Featured image: Grid Brows
Priced at €94.00, Grid Engineering has produced a pair of very nicely made “eyebrows” – a pair of LED arrays with 9 LEDs per side. In their words, “Brows”. They’re hugely helpful accessories to get data to the driver in the sim without any real distraction. Having a spotter warning in your periphery is probably one of the simplest “hacks” to speed up your driving without compromising your safety rating (most of the time!). Anyway, Brandon at Grid Engineering sent me a set to test – here goes!
In sim racing, there’s a huge industry churning out helpful little add-ons and tools for your rig. In the early(ish) days, the accessibility of electronics kit items like Arduino boards and individual component boards (like the SLI dash from Leo Bodnar, for example) accelerated the development of wind simulators, pedal rumble kits and so on. Those boards were powerful because they can be programmed to do cool things like, flash LEDs (obviously!), run wind sim fans and far, far more.
We’re a lot further on from those early days, with the larger manufacturers building their own “ecosystems” using significantly higher-end manufacturing techniques and naturally, proprietary designs that do their job more efficiently and look significantly different to the competition. I think this is where Grid excels – everything I’ve tested this year is made to such high standards I honestly don’t think they can be improved upon (I’m sure they can but there should be some very happy customers out there!).
Just like everything on the Grid Engineering roster (I’ve tested everything!) this accessory doesn’t feel cheap in any way. Quite the opposite, it uses many of the same manufacturing techniques and materials that the bigger Grid Engineering dashboards and wheels use.
For such small items, they feel very nicely finished in the hand. That’s because these Brows are crafted from injection-molded “Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer” (CFRP). The front glass is produced using highly resilient borosilicate properties (just like, I believe, the glass screen on the Porsche 911 RSR steering wheel and the Grid Engineering DDU range. Each Brow is complemented by silk screen printed, frosted LED lenses. For an LED array that’s an awfully high-end way to go about making things! They’re just a highly presentable, high-quality thing.
Despite already having quite a lot of LEDs running on my rig I must admit that a dedicated spotter and flags LED array is a must-have.
Installation is of course, simple and simplified further because Grid has supplied the t-nuts, Allen key and bolts to mount each brow and their controller box. All of the important items are in view below, with the little cables, USB-A and mounting fixings in the background.
The brows are “daisy-chained” together, and I think it’s useful for you to know that the first brow unit in the chain (the brow closest to the USB controller) defaults to being the left brow. This is lucky because it’s exactly how I installed the brows before checking 🙂
The package is supplied with little carbon brackets for each brow and the controller box has lips on either side so you can mount that out of sight in the simulator.
Each brow is connected with a small, 3-pin connector. They’re connected in a chain, with each brow allowing an “in” and “out” connection – which then terminates at the control box which is connected to your sim racing PC by USB cable (supplied). When you’re fitting the control box, there’s not as much cable to play with so you’ll need to mount the controller very near to the left brow. This in practice is not a problem at all; the only advice I can give you is that it’s probably wise to connect the daisy cable before mounting it to the rig.
I absolutely love it when something appears in the post that comes with the tools and fixtures you need, too. I appreciate that’s not always possible with smaller items!
As you can see – the simplicity of the mount bracket means you can mount vertically and horizontally – I initially wanted to mount to the side of the wheelbase support but this location suits me better.
I clicked back to the site looking for a downloadable LED profile ready for Simhub, but there wasn’t one to be found. So I just went straight to the Simhub device manager and boom – the Grid Brows are a preset device in Simhub.
So “setup” is literally as simple as either opening up Simhub *or* Grid Engineering’s own software, Race Director – which for very Grid Engineering-focused setups is all you need.
Even though I used Simhub for this test, I screengrabbed the config in RaceDirector from the manual:
To be absolutely fair, if I didn’t have multiple Arduino devices, a Buttkicker, Pedal haptics, and so on, I’d just use Race Director. When I configured my Brows in Simhub, again – it was very easy and all very familiar. Once you’ve added the device you’ll see a screen like this (which I’m sure you’ve all seen lots of times before):
If you click “Edit Profile” (red arrow in image below) you can immediately start playing with the effects the Brows can offer:
After some playing around I settled on using the Brows as a spotter warning with a +/- timing delta – my DDU10 takes care of the rest for me.