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Thread: Stickshift Input options...

  1. #1
    Low Bitrate SierraStroker's Avatar
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    Stickshift Input options...

    So I've been looking around for the last hour or so (both here and on the interwebs in general) for some input options for a stickshift knob. Basically what I'd like to do is have a couple buttons (right and left click for starters) as well as a thumbstick similiar to what you'd see on a xbox controller.

    I saw a thread here where someone replaced their entire shifter with a joystick, which while a cool approach, is a bit too gawdy for my taste. I'd like to to be not quite to obvious. I'm starting to realize I'll probably end up having to fabricate something myself, but I was wondering if anyone had any better ideas about products that already exist before I go reinventing the wheel (or the shifter in this case.)

    This really seems to me like the most natural way to do input for those of us who drive manually transmitted cars. I pretty much always drive with 1 hand on the wheel and 1 hand on the shifter. My right hand is rarely doing anything but it needs to be there instead of feeling around for some other input device.

    I know someone has to have an elegant application of this.

  2. #2
    Neither darque nor pervert DarquePervert's Avatar
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    You're going to be fabricating something like this yourself.
    Your best bet is to take a input device that has the controls you want, take it apart and figure out how to run the wires through the gearshift lever and attach the switches to a knob that looks & feels the way you want.

    It's a cool idea, and I hope you're able to pull it off.
    If you take on this project, please post a worklog with pics and descriptions of what you used, how you fabricated it, and so on.

    Good luck!
    Have you looked in the FAQ yet?
    How about the Wiki?



    Under normal circumstances, a signature would go here.

  3. #3
    Low Bitrate SierraStroker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarquePervert View Post
    You're going to be fabricating something like this yourself.
    Your best bet is to take a input device that has the controls you want, take it apart and figure out how to run the wires through the gearshift lever and attach the switches to a knob that looks & feels the way you want.

    It's a cool idea, and I hope you're able to pull it off.
    If you take on this project, please post a worklog with pics and descriptions of what you used, how you fabricated it, and so on.

    Good luck!
    Yep I'll definitely be doing this at some point. I don't even have the truck yet, but hopefully I will this Sunday. Its a 1999 7.3L Powerstroke Diesel. Manual transmissions are pretty rare to find on these trucks so I'm stoked. I'll have a bunch of other issues to address before I get around to little things like input, but its on the list for sure.

    I'm thinking of a somewhat T-shaped shifter knob so there is a big flat side on one end. I could put a mini-joystick there and recess some buttons into the finger slots. I'll document the process for sure (unless it comes out really nice then I might try to sell them =)

    The tricky part will be writing the interface for it. I'd like a menu with a wheel of different categories to pop up whenever you move the joystick. Then if you hold it there for a second or more it goes into the subcategories and so on. To go back if you accidentally select the wrong category you just release the joystick for a second then start over. The first two leftmost buttons could be right and left click and a 3rd button could switch between the wheel input to standard mouse movement. This might take some getting used to and I'm sure I'd still keep a real mouse around for times when I'm parked or the thumbstick just wont cut it.

  4. #4
    FLAC SNOtwistR's Avatar
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    This is what came to mind, it only has 1 button but I would think this gives you an idea. SNO http://www.jegs.com/i/Hurst/530/153-...rentProductId=

  5. #5
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    What about a touch-pad laying flat, just to the right (or far side) of the shifter? In terms of ergonomics and multi-functionality, this is my best suggestion. It can do a single-click from a tap anywhere on the touch-pad. It can function as a mouse. Hell, it could even be multi-touch....

  6. #6
    Low Bitrate SierraStroker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SNOtwistR View Post
    This is what came to mind, it only has 1 button but I would think this gives you an idea. SNO http://www.jegs.com/i/Hurst/530/153-...rentProductId=
    Ya that's pretty much the style I had in mind. Could be a good starting point, though I'd probably save some money just buying a non button one and drilling it out.

    Clockwork, that's an idea too, but the point of what I wanted was that I didn't have to ever take my hand off the shifter in the first place to reach for something else. Not to mention the truck I'll be putting it in doesn't have a console of any sort (yet) to mount anything on. The stickshift comes directly out of the floor.

  7. #7
    The Last Good Gremlin GizmoQ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SierraStroker View Post
    So I've been looking around for the last hour or so (both here and on the interwebs in general) for some input options for a stickshift knob. Basically what I'd like to do is have a couple buttons (right and left click for starters) as well as a thumbstick similiar to what you'd see on a xbox controller.

