Fresh Canvas for a New Project

I am back in the land of the productive, and am starting my first serious electronics project with my Arduino Uno. An Arduino is an open source microcontroller that is great for hobby electronics projects. I picked one up some time ago, and other than tinkering with some buttons and LEDs, I have not done anything serious with it.

Arduino Uno – Intimidating at first glance

I have been meaning to get more serious about my electronics hobby for a while, and have recently been inspired out of my creative slump by the reappearance of my favorite childhood show, Battlebots.

Icewave – Basically a lawn mower without safety guards. What could go wrong?

The first episode, which aired last Sunday, was everything I wanted it to be. It was very true to the original show. I love that there is a prime time show that celebrates robotics and engineering, even if it requires smashing said engineering to bits in the process.

For my first project, I decided to cheat a little and start by modifying an existing physical structure. The obvious choice for me was an RC car. Here’s what I picked as the starting point for my creation.

An RC car brings a frame and purpose designed motors to the table. My plan is to rip out the existing circuitry and splice my controller in, along with programming to make the car do what I want. At first this will just be simple hard-coded directions. Go straight for 2 seconds. Turn left. Go straight for 2 seconds. Once I have the interface with the motors figured out, I’ll pick up some proximity sensors and make things more interesting.

I chose this particular model because I wanted a relatively flat and workable body to mount everything on. I felt kind of silly pressing my face to the packaging of RC cars in the toy aisle, struggling to see what things were like under the hood, but my efforts were ultimately rewarded as this gave me exactly what I wanted. I can remove the circuit board in the middle and mount my controller right there. That is the plan at least. I will post an update when things are further along.


One thought on “Fresh Canvas for a New Project

  1. Ooh, this relates so well to what I did with my RC car! I connected its controller to the Arduino and controlled it from my laptop, and later using an obstacle sensor, and finally with the Wii Nunchuck accessory. I did the same to my RC helicopter. I’ve detailed it all on my blog. Keep me updated on developments! I’d love to see what you hack up! šŸ™‚

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