My first wheelbase was a Fanatec CSL Elite. At the entry point of serious sim racing (in my opinion) I still highly rate the CSL Elite for a beginner. It’s very easy to install and the maximum torque is such that you can’t hurt yourself. Not so with the Fanatec DD2.
If you have plenty of experience with a sim or track driving, read on
As I’ve mentioned in my guide to building a race simulator, the Podium wheelbase is a much more “professional” bit of gear. By “professional” I mean this wheelbase is for people with experience of sim racing *or* for people who have driven a real track car around a circuit. And that’s for one simple reason, if you come off the circuit and hit a barrier while holding tightly onto the wheel, the DD2’s maximum torque of 25nm will hurt you.
I’ve twisted my wrist twice in a real track car – once when I was hit from behind by a driver in the MX5 Championship at Anglesey and once when I had a big spin in my Radical SR3. In both cases, the wheel suddenly rotated and I hadn’t the time to let go. Unfortunately I’ve also made this mistake with the DD2. The injury is skier’s thumb and it can take a good few days or weeks to properly recover.
Anyway. I don’t want to be all doom and gloom about this, just know that with a direct drive wheel you can experience peak torque that could surprise you. Be careful and you’ll be fine.
I’ve had the DD2 for about 3 weeks. Here’s what I think:
How to install a Fanatec Podium DD2
The unit arrives in a really nice box (see featured image above). It’s heavy; I’d say around 20kg. It’s certainly heavy enough that you need to stay alert while you’re getting the first bolt inserted into your rig. It would be very easy to drop it while balancing the unit on its mounting plate. If someone happens to be in the house at the time (sim racers do have girlfriends, right?) I’d get them just to hold it in place for you, it’ll save loads of fiddling around.
To mount the DD2, use good quality M6 hex bolts. These are not included with the DD2. Choose a bolt length so that the thread does not reach more than 16mm into the wheelbase.
There are 3 hard-mount points located underneath that form a triangle. Use all 3 fixing points and use plenty of torque getting them tight so there’s no chance they’ll move.
USefully, all Fanatec wheelbases use the same mount points and bolt thread size of M6.
Connections and software drivers
Before connecting the DD2 I made sure to uninstall all Fanatec software and drivers that were dedicated to the CSL Elite.
Unfortunately it’s easy to cause problems with any new PC hardware installation (like not uninstalling your old graphics driver before installing a new GPU!) so, for best practice I remove drivers and software first.
Around the back of the unit, each port is marked. The PSU cable is very different from the supply that comes with the Elite CSL. It’s clearly much higher voltage. The power supply itself is actually quite large and the power cable is very thick.
I’m using my Clubsport SQ shifter that connects into the back of the DD2 just like the other Fanatec wheelbases, the other RJ12 connection is the emergency stop / power button:
Once you’re all connected, plug the USB into your PC and install the drivers.
Fanatec DD2 driver Installation
I’d read somewhere that the beta driver gives much better feel than the current production version. Unless you’re familiar with Fanatec driver problems and you’ve had to deal with some driver realted weirdness in teh past I’d avoid the beta just now.
I could not get the wheel to work with the driver at all. Firstly Windows wouldn’t detect the wheelbase in Fanatec’s wheel properties dialogue, *unless* I’d installed the driver without the Clubsport wheel attached. And no matter what I did, iRacing never felt right. When I have the time I’ll dissect what went wrong but for now, use this driver from the DD2 page on Fanatec.com:
Once you have the drivers installed, the Fanatec wheel properties shortcut should appear on your desktop. Alternatively search for “game controllers” and the correct dialogue should open:
If you double click your device, it’ll open this properties dialogue:
On first open it’s possible you’ll be alerted to a firmware update. Navigate to the “Update” tab and update the Podium base firmware, then the motor firmware *if* you’re not running version 662 and 30 respectively.
Fanatec DD2 settings for iRacing
I have two setups. One for iRacing and the other for Asetto Corsa. They’re both exactly the same (as fat as the wheel tuning is concerned) except the wheel strength is vastly reduced for Asetto.
And this is how I’m setup in iRacing:
Review conclusion: What does the DD2 Podium feel like?
As I gained experience with my simulator I started to feel as if the CSL was at times notchy and very binary in its feedback. That’s not the case with the DD2. The Podium is really, really good.
Once you get used to the torque you’ll find a very smooth and progressive wheel.
It’s sensitive to the small adjustments but has real strength too. The force feedback is smooth, there’s no notchy-ness to it like there is with some belt drive units. The feedback is much more like a real car might feel in many ways. When the car is starting to rotate you get a much earlier warning – oftentimes with the CSL by the time the wheelbase was giving me feedback it was too late to catch it. That made for a stressful experience and a lot of confusing sensations when driving the car absolutely on the limit. With the DD2 the feedback is finer, earlier and as the sensitivity is better it’s easier to react. You can catch a slide and really drive the car properly.
In my opinion, this was money very well spent. This upgrade, plus VR and the Heuskinveld pedals (which I will write about soon) led to this fundamental change in my performance in iRacing:
Is the DD2 worth the money? In my opinion, it’s a definite yes.