    I saw a thread here where someone replaced their entire shifter with a joystick, which while a cool approach, is a bit too gawdy for my taste. I'd like to to be not quite to obvious. I'm starting to realize I'll probably end up having to fabricate something myself, but I was wondering if anyone had any better ideas about products that already exist before I go reinventing the wheel (or the shifter in this case.)
    I've been called a lot of things on this forum over the years, but "gawdy" is a new one. Actually I'm flattered. You would be surprised how many switches, circuit boards, and wiring connectors are safely and securely hidden away inside a joystick and how easily a joystick can be fitted over the shaft of a car's stick shift. I've been through a dozen or so iterations of the joystick input device looking for the greatest number of inputs in the most compact installation and have settled on the Saitek X-52 Pro for its ease of programming, CarPC friendly drivers, and many, many, many, many levels of inputs.

    Along the way, I've discovered there are many styles, shapes, and configurations of joysticks. Most are easily dismantled. Most have their brains are on a small circuit board in the base. The buttons and hats usually have less than 3/4" depth beneath the exterior. And the wiring to the circuit board can easily be extended and hidden along the shaft of the shifter. All you need is to find a size and shape that suits you and start fabricating.

    O.K., back to the "gawdy" part, for simplicity, nothing beats the Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick. You say you only want a few buttons and a mouse controller... well here you go. The logitech is easily disassembled to just its top section. You'll lose the trigger and the thumb button but will have 4 buttons and the hat available. With the appropriate fabrication skills this could get you what you want for less than $25 plus fab. Marry the joystick with Joy2Mouse3 software and you can have 4-12 functions programmed for the buttons and use the 8-way hat as the mouse controller. Easy as pie.



    Quote Originally Posted by SierraStroker View Post
    I know someone has to have an elegant application of this.

    The tricky part will be writing the interface for it. I'd like a menu with a wheel of different categories to pop up whenever you move the joystick. Then if you hold it there for a second or more it goes into the subcategories and so on. To go back if you accidentally select the wrong category you just release the joystick for a second then start over. The first two leftmost buttons could be right and left click and a 3rd button could switch between the wheel input to standard mouse movement. This might take some getting used to and I'm sure I'd still keep a real mouse around for times when I'm parked or the thumbstick just wont cut it.
    Since you never mentioned what CarPC front-end you will be using, let me suggest RideRunner for the above interface. Most of this kind of programming is already built-in (although "round" and "wheel" don't play well in our world). I remember developing a skin many years ago that had six buttons along the left side of the screen - Media, Comm, Internet, Navigation, Weather, and Applications. Each one would open a slider to its right with 6 menu options. I thought it was cool then, but have long abandoned it. You might want to look at Carwings, DFX, or any of the many other complete skins available. My suggestion: spend your time testing existing skins for ones that suit your needs; making your own is not for everyone - it takes graphic skills, programming knowledge, and has a steep learning curve.

    Good luck to you, and now for the GAWDY: "I dont need no stinkin' skin!"

    The mode knob on the right has three settings. For each of these settings the buttons and hats have entirely different functions that can be assigned. Each hat and button has two functions (main and "shifted" - the shifted is when used in conjunction with the pinky switch). So the "play" mode is all the stuff in the green, the "Internet" mode is all the stuff in orange, and the "Exit" mode is all the stuff in red. This eliminates any layers of menus and takes you directly to the selected screen from wherever you currently are. OBTW, "Guns/Missiles" are sound files of A-10 30mm Gatling gun and a Maverick Missile coming off the rails of an F-16 played through the carPC and an exterior speaker (both from personal experience ).
    HARDWARE: Fujitsu Stylistic ST5111w/WiFi and dock, internal Hitachi 500G HD, external 1TB HD, Sierra Wireless Aircard 550, DVD-RW, BoomzBox HD radio, XM Commander, Delorme GPS, Saitek X-52 Pro joystick, BluSoleil Bluetooth, TPMS, FB, Elm327

  8. #8
    Low Bitrate SierraStroker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GizmoQ View Post
    I've been called a lot of things on this forum over the years, but "gawdy" is a new one. Actually I'm flattered. You would be surprised how many switches, circuit boards, and wiring connectors are safely and securely hidden away inside a joystick and how easily a joystick can be fitted over the shaft of a car's stick shift. I've been through a dozen or so iterations of the joystick input device looking for the greatest number of inputs in the most compact installation and have settled on the Saitek X-52 Pro for its ease of programming, CarPC friendly drivers, and many, many, many, many levels of inputs.

