So... I unfortunately found sort of a bargain on ebay for a refurbished unit. I don't really have the money but... we all do something stupid every once in a while.
CORE 2 DUO 3.00GHZ, 4 GB RAM, 250 GB SATA HARD DRIVE, NVIDIA GT 520 1GB GRAPHICS HDMI DVI VGA CARD, 2 USB PORTS ONT THE FRONT AND 6 ON THE REAR ALSO HAS AN ESATA PORT, WINDOWS XP PRO INSTALLED SEVICE PACK 3
Hopefully this will give me some good (i.e., better) hours at the sim. Probably not "everything on full" kind of thing for Rfactor 1 but still should get decent image I guess and never again 15fps around the pits.
Now I'm accepting donations towards my rent or Uni tuition fees.
Well... if this didn't deserve a blog post I thought not many things would.
It took me long 75 events but I finally snatched my 1st win! It's really nice to see how I went from fighting for a finish to fighting for second-last place, then top10, top5, and really over this last weekend I had been fighting for 4 podiums on 4 races! Blew two of them however, but it's nice anyway.
Quoting just a bit from the post-race report:
"I always thought my first victory would come when I would be running 4th and the 3 first guys would crash altogether, or on one of those unattended races in which 3 or 4 people start. But no! It came on a big grid race with tough competitors, including the series leader.
I'm very happy as this might have been my first mistake-free race. Over the whole 30m I just didn't do anything stupid, no off-course excursions, not even a bit too much curb. All went smooth."
Many thanks for the community who provided not only races but very nice people who took the time to read my junk and rants and help a lot along the way, both with advice and resources for one to improve a lot if the will is there.
Special thanks to
- Niko de Konink who practised a bit with me at Eastern Creek. We were practising the GT3 and not the funcup but talking to him about the track and seeing him drive and test my setups etc. made me find out details about the track I hadn't realized myself. I'm sure this was fundamental in finding those last tenths of second with the beetle.
- the Norfolk Enchance guys, especially Leen de Koning who had faith I had a chance ;)
- Steve Taylor, who from day one always put faith I'd improve and encouraged me on TS even when I was barely capable of completing a lap on the sim without a spin.
- Mark Tustain, for getting me into Muttley Racing. I'm sure we'll have a blast and sharpen our racing together.
And so many others that in several races and occasions helped with tips, setups, or simply encouragement along the way.
It will probably take some time before I can do it again (if ever) but it doesn't really matter. The improvement curve alone makes me happy/satisfied. It looks like a short period of time but actually they were 75 events with lots of hard work in between - not to mention quite a few "a-ha!" moments regarding especially the behaviour of the sim (am I really under-steering? What does that sound mean? etc.). And I can only imagine once I get a properly functioning wheel things will only get better (unfortunately I don't have many hopes towards a proper computer so soon but that would be nice too).
Ok, so I have an interesting and funny story to share. That makes a nice blog post, plus I’d have a couple of things to ask.
Among other things, a few days ago my girlfriend probably had one too many cider (she had only one but we’re both not very used to drinking at all) and decided she wanted to drive my sim. Her father has a Skoda Octavia, which she drives every now and then. She saw me driving the SOC here more than once and that day decided she wanted to give it a try. Well, I had a server running on the PMSC so she compromised to drive that one instead lol.
Good thing is she realized how much my wheel doesn’t work. As a good outsider to racing she would approach a turn, slam the brakes and just throw the car into the apex in a one-jerk motion. Thing is, my wheel doesn’t register fast movements so the car would practically keep going forward. The wheel would then loose it’s centre – sometimes by a good 45 degree lol (since the wheel doesn’t register when you “turn” it, it doesn’t know it actually has anything to unwind and “thinks” it’s centre is, well, off centre).
Anyway, then more recently we got into this funny couple’s argument about some trivial thing, and to my surprise she promised to “reward” me with a new wheel if I do some tasks until the 1st of September. Well, they are not easy or simple tasks but I think they are pretty doable and she succeeded that I’ll do my very best to get them done :)
The “new wheel” is a Thrustmaster RGT Force Clutch Edition being sold in Amazon.uk for £65.50.
It’s funny to ask you guys how would that compare to my Momo since, well, my Momo doesn’t even work.
But the Thrustmaster seems a bit “limited” compared to other higher priced wheels:
- 10’ diameter (which is same as my Momo)
- “only” 270 of rotation (even though my Momo now has like 210 since I had to “cut” 10% on each end from its original 240 to avoid more slippage).
On the plus side it has lots of buttons, a clutch, and warranty (even though I didn’t find the warranty details on amazon).
But just the fact I’ll be able to use its rotation and will be able to use it non progressively is a dream. I use 20 for a controller input setting now on Rfactor, which means the (virtual) wheel moves slowly around centre and super fast towards the end of travel. At least that gives me “some” control over fast turns and medium turn entry and exit. I’m dead slow over hairpins and tight bends though, for a reason.
