Dec 26, 2022 Update: A MiSTer core update just dropped which says it integrates the atrac17 patch into the main MiSTer core. This means you do not need to manually enable the patch as I describe below, it should already be enabled after an update_all. From what I can tell in the patch notes, the rest of the article should still be relevant. I am currently on holiday in Japan (follow my twitter for daily Hard Off pickups!) and I will do a full update when I return in mid January
Analog racing wheel support is just starting to become a thing on the MiSTer FPGA with the popularity of the PS1 core and the upcoming Outrun arcade core. Both of these cores allow analog driving wheel input, however MiSTer wheel adoption is still in it’s early stages and support is pretty limited. I have recently accumulated a bunch of PS3 era wheels and Bob from RetroRGB asked me if I knew how to use them on MiSTer. In this article I will document what I have found as of Dec 2022.
Overall, wheel support is pretty low right now. Logitech wheels work to some degree using a proof of concept patch by Atrac17. It does work but currently had limitations. Thrustmaster support was spotty, I could eventually tweak my T300RS to work sort of OK but the older T80 had major issues.
Logitech Wheel Patch
Note: This is the bit you don’t need to do anymore if you run update_all – Louis
Straight out of the box, your Logitech wheel will not work at all on MiSTer. Atrac17 integrated some of the Logitech drivers into the MiSTer Linux kernel. Those changes have been submitted to the main MiSTer GitHub but have not yet been released into a build. In the meantime, you can load a patched Linux kernel provided by Atrac17 on his public Patreon page. You need to download the provided patched kernel file and overwrite the old kernel on the MiSTer SD card. It’s not hard to do but it’s also not something you can just do from the menu. I also noticed that when I used the patched kernel, other functions like Samba didn’t work. The patch is presented as a proof of concept to allow testing. Don’t forget to set controller type to “NeGcon” in the PSX core setup as well (see below).
How to Setup a Wheel on MiSTer
If your wheel needs power, ensure it is plugged in. Then plug your wheel’s USB into the MiSTer.
Select the “define joystick buttons” in the MiSTer menu. Alternatively, you can hold down the “USER” button on the IO board for a few seconds.
Enter your dpad and button inputs on the wheel as normal. For the analog inputs, do the following
Stick 1 Test Tilt Right = turn the wheel to the right until it registers as an analog input
Stick 1 Test Tilt Down = accelerator pedal
Stick 2 Test Tilt Right = brake pedal
Stick 2 Test Tilt Down = clutch pedal (If you only have 2 pedals, press USER on the IO board to skip this)
Stick 1 Tilt Right = turn the wheel to the right until it registers as an analog input
Stick 1 Tilt Down = accelerator pedal
You can skip any input (e.g. the mouse inputs) by pressing the USER button on the IO board
Verifying the Wheel
Once you have setup the wheel in the MiSTer menu, you can open the Gamepad Input Tester to verify the inputs.
Load the tester and test the digital buttons on the wheel
Then press and hold select and enter the analog test
When I calibrated the Logitech Driving Force GT I found the follow axis worked
- Steering is the X axis on the left stick
- Accelerate is the Y axis on the left stick
- Brake is the Y axis on the right stick
Updates to mister.ini
There are two recent additions to the MiSTer.ini file which relate to racing wheels. Be advised however that some cores / wheels do not support these settings and they may ignore them all together. After you setup the wheel and make sure steering and pedals work, you can adjust these.
wheel_force is the amount of resistance the wheel should give to your turning. A higher amount would make it harder to turn and the snap back to center will be stronger. Values range from 0 to 100 and default is 50.
wheel_range determines how far you need to turn the wheel to achieve full lock. On truck simulator games, its normal to turn the wheel 360 degrees and beyond. In a racing game, you probably want to only turn the wheel 90 degrees. I suspect the value of wheel_range is not exactly the number of degrees you can turn the wheel. I believe the default is 200 and I was able to lower this number and get tighter steering on a few games.
Core Specific Setup
There is also a button mapping inside of each core. This button mapping only seems to let you map the digital buttons though, it does not ask about analog controls. I guess the core is getting analog settings from main mister.
