MATERIALS AND ASSEMBLIES
As per tradition, the supporting structure of the Heusinkveld Ultimate+ is made entirely of laser-cut stainless steel, with a thickness of 3mm. Thanks to a particular sandblasting made with glass micro-spheres, the steel takes on a beautiful matte finish that makes it very resistant to scratches and marks from tightening the screws during adjustments. The slightly milled steel profiles are pleasant to the touch and not sharp at all. Each pedal of the Ultimate+ has a peculiar basic structure demonstrating the extreme attention to detail that Heusinkveld has paid to the design and construction of this pedal set.
The sinuous lines and the internal alveolations give the pedals a refined and aggressive look while maintaining a high level of solidity and resistance. The assembly between the parts is solid and takes place through threaded columns and steel screws. The pedal plates, renewed compared to the previous model, are characterized by a slight curvature, are perforated in the upper region and bear the engraving of the Heusinkveld logo at the bottom. They can be easily adjusted in height by acting on the single torx screw and using the three holes positioned on the pedal rod.
The movement of the main pedal joint is entrusted to the new self-lubricating graphite bushings that slide on a steel pin and ensure smooth and silent operation, eliminating any lateral movements of the pedal. The graphite present on the bushings acts as a lubricant. It therefore minimizes friction, improving the sliding of the pedal and reduces the need for maintenance. Due to the way the bushing system is conceived, although less elegant than the more recent ball bearing implementations, it is very effective in eliminating the side clearance of the pedal.
The pedals are fixed by means of four supports provided with slots made of steel, a solution introduced a few years ago by Heusinkveld. The rear supports integrate a vertical slot thanks to which it is possible to lift the pedal at the rear and thus adapt the pedal set to any type of configuration and driving position. The limit switch can be adjusted on the accelerator and clutch, consisting of a steel pin covered with a blue canvas rubber tube, which slides on a slot located at the base of the pedal. Effective solution in containing noise but which I have never particularly appreciated and which I find really not very refined, also because the rubber is relatively soft and tends to wear quickly.
A peculiar feature of the Ultimate+, already appreciated in the previous model, is the presence of hydraulic dampers on all the pedals. The dampers, renewed and customized by Heusinkveld, are fixed by two steel pins at the bottom of the pedal and are held in place by four shims made of plastic. Their angle can be adjusted through the presence of a slot located in the front region of the pedal. We will analyze in detail the behavior of these dampers in the chapters dedicated to the individual pedals. In general they were introduced by Heusinkveld in order to make the feedback more full-bodied, consistent and pleasant
As per tradition, the Ultimate + uses Mavin load cells for all pedals. Cells, now widely used in simracing, offer numerous advantages: accuracy, repeatability, reliability and resistance to dust and dirt. All load cells are equipped with a cable with RJ45 plug for connection to the control unit.
Let’s move on to analyze the pedals in detail, starting with the accelerator. The accelerator maintains all the basic characteristics already seen previously such as the rear height adjustment, the self-lubricating bushings in the main joint point and the hydraulic damper. The structure is smaller and leaner than that of the other pedals, by virtue of the less effort to which the gas pedal is subjected. The plate with the Heusinkveld logo has an elongated shape compared to that present on the brake and accelerator and can be adjusted in height on three different levels. The mechanical operation of the gas involves the use of a pin with a steel joint that slides inside a plastic bush fixed on the rear tilting structure. The front joint rotates on a metal pin and is held in place by two black plastic spacers. The rear bushing allows the pin to slide inside and holds the spring in place.
The new compression spring with circular thread, used in the Heusinkveld Ultimate+ pedals, has a diameter of 20mm and is adjustable in preload thanks to a plastic ring with a lock nut. It is possible to act on the hardness and linearity of the accelerator by setting the initial compression of the spring but also by means of a slot that allows you to adjust the height of the front joint. By positioning the joint at the top we will have a stiffer and more reactive response than the gas while moving it down will require less force to compress the spring and the return will be less rapid. The stroke length adjustment is entrusted to the system seen above, consisting of a pin covered in blue canvas rubber that slides inside a slot.
The hydraulic damper mounted on the gas differs substantially from that present on the brake and clutch where the damping effect acts both during the thrust and release phases. As can be guessed from the 1-way wording imprinted on its surface, the accelerator damper provides resistance only in the thrust phase while it is free during the return phase. This guarantees a mellow and precise feeling during the pressure and at the same time a rapid return of the pedal to the rest position. The angle, and therefore the resistance of the damper, can be adjusted by acting on the slot positioned in the front part of the pedal.
The reading of the signal is entrusted to a Mavin load cell positioned parallel to the base of the pedal and fixed on a plastic support. The movement of the pedal is transmitted to the load cell by means of a small spring located just behind the graphite brass bushings. The signal coming from the load cell thus structured is clean and linear without smearing or interference.
