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Vintage Tank Simulator Drives Around a Miniature Landscape

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This 1970s tank simulator drives through a tiny world

So, you think your iRacing sim rig is pretty outrageous, huh? Sure, it’s got a full-motion base and it’s powered by a real hot-rod of a PC, but I’m here to tell you that your rig is crap and that the Swiss built the ultimate sim rig in the 1970s —to teach soldiers how to drive tanks. Why they’d need to, I can’t say (this is Switzerland, after all), but it’s cool anyway.

So, because computers sucked in the 1970s, creating a realistic training simulator using computer graphics wasn’t really an option. It would have looked like a shittier Nintendo Virtual Boy, probably cause a lot of headaches, and not really be a benefit to anyone. Instead, those enterprising Swiss built a huge, room-sized terrain model and fitted a tiny camera to a motorized gantry. The tank-driver-in-training sits in a recreation of a cockpit, operating a steering wheel, pedals, and switches, and the camera moves around the scale-model landscape based on the driver’s inputs. The cockpit sits on top of hydraulic cylinders that jostle the driver as the tank drives over various terrain, adding realism to the experience.

This video by YouTuber Tom Scott shows how the system works and what the team at the Swiss Military Museum had to go through to get the simulator running again. Spoiler alert: it’s powered by a Raspberry Pi. Wild, I know.

The best part of all this is that you can go to the Swiss Military Museum in Full-Reuenthal, and they’ll let you try it out — throat mic, headset and all. That they’d let the public try this, with it being the only functioning unit in the entire world, is pretty wild.

Also, I have to get some of those dope Alpenflage coveralls. Call me, guys.

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