Rig-mounted triples…on a motion rig
From 65in to 32in, static to moving…
I recently moved houses and had to disassemble and reassemble my rig. I wrote about this process here. My original triples (65in TVs) simply did not fit in the sim room of the new house, and thus I needed a new plan. I ended up mounting the triples on the motion rig. As per the request of some fellow sim-racers, I am writing this blog to document the process I went through, in case it helps others that are going through the same process.
Before going much further, I did not invent a thing here. I implemented the good ideas others had had before me. Most notably, Tommi Ekland, who not only shared his ideas but also actively helped me in the planning phase.
The high-level requirements
Mounting triples on a motion rig is an issue. The rig moves, vibrates, and wreaks havoc with non-sturdy mounts. Thus, perhaps the most important requirement of all is to make sure the mount is rock solid, and vibrations (to the monitors) are reduced to the minimum.
Minimizing weight, and allowing the monitors to be as close to your eyes as possible is a second-order requirement, important in itself.
Last, I have to admit that I reused quite a bit of the aluminum I had bought when I built the original 65in triple mount, and that played into the design (and the mistakes) that I made.
Picking out the monitors
This turned out to be easier than I thought. I decided to try curved screens, as I believe they would add a nice touch to the design, and thus I wanted those with as much curvature as possible.
1000R (meaning, a 1m radius) are the ones that I settled in, which I believe continue to be the most curved ones as of this writing. Additionally, Tommi counseled to not go for 34s and stick with three 32in monitors.
In the end, I got three refurbished Samsung Odyssey G7 monitors, with high speed, low latency, G-SYNC compatibility, and more. I think it was a smart choice (so far, anyway)
Designing the triple mount
The mount can be roughly broken into four main components, or parts:
- First, the monitor mount itself. That is, the “U” shaped structure onto which you will mount the monitors (and a bunch more, as we will see)
- Second, the towers that will support that U brace up at the appropriate height.
- Third, the arm supports that will make sure that the arms of the “U” do not sag and or flap like a wing under movement.
- Finally, the system with which you will dampen vibrations to your monitors.
Let’s get something clear right off the bat…
Just by looking at the picture above you will realize that this design (like yours, probably) is very much “bespoke”. In other words, whereas the U-shaped brace and the ideas of the supports and dampeners “travel well” from rig to rig, ultimately how tall it is, or where to exactly attach it to your cockpit will depend precisely on which cockpit you have, how high you have your wheelbase, and things of that nature.
That said, the modifications that you will need will be minor, and if I provide you with the context of my rig, I am sure you will be able to extrapolate to yours.
Therefore, such will be my approach from now on…
I have a Simlab GT1-EVO cockpit, as you can see in the images below (which I took off the web). I have overlapped the three main structural components of the triple mount on the image, that you understand what I was trying to do.
For example, I decided to mount the vertical towers on “top” of the horizontal beam of the cockpit (analogously to how the wheelbase vertical mounts are setup) instead of mounting it to the side of the horizontal beam, which could have been an option.
Furthermore, when you get a bit more specific, you will see that I had a couple of issues to contend with, as you can see in the two pictures below.
Both pictures are from the original rig, the one with the 65in TVs. With the picture on the left, I got an approximate idea of the minimum clearance that I would need to have for the wheelbase, so I can mount the monitors just on top of that. The yellow line shows that measurement.
On the other hand, the picture on the right shows the “space” that I had available to mount the vertical tower (in between the short leg all the way up in the front and the wheelbase vertical support). Unfortunately, I did not have enough space, so I had to move the wheelbase vertical supports about 3/4in toward the seat…which in turn required me to make sure that the wheelbase mount proper has some play to move the wheelbase back (to cancel out the forward movement of the vertical supports)
Pen to Paper
The next thing I did is to calculate all the measurements, using the data for my rig, and given my choices. I literally drew it out, and tried to map (from memory, as at the time I was on vacation in Spain :-) the pieces I had and how I could repurpose them to the design.
The pics above contain some of the sketches I made, as well as the codes from 8020.net (if I recall properly). Incidentally, I made some mistakes in doing this remotely (as I did not have access to the rig at the time) but fortunately it was not too bad.
In the end, this is the list of materials for the triple mount that I ended up using:
- 8040 — 1200mm beam (center part of U brace)
- 8040 — 2x 600mm for the arms of the U brace. Please keep in mind that this is where I made a mistake. I would instead get 2x 710mm ones.
- 8040 — 2x 1100mm for the vertical towers
- 8040 — 500mm horizontal support for vertical towers
- 8040 — 2x 200mm supports for vertical towers
- 8040 — 500mm horizontal support for EVO cockpit (you probably do not need this)
- 4040–2x 1000mm for the supports of the arms of the U brace
All in all, ~6200mm of aluminum. I have the “heavy-duty” one, but in retrospect, I do not think it is needed. The “lite” one would do. If you are curious, this is the one I purchased and this is the one that I think I would purchase if I had to do it all over again.
The picture above, which I will use throughout this blog, shows the different aluminum pieces after it’s all been assembled.
Another very important part of the design is the ability to dampen the vibrations of the motion rig. This approach uses “counter pressure” to keep the monitors in place. Let me explain:
- The VESA-type mount (more on this later) pulls the monitor towards the U-brace, whereas
- The four “rubber feet” push the monitor away from it (in addition, given their material, they dampen vibration)
Now, I know what you are going to say, and I said it first… How long will this pressure/counter-pressure approach last? After all, the VESA mount of the G7s is based on four lousy M5s (if I remember correctly, it might even be M4s).
