RC pontoon from a toy car

[Kevin Sandom] built this boat using a radio controlled toy car. The two pontoons are recycled from Styrofoam packaging material using some thick wire to connect them and provide a framework for the propulsion and control circuitry. The motor itself is a hobby outboard, which really only required [Kevin] to develop a method for steering. He walks us through the build process in the video after the break, where we find out that the original toy has a pretty bad design flaw. It seems the car used four AA batteries to drive the motor, but one of the four batteries was also used separately from the other three to power the control circuitry. Running that battery down faster than the others shortens the life of the whole.

This is considerably easier than the underwater ROV hacks we’ve seen before. We do think that it would make for a fun weekend project, and we’d bet you’ll get some weird looks for piloting what appears to be garbage around a pond.

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RC plane built using pieces of an RC car

This hack’s old as dirt to be sure, but new to us and a great accomplishment. The plane above, which is meant to fly without an operator, has been given RC control thanks to parts from that little car. The transmitter and receiver pair are the obvious transplant, but how do you add steering to a $7 plane that wasn’t manufactured to have that feature? The tail was cut and reconnected with mylar hinges to turn it into a rudder. A rare earth magnet and a coil are also thrown into the mix to provide movement. Basically this is a simple solenoid where the coil pushes against the magnet when energized, actuating the rudder. This in combination with an upgraded motor allows for both speed control and yaw. It doesn’t look like you can control roll and pitch but what more can you really expect?

This would be a nice first step on that path to building an epic flying camera rig.

[Thanks Rob]

Swapping speedometer needle for LEDs

[Ah2002] didn’t like the shaky needle in his car’s speedometer so he replaced it with a ring of LEDs. The old speedometer had a cable which rotated along with the gearbox for mechanical speed measurement. By connecting the stepper motor from a printer instead of this cable, a voltage is generated that fluctuates with the speed of the car. The fluctuation is linear so a given voltage measurement can be directly associated with one particular speed. By using a trimpot to calibrate the input voltage, [Ah2002] connected the signal to an LM3914 dot/bar display driver. These can be chained together, lighting a string of outputs based on the single voltage input. The result is the board seen above, which was covered with a printed paper graph in the final assembly.

Judging from the video after the break, we’d bet there was some distracted driving during the calibration process. The driver appears to be holding the video recorder, and since a cellphone GPS was used during calibration we wonder if [Ah2002] was adjusting the trimpot, looking at the GPS, and driving all at once. It’s a fairly awesome hack, but do be careful when you’re working on something like this.

[Read more...]

Take me back to a simpler time, Radio Flyer

[Fred Keller] and [Judy Foster], both retired, are proving that age is just a number. What you see above is a nostalgia inducing full size driveable Radio Flyer red wagon. The base of which is a 1976 Mazda pickup truck, while the wagon portion is a mishmash of wood, fiberglass and bondo, detergent bottles, and more. Even the steering wheel has been retrofitted from an actual wheel from a wagon. We were surprised to find out the entire conversion only took the two 11 months to complete (finishing this past august), and even more confounded to learn the vehicle is completely street legal.

[Thanks Rob]

Re-purpose industrial robotic arms

We must find out where you can acquire these industrial robots pictured above. Sure, you expect car companies like BMW to have a few lying around, which they used to make into a Twitter message writing robot. But Bungie, a video game company, to have one as part of an advertisement for Reach?

The former is just a scratch on the surface, with some pictures, but a much more decent writeup will be provided after September 12th. The latter has a few videos, and you can watch it recreate a monument with light ‘live’. And while both are impressive uses of old tech, neither answered our first question, we gotta get us one of these.

[Thanks Matt and FurryFriend]

A different take on electric motor cars

[Craig Carmichael] has been hard at work on his electric hub motor for cars. Unlike typical electrical vehicles the plan is to bypass the transmission, differential, and everything else all together by connecting directly to the hub of the wheel. The goal of giving greater thrust and still allowing the use of a gas engine if need be.

There’s really too much detail for us to even begin to try to explain the entire project in a short recap, but [Craig] builds the entire motor (from magnets to coil windings) and wires his own controller (from schematic to finished PCB), all while documenting the process thoroughly for those wishing to make their own.

More car audio input hacking

[Dave] pulled the head unit out of his dashboard to add an iPod input. He took a much more invasive route than the other hack we saw a few days ago. He actually patched into the audio lines going from the Dolby reader head chip to the amplifier.

The first step was to trick the deck into thinking it had a cassette inserted. He scoped an enable pin on one of the chips to discover the timing and emulated that signal using a PIC microprocessor. From there he popped off the chip that reads the tape data, patching directly into the audio out traces. This presented some noise issues when charging the iPod but [Dave] fixed that with some decoupling capacitors.

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