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”

Powerwheels Racing Series in Detroit

[Transistor-Man] and the gang finally got around to documenting their experience at the Detroit Makerfaire 2014 and the Powerwheels racing series. They weren’t planning on entering, but in a last-minute decision they decided to see if they could whip up an entry just over one week before the competition! They did — and it’s awesome. They call it the Chibi-Atomic-Jeep.

As the competition name implies, they had to base the vehicle off of a Powerwheels frame. Bunch of steel tubing, some TIG welding and a nice paint job, and they had the base frame of their vehicle. At the heart of it? An alternator from a van — surprisingly powerful and easy to control. They used cheap 8″ wheels from Harbor Freight Tools — they worked great, just didn’t last very long… By the time the races were over, they went through NINE of these tires. Good thing they’re cheap!

The most impressive part of the build is the gears. They made them using a water-jet cutter at the local hobby shop and a Bridgeport mill with an indexing head — not an easy task to complete!

Continue reading “Powerwheels Racing Series in Detroit”

[Harrison Krix’s] Marriott Chariot

Atlanta’s Mini Maker Faire had plenty of booths to keep visitors busy, but the largest spectacle by far was the racetrack smack-dab in the middle, and you’d be hard pressed to find a more eye-catching contender than [Harrison Krix’s] vehicle: the Marriott Chariot.

If [Krix’s] name looks familiar, that’s because he’s the master artisan behind Volpin Props, and is responsible for such favorites as the Futurama Holophonor replica and the Daft Punk helmet. (Actually, he made the other one, too).

The Chariot is yet another competitor in the Power Racing Series, an event that keeps popping up here on Hackaday. [Krix] drew inspiration from this Jeep build we featured earlier in the summer, and went to work sourcing an old plastic body to get started. The frame is 16 gauge square tubing, with a custom motor mount machined from 3/16 steel. After welding the chassis together, [Krix] chopped up a small bicycle to snag its head tube and headset bearings. A pair of sealed lead acid batteries fit horizontally in the frame, providing a slightly lower center of gravity.

[Krix] has a keen eye for precision and his build journal shows each step of his meticulous process. But, you ask, why “Marriott Chariot?” and why does the car look like someone threw up a kaleidoscope? Read on beyond the break, dear reader, to learn the Chariot’s origin and to see a video of it winding around the track.

Continue reading “[Harrison Krix’s] Marriott Chariot”

Even More Power Wheels Racers

With the Power Wheels Racing series wrapping up for the year, the teams are winding down and writing up their build and rebuild logs for their cars. In previous years, the kids from MIT, a.k.a. MITERS, have brought small electric cars to the races, but nothing like this. It’s a true Power Wheels, or at least the plastic shell, an alternator, a huge battery pack, and a completely custom drivetrain.

[Dane], [Ben], [Rob], [Mike], and [Ciaran] started their build with an alternator that was salvaged from [Charles]’ Chibi-Mikuvan, added a motor from a CDROM drive for a sensor, and basked in the glory of what this cart would become. The frame was crafted from 1″ square tube, a custom disc brake machined, and a 10S2P battery pack built.

The alternator the team used for a motor had a rather small shaft, and there were no readily available gearboxes. The team opted to build their own with helical gears milled on the MITERS Bridgeport mill. That in itself is worth of a Hackaday post. Just check out this video.

With the build held together with duct tape a baling wire, the team headed out to the races in Detroit. Testing the racer before getting to Detroit would have been a good idea. During the endurance race, a set of 10″ rear tires were torn apart in just four laps, impressively bad, until you realize the smaller pink tires that were also from Harbor Freight fared even worse.

After a few races, the MITERS team figured out the weaknesses of their car and managed to get everything working perfectly for the race at Maker Faire NY.

Continue reading “Even More Power Wheels Racers”

The Chibi-Mikuvan, or a Power Wheels with a Ford Fusion Battery

At all the big Maker Faires, the Power Racing Series makes an appearance, turning old Power Wheels into race cars that whip around the track at dozens of miles an hour. [Charles] is somewhat famous in the scene – there’s even a clause in the official rules named after him – so of course anything he brings to race day will be amazing. It was. It used a battery pack from a Ford Fusion plugin hybrid, a custom body, and a water cooling unit from a dead Mac G5.

A few months ago, we saw [Charles] tear into the battery pack he picked up for $300. This is the kind of equipment that will kill you before you know you’ve made a mistake, but [Charles] was able to take the pack apart and make a few battery packs – 28.8v and 16Ah – enough to get him around the track a few times.

The chassis for the Chibi-Mikuvan was built from steel, and the bodywork was built from machined pink foam, fiberglassed, and finished using a few tips [Charles] gleaned from [Burt Rutan]’s book, Moldless Composite Sandwich Aircraft Construction. The motor? That’s an enormous brushless motor meant for a 1/5th scale RC boat. The transmission is from an angle grinder, and the electronics are a work of art.

The result? A nearly perfect Power Wheels racer that has a curb weight of 110 pounds and tops out at 25 mph. It handles well, too: in the videos below, it overtakes the entire field of hacky racers in the Power Wheels Racing competition at Maker Faire NYC, and afterwards still had enough juice to tear around the faire.

Continue reading “The Chibi-Mikuvan, or a Power Wheels with a Ford Fusion Battery”

Electric Go-Cart Has Arduino Brains

arduino powered go cart

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.

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Electric “Microkart” Has Tons of Kick

Go Kart with Independent Suspension

When you’re building an electric go kart, you really have two options. Convert a normal gasoline powered one by swapping out the power plant… Or build it from scratch! [Ganharr] opted for the for the latter to save some money, and to design it just the way he wanted.

Now you may have noticed it looks a bit small — because it is. It’s really more of a Micro-Kart, but that’s okay because [Ganharr] is winning a father-of-the-year award for building it for his kid!

It features two 2kW (~3HP) brushless electric motors, which independently drive the rear wheels. These are powered by two 48V 50A continuous (100A peak) speed controllers.[Ganharr] also spared no expense on the batteries, opting for a 48V lithium-ion pack composed of Headway cells (3.2V 15aH capacity each, 40152 type).  Continue reading “Electric “Microkart” Has Tons of Kick”