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Currently under development with Quaife Engineering is our collaboration on an H pattern shifter for the simulator. We felt the simulator market was crying out for an H pattern shifter that actually felt like driving a real car and not just pressing a few buttons on the end of a lever. Our H pattern is going to be like the Sequential we sell and be a robust design that you can really use. Our design is going to be a 8 speed shifter with 6 forward gears and two extra gears for reverse that are located beyond the reverse interlock on the gear lever, this give you the option of reverse forward or backwards.
The feeling is exactly the same as the real car and when you change gear and you can also see the selector rods engaging behind the Perspex cover exactly like your real gearbox would. The design and concept is taken directly from a production Quaife H pattern gearbox. On our shifter the feeling comes from the selector rods and the centralization device used on most gearboxes rather than relying on a gate plate at the top which is what all other shifters on the market currently do.
The shifter itself will be fully adjustable with the force of both centering and going through the gate easily adjustable by the user. The pivot point of the gear lever is also adjustable meaning without changing the length of the lever you can adjust the through between gears. We are also using a new design lever where it bolts together in the middle meaning you can take this out or put in different lengths to make the lever longer or shorter to suit the car you are trying to replicate.
The shifter will have a USB socket on the side to be connected directly to the PC as a stand-alone device and we also have an 8 way connector on the side to allow connection to another board of your choice if you are running low on controllers, with this method you are also available to connect it to your PlayStation as well.
The main problem with all shifters on the market at the moment is that you cannot simulate missed gears nor have any interaction with the software. For this to be accurate it also needs to simulate the different type of gearboxes for dog engagement and also synchromesh:
Synchromesh: A synchromesh gearbox is what you would commonly find in your road car. This type of gear is engaged using cones to match the speed of the gears and then held in place with multiple ‘teeth’. With this type of gearbox there is virtually no play when in gear but there is a lot of surface area with load on holding the gear in place. Because of the load on the teeth and the fact there is not much space the gear needs to be doing almost exactly the same speeds to be able to engage and this is what the cones do but they cannot overcome the engine brake without doing damage to the gearbox and so the clutch is needed for all changes.
Dog engagement: A dog engagement box is what you will commonly find in race cars and on most sequential gearboxes. This type of gear usually has 3 to 6 ‘dogs’ on each gear and there is a lot of free space for them to engage this means there is normally quite a lot of play when in gear and why you often see race cars juddering forward and backwards when going down the pitlane. When you are driving fast this is not an issue as you are pushing on one side of the dog for acceleration or braking rather than hovering in the middle, this is also why they are not suitable for daily use on the road. When shifting gears because of the space between the gears normally there can be up to a 900rpm difference in gear speeds and the gear will still go in, because of this you do not need the clutch. To make a gear change you need to reduce the load on the dogs so that it can released, this is normally done by just lifting the throttle on the up change. To change down a gear there is already a reduction in load that is sufficient you just need to blip the throttle so that you do not lock the rear wheels or cause unnecessary wear on the gearbox.
How this translates to our solution
With our solution we are able to replicate both types of shifting accurately; more importantly for dog engagement you are able to pull the lever very hard when accelerating and you will not be able to change gears but as soon as you lift it will go in. This was very important for us to achieve because is most race situations a gear change in a sequential box would happen by preloading the lever first and it was the number 1 priority this was achievable. Gear changes are done this way to reduce the shift time as you only need to lift until you feel it go in and quite often gear changes will be made with 30% throttle still applied so there is no loss in engine torque.
For the synchromesh option you will not be able to shift gears unless the clutch is pushed, you will however be able to preload the lever prior to pushing the clutch the same as the dog engagement box.
Our solution allows preload because we are using a proper hydraulic system rather than just a cheap solenoid. This is critical because using something like a solenoid means if you apply preload and then activate it you would need to release the force before the solenoid would activate, a problem not encountered with hydraulics.
Why we use Quaife
RT Quaife Engineering Ltd uses motorsport-inspired design and precision engineering capabilities to deliver a large range of high performance drivetrain products destined for vehicle manufacturers, motorsport competitors and the retail aftermarket.
Quaife was founded in 1965. Headquartered near Sevenoaks in the South East of England, the firm employs over 80 skilled people at two high technology manufacturing facilities, which produce a globally recognised brand of products that are sold through 70 distributors in 26 countries.