Since its beginnings, the Fanatec has slowly but surely conquered the world of sim-racing with high-performance, premium peripherals that pay attention to detail. If you’ve ever held a Fanatec product in your hands, such as a steering wheel, a baseplate, or even a shifter, you’ll know how well-made it is, with attention to satisfying sim-racers in mind. Everything is thought out and manufactured with the rider and the sensations at the center of the equation.
With over 20 years of experience, Fanatec evolves more or less in an environment where the brand dominates. Only a few other competitors can boast of offering resistance to the German giant, and these brands are even more premium. The most concrete example is SimucubeThe Simucube brand is aimed primarily at racing drivers who want to fine-tune their simulator reflexes and at sim-racing fans with more or less unlimited budgets.
Fanatec offers a vast catalog of products to satisfy all racers’ needs. You could see this brand as Apple and its ecosystem: once you put your foot in it, you’ll feel better than having all the manufacturer’s products. On the one hand, it guarantees optimum performance because all the peripherals in the Fanatec ecosystem are designed to work perfectly with each other. On the other hand, setups can easily cost an arm and a leg, even if Fanatec offers relatively inexpensive bundles for the perceived quality.
But that’s not the point. Today, we will discuss calibrating a steering wheel with its base, Fanatec. Unlike products from other brands such as Logitech or ThrustmasterGerman manufacturers’ Direct Drive bases must be calibrated to work perfectly. In this article, we’ll show you how.
Installing the base and steering wheel
The first thing to do, which will contribute to calibrating your Fanatec base/wheel, is to install the device on your setup. Whether you’re using a desk, table, or cockpit, it’s vital to mount the base correctly and, above all, to the design.
Of course, not all setups are the same, especially when attaching bases to cockpits/chassis. To avoid mounting errors and calibration problems later on, I strongly recommend following the floor and cockpit installation instructions. Some chassis use front mounting plates, others side ones. As a result, installation differs from one cockpit to another, and calibration will also be affected.
Once the base is firmly in place on a table with the clamp or a chassis with the screws, it’s time to attach the steering wheel. This step is pretty easy, and all you need to do is align the QR on the steering wheel with the axis of the base, insert the mechanism into it, take care to seat it properly, and apply enough pressure until you hear a “click,” and release the QR mechanism. Once the handwheel is in place, make sure it doesn’t move by gently tugging.
On Fanatec’s latest sim-racing devices, this step is simple and identical to whatever model you choose. If you have an older flywheel/base, the operation may differ, and I suggest you reread the product manual to ensure you don’t make a mistake.
Installing FANALAB and software/firmware updates
A sim-racing device is nothing without the software/firmware that controls it. The same is true of virtually all the electronic products we use, be they our computers, tablets, smartphones, TVs, etc.
You’ll need a computer to get the most out of this step. If you’re sim-racing on this platform, plug the base directly into the PC and follow the steps I describe. If you’re on a console, you’ll need to go through the computer to update everything before returning to your console.
Updating the software/firmware is easy:
- Connect the base/flight to the computer via the USB socket.
- Go to download from the Fanatec website and select the product you wish to update
- Once on the product page, click on “Download.”
- Start software installation as soon as the download is complete
Now that the software for your base/flight is downloaded and installed on the computer launch it using the icon on the desktop or in the start menu:
- On the interface that appears on the screen, look once again for the product you have and click on the “Properties” button.
- A popup window should appear, inviting you to update the firmware if a more recent version is available.
- Launch the update and wait for it to complete.
Now, let’s download FANALAB Fanatec’s software for calibrating the brand’s peripherals. Here again, we use the site to find what we need. Once the software has been downloaded and installed on your computer, we’ll move on to centering the base/flight before returning to FANALAB.
Centering the base/flight
Here, you’ll need to “calibrate” the base by centering the steering wheel as much as possible, just like on a real car when a parallelism operation is in progress.
To do this, attach your wheel to the base and press the button with the key icon. Of course, ensure the floor is powered up before doing this, preferably connected to your rig. You’ll need to turn the wheel until it’s in the center. Not a hair to the right nor the left. The steering wheel, or wheel if you prefer, must be precisely in the center.
Once it’s centered, simultaneously press the menu button and the “A” button for Xbox wheels or the “X” button for PlayStation wheels. By doing so, you’ll be telling the base that the position it’s currently in is “zero,” so to speak. However, I invite you to run a game and check this out because you never know. I’ve heard of a few sim racers who have had to redo this step 1 or 2 times to calibrate the zero properly.
The final step is to calibrate your Fanatec base using the settings available on FANALAB, the software from the German manufacturer of sim-racing peripherals.
First, launch the FANALAB software and make sure your base/flight is correctly connected to the PC. With this software, you’ll be able to calibrate or adjust, if you like, several base parameters, such as the angle of rotation of the flywheel, the power of the force feedback, the intensity of vibration, etc.
On the FANALAB interface, you’ll find several parameters. If you wish to reduce the power of the force feedback, for example, you can change the value of ” FF “. By default, this value is set to 100%, but you can lower it if you have a base of Podium DD2 25 nm, for example. Some racers, especially beginners, will find the force feedback of this base (25 nm) relatively robust, even too powerful. As a result, you can reduce the motor’s maximum power output and get a better driving experience when starting in sim racing. But if you’ve opted for a CSL DD of 5 or 8 nm, you won’t have to reduce this value. At least, I haven’t.
You’ll find loads of other parameters on FANALAB, and all you have to do is run some tests to calibrate your base as you see fit, especially according to the titles you play. Don’t forget that sim-racing sensations are subjective, and what I find convincing may not be so for you.
Calibrating a Fanatec flywheel or base can be difficult initially, and I’ve even known some sim-racers to be apprehensive about it. But once the task is done, you’ll feel the difference calibration makes, especially between a Direct Drive and a belt-driven flywheel.