While at LaveCon I had the chance to see the ED Tracker, a low budget motion controller for the PC that works with games like Project Cars, Eurotruck Simulator and of course, Elite: Dangerous.
“Why would you want one of those, you’ve got an Oculus?” I hear you ask. Well, firstly I cannot afford another DK2 for my children and my younger son plays a lot of EuroTruck and some Elite. Also, the hot summer weather in the UK has meant I haven’t been using the Oculus as much, to avoid having a stroke – yes, there are brief moments in the UK when it isn’t raining!
So, what is it like? What do you get for £45 ($70)? (Assuming you don’t build it yourself)
Firstly, I would like to say thanks to Dan and Becky at ED Tracker. At LaveCon I mistakenly picked up two ED Trackers instead of two ED Tracker Pros and didn’t spot my mistake until I got home. They shipped out replacements very rapidly, so kudos to them for excellent customer service.
The ED Tracker is a small black plastic box, the size of a matchbox, with a mini-USB socket on one side. To install it, I attached it to the top of my headphones headband with one of Mrs Arithon’s hair-ties (she’ll never miss it) and plugged in with the USB braided cable I bought from ED Tracker.
Windows 8 made the usual “boing” noise and listed “ED Tracker Pro” as a new joystick in my “Devices and Printers” list.
I then downloaded and ran the ED Tracker Pro software, which detected the device immediately and instructed me to calibrate it. This involves turning your headphones around on various axis.
Once that’s done, you find the 3D head model on the screen moves to mirror your own heads tilt and turn.
Getting it working with Elite: Dangerous
This was a little harder, as the instructions on ED Tracker’s website didn’t match the current version of the OpenTrack software used. I didn't get the joystick selection right and couldn't figure the OpenTrack setup. Never fear there’s loads of information on Forums everywhere! I got mine here. The OpenTrack software turns your virtual joystick into an emulated TrackIR.
So, having got it working, what was it like?
Well, it isn’t an Oculus, since you don’t have 3D vision and for 18% of the cost, I wouldn’t have expected that. But it is pretty damn good! You move you head left or right slightly and the screen turns to match your head movements. In combat you can look around to follow the action (very useful when pulling up and banking to follow a target) – you can look up and down and tilt your head and Elite’s display matches.
It is very good for viewing side panels too. All in all a very cool solution for anyone who doesn’t fancy the Oculus or cannot afford one (or is just waiting for the CV1) and a much cooler option for the hotter weather.
I will set up my second unit on my sons PC for him to play EuroTruck and get his input – saving it for the dull end of the school holidays!