Well, so far so good. They seem to be holding up perfectly, but it’s still way too early, and time will tell. As always, YMMV so play at your own risk :-)
In any case, for the dampeners, we are going to use the set of feet for the P1-X cockpit from Simlab. That means that you need to buy three of these sets (that is if you can find them).
The picture above shows how to install each foot (pointed to by a yellow arrow) and as you can see this picture was in the middle of setup. You essentially bolt the feet to the monitor-facing side of the horizontal beam with two bolts, and the remaining vertex of the triangle for the foot's support goes up/down and that holds the bolt with the rubber feet.
Needless to say, present everything, but tighten nothing at first. Getting it all nice and tidy is a work of patience…
The two pics above show the feet fully installed, so you have an idea of what they are supposed to look like once they are in.
This one is easy. I had a set of VARIO VESA adapters, which are absolutely marvelous, and thus I used them. I would not try and do this without them.
Brackets and Fasteners
This part is important, as you will need a bunch of different fasteners to bind the extrusions together. I had a lot of them to reuse, after dismantling the 65in triple concoction, so I mostly used those (whenever I could).
- (A) I used these plates on the side to reinforce the vertical towers’ bind to the horizontal cockpit beam. These plates are in addition to the two 90-degree fasteners (one on each side of the vertical tower)
- (B) To connect the center arm of the U brace to the vertical towers I got two “sandwich” plates from Simlab (their name: “POS 128 V2 — Triple sandwichplate 80”). I emailed them and asked for the plates, because they are part of their triple mount product, and I don’t think they offer them as a stand-alone product.
- (C) To connect the arms of the U brace to the center beam I used two sets of these angle brackets. (Well, not exactly these ones, but I could not find the ones I did buy! In any case, these are similar)
- (D) To connect the supports to the arms and the cockpit I used two sets of these. (Again, not sure if these ones in particular, but they look identical :-)
The picture below shows these brackets (in as much as you can see them) only to give you an idea of where they are, and what they connect together.
The building sequence
Building the mount takes a bit of trial and error, or at least that’s what happened with me. I would suggest the following sequence so that you do not commit the same mistakes I made.
- Start by assembling the cockpit, obviously. This includes everything your need. In particular, wheelbase, button-boxes, and anything else that might conflict with the positioning of the monitors (unless, of course, you can move whatever it is and give priority to the monitors)
- Then build the vertical towers. Make sure they are straight and reinforced.
- Then the U brace. Tighten very lightly. You will get used to fine-tuning it :)
- Finally the arm supports. Bind them hard at one end, and a bit less so at the other. I left the arm size loose, so I can wiggle and move it when/if needed.
- Once you have that, mount your monitors. Incidentally, upon Tommi’s suggestion, I decided to mount my monitors upside down, so I minimize the space between the top of my wheelbase and the screen itself (the G7 has a thicker bezel on the bottom than it does on the top)
- Make sure the center monitor is aligned first. Level horizontally and vertically, and as low as you can safely make it. In my case, there’s about one to two centimeters between the top of the wheelbase and the beginning of the monitor.
- Then, adjust each arm and monitor until they are roughly in place.
- Once you have it, make sure the arm itself is horizontal (you should do this often by the way)
- And finally, tighten the “feet”
- For kicks, add Gorilla tape on the back between the monitors. Can’t hurt.
Monitor angles, and mistakes
Initially, I had prepared my design for a 60-degree angle, meaning, 60 degrees from the back.
I installed everything, and life was good. The 60 degrees allowed the curvature of the G7s to flow, and it looked great. The FOV and angle seemed a bit more “open” than what I was used to, but all in all, things were great.
However, at some point, I decided to install the ASUS Bezel Free Kit, and there it was when I discovered a problem…
You see, the 60-degree from the back means 120 degrees between the screens. This works perfectly fine with ASUS when you are using flat monitors. However, when you are using a curved monitor, the 60 degrees are at the center of the monitor, but the angle between the screens (at the ends of the curved monitor) decreases because of the curvature…to the point where the ASUS kit could not handle it. That is why you see a black line on the left, even though the kit is installed. Notice the much thicker black line on the right, where the kit is not installed.
This meant that I needed to bring the sides “in” a bit, up to the point where the ASUS kit started working again. You need a minimum of 120deg between screens (at that point, the edges, not the center)
I said, “no problem”, that’s why I have all these fancy brackets and braces right?! Not so fast. As it turns out, as I brought the monitors in, I realized that the monitor mount on the horizontal arm moves outward…and I was left without “arm” to mount the feet! The two pics below show the difference
The pic on the left shows the problem. The one on the right is tight but everything fits in perfectly. With the one on the left, as I had to move the VESA mount towards one of the ends of the arm, I was left with no space to properly mount all the bolts of the P1X feet. I have gotten by for now by tightening the one bolt that does fit well, but if I were doing it all over again, I would buy 710mm arms instead of 600mm ones!
Incidentally, this is what the screens “tucked in” look like from an angle roughly similar to the one above, so you can compare.
And this is how they look from the top (or as high as I could get on the tip of my feet :-) — For the curious among you, there’s exactly 44in (1118mm) between the tips of the left and right monitors.
I hope this write-up helps you if you are thinking of going this route. I have omitted cable management and a lot of other details which are easier to figure out on your own. One that might not be, by the way, is getting these brackets for the power supplies of the Odysseys. They are very handy and make it all look tidy.
In the end, the mount is very solid. If you grab one monitor and try to move it, the whole rig moves. As stated previously, time will tell whether this will stand the test of time or not. For now, though, it looks like it will, and the visuals are fantastic. It is really nice to have the “windshield” move with your car, at all times.
Good luck, and hopefully it helps.