As a passionate sim racer, I know that sim racing is not just about driving virtual cars, but the overall experience and realism you experience. Fanatical sim racers understand that the excitement lies in the immersion and authenticity of the experience. I am constantly optimising my sim racing setup to make it ever more realistic and immersive. An essential part of this continuous improvement is adding a sim racing roof, with which I simulate a real racing cockpit. In this article, I share my experiences and insights on the importance of a sim racing roof, how it contributes to the ultimate sim racing experience and take you step-by-step through the process of how I created my sim racing roof.
Creating the Perfect Sim Racing Cockpit
A sim racing setup is not just about the steering wheel, pedals and monitor. It is about creating an environment that makes you feel like you are actually in a race car. In other words; I want to create the perfect sim racing cockpit. I searched sim racing forums, videos on YouTube and sought insights from fellow enthusiasts who had integrated roofs into their setups.
I drew a lot of inspiration from these examples, such as Race Beyond Matter's fantastic setup and the example of The Simracing Den. Armed with knowledge and inspiration, I began the journey to create a sim racing roof that not only had the right look, but also contributed to the authenticity of the experience.
My Ultimate Desire for Realism and Immersion
A sim racing roof plays a crucial role in adding unprecedented immersion and realism. With a sim racing roof over your setup, the illusion of a cockpit is enhanced. This not only provides a more realistic visual experience, but also helps to fully immerse you in the virtual racing world.
The realism and immersion offered by a sim racing roof is unrivalled. It creates a sense of isolation, reducing external distractions and allowing you to fully concentrate on the race. The increased focus translates into better performance and deeper involvement in each race. Moreover, it helps improve the sound and lighting experience. The sound of the engines and tyres is enhanced, allowing you to become even more immersed in the race.
Aesthetics and Pride
Besides the functional benefits, a sim racing roof also adds aesthetic value to your setup. Not only does it look impressive, but it also exudes that you are serious about your sim racing hobby. When friends and fellow racers see your setup, the addition of a roof over your rig is sure to garner admiration. It is a sign of dedication and striving for perfection. And that, like the racing itself, is immensely satisfying.
What do you need to make a Sim Racing Roof?
To make a sim racing roof, various materials and tools are needed to create a sturdy and functional structure. Here are the basic supplies you might consider:
- Cardboard: When creating a sim racing roof, cardboard is often an indispensable tool to create a mould and shape. Cardboard is a versatile and easily machined material that helps you visualise and test the final design of your roof.
- Tape and cutting tools: Provide some duck tape and a good pair of scissors and Stanley knife to cut the cardboard into the right shape.
- Measuring tools: A tape measure, pencil and possibly a shop hook to take accurate measurements and mark cuts.
- MDF board: These boards are used to form the roof surface. MDF (Medium-Density Fiberboard) is often a popular choice because of its smooth finish and easy machinability.
- Power tools: A circular saw, drill and sander to cut the wood to size, drill holes and smooth the edges.
- Paint and finishing: To make the roof aesthetically pleasing, you can paint it in the desired colour and finish it with varnish. Like me, you can also choose to cover the MDF board with a Carbon Wrap Vinyl Film and an adhesive glossy wrap film.
- Fastening materials: When building a sim racing roof, choosing the right fasteners is very important to ensure that the roof is securely and safely attached to your sim racing setup. What you need for this depends on your design choice and how you want to attach it. Screws, bolts, nuts and washers are essential in this project. Tip: make use of a TV bracket or montage material. In many cases, this is very suitable for this project.
- Personal Protective Equipment: Safety always comes first! Therefore, make sure safety glasses, hearing protection and possibly gloves during the construction process.
Keep in mind that the exact supplies may vary depending on your design, the size of your setup and your personal preferences. It is always a good idea to do thorough research and possibly seek advice from other sim racers who already have experience building a roof for their setup.
Sim Racing Roof Making in 9 Steps
Now it really gets fun. In the next few steps, we're going to explain in detail how you can make your own sim racing roof. Whether you are an avid sim racer striving for a more realistic experience or just looking for a new challenge, this guide will walk you through the process of building a custom roof that will make your sim rig even more beautiful. Let's get started!
Step 1: Research and planning
When creating a sim racing roof, the first step is to conduct thorough research and create a thorough plan. Start by exploring different types of sim racing roofs to understand what options are available and which ones best suit your needs and desires. Take the time to understand the pros and cons of each type of roof and how they can contribute to your simulator racing experience.
Think about the dimensions, shape, mounting, position of the monitors as well as other accessories that might be in sight. This first step took quite a long time with me to think everything out step by step and prepare on how to fix the roof.
- The design should be light, sturdy and strong
- The cost of the project should be at least
- The design should be simple, clean and effective.
With these requirements and goals in mind, I started looking for the perfect material to make my sim racing roof. As a result, I ended up with MDF. Also consider whether you want to make a cardboard mould to visually assess the design before proceeding with the final construction. This is to avoid mistakes and save costs.
Step 2: Mould making
If you have chosen to make a cardboard mould, you can now proceed with cutting the cardboard according to the design of the roof. Place the cardboard mould on your sim racing setup to check that the roof fits properly and that all components are in the right place. This allows you to test any adjustments before you start building the final roof.
Step 3: Create a Design
In this step, it is extremely important to make a thorough plan for the design of your roof. Use Photoshop or another available (free) design tool to create different layouts. Below you can see some of the designs I created. In step 6, you will continue with the design.
Step 4: Collecting materials
With your plan in hand, it's time to gather all the necessary materials. This includes the MDF boards, screws, bolts, nuts and other fasteners. Make sure you have the right power tools, such as a saw, drill, sander and measuring tools. It is vital that you have all the materials ready before proceeding with construction.
