The makers of X-keys, P.I. Engineering, which we covered recently, also produce the RailDrive, a series of throttles, brakes and dials to mimic a locomotive control section. It also has 34 other programmable buttons and a small LED screen to display speed. The system is plug and play USB in most versions of Windows (Windows 8 needs extra drivers which are available online). It also includes a sub-woofer to allow the unit to regularly vibrate as if it was on a train.
Matthew Peddlesden at UKTrainSim a specialist Train simulator fan site says:
…very much enjoying this device since I got it, I’ve found Train Sim to be a whole new experience and it’s been amazing. The designers and builders of this device deserve a very hearty slap on the back for such ingenuity… The software interface isn’t perfect yet but I’d say the hardware is spot on. I’ve had a great time using the device and will definitely be using it for all future Train Sim game-time without a doubt so it’s not a ‘fad’ that you’ll grow out of and go back to the keyboard, in fact I think many people will wonder how they ever lived without one after they’ve had it for a while 🙂
A variant on this is the ShipDriver, essentially a ships’ wheel, throttles and a number of different types of buttons and switches. It is based on a RailDriver chassis and shares many of its other features.
P.I. will ship to the UK as well as the US and most other international locations and have several resellers in the UK itself. Their products are premium, but if you have a specialist need, their products allow the ability to create extensively customised controllers.
This article was first published on 17 March 2012 and last updated on 6 June 2017.