The SLI-PRO by Leo Bodnar have been around for some times, I always wanted to own one of this, so I decided to get it and do a quick review on them.
First the Price it is quite expensive for such a small piece of Printed Circuit Board (PCB), however it is a very amazing small PCB nonetheless, accompanied by the SLI-MAX Manager II by EK software it becomes very powerful tool.
We’ll get to the software bit later, right now lets focus on the Hardware itself, the SLI-PRO or Shift Light Indicator PRO Version have 2 versions, SLI-M and SLI-PRO, the -M version does not include the 6+1 digits display panel, It has the same amount of functions (Read:buttons) up to 16 buttons and 8 rotary encoders can be wired directly. more info can be seen here.
I won’t bore you with the details of the descriptions, lets rate them by 5 Category.
At £100 (AU$149.57) for the PCB
£7 for all the cables,
£10 for 2 of the Special Rotary Switches +
it comes down to a total cost of £121.99 (AU$182.5)
Which is quite expensive considering a TH8RS Shifter from Amazon.com Cost US $149 (AU $144.9)
Below is the Rotary Switches that has been connected by solder points. (notice it only take 3 connections even though it has 12 Positions)
Normally you would ended up with many many wires, This one took 3 (Ground, 5V and Data) to get the job done.
2. Compatibility and Installation.
It is compatible with PC only, via USB that you can connect from the USB port or if you choose so you can splice the USB cable that come with the SLI and wire them direct to the PCB USB Points. the Instructions and Color Coding is very easy to follow and straight forward.
Instruction is online at www.leobodnar.com and in the SLI-PRO Section, very clear and precise in colour coding and wire numbers.
Having it wont make you faster, and you won’t be in a disadvantage without it either.
However if building , wiring, and DIY is your thing, this SLI is a must have, and it is for number of reasons below.
- Button Box , All those wires can be connected to lots and lots of Buttons for your Button Box (PC only),
Other many additional benefits such as:
- DIY Pedal, the PCB cater for Analogue Inputs for you Potentiometer (CST/Cannon’s pedal use Leo Bodnar’s PCB and Potentiometer for the gas and Clutch)
- Helps you determine how much rev point you currently in. with the adjustable LED brightness, you can see the rev points easily through your peripherals vision without even looking directly to the LED (my suggestion is to turn the brightness down to around 48% to avoid face melting moments and black spots in your eyes)
- Very useful notification LED – Beside the 13 LED for the rev, it comes with 6 additional ones at the bottom. I use them to notify Low fuel, Car Damage, blue flag etc) and I add additional 5 External LED for other functions as well.
-With iRacing, each car’s OSP (Optimal Shift Point) is different, in the SLI Manager in iRacing sections where you store the plugins, it has all the script for most of the cars so you don’t need to create one manually and not only that the different type of shift lights match the exact car’s Shift Light (ie, Side to centre, or left to right, or RGB Left to Right) very cool.
- If you run your screen lower so your in-game wheel top overlap with your steering wheel, the in-game rev lights will not be visible, unless you drop your screen really low, Having this below your wheel replace that missing lights.
The Software is provided by EkSimracing.com and it is not free, you need to run the SLI Manager to find out your SLI Serial number and register your serial before you can use the SLI-MAX Manager II, to register you are required to make a minimum Donation of £5 or US $7, for the support and future software upgrade etc.
The software is pretty much the brain in controlling the SLI, It looks like a very powerful software , it is pretty easy to use, however to do custom customisation on your SLI (Ie. programming macros for buttons, display etc and debug) you will need to use the forum and ask, a moderator is almost always there and very helpful, Unless you are a masterful C++ coders and have good knowledge of the LUA Language, I would hit the Forum and start reading .
I spent about 4 hours looking and reading How Tos and FAQs , to make sure I didn’t make any mistake.
So far this thing is working flawlessly ( almost a plug-n play ) if you didn’t want to configure buttons and etc like I did.
