A white, SM-Racing Products BB02-Button Box with custom text.

What is a sim racing button box? (+5 reasons why you need one.)

What is a sim racing button box?

            A sim racing button box is a computer peripheral device used for controlling functions in simulation games. Button boxes feature a housing with panel mounted switches for physical input by the user. These inputs are then configured within the simulator’s options to perform a specific in-game function. Button boxes can be a great addition to your sim rig by improving user control and immersion.

What types of switches does a button box have?

            Button boxes may feature many different types of switches with each having specific advantages. The decision to use a particular type of switch is often a result of balancing realism and ease of use. Attempting to replicate the types of switches used on the dashboard of a racecar or semi-truck results in added realism and immersion for the user however they may not be the most efficient for controlling simulator functions.

            The most common types of switches used in button boxes are:

  • Momentary push buttons – a simple button which can be used for on/off functions.
  • Momentary on/off toggle switch – a single pole, single throw momentary switch commonly used to engage a function such as an engine’s starter.
  • On/off toggle switch – a single pole, single throw on/off switch often used for controlling the vehicle’s ignition.
  • Momentary on/off/on toggle switch – a single pole, double throw momentary switch that can be used for making accurate incremental adjustments.
  • Rotary encoders – a rotating switch for rapid incremental adjustments across a wide range.

How does a button box communicate with the PC?

            Most button boxes use a micro controller to communicate with the PC over a USB connection. Each switch input is uniquely named in the micro controller’s software. The PC then detects the names and associated inputs for processing commands. Quality button boxes use printed circuit boards (PCBs) with integrated circuits to read the inputs and communicate with the PC. Lower quality offerings may instead use Arduino’s at the cost of reduced game compatibility.

What are the benefits of a button box?

            Button boxes allow the user to maintain focus on the sim by removing the need to use a mouse to change settings. Due to the tactile nature of the switches, users will gain muscle memory making these changes even easier.

            In addition to the benefits of greater control, the added immersion of starting a vehicle, saving fuel, or making adjustments brings the level of realism to a new level.

5 reasons you should add a button box to your sim setup:

  1. Improve realism.
  2. Reduce gaps in concentration.
  3. Increased control of simulator.
  4. Make necessary adjustments with ease.
  5. It’s awesome.


View our button boxes and see how you can improve your rig.   

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