Driving with Android

[Elrik] converted an RC car so that it can be controlled with an Android phone. He wisely uses the accelerometer for steering with a button for forward and another for reverse. There’s even control for the headlights. The car itself has had a servo retrofit for steering but it’s the Bluetooth module that catches our eye. It’s a GP-GC021 which you can get your hands on for under $20. It has a serial UART for easy interface with a microcontroller at up to 9600 baud.

Now you can convert over that larger vehicle to use Bluetooth instead of WiFi, just don’t hurt yourself. And if you’re just starting out with writing Android apps, don’t miss our series: Android Development 101.

Fankart and the HolyF***k!ted fan

Inspired by a ducted fan project to simulate lunar landers he had seen recently, [Charles Guan] decided to do the next logical thing and make a ducted fan driven shopping cart.  The first iteration had a bare prop mounted to the front of the cart. Steering was done by mounting a servo to the front wheels.  This ridiculously dangerous shopping cart can be seen in the videos buzzing around the halls and parking lots of MIT. The second iteration that has the ducted fan drive seems not only slightly safer, but somewhat quicker as well. He does mention that the prop shape isn’t really optimal for a ducted design, so expect future revisions to be everything you would expect from a fan powered shopping cart.

He has built a more practical mobile shopping cart, if there is such a thing, called Lolriokart. This thing probably deserves its own post as well as it is a fully drive-able shopping cart. You can see a video of it in action after the break.

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BAMF2010: Spy TRAKR – no lasers, $14,861 cheaper

Maybe $15K for an elaborate balancing telepresence robot is a bit out of one’s league. In that case, another Bay Area Maker Faire exhibitor — Wild Planet — has you covered. Faire attendees got a hands-on sneak preview of the upcoming Spy Video TRAKR, a video-transmitting radio-controlled toy that’s programmable and extensively hackable.

The TRAKR has an impressive pedigree. It’s a collaborative effort between three successful and creative technology companies: Wild Planet, makers of the Spy Gear toy line; MOTO Development Group, designers of the Flip Video camera; and Making Things, software designers for the Make Controller.

So just how hackable are we talking? The Spy Video TRAKR is intended right out of the box to use downloadable apps, and allows development of new programs in C. The controller and vehicle each contain their own ARM9 processor, and the ’bot features 8 megs of RAM, an SD card slot and USB client and host (yes, host) ports. And that’s all with the cover still on. Pop the lid, and you’ll find links to online schematics and neatly-labeled breakout headers for deeper exploration.

The Spy Video TRAKR is expected to ship in October with a target price of $139 or less. Additional photos after the break.

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Controlling an R/C car with a pic16F84

[GuySoft] sent in this project. He doesn’t normally mess with electronics, but decided to give it a try. He chose a fairly complicated project to be his first, but seems extremely comfortable with it. This project was to control his R/C car with a pic16f84. That chip was chosen simply because it was the only one available at local stores. Though we’ve seen much more complicated projects in the past, he does a great job of showing exactly what has been done. He shares his thoughts and source code with us as well. He has express a little frustration about the closed source compiler he was using, so if anyone has any suggestions for him, he would probably appreciate it.  The funny part is that he mentions that people would just tell him to “get an AVR”. We think the readers here will probably be happy with how he pulled it off.