Picture of RC Car to Robot

Converting an RC car into a robot is a quick and easy way to get started with robotics. At the very least, when you get bored of playing with your remote control car after three days, you can turn it into a robot that will do all of your evil bidding. Well, maybe not all of it, but at least a sizable amount.

In this Instructable I will go over the bare minimum you need to get started. Think of it as a template for making a basic robot that can be expanded with sensors, code, and additional hardware to do some really amazing things. You can now impress your family, make new friends, and scare your pets with the power of robot magic.
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Step 1: Go Get Stuff

Picture of Go Get Stuff
You will need:

(x1) R/C Monster Truck (Radioshack #60-646)
(x1) Arduino Uno REV 3 (Radioshack #276-128)
(x1) Arduino Motor Shield (Radioshack #276-131)
(x1) Parallax Ping Sensor (Radioshack #276-136)
(x1) Heavy-Duty 9V Snap Connectors (Radioshack #270-324)
(x1) Size M Coaxial DC Power Plug (Radioshack #274-1569)
(x1) Multipurpose PC Board with 417 Holes (Radioshack #276-150)
(x1) 90-Ft. UL-Recognized Hookup Wire (Radioshack #278-1221)
(x1) Enercell® Alkaline 9 Volt Battery (Radioshack #25-853)
(x1) 6" Heat-Shrink Tubing (Radioshack #278-1627)
(x1) 5-1/2" Zip Ties (Radioshack #278-1631)

Step 2: Remove the Cover

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Flip the RC car over and remove the two screws holding the cover in place.

Put these screws aside somewhere safe for later reassembly.

Step 3: Unplug

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Unplug the motors from the connectors on the main board.

If your remote control car is hard wired to the motherboard, cut the motor wires loose.

Step 4: Remove the Controller

Picture of Remove the Controller
Remove the screws holding the controller board to the RC car and pull it free.

Step 5: Power

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Remove the cover from the M-type power plug and slide it onto the wires for the 9V connector (such that you can twist it back on after you solder the wires).

Solder the red wire to the middle connection tab. Solder the black wire to the outer connection tab.

Twist the cover back onto the plug.
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Hi Randofo! I am running an RC car with the same setup as yours. Will I be able to wire up the car's standard 6v battery pack to the motor shield without frying the ping sensor? Will the ping sensor take on 6v?



I don't think it could, but you could use a voltage regulator to bring it within the operating voltage of the Ping sensor.

that would be pretty cool if you used a traxxas or any other fast rc car

abencomo1 year ago

Nice tutorial, thanks for sharing! We built a similar project. However, we installed an Android device onto a RC car and used an IOIO board instead to control it autonomously. Here is the preliminary result:

arun3491 abencomo6 months ago

hi abencomo, really u have done great job, can u send the details of ur project, like app which follows the ball, code and schematics to my mail

AlB1 arun34916 months ago
All the information and code is here:
GochtG arun34916 months ago

That's great! Can you tell me more about your project? (

Great Instructable! Your build and pictures are so clean! Thank you so much for documenting this so clearly!

The choice of adding a motor shield kind of confuses me, though. If you have a steady hand then connecting four wires to the car's RX chip and taking advantage of the car's already present H-bridge is pretty simple. You can even send PWM signals and it works to control the motor's speed.

If you already have a motor shield or don't want to solder to a surface mount chip then I totally understand, but one can easily cut out $20 to $30 of the cost of this project with some careful soldering.

Can you pls share the wiring on the car's RX chip and/or the H-Bridge?

S0uraV_DAS9 months ago

Awesome work! I am building it now!

iliriano1 year ago

Thanks for the great instructions and pictures. My son and I just finished the truck and it worked. However the truck is only going foward and to the right, it pauses and repeats again. When I copied and pasted your scripts a bunch of extra spaces were added between the lines. I will delete them to see if this is the fix?! Otherwise we will have to recheck the Ping soldering and wiring to the Arduino motor shield, to find other errors.

Can you screenshot the code? I haven't done anything arduino but I do know a bit of code.

vkadnor1 year ago
can i use arduino leonardo and l298 ic motor shield
tarroyo21 year ago
How possible to pull this off using a Sensored Brushless Motor system? Novak is what I am wanting to use).
NASCAR181 year ago
Do you know if these sensors will work? "Ultrasonic Module HC-SR04 Distance Measuring Transducer" If not does anyone have code for these? great project!
can we use a different arduino motor shield
randofo (author)  tharindurc 1 year ago
Yes, but perhaps not with these instructions. These instructions are centered around this shield.
12y11 year ago
is it possible to solder jumpers directly to the IC?
vek111 year ago
Instead of using a motorr shield, can I use a motor driver ic(SN754ONE)
Thanks for the great instructable! Could I use this motor shield? I am new to all of this stuff. Thanks
I have made a similar kind off project but instead of an arduino motor shield and a ping, i have attached a adafruit type of motor shied and a hc sr 04 sensor . can you please help and modify this coding for an adafruit motor shield along with a hc sr 04 sensor .
randofo (author)  mihir.crazi1 year ago
No, but please share your code if you do.
mike0101011 year ago
You mentioned that the front motor was the "turn motor". how exactly does that work? does it actually turn or spins the left or right wheels to achieve turning? I'm wondering if one would need 2 motor controllers for an RC that has for motors
randofo (author)  mike0101011 year ago
If it has four motors, then you might. Mine has two motors. One drives the back wheels and the front one turns the axle left and right.
angpal592 years ago
works great but my wheels wont turn, they stay where they are when I fire it up but other than that it works perfect.
angpal592 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
randofo (author)  angpal592 years ago
I don't know anything about that shield. I don't know who made it, the pin mapping, or the specs on it.

Unless it is explicitly stated somewhere, never assume any electronics component is interchangeable with any other. I recommend searching the internet for instructions to use exactly what you have.
but to tell you the truth randofo, it's been so long it could of came from overseas, I'm trying to find out now, I will get back with you sometime
angpal592 years ago
I am trying to delete one of them but having a hard time, bear with me please
angpal592 years ago
Here it is, older motor shield, can I use this one?
leeseibert2 years ago
Thanks for the How to.

I am working on a project very much like this. See my video here:
Good day! I have one question about this project. Should I use Xbee modules to connect PC with robot??? I will be appreciate for your answers!
shar22 years ago
may I know what's the purpose of connecting the ground socket on the shield to the input ground screw socket on the motor shield?
dude should you only use new bright cars

hilmara2 years ago
Hey there, I used same arduino, same motor shield, same ping sensor, same code, but different rc car, basically the same two simple motors, but somehow my car moves only forward, with a short little stop, than moves again forward even if there are objects, like my hand or foot, It never reverse and doesnt turn the wheels. Can anyone help me? something wrong with the code or ?
shar22 years ago
Hi, I've used exactly the same kind of Arduino, motor shield, Ping sensor and code but different RC car for my project. However, the rear wheels turn forward and then reverse repeatedly when there is no obstacle. It works fine when there is an obstacle. May I know what's the problem?
focalcity shar22 years ago
hey, I had the same problem. Different car, anytime I power it up. it moves forward then backwards repeatedly, but when I keep my hands in front of it, keeps moving forward
hilmara2 years ago
Hi there, cool project. Im planning on doing my own. I got this old r/c car wich only has one motor, the rear one is that okay ? do I have to fix the code? and second, what do I do with the originally on/off button and its wires? thanks in advance !
hello when i put in the cod e every thing works fine but every 5 second the motors stop and some times the ping sensor does no always work is ths normal
shar22 years ago
Where did you connect the wires from the battery pack and from the switch to?
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