Are you tired of unplugging your RS Shifter when you want to use the paddles?
(see update at bottom of column)
I know this article wasn't expected by most of you. I didn't tell anyone I was working on it and didn't announce a preview. It's something I've been doing for about 3 months now. I actually did this tweak at the same time I wrote the first RS Shifter mod, adding it to the Logitech steering wheel. I haven't had any problems with it, but hesitated to mention it because it was too simple to do and I couldn't figure out the reason it wasn't incorporated into the RS Shifter package in the first place. I thought that maybe it could eventually cause a problem or damage the RS Shifter cartridge or the Force RS wheel. I don't use my paddle shifters much, but still, I would think that in 3 months any damage would show up. Maybe Act Labs had other reasons for not including it. It may interfere with future expansion to the Shifter cartridge or maybe they just didn't think it was necessary. I have emailed Act Labs tech support to find out if they know of any damage that may occur. They've been busy with on-road business meetings. It's been a few days and I haven't had a reply, so I'm going ahead with it. Remember, as always, this will undoubtedly void your warranty.
This is probably the simplest tweak I've ever written or will ever write. It certainly hits the spirit of this site, "is it truly worth the effort". We're going to put in one simple switch that will allow you to flip between using your RS Shifter or the rest of the buttons and paddles on the wheel. You're going to need a small (jeweler's) screwdriver, a soldering iron to solder 2 simple connections, and a small, SPST (single pole, single throw) switch to do the tweak. Then you'll need either a drill or razor saw (or hacksaw), depending on the style of switch you choose, to drill or cut the top of the cartridge so it will clear the switch.
First, we'll take the cartridge apart. On the back side of the cartridge, there are 2 small screws. Take them out and pull the cartridge apart. The screws hold one end together, but the other end is just held together by tabs inside the cover.
Once the cartridge is apart, you'll see the pc board. You don't have to take the pc board out of the cartridge bottom if you think you can make your solder connections quickly and not melt any plastic. But to be safe, it might be a good idea to take it out. It only takes a couple minutes. There are 4 silver screws holding it in as shown in the picture below. Also, notice on the left side that there is a blue jumper. The jumper on your board may not be blue, but there is only one. The screw on the top, right, is almost hidden between the 2 jacks.
As far as I can tell, this jumper enables the cartridge to recognize the Shifter. It's a pass-through jumper. With it on, the Shifter works. With it off, the wheel doesn't even know the Shifter is there. Remove the jumper and solder the switch to the 2 pins on the pc board. I soldered my switch to go off the side of the cartridge, but you could solder it to the underside of the board. Also, I used a slide switch because that's what I had handy. You could also use a push type micro switch. Just make sure it's not a momentary contact switch, and that it isn't too deep.
Because the Force RS won't fit under my monitor stand with all the cartridges plugged in, I have to run my Shifter cartridge with the cover off, and the whole cartridge assembly lose inside the wheel. So, I never bothered to cut the cover to fit around the switch. If you used a push type switch, you'd just drill a hole in the cover so the switch could pass through it. The slide switch I used has mounting tabs on it that stick out beyond the cover. If I were to cut the cover, I would cut it to fit the body of the switch, thereby adding support to it when it is slid, and not bother with the mounting tabs.
Disclaimer: First, I have not tried this tweak with the Act Labs RS wheel. I have only tried it with the FF version, the Force RS. It may or may not work with the non FF version. Second, I'd suggest you check back here often for a while in the event that I do get word from Act Labs that this tweak will cause damage. In that case, either this article will disappear from the contents menu, or I'll delete it and just put "damage found" in it's place. And third, as already stated, this, and most of these tweaks will undoubtedly void your warranty.
I hope this tweak makes using your Force RS and RS Shifter a little more pleasurable. If it does, leave me a comment in the forum
February 1, 2001 Update -
The switch has caused no problems after several months of use. Recently it has come to my attention that some newer RS Shifter cartridges may no longer need this switch. Simply unplugging the shifter from the cartridge may allow use of all the wheel buttons. I will investigate this further to be certain.
Also, Act Labs is coming out with a new set of add-on pedals with an integrated clutch that will plug into the spare jack on the cartridge (the one not used by the RS Shifter). I'm not sure at this time if turning the switch off will also turn off anything plugged into the spare jack. I assume if this is the case that Act Labs will either ship a new cartridge with the pedals or make it available to those with the older style.
July 28, 2000