Oh how times have changed. Back in the 30’s the VW Beetle was designed to be cheap, simple and easy for the typical owner to maintain themselves. Nowadays, every aspect of modern cars are controlled by some sort of computer. At least our go-carts are spared from this non-tinkerable electronic nightmare…. well, that’s not completely true anymore. History is repeating itself as [InverseCube] has built an electronic go-cart fully controlled by an Arduino. Did I forget to mention that [InverseCube] is only 15 years old?
The project starts of with an old gas-powered go-cart frame. Once the gas engine was removed and the frame cleaned up and painted, a Hobbywing Xerun 150A brushless electronic speed controller (ESC) and a Savox BSM5065 450Kv motor were mounted in the frame which are responsible for moving the ‘cart down the road. A quantity of three 5-cell lithium polymer batteries wired in parallel provide about 20 volts to the motor which results in a top speed around 30mph. Zipping around at a moderate 15mph will yield about 30 minutes of driving before needing to be recharged. There is a potentiometer mounted to the steering wheel for controlling the go-cart’s speed. The value of the potentiometer is read by an Arduino which in turn sends the appropriate PWM signal to the ESC.
In addition to the throttle control, the Arduino is also responsible for other operational aspects of the vehicle. There are a bunch of LED lights that serve as headlights, tail lights, turn signals, brake lights and even one for a backup light. You may be wondering why an Arduino should be used to control something as simple as brake or headlights. [InverseCube] has programmed in some logic in the code that keeps the break lights on if the ESC brake function is enabled, if the throttle is below neutral or if the ESC enable switch is off. The headlights have 3 brightnesses, all controlled via PWM signal provided by the microcontroller.
There is also an LCD display mounted to the center of the steering wheel. This too is controlled by the Arduino and displays the throttle value, status of the lights and the voltage of the battery.