A DIY Solution for Controlling Robots and Quadcopters

RC

RC transmitters used for controlling robots, quadcopters, airplanes, and cars really aren’t that complex. There are a few switches, pots, a screen and a radio transmitter. The maker toolbox already has all these components, so it only makes sense someone would try to build their own RC transmitter.

[Oscar]’s project started by gathering a bunch of toggle switches, 2-axis joysticks, pots, tact switches, an Arduino, LCD, and a Ciseco XRF wireless module. These were attached to a front panel made of polystyrene and work on the communications protocol began.

It should be noted that microcontroller-powered RC transmitters with XBees is nothing new. There was a Kickstarter for one last year, but the final product turned out to be bit janky and full of fail wiring, We’re really glad to see [Oscar]’s attempt at a DIY RC transmitter, and hopefully we’ll see this project taken up and improved by others.

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Screaming fast RC Hovercraft

Of all the homemade RC Hovercraft floating around out there, this build is not only one of the better looking: it’s also unexpectedly quick. [ScratchBuiltAircraft] sourced foam board from the local dollar store to construct the hovercraft’s body and a heavy-duty garbage bag with a hole cut in the center for the skirt. Air reaches the skirt area from the hovercraft’s EDF (Electric Duct Fan — the big one on the back) which pumps the air through a rectangular hole in the base.

A servo mounted behind the fan controls the rudders, while the rest of the electronics and the battery are cleanly tucked away beneath foam body pieces. We’re not sure what kind of top speed the Turnigy motor provides, but it’s probably impressive assuming it can keep from flipping over. Watch it blast off with a bit too much lift in the video below.

For something a bit slower, there’s always the solar powered hovercraft from earlier this summer.

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Autonomous RC car navigates by waypoints

autonomous-rc-car

Check out this autonomous RC car which [Jason] built for the chipKIT design challenge. It’s been able to successfully navigate a planned route taking just a few waypoints as inputs.

Obviously this uses a chipKIT as the controller, the max32 to be specific. [Jason’s] write-up shows off all of the components of the design, but you’ll have to head over to his recently posted update to hear about the custom board he had spun to host them all. It starts with a GPS module, but that’s only accurate enough to give the rover the big picture. To handle getting from one waypoint to the next successfully he also included a gyroscope which provides very accurate orientation data, as well as optical encoders on the wheels for on-board distance traveled information.

We hope he’ll keep refining the design and make a trip to next year’s Autonomous Vehicle Competition.

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Giving an RC tank a fire control computer

tank

[Vincent] plays around with remote control tanks, and even though his current model is a WWII-era armor piece, he’d still like modern accoutrements such as a fire control computer and laser sighting for his main gun. His latest project did just that (French, Google translation) with the help of an Arduino, a few modifications to the receiver, and an IR rangefinder.

The stock RC tank includes servos to move the turret and the requisite electronics to fire an Airsoft gun. The precision of the mechanical movements inside the turret weren’t very precise, though, so [Vincent] had to gear down the servos to turn large movements into slight adjustments. After that, he installed an IR rangefinder and laser diode onto the barrel that allowed the gun to sight a target and read its distance.

After some experimentation with the rangefinder and laser, [Vincent] plotted data from firing a few BBs at a whole bunch of distances and targets. The graph came out fairly linear, and after plugging this into a graphing calculator, he was able to find an equation that took into account the distance and angle so the Arduino-powered fire control computer would hit its mark.

The accuracy of the gun is very impressive, all things considered. [Vincent] is able to accurately fire BBs downrange and hit an 8×12 cm target at five meters. You can check out that action below.

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Remote control car that packs its own Beretta

remote-control-car-packs-a-beretta

We’ve never really thought to ourselves “This RC car is fun, but it really needs more handguns”. And if we did, it certainly would not be a built to undertake with students. But to each his own. [Jerod Michel] is a mathematician working in China. He recently built the project seen above with a group of students. Look closely and you’ll notice that the remote control car includes a remote control Beretta strapped to the side.

He doesn’t have a blog post about the project, but you can find a couple of images and his build instructions after the break. The firearm has a motor attached to the trigger that allows it to be fired by tapping into one of the extra channels on the RC car’s PCB. But you won’t just be firing blindly. The project also includes a video transmitter which can be viewed from an LCD screen mounted on top of the remote control unit. There’s even a laser sight that will show what you’re aiming at.

We wonder what the recoil of the firearm does to this light-weight vehicle?

Build Instructions (.txt file)

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Adding shoulder buttons to an RC transmitter

radio

[Gerard] does puppeteering and animatronics work, and to remotely control his creations and characters he uses an off-the-shelf remote control radio. It’s you basic 6-channel setup, but [Gerard] wanted a way to control eye blinks and other simple actions with the press of a button. Sure, he could use the toggle switches on his transmitter, but he wanted something that wouldn’t require turning a servo on and off again. To fix this problem, [Gerard] added shoulder buttons to his transmitter with only a little bit of soldering.

[Gerard]’s transmitter uses toggle switches to send a signal on channels five and six. To add his push buttons, he simply drilled a hole in the plastic enclosure, installed a pair of push buttons, and wired them in parallel to the toggle switches.

Now [Gerard] has momentary switches on channels five and six, perfect for making his creations blink. Since the buttons are wired in parallel with the switches, flicking the switches to the ‘on’ position in effect takes the button out of the circuit, just in case the transmitter gets jostled around.

Watermelon air boat

watermelon-air-boat

We think you’ll turn a few heads in Central Park if you’re driving a water melon around when everyone else is piloting sailboats. This watermelon is both sea worthy and radio controlled thanks to the work which [Starting Electronics] put into it.

We used this image because it shows you what’s inside of the hull, but you don’t want to miss the thing motoring around an above-ground swimming pool in the clip after the break. The hollowed out shell is quite buoyant and has no problem staying afloat and upright with the addition of a propeller. The parts from a remote control airplane kit have been mounted on a wooden scaffold. This provides plenty of thrust with a servo motor moving turning the prop for directional control. There is no dagger board so the craft is a bit slow to respond to turns. But how responsive do you expect a floating melon to be?

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