Picture of Building a Solar Powered R/C car

This is my newly completed Solar RC Car. I built this car to spark interest in competing in a Solar Race in Summer 2009 in the U.S. This project used many off the shelf hobby parts and could be built by a R/C hobbyist with experience in kit building and soldering.

Click Here to Donate to the Project!
[mailto:trailranger@yahoo.com Click here to email me]

This car was designed to take an Associated Style Pan Car and expand the size to accomendate a solar panel. I did this for a few reasons. Cheaper than buying new parts. Critical parts already engineered to tight tolerances. Finally, very easy to adapt for my application. My donor car was an Associated RC10L3 oval car.

The first step is planning and gathering materials for the car. Nearly everything I used in this car was bought from a local hobby shop or source off E-bay.

Materials needed:
Solar cells.
Associated RC10L or RC12L style car for donor parts
Motor: Just make sure you can mount it into the Motor pod and use the right pinions.
FOAM or other material for Chassis
1/8" Birch plywood for model airplanes
1/16" Piano wire and Wheel Collars
Your choice of Radio System with Servo
FOAM SAFE GLUE Polyurethane Glue ( Elemers or Gorilla )
Wire. (6 ft each of Solid and stranded of wire near 18ga size)
Motor Controller: You need at least a 8Amp rated controller.
Servo Extension
And various nuts/bolts/screws and hobby parts. Your needs will vary.

Total cost would be around $400 if going all out like I did. I bought fairly high end motor and controller, solar cells and radio gear.

Planning the Car, I drew everything out onto poster board to make sure it all fit and worked in the space I wanted.

More Videos in later steps
Solar R/C Sites


Very nice! A few questions if you don't care.

What size ESC are you using?

What servo are you using?

Any issues with the receiver cutting out?

Thank you.

noel0leon1 year ago

This looks fantastic. Would you be willing to put up a line diagram? It would help me in building one

Do you guys think I can make this for a school science fair project?
dharmik3 years ago
its greattt i really wanna make this one plzz any permium member send me the pdf of this to my mail address dharmik33@gmail.com
m great ful to you
Jeniffer Jackson
solar car3 years ago
i will make a solar powerd car for a thing im doing for an elmentry school...any tips?
by the way,awesome car
MoritzB5 years ago
Hi, your solar car looks great, very thin. You can watch mine at:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HANWbBQjJVc
choffman1235 years ago
nice project! 

A schematic for the array and what you did there with the caps would clear any of my confusion.

i'm seriously considering building one. 

drakesword5 years ago
I purchased a small 10 v 500 ma flexible solar cell.

I was thinking of getting 3 more of them and taking one of the cheap foam planes you can gett at the dollar store and mounting the panels on them. Run the power to a small motor and prop.

Modify the wings so they are in a set position or mount a micro rc plane system to it and fly all day long!
Outrunner? Sounds brushless but I would have expected some cogging with this few amps available.
my initial motor was a inrunner 2100kv motor and cogging was an issue. The 1100kv motor outrunner works better for my current setup. If I mount a tiny gearbox like some airplanes use, I could go with another innrunner that didn't cog.
whos the pretty lady
brightwhite (author)  CarStalkerZ6 years ago
That lady is my wife. I was real suprised she even went to pick up the cones.
thats a compliment ;)
id take it as one :)
2100Kilo Volt? Thats like,a Million volts
brightwhite (author)  ReCreate6 years ago
Brushless motors are rated by Kv. Kv is the RPM produced for every volt of input. So at 5V my 1100kv motor will spin 5500RPM unloaded. There is also a Kt with is a torque constant related to Amp input but Kt is hardly mentioned on most motors.
Kv = Constant of voltage (voltage constant).
I was defining the term Kv.
kv is the speed a brushless motor will turn as the voltage increases , also kilo volts , a thousand volts. but never heard of konstant current
konstant? You mean constant?
brightwhite (author)  brightwhite6 years ago
Forgot to mention the reason why the outrunner is working better. Main reason is because the motor is better sized to the power of the solar panel. The outrunner nearly eliminates cogging as the motor pretty much has a pseudo 7:1 internal gear ratio when compared to the inrunner allowing this motor to overcome the my standing start issues with the in-runner. I claim the outrunner has a 7:1 internal drive ratio as there are 14 magnetic poles versus just 2 poles for the inrunner. Instead of the motor needing to complete a 180 degree rotation before the next power phase, the rotor only needs to turn 25degrees. This increases the likelihood that the motor will advance forward instead of stalling with the current from the solar panel.
you could trade horse power for speed by using gears. it is cool
curaloco6 years ago
Wow, great project, in the video the car gets pretty good speed. I am impressed!
brightwhite (author)  curaloco6 years ago
So far the car goes 35kph without changing the damaged panels or the gearing for the increased power of the comming summer sun! I should have this baby up to 40kph this summer. That would make this car the fastest ever Solar R/C Cup car.
mweston6 years ago
I just did this with two airplane wings and all the solar panels lined up vertically across it. For power I used a 750kv outrunner and it runs great (barely any cogging). I was also surprised with the speed. Thanks for the idea, it worked out very well!
profpat6 years ago
cool project, but i wish someone could upload something made out of used parts or free items.. that would really be very cool and awesome..
dradler6 years ago
thank you alto for all the answers so far but just a couple more questions. First if I were to just use a science fair solar kit do you know of any places to get that because i have been searching for it, and also i am pretty advanced with science and building models but never one like this, i think i could probably manage doing it but if it were my first time building such a car. Could it be done and what are my chances of being successful.
dradler6 years ago
how hard is this to make and is it viable to do for a science fair project
brightwhite (author)  dradler6 years ago
Not too viable. Using a Science Fair Solar kit would be cheaper and easier. They are just a small car, solar cell and motor.
dradler6 years ago
and where did you/should I get the rc 10L car
brightwhite (author)  dradler6 years ago
Local R/C Oval racers or Ebay. Should be able to source a 'Roller' for $50 or less.
Kaiven6 years ago
LOL! That thing goes FAST!
brightwhite (author) 6 years ago
Thank You for making this a featured article. Instructables Rocks, which is why I contributed.
brightwhite (author) 6 years ago
More videos on Step 4 and I'll be adding some to my youtube channel
budsiskos6 years ago