I am a long-time fan of truck simulators, starting years ago with ’18 Wheels of Steel’, through to today’s American Truck Simulator and Euro Truck Simulator. I enjoy the sense of achieving something, while passing through some great scenery. ATS was voted ‘Most Relaxing VR Experience’ in 2019, and it really is a great relaxing game.

I’ve enjoyed these sims, using a variety of controllers; keyboard, gamepad and FFB wheel. The biggest missing element of the virtual truck-driving experience has been the lack of a ‘shifter’. Sequential shifters just don’t give the same feeling… so, during my christmas break last year I dragged out a 6-speed Logitech shifter which I bought some time ago, and turn it into a replica of the Eaton-Fuller 18 speed ‘Range and Split’ shifter.

Instructions on operating the Eaton Fuller 18 Speed
Interfacing Proof of Concept test

First challenge was to interface the Logitech shifter via USB. As built it was intended as an add-on to a logitech wheel, so has no built in smarts. After a little research I found an open source project using an Arduino Pro Micro, and some clever code to interface the shifter via USB as a standard Windows game controller.

This gave me the standard 6 speed, plus reverse working, next up was to add the ‘split and range’ switches, for which I used a low-cost USB game controller interface from Aliexpress. As I’m only using 2 of the 12 supported inputs there is plenty of opportunities to add more truck controls in the future.

3D Printed Parts ready to be removed from the printer
Assembled for testing

For the shift knob I had seen a number of 3D printable knobs on Thingiverse so after a downloading and comparing a few I settled on the one I liked, and set about printing all of the relevant parts.

The model I settled on was well thought-out and went together quite well, even having options for your favorite truck logo on the top.

I decided to use some switches I had, which led to the ‘splitter’ switch being positioned in an up and down position rather than the correct fore and aft… something I may look at replacing in the future.

All setup and operating

With the IO completed, the knob parts printed, it was a fairly simple task to assemble everything, and test operation in Windows. Setup in American Truck Simulator took a little bit of trial and error, but after a little work everything was working as expected.

K100E in Mainfreight San Fransisco Scheme

Everything in place, complete with Big TV

About the same time I managed to score another LCD TV, which I installed on my gaming desk. While the resolution isn’t particularly good the effect of having such a big screen in front of you is pretty awesome!

By SeanG

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