Simucube – Everything you need to know

Simucube, the sim racing product line of Granite Devices, produce some of the most powerful, robust, and immersive direct drive (DD) wheelbases money can buy. With roots in the open sim wheel (OSW) and self-build field, for many years, Simucube products were only a viable option for the more technically-minded.

But now, thanks to the introduction of the Simucube 2 range of wheelbases that are simple enough not to frustrate or intimidate people who are new to the direct drive force feedback market, the company enjoys more widespread success in the sim racing market than ever.

a simucube ultimate 2 direct drive sim racing wheel
A Simucube Ultimate wheelbase with Ascher F28-SC wheel

With its current product roster offering three choices in the Simucube 2 collection; Sport, Pro, and Ultimate, the company aims to serve the top-end spectrum of the direct-drive scene. Built to serve different market segments, each model offers its unique selling points, with the Sport catering to DD newbies, the Pro serving more experienced drivers, while hard-core professionals, who crave the ultimate experience, are best matched with, you guessed it, the Ultimate, which to me looks satisfyingly Kollmorgenesque.

Constructed with industrial-grade direct drive torque motors, all three models essentially have zero torque ripple or magnetic cogging. The angle sensors, drive electronics, and CNC machined full-metal parts are all made by Granite Devices to complete the monstrous motor and unleash its maximum potential.

Simucube 2 Ultimate with SQR QR hub mounted
Simucube 2 Ultimate with SQR QR hub mounted

I’ll go into more features present in each model soon, like the Simucube Quick Release (SQR) system, ultra-low latency mode, high dynamic range, and natural signal processing, but before that, I’d like to share a bit of Simucube’s history and why it’s parent company Granite Devices, make it a reliable and skilled producer of sim racing hardware.

Company background and highlights

Granite Devices began as a hobby project of its co-founder, Kontkanen Tero, who embarked on a project to build a seriously performing CNC mill/router. According to the company’s bio, he came by a set of very nice AC servo motors but lacked suitable servo drives.

ATOMI servo and stepper drive boards from Granite Devices
ATOMI servo and stepper drive boards from Granite Devices (source)

After realizing the limitations of affordability and availability of choices at the time, Kontkanen dug deeper into the inner workings of servo motors. After a while, he realized that a fully competent AC servo control was attainable with just a handful of the latest electric components with the help of sophisticated real-time algorithms.

This idea led to a yearlong project to accomplish a competent yet straightforward AC servo motor drive with state-of-the-art high-bandwidth field-oriented control (FOC).

Granite's original Simucube FFB controller board with IONI drive announced
Granite’s original Simucube FFB controller board with IONI drive announced

Since the founder’s core philosophies included making products rock-solid, reliable, and flawless in operation, the name Granite Devices seemed appropriate.

More than simulation

Like I said earlier, one of the great things about Granite Devices is that it’s much more than just a sim racing hardware manufacturer. The company specializes in producing commercial-grade control chips for stepping motors, drives for servo motors, and many other industrial-use components, meaning it has expert-knowledge relating to all sorts of industrial-type applications.

Seeing an opportunity to enter into a very targeted market, Granite Devices took its knowledge of motors and control chips into the simulation world, resulting in the SimuCUBE force feedback controller, the predecessor to the Simucube 2.

simucube force feedback controller
Simucube force feedback controller (source)

A quick look at Granite Device’s website will demonstrate the number of motors and controllers it makes, and the key advantage to this is that it means the company does not need to source components from other manufacturers. This is just something to keep in mind when you’re thinking about value and reliability, as constructing everything in-house undoubtedly results in better quality control.

Reference enclosure for Simucube OSW system

Also, as of today, the founders of Granite Devices are still personally in charge of inspiring the creation of new designs, and it’s nice to see that they continue to take an active role in the development and fabrication of the latest products.

Simucube 2

First of all, I want to quickly run you through the three different models that Granite Devices offers in the Simucube 2 range.

Left to right: Simucube 2 Pro, Ultimate and Sport (source)

We have the Simucube 2 Sport, the Simucube 2 Pro, and the Simucube 2 Ultimate. Each model in the Simucube 2 range has been optimized to perform at the highest level and with sub-millisecond latency, while the main differences between the three lie in the maximum torque, slew rate, and angle sensor used. Each wheelbase ensures rigid mechanical coupling with the wheel, which is the fundamental requirement for direct drive, and they all feature SQR as standard. Furthermore, thanks to the Simucube 2’s dedicated processor for motor control, and another processor for interfacing with PC simulators, the ultra-low latency is stable and consistent.

Another new addition that comes with the Simucube 2 is True Drive; a PC configuration application for all the Simucube 2 devices. This intuitive and easy to use app makes tweaking the wheelbases to one’s taste easier than ever.

The setup for iRacing I use in TrueDrive with my F3
The setup for iRacing I use in TrueDrive with my F3

Of course, there are more variables between the three wheelbases, like different emergency stop buttons, power supply wattages, and different dimensions, but one key difference is in the warranty offered with each model. The Sport and the Pro both come with a 24-month warranty, while the Ultimate comes with a fantastic 60-month warranty. It’s reassuring to see that the company believe in its devices longevity and offer such excellent worldwide guarantees.

A closer look at the technical details

Going through the specs in a bit more detail, we can see that the Sport comes with a 17 Nm max-torque motor, the Pro has 25 Nm, and the Ultimate has 32 Nm. To put that in perspective, the forces you feel in an actual streetcar are usually somewhere around 7-10 Nm, so what’s on offer from all three Simucube 2 wheelbases is above and beyond the torque levels most people are going to require for driving in simulations.

