Picture of Hand Motion Controlled R/C Car
This is a must-do hack for any cheap R/C car, it uses the tilt sensing switches I made so you can control a car just by tilting the controller like a wiimote.

There are many possibilities with this hack, for example, you can turn the controller into a base-less joystick, or put it on a helmet and control it with your head.

this will also work for R/C tanks (or other two motor drive stuff) except the switches needs to be placed diagonally

Another possibility to explore is making a mini segway, if you can get the tilt switch sensitive enough and the controller mounted onto the car (the car must be wheelie-ready). This might not work so good.

Below is two pictures of the car I'm working with (the front end spins, not steer, but it is not a problem with some practice)

You will need:
  • r/c car
  • tilt sensing switches (see step 2)
  • hot glue gun
  • soldering iron
  • wires
  • some pvc pipe (see step 4)
  • collection of hand tools

Demo Video:

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Step 1: Making the tilt sensing switch

Picture of Making the tilt sensing switch
I made another instructable before, just for this switch
Click Here To See It

But I had to adjust the switch by drilling more holes into it until i got it just right.

The second picture shows how it works.

Step 2: Opening and testing the controller

Picture of Opening and testing the controller
First you need to figure out how the controller works.

Open it up, save and map out each screw
If your antenna wire is moving around, hot glue it down.

You need to use a multimeter to test what connects to where, have fun at it. What I found in my controller was 4 metal flaps, all connected together, which presses against 4 jumper wires underneath them. The 4 flaps are connected to the negative terminal of the battery, this makes it really easy to hack.

You might also have one with buttons instead of sticks, I have no idea how those work so you need to figure it out.

If you are unlucky, and each flap or button are not connected to all the other buttons, then you might need to use 4 tilt sensing switches, except make them SPST.


Step 3: Adding some wires

Picture of Adding some wires
Now you know what needs to be connected to what, solder some wires to those places. (colours of the wires doesn't matter)

Now try and control the car by touching the wire ends together, if it doesn't work, figure out why, it could be a simple bad solder joint.

Drill some small holes so the wires can get out, put the wires though them, take care making sure that the wires won't be bothering any of the mechanical parts inside the controller (such as the stick or the metal flap, or stopping the casing from shutting completely).

Close the case, test it again by connecting the wires and by using the sticks, it's better to have both of control methods working.

If you want to make the controller one big base-less joystick, cut a large dowel (or pipe), and attach it to the top or bottom of the case before you close the case. Make sure everything fits.

Below are three examples of what I soldered

Step 4: Mounting the switches

Picture of Mounting the switches
DSC01582 (Small).JPG
If you are lazy, just attach the switches to a block of wood.

What I did made it completely adjustable, you need:

*3/4" pvc pipe
*3/4" pvc pipe cap
*1/2" pvc pipe
*some tape

Put the tilt switch that will control the forward/reverse on to the face of the 3/4" pvc pipe cap.
Cut a segment of 3/4" pipe, and drill 2 holes for the antenna to go through, and in my case, one of them might need to be bigger.
Cut a small stub (1-1/2" to 2" long) of 1/2" pipe, attach the steering tilt switch on the side of the pipe
Put lots of tape on the 1/2" pipe stub, and insert it into the 3/4" pipe, it should fit snuggly
Put the 3/4" cap with the tilt switch on the other end of the 3/4" pipe
Put the entire assembly onto the controller

This way lets you adjust the switches every way possible

Look at the diagram and pictures if you get confused

Step 5: Hooking up the switch

Picture of Hooking up the switch
You might have noticed I put spade connectors onto the switches, you can do this too, but you don't really need to.

Wiring is simple enough, loop the wire around the screws and then tighten them.

If you have one wire from the negative battery terminal like me, put a switch on it, I would but I didn't have any switches handy.

Step 6: Testing, Calibrating, Finishing

Picture of Testing, Calibrating, Finishing
Now if everything was done right, it should work, so test it, and if using it feels awkward, then rotate the switches until everything feels balanced when you are driving.

You are done.

