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Fanatec’s USB Adapter – a quick “everything you need to know” Guide

Fanatec USB Adapter

Featured image: Fanatec USB Adapter (for SQ 1.5 shifter or handbrake)

If you’ve been dependent on your Fanatec wheelbase for game controller compatibility between your PC and Fanatec shifters, handbrake or pedals, it can come as quite a surprise to learn that upon migrating to a non-Fanatec wheelbase, the only way to maintain compatibility is to buy the Fanatec USB adapter.


Basically, if you migrate to a non-Fanatec wheelbase you’ll be in need of a way to convert the RJ45 connector to USB.

Unfortunately, the adapter is expensive (and delivery is extremely pricey too). But there’s no other way to convert your Fanatec shifter to USB without this adapter.

Fanatec's USB adapter
Fanatec’s USB Adapter

I chatted with my Dad about why this is:

The thing is it is not a normal game adapter. Firstly, you have to install the Fanatec driver, otherwise you cannot calibrate it. Secondly, there are two different firmwares; one for the shifter and the other for the handbrake. Luckily the firmware out of the box is for the shifter.

What it does internally is look at the values from the X and Y pots in the shifter, and then makes a decision which game port button to simulate based on the nearest gear it can deduce.

Often the calibration is near enough and it will work without the special driver. But it is present in order to soak-up the differences in the values output by the shifter.

My Dad

So there you have it. I buckled and paid the £20 delivery fee for a £20 item. To make it worthwhile I thought I’d try and squeeze a blog post out of it, too.

What does the USB adapter look like inside?

I was curious about this, so I took the lid off:

Inside Fanatec's USB adapter
Inside Fanatec’s USB adapter

It’s a tiny little circuit board with one of these chips. That’s more or less it!

Installation

When you connect the USB adapter, you have to install the driver for the device you’re converting to USB (if there’s a Fanatec driver already installed your PC will detect the device).

Open Windows Game Controllers and you should see it installed:

Installation via USB Game Controllers

Open up the properties dialogue and you’ll most likely see this dialogue. Note that the adapter is pre-configured with the shifter firmware:

New firmware update warning

Click OK and head to the update tab:

update tab

Then update the USB adapter firmware with the correct device selected:

update the USB adapter firmware with the correct device selected

When it’s done, close the dialogue – it doesn’t take any time at all.

firmware update complete

Finally, you’ll need to calibrate the shifter:

calibrate the SQ 1.5 shifter

There’s a tiny gotcha in the final stage of gear calibration – leave the shifter in 7th gear when you click done or it messes up the calibration and you have to start again. It’s a mild inconvenience at worst.

I just wish that Fanatec would charge less for the delivery of these tiny accessories. If you’re about to buy a Clubsport Shifter, I would add the adapter whether you think you need it or not! You’ll be saving yourself quite a lot of money in the long run.


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Fanatec’s USB Adapter – a quick “everything you need to know” Guide