 04:57 PM

Great analogy
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#26 Dimahoo

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 06:00 PM

I must admit i hadn't tried that test. But i certainly get resistance. It just feals weaker then my Logi GT in GTR2 or Rfactor.
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#27 rcb

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Posted 18 October 2009 - 08:43 PM

Good thread thankyou.
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#28 Meerman

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Posted 18 October 2009 - 09:13 PM

Good thread thankyou.

No worries. If you have more questions, just fire away.
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#29 Karzee

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Posted 19 October 2009 - 03:11 PM

In Australia there's a Microsoft Steering wheel and copy of Forza 3 bundle coming out: Posted Image

Does anyone know if this is being released in the UK?
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#30 Throbin Hood

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Posted 19 October 2009 - 03:56 PM

Ive only seen it bundled with the 250Gb console. If I had seen a wheel bundle I would have been all over it
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