I test run the SLI-PRO on rFactor, iRacing, DiRT2, DiRT3, F1 2011, and F1 2010. Make sure you download all the latest plugins from the EK Website even after you Super Clean install the latest SLI manager, once that’s done it’s pretty much racing time.
Assigning buttons is as simple as in game setting and choosing funtions and press the button/Switch / Encoder (ie, Brake Bias Knob).
Price (a bit lower like US$100 would be reasonable) considering SLI-M is US $74.99 Software could use a bit of tutorial online, and forum support while good, information in there is quite hard to find. everything is almost in an FAQ format. Not compatible with PS3 or XBOX 360 Not enough mounting solutions options and when there is, it is mostly expensive. I used DSD SLI box which is US $59.75 and it not a very cheap solution out there and with no mounting holes or any cable holes predrilled at the back, quite rough quality, no fasteners and non- predrilled holes for the front plate to go into the box it self, I was quite disappointed with the quality of the box. I had to take out the drill and grinder to cut a rough holes and drilled couple of holes in the box for securing the front plate on to the box, I don’t think the ABS plastic and chemical dust it any good around my kid or indoor, and there were heaps.
I will not run a separate review on Derek Spear SLI box because of the reasons above. His pedal pad is very good and however this SLI mounting box, except for the front plate which is from real carbon fibre and high quality and looks good from the front, the box it self is made from the same material of the pedal and lack of many basic things as mentioned above, I felt the $60 price tag is only for a front plate.
Lets continue to the good stuff now.
- More immersion – Helps making the drive “that” much better,
- It gives you more information than a screen can.
- Customisable information to be displayed at your will
- Buttons, rotary switches and rotary encoders (Before only toggle switches and Buttons)
- Make your rig looks more eye catching.
- It’s like buying ice cream in a box that you can mix and creates new flavours.
- If you are bored with the mount in front, Many have built an F1 steering wheel and put the SLI Pro in it with all the required buttons and rotaries.
- Have I mentioned how good it looks
Before using this I’ve tried, couple of iphone apps for iracing and rFactor, while good, they are by no means bright enough, and while using them on your ipod touch and iphone is fun and wirelessly good. receiving an email notification, facetime calls and phone call while you are racing and blocking the information could increase the chance of incident(s)
Would I recommend this ?
If you have extra money to do it, and you want the extra immersion , YES ABSOLUTELY, This is almost timeless, I’ve seen videos from 2009 and it still looks impressive until today Feb 2012.
It is a must have to add flare to your sim rig, it adds extra immersion, fun and functions.
I have learned and struggled a little for the past 2 days putting it together, it’s not even close to perfecting it , there is still so much I can do with this, rotary encoders for brightness and brake bias, another rotary switch for in-game functions, potentiometer for stand alone handbrake. but for now, I am quite satisfied with the way it looks ,function and “shine”, I have attached this with an “L” bracket under my wheel plate, it will be there permanently, and if you haven’t guessed already I am very happy I took a bite and bought this. Well done Leo Bodnar for creating such a device and EK for the software. this will be a permanent resident of my rig from now on.
I hope with this review, you’ve gained a step closer to understanding this and help in making your decision whether or not this is for you and justifiable.
Below is a little (read: fun) test video that I run under this review.I hope you enjoy it
******QUICK UPDATE on the button box Side: (03 March 2012)********
I’ve changed the button box’s face all together, not enough rotaries and buttons at the moment, so with the new face plate, I’ve added 11 more buttons (coming from SLI-PRO) and soon 3 push rotary Encoders into the box. picture below shows the plan and measurements. it is always good to use the rig from the buttons to place it where the buttons will go first before proceeding to drill the holes, as you can easily see whether or not you will like the layout.
Wiring it is a big challenge as now I’ve added around 26 wires that I have to terminate each end and when the 3 rotary encoders arrived.
I have 9 more wire to terminate which I have ready in the box. by then I will post tutorial of how to wire the rotary encoders and a little bit of assigning it on the SLI-PRO.
Test video of the external led and SLI-PRO Button box