Motion simulators are often seen as the pinnacle of one’s rig. Most motion solutions are expensive and require an in-depth knowledge of both the hardware and software in order to achieve the desired results. There are exceptions such as ButtKicker and NextLevel but we see these more of a gimmick and for fun rather than a serious motion solution. This article will go through the basics of motion platforms, what differentiates good motion from bad motion, and conclude with how motion will affect your driving performance.
There are two main types of motion solutions: seat movers and platform actuators. Seat movers are not worth the investment as it does not accurately represent and give feedback to the driver. Most of the seat movers are only providing vibration and/or 2 Degrees of Freedom (DOF) with roll and pitch and they utilize the audio file to replicate the “motion”, in short, it just shakes the seat and it does not accurately depict what the suspension is doing, it functions more like a gimmick, the benefits of a seat mover is that it will dramatically enhance the experience you have in your rig compared to static and that it does provide some detail to what the car is doing through vibration, roll, and pitch. But from our perspective, it is better to spend that money on a set of hydraulic pedals, high-end VR/triples, or even a direct drive wheelbase.
Motion actuator platforms such as the ones found at Axon Driver Solutions, do have a place in the high-end sim racing world as they have been refined to a point where their technology can be deemed beneficial to sim racers. For the uninitiated, 4 post motion platforms are mounted to the corners of your rig and replicate what the suspension and car are doing through the vertical movement of the posts. As they have become more affordable for prosumer hobbyists instead of just multi-million dollar engineering firms and professional level teams, hobbyists have been implementing more and more motion platforms into their sim rig. Within the motion platform, there are a few different types: 3DOF, 4DOF, and 6DOF.
3DOF has roll, pitch, and heave and is what Axon currently runs at the shop, 4DOF includes the addition of yaw, and 6DOF adds surge and sway to the mix. If you need a reference as to what those are, please refer to Figure 1. The multi-million dollar simulators used by F1 teams and engineering firms have 6DOF motion platforms and are called Stewart platforms. These platforms are extremely heavy and large, requiring serious technical skills to even set it up and are obviously extremely expensive.
Good vs bad motion is quite obvious and it is not purely down to what hardware or software you use but rather how well the entire package works together, calibration and software are just as important as having high-quality hardware. This is where D-BOX stands out from the competition, D-BOX’s motion configurator is much more robust, easier to use, and easier to achieve the desired results as compared to other offerings. D-BOX takes into account a variety of variables such as suspension, road surface texture, engine vibration, and slip angle. This is accomplished by utilizing the telemetry data acquired directly from the sim which in many cases is proprietary due to D-BOX working intimately with the developer, giving us the refined and sophisticated experience that we all love. Having a properly configured motion platform will do wonders for you as you will feel the car through your body which is one of the key areas where real racing drivers look for feedback. Poor motion will make you slower, if not even make you nauseous, taking it to the extreme, poorly configured motion will have little to do with how the car is behaving in the game and will give you incorrect feedback causing you to overcorrect, overdrive, or stay under the limit believing that the car is behaving to how the motion is portraying it. In short, the D-BOX ecosystem built from 20 years of industry experience, numerous partnerships, major sim racing names such as Codemasters, iRacing, and car manufacturers such as Porsche sets the system apart from the rest and allows us to provide the best motion simulation platform possible.
In terms of which will make you faster, there are arguments for both sides, having a motion rig gives you that extra fidelity and missing information that could not be translated via your wheel and eyesight. However, there is the added variable of motion and many professional drivers do not run a motion rig as they feel that the added motion does not add enough of a benefit and rather have a completely stable platform to pilot the car in order to extract the most lap time. Different drivers prefer different solutions, and it is up to you to determine which suits you the most, Axon utilizes motion sims because we aim to provide an uncompromising realistic experience as well as enable driver training. Have you tried motion and static rigs? Which do you prefer and why?