I think many of us over the last year have wished we could just jump into the car or camper, taken to the high roads for a mouthful of fresh air, leaving our worries, the stress and the depressing non-stop Covid news far behind us, as we explored exotic places and beautiful scenery of far away countries.
With the Lockdown's in place, many of us have hardly moved their cars from their driveway,I think I have only driven mine about 200 miles in the last year, if even that!
So how then have I been taking relaxing drives all across the United States, and explored the sights of Europe ?
I built myself a simulator !
I never have been a 'Game Player' as such, I might of played the odd hand of Patience or Tri-peaks, but the shoot-em-up games never appealed. I preferred to use nmy time in a more practical way, writing my books, creating websites and spreadsheets.
But I love driving, it doesn't matter if its a Mini or a Road Train, whether it has 3 wheels or 28. And I love seeing the countryside.
I already had my computer, in-fact I have a few, and I have also used multi-screens for many years. With the simple addition of a steering wheel, gearstick, and pedals, and the now low cost of simulation software, I could create a home simulator.
The project also kept my brain occupied and it gave me a purpose. There was the planning and design, and the working out how I could re-use what I already had, it all helped motivate and keep the grey cells alive. The cutting of wood, the screwing in of screws, it all helped me keep mobile.
It's an ongoing project, already it has been rebuilt a few times, modified and tweaked after finding my original plans did not really do what I hoped, and the 'I wish I had done it this way' ideas started. But it's all made of wood, so adding a new shelf here, and another support there, is not a problem, and it just keeps getting increasingly better.
Modern simulation software are not just 'Games', they use advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) to control the other vehicles and pedestrians, and to ensure you follow the traffic laws. And they use such unbelievable graphics that once you start driving you think it is the real thing.
The newer 'Truck Sims' such as ATS (American Truck Simulator) and its equivalent for Europe ETS 2 (European Truck Simulator) are a far cry from what has been on offer for the home user, and they are priced to enable everyone to enjoy them, costing around £12 - £20
The video on left shows the quality of graphics and scenery, all credit to Clumsy.
The new Flight Simulator from Microsoft brings the skies to life, and really tests your abilities as you fly in and out of real airports all around the world.
See how realistic by watching the video on the left. All credit for video goes to max737fly
Visit 'Virtual-Woo' from the special sections menu.
See the software available, find out about the equipment and accessories, see how to make your own 'Simulation Rig'.
And see step by step how I made my own.