Cheap Toy Yields Good Parts

We’ve spent some serious time building robot chassis and motor controllers. [Whamodyne] does the smart thing and scavenges what he needs form cheap sources. He picked up an RC car from the local pharmacy for just $10, tore the body off and behold, a bounty of robot-friendly parts.

We’re not talking precision parts here, but we don’t scoff at two geared motors, four wheels, a driver board, and steering. There’s no great way to attach your own stuff but that’s half the fun of hacking. [Whamodyne] used the 9v battery that came with the toy to power his boarduino and quickly patched in to produce a miracle of automated locomotion.

25 thoughts on “Cheap Toy Yields Good Parts

  1. googfan,

    One of the reasons I used this R/C Car was because it was designed to use dual motor/skid steering.

    The other was because it had an easy to access and hack on-board PCB with h-bridges you can take over and control.

  2. God this site should just be called ‘what we saw yesterday elsewhere’ tired I’d this! Ps that touch mac is slow and I need a hack to get back two minutes of my life after watching that horrible UI video

  3. thanks guys, I have a pile of old RC parts (they are only $1 – $4 at second-hand stores), some with dual H-bridges that are even heatsinked, probably able to put 30-40 amps through those.

    But I never knew they were called H-bridges before. I need to look more, thanks for the tip.

    Add a windshield wiper motor or two and you could automate a lot of stuff, from a security cam to an antenna.

  4. after i left my comment on friday i set out to see if i could find that toy in town. i went out sunday and within 5 minutes i found one at a yard sale. 10 minutes later, i found another one at the local thrift store. it however is missing the little wheels at the top. just goes to show what people get rid of and what we do when we recover them.

  5. @mcguigan: I think the point was parts can be salvaged from any cheap consumer device. Any RC car at a dollar store has this same configuration. Try thinking outside of the box. You obviously followed the leader here.

  6. @tj you are right i “followed the leader” here. i believe that is one of the reasons this site is here so that some of us can ” follow the leader” and maybe improve upon or just copy ideas put forth here. i didnt know it was a pre-requisite to have my own project before i commented. i am thinking out of the box. that is why this comment is not full of those words used to describe the things that i detest in life.

  7. @mcguigan: Looking for the exact model was kind of taking the article way too literal. That’s all I’m saying.

    Cheapo RC cars really do have identical configurations, I’ve taken them apart in the 90s and recently and it’s rarely anything more than a PCB with all passive components that drives motors. Digital logic isn’t really seen till you get up to more calibrated models.

  8. tj,

    I’ll have to disagree with you on the “any dollar store” R/C car thing.

    98% of all cheapie R/C cars out there have one motor driving the rear wheels (which are fixed on the rear axle) and another that controls the steering via turning the front wheels.

    I wanted to do a tutorial on a car that had dual motors, one per side and had a hackable PCB so you could use the existing motor controllers. Those are hard to find.

    So just any $10 R/C car won’t work.

    CVS has a couple of other R/C cars for the holiday season, the “robot transforming” ones and I bet those do work but other makes/models? Not so much.

  9. On my system, microsoft security essentials hit me with a “TrojanDownloader:HTML/Renos” alert. I am far from perfect. I do not think it is a case of “…too bitchy a firewall/security protocal.”

    FTFY “protocol”
    I am a fan of instructables, but all sites, except Hackaday, are vulnerable to the ethically challenged.
    Give it a day, I am sure they will fix the problem.

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