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Invicta™ – Explaining the brakes

You have chosen to buy the most realistic brake system ever
made for sim racing. In any given race car, the brake pedal is
always hard. A hard brake pedal is faster (you can brake later)
and it is required to proper trail brake and use your muscle
memory to do so, as explained later. You can consider a race car
braking system as 2 stages:

The “soft stage”: When you apply pressure on the pedal, it
will move 10-20 mm (measured on the pedal plate), while
you build up hydraulic pressure, while the caliper pistons are traveling
to and pushing the brake pads against the brake disc, and to
compensate for the small amount of play in all the mechanical
parts on the pedal system that is required for them not to seize
up. At this stage the car is slowing but is soft braking.

The “hard stage”: When hydraulic pressure is built up, the
brake pads are squeezing the discs hard and all mechanical play
is compensated. In this stage, your foot is basically “pressing
against a wall”, because now your muscles are pressing directly
against the hydraulic forces (the brake fluid). Since the fluid
cannot be compressed, you will feel the pedal is hard. When a
race car driver complains about a “long” or a “soft” pedal, it is
typically because there is air in the system, and since air CAN
be compressed, the pedal will feel soft and long. The mechanics
then bleed the brakes for air, meaning there is only fluid left in
the system, and the pedal is once again hard after passing the
“soft stage”.

In our quest to mimic the perfect race car feel, we also designed
a 2-stage system on our Invicta pedals with the T.H.O.R.P.™ brake
cylinder:

The “soft stage”: Since we do not have a brake disc, caliper and
brake pads in a simulator, we made the slave cylinder to mimic
this. The slave cylinder is compressing an elastomer, and like in
a real race car, it will allow a pedal travel of maximum 20-25 mm
measured on the pedal plate. When full pedal travel is obtained,
the slave cylinder will hit a mechanical stop, just like in a real race
as described above. We supply different elastomers to mimic
different feelings of the “soft stage” but the different elastomers
will not change the pedal travel, only how much force is
needed to fully depress the pedal and engage the “hard stage”.

The “hard stage”: When the slave system is mechanically
locked, you have 100% the same feeling as in a race car, when
the brake pads are fully pressed against the brake disc, and your
muscles are pressing directly against the hydraulic forces. This
is NOT simulated, this IS the same and identical feeling as in a
race car, and you can keep pressing the pedal up to a hydraulic
pressure of 100 bar, which corresponds to 185 kg of pressure on
the pedal plate – the same as a real F1 car!

Besides from being able to calibrate and measure the pressure
in bar, the 2-stage system is exactly the benefit you will get
over a mechanical brake system. Most mechanical brakes are
relying on the elastomers and a load cell to give you the race car
feeling. It will never be the same, because it is NOT the same! A
load cell system IS a simulation and at best, you can implement
a mechanical stop to simulate the “hard stage”, but unlike the
T.H.O.R.P.™ system, your pressure readings in the simulator
will also stop at that point, because your load cell will stop to
physical deflect. And without deflection it will not meassure. In
the T.H.O.R.P.™ system, pressure readings will continue despite
the slave cylinder has reached its mechanical stop (passed the
“soft stage”). That is the Asetek Invicta T.H.O.R.P.™ hydraulic
difference!

It may surprise you, but as described above, having a hard
brake pedal will help you get around the track faster. It all has
to do with muscle memory and efficient trail braking. Having a
hard brake pedal will allow your muscle memory to be trained
to perfection. Muscle memory is the subconscious telling
your muscles just the right amount of pressure, leaving your
conscious mind to take care of more important things at that
moment – like watching traffic or hitting apex. Your muscle
memory system is not wired to remember a position. Try to lift
your hand with your eyes closed and reach the same spot within
0,5 mm 10 times in a row, and you will get the point. Conversely,
your muscle memory can memorize a pressure extremely
accurately, meaning going around a track; your muscle memory
can make you brake the same way again and again. This cannot
be achieved with a soft pedal – especially when trail braking.

Furthermore, a hard brake pedal will allow you to brake later.
Imagine having a brake pedal with 50 mm (common for many
sim racers) of travel versus a brake pedal with almost zero travel.
You are going 300 km/h down a straight. With the long travel
brake, it will physically take you perhaps 1/10 of a second more
to reach full braking power. On the stiff brake pedal, you will
reach maximum braking power instantly. If you have three hard
braking zones on a track, you will lose 3/10 of a second each lap.
The Top 10 in F1 or GT3 is frequently determined in way less than
3/10 of a second. The conclusion is that we at Asetek SimSports™
have developed the Invicta™ pedals to replicate a real race car.
Why? Because it is the fastest but may not be what feels the
most comfortable. It is your choice whether to be the quickest or
have a brake pedal that feels soft and comfortable.

Using the two thumbnuts behind the elastomer, you can adjust
the preload of the system closely mimicking the gap you will
experience in a real car (between disc and brake pad). We have
made this adjustable, so you can have the feeling just the way
you like it – and just like your favorite car. For how to adjust this,
see section Brake Pedal Preload Adjustment.
Using RaceHub™, you can also adjust your deadzone on the brake
pedal. This allows you to rest your foot on the pedal without
getting inputs to the game.

Should you wish to change the pedal stops, and thereby the
angle of the pedals, it can be done entirely toolless. It will require
you to recalibrate the pedals and remove the brake cylinder at
the pedal arm and adjust the rod length to prevent any preload
on the T.H.O.R.P.™ hydraulic master brake cylinder. Having a
preload on the master cylinder will result in an inconsistent and a
fluctuating calibration!

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