Electric Go-Cart Has Arduino Brains

arduino powered go cart

Oh how times have changed. Back in the 30’s the VW Beetle was designed to be cheap, simple and easy for the typical owner to maintain themselves. Nowadays, every aspect of modern cars are controlled by some sort of computer. At least our go-carts are spared from this non-tinkerable electronic nightmare…. well, that’s not completely true anymore. History is repeating itself as [InverseCube] has built an electronic go-cart fully controlled by an Arduino. Did I forget to mention that [InverseCube] is only 15 years old?

The project starts of with an old gas-powered go-cart frame. Once the gas engine was removed and the frame cleaned up and painted, a Hobbywing Xerun 150A brushless electronic speed controller (ESC) and a Savox BSM5065 450Kv motor were mounted in the frame which are responsible for moving the ‘cart down the road. A quantity of three 5-cell lithium polymer batteries wired in parallel provide about 20 volts to the motor which results in a top speed around 30mph. Zipping around at a moderate 15mph will yield about 30 minutes of driving before needing to be recharged. There is a potentiometer mounted to the steering wheel for controlling the go-cart’s speed. The value of the potentiometer is read by an Arduino which in turn sends the appropriate PWM signal to the ESC.

In addition to the throttle control, the Arduino is also responsible for other operational aspects of the vehicle. There are a bunch of LED lights that serve as headlights, tail lights, turn signals, brake lights and even one for a backup light. You may be wondering why an Arduino should be used to control something as simple as brake or headlights. [InverseCube] has programmed in some logic in the code that keeps the break lights on if the ESC brake function is enabled, if the throttle is below neutral or if the ESC enable switch is off. The headlights have 3 brightnesses, all controlled via PWM signal provided by the microcontroller.

There is also an LCD display mounted to the center of the steering wheel. This too is controlled by the Arduino and displays the throttle value, status of the lights and the voltage of the battery.


via reddit


16 thoughts on “Electric Go-Cart Has Arduino Brains

  1. 450kV??? ‘Typo’ was my first thought. ‘Ignorance’ was the second, and ‘Marketing’ the third. But the motor manufacturer’s specifiction says “KV Motor KV (No Load) 450 KV”. Can anyone explain what that’s supposed to mean (if anything)?

  2. This needs two things – a shot of it operating at night since it seems to be festooned with LEDs and…brakes. Even a caliper on the drive sprocket would be an improvement. There’s a “0 PWM, acts like a brake” in the speed control but if you really gotta stop, downshifting won’t do it, particularly if the drive system has failed.

  3. I think this build turned out really well for the kid; the only thing I am wondering about is the mounting of the drive wheel.

    Typically on these kinds of carts, there is a solid axle that runs completely across the frame; one wheel is driven (the left side – looking at it from the rear), and the other free-wheels on the shaft.

    Now – for whatever reason – that wasn’t duplicated here. So – there’s a lot of stress on the bearings and axle mounting on that left side. With time and riding, there’s a very good chance that the mount will crack and break off – typically (as these things are wont to do) when you are going full speed down the street, or during a turn, etc.

    I can’t see that being a good thing on a go-cart (I used to ride small-engine go-carts like these when I was younger – and for a brief stint in my 20s).

    If the kid is reading this – you may want to try to get that side beefed up to handle the stresses – or better, re-engineer things so you can have a solid axle spanning the frame.

    1. Hi, I’m the one who built it. So I did research before building it, and the reason I went with one wheel drive is that turning becomes a lot more complicated if you use a fixed axle – either one wheel must slip while it turns or you need a complex system to counter that, like a differential. One wheel seems to be enough, and I’ve seen several designs online where only one wheel is powered.

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