However, what you get with that additional torque and the additional slew rate are increased responsiveness and an overall amplified sensation of realism, which are the keys to DD wheelbases’ superiority over other force feedback technologies.

Looking at the angle sensors used in the three Simucube 2 iterations, we can see that both the Sport and the Pro have a 22-bit absolute sensor, and the Ultimate uses a 24-bit Hiperface sensor. A higher angle sensor number represents more points of data throughout the rotation of the wheel. Basically, with a higher value, more subtle movements in the steering are transmitted into the sim; thus, the more accurate the steering will be. That said, you eventually reach a point where it becomes indistinguishable, and it’s often a hot topic that’s debated on various sim racing forums as to what that value is.

As for slew rate, this refers to the speed at which an amplifier can respond to a signal. In sim racing is relates to how quickly a wheelbase can respond to steering wheel rotation. The lower the slew rate, the sloppier the steering starts to feel, diminishing the overall experience. While each of the Simucube 2 wheelbases offer fantastic slew rates, it’s wise to bear this in mind when deciding which model is suitable for you. The Sport offers 4.8 Nm/ms, the Pro provides 8 Nm/ms, and the Ultimate delivers a whopping 9.5 Nm/ms.

All three models also incorporate Simucube Wireless Wheel (SWW), which automatically connects to a Simucube Wireless Wheel by briefly pressing both paddle shifters simultaneously. The wireless wheel transmission protocol has been specially engineered to provide consistent and unbreakable millisecond range response times and an extremely long battery life of over five years.

Cube Controls wireless sim steering wheel compatible with Simucube

Simucube’s SQR hub is a very high-quality item with what seems to be perfectly machined parts. The QR adapter slots together perfectly, and there’s absolutely no movement in the hub whatsoever. In my opinion, while there are plenty of other mounting options available it’s probably the best QR hub currently available for DD wheelbases from any brand. Not to mention that it’s included with the Simucube 2 Sport and Pro!

Simucube’s SQR hub system

The SQR guarantees zero-backlash and rock-solid operation with full-metal construction even under the direct drive wheelbase’s extreme torques. Moreover, its guided rail design ensures perfect lock-in every time, and the spring preloaded pin mechanism will ensure non-degrading tight coupling over thousands of swap cycles. Just like the rest of Simucube’s products, it’s been built to be virtually indestructible. The only theoretically wearing part is the spring-loaded pin mechanism; however, to combat this, Simucube has made it out of standard stock parts, making it more user-serviceable and easy to replace.

Simucube development and progression

What was once a complex DIY DD wheel system has become a complete and user-friendly package, and the Simucube 2 wheelbases are the next logical step in the ongoing DD wheel revolution. I think the guys at Simucube have certainly raised the bar with this new family of wheelbases with everything except the power supplies now contained within the wheelbase. Compared to the original SimuCUBE solution, it’s a noticeably smaller package but at the same time brings more and faster processing power to the table.

A Simucube 1 setup with Fanatec Clubsport wheel, Buchfink Q1R hub and mIGE servomotor
A Simucube 1 setup with Fanatec Clubsport wheel, Buchfink Q1R hub and mIGE servomotor

The True Drive software makes setting up painless and completes the overall sim racing system offered by Granite Devices. There’s also speculation that the Simucube team is working on an even more straightforward user interface for those who want to adjust some sliders and get on with their driving fun.

Speaking of driving fun, you’ll most certainly get your fair share with any of the three Simucube 2 wheelbases, thanks to the newly developed motors. These are noticeably smoother than the midge motors from the SimuCUBE 1, and the developers have definitely achieved what they set out to do. I am incredibly impressed with the new SQR solution that they’ve come up with here. It’s a very solid physical connection with no perceivable flex.

Another piece I like in this kit is the emergency stop assembly; with the front plate made of metal and a very clever power switch integration, it’s a pleasure to use. Overall, I think this is a clear winner for the team at Simucube. You can tell they put a lot of time and effort into the Simucube 2, and I think it has really paid off for them.

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Simucube – Everything you need to know

2 thoughts on “Simucube – Everything you need to know

  1. Hola que diferencias hay entre simucube 2 pro y fanatec dd2 , crees que se justifique cambiar mi fanatec dd2 por simucube 2 pro?
    Hello, what are the differences between simucube 2 pro and fanatec dd2, do you think it is justified to change my fanatec dd2 for simucube 2 pro?

  2. Hi there

    I discussed the comparison in a recent SC2 review posted on the G-Performance site:

    – Enabling torque on power up is easier with the DD2
    – You can tune the wheel via the controller menu on the DD2 display with the wheel
    – Less initial config is required with the SC2 and the presets for iRacing are really good
    – The Simucube is smoother and has a higher build quality
    – The hub on the SC beats the Fanatec hands down with no play whatsoever
    – The Simucube won’t lock you into their ecosystem the way the Fanatec does which means a wider choice of hubs and wheels
    – The Simucube needs more attention to the FFB settings to get the feel exactly right for each car or sim package you’re running, which can make it a more specialist / professional wheel – if you’re the type to just want to plug and play, there are some great presets for you, but if you’re a sim racing enthusiast who wants a platform to develop on; the Simucube 2 Pro really ticks the boxes.

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