Step 7: Mini Segway Idea

This is just an concept

If you have a car like mine then you can try making a more sensitive tilt switch and mount the controller right on the car mount it in a way that the switch is neutral when the car is almost balanced on its rear wheels
If the car leans forward, the the switch will make the car move forward, making it lean back
if the car leans back, the switch will make the car move in reverse, making it lean forward.
If everthing is balanced, theoretically the car will remain in place and balanced on its rear wheels
If the front is slightly heavier, then the car will start to move forward slowly while trying to stay balanced
If the rear is slightly heavier, then the car will start to move backwards slowly while trying to stay balanced

This will only work if the car doesn't over react and the switch works fast enough.
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Hey tropical rc, I have a heng long rc tank i'm going to try this out.

rc tanks man
Venemot4 years ago
I think hacking the rc with the buttons is much more easy....you just have to find two of its four wires which are actually connected to the rc and then soldier wires to them...!!!
amithav6 years ago
Fine Idea...anyway can we control this car using our Computer, Flight Joystick...
Venemot amithav4 years ago
you can easily control it via pc with the help of a 4 relay phidget...well they are a bit hard to find but if you do there is going to be just a little soledering and a little programming.you just solder two wire each to the +ive and -ive sides of each button and attach the wires to the relays in the phidget then you do the programming for it(which i cant do properly,actually i dont have a phidget,yet)and you are done.
Prof I.tiki6 years ago
hey i wonder if this theory will work with a bigger R/C vehicle.
I have just managed to do this with the Heng Long RC Tanks . They are the 1:16 scale tanks so I'm not sure if this is the size that you mean. If it is let me know as I can help you with this!
Riojelon5 years ago
Your concept can bedone by somehow adding this instructable's circuitry into your rc. I dunno how to do it, though
astro boy5 years ago
 GRRR my stupid car has 2 tiny solder tabs and so i had to take the buten of to use them and the solder wont eaven stick! >:0
Bowenj6 years ago
Man, if you could do this with an iphone!!!
 you might if it will let you touch that kinda info via the usb make a custom plug or it could send it to a mac or pc and then the mac or  pc would control via serial port
b3nji6 years ago
u should of used a better rc car because this car has no proper steering.
what happens if I mess with the coil? *innocent look*
if you mess with the coil a snake comes out!
a little late but still funny. I messed with the coil and it just changes the frequency of the remote. @coltonpo18: it wont do any physical harm, only mental because of how frustrating it is to get the right frequency again. lol
instant death.
11richie216 years ago
what if I don't have an on off switch?
Bert996 years ago
I have that same rc car
treize78 years ago
what is a segway?
go look it up
you could turn diagonally if you hooked up a negative wire to each tilt switch
Coffee bean6 years ago
sweet now build it into to a glove and add it to a fullsize tank
keureban6 years ago
I have that same r/c car. It has different stickers though.
idea: attach to wrist-pack and wire sensors to glove fingers for hand-controll
You should make the remote so it's attached to your wrist
hehe, thats a good idea
brainspater7 years ago
There was a game boy color game that had the same sensors that was smaller and it was more sensitive too. If you guys want post to me.
nerfer1927 years ago
WOW! Thats AWSOME! +++++
that is SWEET!!! though I would make it more sensitive. awesome man. I'm rating this +
AT7 years ago
Nice instructable. I like the graphics.

If you want to turn it into a Segway, check out what this guy did (click here)
Whaleman7 years ago
Hmmm, cool, but what if you were trying to show your friends how you can drive the car across a log over a gorge, push, whoops.
Cool idea!
one of those two wheeled scooter things controlled by how you lean. police and old people use them alot.
Spectrace8 years ago
homemade ps3 controller ... haha awesome. except its for an r/c car. thats so cool, great instructable
alanfreefal8 years ago
AWSOME INSTRUCTABLE... this might sound random, but whats the range of the R/C car?
frank26080115 (author)  alanfreefal8 years ago
15 meter ish
i have the same car lol
treize78 years ago
Let me tell you im gonig to do this poroject great job man good thinking.
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