I finally came up with a reason to order the Fanatec Podium Hub when I acquired a Cube Controls Formula Sport (wireless) wheel from my friends at G-Performance. I wanted to be able to test the wheel on both my Fanatec DD2 and the Simucube 2 Pro (my review of the Simucube 2 Pro on G-Performance here), and felt the Podium Hub might be the easiest way to tackle the problem of Fanatec wheelbase compatibility.
But why do I need a special hub to connect a Cube Controls wheel to a Fanatec DD2?
The problem with non-Fanatec wheels for Fanatec Wheelbases
The problem is this: aside from the hub connector being unique to Fanatec wheels, if the wheelbase can’t detect a Fanatec wheel connected to the base, force feedback doesn’t activate. This is a unique issue in the Fanatec ecosystem – you can sort of see what they’re trying to say: “we’re not sure the wheel is connected properly, so we’re not turning on FFB for safety reasons”.
I mean you could also see this as a mechanism to protect their sales revenue, but I just don’t think that’s what they originally intended. And, in any case you can buy hubs and component parts enough to build your own wheels!
Further, a lot of sim racing wheels from other manufacturers don’t come supplied with a QR (quick release) hub. The hub is either suppled with the wheelbase (Simucube provide their SQR hub in the box), or it isn’t.
In Fanatec’s case, the hub comes supplied with the wheel. This is where Fanatec’s ecosystem is extremely convenient for your typical sim racer, but for a specialist enthusiast, it can be quite cumbersome or expensive to work around.
Fanatec offer their Podium Hub as a solution:
I must admit I was a tiny bit jealous of the Podium Steering Wheel Porsche 911 GT3 R in suede, which I found is basically a wheel, with the Podium hub, advanced paddle module and the endurance button module:
If you own a Cube Controls wheel and just want to see how to connect it to your Fanatec wheelbase, skip this next section. But if you don’t mind a bit more detail along the way, read on.
How to build a wheel with the Fanatec Podium Hub
So, just for fun I thought I’d throw together a Fanatec wheel from spares kicking around at SRC HQ in the hope I might get somewhere close to the Porsche endurance wheel above. (Spoiler, I didn’t.)
Start by collecting all of the bits together. The Podium hub comes with the correct Allen key to remove the little plastic cover on the front of the hub:
Next, attach the shift paddles to the side of the hub case:
Now attach the two button modules. I must say, the Podium Hub is very limited compared to the ClubSport Steering Wheel Universal Hub for XBOX ONE which has space for a rotary encoder and two more button modules. Not to mention a tuning button!
Once the cables are all connected, replace the little plastic cover.
The next bit is a bit fiddly, positioning all of the switch mount legs and using spacer washers under the steering wheel to make sure the wheel sits square on the hub:
The end result looks good enough: a simple Fanatec compatible wheel thrown together from bits:
Frankly, this isn’t really the intended use case for this hub. And the hub is a bit disapointing as a feature thin device compared to the ClubSport Steering Wheel Universal Hub for XBOX ONE – which I recommend for a GT style wheel build over the Podium Hub.
But of course the Podium Hub is primarily aimed at people who want to mount Ascher Racing / Cube Controls / Precision Sim Engineering (and so on) wheels.
Mounting a Cube Controls Formula Sport wheel to the DD2
The first thing to realise is that the Cube Controls wheel is supplied with the correct (short) bolts to lount onto the Podium Hub:
I found that placing the wheel on top of the hub and citing the bolts into the holes with the supplied tweezers was teh best approach:
Finally, tighten each bolt with an 8mm spanner and you’re set.
Critically, the Podium Hub adds about 20mm in length to the hub over the standard Cube Controls hub when fitted to the Simucube wheelbase:
That extra 20mm might not be useful data to most but to some I think it’s worth noting that the Podium Hub might add a bit of length to your preferred wheel hub distance.
Fanatec Podium Hub alternatives?
The Sim Racing Machines Fanatec wheel emulator (new version) is quite a bit shorter than the Fanatec unit and offers precisely the same functionality as the Fanatec unit:
Personally, had I known about this before buying the Podium Hub, I’d have bought this one!