Introduction: Steering Wheel for GearVR Controller
I've had my Samsung Note 5 and Gear VR headset for a couple years now and for much of that time I waited patiently for a hand tracking controller. Needless to say I was excited for the release of the Gear VR controller and I have been very pleased. The Gear VR Controller is perfect for first person shooters, painting applications, menu navigation, sword fighting and more. When it came to driving games, the controller worked fine but just didn't have the right feel. Driving games played in virtual reality are far more immersive with a natural user interface like a steering wheel. Thats why I adapted an old Play Station 3 steering wheel and pedals set, to use with a cardboard type VR headset, in a previous instructable https://www.instructables.com/id/VR-Car-Zombie-Apo... After a quick search for steering wheel mounts for the Gear VR Controller came up with no results, I decided to test my skills with 3D modelling and see if I could design and build a steering wheel mount for my Gear VR Controller that would add to the immersive experience of virtual reality driving games. So for this instructable I will show you all the steps I took to make my own Gear VR Controller Steering Wheel Mount, including 3D modelling, 3D printing, assembly and game play and I will provide the files need for you to make your own. If you don't own a 3D printer, you can look for a printer for hire on 3D hubs or check for libraries or Makerspaces in your area that have 3D printers available for the public.
Here's a time lapse video of the build. TIME LAPSE
I've entered this instructable in the Wheels competition, so if you enjoy it please consider giving me a vote.
Step 1: 3D Model Design (Gear VR Controller)
For the design, I chose to use Autodesk Fusion 360. The program is free to use, with some limitation, but perfect for my needs on a project such as this one. You could also use Sketchup, Blender or any other 3D modeling program you prefer. I have tried Sketchup and Blender, but I have settled on Fusion 360. You can download Fusion 360 from https://www.autodesk.com/products/fusion-360
Follow the prompts to install Fusion 360 on your Mac or PC. If you don't already have one you will need to set up an Autodesk account. If you're not already proficient in 3D modeling, I would highly recommend running through this instructables class https://www.instructables.com/class/3D-Design-Cla... the class should prepare you for the basic skills needed to model something simple.
We'll start with modeling the Gear VR Controller. There are some models available for purchase online, but for my purpose I just need to be close enough to make a hollow space in the steering wheel, where the real VR controller will fit. To make the modle of the Gear VR Controller we will use simple sketches, circles and rectangles, then we will extrude them to the thickness needed. Using the fillet tool we can round the edges to match the shape of the controller. Once I was happy with the size and shape of the thumb pad and body of the model, I used the move/rotate tools to raise the thumb pad and angle the body of the controller. I found it easiest to set the angle by switching the view to the right side to avoid tilting the body of axis.
Once I was happy with how the two pieces were aligned, I had to figure out how to fill in the gap between the two parts. This tool was not covered in the basic Fusion 360 tutorial, but it was easy to use. I used the "Loft" tool, which creates a smooth transition between two parts. I wasn't too concerned with the transition matching the real part perfectly and I was pleased with the result. I did find after printing the first prototype that I needed to remove a little more material out of my steering wheel where the underside of the controller fits in, but I did this manually in the steering wheel model.
The last block I added to the controller model was to block out space for the trigger. This did not need to be an accurate shape, since I just want to use it to cut out space in front of the steering wheel, so there will be no obstruction in front of the trigger, in the steering wheel model. I over exaggerated the trigger to make sure plenty of material would be removed when I model the steering wheel mount for the controller.
Step 2: Modeling the Steering Wheel Mount
For the Steering Wheel Mount the only real criteria I need to meet is that the Gear VR Controller fit securely, in a flat orientation, and that the thumb pad and buttons are all still accessible while the controller is set in the mount. I also tried to make the overall size feel natural without being too large to fit on my 3D printer build plate. My solution was a modular build with the steering wheel split in half with two spacers, to join the halves together, at a comfortable width.
