A Ford engineer by the name of Zac Nelson recently took the guts from an Xbox 360 controller, stuffed them into a 3D-printed shift knob casing, and used open-source technology to transform it into a vibrating driving instructor for those of us who never learned how to drive operate a manual transmission vehicle. The upcycled device uses the Xbox controller’s haptic feedback motor to send a tiny vibration into the driver’s hand when it’s time to shift, making the experience of driving a stick easier on them, and the clutch.
Officially known as “The Haptic Feedback Shift Knob”, Nelson’s creation is designed to use haptic and visual feedback to help drivers shift appropriately. Nelson printed the plastic knob casing using the MakerBot Thing-O-Matic 3D printer. Then, he installed an Arduino controller and connected an Android tablet that monitors the vehicle’s speed, RPM and accelerator pedal position. He also installed an LED display on top that shows the gear position. Using Ford’s open-source OpenXC software platform, he then made it possible for the customized shifter to access the on-board diagnostic system of a gorgeous Ford Mustang Shelby GT500.
Once in place, the shift knob “can be programmed to vibrate as the engine approaches redline (good for performance runs) or its most efficient shift point (for better fuel economy),” explains Wired. “It can even be programmed to tell an absolute beginner when to shift, in case the howl of a 5.0 approaching 7,000 RPM isn’t a big enough clue.” Even an experienced driver can benefit from the car telling them exactly when to shift for optimal fuel economy.
Wish you had one? No worries, Nelson has made all the plans and materials list available on Ford’s Open XC platform. All you need to make your own is some cash, a controller, and access to a 3D printer.
Images via Ford (YouTube)