Last updated: October 25th, 2023
Featured Image: Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Display Unit
Dashboards (DDU – Dashboard Display Unit) for sim racing can be dash displays (either pre-made or DIY), button boxes or physical dashboards that mount on your sim racing rig. In today’s post, we’re going to look at how to make your own display with Simhub, make recommendations for a few of the best ready-made DDUs and look at a few dashboards that are compatible with the most popular sim racing rigs available today.
I’ve wanted to give making a dashboard display for my sim a go for ages. As it turns out it’s really, really easy to get started. All you need is a tablet or a mobile phone, your sim PC and Simhub.
In case you didn’t already know, SimHub is a clever bit of software where you can add external hardware to your simulator including dashboards to bass shakers, and lots of homemade stuff with Arduino. It’s actually pretty mindblowing how powerful Simhub is, and how many problems it solves. It supports a vast majority of sim racing hardware these days, it’s highly prolific!
The video below is a quick demo of an old Nexus Android tablet running a dashboard display on Simhub, which this article explains how to do yourself. If of course, you’ve got a bit of cash to splash, you might just want a recommendation for a dashboard – if that’s the case, this post has you covered.
Use the jump links below or read on:
DDUs: ready-made sim racing dashboard displays
There are many – all of which are easily mounted and either have Simhub compatibility (for example, the VPG wheels are all Vocore displays that Simhub supports) or are set up very easily.
But, what are the options?
Porsche 911 GT3 Cup
Anything with a Porsche badge gets me excited, but this isn’t some gimmicky dash. It’s quite unusual in terms of screen size and resolution. Grid Engineerings “True Size 10.3″ Display” running at a resolution of 1920 x 720px stands out as a more lifelike-looking dashboard over the typical, square-shaped units. In terms of technical advancement in sim racing, this is a class-defining item. This is because it’s a combination of an HDMI monitor and Arduino-powered LED display (for RPMs, Spotter, Flags and so on).
It’s a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (official) replica where Porsche has approved the unit for Grid to create and sell. Compatibility-wise, it is a recognised device in Simhub’s hardware list making it customisable for every PC-based racing sim. That it will work out of the box in Assetto Corsa, iRacing, rFactor2, Assetto Corsa Competizione and more.
While it’s customizable, the default dashboard and LED profile provided on the product page mean it’s ready to go once installed. All the carbon fibre mounting brackets and cable kits (a very nice HDMI cable, I might add) are supplied.
GRID Display DDU-5
Staying with Grid Engineering for a moment, the smaller brother of the Porsche GT3 Cup DDU is the Grid Engineering DDU5:
The DDU-5 display from GRID Engineering is a professional 5” simulator dash that provides all the essential race data you need to maximise your driving performance. Attaching the DDU-5 to your sim racing cockpit is very easy, with two different carbon brackets supplied. If you own a Simucube 2 Pro or any MiGE-based direct drive wheels, mounting is very simple as the brackets are compatible with the Simucube mounting holes. All mounting bolts and washers are supplied, too.
The DDU5 is really colour-vibrant with a Vocore screen that is SimHub compatible. The DDU will instantly make your rig feel more lifelike and, in my case I love this little dashboard as I can see straight through my OMP GT Pro wheel rim:
The unit features a motorsports-grade aluminium enclosure, anodised with an industrial coating, which houses a vibrant LCD screen and 20 configurable RGB LEDs. Both the screen and the LEDs are fully customisable and work in Simhub. The photos above feature TWF dashboard which is by far my favourite display dashboard software of choice.
The high-resolution 854×480, 300-lumen backlit panel, delivers a crystal clear picture with brilliant colours, so you can easily track race information and make on-the-fly adjustments to improve your lap times.
You can use multiple software programs to assign endless combinations of racing data to the screen and LEDs like low fuel, RPMs, flags, etc., and fine-tune the brightness levels. In addition, GRID supplies all the mounting hardware needed to attach the DDU-5 display to your rig in the box. The device is compatible with most mainstream wheelbases and connects with a USB cable. For a full compatibility list, click here.
We loved the DDU5 – you can read our review here.
GT3R DDU Sim Racing Display
The GT3R Racing Display from Apex Sim Racing looks really nice installed (see pictures from our review below). The DDU is a 5-inch display compatible with Simhub and therefore PC only. It features a tempered scratch-resistant glass overlay and 34 RGB programmable LEDs (controlled via SimHub’s LED configuration manager) and features a 24-bit true colour 480 x 800 resolution screen. It’s bright and colourful and the large number of assignable LEDs give you a lot of options when you’re setting it up.
On the rear of the unit, there’s a single USB connection which makes it easy to set up and connect to your PC. Use the “generic Vocore” screen driver in Simhub and download the LED profile from the Apex Website.
Manufacturing quality is extremely high, with a 6061 black anodized aluminium chassis and carbon fibre mounting brackets. The LED arrays on the left and right of the unit can be used as proximity (spotter) warnings, flag alerts, pit lane limiters or delta (+/- on your lap time) indicators.
SimLab P1-X Dash Board Full Carbon
One of our favourites is the “SimLab P1-X Dash Board Full Carbon” from Apex Sim Racing
The carbon is 2mm thick and has front mounting MiGE / Simucube compatibility. Importantly, on the rear there’s a USB socket, and much like the button box on your sim steering wheel, the buttons will be immediately assignable to game controls in your favourite sim software.
If you’re looking for alternative layouts or compatibility with Fanatec wheelbases and different cockpits, check out this list from Apex Sim Racing. If you’re a DD2 / DD1 owner, check out this beauty:
Aside from huge assignability with push buttons, ignition switch, bias control and rotaries, this dashboard is made from 6mm thick carbon weave.
DIY Dash Display
To make a sim racing dashboard with your tablet, install Simhub, select your simulator platform, then head to Dashboards and click start on whatever dashboard you want to run.
Simhub auto-detects when the simulator starts to run.
Then open a browser on the tablet (being sure that it’s on the same network as your PC) and head to the IP address that Simhub gave you when you started the dashboard.
Here’s the step-by-step:
Once you’ve installed Simhub, open it and select your racing simulator software from the “Games” list:
Next, open Dash Studio. There are lots of available dashboards, all free. So it’s easy to get started. Choose one and click start:
When you start a dashboard, select the “To a phone or tablet option” in the drop-down. This popup appears:
Take the IP address including the “:8888” (the port number) and open it in a browser on your tablet. It might not work the first time (which is OK we’ll get to that). If it does work you’ll see a screen like this:
From here, just select your dash and make the dashboard fullscreen with the options that appear at the top of the window. Your dash is now ready and will sprint to life when you open iRacing (or whatever sim racing software you use).
If the browser can’t open Simhub it’s probable that Simhub doesn’t have permission to open an external network connection. The fix is simple: open Windows Firewall and click “Allow an app or feature through Windows Defender Firewall”.
You’ll be given a list of apps in Windows and a set of checkboxes next to each app name which gives permission to access the network. Find Simhub and click both checkboxes to the right:
If you’re running a slightly older version of Windows, your firewall options might look like this:
Once you’ve OK’d the firewall settings, return to your tablet and refresh the browser. That’s it – a quick and easy racing dash for your sim. If you’re having any further issues, try this useful troubleshooting guide.
RGB Rev lights and gear shift indicators
Of course, Simhub is extremely powerful and can do an awful lot more than dashboards on a mobile phone. Here’s how to make a DIY RGB rev light cluster for your sim racing simulator using Simhub and an Arduino.
Here’s how to make a DIY gear indicator display for your sim again, using Arduino and a dot matrix display: