I was trying to find a way to get some enjoyment out of my Logitech Wingman Formula Force (LWFF) steering wheel. I couldn't think of any way to easily modify the pedals because the potentiometers have too small of an arc. I could physically increase the pedal travel, but it wouldn't do any good because of the pots' limited range.
Then it hit me. What better way to enhance this thing than to add some high quality Act Labs parts. I modified a set of Act Labs pedals as shown in the Act Labs Pedals article, then wired it with the Logi wire harness. What a treat it is to drive with these pedals. Then to top it off, I wired an Act Labs RS Shifter to the wheel. Wiring it and installing a plug was pretty straight forward, although I did have to add a diode in the new ground circuit so it wouldn't interfere with a couple of the standard LWFF buttons. I wired the RS Shifter as switches 1 and 2, the standard paddle switches, and either the paddles or the Shifter can be used while driving. I may change the RS Shifter to use the bottom button switches so that the paddles can be used as an emergency brake or clutch because they're easier to reach than the buttons.
The RS Shifter is so much fun to use that I find myself looking for opportunities to shift while driving. It's smooth action and comfortable position just feel good. Still, something was missing from the package. I already have a $35 leather wrapped, steel B&M shift knob, and a $20 burled walnut/silver Racer's Choice knob, but I wanted something to go with the red wheel so the color wouldn't seem so out of place. A quick trip to my favorite auto parts store and just under $20 yielded me a nice composite shift knob from XtremeFX. They're also available in yellow for those who have the non-FF version of this wheel.
The LWFF wheel has only 6 switches, but it would be possible to wire the RS Shifter with reverse and 5 forward speeds if you don't care to use the wheel buttons for anything else. I opted to just use the shifter in sequential mode. Of course, adding these Act Labs components to the LWFF won't increase your FF strength and change your wheel into a Force RS, but they do add to the enjoyment of the wheel if you already have one.
I did some other tweaks to the wheel. It centered slightly to the right, so I added a 470K ohm resistor across the red and brown steering pot terminals. There are no trimmer adjustments for this in the wheel, although it does have a force balance trimmer. Worse yet, Logitech doesn't stock any parts for their wheels. This includes pots and springs, items that you can normally expect to wear out. But what you can do is ship the wheel back to them ($12 ?) along with $100 and they'll send you a new wheel. I certainly hope nobody is stupid enough to actually do this because you can buy a new wheel for around $116 and keep your old one for spare parts. You could also buy a non-FF Logi wheel for around $70 and use the pots from that. But better still, you could simply buy a different wheel from a manufacturer who knows what customer service is and stocks parts. Logitech's customer service policy in this matter is the worst I've ever seen. The attitude I got was that people will buy the wheels because of the Logi name and one unhappy customer won't change that. Thankfully, this policy is not normal for other wheel manufacturers. The wheel also had excessive slop in the steering shaft, so I used hot glue to secure the outer nylon bushing to the metal mounting plate. The hot glue holds it in place, but can be peeled off later if need be. Finally, the limited steering arc of 180° was easily increased to about 215° by changing the stoppers.
I may include a full 'how-to' article on these tweaks later. In the mean time here are some more pictures of the Act Labs modified LWFF wheel.
Added July 17, 2000
Because of the number of requests I've received to show the actual wiring of the RS Shifter and LWFF, I've just added the following pictures. This will wire the Shifter to use button 5 (left lower button) as the forward throw of the Shifter (downshift) and button 6 (right lower button) as the rearward throw of the Shifter (upshift). This will leave the paddles free for things like a clutch or emergency brake. I used a 1/4" stereo phone jack, single circuit, normally open. Radio Shack part number 274-312B. The 2 pictures below show the wiring of the jack and printed circuit board.
A diode is run on the ground wire. I used an LED because that's the only thing I had hanging around, but any diode of reasonable value (1/4" or longer) will do. I originally did this tweak a couple months ago, but I believe the neg. side of the diode (bar side on a normal diode, long lead on an LED) faces the jack, and the positive side faces the board. Eventually, when the RS Shifter is plugged in, you should test the operation before final reassembly. If you find that several buttons trigger at the same time, turn the diode around. The picture below shows the wiring of the plug. The DIN plug is cut off the Shifter and this 1/4" stereo phone plug is added in it's place. Only 3 wires are used. It's probably a good idea to leave a few inches or a foot of wire with the DIN plug in case you ever want to splice the wires together again later. Alternately, you could open up the Shifter and add a new wire so the Shifter could be used with a LWFF or Force RS.
Apr 16, 2000