SIM Panel ATS ETS2 Button Box Review
Making it Real
This review is my none sponsored independent review of the Sim Panel button box. What is included or not in this review is my own opinion and your mileage may vary due to the ongoing driver and SCS game updates.
First - The SIM Panel is not a standard USB device that you plug and go like other button box type controllers. This SIM Panel Game Controller incorporates the Arduino architecture and will require the Arduino drivers to be pre-installed on your PC. SIM Panel (AppCentrlX) claims these drivers are most likely pre-installed on newer Windows 10 machines. I have the most recent version of Windows and the Arduino Driver is not installed and thus Windows did not recognize the SIM Panel.
- AppCentrlX has a link to download the Arduino Driver, provided in the included setup fold out. However, this driver is not an executable but a .inf file: Second Problem: Windows will not install unsigned drivers, the .inf is unsigned and require elevated privileges to override windows 10 security. Even after overriding unsigned drivers, Windows did not recognize the SIM Panel. After 10 minutes of searching for Arduino drivers, I located the Arduino site that has correct installable drivers (link below). Another misleading step in the install process from AppCentrlX is to look for Other Devices in Device Manager, my Windows 10 does not have "other devices". The CORRECT location for my version of Windows 10 is Ports (COM &LPT) this is where the Arduino Leonardo driver will be installed to establish an Arduino Leonardo com port, mine was COM 7.
Finally - After the initial frustration of getting the drivers installed and Windows to recognize the button box controller- now on to the fun part, set up and use.
The USB Cable: The cable is a non-user removable cable, measuring about 10 feet.
Mounting Options: (1) Roll your own using your personal Engineering Genius, (2) Buy the optional table Mounting Hardware @ $20.00, or (3) buy the optional Vesa Mounting attachments @ $10.00. I went with a Vesa mount and mounted a VESA plate to my gaming rig using a screw-type clamp making for a very secure wobble-free connection.
The SIM Panel: The SIM Panel is a somewhat large Plastic enclosed Button Box Controller customized for ATS/ETS2, measuring 10"w x 6"h x 4.25"d and weighs 3.75 pounds so you need to keep that in mind to accommodate installation for your Rig Setup. The Button Box Controller is comprised of a textured plastic matte-like finish and looks pleasing with no noticeable flexing or weakness and should mechanically last for many years.
The Front Panel: Pressing the Panel Lights knob inward turns on the backlight for the buttons and switches by default all backlight is Blue. If you prefer a different color you can customize the lighting color overall or setup individual colors making this feature is unique.
Set-Up and Operation: Needless to say this Button Box Panel is a customized controller for ATS/ETS2 and most buttons and switches are pre-labeled and the assigned label can not be changed but you can assign a different button to perform a different function if you so desire.
Buttons Switched and Knobs are mechanically good but not exceptional, some exhibit slop or play when using them but no real complaints.
The rotary knobs have indents with no stops, mine have auditable clicks when turned except but for some reason the Retarder does not have auditable clicks. The Rotary Knobs offer minimal resistance when turning. I have no serious complaints with the rotary knobs but a little loose for my taste. In addition to the left/right rotation of the rotary knobs, each knob offers push and thus each rotary knob can be assigned a separate function for the push feature. The Radio Rotary can control the volume up and down via rotation and pull up the Radio List with a push. Having a push feature for the rotary knobs does make them more functional.
Accessory Buttons: There are 2 accessory buttons that can be mapped to any function that ATS/ETS offers in way of button controls. In addition to acting like traditional buttons, these special buttons can be set as On/Off on when pushed and Off when released, or On when pushed and Off with pushed again.
Ignition Switch: This switch comes with a key of course you map this switch to turn on or off the engine.
The remaining Buttons: Such as Lights, High Beams, Hazard, Wipers, Beacons, Map, and Activate all function as so labeled if you map the button to the corresponding ATS/ETS2 control.
Push-Pull (brakes): Employs two braking push-pull switches (Red & Yellow) and function as so labeled "Parking" and "Trailer Air"
Toggle Switches: This Button Box has four up/down toggle switches to facilitate attaching/dropping trailers, Locking the Diff, Dropping Truck Axl,e and one for dropping Trailer Axle.
Rocker Switches: SIM Panel offers two spring-loaded centered returned rocker switches that most Trucker will assign to rolling up and down left/right windows.
How Does SIM Panel Work In-Game? Excellent, The buttons, switches are easy to map to ATS/ETS2 and makes Truck Simulator much more engaging, and after setting up the SIM Panel I rarely find my self reaching for the keyboard except in special cases such as customizing your truck, etc and that is using a mouse and not the keyboard.
- A solid customized control box that offers most of what the average SIM Trucker needs to make the game simulation more immersive.
- Driver set up was cumbersome and frustrating.
- Rocker Switches seem too small and too hard to push and too close to the brake switches.
- Built-in non-replaceable USB cable.
Overall: This is a piece of dedicated ATS/ETS2 trucking simulator hardware and thus if you are a die-hard ATS/ETS2 fan I would recommend you consider giving this piece of hardware a try, I certainly enjoy using mine.