Prepare to be bored!
Im a casual PC sim gamer, I've never had the time to fully dedicate to learning an indepth sim (I can take off in an A10C, navigate, shoot things and land but sorely need more time in the office) but even so I like to dip in and out every so often. Because I'm something of a tool tart I will always want the very best equipment I can get my hands on (for as little money as possible).
Roll back around 15 years, I bought my first proper joystick off ebay, a then 20 year old thrustmaster FLCS, TQS & RCS (Flight Control System, Throttle Quadrant System & Rudder Control System), it was a replica of the F16 fighting falcon stick and throttle and was a revelation in how to fly. Being a HOTAS (Hands On Throttle And Stick) means you can control the core plane systems without needing to remove your hands from the controls and hunt for keyboard buttons. However come the advent of windows 7, microsoft made the old gameport standard (which the thrustmaster kit was tied to) obsolete and there was no way of making the hardware work.
As the flying was somewhat dead in the water I tried my hand at rallying with Richard Burns Rally, unfortunately the cheapy steering wheel setup I had was a bit crap with no ffb (forcefeedback) and general crapness; a colleague at work kindly gave me his old logitech ffb wheel setup (he got it for gran tourismo on the ps3) and that worked admirably unlike my rally driving skills, RBR was completely uncompromising though and would not allow for any mistakes. I soon gave it up as too much effort and the wheel got put away as it was taking up a load of space.
Fast forward to 2012ish and I get interested in flight sims again, the DCS A10C sim was out (being my favourite combat plane of all time) so out of curiosity I looked at suitable hardware to use with it, thrustmaster being the obvious primary choice; lo and behold they have produced a replica of the A10 stick and throttle (down to the throw weight of the switches) for an eye watering 375 quid! Somehow I found one locally on ebay for 175 and it came bundled with the A10 sim as a bonus. In use it was magical, very heavy but so precise and comfortable. Unfortunately the lack of rudder pedals (my old RCS setup required plugging into the gameport FLCS joystick) really bugged me so I started thinking about how to convert them to USB so as to work in modern versions of windows. Come back to the logitech steering wheel I had shelved. It got cut to pieces, the motherboard and potentiometers harvested and with a bit of linkage fiddling I converted the RCS chassis to USB and all was good in the world again; ok so I was down a wheel but meh, the rudder pedals were getting more use.
Fast forward to 2015ish and dirt rally has been released and being the natural successor to colin macrae rally (which I dedicated many days to at uni) and suddenly I want to drive rally sims, unfortunately having been spoilt rotten by the A10 stick and throttle there was no way I would drive it without a decent spec FFB wheel. Back onto ebay and again a thrustmaster wheel kit being sold locally as spares and repairs for 50 quid, essentially he had bought it, suffered from calibration issues (which are easily resolved if you plug it onto a PC rather than an xbox) and never bothed with it since. Got it home, replaced a noisy fan, recalibrated it and got a 300 quid setup for peanuts. Unfortunately the volume of the FFB motors was enough to keep the wife awake with the new baby so the wheel has been largely unused, just waiting dormant for the last 4 years or so.
I acquire elite dangerous and a VR headset and suddenly manage to spend 400 hours getting lost in the milkway but the immersion is mind blowing, I'm still there flying through the black on a regular basis, but only in VR, 2D just isn't the same.
Fast forward to 2020, now I'm set up with VR I get the hankering to skid cars down a dirt track again (but in glorious 3D), dirt rally2 had been released but I reckon that perhaps instead of just the FFB wheel and the two pedals I should go the whole hog and get a clutch and handbrake setup sorted out as well. Remember the logitech wheel I cannibilised to convert the rudder pedals? Well I used the main steering axis potentiometer for the pedals but retained the rest of the circuits so I could potentially use them in the future. Last week involved taking the old pedal base, cutting it in half and using one of the pedals as a clutch, making a block of wood so I could screw it to the wall in the right place and hey presto a working clutch pedal. This week has been converting the last spare pedal and potentiometer to make a functional rally handbrake with the addition of a little woodwork.
Total cost of the sim equipment setup (joystick/throttle/rudders/wheel/pedals/clutch/handbrake) is around 230 quid. Retail cost to buy a similar setup would be in the region of over 1100, I love being an engineering nerd
TL:DR I'm crap at playing sims but I like making stuff on the cheap