Apologies in advance if you’re a hardcore flight or racing sim aficionado and have arrived here from an online search on the term ‘simpit’. This is not a post about the top of the line, $18,000USD wrap-around, projector-focused enclosures with $5,000USD worth of dashboard devices. This is me, a guy who is crammed into a corner, trying to get himself some breathing room without breaking the bank.
Just to set the baseline, I have been a Star Citizen backer since 2010, which a lot of folks who visit my hovel here on the Internet should know well by now. The extended development of this game has allowed me to accumulate a lot of peripherals dedicated to internet spaceships, none of which are necessary, but all of which I have acquired in an attempt to boost that “real feel” and to make my game time more comfortable. My current setup is shown above. I have 2x VKB Gladiator NXT “Space Combat” Pros with SEM module on the right, a Razer Tartarus for FPS, a Razer Naga Pro for the mouse, Elgato StreamDeck Classic repurposed for the most useful functions, and a tablet running GameGlass which, currently, is serving up a custom-made menu of infographic links for things like where to find the best mining spots and the likelihood of salvageable wrecks in specific areas. There’s also a Tobii Eye Tracker 5 beneath the monitor, and the Logitech rudder pedals beneath the desk. A few years back I bought a pair of J-Pein mounts for the flight sticks and have since mounted my desk’s keyboard try between them, making one solid, heavy, and unwieldly contraption that can be removed and stored elsewhere when I want to use my computer for non-Citizenry tasks.
While this monstrosity works well when deployed, it doesn’t work so well when it’s not.
The best I can do right now is to put the contraption on the floor beneath the “work” side of the desk and hope I don’t kick it when I’m working. I also run into issues when using the device because the mounting brackets are designed to be configured in several ways so those two long, flat runners are the main mounting supports as well as being the nemesis of my knees when the brackets are mounted. None of the edges of these brackets are soft, as the skin on my legs can attest to.
I know that a pro-grade simpit is simply out of the question so long as I want to remain married, but I figured that high-end deals can’t be the only games in town, not in a world where Wish.com exists, so I went looking around for some lower-cost options and was surprised with what I found.
Upon investigation, I learned that a lot of companies who make mid-to-lower-end simpit gear offer a kind of “universal configuration” option. There are two uses for these setups: racing sim and flight sim. Ultimately, there’s a way to use any frame however a person wants, but the gist is generally the same: a seat or place for a seat, the stabilizing rails, and then some risers. Most have a single riser in the middle which can be used for a steering wheel or a keyboard. Some have an ancillary riser to one side which can hold a stick-shift or flight stick, and some have a third riser on the other side of the seat for another controller (throttle, flight stick, cup holder, etc.).
A Few Good Options
The first suite of options is attractive. These come with the base frame and a “racing seat” which looks a lot like the ubiquitous “gamer chair” that has one design but about 12,000 different brand names. These can run from mid-$200 to upwards of $800 depending on the quality of the seat and the amount of metal in the frame itself. The good thing about these is that the seat is part of the contraption, and therefor comes with a slider system that allows the chair to be adjusted for comfort. The chair is also positioned at an optimal height in relation to the risers, so the whole thing should be as close to perfect as one could expect at this price range.
At the higher end of these spiffy devices, we have units which integrate a monitor or TV mounting bracket.
This one comes complete with the chair, frame, and display mount, but will set you back about $1400USD. I won’t lie; I would love to have an all-in-one solution like this which I could set up in another part of the basement that I could leave alone, but as I only have one PC which has to work as my Star Citizen rig, my general gaming rig, and my occasional development and FAFO rig, dedicating a system to such an emplacement is not in the cards right now.
A Few Still-OK Options
I am currently sitting in one of those gamer chairs as I write this, so a rig with a built in chair would be nice, but not strictly necessary. What I would need, then, is just the frame with risers for the flight controllers, and maybe the keyboard. Thankfully, there are options for that.
This class of frame allows users to bring their own chair and their own display. These offer risers for side accessories and usually a central post for the wheel or keyboard. As with the more involved options, there’s an adjustable plate at the feet for rudder pedals as well.
This particular option runs about $135USD, which is not bad at all for a modular frame in my opinion, so I bought one the other day and am awaiting its arrival. The major benefit of this system is that I can drag it to the other side of the room en toto when not in use and can just slide it under the desk when I want to fly Internet spaceships.
In the next post (once I receive the frame), I’ll catalog the steps necessary to set it all up, which I have a plan for because I’ve had to solve a few problems when I built my current “flight platform”, all of which involve cable management, power, and placement.