Picture of BARC Jeep - An XBOX Controlled Power Wheels
Make a power wheels jeep that is controlled by an XBOX controller. This particular build is using Power Wheels® Jeep® Hurricane with Monster Traction™ but should be usable across many different types of power wheels with small adjustments.

I wanted to do this project so I could drive my kids around. They are 2 and 3. We take the jeep out a few times a week. It's great for going to the park or just walking around the neighborhood. It works kind of like a stroller as far as containing and protecting them, but obviously way awesomer.

This project has also been built with expansion in mind. Because the motor controller boards have feedback, and there's plenty of room left on the Arduino microcontroller, it will be easy to add things such as proximity sensors and driver profiles. That way, when I give it to my little boy to drive himself, I can set the driver profile to be gentler as well as activate proximity sensors so he can't ram a tree.

Also, in essence this entire build is a fairly simple way to get a robot off the ground. My project was particular to the power wheels because I'd been dreaming of sitting on my porch with my controller and driving my kids in the yard, but really the setup could apply to anything with motor driven wheels and a steerable front end. (motor size etc taken into consideration of course).

I hope you enjoy reading about my project as much as I did making it. And if you do decide to tackle this Instructable and build your own, please contact me for any questions. I want to keep improving this so as many people can take that old Power Wheels and make it into the coolest thing on the block.

Now let' s make it!
Things you will need: Tools / Supplies:
     * Soldering Iron (i like this one)
     * Solder
     * Wire Strippers
     * A saw or cutting wheel to cut metal (i used an end grinder with a cutting wheel)
     * Wrenches / Screwdrivers
     * Drill - (a drill press is good for the steering plates, but a drill will work)

  • Connect the Arduino to the USB Host shield, then connect that to the Wireless gaming receiver.
  • Drive the linear actuator with the Pololu Jrk Motor Controller
  • Drive the motors already in the Power Wheels with the Pololu Simple High-Power Motor Controller
  • Connect both motor controllers to the Arduino so they are controlled by the Xbox controller.
  • Remove the steering mechanism currently in the Power Wheels
  • Build a custom steering mechanism that is controlled with the linear actuator.
Sounds easy, right!
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Julezz8 days ago

Thank you for posting this Instructable. I plan on using it to guide me through my first RC build. I'm still in the part gathering stage but I'll keep you posted as I progress. Hopefully I won't have too many questions for you. Thanks again!

tiberious25 days ago

In your code did you add a portion that looks to make sure the controller is still connected? say the batteries die or vehicle goes out of range.

Treydoggnrhs 3 months ago
How much would you charge for a premade preprogrammed kit to just bolt on and plug up?
cellsk89 months ago

Hi friend, amazing work. I have a question, This hardware ( can replace this one "USB host shield"?. Thaks and congratulations!!!

NerdSpouse (author)  cellsk85 months ago

Thanks for the compliments! The link you provided is for a USB-to-Serial board based on a famous chip made by FTDI. Microcontrollers like the Arduino use very simple serial interfaces (TTL, SPI, etc) to communicate with other hardware and our computers use a very complicated serial interface: USB. The FTDI chip translates the communication between our computers and microcontrollers like the Arduino. If you're searching for a substitute for this shield Google "max3421e". This chip acts as a USB Host to translate USB hardware (mouse, keyboard, thumbdrive, etc) into something the Arduino can understand. Hope this helps!

mohammed-ft5 months ago

is there a way to connect the controller to Arduino without the usb shield ?

NerdSpouse (author)  mohammed-ft5 months ago

Unfortunately no. Not for an Xbox controller. Microsoft uses a proprietary 2.4GHz wireless protocol that hasn't been reverse engineered successfully. The easiest way is to capture the data via USB and the shield is just a fancy breakout board for the MAX3421E USB Host Controller chip. This project would have been a lot easier had I used a Bluetooth adapter and the PS3 controller, but the Xbox 360 controller is the best controller in my opinion. Way better than a grizzly.

carlosm57 months ago

Hello Friend

Good job, one question.

Also you can manually manage ?? as you connected the facility that has the car to work manually and control?

Excuse my English, I'm using google translator (Spanish-English)

Thank you

cellsk89 months ago

Hi friend, amazing work. I have a question, This hardware ( can replace this one "USB host shield"?. Thaks and congratulations!!!

rtalley1 year ago
amazing work. the only thing i did differently was use an aftermarket power window motor and a pot to turn the wheel!

This whole project is awesome. I have recently been planning to do
something similar, with the traditional r/c transmitter receiver. But
this would much cooler. How does the window motor and pot work? How do
you control limits, and does it return to center? Any information would
be greatly appreciated. I'm working on a power wheels escalade for my
daughter, it's a pretty heavy set up, how would it handle?

we used these for open cv experimentation in highschool
NerdSpouse (author)  kyle brinkerhoff1 year ago
That sounds interesting. In my original conception of this project I was making an autonomous beer cooler to follow me around the beach. That is until I saw the complexity in vision recognition. Any positive/negative experiences with opencv?
its clunky as can be right now and without a serious on board computer its pretty hard to keep a reasonable frame rate. might be better off with a radio based system that could triangulate the position of a key fob or somethin like that
Tazmjm691 year ago
Very cool project! There is a 6 wheel rc cart by blvdminss here on instructables (for Marcaine Art, if you're interested). You're kids have a cool Dad!
NerdSpouse (author)  Tazmjm691 year ago
Thanks Taz! I have a 2 and 3 year old and they love it. Also thanks for recommending the project by blvdminss. Pretty soon I will replace the lower plastic body of the Jeep with a metal chassis, rubber tires, beefier motors.
NerdSpouse (author) 1 year ago
Glad you liked it. Please feel free to ask any questions when you get a project started!
This is really cool. I don't know much about the arduino programming but I like this a lot. It would be cool to adapt an old electric wheelchair for a yard cart that could carry heavy weight :-)