For this project, I chose a 6 mm thick MDF board that I bought at the local hardware store. Another good suggestion is to use foam board. This is super light, easy to work with and install. For me, however, this material has been discarded because it does not meet my design goals. Namely, it is not sturdy enough to mount - in my case - my Philips Hue Play.
Tip: Choose one large MDF board and cut it to size. Do not join two or more separate boards together. The roof should be one piece.
My triple monitor setup around a total width of about 120 centimetres, so I chose to take a few centimetres 'extra'. The depth of the monitors and the chair is about 110 centimetres. At the hardware store, I had this large board cut to size in the dimensions 110 x 125 cm.
Step 5: Tailoring the roof
Now it's time to make the roof surface. Lay the jig on the wooden board and use a pencil to draw the line of the corners you want to cut off. Next, grab the crosscut saw and cut the MDF board into the desired shape of the roof and the jig you made. If you did it right, the jig and the wooden board will now match exactly ;).
Fix the boards securely to the wooden frame using suitable screws and bolts. Make sure the boards are evenly and firmly attached to create a stable roof surface you can rely on during your racing sessions.
Step 6: Finishing and aesthetics
With the roof surface and accessories in place, you can now pay attention to the finish and aesthetics of the roof. Sand the wood surface to remove any rough edges and ensure a smooth finish. You can then paint the roof in your desired colour or add a finishing coat if necessary to make it look attractive and protect it from slijtage.
I chose to cover the wooden panel with a carbon wrap vinyl film and a self-adhesive black gloss vinyl film. This film is self-adhesive and you can apply it super easily! This car film is hugely elastic and very adaptable. Unsure how to do it? Then take a look at the videos on YouTube.
Step 7: Attaching the Montage brackets
Now that your sim racing roof is almost fully completed and features a beautiful finish and vinyl wrap, it's time to turn your attention to the next important step: attaching the montagebrackets you want to use to secure the roof to your rig or ceiling.
Reinforcement with Iron Profiles
To ensure the stability of my roof and prevent it from sagging, I created two L-shaped iron profiles. These iron profiles provide additional reinforcement to the MDF board. After creating the profiles, I drilled holes and attached them securely to my roof structure.
In my case, my sim rig is in the attic with a sloping roof, which means I have limited space and options to mount the roof. This requires an innovative solution, and I opted to use wooden joists to attach my sim racing roof to.
Step 8: Roof Fixing and Optimisation
Now that the roof is complete, it is time to put it on your sim racing setup and test it. Sit down and pretend you are racing to assess the ergonomics, comfort and overall racing experience. If you find that adjustments are needed adjust it for optimal performance and comfort. In my case, this was absolutely necessary, so I am happy to take you through the challenges I encountered.
Optimising for Access and Convenience
Creating a solid roof presented new challenges. The construction made getting in and out of my simulator difficult. Both the roof and the monitors obstructed my access. To solve this problem, I had to come up with a creative solution. I fitted the iron profiles with hinges and attached them to the wooden beams. This modification made it possible to lift the roof up, which greatly facilitated my access to the simulator.
Smart Solution for Weight and Positioning
Although lifting the roof improved access, a new challenge arose: the roof was too heavy to rest on the monitors. Keeping the roof 'floating' at the desired height and in position required a clever solution. Using a gas spring proved impossible, but I found an effective alternative solution: a rope with a trolley. I drilled two holes in the roof and attached the trolly to a higher beam. This allows me to pull on the rope to lift the roof and easily enter and exit the cockpit.
Completing the Solution
With these smart and effective modifications, I further optimised my sim racing roof for both stability and convenience. The process brought challenges, but by thinking creatively and finding practical solutions, I managed to take my solution and end result to a new level. The result is a roof that is not only visually appealing, but also functional and user-friendly.
Step 9: Final montage
Finally, it is time for the final montage of the roof. Check that all screws, bolts and fasteners are firmly tightened and secured as intended. Make sure the roof is secure and stable before you consider it completed. A small number of issues remain for me to resolve. For instance, I still need to seal the gap between the monitors and the roof and attach the Philips Hue. Sealing the gap I will do with foam board and for fixing the Philips Hue, I have yet to find a solution.
Now you can proudly admire your completed sim racing roof and enjoy the enhanced realism and immersion it will add to your simulation races. And be honest, isn't the end result fantastic?
Conclusion: Create Your Own Sim Racing Roof
Building your own sim racing roof is great fun, bringing together creativity and precision to deliver a unique racing experience. By carefully following the steps, from research and planning to attaching accessories, you have had the opportunity to design and build a roof that is not only visually appealing, but also functional and ergonomically sound.
Whether you are a casual gamer or a dedicated sim racer, your new sim racing roof adds a new dimension of realism and fun. I found it one of the more fun projects I have done and it is one I am immensely proud of. It is a solution unique to my simulator and what makes my racing experience even more intense and beautiful!
Finally, I hope I was able to inspire you with this and get you started. And of course, I am very curious about your results. So share your home-made sim racing roof on social media and tag us at instagram!
More DIY Sim Racing Projects
I absolutely adore gifted sim racing DIY projects. There is something satisfying about creating and customising your sim setup yourself to achieve an even more immersive experience and add even more experience and realism. Do you like this too? Then get inspired and be sure to check out the DIY projects below:
- DIY: This is how to make your own simflag flag spotter
- DIY sim rig building? Here are the pros and cons!
- Here's how to build a Sim Racing Wind Simulator!
- Make Your Own DIY Button Box In These 8 Simple Steps!
Also check out Pokornyi Engineering's digital DIY files and build your own button box and steering wheel!