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Thread: Setting up a Buttkicker (or other transducers)

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    Member Dojo's Avatar
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    Setting up a Buttkicker (or other transducers)

    I created a new thread so that this overview guide doesn't get lost in the middle of the original Buttkicker thread. I’m providing backround info as the process can sound complex if not explained, but at the end of the day, what you need is the following:

    1. A Buttkicker
    2. Simhsaker for Aviators (this is free)
    3. Sound Module (the payware add-on for Simshaker) $30
    4. 2nd sound card ($7 USB sound card, works perfectly for me)
    5. Voicemeeter Banana (optional)

    Background: Sound transducers like the Buttkicker take low frequency (bass) sounds from games/movies etc and translate them to a physical effect (shaking, rumbling, and an entire spectrum in between). Many movies and games are "transducer aware", meaning that if they know a transducer is connected, they will put out very specific bass sound to create very specific physical effects. DCS isn't natively "transducer aware" so the original way it worked was just off of the included heavy bass audio in the game for certain events. For example, when you roll down the runway, the audio that plays for the roll has lots of bass, and the Buttkicker can rumble from that bass output, until you lift off, giving you a physical effect of actually leaving the ground. Or firing the GAU-8, opening the canopy, extending/retracting gear, etc. The effects weren't very well distinguished. In general the "louder" the in game effect sound, the more the rumble.

    Unfortunately, everyone has a different audio setup (headsets, 2.1 speakers, 5.1 speakers, etc), and DCS has very inconsistent audio output, so many items that should generate effects with transducers worked very inconsistently as the audio files changed between DCS versions, and between different machines.

    Simshaker for Aviators

    This is where the SimShaker for Aviators software comes in. It adds DCS "awareness" for physical devices. It should be noted that the software supports more than just DCS, it adds effects for BMS and other sims as well. Further, the software wasn't originally designed for transducers like the Buttkicker, it was originally built to enable gaming "seat pads", like this guy. I don't own a Gametrix, so I have no opinion on how they work; I’ve heard mixed things. What's relevant is that they are USB based devices, and Simshaker essentially exports "events" from DCS and sends very specific physical effects to the seat pad. Simshaker is free when it operates with a Gametrix. An "event" would be firing a weapon, rolling down the runway, extending flaps, opening the canopy, stalling, and so on. And because the effects are event based and programmed, they are completely consistent, and are very distinguishable (e.g. extending the flaps feels very different from retracting the gear, and it's awesome!)

    Support for transducers


    The Simshaker devs decided to add support for transducers like the Buttkicker soon after it launched. What’s important to note, is that Buttkickers don’t connect to the PC via USB like the Gametrix. Instead, they are audio devices that plug into sound cards. In effect, completely separate work was needed to build support and maintain support for sending bass signals to a separate sound card for DCS events, so the developers decided to charge for the add-on module. It’s $30 and is required if you have a transducer like the Buttkicker.

    The idea is simple: An event happens in DCS (e.g. you lower your gear), Simshaker sends the event to your sound card. This creates a problem: If you only have one sound card (most of us), the custom "bass" sound effects Simshaker is sending to create the physical effect will play through your speakers. That's no bueno. It sounds like a lot of clicking, and you'll hate it.

    Therefore, a second sound card is required, and as we're only concerned with bass, it can be super cheap. In fact, I use a tiny plug and play USB sound card, that's the size of a small USB thumb drive, and it costs $7 on Amazon. Like this guy. If you already have multiple sound cards in your PC, you're already set.

    The Buttkicker plugs directly into the green audio out of your second sound card. Then, you configure the Simshaker Sound Module add-on software to use the second sound card, so that the bass effects it sends to actuate the Buttkicker are isolated from your primary sound device. So the flow works as follows: Event happens in DCS (e.g. you lower your flaps), Simshaker sends the signal to the second sound card, Buttkicker rumbles with very specific effects.

    At this point, you can configure the intensity of the effects to your preference, and there are options for the various aircraft/helos in DCS. For example, flying a helo and knowing you are nearly entering VRS because of the initial subtle vibration is awesome and actually improves your control. I can counteract VRS while it's subtle, but if I don't the shaking will intensify. Also, stalling in the A-10 is insane and creates a stick shaker effect in my setup!

