How to build a DIY motion simulator for under $500

Virtual reality also known as computer simulated realism or immersive media has been marked as the subsequent big thing in 2016, in various entertainment and gaming domains. So what is computer-generated reality? It has been well-defined as an interactive 3D image that users can operate to generate illusion of being in a virtual world when connected to a smartphone such as Galaxy S6/S6 Edge (Samsung Gear VR headset) or a computer via Oculus Rift CV1 or HTC Vice. Attached to it is a three-dimensional accurate head tracking that, coupled with a nice set of headphones, is capable of hoodwinking your brain into thinking of the realness of a virtual world. Put simply, VR creates a sensory experience artificially. The foremost goal is to greatly improve on one’s personal experience and by becoming part and parcel of the experience, than just watching a TV or playing a game.

There exists a lot of virtual reality hardware in the market such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive which offer a higher graphical fidelity than the current PS4. The Oculus Rift is developed and manufactured by Oculus Virtual Reality, released on 28 March-this year. It has been dubbed as the consumer-targeted virtual reality headset that is predicted to be followed by others of the same. Using the Rift is possible while sitting, walking around or standing around the same room. The Rift has a 90 Hz refresh rate, 110 degrees field of view, an OLED display and a1080 by 1200 resolution per eye. The integrated headphones provide a 3D audio effect with a rotational and positional tracking. The USB stationary IR LED sensor (sits on the users’ desk) performs the positional tracking system by pinpointing the entire room with infrared and LED lights thus creating a 3D space.

The HTC Vive VR headset is set to be released on April 5th 2016.There’s the deployment of room scale technology in its design to turn a room into three dimensional space through sensors-with a virtual world that allows natural navigation and use of hand held controllers motion tracked to vividly manipulate objects, experience immersive environment, communicate and interact with exactness. The device uses two screens (one per eye), each having a 1080 by 1200 resolution. It has a refresh rate of 90Hz, It uses more than 70 sensors and is said to operate in a 15 feet by 15 feet tracking space if used by “lighthouse” base stations-that with a precision of less than a millimeter tracks your movement. The software is able to identify any moving or static object in a room through the usage of front-facing cameras.


You have probably heard of motion simulators which typically conjure images of very large and expensive mechanisms used by the military, NASA, and theme parks. A motion simulator refers to a mechanism that crafts the feelings of being in a moving vehicle by encapsulating occupiers. It is known with different names such as a motion seat or a motion base as per different quarters. Motion simulator movement is synchronous with visual display and its design encompasses video gaming, simulation and virtual reality elements. Sound, sight and touch is combination result of the motion applied and harmonized to video signals and audio. Motion simulators are classified according to whether the occupant is a passive ride or whether he/she is controlling the game. Passive ride simulators include; theme parks with a projected screen, and also an entire theater system, is in motion giant actuators. Common example of occupant controlled motion simulator is flight simulators while common occupant controlled simulation games include a spacecraft and a motorcycle.

The age of VR has slowly and quietly kicked off the use of motion simulators for home and office. You can buy a fully built motion simulator for USD $5,000-10000 though the sky is still the limit with some sims priced over $100K. So what is the average VR Pilot to do?


While the prices of most motion simulators are very expensive, there is a lower cost category. VRPilot, virtual reality, diy motion Simulator, motion sim, motion simulator under $500, total immersion, Bass shakers, how to build motion simulator These include home-based motion platforms used to enhance video games, simulation and virtual reality starting as low as $500. The basic simulator requires two windshield wiper motors ($40ea), a small USB device to interface with a computer (JRK or Arduino which costs ~$100), a chair ($50-200), a pivot point (steering wheel column from junkyard cut down), used power supplies from eBay ($50), a frame, and some miscellaneous items such as bolts, wires, etc. Many enthusiast have built frames primarily of junk wood, PVC pipes, and various types of metal. In VR, it doesn’t need to be pretty and the simulator doesn’t even need to


Great example of a simple DIYer

be very powerful. Even small motions while in VR is enough to fool your brain. After searching high and low for motion simulator information, I don’t think you’ll find a better place than pics, how-to articles, show off threads, etc. They even offer what is the most flexible motion simulator software call Simtools and the best part is that it’s absolutely free. Another site worth visiting is though I don’t have a lot of personal experience with it.

Virtual Reality Games

This is a brand new market with very few standout games and applications. A few:

Elite Dangerous – Probably the first true showcase game for VR. You can have simple dogfights with other humans or enter the vast universe size, well, VR universe to selltrade, pirate, bounty hunt, etc.

Apollo 11 – More of an experience than a game, it may bring tears to your eyes. Experience the lift off in a Saturn V rocket and take your first steps on the moon.

Lunar Flight – this was my first VR experience and opened my eyes to what VR can do.

More to come with reviews.