A few days ago, the steering wheel we bought off eBay made a rather worrying noise while I was turning into the first corner at Monte Carlo. At the same time, the force feedback and rumble effects stopped. “Oh, for fuck’s sake”, I thought, before panicking. The wheel was supposed to be an early birthday present, and it had packed in before my birthday had come round.
I did the usual diagnostic stuff: unplugging it and plugging it back in, shaking it, kicking it – no joy. I did notice that I could hear something rattling around inside the case though, and it sounded like plastic. I also noticed that I could hear the motor whirring away whenever I turned the wheel, these alleviated my concerns a little – if the problem was electronic, it was fucked, and it sounded like the electronic part of the wheel was working fine.
My dad had been planning on coming round to bring my old bass guitar and that box of CDs that’s been getting a bit of coverage here, so I asked him to bring his box of screwdrivers – most game consoles and accessories use security screws to stop you fucking around with them, it’s brilliant*. None of those worked, so I ordered one from Amazon (I’d been meaning to buy one for a while).
Fast forward a few days to today, and that beautiful screwdriver has arrived. After removing the eight thousand screws** needed from the base of the wheel, I found this little bastard:
I’ll be honest; I’ve never been so happy to see a small, plastic cog in my entire life, and it wasn’t broken! JOY! Anyway, after finding a suitable tool to grip it with, I slid it onto the motor and rejoiced a bit. I rejoiced a bit more after I turned the wheel on and watched the wheel centre itself, and then even more rejoicing happened when it rumbled and bounced about as my car hit the gravel trap at the first corner in Melbourne. Lovely.
Basically, the moral of the story is that force feedback steering wheels aren’t, contrary to popular belief, powered by black magic; they are, in fact, powered by a small motor, two large white cogs, and one very small black cog. I hope you all learnt something today.
* Infuriatingly stupid.