Introduction: Rc Car Brake Lights

Picture of Rc Car Brake Lights

Here is a quick and easy way to add lighting to a RC car or toy.  The wiring has a simple trick for brake lights to work under current conditions of the car. 

Step 1:

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The first thing you will need to do is to remove paint on the underside of lexan body where the headlights and brakelights will shine through.  This simple to do.  Rubbing alcohol and q-tips did the best.  Soak just the area you need and use a broken pencil to scrape down to clear lexan.  May take a few soaks.  You can always drill holes to fit the lamps if you wish.  I found rubbing paint out to be more realistic. 

        Now for the images.  The foam blocks have a hole punched in them for the LEDs to sit in.  Spend time with this step to align the holes correctly in the clear areas.  Then glue the foam blocks in.  Try not to get glue on your headlight holes.  All the LEDs were very bright and showed right through the body.   Make sure to mask with black tape or paint right to the edges of the clear areas.  I had to go back and add some tape to the brake area.  I used white foam in the rear to get the brakelights to glow and grey in the front to make the headlamps stand out.

Step 2:

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As for the wiring,  I used natural white directional LEDs in the front and frosted red LEDs in the brakes.  Each LED gets a 1k resistor on the positive leg or longer leg.   This will be good up to 12 Volt toys.  My car is a 7.2 Volt battery.  I place all the LEDs in their holes and stretched solid wire (Black) to all the short or negative legs.  The solid wire provides stability in the lights and the ability to focus the LEDs later.  

Step 3:

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The black wire is one continuous wire that catches all the negative legs of the LEDs and terminates at the battery connector on the car,  not the battery itself.  The red wire gets all the LEDs you want to stay on at all times and terminates at the positve side of the battery connector.

Step 4:

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Here is the meat of the brake light system.  There is an additional red wire that catches the positive side of the LEDs you want to pop on for brakes and terminates at the negative side of the Motor Power cables or black wire on my car.  The LEDs only work when dc power is positive to positive leg on LED.  So when you hit the brakes or reverse the LEDs will pop on to simulate brighter brake lights.
Make sure to leave plenty of line to pull the body off for repairs.  

Step 5:

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Bend and fasten the harness to the body.  Plug it up and see what happened.  Leave the LEDs on and place them into their holes.
You will have four headlights and two brakes.  When you drive and hit reverse this will send power to the other two brake lights.  

Step 6:

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Here are the results.  Real brake lights add a sense of realism to remote control,  you can use any time of day.  Please send me the upgrades you may put together or questions.  DW

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Comments

vagg71. (author)2014-07-31

Great Tutorial !!!

charles gray (author)2013-07-16

This is really great job i vote and appreciate you for this I'm also a big fan of RC toys.and your post is very informative thanks for sharing.

amandaghassaei (author)2012-09-14

looks good, it would be cool to use an accelerometer to turn the brake lights on when the car is slowing down

Drewwilly (author)amandaghassaei2012-09-14

Im hoping the function of the brake lights shows in the video. This has upgrade potential, Im sure many projects will have more light function than what my Mustang shows.

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