Semi trucks — tractor trailers, big rigs, or lorries, depending on where you live — are very difficult to drive, and that’s not just because they’re large. In order to be able to haul their massive loads, semi trucks have massive transmissions with many more gears than you’d find in a car with a manual transmission. That results in a driving experience that most people never get to experience. For that reason, big rig driving simulator games have become quite popular. YouTuber mypc has used an Arduino to build a steering wheel controller specifically for those sims.
Like many commercial steering wheel controllers, mypc’s custom build features force feedback. That lets the steering wheel spin on its own to react like a real steering wheel would. Unlike typical off-the-shelf controllers, however, this integrates a six-speed shifter, turn signals, a horn, and more. Theoretically, the shifter could be expanded to include many more gears. Even the in-game truck’s windshield wipers can be operated from the controller. The result is a very immersive simulation experience.
It is also quite impressive how mypc built this, as all of the mechanical parts are constructed from wood. An Arduino Leonardo is used to both read the sensor values and to control the force feedback motors. The Leonardo was chosen because it can be easily configured to show up as a USB HID (Human Interface Device) when plugged into a computer. That means mypc can use the controller just like any other gamepad, so it can be used with any game.