By Liam Rudzitis, Upper Canada Region PCA
When I was approached over the summer about testing a simulator cockpit on behalf of PCA Sim Racing, the decision was a no-brainer for me.
At the time, I felt I had hit the upper limit of what my desk could offer me regarding support for my equipment. Naturally, the next step in this scenario was to upgrade to a full cockpit setup for my sim racing.
Below is how I became acquainted with the 6 Sigma Sim Racing brand and its products and how they have positively contributed to my sim racing experience.
Deciding Which Cockpit
When starting this journey, the first question is how do I know which cockpit is best designed for my scenario? I’m currently using:
- Thrustmaster TMX Wheel Base – 599XX Wheel
- Fanatec V3 Pedals
- Thrustmaster TH8A Shifter
Before conducting my review of the 6S-120, I had the opportunity to interview the President of 6 Sigma, Stanley Lin, to discuss his growing sim racing business. This conversation gave me ultimate confidence in Stanley’s passion for sim racing through his engineered solutions for common sim racing problems.
This question is one that 6 Sigma can quickly answer, as they provide consulting services that allow them to prescribe the best cockpit solution based on hardware considerations. In my scenario, I selected the 6S-120 Sim Racing Chassis to go with my current sim racing controllers.
This was not a decision I made lightly, considering how much use my sim rig gets year-round. My first consideration was strength. Strength in a cockpit is essential as it is the foundational component for your sim racing setup. It ensures that your steering movements and pedal presses are consistent, allowing you to develop the crucial muscle memory to ensure your pace on the grid.
The 6 Sigma cockpits utilize 8020-channeled aluminum. There are many benefits to using this type of aluminum instead of tubed or angled aluminum. The most crucial benefit is strength, which is a byproduct of the channels within the aluminum. Furthermore, these channels create the perfect mounting points for items like a racing seat or uprights to mount a wheelbase.
Next, I considered the expandability of the cockpit. Personally, I broke the topic of expandability into two categories, the first being equipment, and hardware. The cockpit I chose needed to be capable of accepting changes and improvements to my sim hardware (equipment), and the 6S-120 provided the perfect platform for a future direct-drive/hydraulic pedal setup.
I also wanted the flexibility to adjust the cockpit, adding or retracting accessories from the cockpit platform, such as keyboard trays, shifter brackets, and others. Using channeled aluminum, the 6 Sigma cockpits enabled me to customize the cockpit to my exact dimensions and needs.
One of the things that concerned me about acquiring an aluminum channel simulator cockpit was if the average individual (me) would be able to construct it. I started with the monitor stand I collected from 6 Sigma, assuming that this would be the easiest of the components I needed to build.
While this was easier, there was still a slight learning curve as you understand how to secure sections of your cockpit using the included fasteners. This learning curve was easily surmounted thanks to hours of community-created content and dedicated content produced directly by 6 Sigma regarding the construction of their products.
Worthy of a note, all hardware (plus spares and tools) is included in the box, meaning production can be done in one sitting, negating the need for a last-minute hardware store run.
The base of the 6Sigma monitor stand.
The upright supports for the wheelstand on the 6 Sigma 6S-120.
Mounting plate for the monitor on the 6 Sigma cockpit.
The integrated pedal plate for the 6Sigma 6S-120 with Fanatec V3 pedals.
As mentioned previously, the cockpit uses channeled aluminum in its construction. The benefit of this construction is that you can customize the fastener’s location. The effect of this is the ability to create a driving position akin to an actual vehicle. This is something that cannot be replicated on tube-framed rigs.
Once on track, the difference the dedicated cockpit made was immediately apparent. With a desk setup, you expend considerable energy stabilizing your hardware, avoiding quick input adjustments. Having my equipment now secured to a base, my focus shifts back to controlling the car.
PCA Sim Racing Series 9 ended up being the perfect testing ground for my new setup, with long high-intensity races that were sure to reveal any shortcomings of the cockpit.
I noticed that following longer driving events, I no longer felt as fatigued as I did with my desk setup. This was certainly not the intended purpose of the cockpit for me, but a very welcome and note-worthy benefit.
More importantly, for the purposes of this review, we should speak about the rigidity of the cockpit. I am pleased to say that with my sim racing hardware, the 6S-120 endured no abnormal flexing. The construction of the cockpit is exceptionally sturdy, with my only critique being the included pedal plate.
Once installed, it is tricky to remove the pedal plate to adjust your pedal placement; it is best to test the placement before tightening down the pedal plate. This critique is bittersweet, as the reason for the difficulty is that the plate is directly connected to the longitudinal aluminum beams of the cockpit.
Overall, I was highly impressed by the 6 Sigma racing cockpit that I have been able to test. The construction and materials were of incredible quality, with the product being easy to construct for a first-timer. On the track, the cockpit exceeded expectations, holding my mid-range Thrustmaster and Fanatec pedals solidly to their bases. The only shortfall I noted in my testing was the difficulty adjusting the included pedal plate. But if you keep this in mind when constructing your cockpit, you can mitigate the difficulties I experienced, ensuring a flawless experience.
I encourage all of my fellow sim racers who are using desk rigs, tube-framed rigs, or otherwise to explore an 8020 simulator cockpit. The improvement a certain hardware mounting point creates for your sim racing experience is unmatched and should be considered before ordering that new generation direct drive.