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Introduction Project Requirements Optical Encoder for a Game Steering Wheel May 05 - 26 Abstract

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optical encoder for a game steering wheel may 05 26


Project Requirements

Optical Encoder for a Game Steering WheelMay 05 - 26


Professional race car drivers and serious video game enthusiasts demand a higher level of precision from their video game steering wheel controllers. Thomas Enterprises wishes to create an inexpensive upgrade for their current video game controller products which will allow higher precision and control for their customers. Incorporating optical sensors and upgrading the USB interface circuit board of the current products will allow a direct upgrade for Thomas’ current product line and will deliver the performance demanded by the most serious gamers. The higher resolution and sensitivity of the upgraded components will open Thomas’ products up to a wider market share and bolster their position as a leader in production of video game controllers.

  • Functional Requirements
    • Must work with Windows compatible computers
    • Higher resolution for a more realistic gaming experience
  • Design Objectives
    • Easily upgrade existing units with new circuit board
    • Must be easy to install and use
  • Design Constraints
    • Dimensions need to be the same as previous design
    • Cost effective design
    • Must be durable to withstand the frequent use
  • Measurable Milestones
    • Device functionality
    • Software functionality
    • Successful operation with software and computer
    • Comprehensive documentation for product
    • Satisfies company’s expectations

Problem Statement

The current design uses potentiometers for the steering wheel and pedal inputs and only recognizes 255 positions. Thomas Enterprises would like a direct replacement for the sensors and interface with a higher resolution of 1024 available positions with 16 function buttons at a maximum cost of $150.

  • Intended Uses and Users
    • Serious video game enthusiasts
    • Professional race car drivers
    • Operators of driving simulators
  • Operating Environment
    • Indoors, room temperature ~70°F
    • Possibly outdoors under pleasant weather conditions
    • Little to no moisture
    • Little dust

Estimated Resources and Schedule

Lorenzo Subido

205 hours

Sam Dahlke

213 hours

  • Assumptions
    • Ability to modify existing computer code
    • Have access to original design specifications
    • Upgrade to a new microcontroller
  • Limitations
    • Must have same connections as the current design
    • Optical encoder placement must be the same as potentiometer
    • Circuit board must have similar size
    • Must cost less than $150

Team members

Sam Dahlke Cpr E

Peter Fecteau Cpr E

Dan Pates EE

Lorenzo Subido EE

Dan Pates

238 hours

Peter Fecteau

200 hours

  • Expected End Product
    • 1024 available positions by use of optical encoders
    • USB connection with software driver
    • Maintain 16 function buttons
    • Detailed documentation
  • Acknowledgements
    • Andrew Bice of Iowa State University’s Center for Industrial Research and Service, for sharing his design of the original USB interface circuit board.
    • Dr. Doug Jacobson and Dr. Jim Davis, for their guidance and advice on this project.

Personnel efforts

Total project costs

Project Schedule

Closing Summary

Proposed Approach and Considerations

  • Proposed Approach
  • The project will be completed in the following phases:
    • Problem definition
    • Device modeling and design
    • Testing
    • Documentation
    • Demonstration
  • Testing Considerations
    • Controller testing with multiple computers
    • Software testing
    • Demonstration testing

Racing fans and video gamers demand a more responsive steering wheel controller. This project will improve on an existing design of the Thomas Enterprises’ game controller.

This project will begin with the research of the best alternative for the steering wheel input. The project will consist of product design, testing, documentation, and demonstration to the client.


Dr. James Davis

Dr. Doug Jacobson


David Thomas

Thomas Enterprises

  • Technologies Considered
    • USB interface with computer
    • Optical encoding for controller input

Current controller design