I’ve been waiting to try something different for a while – and I have this very curious 7-year-old boy who wants to try my simulator but can’t reach the pedals! Now anyone who knows me well knows how much I dislike moving pedals so, today we’re taking the opportunity to build an actual sim racing rig for our little friends – Ferdie, the absolute centre of my universe is 7 years old and I expect he’ll fit this rig for several years (you’ll see that clear as day in the photos!).
My friend Olli at Overpower.gg has very kindly sent me a press sample of his OP Child Rig. To me, the OP is such an original idea. Not just because of the target audience but because of the material choice he has used. This is a layered, composite plywood. Don’t forget we’ve been over the very concept of stiffness both with the RSR-21 plywood composite rig and the VPG V-PG1 more recently. Both examples of manufacturing go a little “left of field” to achieve something stronger and better for the environment. As we know our friends in Finland are incredibly environmentally conscious (and rightly so!).
What’s the OP Child Rig?
The “OP Child Rig” is a simulator cockpit designed specifically for young racers aged 3 to 10, which makes it somewhat unique and solves a lot of problems for us parents! Using expert design and craftmanship from Rovaniemi, Overpower.gg uses materials such as high-pressure laminate and aluminium profiles, to ensure durability in areas that can take the Torque forces associated with sim racing.
The pedal base is a good example of this – it’s reassuringly mounted on steel brackets with aluminium profile supports. I’d expect my 7-year-old to be a way off 14kg load cell pedals for a while so I expect this is more than enough.
The cockpit is adjustable in height, angle, and distance for the steering wheel, monitor height and pedal stand, as well as the seat, allowing for a personalized fit that can grow with the child. The OP Child Rig features a solid and aesthetic design and integrates accessories including a VESA-compatible monitor mount, gaming platform tray, and mounts for shifters and handbrakes. It emphasizes universal compatibility, ensuring that everything can be moved according to the size of the child of the child for a comfortable driving experience. Mine tends to change weekly so I expect to be revisiting this on a regular basis.
The cockpit comes in parts for customer assembly, with instructions backed by a two-year manufacturer’s warranty, and is compatible with a wide range of wheels and pedals from brands like Logitech, Thrustmaster, and Fanatec. The full package weighs around 25 kg. As someone who builds a lot of this type of stuff, you’ll always know you’ve put a smile on my face by supplying tools and labelling up the fixings:
In this first part of my series on sim racing for our kids, I’m going to focus entirely on the build of the rig with some closeups of the item during construction. I’ll finish by setting up the rig for my child’s size so you can see what is adjustable (or, what needs adjusting!). For the build I’ve chosen the excellent Fanatec CSL DD with the new QR2 hub and the wheel/pedal bundle it was supplied with.
Having compared this wheel to their similarly priced equivalents, Fanatec gear is the direction you want to start with. Why? The software is more accessible, it’s reliable and it’s easy to make on-the-fly changes, such as maximum FFB (force feedback) levels. Again, we’ll get onto that in a moment but control of the sim settings as a parent is pretty important here – there can be some large forces involved, so I expect a high degree of responsibility when it comes to making sure the setup is safe.
First I want to say that while it took a little longer than I expected, I really enjoyed the build. As this is a non-standard type of rig (it isn’t 100% profile) there are some novel fixing requirements throughout. There’s a very mild learning curve as you get started, but it’s easy enough more like building an item of furniture. Which, let’s be honest, it is! The good thing about the size and material choice is that it is so easily moved around. It’s quick and easy enough to build and requires very little planning ahead of time because everything important is adjustable. My strategy then was to build it, sit my son in it, make an early set of adjustments, check the tightness of the bolts, and then first the equipment. Once further setup changes were needed, I sat him back in the rig.
At this stage, I’m ready to finalise checks for critical usability issues:
- Can he reach the pedals and push the throttle all the way down?
- Can he see the monitor?
- Is the monitor height aligned so that the horizon in the simulator matches his eye level (this can be adjusted in software too)
- Are all wires out of the way and tidy to avoid trips or spillages that can cause big problems?
- Does he need RGB 🙂
Obviously, there will be adjustments – in my case, I found the monitor height sliders on the left and right of the monitor arms made adjustments easy enough. The large bolts on the pedal base make moving the pedals backwards and forward very easy, too.
So, that’s step 1 complete. The next job (as soon as the PC arrives) is install a few games and take a look at what’s worth trying as a first introduction to sim racing. We’ll be back in a few days with some recommended software and setup advice!