Introduction: RC Car to Solar Robot Makeover
Are you or your kids bored of playing with rc cars? Why not convert it to a solar robot with a few additional parts instead of throwing them away. You won't believe that there are so many goodies inside that you can use to make many projects. This instructable will guide you the same thing. With a solar panel, battery, motors an rc car ofcoarse, you can make your own solar robot. But that does not mean that the robot can only move in sunlight. It can also move in your house or when the weather is cloudy.
The robot has a transmitter (or a remote), a receiver, battery, motors and a solar panel. When the solar panel does not have enough electricity to supply, the robot can be powered with a battery. The battery can also be charged with the solar panel to be used earlier. The working is somewhat similar to the rc car earlier but the solar powered feature add more fun to it. The remote transmits a certain type of signal on pressing a button. The receiver identifies the type of signal and moves the robot in a certain direction.
The makeover of the car is very easy to do and the cost of additional parts is quite low. This can be done as a nice weekend project. The time taken to completely convert it should be maximum 2 hours. Please note that the car mentioned in this instructable can vary with yours. You have to make certain changes in the process if this is true.
Here is a video of the project in action:
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Step 1: Parts and Tools
For making this project you will need the parts and tools listed below. The total cost of the project excluding the R/C car is around $10 or 600 INR.
- 1x Old RC car
- 1x Solar panel (6v, 500ma) (Ebay Link)
- 2x 300 rpm plastic geared motors (Ebay Link)
- 2x Wheels for motors (Ebay Link)
- 1x Caster wheel (Ebay Link)
- 1x 4v 1.5Ah sealed lead acid rechargeable battery
- 1x 3-way switch
- 1x Toggle switch
- 1x Diode (1n4001 or 1n4148)
- Rainbow cable
- Soldering iron
- Soldering wire
- Hot glue gun w/glue sticks
- Wire cutter/stripper
- Double sided tape
Step 2: Open Up the Cover
The first step is to remove the cover of the car. For this, remove the screws that may be hidden below some stickers. If you are unable to locate them, just break it up using pliers. On opening you will find the receiver chip which should not be harmed as it will be used in the project. The car may differ from the one in the image, but you still need to find the screws and remove them.
Step 3: Open Up the Main Body
After removing the, cover unscrew the chip from the body and open up the main body of the car. On opening, you will find the main inner workings of the rc car. If you see carefully, you will be able to easily understand the working of the car.
Step 4: Locate and Cut the Wires
The next step is to locate all the wires that are connected to the chip and cut them. For this, first cut the two wires present in each of the two motors, then the switch, battery, leds and other parts if they are present. Make sure that you still have some wire connected to the switch.
Step 5: Remove and Identify the Receiver Chip
After removing the chip from the body, you need to identify each wire that must be connected. For this you need to look at the labels given on the chip like MF, Vcc and so on. If you can't identify the labels, remember where each wire was connected in the car. The labels that I found in my chip were. This may differ from the ones mentioned in your chip like M1+ instead of MF or B+ instead of Vcc.
- Vcc - Positive supply from the battery
- Gnd - Negative supply from the battery
- MF - Positive terminal of the rear motors
- MB - Negative terminal of the rear motors
- MR - Positive terminal of front motors
- ML - Negative terminal of front motors
- ANT - Antenna
Step 6: Check the Chip
Before you start making the robot, it is important to check the chip if it works or not. This is to stop you from facing disappointment when you have made it and it does not work. For this, first connect a 4v battery to the positive and negative terminals of the chip and then a motor to MF, MB pins. Then press the forward and backward on the remote. If the motor spins, that means it works properly. Do the same while connecting it to the ML and MF pins.
Step 7: Removing More Parts for Reuse
The solar robot that you are making with this car requires only the transmitter and receiver from the car to be used in it. But there are many other goodies as well present in the car. Throwing them away is definitely not a good idea so you can reuse them for other projects. For this, you need to disassemble each and every part present in the car. Here are some of the things you can get apart from the transceivers. They can vary if your car is a little different.
- 2x Motors (One for driving the car forward and backward and another for turning it. Can be used in many projects from simple to complicated ones. The possibilities are endless. Some of the examples are- toy cars and table fans)
- 4x Wheels (Can be used in making a toy car)
- Leds (Number depending on your car)
- Small bulbs
- Nuts and screws
- Adapter jack (May not be present)
- Gears (You will get may of them)
- Capacitors and more!
You can also use the gearbox as a whole for projects instead of disassembling it to obtain motors. It would provide better torque than using a motor alone.
Step 8: Start Building: Glue the Motors
We're all done with disassembling and scavenging for parts. Now its time to start making the solar robot. Start by gluing both the motors to the solar panel. As my panel had a strong aluminium base already, so I didn't use a separate base for it. If you have a thin panel, you should use a separate base instead of connecting the motors directly to the base. If the motors don't stick properly, use super glue to keep them in place.
Step 9: Glue the Caster Wheel
Since the robot uses only two rear motors, there should be added something in the front to support it. Caster wheel does the job as it has a metal ball which acts as a small wheel and prevents friction by rotating in a direction in which the robot is moving. Stick it in place with hot glue in the front.
Step 10: Screw the Wheels
Connect the wheels to the motors by tightening them with screws. Neither use very big wheels nor very small as it will cause problems with the movement of the robot. The wheels should not be smooth in shape as it will not be able to move on certain surfaces well.
Step 11: Glue Other Parts
Glue other parts as well below the base of the panel. Make sure that any of the parts should not touch the ground when the robot is moving. The parts include: Battery, Receiver chip, 3 way switch and Toggle switch.
Step 12: Connect the Battery
For connecting the battery, refer to the following instructions:
- First connect the positive terminal of battery to terminal 1 of toggle switch.
- Solder another wire to the positive terminal and connect it to terminal 1 of 3 way switch.
- Connect the negative terminal of battery to v- (or gnd) of the receiver chip.+
Step 13: Connect the Solar Panel
For connecting the solar panel, refer to the instructions below:
- Connect the positive terminal of solar panel through a diode to terminal 3 of 3 way switch.
- Connect another wire from positive terminal of solar panel through a diode as well to terminal 2 of toggle switch.
- Connect the negative terminal of solar panel to v- (or gnd) of receiver chip.
Step 14: Connect the Motors
The last part of completing all the connections is to connect the motors to receiver chip. Refer to the instructions below:
- Connect the positive terminal of any of the two motors to MF (or M1+) of receiver chip.
- Connect the negative terminal of the same motor to MB (or M1-) of receiver chip.
- Connect the positive terminal of another motor to MR (or M2+) of receiver chip.
- Connect the negative terminal of the same motor to ML (or M2-) of receiver chip.
Step 15: Clean It Up
The last step to complete the robot is to clean up all the connections. Use some tape to stick together the scattered wires. Hot glue them to the base so they don't disconnect easily.
Step 16: You're Done!
So you're finally done converting your own rc car to a solar robot! Enjoy hovering it in outdoors as well as indoors. Use the solar panel to power it in outdoors where there is enough bright sunlight while use battery to power in when the weather is cloudy or in indoors. For operating, swipe the switch right to power it with battery while swipe it left to power it with solar panel. Keep the switch in the middle position to switch the robot off. For charging the battery, keep the robot at a place with bright sunlight. Keep the 3 way switch in middle position and keep the toggle switch in on position.
This brings this instructable to an end. If you like it, please vote for me in the contest by clicking the orange icon on the top right corner of the page. Feel free to comment or ask a question if you have any doubt. Do post your pictures if you've made it or modified it.
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