Bluetooth bot constructed from thrift store rejects


[John] wrote in to share his latest creation, an Arduino-controlled Bluetooth robot. You might remember him from one of his previous hacks, the Lawnbot 400. This time around, he has decided to scale things down a bit and focus his hacking on small R/C toys.

His Bluetooth bot was constructed using a cheap R/C tank he scored at a thrift store for about $1.50. He removed all of the bot’s parts, aside from the frame, the battery compartment, and the motors that drive the treads. He added in an Arduino, which he paired with an Ardumoto shield from SparkFun. The motor shield costs about $25, but he does have schematics available so that you can roll your own if you so desire.

A Bluetooth Mate was added to the car, which allows serial communication with any other Bluetooth device. Once everything was wired up, he paired the robot with his computer and got down to driving it by simply pressing keys on his keyboard.

It looks like a fun little toy to have around, and it seems fairly easy to construct. Check out the videos below of his robot in action, and be sure to check out his code/schematics if you are interested in building your own.


  1. Great! I’ve been a proponent of repurposing RC toy platforms for years. Back in ’94, I got one almost exactly like this for $10 after christmas at RadioShack. I added a 68HC11 controller and motor driver chip and an infrared range finder. It’s a quick way to get a mobile platform for cheap!

  2. Paul Potter says:

    Very nicely done.

    Would be very cool to control this from an Android phone.

  3. Nomad says:

    He said in one of the pictures that a treaded vehicle needs separate motors for each tread.

    This isn’t exactly correct, because with this one you’re going to have much better straight driving and stationary turning:

    Of course you still need two motors, but the major advantage is, that the wheels are “synchronised”.
    It makes sure, that your straight line really is straight and not curvy because of some motor/control issues.

  4. knuckles904 says:

    So, he paid $1.50 for the chassis, and ~$95 for the electronics? Not normally an arduino basher but you got hosed on that setup

  5. Jake H says:

    Ahh, that wheelbase was my first foray into robotics as a kid! First it was just decorating the RC car to look like a robot, but as I advanced the gearbox found a home in a rudimentary light seeker and a couple less-functional experiments. Thanks for the fond memories :D

  6. johndavid400 says:

    the object of this bot was to make it cheap… I had the bluetooth mate lying around (received as a gift), made the motor-controller and used a friend’s Arduino – I already had all the parts laying around to build the motor-controller PCB, so it was extremely cheap for me ;)

    I will post more videos, code, etc.. when the bot is working with a cell-phone.

  7. Nick says:

    How come people that make robots always have cats? Do I need to get a cat?

    also.. cool..

  8. strider_mt2k says:

    A large number of the photos of my late great kitty Bart were taken from a robot.

    Good times. :D

  9. knuckles904 says:

    I rescind my earlier comment then

  10. ??? says:

    The true meaning of hackaday is to reinvent something fun out of random shit that people don’t want. +1

  11. Oh MAN!!! This is exactly what I was looking for.

    For use with this chassis :

    Platform and Gearbox are Tamiya and the Tracks and wheels came from

    Made the front “Axel” at work from a block of Delron.

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