All-Terrain RC Car Has More Torque Than Your Grandpa’s Wheelchair


[Charles] and his brother have been members of their school’s FIRST robotics team for many years, and using some of the knowledge they acquired during it, they have put together this awesome all-terrain, super over-powered, RC car — and soon to be robot.

It’s built like a tank using 1″ square steel tubing and custom corner brackets made of 1/8″ thick steel. Heavy duty U-bolts hold the over-sized 5/8″ axles, and everything is driven using #35 roller chain. A large 12V sealed lead acid battery powers two CIMs (FIRST Robotics motor) with the AndyMark CIMple gearbox — these give the car tons of torque, and it can even do wheelies!

The really cool part of this project is the method of remote control. He’s using a regular old Xbox controller that an Arduino Uno listens to through a USB host shield and the original Xbox USB receiver. Simple, but totally effective.

The project is not yet complete, and he’s planning on fully equipping it with lights, a larger battery, a roll-cage, a camera system, and some kind of manipulator tool. Check out the test drive video after the break!

31 thoughts on “All-Terrain RC Car Has More Torque Than Your Grandpa’s Wheelchair

      1. Jaguars are awesome!

        I’ll grant they’re bulky, but the convenience of built-in encoder, limit switch and potentiometer inputs, along with built-in PID control and CAN protocol as well as the ability to sense current more than makes up for it!

    1. Arduino Uno | SainSmart USB Host Shield (comparable to Circuits@Home version, uses same libs) | SEEED Protoshield with PWM header hookups .
      ^- off-brand Xbox360 Wireless receiver ( $7-$10 ), gets ~120ft range in free air.

      each joystick Y axis is mapped to tank-style control of each side, and I pulled a little bit of code clever to send it into DISABLE state when you hit the SystemButton (big xbox button). Watch blog ;)

  1. I like seeing FRC parts used like this, they have so much potential outside of the basic FRC chassis design, especially freed from the PDB and cRIO. How much torque could you get with 4 CIMs in the gearboxes?

    1. CIMs give 343.4 oz-in ( = 2.42 Nm) through the 4.67:1 CIMple box gives 686.8 oz-in ( = 4.85 Nm = 3.58 lb*ft).

      Also, as a mentor of a FRC team, I have to agree about the cRIO but completely disagree about the “basic” FRC chassis. Look up “octocanum” for an example – teams are making wheel pods that can shift from mecanum wheels to traction wheels and vice versa. Heck, even some of the robot in three days builds from this year showcase simple to make yet custom drivetrains – the BOOM DONE team has an 8-motor drivetrain to mecanum wheels, for example. Those kids (and teams) are doing some seriously awesome things.

      1. I’m currently on an FRC team, as well, although I do programming mostly so I don’t really know CIM torque off the top of my head. I hadn’t seen the octocanum drive before, that’s intriguing, although I suspect heavy. What I meant by “basic” chassis is a large frame that weighs a ton before you add batteries and end-affectors. FRC stuff has such a potential for “smaller” like this, and I don’t see too many. Maybe they should use this to tow robot carts into the match queues.

        1. Most teams (including ours and probably yours) go with big, heavy chassis systems to get the most area to build on as well as the most weight (you get up to 115 lbs) to have the most traction.

          I agree, though – it would be interesting to see variations on the typical frame design. I have seen a few machines like that around – the one that really sticks in my head is 148 from 2008 – they were a small, octagon robot that did almost nothing except run around the field, and along with 1114 and 217 won the world championships!

          1. I always hope that FRC will branch out from traditional sports done in a very complicated way to something more robot-original, maybe autonomous racing with the new Athena controllers.

  2. I just got home from working on our robot for frc this year! First is awsome, and so our all the parts they use! Go team 85! This is a very creative use of the cim motors, I have always sundered how much power you can really squeeze out of them.

  3. recognized those motors as soon as the picture loaded. good memories back when i participated in F.I.R.S.T. glad to see people taking their ideas into their own hands and running with it. hope this project continues to advance.

      1. yes and no… long range “ground FPV” is only really practical on the Bonneville Salt Flats or any other such treeless locale
        I bought a 1500mhz 1.3 video system on ebay with some CP antennas for my RC Lawnmower and it works great going around the house, the other fun thing is driving it around at night with an IR camera messing with the possums and other critters of the dark

  4. The Xbox setup is simple?!? Somewhat complex electronics, libraries and software are involved with that. IMO, something much simpler would be to use a RC controller/receiver combo. Then get motor controller that just plug directly into the receiver. That’s it! You’ll have considerably longer range, and it’ll probably be more reliable.

    1. maybe so -but-
      the Xbox controller was already on hand; an arduino shield stack gives more room and options for future modes. the Xbox reciever dongle was < $10, the USB shield was $20, which still comes to less than the Cheap And Dirty Controls from AndyMark ($50)

  5. I’m quite glad to finally see mentions of FIRST again on Hackaday (even if it’s just a blip indirectly). I know it’s been covered in the past a lot but it always helps. I had a great experience as a member of team 1276 for a few years. It pushed me into the technical field I’m in now and while I didn’t think it would back then in high school, some of the ideals taught have helped a lot in my job. More than anything the contacts I made during that time have probably helped a lot more than I give credit for. Anyways cool rc car though. As the commenter above said I always thought the Andy Mark stuff had a lot more potential than what was allowed for in FRC. I mean I remember at the World Finals in Georgia that a team (don’t remember which) had created a “homemade” Segway using Andy Mark stuff for the electrical/mechanical components. I had plenty of ideas back then of stuff to do with the components outside of FRC, but I didn’t have a budget/money to buy the parts. Now that’s changed and you’ve got me thinking on some ideas again. The problem now is finding the time…

    1. FIRST is a great program. I’ve been a programming mentor for team 4057 since their rookie year. Both of my daughters are busy in build season right now and I couldn’t be a prouder dad.

  6. Nice platform. I have thought of using something like this for a patrolling security bot. Put in a GPS, Camera, and some type of WiFi or Data link and it would make for a good off-road roving patrol on a property with a lot of space. Would probably need some type of charging dock or a built in generator though.

    I suppose quad-drones have gotten to where they could just about do the same thing.

  7. Hi
    my team and I like your robot, and we would like to build for a STEM gaming competition with few high school kids, is it possible if we can have the blue prints, parts list and software used to operate it. We need this ASAP, the sooner you respond the better, we have less than 3 weeks for the competition. We’d appreciate your help.

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