PSX Core: For the Logitech wheels set the controller type to “NeGcon”. This may or may not work for other types of wheels
Analog Settings in Game
The game inside of the core needs to also support analog input. I have been testing these wheels mostly with Gran Turismo 2 on the PSX core. When you have a compatible analog controller plugged into the PSX, you get an analog setup in the options menu.
- Click on steering and turn the wheel to the right until you reach your maximum desired turning amount. Then click R1. Now turn the wheel to the left and at your desired max click L1
- Come down to “Max” and increase the red zone to the maximum. This red amount defines how far your wheel can turn.
- Adjust the blue dead zone “Margin” to your liking. I usually had it quite small.
As of Dec 2022 the Outrun core is still in active development and so I didn’t test this too heavily. I have read reports that the Logitech G27, G29 and GT are compatible but I have not been able to replicate this myself. More investigation to come.
Wheel Compatibility Tests
I personally tested the wheels shown below. In addition to these wheels Atrac17 also tested the Logitech G27 & G29 in his setup. He reported them working and as far as I can tell, should have a similar experience to the Logitech Driving Force GT I show below.
Logitech Driving Force GT
Gran Turismo 2 plays great
Has resistance and center snap back
It does use new ini settings. My recommendations:
Logitech G920 Xbox Edition
Does work without the patch but sometimes doesn’t recognize Dpad upon setup. Just reset and try again.
GT2: Clutch pedal becomes the brake. Works well but no steering resistance
- wheel_force does nothing
I want to thank my friends at the “Komisjoni Kaubamaja” in Tallinn Estonia for loaning me the Logitech G920. I told them it was for a video and now this is only an article, sorry guys 😀 Komisjoni Kaubamaja have lots of second hand wheels available and everything has a warranty.
Logitech Driving Force RX
Needs Atrac17 patch but pedals still do not work correctly. Brake and accelerator seem to be inverted.
Steering works beside no resistance, the wheel does not snap back
- wheel_force seems to do nothing
- wheel_range=100 seems to tighten up steering
Works without the Atrac17 patch
Doesn’t use wheel_range
Main mister does see brake but then brake pedal maps to rear view in GT2
Only works in PS3 mode
Thrustmaster T80 PS3
Pedals didn’t work at all. Doesn’t see them in first mister setup.
Steering worked fine
Wheel and pedals confirmed working on real PS3
Thrustmaster Ferrari 458 Italia Xbox 360
Everything seems to work in the setup and menu but when I get into the game it shows phantom button presses which make the game unplayable.
Wheel and pedals confirmed working on real Xbox 360
I suspect MiSTer sees this wheel as a regular Xbox 360 controller but this thing doesn’t quite work like a typical Xbox 360 controller.
Works flawlessly with the SNAC adapter on the PSX core.
Feels like a very authentic way to play. Cord resistance only, no motor.
The pedals are really bad though, worse than old Logitech, they are a toy at best.
Alternatively I tried to connect this wheel using PS1 to USB adapter and I could not get this to work at all.
Summary & Buying Guide
As of December 2022, steering wheel support on the MiSTer FPGA is still pretty new and quite limited. If you already have a wheel, I suggest following this guy and trying to get it working.
If you are looking to pick up a wheel for use on MiSTer, there are a couple of reasonable choices today. Do keep in mind I expect this compatibility to grow greatly in the next 6 to 12 months.
If you want to get a wheel today and be reasonably sure it’s compatible for the future, I recommend the Logitech G27, G29 or Driving Force GT. These three wheels all work well with the Atrac17 patch and I personally had a good time with the GT. Please do keep in mind the beta status of the Logitech patch for MiSTer, I found that when enabled I could not access my network shares anymore. However SD card loading worked as normal.
The G27 and the GT should currently go for less on the second hand market than the G29. If you can find one of those for under 100 bucks I think it’s a great choice.
Remember, this is not sim racing. This is playing old cores which had limited feedback capabilities. Have some fun and don’t get too caught up on what is best. I like these Logitech wheels because you can also use them on a real PS3 and have a good time with Sega Rally Online Arcade as well.
Finally, my thoughts on generic branded wheels available on Amazon. My personal recommendation is to stay away from non name brand wheels. Even though I just told you to have fun and not worry about which wheel is best, there is still a limit 😀 If you find a G27 or GT second hand for less than 100 bucks you will have a much better experience that those new generic amazon wheels.
Thank you to the following people who helped me create this content