Rebuilding the electronics in a remote control car

Inspired by the many autonomous rovers such as Curiosity and the self-driving Google car, [Rohit] decided to build his own by taking an off-the-shelf remote control car and adding his own electronics. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find the datasheet for the chip used to receive radio signals and drive the motors, so he ended up building his own electronics and putting them in the car.

[Rohit]’s car – the Thunder Rumbler RC Car – is driven by applying power to two motors. This is an easy system to control, as only two channels are needed to make the car go forward, left, right, or backwards. To drive these two motors, [Rohit] found an SN754410 quadruple half-H bridge driver chip lying in his box of assorted electronic components. Thanks to a helpful instructable, this chip was easily controlled with an Arduino.

That left the problem of sending a wireless signal to the Arduino. [Rohit] accomplished this by relying on an Android phone to provide the remote control.

[Rohit] whipped up a small program running on his desktop that allows him to send ‘L’, ‘R’, ‘U’, or ‘D’ to the Android phone to dictate if the car should go left, right, forward, or reverse. The Android phone receives these commands via the Internet and sends an audio signal through the headphone port. This audio signal is connected to two analog pins of the Arduino. With a little bit of software and a bit of reading up on frequency shift keying, [Rohit] was able to make his car move in any direction.

Even though [Rohit] realized his goal of controlling a remote control car on his own terms, the build is far from done. He plans on adding some ultrasonic sensors and using the Android’s camera for object detection.

How to Control Your Cheap RC Car with a Computer

[Jon] wrote in to tell us about his programmable RC car, and the Howto guide that he’s made. According to him, this project can be constructed with $9 worth of parts plus an Arduino and a small toy car. So around $50 if you’re starting from scratch.

At it’s core, this project is about using the Arduino to allow your computer to send signals to the toy car. For this, [Jon] has included JAVA code that should be able to run on Mac, Linux, and PC operating systems. The Arduino code is also included.

Most small RC cars like those used in this project switch on at full speed or turn off, but this project allows the PC/Arduino to give the car PWM signals to control the speed. As pointed out in the video after the break, this can be a bit jerky at slow speed, but still a neat effect. A decent amount of soldering is required to get this project working, but it may be a good project especially if you have some of the parts already available! Continue reading “How to Control Your Cheap RC Car with a Computer”

3D printed Turtle Shell Racers bring Mario Kart to life


Every once in awhile a project comes along that makes us say, this is why we want a 3D printer!”

[Skimbal] is pretty well known in 3D printing circles for the incredibly detailed designs he has put out in the past. This time around, his focus is on motoring, Mario Kart style.

His Turtle Shell Racers are ripped right out of the Mario Kart series of games, and are built in the form of the multi-colored turtle shells with which most of us have a love/hate relationship. Constructed atop cheap RC trucks, the Shell Racers require 20-some odd printed parts apiece, but looking at the final results we think the time and money spent would be well worth it.

After watching the videos below, we think you’ll agree that these things look like a blast to play with. The Shell Racers were actually so impressive that they managed to land [Skimbal] a permanent gig with MakerBot Industries.

If you want to try making a set of your own, there are extensively detailed build instructions and all the STL files you can shake a stick at over at Thingiverse.

Continue reading “3D printed Turtle Shell Racers bring Mario Kart to life”

An Autonomous Car Using a “Webcam”

This autonomous remote control-style car from Cornell students was designed for a senior level engineering course there. It’s main “sensor” is a low-res webcam style camera. As shown in the video after the break, this car does quite well staying within two black lines on a white surface using it’s vision processing. It also has an IR sensor to detect objects in front of the car and stop without crashing.

All “vision” computations are handled by an Atmel Mega644 MCU, an 8-bit processor. Because of the processing limits of this chip, much work had to be done to make this process computationally efficient. These students go through an incredibly detailed account of their project, focusing on the code and electrical design. Check out the video of their car in action after the break. Continue reading “An Autonomous Car Using a “Webcam””

Don’t hit that switch!


Hackaday reader [Danukeru] sent us a video featuring a box-based robot with an interesting personality. The box is fairly simple and from the outside seems to consist only of a switch and an LED. When the switch is flipped however, the box comes to life.

When the box is activated, the lid opens, and a small arm reaches out to turn the switch off. We’ve seen that plenty of times, but this one turns out to be a little different. In the video, this process seems to repeat a couple dozen times before the robot gets angry and flips out. At first we thought that the end portion of the video was done with a bit of digital trickery, but after reviewing the creator’s blog, it looks like it could be legit. It is very hard to see the box’s innards in the video, but it does house a remote control car chassis that allows it to move around and spin out, as seen below.

It’s a pretty neat project, and if you can handle reading the creator’s site via Google translate, there is plenty of picture documentation of the build process for your perusal.

Continue reading “Don’t hit that switch!”

R/C car controlled by an iPad or Kinect


R/C cars can be tons of fun, but sometimes the fun runs out after awhile. [Gaurav] got bored of steering around his R/C car with its remote, so he built an interface that lets him control the car using two different motion-detecting devices.

He built an HTML5 application for his iPad, which allows him to steer the car around. As you can see in the video below, the application utilizes the iPad’s tilt sensor to activate the car’s motors and steering depending on where on the screen he has moved the guide marker.

The second steering method he devised uses his Kinect sensor to track his movements. His hand gestures are mapped to a set of virtual spaces similar to those which the iPad uses. By moving his hands through these areas, the Arduino triggers the car’s remote just as it does with the iPad.

The actual remote control interface is achieved by wiring the car’s remote to an Arduino via a handful of opto-isolators. The Arduino is also connected to his computer via the serial port, where it waits for commands to be sent. In the case of the iPad, a Python server waits for commands to be issued from the HTML5 application. The Kinect’s interface is slightly different, with a C# application monitoring his movements and sending the commands directly to the serial port.

Check out the video below to see the car in action, and swing by his site if you are interested in grabbing some source code and giving it a try yourself.

Continue reading “R/C car controlled by an iPad or Kinect”