Picture of Autonomous Control of RC Car Using Arduino
This instructable shows how to modify an inexpensive RC car so it can be controlled by an on-board microcontroller.  You can program the controller to make the car do any number of driving patterns and stunts.  Once you have the car being controlled from the on-board controller, you can add sensors for light and sound and make the car do things like line following.
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Step 1: Gather Materials and Tools

Picture of Gather Materials and Tools

I used the following materials:
-RC Car - el cheapo from Walmart.  It cost $6 at my local Walmart.
-Arduino - I used the Duemilanove purchased from Sparkfun, (
-4 1000 Ohm 1/8 Watt resistors (color code BRN/BLK/RED). The value of the resistors is not critical.  Anything within 50% should work.
- 1/16th inch heatshrink tubing to insulate the resistors after they're installed
- 22 AWG solid  wire.  You'll need five wires, 6 to 8 inches long. I used Black for the Ground and White for the 4 control wires.
- a small amount of solder
 - 2 rubber bands
- 9V battery clip that plugs into the Arduino, also available from Sparkfun

Tools you'll need are:
- small (not tiny) Phillips screwdriver
- wire stripper
- soldering iron
- "third hand" to hold resistors while soldering wires to them
- small tip diagonal wire cutters
- desoldering tool or braid
- tweezers or small needle-nose pliers

Step 2: Disassemble the Car

Picture of Disassemble the Car

For this step, you will take the car apart.  First, clip off the antenna using a strong pair of cutters.  Then, remove the four screws that hold the body on the chassis and separate the body from the chassis.   Next, remove the two screws that hold the internal electronics cover. Discard this cover.

Step 3: Remove the Antenna

Picture of Remove the Antenna

Remove the screw holding the antenna.  Cut the antenna wire near the printed circuit board being careful to only cut the black antenna wire.  Discard the antenna and antenna wire. 
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jordan3143 days ago

This is great and worked on my first try, than you! I was able to get the IC off by using solder wick, pushing down hard on all 16 legs with the iron, using more wick, pushing the legs down one at a time, using more wick, etc. until I could get something to wedge it up while I kept the iron on each leg. It took over an hour but I didn't damage the board or the chip.

TrucM16 days ago

its possible to use a smaller pcb ? like the arduino mini pro ? thanks you

TrucM TrucM16 days ago

or the mini simple edition

brownuk88 made it!1 year ago

I've not long finished this project. Now I'm looking to add sensors to prevent crashes. A great one to start with for sure.


I need schematic diagram of this

kindly send me at

Irfans31 month ago

hi, I am making this same project . can you share with Schematic diagram of this.

i will be very thankful to You.


cgrummon1 month ago
The controller chip will come out! Remember, you are cutting the metal pins with tiny clippers, not pulling the chip off. It will not pull off because it's soldered down, but if you clip each of the 20-25 pins that attach the chip to the board, it will come off. Don't give up!
kyle.roe21 month ago

any suggestions on what rc car to get. I have tried 2 rc cars and it is impossible to get the controller chip out.

CWKklaus1 month ago

Can you use this for a boat? With obviously a little modification.

ngrigoriev2 months ago

Use a car like mine : )). Everything is inside with Arduino Pro Mini and bluetooth.

TSMooster3 months ago

Your code worked great. However in your loop you keep inserting your go_forward() function, which leads me to think you intended the car to drive straight for a delay of 1000 in between changing directions. go_forward() does not turn off the steering motors, so I added a function:

void go_straight()





Thanks for the code, it was well written and very effective. I will make sure to credit you in my school project

mike.blais23 months ago

use a bigger car.

DhruvMC6 months ago

Is a good instructable i am going to use it with pygame with a usb extender to connect the cable to my Arduino Uno R3.

Still Making It

odin139 months ago

Great instructable! This is the essence of hacking.

I have one problem though; when the car is off the ground, everything appears to be working but, when I put it down, it doesn't move.

The only thing I did differently was not use hookup wire, I'm using jumper wires instead. Could this be the reason?

Akbar1311 months ago

I used your RC car instructable to make a light following car. Thank you for your instructable! Below i included a link to my light follower:

serouja1 year ago
great project, is it possible to use raspberry pi gpio. thnx
the code is not complete
careyfisher (author)  brasilfingers1 year ago
Yes it is.
hendriono1 year ago
Awesome Project! Thanks... I will try it...
hibrahim21 year ago
great tutorial but i have a question about the voltage level in the PCB that came with the car
(i have once connected sensor to the arduino but the arduino was representing HIGH by a different voltage range than the sensor)
should i connect the GND & VCC of the PCB to the arduino's GND & 5v pins ( i have seen someone doing so) or what should i do ? is the PCB connected to the batteries that drive the motors in some way?

thanks a lot
careyfisher (author)  hibrahim21 year ago
The car runs on its own batteries and the Arduino runs on its own 9V battery. Do not connect any wires between the Arduino and the car PCB except for those shown in this Instructable.
Thank you for watching!
leeseibert2 years ago
I am in the middle of a Project similar to this. See my video here:
Zthewiz2 years ago
Awsome Project!
Erdekim2 years ago
Will i be able to use the pins with pwm to control the speed of the car?
R. Butch2 years ago
This comment is to "Careyfisher" (the author of this page).
I have used some of your pictures if you don't mind. I have given all credit for pictures to you/this page.


Visit my blog
Chowmix124 years ago
5/5* Ible! Loved it! i believe it will be featured soon! Very thorough. get back to us with some sensors and cool lighting effects, ya?
I have done this and it is very cool. Check out my blog. It is for school but scroll dow to "Videos of it doing stuff".
will this work with any type of RC car that has that setup or is it a specific chip thanx
This should work with all RC cars. One thing you need to do though is not to use the same pins. They will be different. Test this by soldering a wire directly onto positive (from the battery) and put any resistor with red on it on the end. Then touch the wires and they should do stuff. Most wont do anything but four will do either forwards, backwards, left or right.
okporuatega2 years ago
can i use an arduino pro for this project or only an arduino uno will do?
playlee3 years ago
I follow your step by step, then I can drive the motor, but I have one question, how do you know the resistor should be 1K Ohm ?
careyfisher (author)  playlee3 years ago
I really just used a resistor value I had available. +/- 50% will work fine.
playlee3 years ago
For pin's usage, I refer to RX-2B spec. just right as the author said :)
eladrin2014 years ago
Which Arduino specifically did you use. I can't seem to find the Duemilanove you mentioned on Sparkfun. thanks.
careyfisher (author)  eladrin2014 years ago
The Duemilanove has been replaced by the Uno. They are essentially identical with a few improvements that won't affect this project.
zack2474 years ago
very interesting! if you took the arduino chip out of the programming board or got a smaller version you could even fit it all inside the car! 5*s
wfelix zack2474 years ago
Or get a bigger car :D.
But I think he made this as a concept proof.
careyfisher (author)  wfelix4 years ago
I really did it this way to make it quick and easy for Jr. High kids to put it together and have fun playing with it during a summer camp.
nicat234 years ago
Very cool I will have to try this when my arduino gets here!
Same here. I can't beleve it takes a month to ship from china...
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