This whole thing actually makes me feel like a complete idiot. Before buying my wheel a few months ago I did check this RGT one out on the website and almost bought it. I can’t understand how I let this one, brand new and with clutch, pass for £65 and ended up buying a used black Momo for £50 (which in the end came faulty and the seller told me to f off). One of the things that fooled me into it was the Amazon.com website, which sells the black Momo new for $250 (wtf!). Of course then I thought £50 was a bargain for it. My ridiculously limited knowledge back then didn’t let me realize for $250 you are in a G27 range.
Anyway, I think we all make this kind of mistakes when we get into something new and there is no way around it.
Now I feel a bit like a child again who “can’t wait until September”. Which is a nice and funny feeling that makes me grin. If I do get the wheel, I think I’ll create an event here to celebrate it. Probably a street circuit just to take advantage of the fact that I'll be able to turn into tight bends faster and more precisely lol. j/k, I hate street circuits.
My largest problem then is thinking how, and if, I’m going to try to sell the Momo at all.
Cheers for those who took the time to read through!
It’s been a few days I’ve been thinking about a “milestones” blog post. A milestones post where no exact milestone was achieved but a few, maybe less exact ones.
On the 13th of May I’ve made my first podium, and though I thought not much had changed I could score 5 more since then; 4 in the last week if I’m not mistaken. I thought I would start my day today with 2 podiums (results are not up yet) but after getting the first with a 2nd in the DRM, Laszlo Toth (with great ability) prevented me from getting the second one in the GT3. So I finished 4th once again – the 6th time I’m 4th this season, which I don't think is bad at all.
Big deal, any of the fast guys could say. So why am I writing this? Because a couple of months ago I couldn’t drive at all in the sim. I kept a while fighting hard to be second-last in every race, because being the last all the time was annoying me. All the sudden I got myself aiming for top 10 finishes on large grids. Before I could realize I had a consistent goal of finishing top5 these last couple of weeks.
I was quite happy to figure among the "top50" ranks on the Touring cars, missing the Sports cars for just a bit - even though it "means nothing". All the sudden my DNFs stopped and, overall, I made podiums in 10% of the races I ran.
At the same time came invites to join leagues and teams, both of which make me quite happy. Happy not only for feeling my efforts in some way recognized, but also for being able to get a bit more close (or inside?) the community.
Hopefully it will be a bit less lonely “out there”, since I think racing is great but I also enjoy practising quite a bit. Finding that sweet spot in the setup, unveiling that last 0.2s I was letting slip by in that corner’s exit. I’m pretty sure doing that with the right company is all the more enjoyable.
Not all are gardens and flowers. I still (barely) run Rfactor on my single-core laptop, with every single possible low setting and tweak to low the settings even more, and still get only 15FPS at times. My equipment is completed by my faulty MOMO, with roughly 200 deg rotation and which doesn’t capture quick movements, loosing its centre from time to time. Unfortunately, all these items will not be replaced in the near future as neither my personal nor my financial situation permit it. Maybe in a couple of years time, who knows.
Lastly, I’m not among the fast guys. In fact, I’m losing seconds a lap to any of them, in any track. But it doesn’t matter, because I’m happy enough with what I have improved in the last couple of months. I’m happy that I’m still improving fast – I can even tell the difference between last week and this one. And that is great.
So, even though I probably won’t be setting track records or poles, winning races or championships, I hope I can at least keep having fun trying to improve – while helping my teams with a few points in the process. Now this, finally, feels a bit like racing.
Since I like tinkering with setups I decided to run a little test. It was striking me how the default racing setups on rfactor had negative camber a bit to the high side. Tyres usually end up with some 10 degree temperature spread.
Now bear with me. Afaik one wants temperature spread because the tyre will have negative camber on the straights. The suspension works will add positive camber thus the static negative camber allows a better contact patch while turning. Theoretically, a smaller temp spread while turning reflects a better contact patch (not zero since afaik tyres grip better on slight negative camber and not on zero camber).
Why am I saying all this since everyone knows all of it?
Well, I went to test a bit with the FBMW (next car I'll race) in the Skidpan. The idea was to put the car into a constant radius with different camber settings and compare temp and lateral force readings. This way one could get an idea of how the contact patch and grip are being treated related to camber and temperature.
Disclaimer: I didn't mess with caster. While it's relevant for dinamic camber I don't think it makes a difference for my little and unpretentious experiment since I was turning at a constant radius (thus caster is not messing up with whatever camber the tyre is at during the turn).
(I don't know if and how this site accepts images. Since I couldn't find a "preview" button I'll try my best and edit it later if necessary).
This is from a skidpan ride with the FBMW default setup. No big deal. I used the second "lane" of the pan I have but no clue about radius. It's a 90km/h turn with the FBMW.
You can see that the FR temp spread is about 20 degrees when the inside is reaching ideal temp and our G is roughly 1.6. It's interesting to notice the G change when tyres head up (from ~1.45 to 1.6) but there is not that much of a difference between 70 and 120 degrees. (I'll only focus on the FR tyre since all tests were done in a left hander). Interesting also to notice how the vertical forces deformed the tyre into being uninflated - even though the static pressure is the same and the temperature was higher. However my question here was not one of cuteness (temperatures acknowledge deformation) but one of actual G forces.