    Along the way, I've discovered there are many styles, shapes, and configurations of joysticks. Most are easily dismantled. Most have their brains are on a small circuit board in the base. The buttons and hats usually have less than 3/4" depth beneath the exterior. And the wiring to the circuit board can easily be extended and hidden along the shaft of the shifter. All you need is to find a size and shape that suits you and start fabricating.

    O.K., back to the "gawdy" part, for simplicity, nothing beats the Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick. You say you only want a few buttons and a mouse controller... well here you go. The logitech is easily disassembled to just its top section. You'll lose the trigger and the thumb button but will have 4 buttons and the hat available. With the appropriate fabrication skills this could get you what you want for less than $25 plus fab. Marry the joystick with Joy2Mouse3 software and you can have 4-12 functions programmed for the buttons and use the 8-way hat as the mouse controller. Easy as pie.





    Since you never mentioned what CarPC front-end you will be using, let me suggest RideRunner for the above interface. Most of this kind of programming is already built-in (although "round" and "wheel" don't play well in our world). I remember developing a skin many years ago that had six buttons along the left side of the screen - Media, Comm, Internet, Navigation, Weather, and Applications. Each one would open a slider to its right with 6 menu options. I thought it was cool then, but have long abandoned it. You might want to look at Carwings, DFX, or any of the many other complete skins available. My suggestion: spend your time testing existing skins for ones that suit your needs; making your own is not for everyone - it takes graphic skills, programming knowledge, and has a steep learning curve.

    Good luck to you, and now for the GAWDY: "I dont need no stinkin' skin!"

    The mode knob on the right has three settings. For each of these settings the buttons and hats have entirely different functions that can be assigned. Each hat and button has two functions (main and "shifted" - the shifted is when used in conjunction with the pinky switch). So the "play" mode is all the stuff in the green, the "Internet" mode is all the stuff in orange, and the "Exit" mode is all the stuff in red. This eliminates any layers of menus and takes you directly to the selected screen from wherever you currently are. OBTW, "Guns/Missiles" are sound files of A-10 30mm Gatling gun and a Maverick Missile coming off the rails of an F-16 played through the carPC and an exterior speaker (both from personal experience ).
    Right on man, I was hoping you'd get in on this thread. I wasn't trying to be insulting at all so I'm glad you took it as a compliment. I do like your application, and I can see how it would be more functional than what I am looking to do. But I also don't want my truck looking like an arcade game at first glance. I'd rather have someone look inside the truck and look right past the shifter. Another factor is you drive an automatic. So shifting comfort is secondary to your carpc input. I'd rather have a shift knob that isn't so busy so as to distract from shifting or cause accidental button presses.

    You are right in assuming I'll probably end up hacking up a joystick of some sort. However, with the progress that is being made on using xbox controllers (especially since the chatpad could be used as well) I may go that route. I also like the feel of xbox thumbsticks more than anything else I've tried in the past.

    As for the software side, I am aware of the challenges I face. I can code in a number of languages not the least of which being java and c++. I haven't decided what front end I'll be using, or even what operating system for that matter. While I'd love to use linux, I realize I'll have a lot easier time accomplishing everything I want under windows. But that's usually how it goes, trade off reliability, stability, open source, security, and full customization for compatibility. In reality I'll probably end up triple booting linux, macOS and windows though. From there I'll try out all the front-ends I can get my hands on or possibly create my own.

    It all boils down to how much time I have to dedicate to this and how much it keeps my interest. Before I even think about the carpc though I'll have some other more important work to do on the truck. From there I'll probably use a laptop for a bit until I get a screen fabricated into the dash, then I'll work on a more permanant cpu solution.

    Wish me luck on the test drive, I'm already in love with this truck, but if its got serious issues I'll have to keep looking.

  9. #9
    Confusion Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClockWorK View Post
    What about a touch-pad laying flat, just to the right (or far side) of the shifter? In terms of ergonomics and multi-functionality, this is my best suggestion. It can do a single-click from a tap anywhere on the touch-pad. It can function as a mouse. Hell, it could even be multi-touch....

    Could always stick a small trackball mouse in the ashtray or centre console.



  10. #10
    Raw Wave
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    GizmoQ - that's anything but gawdy! That's grouse! (read: Cool)
    And I'm one that likes simplicity. (But most importantly, functionality.)


    Sorry, I just had to comment.

    (Thinking - what if I duplicated dippers and wipers on my stick - then I don't even have to convert my next floor dippers (1960's vehicles!) to be able to dip for oncomers whilst sliding around corners etc...? And maybe that boosted headlight power function, or the side-aimed drift/kangaroo spotters...? Damn - as if my just fitted electric windows wasn't effort enough! Friggin good concept though!)

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