Overall, the feedback from the Heusinkveld Ultimate+ gas pedal is really convincing and plausible. Full-bodied, pleasant and precise in the thrust phase, responsive and snappy during the return phases. The pedal plate is wide enough and the curvature makes it comfortable and comfortable. The graphite bushings ensure smooth movement and the absence of side play throughout the pedal stroke. The adjustments on the spring and damper allow you to adjust the response of the pedal within a wide range and thus adapt it to everyone’s preferences.
The Heusinkveld Ultimate+ brake has undergone a substantial restyling compared to the old version and maintains the same general design already observed on the gas pedal, with the same adjustments in terms of base and pedal plate and the presence of self-lubricating bushings. Given the significant stresses to which the brake is subjected, the structure is decidedly more massive and imposing than that observed on the accelerator pedal. The brake is significantly higher, longer and weighs around 1900g. The plate with the HE logo is shorter, has the same adjustments in terms of height and the curvature makes it anatomic and comfortable.
The mechanical operation of the brake involves the use of a mixed system consisting of a spring, three elastomers and a hydraulic damper. Spring and elastomers, of new conception, are inserted inside an 8mm pin equipped with a metal joint in the front that slides inside a plastic bushing fixed on a small steel plate. The removable plate fits inside the rear brake structure, separate and independent from the main body, fixed in turn to the load cell, a 200kg Mavin. The cell, positioned at 45 ° with respect to the base of the pedal, acts as a real bridge between the main structure and the rear one. During the pedal operation, the pressure exerted by the spring and elastomers on the small steel plate allows the operation of the load cell and the reading of the signal.
The hydraulic damper is instead separated from the rear structure and does not intervene in any way on the activation of the load cell. A truly refined and effective mechanism that demonstrates the study and maniacal attention that Heusinkveld has paid to this specific pedal. The original configuration of the brake involves the use of three hard elastomers, separated by rigid plastic shims, and a new spring placed at the bottom in contact with the metal plate. You can act on the initial preload of the spring, by means of a metal ring, thus adjusting the stroke of the pedal in the initial pushing phase. Three soft elastomers are also provided inside the package, easily identifiable by the writing on their surface, which can be substituted for the hard ones or mixed together to create a personalized braking experience. Thanks to the ingenious system that involves the use of the small steel plate, the replacement of the elastomer pack is quick and easy. Just loosen the preload ring, remove the steel plate and replace the elastomers.
As previously mentioned, the hydraulic damper used on the brake is different from the one mounted on the gas. This damper not only dampens the movement during the push phase but also acts in the same way when the pedal returns to the rest position. To be honest, due to the different forces involved, the effect of the damper’s action on the brake is much less perceptible than on the accelerator. Overall, the feedback from the Heusinkveld Ultimate+ brake is really fantastic. Precise, modular and pleasant in all situations, in deep braking as well as in less demanding ones. The newly developed elastomers and spring offer a realistic feel that is very close to that of a racing hydraulic brake. The feeling is immediate and reaching the limit in my case took just over half an hour. As previously anticipated, the feedback deriving from the hydraulic damper is in my opinion negligible.
The clutch incorporates part of the mechanics already observed on the accelerator, such as the presence of the limit switch, the load cell positioned parallel to the base of the pedal and the actuation spring of the cell itself. The clutch is, however, more robust and massive, approaching in size to the brake pedal, from which it also inherits the shape of the pedal plate.
. The clutch is characterized by the presence of a generous cam structure positioned in the rear region, designed to accurately simulate the sensation of the clutch release. Thanks to the presence of two slots, the vertical support of the cam can be adjusted in height, changing the work geometries and consequently the feeling of the clutch. The steel profiles used for the cam have cavities on their surface and integrate a plastic bushing at the rear inside which the steel pin that integrates the spring slides.
The spring with square wire has a diameter of 20mm and, as seen for the other pedals, integrates a metal ring nut for adjusting the preload. It is also possible to act on the response of the spring by lifting the anchoring point of the front joint thanks to the presence of two slots. The damper used on the clutch is identical to that mounted on the brake pedal. It therefore works during the push phase, giving a pleasant softness to the pedal, but also during decompression, slightly slowing the return to the rest position.
The reading of the signal takes place through the same mechanism already seen on the gas, represented by a small spring fixed to the pedal base which pushes directly on one of the two ends of the load cell.
Overall, thanks to the particular geometry adopted, the clutch pedal gives a fluid, realistic, full-bodied and natural feeling; in fact, the response is linear in the first section while it is yielding in the final part, offering a truly fantastic feeling of detachment and attack of the clutch. The hydraulic damper adds a very pleasant sensation of softness which greatly improves the overall feeling.
ELECTRONICS AND SOFTWARE
For electronics Heusinkveld relied on a renewed and customized PCB with 12bit support. The card is inserted inside a steel case, with the same finish as that used for the pedal board, which integrates four flaps with 4mm holes needed to fix the card to a support. On the side we find the USB port with type B connection while on the opposite side there are the RJ45 ports for connecting the cables coming from the load cells of each pedal.