If you prefer racing games like Gran Turismo and Forza over Super Mario Kart and Crash Team Racing then you’re probably after as authentic a (simulated) driving experience as possible. And what’s a more authentic experience than the car you drive to work every day? With this $15 breakout board—and a couple of slightly pricier components—your daily whip can become the ultimate racing game controller.
As the story goes, when Nishanth Samala’s Subaru BRZ decided it needed a new engine in the middle of a race, he decided to repurpose the vehicle as an incredibly authentic (and expensive) racing game controller while he sat around waiting for a new engine to arrive. After a bit of experimentation, Samala found that with a $US98 ($142) Macchina M2 (Under-the-Dash) OBD2 dongle (which connects to a port under your car’s dashboard and is normally used for diagnostics and repairs) he could route signals from his vehicle’s steering wheel and pedals to a laptop computer, which translated them to racing games.
But Samala wanted to take that idea one step further and make his Subaru BRZ interface with his Xbox One, which arguably has some of the best racing games available for it. After some experimentation, he designed and engineered a breakout board that serves as an interface between the Macchina M2 connected to a car, and Microsoft’s Adaptive Controller, by taking advantage of its many 3.5mm inputs that can accept signals from other hardware.
Assuming you take the time to install a giant screen and a video projector in your garage or driveway, the results appear to be one of the best ways to experience a racing game, particularly if you’re a driver who also likes to race the real thing. Being able to slip behind the wheel of the vehicle you’re already familiar with undoubtedly provides an advantage on the virtual track, but even more surprising is that going this route is potentially cheaper than buying a gaming wheel and pedals.
As Samala points out on his blog, you’ll spend roughly $300 on all the hardware and cables needed to make your real car interface with an Xbox One, while a decent set of steering wheel and pedal controllers will set you back at least $400, and that’s on the low end. This, of course, assumes you’ve already had to shell out for a real car, but if you’ve got the budget for gaming wheels and high-end consoles, you’re probably at the age where a car is a work necessity. At least you can finally have some real fun with it.