Making Mario Kart Real

If you’ve ever had a casual go-kart experience, you might be able to relate to [HowToLou]. He noticed that whenever he tried to race, the same situation inevitably always happened. One racer would end up in front of the pack, and no one else would be able to pass them. The result was more of a caravan of go-karts than an actual race. That’s when he realized that video games like Mario Kart had already figured out how to fix this problem long ago. [Lou] took ideas from these games and implemented them onto a real life go-kart in order to improve the experience. The result is what he calls a Flash Kart.

The key to improving the experience was to add more features that you don’t normally get in a real word go-karting experience. The Flash Kart uses an electronic drive system that is controlled by computer. This setup allows the computer to limit the speed of the kart so they are all the same. The system includes a Logitech gaming steering wheel with built-in control buttons. There is also a color LCD screen mounted as a heads up display. The screen displays the racer’s speed in miles per hour, as well as multiple MP3 music tracks to choose from. The system provides the user with a limited number of speed boost tokens, listed on the heads up display. The user can also view their current ranking, their location on the track, or even get a view directly behind them.

The back of the kart includes a 23″ LCD screen that shows other players who you are and what team you are on. For added fun, the rider can display taunting messages to other racers using this screen. The front of the kart includes a laser cannon for shooting other karts as well as a “token scoop” sensor. This allows the riders to pick up virtual items such as laser cannon ammo, shields, or extra speed boost tokens.

To pack in all of this added functionality, [Lou] started with a typical go-kart chassis. From there, he built a custom fiber glass shell for the back-end. This houses most of the sensitive electronics. The system is powered by three 12V deep cycle batteries. A 15HP electric motor drives the rear wheels. The throttle is controlled with a gas pedal that simply feeds to a sensor that is hooked up to the control computer. The heart of the system is a computer that runs on a 2.6Ghz small footprint Zotac motherboard with Windows XP. The software is custom written in C#. The computer is plugged into a miniLAB 1008 interface board. This is how it communicates with all of the various sensors. The interface board is also used to control a number of relays which in turn control the speed of the kart.

Unfortunately [Lou] built this kart years ago and doesn’t include many details about what sensors he is using, or how the software works. Still, this was such a cool idea that we had to share it. Be sure to watch [Lou’s] video below to see the kart in action. Continue reading “Making Mario Kart Real”

Electric Go-Kart Made From Off The Shelf Components

Eletctric go kart
What would you do with a catalog of parts and a nice budget? [Ben Rothschild] decided to build an electric go-kart from scratch, for a contest he’s trying to win.

He designed the entire go-kart in 3D CAD using off the shelf components to speed up assembly. The frame is made of aluminum extrusion with t-bolt brackets, and he’s using modified FIRST Robotics wheels with standard #25 chain and sprockets.

Two 1850W Turnigy SK3 brushless motors make up the drive system, equivalent to almost a 5HP engine — except with a constant torque profile, meaning it’ll have no problem going up hills at 3km/h or 30km/h, no gearing necessary! To power the beast he’s using four hard-shell LiPo batteries (4S1P), which are rated for 14.8V and 5Ah. Two el cheap-o 24V 500W speed controllers (slightly concerning) provide the control system, which he may plan to upgrade in the near future.

The test drive video is a bit short, but it looks like with a bit more work this go-kart could have a lot of potential!

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Wii remote controling the vehicle you’re riding in

Make sure your health insurance premiums are all paid up; if you decide to replicate this project you may need it. [Corey], [Kris], and [Jess] built their own go cart which is controlled with a Wii remote. The website has a poor navigation scheme, but if you hover over the horizontal menu bar you can get quite a bit of information about the build.

The cart has two motors which use a chain to drive each of the rear wheels. A pair of H-bridge controllers let the Arduino interface with them. It’s also has a Bluetooth module that makes it a snap to pull accelerometer data from the Wii remote. The front end looks like it uses rack and pinion steering, but you won’t find a pinion or a steering column. Instead, a linear actuator is mounted parallel to the rack, moving it back and forth at the command of the Arduino.

We can’t help but think back to silent movies where the steering wheel comes loose in the middle of a car chase. See if you get the same image while watching the demo after the break. This doesn’t seem quite as dangerous as adding remote control to a full-sized automobile, but we’ve played MarioKart Wii before and know how lousy the accelerator performance can be. Hopefully the firmware kills the motors if the batteries in the controller die.

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Drill-powered go cart

Here we have a toy car modified to use a drill as the powertrain. [Hans] has thrown a 12v 4.5 amp battery in to power the motor and it tops out around 9 miles per hour. This is similar in concept to the trash-based go cart from last week but this time there’s video. He’s built a couple of these and there’s footage of both after the break. Our favorite part is from the first video when dad chuckles with glee from behind the camera as son whips around the neighborhood on the mean-sounding machine.

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