Again, I start with simple circular sketches, but this time use a circle within a circle to achieve the desired thickness of the wheel. Then, by splitting the two circles in half I can extrude the two semi-circles to a depth that matched there width. Using the fillet tool I can get a nice smooth shape that will work nicely.
Next I went ahead and and sketched circles on the end of the steering wheel halves and extruded into the wheels to create a void and then made spacers to match. With some fillet work the spacers and the half of the steering wheel that does not hold the controller are done.
Now, I import the Gear VR Controller model created in the previous step, so I can add a shelf that the controller will fit into. By using the "boundary fill" tool I can set the controller model up, so that I will later be able to cut out a void in my model once I have everything positioned. I adjusted the position and the angle of the controller model until I was happy with the fit, then I extended the trigger block further to extend completely through the wheel. Then using the offset plane tool, to allow me to build a cap above the controller that will hold the real controller securely in place.
Using the "combine" tool I can combine the wheel, shelf and cap all into one object. Then I'm ready to use the "boundary fill" tool again to remove the controller model, leaving a perfect void in the wheel. Okay, maybe not perfect. A little fine tuning is needed to clean up the void, so that the real controller will be able to slide in and out from the front smoothly.
If you want to modify the design I have provided the Fusion 360 model exported as an .igs file on this step. If you just want to print the model as is, you can download the .stl files from the next step.
Finally, I am ready to export the model as an stl file so it can be printed. The only setting I changed in the stl window was to set the refinement level to high. Next I'll import the stl into a slicer program called Cura, to prepare a gcode file that my printer can use to make the parts.
Step 3: 3D Printing
Now that you have a 3D model saved as a .stl file you are ready to prepare the file for 3D printing. If you don't have a 3D printer you can still get a print made. One way would be to use a local printer from 3D Hubs. https://www.3dhubs.com/ You could also search for 3D printers at local libraries or Maker Spaces.
If you do have access to a 3D printer then you will need to use a slicer program to create a gcode file from the stl files. There are several good programs available. I have only used Slic3r, Pronterface, Octoprint and Cura and I have settled on Cura as my slicer of choice. You can download Cura for free from https://ultimaker.com/en/products/ultimaker-cura-s...
This is a large model, so on my Anet A8 Prusa i3 clone, I needed to split the model into 3 prints and rotate the wheel halves 45 degrees to fit the build plate. In order to get a good shell, but keep the print time down I used the following print settings:
Support:Yes (on build plate only)
Shell Thickness: 1.2mm
Layer Thickness .1mm
I am using PLA, so I set my hot head temp to 190 C and my build plate temp to 60 C.
In order to get a good fit between the spacers and the left and right halves, I printed the halves at 102% scale.
I found the cap for the controller could use some bridging help, but I did not set up bridging and the cap eventually corrected itself. These prints can tale several hours, so I ran mine overnight. Please check out the time lapse of the whole process linked in the first step. I do use Octoprint to drive my 3D printer and it makes sending files to the printer easy from any computer on my wifi network, including straight from my phone.
Once the parts finish printing, they need the support material removed and they may need a little sanding for a good fit on the spacers. A little sanding may also be needed to get the Gear VR Controller to slide into the steering wheel smoothly. On my first print I used .8mm wall thickness and the plastic cracked when I forced the spacers in, which why I have duct tape wrapped on the ends. Once all the parts are assembled its time to play.
Step 4: Time to Play
Games like VR Karts Sprint use the position of the Gear VR Controller to steer. By inserting the controller in the steering wheel mount we can us the steering wheel to steer the go-cart in the game. With this design, we can still use all the buttons on the controller to use the Kart's weapons and navigate the game's menu.While this is my favorite driving game on the Gear VR, I have also tested the steering wheel control on Overtake VR which is a fast pace lane changing game.
The steering wheel really does make a big difference game experience. With a natural user interface liek the steering wheel the game becomes more immersive and enjoyable. I hope you'll give it a try and I hope you enjoyed this instructable and will consider giving me a vote in the Wheels contest.
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