So I've made changes on camber angles to get that contact patches flatter on the ground while turning:
Sweet. Now instead of a 20 degree spread we have a 7 degree spread (changes also seen in the other wheels). Tyre is much more planted on the ground. What difference did that make in terms of G? None :)
Ok, ok, pressures got wrong. Let's recalibrate pressure since the middle was actually not heating up.
Now that FR tyre is as good as it gets flat on the ground (and the other tyres too). What difference did it make in terms of max G? None :)
Ok, so I decided to screw up. I just went for max negative camber on all 4 wheels (which is -5 degrees). You can see the differences in temps but... and in terms of Gs? You get my point:
Then I decided to screw up COMPLETELY and go all the way positive camber with all 4:
NOW one can see a significant difference (1.6 to 1.45), good 10% worth of grip.
Lastly, I isolated the lateral force produced by the FR. The three lines you see there are:
Green: Positive camber super screw up
Black: Default setup, 20 degree temp spread
Blue: "Best" contact patch and 4 degree spread.
As you can see, after proper temp was reached and the car stabilized, the default setup with 20+ degree spread on the turn was actually producing more lateral force (or, if you want to scrap the "noise", at least the same).
What do more experience/understanding people think, and what did I do wrong?
(obs: all temps are in Celsius and the G readings were also looked at the friction circle).
This last weekend I really put effort into sim driving. No kidding, I've spent at least 15 hours driving Sebring and doing telemetry on hundreds of laps.
The result was nice: I didn't do my very best on qualy and still managed to make 5th time.
I was pretty pretty happy, since I'm only playing rfactor for some 2 weeks and until last week I was the last racer undisputed on any virtual grid. Plus, you've got to weight the fact I have an outdated notebook and a faulty Momo to play with. As everyone knows by now, hard work pays off and the long weekend hours showed on the track.
However, once I set for start I didn't see the starting lights. When everyone hit throttle I tried to follow asap - but obv. a bad start. To be honest, I didn't expect such a massive carnage on the Skodas, with people cutting corners all around.
Unfortunately, (also for lack of experience) I didn't really count on a full tank + cold tires on the first lap. Add to that the fact that I'm not used to handling traffic, and you have an obvious mistake. I didn't spin or anything, just mowed the grass a bit, and here my problems started.
I started to get completely confused as I thought I was last (according to my HUD) but there were tons of people behind. This got me quite distracted, one more mistake, NOW I thought I was in last... only to find out there were still lots of people behind. Wtf. Then the Steward said: "Luiz, your results are not being computed so I'll kick you from the server". Whaaaaat.
Seriously. After all the effort put into this race, I felt stabbed.
I felt like uninstalling rfactor after that. Quite a few deep breaths afterwards, I decided to go for the formula bmw. Fun car to drive. It was my first time in it so it took a while to get used to and build a proper setup. Unfortunately I didn't have time to get to wings; a simple adjustment that can make a lot of difference. Even though the bmw adjustments are quite simple, it took me some 2h30 to find proper susp+camber+pressure while learning the track and the car.
Anyway, I did a bad qualify and ended up mid-to back on the grid. Not so bad again, considering it was 1st time with the car, driving with a half-made setup, and everything else.
Unfortunately... same thing again. No lights, everyone starts before me, I go to second last. Run a couple of laps, my results were not counting again. Pull over.
Still managed to run some laps with the E90 at Elkhardt. After Skodas and FBMW the E90 is a raging beast, certainly out of my league. And the track is not exactly easy as longer tracks take much longer to learn. After much effort I managed 2'21 - but didn't even begin to try a proper setup yet. Just running with low dampers, standard springs and tweaked gearbox. But still, zero consistency as the car is super unforgiving.
After many a failure in scoring decent lap times I just realized I'm ignoring limits of grip.
I was not understanding why I can drive real cars pretty fast but when it comes to rfactor/GTR2 I'm just slow. Then recently I realized I'm using sort of a "World Circuit" (F1GP) approach where I try to make the turns steering AND throttling both as much as possible in a massive but "controlled" understeer. It's doable but I'm consistently 1 or 2 seconds slower than good lap times.
Then again, I didn't get the "feel" for the cars yet. In a real car, you "feel" the limit of grip through the driving shaft/wheel and via the weights (you can feel on your body when the front or the rear "lifts" from grip). I can't feel any of these things on the sim and ffb tells me nothing about grip (am I missing something?).
I've been now trying to listen more. Since I can't feel with other senses (touch and equilibrioception) I'm trying to use hearing. However, I'm not finding this particularly enlightening since, once again, sound in rfactr/GTR2 do not resemble (as far as I could tell) real life tire squealing when grip is lost. Afaik, for maximum grip there must be a bit of skidding; I didn't yet get in game how the "good grip skidding" sound differs from "lost grip squealing".
Any tips on maximizing the use of grip on simluators? Many thanks.