Translogic
You are here: Video > Shift Shock: Ford Engineer Mods Mustang Shelby GT500 Shift Knob With Xbox 360 Controller Parts


In the late 1990s, Nintendo bundled a controller attachment known as the Rumble Pak with their popular Star Fox 64 video game. The motorized accessory attempted to mimic the onscreen action through physical controller feedback, and we'll admit that slamming into an asteroid after being instructed to "do a barrel roll!" carried a bit more impact with the Rumble Pak.

Since then, modern video game systems from Sony's Playstation 3 to Microsoft's Xbox 360 have integrated vibration feedback into their controllers. What was once a unique new feature, now goes mostly unnoticed by gamers. But Ford Engineer Zach Nelson saw the opportunity to put a new spin on the old technology.

"I wanted to create something that expands the car's capabilities and improves the experience for the driver," said Nelson. His idea was to bring vibration feedback to the shift knob of a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500.

Nelson 3D-printed a shift knob and installed an Arduino microprocessor, LED display, and XBox 360 controller motor. The knob displays the selected gear and vibrates when it's time to shift. The car communicates with the shift knob via a tablet PC running a custom-developed Android app, plugged into the vehicle's OBD-II port, which sends a wireless Bluetooth signal to the shifter. This is all made possible through Ford's open-source OpenXC development platform.

Nelson says he's tested the shift knob on various other vehicles, including a Ford Focus ST. "The basic concept of my system could be integrated directly into the car, and used on automatic-transmission vehicles with paddle shifters with electric power steering," said Nelson, who has made the project available on the OpenXC website.

Driving enthusiasts might question the notion of a shifter that tells you when to shift. After all, the whole point of driving a manual is for greater control. For example, if you're merging onto the freeway, you might take the car closer to redline; whereas if you're driving for efficiency, you might shift at a lower RPM. We were also taught to bring our hand back to the wheel following a shift, meaning that--if you're driving at "10 and 2"--you wouldn't necessarily feel the shift knob vibrate.

Still, Nelson's haptic-feedback shifter is a cool example of how open-source software and 3D printing can change the way we think about automotive research and development.
AOL Autos accepts vehicle loans from auto manufacturers with a tank of gas and sometimes insurance for the purpose of evaluation and editorial content. Like most of the auto news industry, we also sometimes accept travel, lodging and event access for vehicle drive and news coverage opportunities. Our opinions and criticism remain our own – we do not accept sponsored editorial.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

15 Comments

Filter by:
TeamPowerPush

What next? how about on the way home the frige tells the dash you need beer stop and get 1 case of beer and dont forget the corn is on sale 12 for a buck !!! that is what we need next

July 29 2013 at 12:30 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
OUT FOX EM

If you need the shifter to vibrate in order to know when to shift, you shouldn't be driving a GT500.

July 28 2013 at 10:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ellwood145

I will never get my lady friends off of it.

July 28 2013 at 7:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rkbujinkan

I will take the x-box over that ford junk any day. I guess the vibrating shifter will make up for the fact that the ford has no power. Sad.

July 28 2013 at 7:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rkbujinkan's comment
AZ Stang

...said the guy who knows nothing about a 412 horsepower car that gets 26 mpg and costs less than $30k.

July 29 2013 at 2:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
badboy15169

Cute but i think if you have a Mustang or any real care with power.If you need something to tell u when to shift you should have never pulled it off the lot.As far as feedback while u drive,the sound of a V8 is all i like to hear.

July 28 2013 at 2:20 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
desta81

Boss to engineer, "You're working on what?" Engineer to boss "A vibrating shifter" Boss to engineer "You're fired!"

July 28 2013 at 2:19 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
wyntersky

LEE and HIS design team nailed it, straight out of the gate. The unveiling of the '64 1/2, at World's Fair gave rise to the TRUE "PONY-PUREST" dream car. I spent the first ten years of my life traveling in the '66, that my Dad gave my Mom, as a Wedding present. That is Love... and Mom and Pop are still together after 46 years.
In a movie, they can kill-off who they want and crash any car they want, but a true, tear-filled moment, for me, is when they crush a classic Mustang.

July 28 2013 at 2:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Steve

I'd buy a ford, any Ford, over a GM anyday.

July 28 2013 at 12:26 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
coupe3w

Should be working on fixing MFT. What a waste of time and money for an engineer.

July 28 2013 at 11:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pruettee

I like the idea. I have had 5 Mustangs in my life. I recently rented one while in Maui. I love them for the looks, the speed, and the feel while driving. My problem, I got old. I still think they are cool to look at, drive, and to ride in.

July 28 2013 at 10:38 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

AutoblogGreen

AOL Autos

Autoblog

Engadget

TechCrunch