Have you ever wanted to play a truck simulator with a real dashboard on your PC? Now you can.
As much fun as flight, truck or giant robot simulators can be when played with a keyboard and mouse, having a realistic cockpit to go with it certainly would enhance the realism. Jeroen vd Velden, who works in tech support at a home automation distributor and is also a licensed truck driver, decided to take this to the next level, using an actual truck dashboard and components with a PC simulator.
As documented on Hackaday.io, this was accomplished via an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) along with a CAN-BUS shield. CAN-BUS is an interface standard that allows one to “pull codes” when a car or truck is broken, and Velden is using this with his new cockpit.
In addition to the CAN-BUS, an Arduino Leonardo and a Pro Micro (both of which are powered by an ATmega32U4) are used to sense other inputs, like handbrakes and switches. When they receive signals, the Atmel chip translates them into virtual keyboard presses that go into the PC simulator, Euro Truck Simulator 2.
One interesting aspect is how Velden modified the handbrake to output electrical signals. You can see the process documented in the video below. The project is ongoing, and Velden will be updating the documentation as things progress. As Velden puts it, “The Scrapyard is a great place to start with Arduino!”
Instead of buying or building a console, one Maker decided to use the dashboard of an actual car for his ETS2 game.
Like countless other gamers out there, Leon Bataille has always been on the lookout for new ways to make driving simulator games like Euro Truck Simulator 2 (ETS 2) even more immersive. And though homemade steering wheels, pedals and gear shifters certainly enhance the levels of interaction, what better way to really enhance the life-like experience than by integrating the game with a dashboard from a real automobile?
Doing just that, Bataille repurposed the control panel of a VW Polo 6R with the help of the Arduino Uno (ATmega328) and a Seeed CAN Bus Shield, which enabled him to read and record vehicle diagnostics. This project was originally inspired by fellow Maker Silas Parker’s Arduino-driven control panel that was comprised of a cardboard box, servos, LEDs and an LCD screen. Though it was completely functional, knowing that every unit made in the past decade has a CAN bus, all he would need to bring his idea to life was a CAN bus shield for an Arduino along with a dash that could be found at any local junkyard.
Currently, Bataille is in the process of figuring out the CAN bus addresses for each of the relevant dials and LEDs on the dashboard. Though he may still have a little ways to go, he has been able to find the tachometer at 0x280, the signal lights at 0x470, as well as the KPH gauge at 0x5A0. Pair this with a standard computer steering wheel and the telemetry API for ETS 2, and the Maker is pretty darn close to driving a virtual big rig right from the comforts of his own home.
Until then, you can follow along with his build on Hackaday here, and watch it in action below.