    Here's a screenshot of the options for the A-10C:



    Significantly improved, but something is still missing!

    While the Simshaker software works well, it's currently missing a couple items that are present when a Buttkicker is connected directly to your main sound card. For example, just flying through the air. Or the vibration generated in your cockpit by another large aircraft taxiing by you on the ramp or firing its afterburner ahead of you on the runway. Those items aren't "events" DCS can export, therefore there isn't a current solution for them natively in Simshaker. This is where the optional Voicemeeter software comes in:

    Voicemeeter Banana Option

    If you want these additional effects, you will need to install Voicemeeter Banana. Voicemeeter Banana is a virtual soundcard that can split and route audio, or just parts of audio (the frequency range). When you install it, it will need to become your PC's primary sound card (it is a virtual device). From here, you can configure how you want sound "routed" or "split" to your real, physical sound cards. For example, in my setup, Voicemeeter is the primary sound device. Then, within Voicemeeter, I have two physical sound cards
    (see the top right corner of the screenshot below). The first sound card is where my speakers are connected, the second is the mini USB sound card the Buttkicker is connected to. So all PC sounds are now sent to the Voicemeeter software first. Then, inside the software, I tell it to send all sounds to sound card #1 (my speakers), and ONLY the bass to soundcard #2 (the Buttkicker sound card). Now when I fly DCS, I have the best of both worlds.

    Voicemeeter Banana dashboard



    Final note about Simshaker: The devs update it often, and it automatically updates. e.g. it already supports the Harrier.
    Last edited by Dojo; 31Jan18 at 04:20.

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    Gliptal (31Jan18), Snoopy (31Jan18)

  3. #2
    How much is a buttkicker? I'm looking around but I'm not even sure what to look for.

  4. #3

    Da FAC?


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    Actually, mine is for sale. Used it only a couple of times. Not my thing.

    Providing CAS when you're all out of HUA!

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    Gliptal (31Jan18)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gliptal View Post
    How much is a buttkicker? I'm looking around but I'm not even sure what to look for.
    Here's the model I have: https://thebuttkicker.com/buttkicker...hoCm3sQAvD_BwE

    It's known as the "gamer" as it has a built in clamp to attach to gaming chairs. Panther has a higher end model that doesn't come with the clamp, that requires you attach it to your seat manually (scews, etc), but gives you many more options.

    EDIT: Many people have built their own transducer. Lots of info out there if you're so inclined.
    Last edited by Dojo; 31Jan18 at 14:21.

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    Gliptal (31Jan18)

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    510th vFS Pilot Panther's Avatar
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    I actually don't use those anymore, I have went to the jetseats.


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    I have the jetseat pretty much since it came out, love it. Only drawback, one of the motors is broken and I have no idea if that could be replaced (not a big deal during flight you hardly notice one motor missing). Especially for helicopters its a must-have addon imo and well worth it.

    In case anyone is using it, it also works flawlessly with P3D

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    Dojo,

    Thanks so much for writing this up. It is precisely what I was looking for. Ordered my components and now just eagerly anticipating getting everything set up.

    Thanks Again!

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    Wow! When I first hooked up I thought I may shake down the whole house. I think I have everything set up, cannot wait till I have some time to really dive in over the weekend. Am I hooked up correctly if I get some pretty heavy vibrations from the theme music and such, or Do i have Voicemeter routed incorrectly? I am assuming you've either turned off theme music, of leave the buttkicker switched off till in the cockpit?

    Thanks again!

  12. #9
    Member Dojo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rooster View Post
    Am I hooked up correctly if I get some pretty heavy vibrations from the theme music and such, or Do i have Voicemeter routed incorrectly? I am assuming you've either turned off theme music, of leave the buttkicker switched off till in the cockpit?

    Thanks again!
    Yes, it's probably connected correctly. All audio is routing to Voicemeter, which is sending it to both your speakers and the Buttkicker. The options are to turn off the buttkicker during non-flight, or mute the buttkickers dedicated soundcard within Voicemeter when not flying.

  13. #10
    Do you get vibrations for comms through SRS? How are those filtered out?

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