Dissecting a RC car

As a robot builder, what can you expect to get from a rc car ? In great “Robot Builder’s Bonanza“ book, authors say: “You should consider hacking an existing toy to build you own robot platform. You’ll save a lot a time”. Building a robot mainframe from scratch is clearly time-consuming, particularly if you don’t have correct tools et materials. This being said, what can you really expect to get from a hacked toy ?

I’ve recently bought a rc car. Really basic, really “standard”, it cost approx. 30€. I wouldn’t consider the following as “hacking a toy” but as “dissecting a toy”. Here’s the list of pieces (from left/right, up/down):

  • a plastic frame, with a slot for Ni-Cad batteries,
  • a tri-state dc motor, used to turn left and right. This is just like a servo, but with only three positions: left, neutral and right,
  • a dc motor, with its gear reduction box (real crap),
  • several shafts,
  • a 6-pack Ni-Cad batteries,
  • four wheels,
  • a charger,
  • and four suspensions

That’s all… I plan to assemble some of this pieces to build a mobile robot.

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